Words like “keyboard” and “score” can mean several different things. Without this picture, would your mind have thought of “piano music” before “computers” or “sports”? Perhaps your use of social media communication brought the image of a keyboard warrior to mind, or maybe the screech of worn-out break pads scoring your rotors reminded you to make that appointment. For me, and for many others who’ve had the privilege of learning to play the piano, the use of those two words in such proximity means that music was one of my first thoughts even while using my keyboard to check the scores from the recent college basketball games. Then I promptly lost a good 15 minutes of my morning thinking about some of the great songs I heard on the radio during a recent road trip, but I digress.
With a seemingly unending list of examples and anecdotes, the evidence for different approaches, different thought patterns, and different communication styles stretches out like a Doppler effect illustration. Things that took place before they reached us and things we might envision happening in the future do not appear to impact us the way things happening right here and right now force us to pay attention. Communication and music are alike in this way. The good stuff has a lasting impact that remains measurable and which we can experience long after it begins. Some of that is methodology, some of that is delivery, both of which impact the user, or listener. Pieces like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah are as easily ingrained to your memory banks as The Rolling Stones’ “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” or The Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” despite being written in completely different times and performed with completely different instruments and vocals.
Collaboration – communication – is like that. I, like many of you, have participated in countless text message exchanges, Facebook and LinkedIn discussions, meetings, seminars, classroom instruction, and presentations, and some of them were indeed memorable. What I truly remember, with significantly more clarity, are the conversations. The one where a customer told me about their current challenges, and the one where a business partner suggested a solution to a problem I faced. The one where I spoke with my wife as we planned our future and our shared memories by a campfire last fall because we could, and the one where a long-time friend kept me company on the drive from Michigan to Indiana via phone after my father was killed because time and distance meant the phone was what we had to work with.
Even when they’re not so intensely personal, communication – collaboration – is a challenge, and our human nature leads us to constantly look for a better way to do that because awkward conversation is, well, awkward. Our various introvert or extrovert tendencies influence this, as do time, topic, cost, and numerous other factors. Do you like the asynchronous nature of an instant messaging solution, or would you prefer to meet in real time? Are you all about the video experience today’s technology offers, or would you rather I gave you a call because you’re working from home and don’t want to share the family photos on the wall behind you? Whatever your preference, this is what we do – what conversations will you have today?