For the final part of the writing exercise, they asked me to do a final analysis of all the work I’ve done up to this point. Here is the final post regarding this specific exercise.
Virtual Organization Reflection and Analysis
After much analyzing, planning, and implementing, a full reflection of the actions taken to help Smith Systems Consulting, Inc. (SSC) is necessary to ensure that everything of necessity was covered. While SSC is a virtual organization, the information and tools covered therein have helped me develop real world applications and processes. The question of how well everything was covered is at the forefront of my mind as I look back and realize some of the strengths, weaknesses, and learned opportunities garnered from the full analysis. Over three years of communication specific classes have led to this one moment. Looking back, it is with tumultuous pride that I reflect upon the things I have learned, the mistakes that I have made, and the aspects I will continue to improve moving forward.
Reflecting and evaluating any kind of a strategy after the fact is imperative and necessary to ensure bettering the strategy for future endeavors. Any plan that is put into action in any kind of setting requires careful evaluation at its conclusion. Such is the case in designing and implementing a communication plan during a critical event at a virtual organization. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the plan is essential in increasing and improving the effectiveness of plans like that in the future.
Understanding all aspects of a crisis communication plan both before and after the fact is imperative. This allows for a better reflection of both the positive and negative aspects of the plan. Doing so will allow companies to better, “develop effective and efficient crisis communication strategies dealing with the complexity of the crisis.” Receiving critical feedback, especially when providing the critical feedback to one’s self, is essential in improving.
Evaluating a process that is put in place is a fantastic way to gauge the level of effectiveness of the overall process. Therefore, fire drills take place in schools, tornado sirens are tested every week, and computer systems have continuous system diagnoses. Once the critical event is concluded and resolved, there is not better way to ensure that the process will have better preparation in all future incidents than to test those incidents.
Unfortunately, there will be parts of a plan that could inevitably be stronger or better prepared and implemented. Those faults cannot be found and corrected unless the appropriate evaluation is done at the outset of the critical event. Some scholars believe that fruitful changes can only be made if people are willing to step outside the realms of self-absorption and analyze communication plans with an open mind and qualitative thinking rather than quantitative thinking. This is not to say that quantitative thinking is a negative formula to use, but in this instance, qualitative is prominently better. The number of mistakes is not nearly as important as fixing the ones that exist.
One of the largest weaknesses I displayed in my organizational scenario of a large server outage at SSC is that I spoke of hypotheticals and generalizations. Most of the situations I described about the server outage skated around specificity and relied heavily on words like maybe and might. My first initial takeaway from the entire affair is that I need to be more specific in every aspect of my planning.
Another issue I have noticed in my analysis of the overall communication scenario is my inclination to only focus on the most negative impacts of a business. Instead of finding a balance between the things that do and do not work, I only focused on the things that do not work. This is inherently impactful as many aspects of the business might have been completely missed or glossed over in the initial assessment.
Implementing aspects of a plan that already coincide with the way the business is run will help facilitate a smoother transition. I never thought to analyze what already works within the company and then using that information to better convey the actions of the plan. Instead of focusing only on the missing links, perhaps it makes more sense to split the focus on preset functions as well in order to find the best possible outcome.
I personally believe the same research methods discussed in my training and development plan would best suit the collection of data needed to evaluate and review the effectiveness of my organizational analysis. Those methods include performing a discourse analysis and performing observations and interviews of the employees. These research methods are best suited for gauging the efficiency of the analysis.
After doing the organizational analysis, it is best to find concurrent information directly from the source. In almost any case, it would be best to spend time observing the employees in their natural habitat at work to garner a better understanding of how their communication works. After that, personal interviews with each employee helps paint a better picture by hearing it directly from the source. The interviews end with a tied together theme that connects all the employees together in one communication climate.
Providing a discourse analysis from a third party in conjunction with somebody closely linked to the organization helps better understand all aspects of the interpersonal and intercultural communication climate. Since a discourse analysis takes the relationship of verbal and nonverbal communication at its face value, a natural form of language, it is best used to analyze how the communication climate feels in a company. These methods are best suited to provide a full evaluation of my communication analysis.
