CAL Dean Valerio Ferme
Evolving effective communication
February 12, 2019:
It’s been more than a year since I last blogged. Partly, I stopped to allow our websites to convert to the new platform. Partly, I was deciding if it made sense for me to use a blog as a way to communicate broadly with the College.
The latter is particularly important for me. At the end of last academic year, my evaluation by members of the college suggested that communication was one of my areas of weakness. So if communication is a weakness, does it make sense to continue using a means of communication that, among others, is not achieving its intended goal? That made me think about how I communicate, and what I communicate when I use different means.
In the interim, the question I have been asking myself is: What is a Dean’s Blog? Given who is writing it (the ‘dean’), the blog can be reflective, meant to share observations on what is happening in the College. Or it could be ‘communicative’ in a more direct sense of sharing with members of the College information that is important to the daily, monthly, and annual functioning of the College. Finally, it could veer into the personal, making the College only tangentially relative to its contents.
I realized, as I was thinking of these different aspects of blogging, that what was missing here was the communication part of ‘communication.’ What do I mean? Well, if communication comes from the Latin cum (with) and munis (offices/duties), meaning “performing offices/duties together,” what the blog is missing is the “together” part of the communication. I am certainly sharing information, but the flow of information is uni-directional. This is not communication the way I understand it, because it does not allow for responses, requests for clarification, further questions, and more sharing. While technically the blog still produces some information and ‘shares’ that information from the perspective of the dean, it does not seem to be a successful way to communicate.
So, as I consider whether I want to reactivate the blog, I have three questions to ask of the College faculty, staff, and students: 1) How do we improve the blog? 2) Is there a place for the blog in the College’s web presence?; 3) If the answer to 2) is yes, what should the blog discuss, and how do we ensure that this is truly a two-way conversation?
Share your comments at: valerio.ferme@NAU.edu