Reframe your communications strategy as part of your Innovation Programme to sidestep internal politics
An effective communications strategy must be connected to other strategies, usually managed by different departments. Reframing it as central to your organisation’s innovation strategy helps sidestep turf wars.
I thought I’d make a Prezi to explore the connections I’m seeing between internal and external communications, knowledge management, training, employee engagement and innovation management.
(update: Tweet me to join a meetup in Brussels to explore these issues)
A brief explanation follows, but click through it first:
Let’s start with external communications
I’m starting here because I’m usually pulled in to help an organisation implement some aspect of its external communication strategy, usually online: relaunch a website, for example, or convene a community of interest.
I usually end up ‘swimming upstream’ to first properly define some of the other, more fundamental aspects of the external communications strategy, as defined in the Ideal Order of Things.
But the more I do this, the more I find that really delivering a great communications strategy means integrating it with many other processes going on inside the organisation.
You can’t have good external communications without good internal communications, for example, so if and when I help organisations define their audiences in terms of personas and/or Jobs to be Done, I usually suggest examining their internal audiences as well.
Create an integrated Audience Framework to align your internal and external communications strategies
Creating an integrated Audience Framework, encompassing both internal and external audiences, is fundamental to aligning your internal and external communications strategies. This will help identify synergies and economies of scale, particularly in content creation and curation (hence the centrality of Content Strategy in the Prezi).
But the benefits extend well beyond.
Pick your perspective
Because the above Prezi starts with the external communication strategy, it frames internal communications as supporting external communications.
Similarly, because it then moves on to Knowledge Management, Training and Employee Engagement, it frames these activities as supporting both internal and external comms.
They do, of course.
But I could have easily started this post with Knowledge Management or Employee Engagement. Both useful activities in their own right, these activities don’t just support internal and external comms - they are also supported by internal and external comms.
Knowledge Management and Employee Engagement don’t just support internal and external comms — they are supported by them
Or they would be, if they were aligned.
Unfortunately, such mutual reinforcement is the exception, rather than the rule. These programmes are generally run by different teams competing for the same resources, so cooperation doesn’t come naturally. How can you circumvent the turf wars?
Reframe as Innovation
Hence the last phase of the Prezi, which frames all of these programmes and systems as interlocking components of the organisation’s Innovation Process.
The Prezi briefly explains why, as did last year’s Rapido to Eurocomm 2016, but it should be pretty obvious that any organisation with any sort of innovation programme is going to need
- well-trained, highly engaged staff
- linked together by excellent internal communications and collaboration systems
- accessing first-rate knowledge management systems
Most organisations, moreover, also integrate external stakeholders into their innovation programmes via Open Innovation pipelines.
These organisations therefore need to link the above internal people and systems with their external stakeholders.
Which is why designing all of these programmes using the same integrated Audience Framework is such a good way to start. Only then will external knowledge get to where you need it inside your organisation, and internal content will find its way to the right audiences outside.
None of this is revolutionary, but doubtless someone somewhere is eagerly calling it digital transformation. But isn’t it really just common sense? Applaud if you agree.
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