Has in-person communication become the unwilling victim of technology?
In Enterprise Architecture, one of the most important aspects of the job is not only to communicate, but to lead change. In other words, it is great to have the data to point to a problem in an enterprise. It is better to help that enterprise overcome it by changing something (processes, technology, training, staff levels, departmental structures, roles and responsibilities, artifacts, governance mechanisms, etc). Change requires more than simple communication. It requires a kind of in-person, face-to-face, listening and hearing and absorbing interaction that is difficult or impossible over written mechanisms like e-mail, word documents, and powerpoint presentations.
Our technology has led us to the point, in modern business, that we consider outsourcing and remote work to be a net benefit for all involved, but each of these “distance” mechanisms introduces the RISK of poor communication. That risk is magnified when the person on one end of the line is hoping to change something that the person on the other end is doing. Change is harder across distance, and that difficulty becomes magnified when dealing with the array of different interactions that are needed at the enterprise level.
I wonder if the PC revolution, that brought us personal access to written communication, has created a deep reliance on written communication in corporate processes. I wonder, further, if that access to technology isn’t directly harming our ability to look a person in the eyes and communicate with them.
As a culture, we have moved from the age of face-to-face all the way to text-messaging-someone-in-the-same-room in the course of a single generation.
Enterprise Architecture is more difficult because of this shift in communication patterns. All forms of face-to-face communication are hampered by it.
Modern technology has done more to damage interpersonal communication than any other paradigm shift in human history.
This worries me.