Communication is the lifeblood of any successful business or corporate environment. It’s how ideas, information, and strategies are conveyed, understood, and implemented. In this article, we will define communication, explore its significance in business, and examine how effective communication is utilized during Six Sigma projects to drive process improvements.

Defining Communication

Communication refers to exchanging information, thoughts, ideas, and feelings between individuals or groups. It encompasses various forms, including verbal, written, non-verbal, and visual communication. Effective communication involves not only the transmission of a message but also the intended audience’s reception and comprehension of that message.

The Importance of Communication in Business

Communication plays a pivotal role in the business and corporate environment for several compelling reasons:

  1. Alignment of Goals: Effective communication ensures that all employees know the organization’s goals, objectives, and strategic direction. When everyone understands the big picture, they can align their efforts accordingly.

  2. Decision-Making: Informed decision-making relies on accurate and timely data communication, insights, and analyses. Effective communication enables management to make well-informed choices that drive the business forward.

  3. Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are an inevitable part of any workplace. Proper communication channels provide a means for addressing conflicts constructively and finding resolutions that maintain a positive working environment.

  4. Enhanced Productivity: Clear communication reduces misunderstandings and errors, which can lead to increased productivity. When employees understand their roles and tasks, they can work more efficiently.

  5. Innovation and Creativity: A culture of open and transparent communication encourages employees to share their ideas and innovations. This fosters creativity and drives continuous improvement.

  6. Customer Relations: Effective communication extends beyond the organization’s boundaries. It is essential for building and maintaining strong relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners.

  7. Change Management: During periods of change, such as process improvements or restructuring, effective communication helps employees adapt to new circumstances and embrace change.  Certified Change Managers can often be beneficial in these scenarios.

Communication in Six Sigma Projects

Six Sigma, a data-driven methodology for process improvement, places a significant emphasis on communication throughout its various phases (DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control):

  1. Define Phase:
    • Project Charter: Communication begins with the project charter, which outlines the project’s purpose, scope, and objectives. This document serves as a communication tool to ensure that all stakeholders, including team members and leadership, clearly understand the project’s goals.

  2. Measure Phase:
    • Data Collection: Clear and precise communication is essential when gathering data. Team members must understand the data collection process, including what data to collect, how to collect it, and why it is relevant to the project’s objectives.

  3. Analyze Phase:
    • Root Cause Analysis: Effective communication is crucial during root cause analysis. Team members collaborate to identify the underlying causes of problems and share insights to develop a deeper understanding of the issues.

  4. Improve Phase:
    • Solution Implementation: Communication is vital when implementing process improvements. Team members must work together to ensure that changes are executed correctly and that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

  5. Control Phase:
    • Standardization: In this phase, communication is used to establish standardized processes and procedures. It ensures that improvements are sustained over time and that deviations are promptly addressed.

Throughout a Six Sigma project, clear communication among team members, stakeholders, and leadership is essential for success. Effective communication fosters collaboration, ensures alignment with project goals, and facilitates the dissemination of results and recommendations. It also helps manage expectations and keeps everyone informed about the project’s progress.  Six Sigma Champions and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt’s often set the tone for communication early in the project lifecycle.

Examples of Good Communication

Good communication is essential in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional settings. Effective communication fosters understanding, builds trust, and helps convey ideas clearly. Here are some examples of good communication in different contexts:

  1. Active Listening:

Good communication often starts with being an active listener. Listening attentively demonstrates respect and a genuine interest in what the other person has to say. For example:

  • In a personal relationship: When a partner listens empathetically to their significant other’s concerns without interrupting, it shows they value their feelings and perspective.
  • In a business meeting: A team member attentively listens to a colleague’s ideas during a brainstorming session, encouraging open dialogue and collaboration.

  1. Clarity and Conciseness:

Effective communication is clear and concise, ensuring that the message is easy to understand and does not lead to misunderstandings. For instance:

  • In a presentation: A speaker uses straightforward language and visual aids to convey complex information to an audience, making it accessible and comprehensible.
  • In written communication: An email or memo provides essential details and instructions without unnecessary jargon or ambiguity.

  1. Non-Verbal Communication:

Non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, significantly convey emotions and intentions. For example:

  • During a job interview: A candidate maintains eye contact, smiles, and uses appropriate hand gestures, demonstrating confidence and professionalism.
  • In a counseling session: A therapist shows empathy through non-verbal cues, such as nodding and maintaining an open and receptive posture.

