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Downward Communications Cannot Work

  IML Note - The excerpt below is from Peter Drucker's timeless and seminal work, Management Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. This text, which represents Drucker's conclusions, appears near the end of Chapter 38, Managerial Communications. Earlier in the chapter Drucker had summarized, in his typical sweeping and penetrating style, all of the research that had been done over the previous 100 years on the subject of "organizational communication." Here is what he concluded.

"For Centuries we have attempted communication "downward". This, however, cannot work, no matter how hard and how intelligently we try. It cannot work, first because it focuses on what we want to say. Communication is the act of the recipient. What we have been trying to do is to work on the emitter, specifically on the manager, the administrator, the commander, to make him capable of being a better communicator. But all one can communicate downward are commands, that is, prearranged signals. One cannot communicate downward anything connected with understanding, let alone motivation. This requires communication upward, from those who perceive to those who want to reach their perception."

"Downward communications come after upward communications have been successfully established"
Peter Drucker
Management Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices