Melcrum’s SCM Summit Day Two 2011 – The future of internal comms

Well what a day – my first speaking experience at Melcrum and a wonderful one at that! Sadly I missed day one, but my colleague did a quick post about her first time attending and her thoughts from the day.

Talking to offline colleagues with ipadio
So day two… which started nice and early with a breakfast briefing from Homeserve who have been working with the lovely team at ipadio to get messages out to the teams who often don’t see another colleague all day and even sometimes all week.

It was a great first session and as I’m currently looking into working with ipadio it was great to hear from a company that have done so already, and seen great benefits. The team had some real challenges; creating a sense of community, a single internal voice with character and consistency of message. They introduced an internal brand called Our House that was used on printed comms as well as the new TV channel Our House TV. They also introduced postcards as thank you cards and encouraged people across the business to use them for anyone – they got so much take up they had to develop new designs every quarter!

But fieldtalk was what we all wanted to hear and the system from ipadio proved to be just as good as they claim it is. Using phone blogging (phlogging) has been a great was for them to connect with the guys out in the field and for them to engage in dialogue with those in the business. They do a call every two weeks and on the SMS they say what the topic is – and if the business doesn’t have an announcement the messages are driven by feedback. It was lovely to hear the range of people leaving messages for employees and that you can do regional calls by getting the user to press 1 for Birmingham (for example).

People could leave feedback either by voting, or by recording their own message back and as we listened to some of the feedback they have had I was amazed to hear that it was quite simply a thank you for listening and talking to us – a learning that simple things can often have the most impact. I asked how much of the IC team’s time was taken up managing the tool and was delighted to hear that it was only a few hours every few weeks – a communicator’s dream!

The art and science of change
We moved on to hear from Tata Global Beverages  – the people behind Tetley, among others – talk about change and the need to think differently. We learnt a lot about tea – it has many health benefits and actually improves your IQ! And having already been told that using an iPhone or blackberry in a meeting reduces your IQ by 9 points it was even better to know!

They were trying to change the perception of tea from a commodity and move it into the youthful market, appealing to the next generation. It was interesting to hear them talk about the difficulty of tea and how we now consume things ready and on the go – something difficult to do with tea.

There were some great points made by the team on brand and the challenge of change:

  • To drive sales become a better brand that customers love or innovate
  • Innovation is about functionality, brand is about emotional connection
  • Innovate and then communicate – if what you’re doing doesn’t impact the business then don’t do it
  • Move from being focused on cash into growth, and being disparate to being integrated

They showed a great graph about the art and science of change, the ying and the yang, the head and the heart:

the art and the science of change from Melcrum
And today was about focussing on the communication part of that change. They introduced 6 principles:

  1. The communicating organisation is different to the managing organisation. People don’t talk how the business is structured
  2. The communication equation: A little more effort can equal a lot more impact – innovation!
  3. Serious doesn’t have to be boring
  4. The medium is the message – the channel you use has just as much impact, if not more, than the message you give
  5. 360 degree comms. Integrate the message across all the channels and use them to enhance one another with the messages
  6. Everything communicates, it’s not just the message, it’s the leaders walking around and the body language as well.

The development and delivery of the themes/values Tata Global Beverages created was impressive stuff and gave real food for thought about how with a little more effort you really can achieve so much- that and a big budget! Their Think Big campaign got lots of traction internally and was recognised externally by the which was lovely to see as so often we work hard to drive engagement internally and see nothing externally to drive attraction.

One final thought from their Think Big Boot Camp video: If a company doesn’t have a story, it doesn’t have a strategy.

Training – what do we want to learn?
As always, the event was supported by IML and their interactive technology was even more impressive this year. One quick poll asked about training needs for IC and the top three were; line manager comms, crisis/change comms and measurement.

Going viral
Akzonobel’s health and safety video was great. No budget and added to YouTube… only to be followed by colleagues in Egypt making their own version and uploading it too! Now that is engagement!

What we talked about!
I was there, with our National Operations Director for Rail, Paolo Peretti , to talk about our new online tool that engages all levels in the business. I’m not going to list what was said, but take the lead from those people tweeting during the conference and the two themes I saw afterwards were:

  • People liked the idea of gamification. We are going to show rewards, in the form of badges/stars for people who comment, post discussions, upload content and complete their profile. The more comments, the badge will change colour. Simple but hopefully effective
  • The top tips when rolling out a social intranet:
    • Don’t talk about social media
    • Back everything up with feedback and stats
    • Take people on the journey, we were 80% there when we launched
    • Get out there, talk to people and hear their thoughts face to face
    • Go slow – it takes time for people adapt to change
    • Be honest – tell them what you can do and can’t do and explain why – trust is everything

The future for Internal Comms – the theme of the day
I could not write enough down in this session. I love hearing about the research and I always enjoy looking forward at the themes and notions we should all be aware of. So some key themes from this session:

  • To best position for the future be courageous, innovative and disciplined
  • Have a more strategic focus and look at business change. We are not here to make newsletters look pretty
  • If you keep doing what people expect you to do, you will never surprise and delight them with your talent and skill
  • We need to have transparency, sustainability, leadership and management to develop the corporate structure
  • Leaders are guides, not gods
  • We need to get actively involved in developing and delivering the strategic narrative
  • Do a “trust and transparency” audit of strategic messages and their delivery. What does trust mean in your org?
  • Work with internal partners to communicate an honest and compelling EVP. they are honest and act on it
  • Focus on the business needs first and build partnerships that align with the business strategy
  • We need to support people better and have a team structure that delivers the best for the business and flexible to react
  • Influence without direct authority? Coach and consult, improve soft skills and support operations

Some great stats but nothing particularly new – we all know an engaged workforce will generate more money for the business, but the stat given was: twice net annual income for the business if your employees are engaged and 7x greater shareholder return – always a good one for those budget meetings!

The digital workplace
I ducked in and out of this session as my iPhone needed charging! And one of the panel members referred to Twitter as the place you tell people what you had for breakfast which still makes me want to shout out about the many uses of the tool! But there was some good insight from the guys:

  • Nothing ever beats meeting in person but digital tools can help personalise comms
  • Cultural glue is still needed in business and seeing them less means this can only be achieved though digital channels
  • Using online tools is great but we need to use these ideas in business & until we do that how do digital channels help?
  • Use the digital tools with the end in mind.. Why are you asking people to collaborate? What will the business get back?
  • A digital workplace will only truly work if the people in it are using digital tools and in that space

It was an interesting panel discussion on digital workplace, I couldn’t help but think trust must be so high to achieve this to its full potential.

Once again another great conversation hosted with the Melcrum team and nice to see the conversation has moved on from last year. Lots to think about and looking forward to seeing the official Melcrum blog soon. I have been told there were more questions for my section and I will get sent these…so when I do I’ll pop them into a post with all the answers in the interest of sharing! Hope this was a useful overview for those unable to attend and big thanks again to the team behind organising the event.

The full Twitter feed from the event: #uksummit2011

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