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Running head: Cultural Communication

Cultural Communication Within an Organization


Robyn A. Wright
Student ID: 511366
Siena Heights University
February 28, 2015

Cultural Communication

Cultural Communication within an Organization


Communicationisanessentialpartofanorganizationsculture.Unfortunately,
communicationacrossanorganizationscultureisnotalwayseffective.Problemsolvingand
decisionmakingareadailypartoftheculturewithintheorganizationforallstaffregardlessof
theirposition.Howwellwecanhandleproblemsolvinganddecisionmaking,then
communicateittootherstaffreflectswhoweareasaleader.Ideally,anorganizationwillbe
filledwithstrongleaderswhocommunicateeffectively.Eventhestrongestleadersand
employeeshavedayswheretheyfeeltheyvehitawall.Whettonreferstotheseblocksas
conceptualblocks.
AccordingtoWhetton,therearefourdifferentconceptualblockswhichcaninhibitour
creativeproblemsolvingability.Itisimportanttobeabletorecognizewhenyouoracoworker
arestrugglingwithaconceptualblock.Whenwecanrecognizeconceptualblockswecanbegin
toworkthroughthem,orhelpothersworkthroughthemandreturntoeffectiveproblemsolving.
Thefourcommonconceptualblockswesufferfromare,consistency,commitment,compression,
andcomplacency.
Consistency is the first of the four conceptual blocks this paper will address. Constancy,
means that an individual becomes wedded to one way of looking at a problem or to using one
approach to define, describe, or solve it (Whetton, 168). We as humans thrive on consistency
and routine. It gives us a feeling of comfort, and when disheveled it often gives a feeling of
stress and anxiety. When our bodies are stressed or anxious it becomes increasingly difficult to
continue problem solving, as a defense mechanism some people stop critical thinking all together
and begin shutting down. This is when the consistency conceptual block occurs. Another way
we can hit a consistency conceptual block is when we get fixated on one way of doing

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something. If we process something the same way every time, for years, it becomes habit and
second nature to only process it that way. If at some point a stick is thrown into the mix, and the
way we have processed this task for years is challenged, it can at times prove difficult to adjust to
the change in routine, again resulting in consistency conceptual block.
In the Radiology department of a hospital consistency is both a blessing and a curse. It is
important, essential really that patients are imaged using designated protocols, and that those
protocols are followed consistently to achieve reproducibility across follow up exams. The same
consistency is then used for our 3d Imaging protocols, and measurements for patients pre and
post-operative planning and follow up. Technologists must be consistent across all imaging, and
post processing to ensure the radiologists are able to properly generate accurate comparison
reports. When there is a break in the consistency and imaging is not going as planned
technologists must be able to think outside of the box and find another way to achieve the quality
of scan, imaging, or measurements required for that patient.

In order to be successful at achieve

the same quality imaging and reports we must be able to troubleshoot these consistency
conceptual blocks.
Commitment is the second conceptual block on Whettons list, and will be the next block
we address. Commitment can become a block when an individual becomes committed to a
particular point of view, definitions, or solution, it is likely they will follow through on that
commitment (Whetton, p 170). Stereotyping based on past experiences, and ignoring
commonalities can both result in commitment conceptual blocks (Whetton p. 170). When
stereotyping from past experiences current conflicts and problems are viewed as related to past
issues. When this happens, it can be easy to revert back to solutions that were successful, or tried
during the past problem solving experience. When we link two separate instances and compare

