Primary school assemblies used to be a forum where you were seen, but not heard; where you were told what you needed to know according to the doctrines of whomever was hosting the assembly.
Primary school assemblies today are demonstrations of what has been learnt, they are demonstrations of how enjoyable learning and discovering are and they also demonstrate that some lessons have not been learnt fully – perhaps mistaking continents for countries. But it is from mistakes we learn.
Today’s primary school assembly is a far better model than when us children of Thatcher grew up. I write this column enthused by what my youngest and her peers have learnt, I write this knowing what my child has been studying for the last six weeks (despite asking every day – the standard response is “stuff”), but now I know. More than that I know she enjoyed it, does understand it and that as a result her understanding of science, history, geography, mathematics and most importantly communications has been successful and enjoyable.
Assembling and communicating as a community is vital not only to a primary school on the North Downs, but also to the modern CIO and CTO. This term’s theme incorporated as I state above science, history geography, mathematics as well as English and the arts. Any technology project covers all the core subject matters of the business term – profit and loss; order and deliver; payroll, human resources, recruitment, supply chain, marketing; research and development and many more. Many of the UK’s leading CIOs have made it clear to me that there are no such things as technology projects, only business projects.
So with technology and in particular technology change touching all the departments and all the staff, regular assembly and communications are essential. A recent Horizin podcast featured Emma Sinden of communications specialists Bright Innovation and digital leader of Boston Consulting Group sharing experiences of using these methods (you can listen in or read the article here). Over the last nine years of daily dealing with CIOs and CTOs face to face I have seen how those that employ communications have succeeded in delivering major change in organisations. No matter the vertical market, communicating and discussing the change ensure it succeeds, whether you lead technology in an airline, NHS trust, automotive giant, retailer, charity or government body.
We humans have developed a plethora of ways to communicate and thanks to technology continue to develop new ways to communicate. All methods are right, it is the context of your organisation and its culture that matters. Whether it is sitting in the staff canteen, having a major innovation event, using social media, bookmarking Friday afternoon as a chance for anyone in the business to visit your team and share cake, coffee or perhaps even a stronger beverage. All of these methods work.
For a transformation project to work; for a business to be able to continually adapt to the needs of its customers technology leaders must continually engage in communications. Effective communications takes time and effort. A continual slew of lists telling people the best things, the worries etc will eventually lead to the channel losing impact. For communications to be successful it must reflect the community it seeks to communicate with.
Good communications cannot exist alone – delivery is critical too. If an organisation is diverse in its services and markets or geographically dispersed then the methods from the world of marketing are essential to ensure the message lands on every desk and device in an engaging manner that triggers a response.