Māmaka Kaiao… Mahalo Dr. Larry Kimura for this Significant Milestone in Hawaiian Communication! Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!

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Leinaʻala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

My Dear Beneficiaries!

The importance of effective communication is essential for us to communicate to our beneficiaries and the world. Communication can be defined as a meaningful exchange of information. We could not survive nor succeed as fiduciaries of your Beneficiary Trust without it.

Communication skills are important throughout OHA’s organization: in every department and at all levels. Communication with our beneficiaries in the form of research helps OHA learn what they want and also what changes they would like in existing programs. Good Communication throughout our Paia, from Land to Advocacy, would create a favorable image for OHA and persuade our beneficiaries to come take an interest in the conversations and surveys.

Well-planned communications is essential if OHA’s organizational restructuring is going to succeed. Whenever an organization restructures, such as during downsizing or moving into a new industry with a whole new cultural vision, management should keep its employees (and beneficiaries) fully apprised of the organization’s plans. So once an impending restructuring plan gets out, almost everyone gets naturally anxious. Honestly, at OHA, we are trying to do a restructuring with our new Ka Pouhana, Dr. Sylvia M. Hussey, and if we are truly doing this for the betterment of the entire organization, then there should be NO FEAR letting our employees and beneficiaries know about it. Dr. Ronnie Glaspie, a California human resource consultant, comments, “I have found that open communication is the best thing when it comes to these situations (corporate restructurings).” Dr. Michael Wolff, a partner at a New York consulting firm, also advises to meet with small groups of beneficiaries, allowing them to ask questions about the organization’s future (or i.e., CLA’s Audit). “Make them part of the process,” he recommends, “and you’ll gain their trust.” (Boone & Kurtz, Contemporary Business, p.338)

OHA has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in communications technology… from phones systems to sophisticated computer networks, of which all our beneficiaries can be proud, as OHA’s software technology system is at the forefront of the whole State of Hawaiʻi’s technology departments. YAY! A shout out to our own Lisa Victor who spearheaded this effort! Hoʻomaikaʻi Lisa, Tiger and staff!!!

From my teaching days as a professor at Hawaiʻi Pacific University, I can share that every communication follows a step-by-step process that involves interactions among six elements: Sender, Message, Channel, Audience, Feedback and Context.

So in the first step, the SENDER composes the MESSAGE and sends it through a process or a CHANNEL. Encoding a message means that the sender translates its meaning into understandable terms which is sent through a chosen channel (written, face to face, electronic mail, radio, television, etc.). The AUDIENCE consists of a person or persons who receive the message. The receiver of the message interprets its meaning. Then FEEDBACK from the Audience helps the sender to determine whether the Audience has correctly interpreted the intended meaning of the message or something else. And finally the CONTEXT! The CONTEXT can exert a powerful influence on how well the process works.

SENDERS (OHA in this case) must pay attention to AUDIENCE FEEDBACK, even soliciting it if none is forthcoming, since this response clarifies whether the communication has conveyed the intended message. Even if our Beneficiaries receive the message, without FEEDBACK, how would OHA know whether they decoded it accurately? The communicated message may have failed if the message was poorly encoded with difficult or ambiguous words. Sometimes SENDERS use ‘fuzzy’ language like transparency, forward lending, paradigm shift, PPBS to our Beneficiaries. FEEDBACK can indicate whether the Sender’s AUDIENCE (beneficiaries) succeeded in decoding this ʻjargon,’ or even bothered to try!

A Hui Hou till next month.

Mālama Pono,
Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa