Why It Matters: Communication in the Workplace

Why learn how to appropriately and effectively communicate in the workplace?

In their 2012 article “The Silent Killer of Big Companies,” Harvard professor Boris Groysberg and writer Michael Slind open with these scenarios:[1]

A leading mobile-phone maker falls out of step with its market — and struggles to catch up.

An energy-trading company rises high — and then suddenly implodes.

A luxury cruise ship takes a wrong turn — and the parent cruise-line company finds itself on troubled waters.

A mighty oil company presides over an environmental disaster — one that spills over to become a PR disaster as well.

The board of an airline hires a CEO — and then cancels his contract after just three years.

Photograph of a man talking into a tin can tied to a stringAll of these examples, namely Nokia, Enron, Star Princess Cruise Lines, BP, and Thai Airlines, all suffered what the authors called a “grievous lapse of communication” that yielded the above results. Grievous lapses of communication that led to lost productivity, loss of contact with customer needs, lost touch with basic ethics, and ultimately, lost profits.

Good communication is at the foundation of a successful business, and leaders who understand and stimulate the way information flows within their organization will reap the rewards. Sadly, there is no shortage of tragic examples where communication went awry and businesses struggled or folded as a result. Understanding the components of good communication and how organizations put them to work is key in avoiding that fate and finding success.


  1. Groysberg, Boris, and Michael Slind. "The Silent Killer of Big Companies." Harvard Business Review. August 07, 2014. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://hbr.org/2012/10/the-silent-killer-of-big-companies.