Our journey to digital transformation by Working Out Loud

 

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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

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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

New Models & Approaches from the UK Govt Comms team

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In the spirit of open and collaborative communications, last week the Government Communication Service launched two new initiatives to support public sector comms teams – both are worthy of the attention of communicators across sectors.

These are internal approaches for government communicators, but anyone can view and download these models/approaches via the beta version of the gov.uk website, which is itself a model of simple, clean design and straightforward language.

Serving audiences effectively

The Modern Communications Operating Model looks at the principles for improving communications team capability, structures, skills and resources. The aim of the MCOM is to support internal teams – and one would assume broader public sector communication teams – to structure and deliver more effective, efficient communications.

The GCS website says: “Modern teams should be seamlessly integrated, based around audience understanding, be insight and data-driven and be digitally-orientated. To create this consistently the model sets out ways of arranging communications teams for varying sizes of organisations.”

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Evaluating impact

The second initiative – the New Evaluation Framework – lists metrics and approaches to measurement of  media, marketing, digital, stakeholder engagement and internal communications.

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The GCS website notes:

“Good evaluation leads to a better understanding of what works well so we can do more of it, and of what doesn’t so we can stop doing it.”

Whether you are in public sector comms, or in the private sector, these are really useful, simple tools to use with your teams and assess your own approaches. Hats off to the Government’s comms teams for a) developing them, and b) making them broadly available.

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global  membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80  countries. We deliver on the ​Global Standard in communication through educational offerings, certification, awards programs and our annual ​World Conference.​ Follow  us on Twitter ​@iabcuk.

Gay Flashman is a former Managing Editor of Channel 4 News and an experienced communications consultant.  Gay is CEO of ​Formative Content​, a UK based agency providing high quality blog  content, live event coverage ​and social media content ​for clients around the world.

A year in summary

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Tessa O’Neill’s speech at IABC UK Annual General Meeting of 30 June

As I acknowledged in my acceptance speech in June 2014, I knew this would be a year of transition and change. It almost felt like the best we might achieve in this term was to maintain an even keel until the real developments took place later this year.

But I was keen to push for innovation in our board to set some foundations for novel work that would, in line with our new brand offering, best represent IABC in the 21st century.

So our aim as a board was to create excitement around IABC, grow our network, encourage greater participation and demonstrate exceptional value of membership.

 

Our Board

The IABC board comprises expert communicators, with day jobs and most importantly with personal lives that should always take precedence over any volunteering activity.

So it’s often a challenge to give your all to something that can only be supported in your spare time – especially as there’s less and less of that nowadays!

But I have been hugely impressed this year by the dedication of all our board members and, particularly, by those who took their roles extremely seriously and delivered over and above what was expected. And special mention must go to Susan Walker, Dana Poole & Kira Scharwey for their exceptional work on events, digital marketing and membership respectively.

I’ve really enjoyed working with the team this year; it’s been a huge honour, and a steep and fulfilling learning curve. So I’d like to pause and ask all our board to stand up so we can give them a big round of applause.

Thank you! So on to our update…

Membership

Historically maintaining healthy membership has always been a challenge and increasingly so for all associations.

But, despite a slow start, overall membership has actually risen year-on-year by a not inconsiderable 70 percent. This is chiefly due to recent student sign-ups from Bournemouth University and London College of Communications (LCC).

And we are working with Bournemouth to maximise IABC’s engagement with student members (via a student representative and potential sub-committee of students who will promote IABC internally).

We also saw great success in increasing renewals during Member Month. Board members divided up the chapter’s list of lapsed members and personally contacted each of them. A bit of Nudge theory in practice!

Mentoring

The mentorship programme is becoming a USP for the chapter. It has been the main draw for greater student membership.

We currently have 12 mentors and as many mentees, with potentially 100 additional mentees joining the programme from LCC and Bournemouth over the next year.

 

We have introduced a time-limited “wave” approach to deal with the increased number of mentees. And we also hope to increase mentor numbers accordingly; offering web-based training to more experienced members.

We also signed up our first two regional mentors this year. A good way to engage established members outside the SouthEast who sometimes might feel like members-at-large.

Regional

While very much an exploratory year for Regional, it has not been without results.

We held our very first regional event – and webcast – with the South West Corporate Communicators (SWCC) in Bath in October 2014. It featured IABC’s very own Shel Holz as keynote and more than 20 people attended. Interest continues to grow.

Looking ahead, we are planning further events for 2015-16 in Bristol and Bournemouth.

We have also worked to engage members in Sheffield, South Wales, and Leeds over the coming months. So more opportunities to expand our organisation nationally.

We are in discussions with Leeds University about enrolling more than 50 students and promoting IABC to a further 200 students at the university, together with corporate members and communications professionals in the local area.

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Michael Ambjorn – IABC AGM Speech

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Michael Ambjorn’s speech as new Chair of IABC 2015-16

Things have been interesting recently. That’s what happens when you hit a mid-life crisis. Things go a bit haywire. IABC has been in a full-blown mid-life crisis. So, should we go off and get ourselves a Porsche?

