Tuesday, 21 November 2017

IC and IT: the more things change….

Earlier this week, I took part in SMILE London, an annual digital workplace conference. While I soaked up lots of information on new ideas with implications for internal comms, I was also struck by one enduring issue: the requirement to build stronger relationships with internal stakeholders.

Whether we’re working in-house or as extensions of in-house teams, internal communicators rely on the relationships they establish. Input from executives, HR teams, marketing colleagues and other protagonists within the business is absolutely crucial. If we can’t engage and involve these stakeholders, we’ll have little to work with and even less chance of unlocking the full potential that internal communication offers the organisation.

The IT team is another of these stakeholders. Always has been. From the evolution of email to the development of intranets, internal comms practitioners have always needed to work closely with IT. The evolution of more complex tools and channels, such as the range of tools and opportunities discussed during SMILE London, simply increases the importance of such liaison. But the tenor of some discussions during the conference suggested we still haven’t got it right.

It’s not that relationships are adversarial – I don’t see much evidence of that – it’s just that, from the tone I discerned, they aren’t as symbiotic as they could or should be. Within our organisations, we’re sometimes still arguing over who ‘owns’ what rather than developing a shared agenda between our complementary roles and activities. That can only undermine the potential of some of the innovations now on offer. Without a profound and practical working relationship with IT, the introduction of any such mechanism will be akin to a house built on sand.

The intersection between IC and IT has never been more important: we should play our part in strengthening the relationship. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Culture starts and ends with each of us

I’ve seen a rush of recent articles and blog posts on elements of ‘cultural transformation’. Model after model on how to mould an organisation’s culture around the way you want things done. Isn’t this the wrong way of looking at things?

No model or process is going to ‘make’ people do things differently, willingly and enthusiastically, in a way that re-shapes the organisation. No employees take an edict from on-high and embrace it to the extent that they love and follow it as their own.

What anyone eager to change the way an organisation works must do is articulate a vision of the future and engage them in the benefits of that change. Don’t lay down, in minute detail, every element you want to re-shape, but engage people in the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys’ and allow them to connect, interpret and change working practices to align. Set the parameters, in other words, and support teams and individuals to respond.

You can’t forcefeed colleagues with culture change. Instead, engage and empower them to take on your goals as their own, and make their own changes to support the vision you’ve outlined. I feel that’s a big difference between ‘transformation efforts’ that become embedded into the organisation and those that simply wither on the vine.