What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate!!

Aggressive businessman hitting his rival

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

The 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, popularized the term, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”  The American Film Institute lists this statement as number 11 out of the top 100 movie quotes.  The basis of this exchange is the prisoner in a Florida prison camp, refusing a guard’s continual demands.

Clash of Titans

In our 1994 presentation, Organizational Conflict and Dispute Resolution we positioned Diversity as a Function of Culture.  Another way to look at this is a function of ‘tension at the margin.’  We defined this term as, “Stress between competing bodies—the engine of power.”  The idiom was derived from the Pressure Differential in powerful weather events such as hurricanes.  The blog went on state, “Humans constantly deal with this phenomenon and sometimes the stress caused by this dichotomy can seem to be overwhelming.  Sometimes, it seems this powerful internal engine races without a governor.”  Sometimes, cultural clashes seem to have these same titanic properties.

Cultural Governance

This pundit has a somewhat different opinion on ESG than typically featured in the media.  This framework is only a set of standards that responsible firms have been using for years.  We addressed this issue in June 2005 in the piece, The Corporate Bar is Raised! which is a chapter in our 2011 book, Essays on Business and Information II: Maximizing Organizational Performance.

The final paragraph in the piece states, “The linkage between robust embracement of strong governance and shareholder rights coupled with transparency and dispatch when things go badly will provide strong positive sustainability.  The corporate bar is raised, but isn’t this where it should have been all along?”  How is this any different than current ESG models?

Governance sets a framework as well as an ethical methodology for advancing competing positions.  In one sense collaboration is the ultimate goal as the intent of the whole is to maximize success.  Governance models that are not aligned with that goal are sub-optimal.


There is a great deal of discussion about Energy Transformation today.  It is not only a political football but many consulting and technology company are pushing their products and solutions.  No doubt some of dubious value.  All parties have an agenda!

The word transformation suggests that the current Condition or environment demands changes in Behavior.  The result of these changes drives new Relationships (RBC) among economic actors.

It is one thing to move from wood and dung as fuel to the coal that powered steamships and now other fossil fuels that power almost everything as well as the feedstocks for almost everything the modern world uses and social transformations.  There are major differences between the two Differential Pressures.

Energy Transformation is heavily dependent on hard infrastructure.  The ability to economically replace gas stations with plug in sites, the time it takes to ‘refuel’ a mobile machine, and so forth and so one.  This is a decades long process and not something that can be done on a simplistic political timeline.

Social Transformation is not easy either.  However, the process mostly requires changing collective mindfulness.  This process can unfold rather quickly.

For example, events of Pearl Harbor, 9/11 as well as the adoption of ‘Smart phones,’ political party positions, weather events, etc. can transform thoughts in weeks, months and even days.  In this sense it is easier to accomplish.


Change happens when all parties feel like there is something in it for them.  Where exogenous or endogenous, new Conditions can drive better Behaviors and thus new Relationships.  However, individuals need to know the value they will derive.  A failure to communicate need not be fait accompli.

Do You Know if You Are Communicating with Your Friends, Colleagues and Others?

For More Information

Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials herein.  They are provided for education and entertainment only.

The author’s credentials in this field are available on his LinkedIn page.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” (Martin Luther King speech at Cornell College, 1962).  For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game.  You can contact this author as well.

For more information regarding climate change models, check out Bjorn Lomborg ands his latest book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

For those start-up firms addressing energy (including renewables) challenges, the author is a member of Global Energy Mentors which provide no-cost mentoring services from energy experts.  If interested, check it out and give us a shout.

Scroll to Top