Luckily, that’s not on the cards. It is easy to lose confidence. As the hardnosed will tell us: never waste a crisis. And as an old British bulldog once said: ‘if you’re going through hell, keep going’. Make something of it. Use it to take stock, prioritise. Fix. Set things up again for the future. Stronger. Better. Aligned and with a clear direction.

That’s hard though when you’re knocked for six. A famous boxer once said: ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face’. We had a triple blow: a global recession, a changing market, an out-dated infrastructure.

‘We’ve been fixing to get ready’ as the Texans might say, and today I want to talk about where we are on that journey – and where we can go next if you want to.

Now before we dive into that, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing up here on the stage. Who’s this fast-talking espresso-addict? Well, for starters, correlation does not necessarily mean causation and I hate to admit that I’ve been fast-talking long before I learnt how to make a decent espresso – nevertheless, a couple of extra shots certainly does not make it better. So if I get carried away, please do signal me to slow down.

I’ve got something to say. It is about the future of our profession. It is about the future of our association. It is about our future. It is about you. And me. Those who have heard me speak before will have heard me say: that the intersect between the two are the sweet spot of action. That’s where the interesting things happen. That’s where the good stories come from. You are in this room right now because you’re a leader.

You can make a difference to the person next to you, to a fellow leader, to the association and ultimately the profession – and society. You are uniquely positioned to impact the world. If you want to. If you will give me your ears for a few minutes, I will propose a way for how we can do it together.

Before that I want to tell you a story. It is a personal story – it starts in the battleship-grey headquarters of a large corporation. I’ve worked at a few; I’ve also run a small foundation; headed up a 260 year old Fellowship focused on social change – and these days I help boards and teams establish, align and execute purpose-driven comms and engagement strategy.

This corporate. Imagine you’re at this HQ building. You have a brief moment between conference calls. That’s when you get the call. That’s when a well-established industry leader calls you and says: ‘you’re it.’

I need you to do one more thing.’ Don’t worry about the fact that you’re at that time commuting every three weeks to Chicago, from London. Leading a team spanning four continents. Standing there you’re told: Don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about that at all. Because you need to run something. Something for the association. Something that will advance the profession. It won’t be easy. But you will enjoy it. And be better for it.

Standing there in that battleship-grey headquarter building with low ceilings – too far from daylight really; and coffee really unworthy of consumption although always served with a smile – that’s when you, against logic, common sense or indeed sanity, take something more on. Whilst the details might be different, I am sure many of you have had the same experience. You get tapped. You step up. You deliver.

That was my first. It wasn’t my last. Why do we do it? I can tell you why I do it:

  • I believe that in today’s world, communication can be a force for good.
  • I believe that we have a unique way of connecting people for this purpose – a certain je ne sais quois – which I haven’t seen in any other organisation that spans the world like this organisation does.

And I know: that with thousands of members worldwide, across diverse industries, sectors and disciplines, this is a community alive with knowledge. Alive with experience. Alive with ideas. All of which are freely exchanged. A community I love being part of – and people I can’t do without.

A community that has a real and tangible impact. It is a force for good – through the Global Standard for the Communication Profession, our Code of Ethics, our educational offerings, our mentoring, our leadership development. I could go on. Most of all though, for me: it is about the connection – and the connections – that it enables. Because it is in that intersect the magic happens. The sweet spot of action.

Let’s be clear – the ask that was made, the ask to step up, was based on social capital – it was based on a connection. A connection who could vividly paint the possibility of experience ahead. I’ve seen it in action. Again and again. I can’t count the amount of times when I have been up against it with a tough comms challenge – or a question from a mentee, perhaps outside my own field of comms strategy and facilitation, that I could not answer and have received emergency assistance from many a generous colleague in this organisation – and vice versa.

You know who you are. Thank you. I will always endeavour to do the same for you. Because there’s a u in endeavour.

Now let’s take stock. The smoke has not entirely cleared. Some will in fact say that we’re on a burning platform. One only we can fix. What’s happening?

These days I pay my own way for membership, yet when I joined, membership was an employer-provided benefit. For me; for many. The CFOs of the world removed that budget line. It isn’t coming back. Meanwhile on the interwebs indirect competitors are eating our audience for breakfast:  $20 for a copy of Harvard Business Review? Why pay, you can read five articles a month for free… $50 bucks for an event? Curate your own crowd using Meetup.com – there are thousands of if not hundreds of thousands of groups out there.

Competition is fierce.How many of you have used Uber or AirBnB? We’re not the only ones being disrupted. I know times have been hard. It hasn’t been a bed of roses. This I know. But you are nothing if not resilient. Now, it is not surprising that the field is busier than ever – Google tells me that there are:  2,500,000 searches for a communications strategy every month,  140,000 of those are looking for comms skills,  120,000 are looking for a coms conference…and if our membership grew at the rate of our LinkedIn group – now well past the 40,000 mark, we’d have fourfold the resources we have now.
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