Saturday, October 29, 2005

You are the.....

Ha! I've been shortlisted to appear on the Weakest Link....It could take anything up to a year though.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Media wannabe

So. Today was my media 'wannabe' day. I'm one of those people who sit in front of the TV and shout out the quiz show answers. For years I've infuriated my family through University Challenge, Mastermind, Ask the Family, Screen Test (with Michael Rodd)....and more recently the likes of Millionaire and Weakest Link.

My kids - driven by avarice - keep saying I should go on one of these shows. So, finally, a few months ago I downloaded and completed a contestant application for the Weakest Link. Weeks and then months went by and I heard nothing and then, last week, out of the blue cam a call inviting me to an auditon in Oxford.

Well, around 8.30am this morning I pitched up at one of the grottiest hotels I've ever been near in my life. Flock wall paper (with a terrible Constable print hanging on it) competed with red banana leaf carpet. This was hardly starsville at the BBC!

There were nine of us there and we were told that we weren't competing against each other, but that this was going to be a couple of hours to test our suitability to take part in the programme. James and his mate...James, the researchers, explained that although Weakest Link is a general knowledge quiz, what really matters is the banter with Anne Robinson. So what they were looking for was people who had a bit of life and chat about them who'd make good television.

First off, we had to speak for a minute about ourselves, and then complete a 20 question written general knowledge test in three minutes. That's my forte - and I think I got all the questions right. But again, this wasn't a Mastermind audition, so my general knowledge zeal could well count for nothing.

After the test came a round of the game with little James taking the role of Anne. I got both my questions right - several others were just as successful but others weren't and as a team we banked £50....... pretty pathetic really. We all had a chance to nominate a weakest link and explain our reasons answering Robinsonesque jibes as pitched in by James. I think I held my own, but probably sounded a bit of a smug bastard by the end.

Anyway, then it was onto three minutes of individual filmed interview and then we were out the door. I'll hear in a week or so if they want me to be on a show. If they don't, I won't hear at all.

Weirdly, I've just spent my afternoon at Broadcasting House testing out new broadcast-related phone applications - if you fancy DAB and digital TV on your phone, it could be here within 18 months to two years.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cib Knowledge Bank

I've put my thoughts on output v outcome communication together in an article that you can find here: I'll be interested in the response.

Masters of the Universe

One of the biggest complaints that internal communicators have in the UK is the lack of formal professional qualification opportunities. It looks as though Kingston University is addressing this in part with the launch of their new Masters Degree. Only thing that looks slightly oodd is that it looks like you have to have completed the Diploma before you can get on the Masters.

I talked to several other people who've been around internal comms for a good few years now, and we all agreed that the Diploma was a bit junior and not worth investing £4,000 (a year??) on. So, would we automatically be excluded from the Masters? And are Kingston overly-limiting those eligible to gain recognition for their knowledge and experience?

Monday, October 17, 2005

And it was all yellow

Apparently, I'm yellow. I found out last week on a devlopment day. I've got a few red tendencies; I'm certainly not green, and there's precious little blue about me.

So what does it all mean?

Well, yellows are your common or garden 'people people'. We're expressive and direct, curious and impulsive. We're good communicators and can be persuasive. We love the big picture - but don't want to be bogged down in the detail. We laugh easily, like varety and enjoy the people we meet. We're creative and great at starting things off......but we're not completer finishers.

I once worked in a team of three where all of us were yellow people - it was great fun, a chatty, warm environment....but as for getting anything out the door....pah!

It's good to know I'm yellow - and that I need some blues, greens and even a red or two around me. I think I'm probably a fish and 13 too...!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Worthwhile event

I'm looking forward to attending an event on the brave new world of electronic opportunities open to corporate communicators - - looks like good speakers and a good agenda and I always enjoy having a nose around at the BBC.

I'll post a report when I've been.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tick the box

There's a real downside in getting involved in change projects - and that's 'tick the box' communication. Several times in the last couple of years I've been asked to get involved in a project only to find that it had been running for months without any 'communication' because they hadn't got anyone to fill the role.

Of course, what they've meant is that formal communication hasn't taken place. Largely, there has been a massive fanfare at the beginning announcing transformation; a couple of set-up e-zines detailing the project team....and then a big fat nothing.

But that has been a very pregnant big fat nothing. Every meeting the project team has had with people in the business has communicated - and without a consistent story at the core, the communication has been skewed depending on who has been in the meeting. Every week that has gone by without any framework for communication has led to radio silence from the centre - and a hubbub of half truths and mis-communication out in the business.

Where the real trick has been missed is in project team members waiting for a communicator to come in and fill the void.

It's daft really, as the first thing I establish when I get involved is that I'm not going to be the voice of the project. Every project team member - from executive sponsor to the most part-time member has a voice they can use to help the change process.

What I can do is assess stakeholders and their needs; work with the team to build a consistent story based on objectives, context, fit with the business, dovetailing with business as usual, reasons for change, milestones, success factors and the like and can put some formal tools at their disposal to enable understanding and involvement. I can work with leaders to shape their role as communicators - I can take the horses to water......but I can't make them walk on it.

Somehow there's an expectation that when the comms person gets 'on-boarded' (now isn't that a horrible expression!), everyone can blow out their cheeks, relax and get on with their role - the box has been ticked and comms will miraculously happen. But that misses the point - the comms role enables others to step up to the mark. It doesn't do all the doing - that way spin and disaster lies.

Actually, even without a formal communicator on board, most change projects can establish and live by some excellent rules of good communication - so much of it is sense. It's just a shame that sense doesn't appear to be common.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Monday after the weekend before

My head hurts, my back and legs are aching and my typing fingers are freezing!..... Just another Monday morning then.

Work status is slightly more up in the air than usual for both mine and Jac's projects. Jac has an offer that she's thinking over at the moment while a project I've been working on for the last year has now reached a point where it really should be taken in-house by the client. But they're in the ummm...and ahhh....err??? stage at present. Still, a couple of interesting pieces have come in over the last few days that'll pick up the slack if said vision and values piece moves on finally.

Anyway, it has been a very busy weekend. On top of L-B's swimming and Soph's drama, Rory has been putting together pictures for a wildlife photography competition and we've also had the season's first mini rugby festival.

Dad and son Spent Saturday afternoon at Rickmansworth Aquadrome with Rory pointing the camera at all things aquatic. He was really pleased and I was really impressed with the results (above) - pretty damn good for a nine year old I think! Both pictures were taken right at the end of the afternoon as the rain finally let up and the sun started to set - why hadn't we just waited until then to go out....?!

Then it was up early yesterday morning for a drive over to the grove Minis festival where Oxford RFC U10s came a creditable third with thumping wins over Gosford and Abingdon and a smashing one try apiece draw with Wallingford. We lost in the semis to the eventual winners and the side came away with great credit. Meanwhile I'm knackered having just led the warm-ups and attempted to run some coaching through the day.....that's what comes from being an unfit, 41 year old.

It's feeling very autumnal now and I've just had to put the office heating on for the first time since May. So I guess it's finally goodbye summer.