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Should Communication Wear a Necktie? There are many various ways of labeling communication. You can communicate verbally (in person or over the phone), through mail or e-mail, or even through your gestures, actions, and mannerisms. Depending on the path of the communication, it can be categorized as an informal or formal communication. Intel is highly dependant on relaying information or communication through e-mail. Outlook, the e-mail system Intel employee s use, provides perfect examples of various forms of communication. Formal and informal are two ways of classifying types of communication. The difference between these two terms is not whether communication is in a tuxedo as opposed to a t-shirt and shorts. Formal communication is when information is communicated through the proper channels of command or an organizational structure. Formal communication often takes on a downward communication flow. Upward communication can be used in a formal or informal form of communication. As information is passed upwards, it can skip or pass links in the organizational hierarchy creating an informal communication. If the information being passed upwards went through the appropriate people, it would be considered formal. Informal communication is basically the opposite of formal communication; it is any type of communication that does not follow the hierarchy of an organization. Informal communication is much more of a lateral communication as opposed to the vertical structure corresponding with a company s organizational chart. Many formal announcements at the Intel Corporation are delivered through our e-mail system. Employees receive organizational change announcements, updates on trends in the industry, and a weekly bulletin announcing changes and accomplishments within Intel. These communications are often very useful to myself, or any other employee. We see announcements regarding Intel s earnings or stocks. This is the method used when figureheads or higher-level management changes take place. It keeps most employees updated on primarily major events. The majority of these mailings are sent out to all Intel employees using a global mailing list, or through a process called "waterfalling". The term waterfall refers to a step-by-step process of passing information down through organizations, groups, and teams here at Intel. The announcement will start from the CEO, Craig Barrett. He then mails it to the Executive Staff, who in turn mail the heads of each organization within Intel. These managers then forward the e-mail to the managers of all the departments concerned. Each department head will then forward the message to all the teams managers. The e-mail is finally forwarded to each member of the team. If you follow this progression down the organizational chart, you can see the relationship between this process and water rushing down a waterfall. Informal communication is far less simple than formal communication, even when describing its use through Intel. There was a great example of how informal communication was used, as opposed to formal communication, just the other day. The executive staff decided to hold an unannounced fire drill, to ensure all employees were confident in the evacuation plans and process. Typically in the past, they have announced fire drills by waterfalling formal communication down through each group at the Folsom site. Their attempt at keeping the fire drill a secret or surprise was ruined by informal communication. One of the site safety committee members is a manager of someone (let s just call her Denise) who used to work on the same team as myself. Denise is now this committee members administrative assistant. She overheard her manager discussing the unannounced fire drill with another committee member. After hearing the details, Denise e-mailed several of her ex-coworkers and friends here at Intel to warn them about the upcoming fire drill. Not only was this a great example of an informal communication, but also an example of how rumors and secrets can travel expediently. Each form of communication has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Formal communication often takes longer but it can be more effective in reaching more employees, and formal communications are often more reliable. Informal communications are less reliable than formal communications; however, they can be much more quick or efficient. Informal communications are also best when discussing something of a more private nature or pertinent to only a few employees of the organization. A main form of communication at Intel Corporation is through e-mail interaction. Both formal and informal communication is used to pass information to other employees. We see this information in the form of an electronic mail take an upward, downward, or lateral direction. These various forms and flows of communication each have their place and time, depending on the nature and status of the information, at the Intel Corporation.

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