Infrastructure Series (Part 9)

The Infrastructure series will posted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the month of November 2011. 

The infrastructure of any company cannot exist in a void of communications.  Every element that we have referenced in this series is dependent on communications from hierarchy through creativity.  It is also perhaps the most challenging element as communications can be impacted by outside forces and channeled by misinterpretation, innuendo, and influence.  Over the next few days our series will address communications.  

Communication by Action: “Your actions speak so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” Whether or not we realize it, our actions are a part of our communications and may or may not align with our stated infrastructure and or stated intent. Our actions may define the interpretation of our infrastructure. Look at the examples below that I have observed in companies. The reaction and or actions of the company and its leadership in each case will impact the strength of the infrastructure.
  • Inez I-want-attention-now takes a lot of pride in being able to get a hold of the CEO of the company on her cell phone. She loves the immediacy of response and the feeling of importance, especially when in front of a prospective client. It is not unusual for the CEO to be caught in a tenuous position of being asked to make a decision or clarification on the fly without the background info.
  • Political Patrick will do anything to be in the limelight and plays the politics of the company well, knowing who to pit against another, how to jockey for position and what type of power plays to make.
  • Terri Top-Producer does it her way. No matter what the tools, systems or processes are in the company she bucks the system and often runs over staff with her “my way or the highway” attitude.
  • Manager Mike is a known wimp. Any sales person can come to him with a request, and before it is even fully stated, he grants the request. He always tells management that he had to do it or lose them.
  • Negotiator Ned knows that each manager of the area companies has a recruiting requirement to meet. He also knows that most will go off scale in terms of compensation given the slightest indication that he has interest.
  • Susie Staffer is a senior member of the administrative team. She is adored by most in the company, even though her competence is questioned. Other staff people feel that it is not fair that she does not carry the same load or requirements.
  • Betty Broker complains about the faults of her management team frequently while, at the same time, saying they are the best in the area. While most make good contributions in spite of their faults, one manager has been moved around in the company with reduced role and duties, each time due to attitude and competence, but is still there and treated as an equal to other managers.
In each of the cases cited above, the company is undermining its own infrastructure by breaking the business rules and structure and then clearly communicating the infrastructure is irrelevant by the actions taken.

As mentioned in earlier posts, there needs to be some built-in flexibility and the means to change as needed. These need to come within the tolerance for change and limitations set. When actions are interpreted to be random or not aligned with the structure that is stated as the definition of the company, the company is weakened and open for attack from inside and competitors.