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them instead of viewing them as separate of each other it can limit our ability to look beyond the
past solutions and forward at what could work for the current problem. The inability to look
forward at new solutions can limit the ability to find a new and better solution to the problem.
The opposite end of this block, and possibly the most common conceptual block is ignoring
commonalities. Ignoring commonalities is a failure to identify similarities among seemingly
disparate pieces of data (Whetton, p.171). When we cannot see the common links between
other problems, or solutions around the problems we are unable to visualize the possible links
between them.
Many times in the work environment, when there is a problem it is linked to another task
or problem. The ability to think critically while working is essential in health care. The ability
to identify commonalities among problems, or patient types can help to trouble shoot problems
before they start, or, if it is too late for that, moving forward for others patients. Finding links
between workflow issues, or specific patient populations can help to create new work processes
to work around issues, and avoid the issues identified moving forward. These links, when
identified often can help improve multiple processes at one time with implementation of new
work flow. When these links and potential successful changes are communicated across staff it
can help a department improve overall workflow which improved departmental productivity and
effectiveness, and also can improve care for patients by removing any possible frustration that
was being ignited before problems were addressed.
The third conceptual block address by Whetton is compression. Compression blocks are
a result of a compression of ones ideas (Whetton, p 172). Looking too narrowly at a problem,
screening out too much relevant data, and making assumptions that inhibit problem solution are

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common examples (Whetton, p 172). When a problem seems unsolvable, we can compress the
ability to look outside the box and find new solutions for difficult problems.
Compression blocks are seen commonly within my workplace with new software
releases, or newly implemented 3d post processing protocols that staff are not familiar with yet.
One staff member almost always compresses her extensive knowledge of the software we are
already utilizing, and does not allow herself to think outside of the box as to how she can utilize
the knowledge she already has and apply it to the new technology. Patient anatomy, and
circulation, generally is vaguely similar. With the exception of congenital abnormalities, we
know roughly where to expect anatomy to be. We also know how to utilize the various tools on
the 3d software that we have available to us. When new protocols come into our lab it is
important that we draw off the extensive knowledge we have, and not compress it. When
compression of knowledge occurs it results in frustration, and a low productivity. This specific
co-worker compresses her knowledge, and begins to shut down. She begins to experience two
conceptual blocks. She blocks the knowledge she has, and the new technology also throws a
wrench into her consistency and routine. With new upgrades she is frequently distraught until
applications come, and sometimes afterwards. In an effort to cope this co-worker will avoid the
new technology and new examinations leaving them for her co-workers, many with less
experience than her to work though. As a leader it is important to help staff through these
changes. Progress and new technology is necessary in health care. Advances will become more
frequent and as a leader it is important to empower your staff to learn to cope with change, and
address what they need to feel confident to work through problems.
The fourth and last conceptual block that Whetton discusses is complacency.
Complacency blocks occur from fear, ignorance, insecurity, or just plain mental laziness

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(Whetton, p. 175). There are many reasons that an employee may become complacent when
problem solving. New staff may not want to be inquisitive for fear of being thought less of, or
they may feel they wont be heard because of their ranking within the department or
organization. It is too easy for staff to hold back at times, to sit back and watch as others try to
problem solve without throwing their ideas into the pot from fear of ridicule or failure.
In my department teamwork is essential. It is important to contribute your ideas to new
processing and processes. If we do not share our ideas we can not be upset if the end process is
not favorable to us. Over the past two years my department has implemented a few policies
affecting call, working weekends and holidays, and new vacation request policies. These can be
controversial topics as each staff member has different ideas as to what the best policy will be.
Being able to talk openly on your opinion, ask questions, and assert concerns helps to ensure
your voice is heard and your opinion is considered when creating the new policy. If you
experience and conceptual block, and are unable to find a way to work through it you opinion
will not be heard, and will not be considered in the end policy.
Changing habits and learning to overcome conceptual blocks can take years. Individuals
who frequently experience conceptual blocks need to work through what could be years of bad
habits. Employees must learn to open their minds and think outside the box when problem
solving. They must be able to review various solutions to problems, and ask for help when
needed. Opening up may be one of the hardest challenges when learning to address conceptual
blocks. Being able to express your feelings and concerns without worry of ridicule takes time,
and takes bravery. The important thing to realize is that conceptual blocks can be overcome.
Nearly everyone experiences a conceptual block at some point, most people experience many.
Recognizing that you are in a conceptual block, and then taking the steps you need to remove

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yourself from the block and get back to active problem solving is key. Conceptual blocks will
never go away, but they can be addressed and improved. As an effective leader you can help
prevent conceptual blocks by keeping communication open within your department.

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References

Cameron,K,Wheetin,D.(1998).DevelopingManagementSkills.AddisonWesleyPublication.