The Power of Fun

By Stephen Welch
Communication, HR and Change Consultant. @stephenwelch11

When was the last time you had some fun?  Some real fun? I’m guessing maybe quite recently seeing as most of us have just had a break over the New Year.

But what I mean is real fun at work? For many, 2016 was not only a year of depressing news, but also a year of hard slog at work. Almost every I know said their plan over Xmas was to get lots of sleep and try and recharge. But why should work be so hard? What is it about being trapped in our day-to-day lives that means we run out of energy at the end of the year. (Or in my case at the end of every week!)

We can get fun from different ways. For 2017, I challenge every IABC member in the UK to find a way to have some fun at work. You can do this in many different ways:

  1. Work with people you like, on a project you like. Admittedly, this is easier for some than others. My favourite project last year was developing Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders with Casilda Malagon: a new way of helping communicators develop their career through gamification. The game itself is a lot of laughs and developing it was too. We’ve now run it with people from 8 countries and continue to develop in new directions, with video and new designs for our popular workshops.
  2. Create excuses to take a break. I’m working with a colleague on a corporate design and internal communications project. Our modus operandi is to have a one hour meeting late afternoon and then reward ourselves for a successful meeting down at the local wine bar.
  3. Change the scene. Why meet at your office when there are millions of great alternatives? Sure, this is easier if you are in a city, where there are plenty of cafés. But don’t limit yourself to simply Starbucks, a common Costa or pedestrian Pret a Manger. In the last year, I’ve had meetings at London Clubs, Museums, the Royal College of GPs, Somerset House, and many other places which are free and open to the public. Or: support your local small, artisan café, please.
  4. Make the most of your memberships. Obviously as an IABC member, I am biased, but whatever association you join, make sure your objectives for joining are clear and tailor your activities towards those objectives. Take a moment to see if your original reason is still the right one.
  5. Focus on the essential. This Friday (Jan 6) is the official Epiphany. Mine came over the holidays when I realised I wasn’t listening to my own advice. Let me explain. I run lots of courses on how to be a business partner and strategic adviser. One of the components is time management and how to say ‘no’. But in 2016 I wasn’t focused enough and got too distracted. In 2017, by focusing on the essentials, I’m going try and leave more time for fun.

I’m not saying fun is something you can have all the time. But in my experience these are five things that you can do to have a more fun experience at work. Not all of them will be possible for all people. And I fully expect to look back at the end of 2017 and realise I’ve totally forgotten at least one of them.

How are you going to have fun this year?

Our journey to digital transformation by Working Out Loud



With the huge successes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. has emerged a rapid, evolution of online networking, trusting opinions, sharing right-here-right-now, our thoughts with photos and videos.

This behaviour is becoming increasingly popular inside organisations by using an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) such as Yammer, Jive and Slack to support strategies, projects, tasks and encourage employee engagement, empowerment and advocacy.

The phrase “Working Out Loud” is gathering momentum to describe this change behaviour. Check out Rachel Miller’s popular blog neatly summarising How to Work Out Loud #wol by John Stepper. It asks you these three growth mindset questions: What am I trying to accomplish? Who can help me? How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship?

My journey to “Working Out Loud” is a story of personal development, openness and helping to improve the way we work. I joined Glaxo, a global healthcare company, in 1991.

Does this ring any bells…? I used a huge WANG computer with floppy disks.  Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and emails were replacing fax. “Surfing the Internet” became a new idiom.  I created some of the company’s first Microsoft FrontPage intranets. I became fascinated about how to speed up laborious office tasks.

It was 10 years ago when I first used Facebook “for work” – to stay connected to some great people I met whilst on a course in the US.  Success was about sharing and building on our collective knowledge and retaining new friendships. So we turned to Facebook and it’s been instrumental in retaining these connections – and, as we have all experienced, it’s so much more!

By the way, Facebook at Work is currently in beta test so you can clearly see how the power of social networking is influencing the future of work.

In parallel at that time, Glaxo (now GSK) also launched numerous internal social networks ‘vertically’ driven by “command and control” business silos. Over time I became passionate about ESN business value and was appointed as the Corporate Comms Yammer Community Manager. I’m proud of the work I did in this role in partnership with GSK IT, and the GSK Brand Team to make Yammer the sustainable network it is today.

Today, whatever ESN you use, success is about approaching it with the right mindset. For me, it’s Working Out Loud in A Network #wolan

wolan model-MAY2016

My #wolan framework expands on John Stepper’s Working Out Loud mindset and how it can practically be adopted inside organisations working towards digital transformation. #wolan is now endorsed by Microsoft, Digital Workplace Group (DWG) and GSK’s German Works Council.

