Scout, in fourth grade, has been learning about the Holocaust. Like all of us, I guess, she's absorbing this incredible fact in stages. Shock, fascination, outrage—"I hate Hitler!"—and more fascination about the first historical event that fully captured her imagination.
It's struck me sideways, oddly, that each one of us has to learn about the Holocaust completely from scratch. The mind wants to think that some history—and maybe some math and science, too—would be seared into our DNA, that we would understand it from birth, like instincts.
No. Today's kids are just as dumb as we were, and need just as careful an education as we did—lest they be as half-educated as we are. In life, and in communication too. Consider this old unwisdom, which I ran across the other day:
Many workplaces have frequent meetings where everyone on a team gets together (either physically or virtually) to give oral status reports of their respective projects.
These "update meetings" (aka "staff meetings") are supposedly useful because they encourage "better communication." I beg to differ.
As I see it, communication should only take place if it's necessary to coordinate the activities of team members. If that need does not exist, "better communication" is only creating distractions.
For example, programmers working on a commercial application don't need to know the status of the marketing campaign. Similarly, marketing folk do not need to know the specifics of technical milestones.
As a general rule, business communication should be on a "need to know" basis, not because it's secret but because if you don't need to know something you're wasting time and energy if you're thinking about it.
That sounds like it was written in about 1911, before everyone gradually figured out that employees who understand the big picture are more engaged, make better decisions and generate new ideas that benefit the whole company in unexpected ways. Nope! Just the other day, in Inc. magazine!
Peter Drucker is dead. We are Peter Drucker. And Elie Wiesel. It's not that we should never forget. We are not doomed to repeat history. The next generation is.
Personally and professionally, we must teach our children. Well.