Sparrows change their tune to help communication

Sparrows change their tune to help internal communications

There’s some interesting behaviour going on among the sparrow population of San Francisco. Researchers have discovered that sparrows in the city’s Presidio district changed their tune to soar above the increasing cacophony of car horns and engine rumbles.

“It shows a strong link between the change in song and the change in noise," says David Luther, of George Mason University's undergraduate biology program. “It's also the first study that I know of to track the songs over time and the responses of birds to historical and current songs.”

The study compares birdsongs from as far back as 1969 to today's tweets. Alongside this, the researchers detailed how San Francisco’s streets have grown noisier based on studies from 1974 and 2008. So how has the singing changed? Not surprisingly, the birds are tweeting more loudly just to be heard. But they’ve also dropped some songs which couldn’t cut through the noise, and developed new ones. Songs are vital for the birds, because it’s their way of communicating with each other.

If we apply the San Francisco scenario to the workplace, things aren’t very different. Work as got busier, more diverse, more complicated. Many of us don’t communicate well between silos, from the ‘shop-floor’ to management level and vice versa.

Is the answer to sing louder? No I’d say the answer, for successful internal communications, isn’t to be louder but to be more effective.  The sparrows changed their tunes, they didn’t increase the volume or the frequency, and in the same way we need to change tune – our message – our channels or media and maybe tweeting or at least Twitter might come into that change…

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