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February 2013 Edition   

Founder's Monthly Message

Rahmat Ushaksaraei

In daily international business interactions with my senior executive colleagues in 38 countries, I am often faced with a sensitive question about the Canadian Business and Communication Culture.

The common concern from abroad is the dominant business communication culture of "Silence and No Response" to an enquiry by Canadian businesses, firms and corporations.

In specific, when a Canadian business, firm or corporation is contacted by a foreign firm or an individual even at the key executive level, often enough hardly an acknowledgment is sent to the enquirer.

While one would appreciate that not every business discussion must lead to a business engagement, the ordinary and very much accepted culture of "Not Sending either an Acknowledgment or a Response" by a Canadian entity is extremely puzzling for others.

To justify this undeniable shortcoming in the Canadian Business Communication Culture, my only explanation to my colleagues is that Canadian entities are extremely conservative towards an unsolicited approach from any sources.

Yet, concerns from external sources aside, as a cultural self-reflection, even Canadians are experiencing this phenomenon almost daily here in Canada. Merely as an example, one could talk to any job applicant and get an earful of similar experience with an employer. As a business experience, recently, I personally survived a "No Response" case from three Canadian firms, who remained silent, i.e. not even an acknowledgment, towards my $250K public bid business offer attainable in less than 6 months!

Unfortunately, it seems that key decision makers of Canadian businesses, firms and corporations hardly promote the culture of "welcoming communication" with unknown foreign and even Canadian sources. For businesses, this approach is analogous to attending a networking event and refusing introducing oneself or exchanging business contact information with people, whom never met before.

Additionally, it seems that close to 99% of Canadian businesses, firms and corporations have adapted the same communication culture and believe that by ignoring an enquiry or external communication:

- The enquirer will eventually get frustrated and goes away.
- By adapting a selective communication approach, the relayed attitude is depicting a high level of importance of a business, firm or corporation.

When it comes to openness in the communication culture, the gap between Canada and rest of the world is fairly wide. In specific, elsewhere, any enquiry almost is acknowledged in less than 24 hours by a living sole, if not provided with a comprehensive response already. Additionally, all cases are taken seriously, until proven for a fact that is false. To test this hypothesis in communication difference, as a Canadian, you may consider sending an enquiry or simply an employment application to a firm specially in Europe and observe the Communication culture and compare it with contacting a Canadian firm for the similar reason.

As a tangible result, this approach not only has impacted the reputation of the Canadian businesses, firms and corporations abroad, but also it continually results in missed opportunities.

So, leaving the anthropology aspect of the issue aside,  merely from a business perspective, I would certainly hope that the contents of this article may be basis for scrutinizing our existing business communication culture and welcoming dynamic approaches towards changing it.

Rahmat Ushaksaraei

t: 416 - 275 - 5543
w: business support initiative

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Disregard of the nature of a business, its three building blocks are People, Process and Bi-directional Information flow between People and Process. Also, these building blocks impact the three fundamentals of CSA (Cash/Finance - Sales/Marketing - Administration) within a business.

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Business Communication Culture; a Critical Issue!

Since the early era of documented human interaction, Communication has been playing a significant role in continually forming, shaping and reshaping of societies of any kind and nature. Furthermore, despite all technological advancements to date, Communication is still at its early stages of evolution and far from of being considered an efficient, effective, meaningful and perfect universal entity.

The common understanding is that communication has two main components of medium and message. In this respect, the bi-directional connections between these two entities are undeniable and often enough inevitable.  Merely as an example, the greatest message may lose its effect, if relayed via an inadequate medium.

One delicate point is that although the medium may enhance the message, one need to remember that it would not change its nature or value.  In specific, by reaching the age of high speed information technology, the media for communicating a message have evolved and drastically changed compare to the devices, which were utilized in the early development stages of any known format of verbal and written communication. Yet, in essence, the nature and inherent quality of the message that one may broadcast in the daily communication is still irrelevant to the type of the media.

In addition to medium and message, an often overlooked third leg of communication is its culture. In communication, the definition of culture is far from the primitive one, which is used to describe the ethnic and geographical differences. In other words, culture in communication is the combination of all elements, which form one's overall view and the behaviour resulted by it. In relation to medium and message, culture is the overall umbrella, the governing element and the key impacting factor embodying meaningfulness, quality, nature and value of a message, which is broadcast via a medium; pictorially:

Message, Medium and Culture - Three Building Blocks of Communication
Message, Medium and Culture; The three building blocks of Communication

To perhaps simplify the interactions between the three elements of communication and further emphasize the role of the culture, let us consider that in response to an enquiry:

- Message: The message is written in the most eloquent language and precise manner.
- Medium: The most sophisticated medium is selected to relay the message with.
- Culture: Message is omitted to be sent on time missing a deadline or never sent at all.

