Nature vs. Nurture?

When it comes to company communications, is nature or nurture more critical?
Is corporate communication a product of nature or nurture? Do companies need a certain structure – IT, seating arrangements, meeting formats – to effectively communicate. Or, is communication a result of individuals working on their communication skills as they reach out, listen, and exchange ideas?

The nature versus nurture argument has a long and colorful history. It’s hard to name a psychologist that has not taken a position on this. On the nature side of the fence, there is Chomsky and Freud with their concepts of language acquisition and innate aggression. On the nurturing side, one can find Bandura and BF Skinner with their Bobo dolls and conditioning experiments.

So how does nature vs. nurture play out in the corporate and business world?
From the corporate perspective, the nature side is presently driven by technology (we’ve already passed ‘peak open office’). We have Slack, Outlook, Teams, Confluence and more. All of these are technologies which are designed to make our business experience more effective, accelerate the exchange of information, and help us communicate more easily and across ever greater physical distances.
On the nurture side, we have those soft management skills – leadership, critical thinking, delegation, and, yes, communication. These are the personal skills that can be improved with effort and practice. While literature on this can be overly warm and fuzzy, our own experience reminds us that some jobs improve – or tank dramatically – after a management change and the uselessness of some morning meetings that descend into episodes of “Yes, Mr. Minister.”

I’ll take a chicken and that egg

A moment of introspection is enough to realize that we don’t need to know which is first in a chicken or the egg style debate. We need both – and we need them at the same time. Just think of Zoom in this time of COVID-19. Technologies like email which help us exchange ideas and information rapidly – that’s great. Other advances like CRM systems that help us categorize and sort this data – also great. Other technologies like maiConnect’s SAP AddOn for bidirectional synchronization between Outlook and SAP – oh, that’s even better.
But don’t forget that nurturing side of the fence. A company that encourages openness and communication is just going to be more effective than another where thoughts are muzzled – even if both companies are using the same technological toolset. It’s not enough to have the TI capability to exchange data, there needs to be some thought and humanity attached to it.

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