Let me explain what #wolan can do for your business.  It can help to decrease email dependency; position the ESN business case; create ESN governance; enable ESN adoption; align ESN to strategies & projects and ultimately business value; highlights ESN sustainable success stories; demonstrate your company culture – behaviours and values; demonstrates how ESN can be embedded into apps, processes, systems and tasks; raises the relevance of “business intelligent” hash tags, and a template to create your own framework.

Whilst at GSK and since leaving last year, I’ve experienced and documented the benefits of digital transformation enabled by ESNs in a series of blogs. These explained how you can shift employees from sending random emails with a handful of colleagues and operating in vertical silos to operating in horizontal ESNs that help to generously share work with a purpose, encourage serendipity and offer better ways of working that demonstrate business value.

Look at these ESN success stories in a Sales Team, HR, Factory network, Fundraising, small project teams to employee engagement, advocacy tactics, campaigns and strategies. There is pretty much something for every sector, and scalable to help you on your journey to “Working Out Loud”. Here’s just a snippet of senior leader feedback from these great success stories.


Comms “Yammer has been without a doubt the “hero” channel for our employee fundraising. An incredible opportunity for any engagement/advocacy programme, as it enables real time collaboration, healthy competition and celebration of fundraising activities and sharing success fast! Yammer can reach everyone in the company and cuts through the communications noise. It has taken us well beyond one-way push communications and PowerPoint!”  Director, Global Communications & Government Affairs


HR “Our Yammer On-Boarding group is a great way to connect new hires with those that have just joined before them and SMEs. Nip and nurture new hires in the bud to encourage a collaborative culture and mind-set.” VP, HR Operations


If you’re interested in finding out more about Working Out Loud, come along to one of these forthcoming events:

16 May: IABC UK – Future Fit Communications

5-8 June: IABC World Conference, New Orleans join IABC President NSW Australia, Mark Woodrow, “Working Out Loud” session. Mark is a former Yammer Customer Success Manager.

TBC August: I am working with Kirsty Brown on an event with digital transformation expert Allison Maguire, and Employee Engagement Alliance (EEA) on “Working Out Loud”.

Lesley Crook is a Digital Transformation Consultant

Future Fit Communications: Our speakers

mikeMichael Ambjorn, Founder, AlignYourOrg

Michael Ambjorn is founder of Align Your Org, and passionate about helping changemakers achieve purpose-driven impact. Michael is also International Chair of IABC, the International Association of Business Communicators, and he is the facilitator for IABC’s 2014–17 strategy. Michael has held leadership roles at IBM, Motorola and the 260–year–old Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (RSA), where he remains an active Fellow.

babuAshish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services

Ashish is responsible for creating and implementing communications programmes across 21 countries. With special focus towards enterprise and consumer technology, he has developed award-winning campaigns such as ElectUK mobile app and the #TCSsuperheroes narrative. Prior to TCS, Ashish was also an integral part of the launch team at Tata Sky (Newscorp & Tata JV) where he developed and implemented a nationwide communications strategy and has held senior roles with global PR agencies when in India.

ezriEzri Carlebach, consultant, writer, lecturer

Ezri Carlebach is a writer, lecturer, and consultant with over 20 years’ experience in corporate communications, public relations, and internal comms. He has worked for government, non-profit, and FTSE 100 organisations, and now splits his time between Turin, Brussels, and London with a variety of clients. He is also Visiting Lecturer in Public Relations at the University of Greenwich.

coniKeith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

Keith led on professional capability for the Government Communications Service (GCS) from March 2015 until April 2016. In this time he introduced a cross-GCS skills survey, covering 4,000 communicators. Prior to this he ran a GCS programme of communication and marketing capability reviews. Keith’s previous roles in government include head of campaigns at Change4Life with the Dept of Health and Cabinet Office Transparency communications. Before joining the Civil Service he was a group account director at McCann-Erickson London, where he worked for seven years on global and national business.

crookLesley Crook, Internal Digital Strategy Advisor, Enterprise Strategies

Lesley is a digital client adviser at Enterprise Strategies where she designs digital transformation frameworks that decrease email dependency. Prior to joining Enterprise Strategies, Lesley was Internal Digital Communication Manager at GSK where she worked in partnership with IT to deliver many global digital projects. Lesley is experienced in social media, intranet governance, reward & recognition programmes and events management.