As one may appreciate, in this case, the impact of culture is very obvious.

Now, let's consider the following:

- Message & Culture: The messages are hardly written in a clear language.
- Medium & Culture: Hardly, an appropriate medium is utilized.

Although it may not be clearly distinguished, culture is entangled with both message and medium. Additionally, it may be unnoticeable to the sender of the message that there is a shortcoming with the overall picture, yet the recipient definitely notices the related inefficiencies with both message and medium and feels the impact.

The worst case scenario is where the practiced and dominant culture in a business would not promote a welcoming approach towards external enquiries; i.e.:

- Message: The message could be written in the most eloquent language and precise manner.
- Medium: The most sophisticated medium exited to relay the message with.
- Culture: Enquiries from external sources are deliberately ignored and left unanswered.
With the technological advancements and knowledge based expertise, in this day and age, there are numerous remedies available in correcting the issues with message and medium. In other words, if needed, even technical expertise and talents may be considered by a business to provide necessary solutions to any issues related to preparing the right message and match it with the right medium for the business.

At the same time that there are readily available solutions for rectifying any possible inefficiencies with both message and medium and eventually removing any related concerns, the shortcomings with cultural perspective of the communication are much more complex and challenging to deal with.

The reason for the added challenge is that one will be dealing with the People aspect of People-Process-Information (PPI)1. In reality, although the most sophisticated Process and Information systems may be designed, their successes or failures totally and only depend on the element of People.

To demonstrate the direct relation, if an in-depth analysis is conducted, one could easily draw respectively an analogous connection between People-Process-Information and Culture-Medium-Message. This is how:

- Message is analogous to Information : Message is information that flows from one source to other.
- Medium is analogous to Process : A Medium entails a Process via which a Message is disseminated.
- Culture is analogous to People: The Culture is direct representation of who we are as People and is the collection of views and values that we carry. 

People-Process-Information analogous with Culture-Medium-Message
Relation between People-Process-Information and Culture-Medium-Message

The direct relation between People-Process-Information and Message-Medium-Culture defines the important values of all three building blocks of communication and the level of impacts that they may have either individually or collectively.

Historically, for small and mid-size businesses, developing an adequate message and adapting the appropriate infrastructure for a suitable medium are less challenging than dealing with the issue of culture.

Having said that, although the challenge is as intense as fully satisfying the People aspect of the business, still there are ways in adapting the fundamentals of the business best practices. In doing so, whether we realize it or not, any improvement in Communication Culture of a business starts from its key decision maker(s). The main reason for focusing our attention on the leadership of a business is that any business to its smallest details, even the colour of the walls, is an absolute reflection of the key decision maker(s) of the business. The philosophy behind this issue is that no matter where we are and what we do, logically we tend to create comfort zones for ourselves. As we know, comfort zones are the reflection of our attitudes, views, perceptions, likes and dislikes and... So, naturally and from an authority point of view, the key decision maker of a business imposes his/her overall attitude on everything until the most suitable comfort zone is created. Interesting; isn't it? Think about it!

To inject any change towards nurturing and improving the overall health of the Communication Culture of a business, one needs to ensure that:

a- Fundamentals of the best practices related to Communication Culture are well understood by the key decision maker(s) of the business.
b- Communication Culture best practices are promoted by the key decision maker(s) of the business and personally adhered to.
c- Health of the overall Communication Culture is monitored by the key decision maker(s) of the business and the related gaps are bridged.

Any questions or doubts?; Contact me directly and let's have a business chat!
1- People-Process-Information (PPI) methodology has been pioneered by Rahmat Ushaksaraei, AInstIB, P.Eng., PMP - All Rights Reserved.

About the author: Rahmat Ushaksaraei is an Accredited Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB), Founder of GeBTL, Global executive Business & Trade Links, the only global top level executives' business platform, Founder of Bio Wood Pellet, representing the North American producers of the wood pellet in the global market, Founder and CEO of AEON Engineering Group Inc., President of the accrete, The Business Excellence Realization , an author, presenter, Professional Engineer (P.Eng.), Project Management Professional (PMP), renowned expert in Concept, Project, Process, Quality and Communication Management,  business executive and leadership coach to large corporations, business mentor and advisor to small and mid-size businesses, pioneer of Diamond Total Management (DTM)business excellence model and Human Intelligence Management (HIM)and Human Emotion Realization (HER)methodologies and architect of the valuator™ and evaluator™ business evaluation tools for small and mid-size businesses. Rahmat Ushaksaraei may be reached at: Rahmat Ushaksaraei

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