The following is part of our most recent publication released online, "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead." Looking back at their greatest hope for the IC profession in 2017 in terms of where the discipline should be, 21 communication professionals from different countries answer two questions: How far have we actually come in 2017? What remains to be done in 2018?
Jonathan Champ, Chief Communicator at Meaning Business, shares his views on the progress made these past months, to what extent he believes his hope has translated into reality, and what is needed in 2018. To read the views of all contributors, download the free 42-page eBook here.
My hope for our profession in 2017 is that we take bigger steps as facilitators of shared meaning, and as a result, shared value in organizations:
Using disruption as an opportunity to solve new problems, deepening collaboration with other disciplines and ensuring that the future of work is built on human dialogue
Using disruption, whether technological, industrial, social or economic, as an opportunity to test everything we do against a simple purpose: do we help people make sense of their working life in a way that grows contribution?
Internal communication is the business of sense-making: we work at our best at the intersection of how people are experiencing their organisation and where that organisation wants them to be. My hope for our profession in 2017 is that we develop our practices in ways that contribute creating connections, cutting through complexity and growing empathy. I hope we can be forward-looking and human. If internal communication is a start-up, maybe it is time for us to pivot and reinvent in response to the disruption around us.
How far we've come. Next steps.
My hope for the profession this year was that IC would be in a position to facilitate more shared meaning in organisations and in the process create greater shared value. How have we fared? I think the results are very mixed.
As a trainer and facilitator, I see a lot of individuals who are striving to improve their impact. But so frequently they are swimming against the current. As an advisor, I see a range of obstacles to this in so many organisations. There is a paradox: Leaders recognise the need for increased innovation and collaboration, concurrently, they actively prevent it. Can communicators become 'future of work' ready? Can organisations?
Internal communication is a fragmented practice. There are practitioners who are finding innovative ways to be fluid, focusing on outcomes and bringing all the tools and methods to the table, traditional and emerging, that they can. There are practitioners who are developing their practical skills across existing and non-traditional areas: digital, change and innovation.
As a past regional co-chair of the IABC Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panels, it has been so exciting to see the range of strategic and creative ways that communicators solve problems. But awards programs are only one slice of practice. The “on the ground” experience that practitioners talk about during training or events or when I am working with them reflects that it is too often still a slog or a struggle to convince an organisation to try something different. I'm still optimistic. There are communicators doing wonderful work, finding organisations that are open to doing things differently, being change agents and working across disciplines and boundaries.
There really is no magic solution to this. The technologies may have changed, but the underlying problems of internal communication really have not changed significantly in 20 years. So, what next? We keep working the problems and keep developing ourselves.
Strength in shared practices. Continue to talk about what works, not just with other communicators, but across disciplines. Ask the questions like “why did this work in this environment?” But don't just ask communicators. Ask marketers, change managers, leaders and innovators.
Invest in development. Don't wait for your company to value you. Skill up, both communication skills and non-traditional skills: design thinking, user experience and business acumen.
Change what you can. Look for the opportunities to add the value that our profession can deliver. Be brave.
“It’s not me, it’s you.” Know when to stop pushing the rock uphill. There are amazing organisations that foster and grow innovation. If yours is not one of them, find one that is.
Keep the faith. As a communicator, a great day at the office or in the field is a humbling thing. Bank those experiences as a reminder of why great internal communication matters.
Click here to download the free 42-page eBook "IC in 2017 & 2018 FROM HOPE TO REALITY How Far We've Come | The Road Ahead."
Chief Communicator, Meaning Business