The Missing Essential in Public Communication
Chapter 4: Creating an ‘Architecture of Listening’ and Doing the Work of Listening
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CREATING AN ‘ARCHITECTURE OF LISTENING’ AND DOING THE WORK OF LISTENING
The challenges of large-scale listening have been referred to several times in this analysis. These are not to be underestimated. Indeed, organizational listening could well be described as a wicked problem—a notion that was first outlined in management literature by C. West Churchman (1967) and defined in more detail in the context of social planning by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber (1973). There are many characteristics of a wicked problem, but those considered key are the following: (1) there are no totally true, false, or perfect solutions; (2) wicked problems are usually unique; (3) there is no ‘stopping rule’ for wicked problems (i.e., a precise mechanism to know the optimal time to stop or continue a resolution process); and (4) every wicked problem is a symptom of or linked to other problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Furthermore, wicked problems are mostly social and humanistic, unlike scientific problems that can be resolved using systematic approaches and following precise rules such as mathematical formulae. So an overall feature of wicked problems is that they are complex and usually require multifaceted approaches.
There is often a tendency to seek simple solutions to problems, however. In the case of poor organizational listening, one such approach is to see technology as the answer. Technology, particularly digital technology, is ← 245 | 246 → being hailed as a panacea in many fields of politics, science, and social...
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