Drucker on Functioning Communications, Part 2

In his book, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, Peter Drucker analyzed the ways that management practices and principles affect the performance of organizations, individuals, and society. The book covers the basic principles of management and gives professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the environment of tomorrow will require of them.

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

Drucker believed that there are four fundamentals of communications.

1. Communication is perception.

2. Communication is expectation.

3. Communication makes demands.

4. Communication and information are different and indeed largely opposite—yet interdependent.

Sometimes we use the words communication and information interchangeably. Drucker believed that they have different but interrelated purposes

Drucker asserted that communication is an act of perceiving, while information is a form of logic. Information should be formal and impersonal. That means information should be free of human emotions, expectations, and perceptions. When that is the case, information becomes more valid and reliable, thus increasingly informative.

At the same time, information is not very useful without communication. Because of information’s formal and encoded nature, we must first communicate the code so the recipients can know and understand how to use the information. This prior agreement or protocol for understanding the information requires some communication.

Also, Drucker asserted that more and better information does not necessarily solve the communications problem. Information alone also does not bridge communications gaps. On the contrary, we need more functional and effective communication if we wish to relay or share more information. When we produce more information without paying attention to how we communicate, we create even more communications gaps.

Consider how critical communication is in the age of abundant information; can we do anything to be more effective in communicating? For organizations and team, Drucker believed that management by objectives (MbO) is a prerequisite for functional communication.

By properly practicing the principles of MbO, both the subordinate and the manager benefit. They benefit by recognizing their common ground and having a focused collaboration on something that is real to both parties. When both parties realize that they see the same reality differently, that recognition is a form of communication.

In the end, communication is about shared experience. When both the sender and receiver perceive the same reality, have consistent expectation from the exchange, and agree on the common action or result from the exchange, effective communication becomes possible.