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Make communications work hard, not hard work

My most successful communications post was of a pair of cartoon underpants! I think it is because the message resonated with so many people! Thousands finally ‘got’ why they should be careful with passwords, writes CIO Chris Lord.

Why had so many people suddenly ‘got’ the message? One picture achieved what decades of policies, in-house training and memos did not. (Information security readers of my post made it clear that enforcing frequent password changes is no longer seen as a good idea.) 

Make comms work - underpants
The successful message. Clean and concise!

But why was the below classic message (lightly edited to avoid embarrassment) not successful?

Make comms work - rules
A classic example of internal communications, completely lacking in visual or storytelling interest

Communicating change

In corporate transformation, many people across the organisation will experience change and will find that scary. It is critical that they understand the reason and the benefit of the change so that they are part of the change rather than treacle slowing it down. Those that could become treacle need a clear vision and they need to know their role before, during and after the transformation.

Every message needs to be memorable. So the message has to be worth the time to craft and distribute it. That is why the underpants work so well, they grab the attention, they are simple and they are to the point and they use humour well. The underpants are based around a relevant picture, they keep the message simple and they tie back to something that everyone can relate to.

It is easy to say but hard to execute good communications. Don’t hold back from getting help if you need it, because it makes all the difference. To underline the power of good messaging, see how the town of Griffin in Georgia USA solved the problem of trucks repeatedly hitting a bridge despite several official road signs.

Make comms work - bridge signs
Data about an important change in conditions ahead
Make comms work - hit this then that
Insight. Now the user knows what the ignoring the message leads to a consequence

I know which I will remember when I need to make a quick decision. And those are the decisions that, every day, your teams need to make to be push your company towards something amazing.

About the author:

3G2A4093Chris Lord has a 20-year track record of innovation, transformation and delivery through leadership of international teams with budgets of over £100 million in multiple markets and industries, including regulated and data-driven organisations.

Lord recently completed three years as Group CIO with financial and professional services organisation the Collinson Group and is now a high level interim business technology leader, business advisor, coach and mentor. Contact Chris Lord at: lord.b.chris@gmail.com

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