The future’s bright, the future’s IC

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The future’s bright, the future’s IC

This morning I joined around 15 other professional communicators for a research briefing session hosted by Melcrum in London called The Future of Internal Communications (IC).

It was hosted by Aviva at their stunning offices in the City and apart from being wowed by the incredible view from the 23rd floor, I found the conversations generated by the research and the networking opportunity useful.

Attendees were from various organisations including BSkyB, Gazprom, Kingfisher, RSA, Vodafone and BAE Systems.

Melcrum’s Research Director, Rebecca Richmond, guided us through Melcrum’s latest research and report into The Future of Internal Communications. It looks at the broader business landscape and what the implications are for IC.

There are four key areas of focus:

  • Post recessional environment
  • The drive for productivity
  • The diversifying workforce
  • Corporate structure and management style

We looked at each of these areas in turn. Post recessional environment was around rebuilding trust in organisations and the phrase of all phrases at the moment “reengineering the employee value proposition”. I keep hearing about employee value proposition, or evp, and I haven’t come across a case study or paper that has demonstrated what this actually means in action. Has anyone else?

The conversation went on to look at shifting from employee value proposition to employment value proposition. In other words what are organisations doing to equip their employees, perhaps with skills, that they may not need in this role but will go on to use after they have left the company, thereby retaining their loyalty and strength of feeling to the brand. Interesting idea. Does it work? Does anyone have any concrete examples of this?

You’d expect to see a drive for productivity and one of the areas Rebecca talked about was how technology is being used to develop the “collaborative workplace”. I was pleased to discover the conversation did not centre around social media, a refreshing change!, but looked at areas such as “knowledge workers” and the fact that across many economies the number of people undertaking such work has grown much more quickly than the number or production or transactional workers. Apparently “knowledge workers” are typically paid more than others too.

The diversifying workforce led to a discussion around managing a global and local balance and the implications on corporate culture and stakeholder expectations. As I’ve been reading about tribes recently I asked whether anyone in the room had mapped their organisation to identify tribes and if they communicate differently with them. A few people shared examples and I seem to keep coming across that concept more and more and find it intriguing.

Corporate structure and management style was underpinned by the notion of developing processes that support transparency and sustainability – surely the two darlings of every senior leader’s speech at the moment? Working out what they actually mean and how they are put into practice appears to be key. The group discussed arming managers and leaders to operate in a more open, collaborative and potentially autonomous environment.

So what are the implications on Internal Communications of these four areas?

Rebecca highlighted six and I’ve written a short thought from the discussion next to each one:

Role, responsibility and remit – getting actively involved in developing and delivering the strategic narrative (story) and working with internal partners.

Partnerships – focus on business needs first but linking partnerships in line with priorities.

Technology channels – as well as what you’re introducing, what are you kicking out? Consider partnering with IT to conduct a review.

Team structure – align IC strategy with business needs and priorities.

Skillset and capabilities – what are the backgrounds of the IC team? Can they learn more from each other? Do you have a good mix?

Research and measurement – find the balance between the hard numbers that leaders relate to and provide more ideas in terms of actual solutions.

Thanks to Melcrum and Aviva for a useful morning. For far more detail you can contact Rebecca at Rebecca.richmond@melcrum.com

My final thought is an example someone shared about some research into strategy in action and surveying different people. Apparently people who have broken out of high security jails were interviewed (not by Melcrum!) to see what drove them. They really are true advocates of sticking to a plan and seeing it through, overcoming all obstacles until you achieve your goal. Not that I’m advocating everyone breaks out of jail, obviously, but I thought it was a good example of a group of people who despite all hurdles have a game plan and stick with their strategy until they succeed.

Do let me know your thoughts on this post or any other, you can comment below or email me: rach@rachmiller.com. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel.

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1  response on The future’s bright, the future’s IC

  • Kathryn Andrews

  • 25 May 2011 at 10:26 am

Getting a balance of thinkers, doers and relationships builders in IC teams resonated for me too.

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