Should be an interesting and valuable session!
I was about to write a blog expressing … a bit of frustration with some work I am doing. I sat down with my trademark white sheet of A3 paper and Sharpie and it struck me that what we were trying to do wasn’t actually that complicated at all. It was really quite simple. The problem was – it was asking a lot of people to do something different. That’s what makes it hard.
So I was going to write a blog about it.
Cue serendipity – the planner who helped with some breakthrough thinking is a chap I have long admired named Russell Davies. I haven’t followed his blog for a while – bad move. I was trawling yesterday and, yes, as expected, he got there a long time ago.
Awesome – and it includes a video from Jerry Seinfeld, which is always good value. Enjoy. http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2013/01/its-not-complicated-its-just-hard.html
CATFORD – Haven’t blogged in ages. Apologies to those who have been waiting by their inbox wringing their hands.
The past six months have been about working with the boards of 3 companies on their brands. What’s interesting is that in two of the cases the work began under the banner of employee communication or talent management issues – and then migrated rapidly into full-fledged corporate strategy efforts. The other started as brand, put people at the heart of it, and is now playing catch up with aligning its People Proposition.
I’ve always liked the saying “If you think like a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.” We’re all guilty of it. Nonetheless, when speaking with the CEOs, COOs, Chief People Officers and other board members, the topic of conversation almost invariably drifted form “easy strategy” (defining markets, operating models, value propositions, targets, growth…) to “hard strategy” – that is, talent and people engagement.
I believe for people who are able to connect true strategy to the people agenda there will be a heady 5-10 years ahead. Once again, what will separate the wheat from the chaff will be the ability, confidence and competence to be a systems thinker rather than a mile-deep, inch-wide specialist. None of my conversations had a thing to do with employee surveys, channels, social media, how to write good headlines. Competence at those mechanisms and techniques will prove important, of course. The questions instead focused on how do we, and what do we need to do in order to, create an environment where our people can embrace, drive and deliver on our ambitions as an organisation so our people, clients/customers and communities thrive.
Quite a bit, as it turns out. William Hudson explains just why in the very readable, informative and humorous “Lighting The Road Ahead: The 55-Minute Guide to Usability, Accessibility and Search Engine Optimisation.” Here.
LONDON – The quote says: ”Internal comms is one of the fastest growing areas of PR. For major corporations, ensuring their employees are engaged with the company and its objections is a business imperative.”
PR companies eager to extend their offers have frequently ventured into change and internal communications. Some do it well, but the majority tend to deliver pretty ordinary, and often very tactical and over-spun, internal communications (note the ‘s’) masquerading as engagement.
Happy to debate this one, but when someone says “PR’ in the same sentence as “employee communications” it is usually a sign of business opportunism rather than credible competence.
At least in my experience.
WARNING: RANT FROM RAVENSBOURNE: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE IRRITATED EASILY.
AND PLEASE, DO NOT COMMENT. I WILL DELETE IT (unless I *really* like what you say).
I recently made a quite innocent comment on a brand forum on LinkedIn. Well, if not innocent then certainly with a well-meaning, wry smile.
I had performed a quick scan of about 100 posts and comments, and to somewhat to my surprise I roughly calculated that about 80%+ of the comments were either explicit criticisms of work being done / that had been done by others, bitchy comments basically, or thinly-veiled attempts at self-promotion, usually at the expense of someone else or their work.
The thread ended up getting more comments than any discussion on the forum. I dropped out of the group after it became apparent the dialogue was only going one way (downhill, very defensively, and very fast) but I still got notifications about comments. This thing ran for weeks. It was quite amusing to observe (from my Ivory Tower of Inscrutable Superiority, of course. It’s nice when you Know Everything and are smarter than everyone else).
I’ve blogged before about “vanity posting” – you know, we’ve all done it – where you make a comment on a social media platform not really so much to contribute to the conversation at hand, but one way or another with the intention of putting down some kind of a marker… “Look at me, look how clever I am, I can do this stuff too, I should be famous.” I hate to break it to you: most of the time it damages your brand, not enhances it.
A little self promotion is a good thing. We all have a shingle to hang out, we all have a personal brand to develop. But do a quick exercise: look at say 50 or 100 conversations on your favourite groups. Do a little assessment. Is the comment in question for the benefit of moving the conversation forward, is it making a useful challenge, clarification, addition or input? Or is it just a quick promo for the person posting? Or a quick jab at someone perceived to be a rival – for thought leadership, or for actual business.
Hey, I’m sure I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I co-created shameless self-promotion.
But still …
And this is probably going to sound like I am a mean and unpleasant person. I don’t think I am. I hope not. But anyway:
There are about a dozen people, give or take, who I know on LinkedIn and related groups who contribute to the dialogue. They have something meaningful to say, and when they say it I tend to sit up and take notice. These people change my mind a lot of the time. They are real drivers, real thought leaders, they make insightful and inspiring comments. The Adam Hibberts, the Mary Boones, the Indy Neogys, the Tim Richs, David Armanos, the Dan Grays and some others. (<- please don’t be offended if I didn’t name check you, it’s a Sunday and I’ve drinking lovely Mulled Wine).
