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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Goal-Orientated Communication as a Method of Achievement



Goal-orientated communication is a natural part of life and business success.  It can be argued that all communication is goal orientated in one way or another. Whether we are cementing friendships or trying to achieve some business objective all communication has a level of goal attainment purpose. It is only necessary to understand which goal the communicator is seeking to achieve to provide information that is more relevant. It is a process of receiving and understanding messages that create pathways to achieving successes.

When two people interact the channel through which they communicate becomes further defined (Shannon, 1948). This means they will discuss issues verbally, electronically, in written form or any other way.  Often this channel’s definition starts through the initiation of contact and then maintains itself as a preferred method of communication through the process. It is possible to see how text messages have taken precedence over other forms of communication with younger demographics. In the workplace, face-to-face communication and email are still preferred methods of sharing information.

When communication has a specific goal, misunderstandings can be overcome more easily than when a specific goal is not defined (Juba & Sudan, 2008). The more people communicate the more they narrow and define the meaning of their messages. This definition develops through the reciprocal process of informational transference and subtle negotiation of its meaning. Eventually the two parties will have a shared understanding of the communication and its terms.

A study conducted by Goldreich, Juba, & Sudan (2012) looked at a case between a user and a server. The user was trying to achieve a specific goal and the server was trying to help. Confusion and misunderstanding were implemented by picking a user from a group of people and a server from another group but no one knew whom they were talking with. A referee was introduced that could obtain solicited information from either party and use that information to further their goals.

Results:

The results showed a useful component of sensing. This sensing means the ability to understand whether progress on a particular goal is being achieved or not. It is an intuitive guess that someone is on the right path. The server has a benefit in offering mechanisms by which the user can sense that they are moving closer to their goal. 

Waiting until you are completely accurate in the interpretation can be difficult for complex issues. The action and information create a negotiation of variables that help to define each other. As movement toward the goal is realized, new information will become known. Moving without any knowledge can cause damage to the goal but not moving on a goal at all creates stagnation. A delicate balance of moving and assessing is needed.
Feedback is chronically important in the process. It helps change the hypothesis of how to achieve the goal, it provides evidence of the success of the path, and in turn creates a strategy. The environment must provide accurate feedback to create a higher likelihood of success. When this information is inaccurate, there are more opportunities for mistakes.

Sometimes it is necessary to reset back to the beginning of the program. Once mistakes make their way into the judgment they can perpetuate throughout the entire process.  Instead of working off this mistake and incorrect assumption, it is faster to simply restart the communication program and be fresh.
There is a benefit in exploration on the path of goal achievement. When damage to  goal attainment is slight it can be beneficial to try out new ideas and concepts. This exploratory behavior can help improve the long-term results and opportunities of success associated with goal attainment. 

As long as the user can obtain information from the server in order to achieve their goal they will continue to interact. Furthermore, they will also make meaning out of that information in the hope to be able to further their goal interests. Such behavior creates higher levels of goal-path efficiency in effort.

Business Analysis:

The study helps highlight the need to actively listen and narrow down the confusing messages that others provide to us through our normal channels of communication. This can be through face-to-face communication, text, email, or other mediums. As all communication has a goal, it is beneficial to seek out new information and use that information to narrow down a path to a particular goal. Organizations that are developing communication strategies should focus on ensuring that the messages they are sending are clear and concise to so that they may be used by listeners to accomplish their goals. The more accurate and complete these messages the more able they are to contribute to employees building blocks of understanding. 

Goldreich, O., Juba, B. & Sudan, M. (2013). A theory of goal-oriented communication. Journal of the ACM, 59 (2). 

Juba, B. & Sudan, M. (2008). Universal semantic communication I. Proceedings of the 40th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC), 123-132.

Shannon, C. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication. Bell Syst. Tech., 27

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