In this installment of our guide to organizational management we look at organizational communications…
The standard patterns of communications are chain, wheel, star, and all-channel, each of which can influence the speed with which decisions are made, their accuracy, and ensuring that the key stakeholders have a satisfactory outcome based on the decision.
The chain can be seen to represent the hierarchical pattern that characterizes strictly formal information flow (from the top down) in military and some types of business organizations. The wheel can be compared with a typical autocratic organization, meaning one-man rule and limited (or even no) input from others.
The star is similar to the basic formal structure of many organizations, whereby people within a group communicate (information flowing in both directions) with a few other people in the group but not all of them. The all-channel network is analogous to the free-flow of communication in a group that encourages all of its members to become involved in group decision processes.
Its thought that in patterns with positions located centrally (such as the wheel and the star), an organization quickly develops around the people occupying these central positions. In such patterns, the organization is more stable and errors in performance are lower than in patterns having a lower degree of centrality, such as the all-channel. However, the morale of members in high centrality patterns is relatively low and this could, in the long run, lower the accuracy and speed of such networks.
Companies that spread communications out more evenly among staff will see a higher employee morale. These companies understand that availing themselves of the knowledge, skills and experience of a more diverse group results in enriched job satisfaction.
Many organizations lean toward the star pattern of communication, which would indicate that it provides the best result in the long run. A company must take certain factors into account, however, in order to determine the best method to use. These factors include such things as how quickly decisions must be made, how accurate such decisions must be, and how much of a margin for error the company can realize.
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