gayGay Flashman, Founder and CEO, Formative Content

Gay is the Founder and CEO of Formative Content, a fast-growing content marketing agency helping corporate clients around the world develop and share high quality content about their businesses. Gay is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience in television news at Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News and the BBC.

andyAndy Gibson, Founder, Mind Apples

Andy is a writer, entrepreneur and campaigner specialising in culture change and innovation. He founded the “5-a-day for your mind” campaign, Mindapples, co-founded the education web start-up, School of Everything, and helps organisations innovate through his consultancy, Sociability. His current research interests encompass management theory, leadership, psychology, wellbeing, secular spirituality and the future of work.

darrenDarren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University

Dr Darren G. Lilleker is Associate Professor in Political Communication the Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University. His expertise is in the professionalization and marketization of politics, and the psychological impacts on citizen engagement and participation. The monograph Political Communication and Cognition offers a synthesis of this work. He teaches across the fields of politics and public relations, and outside of work Darren retains his love for rock and punk music and motorbikes.

mattMatt O’Neill, Consultant, Futurist.Matt

Futurist Matt O’Neill helps organisations better prepare, predict and execute their positive futures. His approach is centred around collaboration and he’s certain that discovering the future is also a collaborative process. Matt won’t present you with a theoretical strategy which will be left on the shelf while your business is left behind. He will work with you to create a roadmap, supported by rich media, live events and in a generous spirit of curiosity.

unaUna O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG

Una O’Sullivan heads up internal communications for KPMG’s Global Financial Services business. Before that, she led the Global FS knowledge management program, which gives her the advantage of knowing all the rat runs around the business. In her spare time, she plays piano and runs (slowly, in both cases), and is a leader with Scouting Ireland.

joannaJoanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas

susanSusan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

Communication measurement and employee engagement research specialist Susan wrote the book “Employee Engagement and Communication Research” and ran the IABC online employee Research Academy course. Her background includes internal communication, and heading the human resource and communication research practice at MORI. Susan is an IABC Accredited Business Communicator and last year received the Chairman’s award for dedicated service to IABC.


Future Fit Communications is kindly supported by:-

abbotScarlettabbott powers conversations that connect, engage and motivate your people to deliver great business results. Passion, energy, originality and fun goes into every piece of work we deliver. @scarlettabbott /

commCommunicate magazine – the single voice for corporate communications and stakeholder relations. @communicatemag /

pitchPitchPack creates unique marketing and communication collaterals which embed video screens into printed brochures, books and briefing packs. [email protected] /

Future fit communications: Connecting trends, strategies and actions

Book tickets here:

Learn more about our speakers here:


If a leader’s job is to anticipate the future, and guide their people towards it, a communicator’s job is to spot the trends shaping that future and anticipate what audiences will need. This half-day conference will help you make those connections.

Running on the afternoon of Monday 16th May, the agenda will be split into four key parts and chaired by Michael Ambjorn, International Executive Chair of the IABC.


  • A look at current and emerging societal, technology and economic trends that will have an impact on our lives and businesses over the coming years. Our speakers:
    • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
    • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd


  • A quickfire #Rapido session with 5 speakers each taking 5 minutes (and not a second longer) to share their thoughts on what’s hot, and what’s not, in the future of corporate communications. Curated by the incomparable Ezri Carlebach. Our speakers:-
  • Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
  • Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
  • Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
  • Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
  • Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

Part 3: From talk to walk – what do the big ideas mean to your business?

  • Michael Ambjorn will lead a reflection on the earlier #Rapido session and a panel-audience discussion of the role communications professionals play in making their organisations future-fit. Our panelists:-
  • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
  • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
  • Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
  • Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

Part 4: What next?

  • A group sharing of key learnings, next-step resources, shared objectives and individual action plans. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and transform the big ideas into a plan that works for you. After the event we will curate and share all of these outputs.

Never has seeing the bigger picture been so important for communications practitioners and this IABC conference is all about connecting you with the ideas, people and impetus that can help you make a difference back in the business – both immediately and in the long term.

Come and join the debate.


