Internal Communication

August 15, 2019. Why communicating well internally within marketing teams is crucial to success.

Marketing teams are always busy trying to communicate with their audiences.

And those marketers are usually great communicators.

But you’ll be surprised how many marketers are poor internal communicators and do not talk to each other.

Some have no idea how their work is integrated with their colleagues’ work.

Some have no idea where their work fits within the overall business picture.

Hardly an effective marketing team.

Towards the back of 1944, the end of the Second World War looked near.

The Allied forces had already landed in Normandy, making their way towards Berlin. At the same time, the Soviets were advancing from its East.

But the war raging in Asia, with the Allies advancing on Japan, would go on a little while longer.

For a certain Japanese Army officer, it would last longer still.

In December 1944, Japanese troops were forced out of the major islands of the Philippines because of the Allied push.

Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese Army was one of them, sent to the small Philippine island of Lubang.

He was ordered to hamper enemy attacks as they would happen.

With the Axis’ backs up against the wall, he was to become a guerilla fighter eventually destroying the airstrip and the pier at the harbour.

Living in the jungle for cover, a leaflet announcing that Japan had surrendered in October 1945 was brought to his attention.

But he considered this a trick which was quickly dismissed.

Other communication attempts reached Hiroo Onoda and his companions, all considered Allied propaganda and were ignored.

Onoda’s campaign went on.

In 1952, after eight years in hiding (seven years after the war ended), letters and family pictures were dropped from aircraft urging them to surrender, but Onoda and the others again saw this as a trick.

All such efforts – from the Japanese and the Allies – for them to retreat to a peaceful post-war environment were not trusted.

So his campaign continued.

Onoda would cause havoc with all he came into contact with.

He burned rice plantations, killed cows and raided local farms.

He went so far as shooting at and killing a number of locals, even engaging in shootouts with the police who were sent after him.

Onoda’s campaign of terror in the jungle (unbelievably) continued.

A total of 30 years passed…

And Hiroo Onoda was still hiding in the jungle, fighting the war in the way his superiors had told him to.

To the point where he was a wanted criminal in Japan.

In February 1974, Onoda met a Japanese adventurer who was travelling around the world looking for “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order.”

But Hiroo Onoda didn’t believe him that the war had ended.

Another month passed…

Until Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, Onoda’s commanding officer, who had since become a (retired) bookseller, flew to Lubang and on the 9th of March 1974 finally relieved Hiroo Onoda of his duties.

Hiroo Onoda endured an additional 29 years of war to everyone else.

In his eyes, he wasn’t effectively communicated to that the war was over.

Of course, the communication channels weren’t great.

They were never going to be.

But he wasn’t willing to accept what others continually communicate to him.

Others on his side.

From his own team.

In a number of ways.

He wasn’t open to communication or willing to communicate himself.

You see this all the time in marketing. Between the marketing team members themselves, and between marketing, sales, service and other departments within businesses.

People often work in silos.

Sometimes on purpose.

Forgetting they are part of a team.

Forgetting the bigger picture.

Forgetting that communication is essential to sales and marketing alignment, and therefore, the success of the marketing efforts.

Marketing teams need to always communicate internally – and do so effectively.

Work hard on your campaigns and projects, but know you are working alongside others towards a shared goal. (See a previous post on setting goals.)

There’s being true to a cause, and there’s also being completely ignorant of your surroundings.

Hiroo Onoda failed to realise he was part of a team.

He fought a war on his own. An imaginary war.

Who wasted time, resources and life that could have easily been avoided.

Eventually leaving Japan for Brazil to farm cattle.

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12 thoughts on “Internal Communication

  1. I’ve heard of this before. Interesting and noble in a twisted way. My question was: “Why didn’t his direct superior come and tell him the war was over as soon as possible?” Why did they wait for decades?
    While I understand communicating within a team, I also believe that obeying orders does not stop until the one who gives them tells you so. I’ve experienced situations in which a messenger was sent, but they either misunderstood or intercommunicated on purpose and then the fallout had to be dealt with.

    1. Thanks for reading, Goldie.

      A good question, and one that further highlights the failures of the Japanese’s internal comms systems, training and procedures.

      This sort of confusion is actually quite common in war (the Battle Of Karansebes in 1788 or when the Ottoman Turks entered Constantinople come to mind) where chaos is the norm and a simple task is forgotten leading to catastrophe.

      The catastrophe in this case being Hiroo Onoda sadly losing 30 years of his life. But he did go on to do good things for Japan such as setting up a school as well as donating his own money to schools before passing away 5 years ago.

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