Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Tree Swing of Communication Failure

At a recent training class I was reminded of the importance of good communication with this notorious diagram.

The diagram illustrates the pitfalls of poor product design, or poor customer service, and the dangers of failing to properly listen to customers and interpret their needs. The tree swing also demonstrates the dangers of departmental barriers, and failures of departments to talk to each other, and to talk to customers. As such, the tree swing is perfect for training these areas of quality, communications, customer care and inter-departmental relations.

The people over at have added several new tree swing pictures to the original collection.  Here are a couple:

I am sure many people and organizations can relate to this example.  This is why the voice of the customer and internal communications is so important. Remember the essence of communication means saying and hearing have the same message otherwise communication breaksdown.  As we say in Lean the signal or communication needs to be binary, clear, and direct.

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  1. What a coincidence. A colleague of mine is just starting up a team meeting on bedside reporting(a critical communication point) in a few minutes and I happened to come across this illustration so I showed it to her and she may share it with the team. Although the illustration is old the teaching points are every bit as valid today.

  2. Great post, Tim! Love the new pictures! It's so important to think about the needs of the customer and drive for clarity in figuring out the best way to fulfill those needs.

  3. Hi Tim,

    I shared this with a client who was lamenting over their communication issues. He thought it was hilarious. I hadn't seen the finance or the H&S revisions. They are spot on.


  4. Mark, Liz, and Chris,

    I am glad you liked this post and found some value in it. I saw this a while ago but recently became refamiliarized with it during a coaching training session. This was used to illustrate the importance of communicating with the players so they understand your drills. I had to share.

  5. Some pictures are classics for a reason. The first is certainly one of them.

    As for the two that followed, I could only laugh. Closer to reality than we may be willing to admit.

    Thanks for sharing!