Communication Barriers @ Metamorphosis Studios Essay, Research Paper
Communication Barriers at Metamorphosis Studios
Two aspiring men shared a dream of creating a multimedia design firm. They wanted to compete with industry giants such as Microsoft and Sega. Clarence Wooten Jr. and Andre Forde wanted to create a company that was different than the corporate environment from which they came. Metamorphosis Studios has been created by these two entrepreneurs as a “virtual corporation” (Bovee and Thill 2). Metamorphosis Studios is a Maryland-based, Web site design and Internet solutions company. Metamorphosis studios has, “…cutting-edge designs of interactive software, multimedia presentations, corporate Web pages, and edutainment products” (Bovee and Thill 2). Its organization has a different type of work environment than the typical corporate atmosphere. “A core group of eight creative specialists work regularly for Metamorphosis, along with dozens of others who come aboard for specific projects” (Bovee and Thill 2). Metamorphosis Studies communicate to these offsite freelancers and specialists via phone, email, fax, and the Internet. “Communication on a project begins when Wooten and Forde assemble the entire team for a kickoff meeting. Such face-to-face interaction enables team members to establish a rapport while exchanging ideas on creative strategies” (Bovee and Thill 3). Its founders send bi-weekly status reports via email to the team members as well as communication to individuals on progress of projects. The company’s open communication methods assist in the production of its creative designs, meeting timelines, and meeting budget proposals for each project.
There are two main issues presented by the above fact scenario. They include information overload and message competition. Whether the communication at Metamorphosis Studios is a bi-weekly bulletin, email, or face-to-face meetings, would the freelancers and creative specialists have information overload? “Many people are stimulated by knowing how an entire project is progressing (even beyond their own individual roles); however, others feel so overloaded by unnecessary information that effective communication is actually blocked” (Bovee and Thill 3). When information overflow is an issue, people may have difficulty keeping up with the communication flow and may become less productive. Another key communication barrier at Metamorphosis Studios is getting the freelancers to provide input and feedback on projects. “Some freelancers, particularly the technical specialists, are reluctant communicators who are much less likely than the creative specialists to offer feedback” (Bovee and Thill 3). Whether the staff member is a permanent employee or under contract for a project, would this determine if communication would suffer at Metamorphosis Studios? “Feedback is the key element in the communication process because it enables you to evaluate the effectiveness of your message. If your audience doesn’t understand what you mean, you can tell by the response and refine your message” (Bovee and Thill 16).
Metamorphosis Studios does not use in house specialists for a project due to budgetary demands. “A typical project takes three to six months or more to complete and requires frequent communication and coordination with each far flung member of the creative team” (Bovee and Thill 3). Phone, fax, and the Internet link these freelancers. Because these freelancers are the kind of creative individuals that immerse themselves in their work, they may resist streams of communication. Wooten believes that he must keep the lines of communication flowing in order for all team members to stay informed. Wooten may be building barriers to effective communication by using information overload. To keep up with all aspects of the project he sends out a biweekly bulletin via email updating everyone on the project and solicits feedback. Wooten also sends individualized messages to team members. What can Wooten do to keep his team informed on the important points of the project and at the same time not inundate his freelancers with unnecessary and time-consuming information?
Alternative solutions for information overload and message competition may include the following. An electronic bulletin board could be created to allow team members to access the board on their own time schedule instead of being inundated with email newsletters and bulletins. Another solution could be to minimize messages. “One useful way to reduce the number of messages is to think twice before sending one” (Bovee and Thill 28). A quick telephone call or a face-to-face conversation with the individual may be substituted for these email messages that Wooten uses. A third and final alternative could be to utilize a real-time project management tool to assist all team members to update and access freely at their discretion. Communication overload and message competition takes a toll on an organization. Productivity is lost as well as high morale. Although there are several alternatives, the one choice Metamorphosis does not have is to continue to communicate as they have in the past.
Based on the alternative solutions presented above, our recommendation to Metamorphosis Studios would be to invest in a project management tool. This tool would greatly reduce information overload, reduce stress, and allow productivity to increase. By allowing developers to update status in real time and by allowing quality assurance analysts to access the real time status, messages back and forth between development and quality assurance would be greatly reduced. Another benefit of the project management tool would be the real time status reports that would reduce messages between management.
Ethical communication is communication that is complete with all relevant information, is 100% true, and is not deceptive at all. An ethical dilemma involves making a choice between alternatives where the right answer may not be obvious. Metamorphosis Studios’ ethical dilemma is this: at what point does open, honest, and informative communication become information overload? Wooten can keep his stance, ignore his employee’s cry for help, and continue running Metamorphosis as usual. If he modifies his communication techniques, he has to make sure his communication is still complete in order to be ethical. So how can Wooten have complete, ethical communication, and still address his employees’ concerns? If Wooten invests in the project management tool as recommended, the issues of communication overload and message competition may become eliminated.
Bovee, Courtland L., and John V. Thill. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc., 2000.
Bovee, Courtland L., and John V. Thill. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. New York: Prentice Hall, Inc., 2000