1.30pm            Registration

2.00pm            Welcome from Michael Ambjorn, International Executive Chair, IABC

2.10pm             A healthy mind for a healthy business

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business

2.35pm           Three trends set to change the world of business communication

Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd


3.00pm            Break

3.20pm            Rapido sessions with Ezri Carlebach:-

  • The three-legged stool: internal communications, knowledge management and marketing – Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
  • Citizen / consumer activism on social media; never mind what or how, let’s focus on why – Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
  • 5 ways communicators can thrive in our hyper-connected world – Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
  • Enterprise Social Networking (ESN). What’s the business value? – Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
  • Organisational broadcast: the past. Employee voice: the present – Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

4.00pm            Panel discussion with:-

  • Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
  • Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
  • Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
  • Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

4.30pm            What next? Group discussion on next steps and action plans

5.00pm            Wrap up and networking drinks


The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Conference Centre
1 Victoria Street

Nearest tubes: Victoria, St James and Westminster



Future Fit Communications is supported by:-


Scarlettabbott powers conversations that connect, engage and motivate your people to deliver great business results. Passion, energy, originality and fun goes into every piece of work we deliver.

@scarlettabbott /


Communicate Magazine – the single voice for corporate communications and stakeholder relations.

@communicatemag /


PitchPack creates unique marketing and communication collaterals which embed video screens into printed brochures, books and briefing packs.

[email protected] /



Ticket prices:-

  • IABC member – £50
  • IABC non-member – £100
  • IABC member + non member (booked together) – £100

Book at

The IABC is a not-for-profit organisation. Money from ticket sales will be used to cover the cost of running the event and invested back into IABC member initiatives.


IABC UK is the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators – the global organisation for people working in business communications. It offers members a global forum to develop professional skills, share knowledge of and develop best practice in communications and to discuss important issues affecting the profession.



IABC means many things to many people. For many it is a life-long commitment. And we want to share this experience with a greater audience than ever before.


IABC UK is launching a global contest, with the hope that chapter leaders around the world will encourage their members to verbalise and share the many ways IABC has impacted their lives via a brief video submission.


With 10,000+ members in over 80 countries – we believe there is a common thread between IABC members of all disciplines and nationalities that needs to be explored.


The final output of this contest will be a two to three-minute promotional video featuring clips of members stating their favourite things about being an IABC member. The final promotional video will be released at the World Conference in New Orleans from 5th-8th June 2016.


We’re counting on chapter leaders around the world to encourage a ‘call to action’ for their members to show their support for IABC by producing a video. Whether by promoting the contest on social media channels and monthly newsletters, or by encouraging on-the-spot submissions at events by asking attendees to film video clips on board members’ iPhones – every little bit helps.


Casilda Malagon, President of IABC UK, said:


“The #myIABC campaign exemplifies IABC’s role in creating global connections. IABC UK has launched the campaign to connect with members and non-members on the intrinsic value that IABC membership brings to their professional and personal lives.”


Kira Scharwey, President-Elect of IABC UK, added:

“We’re thrilled to have created a platform for IABC members to verbalise what their membership means to them. To many members, IABC is a life-long commitment, and IABC colleagues a pseudo-family. The campaign aims to capture this unique feeling.”


There are two main audiences for the video:

  • Members – aim is to provide a feeling of connection – and pride – amongst current members.
  • Non-members – aim is to increase awareness with communications practitioners more generally and motivate prospective members to join.


If each chapter can take ownership of promotion and designate one video competition ‘champion’ who can take the lead, we know this video idea can be a resounding success. Let’s practice what we preach in terms of member engagement and promoting IABC with a chapter-led, on-the-ground communications campaign that reminds our members why they love being part of IABC – and educate non-members on why they should join.


Deadline for submissions is midnight on 30th April. If you have any questions on the campaign, please contact Kira Scharwey from IABC UK at [email protected] or via Twitter on @kirascharwey / @IABCUK. Twitter hashtag for promotion is #myIABC.




Competition instructions:

  • Submitted videos can be a maximum of 0:10 in length.
  • Submissions must be made by individuals, not by groups.
  • Try to shoot videos in locations with decent lighting and minimal background noise.
  • All video content must answer the overarching questions “What has IABC done for you?” or “What do you love about IABC?” Please see the following possible introductory phrases for guidance:

o   I love IABC because…

o   I am a lifelong IABC member because…

o   IABC has enabled me to…

o   IABC has allowed me to…

o   IABC has given me…

o   IABC has granted me…

o   IABC has helped me…

o   IABC has benefitted me…

o   IABC has guided me….

o   IABC has supported me…

o   IABC has contributed…

o   IABC has improved my professional life…

o   IABC has impacted my life…

o   IABC has…

o   My favourite part of being an IABC member is…

o   Name

o   IABC member number

o   The sentence “I agree to release ownership of this video submission to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and IABC UK to use as desired for promotional purposes”.