Next stop – “Levelized communication”
Information tends to float freely in the increasingly digitalized world we live in. The idea of “owning” information and disseminate it from a vertical structure has outlived its usefulness. Today a large proportion of the world’s population is constantly connected and can, in theory at least, reach virtually all other connected people. This force will also continue to increase, as an example only 30 percent of the world’s mobile users have a smartphone today.
When the communication boundaries are flattened and democratized, we can talk about levelized communication.
Vertical communication – an idea of the past?
Vertical communication can be defined as information and messages that are decided high up in the hierarchy and then filtered down into the organization and then eventually out to the rest of the world. If there are any questions or opposing views, the idea is that the feedback should follow the same route back, only in reverse. That an organization wants to control information is quite natural, and some information is of course of such a nature that it must be allowed to move within an organization in a controlled manner. But the basic notion of vertical communication does not work in today’s information society.
Levelized communication eminates and gains strength from the company’s environment and has an ambition to create as few barriers as possible between sender and receiver.
It is all about a mind-set
To go from a vertical communication culture to a levelized ditto requires more than just a policy document, it requires a whole new mind-set. The entire organization must take in and understand how the communications landscape looks today, and especially how it will change in the coming years. The major difficulty in this process of change, and at the same time a prerequisite for its success, is that top management understands the importance of this and endorses a change. The entire organization must practice what they preach.
We have recently seen many examples of Swedish businesses where there are vertical structures that cannot handle the levelized world of information. For example tremendous efforts are made to appease the surroundings by creating and making the company’s CR efforts credible, which many also are. But when the same companies have been scrutinized by the media, it is often clear that the whole organization does not practice what it preaches. You might get away with such a behavior in the short run, but in the long run it will have consequences. The pace for consequences will only become quicker.
Today, companies are created with digital business models that not only utilize the levelized information environment for rapid growth, but also draw their energy from there. New companies will be able to quickly knock out the old.
The motto coined by Swedish business man Jan Stenbeck that “it is no longer large companies beating the small, but fast ones beating the slow” has today evolved to “digitalized companies beating the analog”
Which category does your business belong to?