Porter-O’Grady and Malloch (2011) present “complexity communication” and advocate a three step process to achieve the greatest communication (p. 270). 

Leaders must actively listen and not just passively hear, followed by questions, and finally critical analysis. 


As Henry Winkler, American actor, once said “assumptions are the termites of relationships”.  Assumptions are convenient to make but sometimes Herculean to eliminate. 

Building on that observation, Porter-O’Grady and Malloch (2011) address labeling of convenience.  Stereotypes and labels help society function offering knowledge about each other.  Consider sociology and psychology.  We can compartmentalize.  Conversely, convenience for the labeller can equate to misnomer, misjudgment, and discrimination of the labeled.

How many times have I sent an email assured it was delivered only to learn the recipient never received it?  It was after all in my “sent items”.  Just as with virtual conversations, face-to-face conversations require awareness of delivery status.  We are anxious for people to receive their birthday or Christmas gifts and follow up to ensure they were received, but we so often fail to have comprehensive conversations and ensure “delivery” status. AdobeStock_430954746

Porter-O’Grady and Malloch (2011) refer to it as the “fire-ready-aim approach” (p. 274); make a statement, hear analysis, and then critically consider leaving the responsibility on the hearer to process however they understand.  Quite naturally, we cannot control how anyone receives another’s message.  Right?  I would suggest otherwise.  The onus is on the deliverer to convey their message- both the content and spirit.  The hearer is free to digest the message how they choose.



Porter-O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2011). Quantum leadership Advancing innovation, transforming health care (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Hannah Thomas
Hannah Thomas has spent the past 23 years in project and program management, working in biotech and healthcare. She received her Masters of Science in Clinical Research Administration from the George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences. Hannah has managed projects guiding clinical research and examining patient care. She works to bring big-data, analytics, and critical thinking to solving systemic and programmatic problems.

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