And yet, for that dozen, there are 120-240 active “participants” who might as well be posting “blah blah blah, link HERE for my website” characters. And you know what? I hate to use the term, but I’m going to … almost invariably they are the bottom feeders. They aren’t usually the ones leading amazing work for amazing clients, or pushing the boundaries and developing new models for their small and as-yet-unknown SME client. Nope. They are the wannabes, the also-rans, the would-be-has-beens. The ones who can poke holes in anything going, but haven’t contributed to the profession, the dialogue, in a material way. They all-too-often have some high falutin’ office in a (note: Voluntary) professional association and sit on Important Committees with Other Very Important Committee People doing Important Thinking. Some of them speak at conferences a lot too, it seems.
I can’t for the life of me figure out where they find the time.
This, I think, will emerge as the real conundrum of social media. There are ads we all want to skip – way north of 95% – to view content. There are the empowered voices that, you know what? I don’t want to listen to. Yet I just *know* they will be there with their little remark wherever and whenever I make a comment.
I’d like to say it doesn’t bother me. But it does. Not much, but … like those little flies in restaurants when you are having a nice meal but they are there, hovering, enough to be noticed and become an irritant.
I suffer, as we all do, from information overload and information fatigue syndrome. Everyone gets their fair chance, newbies are more than welcome, but the other users on the forum or discussion group are not there to provide you with the oxygen of attention. Think thrice, edit twice, post once (or not at all).
The question: Are you posting for YOU, are are you posting for THEM?
CHANGI AIRPORT, SINGAPORE – It’s said that the best tightrope walkers refuse to use a safety harness. This is because they insist on knowing that they, and only they themselves, can be relied upon to save them in a fall. The device itself is counter-productive; and, in fact, it can fail.
Great creative work is similar. It exists in that indefinable area between the Humanities and Science. For the scientific method, if not Science, will always seek to deliver predictable, reproducible results. Good if you want to boil a kettle of water, but a lot less so if you want to create something truly remarkable. The scientific method by its nature eliminates variables, systematically. This control is fine in the laboratory, but can be self-defeating if the objective is to generate something extraordinary, revolutionary or, by definition, evolutionary in a creative sense. .
This is where the Humanities and Liberal Arts, with all their imprecision, find their wings and infuse spirit into ideas. The intersection between science and the humanities is where good truly becomes great, and great becomes inspired. The introduction of variables, sometimes random, is what results in variation and evolution that gives us the most remarkable things in creation. Variables separate us from primordial ooze. And it’s therefore harder. Less certain. Intuition has no atomic weight, no equation, no definable process (though many have tried, and failed, to try to give it one).
So the pursuit of something more – great, not good; breakthrough quality, not mediocre goodness – requires a surrendering of all (well, much) of what is scientific and predictable. The ability to get to a place where 2+2 = purple, not 2+2=5. Five is safe. But purple is magnificent. And it tastes a hell of a lot better when you look at it from a distance, later.
And one thing the scientists don’t want you to know: the ability to predict the reproducibility of results doesn’t guarantee a goddamn thing. Maybe worse; the confidence it provides is a phantasm: nothing is certain. Even the best algorithm in the universe chewing big data won’t guarantee you a penny in the bank. A pseudo-scientific method putting process as an end, not a means that yields the same creative result time and again will not yield the answer that got you to ask the question in the first place.
With thanks to Dan Gray where I stole this from. He’ll forgive me.
Yes, the time has finally arrived to announce publication of a sixth 55-minute guide, courtesy of one of our favourite chums and fellow Commscrummager, Indy Neogy.
It may have been rather longer in the making than we’d have hoped, thanks to the heavy workloads of all involved, but like the Guinness ads used to say, good things come to those who wait. We have a sneaking suspicion that When Culture Matters could end up becoming our most successful guide to date.
Anyway, enough pre-amble. Here’s the back cover blurb to whet your appetite and, if you like the cut of its jib, then make a beeline to Amazon and order your copy now!
The HSBC ads make it sound so easy – just don’t show the soles of your feet in Thailand and you’re half way there. If only communicating effectively across cultures were that simple. As the irresistible force of globalisation meets the immovable object of local cultures, a whole host of pitfalls is lying in wait to trip up the unsuspecting business. Thankfully, Indy Neogy is on hand to guide you through this potential minefield, providing a wealth of practical advice on everything from global brand architecture and international marketing to internal communication with groups and individuals. All this in a book you can read from cover to cover in under an hour – which has got to be good, regardless of your culture’s orientation towards time!
“Perfect… I highly recommend this guide.”
Daniella Cross – Research In Motion
“Highly relevant and accessible.”
Dan Stevenson – Microsoft Corporation
“Should be read by all members of an organisation.”
Skaiste Sruogaite – Proctor & Gamble
“Provides clarity, actionable guidance and inspiration.”
Sarah Bogue – Ernst & Young
LONDON – Anyone who has been to the Olympic Park can tell you: the service is superlative.
Imagine if rail workers, tube staff, and airport security staff had the same attitude as the Olympics Staff? Even at the security barriers, where the checks were just as thorough as any airport I’ve been to, there was the distinct lack of power-tripping “authoritarianism” those sorts of roles seem to attract.
I wonder what they did differently? Well, some are volunteers which explains a lot. But clearly they were all told something really simple: Be nice.