Earlier this year I was working with a Head of Communications in a government agency that has undergone significant structural transformation and operational change over the past two years.
She was working on deepening the engagement between leaders and employees in different areas and had asked for some advice on how to ensure communication was flowing two ways. I asked, “What business as usual channels do you rely on today?”
“We don’t use the term BAU any longer. Transformation is going to continue. Change is business as usual and we now adopt a continuous improvement approach” she said.
It was a moment of absolute clarity for me. How many of us think of ‘BAU’ communication as distinct from the projects and initiatives that come through the door, or into the inbox.
BAU is dead. What now?
As part of the IC Kollectif IC In 2017 Project, I had some thoughts at the start of the year about how communicators can work with other areas to learn, innovate and adapt. But this realisation, half way through the year, made me consider what communicators can do in times of perpetual change, not just to service their organisations, but to ready themselves for ‘no more BAU’.
Read my full response on the IC Kollectif IC In 2017 Project.
- Strength in shared practices. Continue to talk about what works, not just with other communicators, but across disciplines. Ask the questions like “why did this work in this environment?” But don’t just ask communicators. Ask marketers, change managers, leaders and innovators.
- Invest in development. Don’t wait for your company to value you. Skill up, both communication skills and non-traditional skills: design thinking, user experience and business acumen.
- Change what you can. Look for the opportunities to add the value that our profession can deliver. Be brave.
- “It’s not me, it’s you.” Know when to stop pushing the rock uphill. There are amazing organisations that foster and grow innovation. If yours is not one of them, find one that is.
- Keep the faith. As a communicator, a great day at the office or in the field is a humbling thing. Bank those experiences as a reminder of why great internal communication matters.
What does a great day in the office or the field look like?
When did your communication activity lead to an outcome that furthered the organisation, the employees and the leaders? Creating connection, improving performance, perhaps just a moment of insight quoted back to you. Share what your ‘great day in the office’ looks like below.
Strap yourself in, it’s going to get fast
If a week is a long time in politics, three years is an eternity in business. The speed of technological, social, political and economic change is rapid, and as is illustrated by global events such as Brexit, sometimes unpredictable. Decisions made by global leaders can impact whole industries with little notice and less consultation.
Traditional strategic plans for corporations are blueprints for development over a three- to five-year time frame. Let’s do a tiny experiment in time travel. If you got into a room with your colleagues at the start of 2013 to work on a three- to five-year strategy for your business, you did so making assumptions about the trends that would shape your markets, your access to labor, your competition.
Now, look around at the business environment. How many of those priorities, drivers and forces remain in place today? Disruption and seismic shifts are the new normal. The forces that require a strategic response today are, for many industries or sectors, already significantly different to what had been anticipated even three years ago.
How can communicators establish a strategic response to changing times?
- Become part of the planning team
- Treat strategy as a process, not a product
- No more set and forget
- Understand the relationship between strategy and bottom line
Organizations exist for a purpose, and for the majority, that purpose is financial return. The process of strategic planning provides direction for all parts of an organization to align to deliver on the purpose, through building capability, responding to external factors, mitigating issues and risks and focusing effort. The opportunity for communication is to contribute to the business outcome through the tools and capabilities of our profession.
This is an extract from my article for Communication World, Rethinking Strategic Communication for Changing Times – Communication World in the February edition of Communication World.
What lesson does Disney’s Frozen have for internal communicators?
In the lead up to the IABC World Conference, this came up in the conversation with Natasha Nicholson, Executive Editor of IABC’s CW Magazine about how transmedia storytelling is changing the game for internal communication.
We discuss the difference between stories and story worlds, seeing the corporate story from multiple perspectives and the idea that sometimes, communicators need to ‘let it go’ when it comes to trying to control the message.
A good story is still a good story, but the ways in telling it are now very different and the ways of sharing it are a lot more open.
Release Control of the Corporate Narrative—and Reap the Rewards | IABC World Conference.
The full interview runs 14 minutes and is available here.
IABC World Conference Banner
In the era of the remix and mashup culture, I am really excited to be presenting a session on two topics that need to meet: transmedia storytelling and organisational communication. The IABC World Conference in June has me presenting the following session:
Traditional approaches to corporate narrative are being disrupted by the multiple forces of technology, social change, trust and a shift in the role of the corporation. In this environment the role of the communicator is shaping, telling and retelling the story of the company is shifting. Employees are co-creators, subject matter experts are curators and traditional business models become opportunities for collaboration. This session will explore:
- The death of the corporate story
- Sense making through social media
- Co-creation as a model for true engagement
- Empowering employees to own the narrative
- How IC is the original transmedia communication strategy
As the conference approaches, I will add some pre reading here on the blog.
In addition to all the residents, businesses and travellers impacted by the catastrophe, my thoughts are with the communication teams working through the current situation in Queensland and northern NSW. So many of you will be working through your crisis communication plans and business continuity programs.
If you are managing communications during a crisis for the first time, there are a number of IABC resources that may assist.
The February 2010 CW Online featured Social Media for Crisis Communication:http://www.iabc.com/cwb/archive/2010/0210/
A prior CW Online edition on spokesperson training includes links to some disaster & crisis related resources. Includes links to reactive messaging. http://www.iabc.com/cwb/archive/2009/1109/RelatedResources.htm
If you are an IABC Discovery subscriber, there are a number of case studies that may be useful for the recovery phase. http://discovery.iabc.com/phrase.php?phrase=crisis+communication
Google has established a single landing page for the key official information sources (Government, emergency services, donations).