Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication: If Social Media Represent the First Big Communication Idea of This Century, the Larger Goal of Creating and Leading Open Communication Cultures Is Certainly the Next Big Idea

By D'Aprix, Roger | Communication World, July-August 2011 | Go to article overview

Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication: If Social Media Represent the First Big Communication Idea of This Century, the Larger Goal of Creating and Leading Open Communication Cultures Is Certainly the Next Big Idea


D'Aprix, Roger, Communication World


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Social media represent the first big communication idea of the 21st century. Yet as internal communication tools, they have not had easy sledding, with senior leaders nervously contemplating what it means to give voice to everyone in the organization.

The strategy of the social media evangelists has largely been focused on piecemeal advocacy and the creation of discrete initiatives. But social media's relatively modest success with senior leaders suggests that the strategy has been a bit of putting the cart before the horse.

Our profession has long advocated for more open communication cultures. Practitioners have seen social media as a virtual "communication crowbar" in furthering that openness. However, the existing degree of openness in any organization's culture is really what determines the acceptance of new tools like these. The more attuned the leadership's instincts are to openness, the more likely those leaders are to tolerate the expression of contrary opinion and diverse viewpoints, the twin hallmarks of social media activity.

Many of our colleagues argue that we should simply become "facilitators of a conversation" among the members of our audiences, and that leadership communication is passe at best and irrelevant at worst. Such arguments ignore the fact that organizational leaders are major influencers of the cultures they lead. The longstanding traditions of hierarchy and autocracy, which remain very much with us, are also powerful forces in opposition to openness. Still, some observers argue persuasively that there is no choice--that the variety and impact of social media in the world at large will inevitably force both their acceptance and greater openness in the corporate world.

Some of the most ardent social media advocates have been perceived as radicals fighting for freedom of expression and greater institutional democracy. But one can also argue that they have aimed too low, that their ambitions were not radical enough. That as they tried to sell every social media program in a sort of quasi-subversive campaign of attrition, they have been seeking the wrong endgame. Rather than seeking the approval of tactical solutions, the better strategy would have been to lobby for more open communication cultures in the first place and to support that goal with all of their resources and imagination. If social media represent the first big communication idea of this century, the larger goal of creating and leading open communication cultures (OCCs) is certainly the next big idea.

There are forces at work that make such cultures increasingly important and urgent. The virtual lack of organizational boundaries, which allows information to move seemingly at will, is one such force. The equally urgent need for collaboration and employee engagement to enhance innovation and competitiveness is another. And ever-changing technology is the wild card that forces greater openness irrespective of the desire for control.

A vision of openness

What does openness look like in practice? Here is a detailed definition inspired and endorsed by an informal group of Fortune 200 senior communication executives who meet periodically under the sponsorship of ROI Communication, a change communication consultancy:

"An open communication culture is one in which information flows freely and is easily accessible to both insiders and in the public at large. Consistent with the culture and values of the organization, its leadership enables, advocates and provides open access to information in which employees, customers, shareholders and the general public have a legitimate interest. Proactive communication initiatives and dialogue with and among the various stakeholders are the primary means for achieving open communication objectives. Among the obvious exceptions to the rule are proprietary, regulated financial and competitive information or confidential employee, customer or client information. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication: If Social Media Represent the First Big Communication Idea of This Century, the Larger Goal of Creating and Leading Open Communication Cultures Is Certainly the Next Big Idea
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.