Drills are at the centerfold of preventing further crises at SSC. Because of the technological nature behind SSC’s services, the best way to make sure the training and development has worked is to run drills and test the employees. Each employee needs to understand the duties and responsibilities of every other department. Proper training for server outages needs implementation, and the best way to test whether the employees are ready for those outages is to run drills.
Each month, the servers will suffer a faux outage that requires the employees to perform their duties during the outage. Upper management will monitor the drill to make sure all duties are being performed correctly and efficiently. Inspection audits performed by a facilitator familiar with the training and development plan will perform quarterly inspection audits of the company to ensure all training is being done properly with each department. They can run diagnostic tests on the servers and ensure proper tools for dealing with such an event.
The three theories I noticed and analyzed for SSC were Actor-Network Theory, Proxemics Theory, and General Systems Theory. These three theories were difficult to apply as they were barely noticeable and took some exaggerated ideas to prove. For a company that uses technology and the company intranet for the majority of their communication, proving these theories as part of the company proved a difficult task.
The Actor-Network Theory is prominent is when, “sociology attempts to be the provider of categories to explain the mechanisms for producing scientific knowledge.” Originally, I stated that because of the restricted interpersonal communication, the employees were able to design efficient servers and networks. In hindsight, the exact opposite is true. Other scholars agree by saying, “sociology is part of the problem, not part of the solution.” I should have researched the theory more before making strong claims that it applied to the company in full.
The second theory was the idea behind proxemics playing a large role at SSC. This theory was applied well but lacked any real substance due to the reverse effect of the theory. Proxemics only apply to the voluntary bubbles of space created by individuals and not the forced space. Most of the employees are forced to work in secluded and privatized cubicles, thus the space is forced. However, SSC does not have meeting rooms, large workstations, or places for workers to converse. Instead of using space onsite to converse, the workers choose to stay separate in their communication. My application of proxemics to the company and starting training meetings helps alleviate this space.
The final theory I considered was the general systems theory. This one applies to SSC in the most fitting way because of how SSC operates. SSC is not known for a single technician that designs and installs a new network. Instead, they are better known as an overall entity that provides a service. SSC is known for its secure and state-of-the-art network design. While the creations may be the design of an individual, it is done under the guise of SSC and provided with their blessing.
One of the most important lessons I learned during this course was the idea behind measurements and quantitative research in communication. For some reason, I always assumed that scientific research or the use of numbers and tracking results was for the fields of science and math. This article really opened my eyes to the importance of this. In the transcript provided by Finney, the idea of analyzing the culture of the company is imperative to understand which research method and strategy to use when developing a plan.
I have always used qualitative methods to analyze and implement plans throughout my courses. In fact, I took some of those methods and tried to apply them to my job as a front desk manager at a hotel. During all my time, I never thought to take quantitative research and utilize it to help measure the different components of the communicate climate. Having concrete numbers on which to deliberate and plan makes more sense than I ever imagined.
This is followed up with what this article said about using quantitative data through surveys and actual measurements. I have spent many hours trying to interpret the communication climate of my front desk employees, but I have always fallen slightly short in my search for real observations. If I follow some of the methods put forward by Meyer, then I will be able to seek out, “symbols through observation, interviews, and textual analysis . . . and provide more compelling assessments of organizational communications.” I will take some of these methods and apply them to my current and future jobs.
While many of the same topics covered in previous communications classes were covered in this course, I learned minute and intensely complex ideas and practices not previously known; tiny microcosms of information that further delved into communication analysis that I had not previously known or thought to understand. My analysis and plan for SSC was weak in many aspects, but those weaknesses taught me a myriad of information I did not originally have. The importance of analyzing every aspect of before, during, and after a plan cannot be understated. Communication is the key to life, and I plan on implementing as much as possible in both my private and real life.