  1. Empathy and Understanding:

Good communication often involves showing empathy and understanding toward others’ feelings and perspectives. This can diffuse conflicts and build stronger connections. For instance:

  • In a conflict resolution conversation: A supervisor acknowledges an employee’s frustration, validating their emotions and showing a willingness to work together to find a solution.
  • In a personal relationship: A friend empathizes with another friend’s struggles and offers support and encouragement.

  1. Feedback and Constructive Criticism:

Providing feedback and constructive criticism in a respectful and constructive manner is an essential aspect of good communication. For example:

  • In a performance review: A manager offers specific examples of an employee’s strengths and areas for improvement, along with guidance on developing and growing.
  • In a creative team: A designer offers constructive feedback on a colleague’s work, highlighting what works well and suggesting improvements.

  1. Adaptability:

Good communicators adapt their communication style to the needs and preferences of their audience. For instance:

  • In a teaching environment: An educator adjusts their teaching methods to cater to students’ different learning styles and abilities.
  • In a multicultural workplace: A manager communicates effectively with a diverse team, respecting cultural differences and language proficiency levels.

  1. Conflict Resolution:

Good communication is crucial in resolving conflicts. It involves active listening, expressing concerns, and working collaboratively to find solutions. For example:

  • In a family dispute: Siblings sit down to discuss their disagreements calmly, allowing each person to express their feelings and concerns while seeking common ground.
  • In a workplace conflict: A mediator facilitates a conversation between two colleagues who have conflicting viewpoints, helping them find a resolution that benefits both parties and the organization.

These examples illustrate that good communication is a versatile skill that can be applied in various situations to build positive relationships, foster understanding, and achieve goals effectively.

Examples of Bad Communication

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and inefficiencies in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional settings. Here are some examples of poor communication:

  1. Misunderstood Instructions:
    • In a workplace, a manager gives vague or incomplete instructions to an employee about a project, leading to confusion and mistakes.
    • In a personal relationship, a partner fails to communicate their plans clearly, resulting in a missed event or appointment.

  2. Lack of Active Listening:
    • During a team meeting, a team member is constantly checking their phone and not paying attention to the discussion, missing critical information and contributing to a lack of engagement.
    • In a conflict resolution conversation, one party interrupts and talks over the other, preventing a productive dialogue and exacerbating tensions.

  3. Ambiguity and Jargon:
    • In a company-wide email, a department head uses technical jargon and acronyms without explanation, leaving employees confused about the message’s significance.
    • In a legal contract, the use of convoluted language and excessive legalese makes it challenging for parties to understand their rights and obligations.

  4. Non-Verbal Cues:
    • During a job interview, a candidate avoids eye contact, slouches in their chair, and appears disinterested, conveying a lack of enthusiasm and professionalism.
    • In a social gathering, someone’s crossed arms, sighs, and facial expressions of annoyance convey negative emotions without verbalizing them, leading to tension.

  5. Lack of Empathy:
    • In a customer service interaction, a representative dismisses a customer’s complaints without showing empathy or understanding, further frustrating the customer.
    • In a personal relationship, one person belittles the other’s feelings and experiences, undermining their emotional well-being.

  6. Ineffective Feedback:
    • During a performance review, a manager provides vague feedback to an employee, making it difficult for the employee to understand what needs improvement and how to progress.
    • In a creative team, a member offers harsh criticism without constructive suggestions, demoralizing the team and hindering creativity.

  7. Inconsistency:
    • In a business partnership, one party makes verbal commitments that contradict written agreements, leading to distrust and disputes.
    • In a parenting situation, a caregiver enforces inconsistent rules and boundaries for a child, causing confusion and behavioral issues.

  8. Avoiding Difficult Conversations:
    • In a workplace, a supervisor avoids addressing performance issues with a struggling employee, allowing the problems to persist and negatively impact the team.
    • In a friendship, one friend avoids discussing a sensitive topic that needs resolution, leading to a strained relationship.

  9. Overloading with Information:
    • In a classroom setting, a teacher overwhelms students with too much information, making it challenging to grasp the key concepts.
    • In a corporate presentation, a speaker bombards the audience with data and statistics without providing context or a clear message, causing confusion.

These examples highlight the consequences of poor communication, which can range from simple misunderstandings to strained relationships and significant organizational issues. Effective communication prevents these problems and promotes understanding, collaboration, and productivity.


Communication is the cornerstone of business success, promoting understanding, collaboration, and innovation. In Six Sigma projects, communication is equally vital, as it enables teams to define problems, collect and analyze data, implement improvements, and sustain gains. Organizations that prioritize effective communication are better equipped to navigate challenges, drive process improvements, and achieve their strategic objectives in a dynamic and competitive business environment.

Where Can I Learn More?