We = IR

According to Ohm’s law, the “Electromotive Force” across an ideal conductor is proportional to the “Current” through it. The constant of proportionality is called “Resistance”.

Allow me to use this basic law of Physics to highlight the vital element of any relationship known as communication. There are scores of articles, opinions, research papers and whatnots available reinforcing the significance of effective communication for a healthy relationship. I am not going to add anything new. I have very little understanding of — let me eat the humble pie and secure my license to be able to spread senselessness — (human) relations per se, yet, as a student of HR, I shall delve on relations and most importantly on Industrial Relations.

So, here is my rehashed theory on IR (Industrial Relations, Industrious Relations, Industrial Realities, Interactive Reactions, and Interpersonal Relations, your wish!) and communication. Just like Ohm’s law it has three components viz. EMF (or Potential V), Resistance (R) and Current (I).

a) EMF — The EMF or Electromotive Force in an IR scenario could be defined as the force that keeps employees engaged, motivated, and productive and creates an environment of trust and collaboration. Borrowing from the ideas of the great Charlie Munger, in short the motive force should be seen as the seamless system of trust among all parties (we) concerned. I will name it as Extraordinary Motive Force.

b) Resistance — Resistance to effective communication, inability, distrust, lack of transparency etc.

c) Current — The flow rate of information or Communication similar to flow rate of charge or Current.

Hence the new IR-Communication circuit looks like this:

And the governing equation can be summarized as: EMF (WE) = IR or WE α I

So there it is — WE= IR, an equation which can potentially be the universal equation for all kinds of human relationship. Intuitively it is.

Let me try to understand my own equation now -

1. Of course, one can try to minimize the resistance, but unlike the pure Physics where a high grade copper wire means low resistance through which current can flow efficiently, Industrial Relations concern itself with people and people are people. (This redundant last part in italics should summarize that while dealing with people and in human relations one should not try to eliminate resistance, resistance leads to progress and resistance can light a bulb you see, but I couldn’t write it that way).

2. In Physics the EMF causes Current in the circuit shown above. Current can also cause EMF (Electromagnetic Field) if the conductor is in motion (bear with me, this is solid symmetrical argument). We can safely assume for less puritan arguments like We = IR, Current and EMF generate each other and hence in an Industrial Relations scenario, communication will lead to trust which in turn heighten the frequency and quality of communication (the sign α of proportionality has a role to play).

3. Well, now you can interpret on your own and you can’t say that ‘I’ stands for information, which would be technically incorrect.