The beauty and effectiveness of simple communication structures

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 05-12-14

How do I get engaged communication going with my team? How do I reach them? How do we get people talking without it dragging into an endless venting session?

These are questions many leaders struggle with. In an effort to engage people, they open up Pandora’s Box of issues and get flooded with a bunch of crap they never intended to be dealing with.

Providing a simple communication structure can help sort through all the cloud of stuff and get to the meat. My attention was caught by a post on linked in, titled I Like, I Wish, I Wonder.

1fcc90bHere’s how it works:

The concept is simple. The team stands in a circle and discusses the past week, the only restriction being that each person must start his or her statement with “I like…”, “I wish…” or “I wonder…”. It is recommended to keep the statements succinct and to avoid responding till the end of debrief. Lastly, any topic of interest is fair game.

Simple. Elegant. Effective.

What makes it effective? It takes away the burden of how to say it, allowing the “user” to focus on what to say. So people want to bring forward ideas and concerns, but don’t even know how to start. This provides exactly that … a start.

Although towards a different end, a similar example is what I understand a first-year Naval Academy student is allowed. Only 5 acceptable responses exist. They are:

  • Yes Sir.
  • No Sir.
  • Aye Aye Sir.
  • I’ll find out sir.
  • No excuses sir.

Is the lack of structure in your communication getting in the way of its effectiveness? Sometimes, a little structure can go a long way.