Chat is like a river; Wiki is like a dam.
Chat is like a river; Wiki is like a dam.

A multi-billion dollar company. A winning presidential campaign. A happy marriage. What do these three things have in common? The foundation of success in each is effective communication.

Effective communication has the power to amass riches and make history. With it, governments have been transformed, along with the lives of billions of people. With it, enterprises like Amazon, Apple, and Alibaba rise from obscurity.

It’s no wonder that all successful businesses need strong communication infrastructures in order to grow and prosper. But that’s not what this article is about. The topic of communication is so vast that you can get a Ph.D. in it. This article would have to be a book, maybe three, to properly cover the topic.

What this article focuses on is a single concept that, if grasped, can give your organization a big push in the right direction towards effective communication in a digital work environment. The concept is this:

Chat is like a river; Wiki is like a dam.

River? Dam?

Source: unDraw

A while ago, we published an article that dives into synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication is communication that happens in real time. It’s a company meeting on Zoom or an active chat room. Asynchronous communication is communication that happens… not in real time. It’s that email you send to a client which you know you won’t get a response to until weeks later, or notes on that Zoom company meeting posted to an online bulletin. Both are important because different types of information do best in different formats.

Synchronous communication is fast, immediate, brief. Information flows like a river — as it does in a chat. This format is best for times of uncertainty and/or urgency. It’s good for exploring ideas together, having discussions to make decisions, and addressing crisis situations.

Asynchronous communication is slower, usually more considered and voluminous. Information gathers like a dam — as it does in a Wiki. This format is best for adding context to real time communication after it has happened, putting together detailed information, and explaining complex concepts.

When used properly, synchronous and asynchronous communication together form effective communication.

Increasing Effective Communication in Your Organization

Source: unDraw

When synchronous and asynchronous communication are used appropriately in an organization, communication is at its best and collaboration is smooth and easy. In a digital work environment, some of the most common modes of communication are chat and Wiki. As mentioned before, chat facilitates synchronous communication and a Wiki facilitates asynchronous communication.

Increasing effective communication in your organization is as simple as having both chat and a Wiki available to everyone and then making it clear which medium to use for each type of interaction. In other words, the roadmap to achieving effective communication in a digital work environment is:

  1. Provide the right tools – Have chat and a Wiki available to all team members and get everyone accustomed to using them.
  2. Ensure the tools are used correctly – Do this by training management on the concept of synchronous and asynchronous communication (or “Chat is like a river; Wiki is like a dam.”) and have them lead by example so the rest of your organization follows.

Chat and Wiki in AirSend

In AirSend, each channel has both a chat section and a Wiki section. The chat is great for quickly discussing new developments, exchanging links to articles or tidbits of information, and scheduling calls for further discussion. The Wiki is great for storing, sharing, and collaborating on more detailed, complex items.

Having the chat and Wiki together in one place makes communication much smoother and more efficient than the previous model of emailing back and forth with document links or attachments.

Finding Balance

Effective communication is powerful, and one of the key factors of communicating effectively in a digital environment is finding the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication. When used together correctly, chat and Wiki can streamline the communication process for clutter-free collaboration, resulting in increased productivity.

Just remember: Chat is like a river; Wiki is like a dam.