The key point in this graphic is; that which is sent is not always that which is received. There is a military cliché that explains how the (sent) message “send reinforcements, we are going to advance” becomes the (received) message “send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance”. Sorry about the pre-decimal coinage reference, there!  For the purposes of the model, the idea goes like this:

  • Start with the raw message – the “absolute” meaning (if such a thing exists – a different story);
  • It gets “encoded” – a metaphor for being adapted for the purposes of transmission;
  • It is vulnerable to “interference” throughout this process;
  • It is then sent or transmitted by some means;
  • It is then “decoded” – a metaphor for being rendered into the language of the receiver;
  • And you end up with the receipt of a message that is now a bit  (or a lot!) different.

Types of “interference” might include the introduction of technical language, jargon, acronyms, technical details, barriers to common understanding, typos, errors, misconceptions, human errors of understanding or technical issues with technology.

The key outcome (the so what?) is; Work by Closed Loop Communication. This simply means checking and confirming -  that what was meant by the sender is what is understood by the receiver.