Communication pattern (information broker) and scary anti-pattern (information hoarder)

I find it interesting sometimes considering the reality of communication. People communicate with other people based on a mixed bag (my wife taught me that one). That mixed bag determines who gets in and who gets left out in the cold.

My buddies get the information I have.

The clique in the end causes modifications in communications patterns. More so than you would on a surface basis guess. The clique has its specific communication patterns that operate it he clique. That produces both an internal and an external anti-pattern reaction. As I watch cliques interact with people I’ve noticed the explosion in the anti-patterns of the disenfranchised (those not in the clique).

1. So new communication rule number one when there are cliques it creates exponential reaction from those disenfranchised by the communication clique.

2. Rule number two if in fact there is a clique the resultant reaction of the non-clique members will be significantly greater.

The initial reaction is the creation of more cliques. This causes communication to slow down and ultimately begin to fray and fail around the edges of both cliques. Cliques have layers going from the outside in. The inner circle is able to move back and forth easily and always knows what is going on. The outer circle may not be up to date but will be eventually. Those outside the clique then never get the newest information until well after it is general knowledge. If your organization ends up creating a large number of cliques and the points of intersection are vague in the end you end up with a new communication pattern.

This brings the information hoarder into play. The good news is the pattern is the information broker. The person you go to that knows where things are. The negative side or anti-pattern is the information hoarder. When you add cliques to the mix the information hoarder can destroy teams in well less than one meeting. When you have lesser communication structures (cliques) and the information hoarder anti-pattern you can actually watch communication break down and devolve in your organization.

The hoarder collects information as power. They drive home the value they bring and lessen the value and impact of the overall team. Additionally if they function in the inner core of a clique then suddenly the information they have is withheld on purpose to force the other cliques to accept the hoarder as a source.

Information hoarders in the end are a very destructive anti-pattern. When they appear in an organization as part of a clique structure they become even more dangerous. Any company that has human barriers to information (cliques) and human beings that own and control information (hoarders) is going to run afoul of both problems very quickly. The information hoarder anti-pattern being multiplied by a very large amount when they are clique members.

The other side of this is if the information hoarder is not in the end part of a clique. Then they will hoard the information and effectively destroy the cliques. This results in a completely broken communication process in the organization.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.