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No matter what industry you work in, no matter what function you perform, no matter where in the world you sit, there’s one thing you have to do:  interact with people.  When the interactions aren’t working, the “work” doesn’t happen.  Such problems have a tremendous cost, yet are too often ignored.

That was a key point in my recent interview with Fox Business News, in which I discussed the key elements of a high-functioning team with Jenna Lee.   One thing we discussed was the amazingly high cost of problems in this area.  Sitting there on national TV, throwing around costs in the millions and billions of dollars, it was hard to imagine why any business person would hesitate to invest in a little prevention. 

Many of us – myself included – were trained that if you get the work done, it doesn’t matter if people like you or if you “interact well.”  That’s just not true anymore.  In the information economy, each person is a node through which information flows.  If a node can’t pass along information, and interact with the surrounding nodes, it’s not functioning.  If one node doesn’t function, the network can adapt, but if enough nodes aren’t functioning, the network fails.

If there were static on the company phone lines, we wouldn’t hesitate to fix them.  Why not take the same approach to the invisible lines of communication?