Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not a tick box exercise

Communication will move no organisation forward if it's treated as a tick box exercise.

In the last couple of weeks I've run training and started on new projects that have all demonstrated the value effective organisational communication can bring - but all have also shown how communication can be lost in task-orientated organisations.

There is still far too strong a mentality, especially in project work, that sees communication as a 'workstream' - something that can be bracketed off and completed by checklist. It's also an exercise that's undertaken by communicators and conducted once the real decision making has been made.

I'm currently working on a communication strategy document for a project within an organisation that wants to improve the way it manages some of its non-core activity. The project is sound and will deliver a better way to work and some good cost savings - but they've been managing communication in a reactive way, and have been focused on a communication strategy as an end in itself, not a means to an end.

There's already a strategy document, but nobody's using it since it feels like an off-the-shelf where only the names have been changed. Its creation feels like a theoretical exercise rather than something that's actually helping the project team open the right doors, get the right information and come up with something better for the organisation.

As I said when I delivered the latest O2O course last week, I don't believe in a communication strategy. I believe in a well thought out and articulated business strategy and then planning effective communication to help deliver that strategy. That's where I am now: taking the project strategy - which fits directly with the business goals - and why we need to communicate, what we need to say to each group at each stage and how best we can connect with them to ensure the project reaches the right outcome.

My plan probably won't look anything as grand as what the client may be used to, but I hope it will be rather more useful than the beautiful creation that currently sits in the project area, unloved, untouched and unwanted.

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