Serving up the Corporate Communication

dinner

 

Have you ever considered the humble beef steak and the many variations in which it can be prepared and served to meet the varying eating requirements of diners?

Some people like their steak raw, others partially cooked, others with a more highly tuned animalistic appreciation, savor it burnt with a delicate charcoal after taste that lingers just that little longer on the palate.

Others like their steak transformed into another eating format such as mince, a sausage, hamburger or even placed on a metal skewer garnished with an array of coloured complimentary ornamental vegetables to add that certain nutritional balance to the eating diet.

The overall result is that many people will happily eat steak owing to the customized presentation and delivery format that meets the endless variety of fickle needs of the consumer.

Let’s explore this thought with respect to corporate communications. Rather than having one single communiqué to the broader organization, a tailored message for each user group is required (you just can’t serve raw steak to everyone!). The message needs to be crafted to meet the consuming needs of each work group. Some groups will like to hear the message straight (don’t cut the fat off their meat), others will need it to be refined (cut into smaller more palatable pieces), some will need it simplified and reduced (via the use of a food processor), others may want some condiments to compliment the taste of the message.

In all the above message scenarios the origin of the communication is the same (just like the original cut of the steak) the skill is in how the Corporate Communication Director (or should I say chef) dishes up the “meat” to ensure that each employee (diner) eagerly greets the communication and is ready to eat it all up and is fully satisfied without the need for seconds, or a dessert!

So in summary, corporate communication is really just food for thought…..isn’t it?

 

Ageless Innovation

Rectangular

We start from an early age exploring our surroundings where we learn new experiences on a continuous basis. Some of these learnings are positive, others may be negative, but through each individual encounter our foundation of knowledge increases.

Even as we grow older, we confront different environments and challenges which ensure that we are constantly adapting to our changing surroundings, just like our physical appearance alters with increasing years. However, there is a common constant in place throughout this learning and ageing process, that being the ongoing linkage of ideas where one thought is added to another thought to build a larger and ever expanding idea base.

To demonstrate this process, let us consider one of the most used building blocks that is familiar to all of us, that of a single brick of Lego® (“one idea”). To this brick we add another brick (another “idea”). We then add more bricks which are accumulated with time (“as we age”), where the process continues until we have a vast collection of bricks (or “ideas”). We could just leave the bricks in a large random pile, but we don’t. We join these bricks to make various shapes which we continually modify based on our experience and desires.

This simple analogy demonstrates that what it means to age where the concept of idea innovation becomes ageless. As we get older, we add our accumulated ideas and thoughts into an assembly of activities that are relevant for each stage in our life. The key is to keep finding new “bricks”, not to sit back and be impressed with what we have “built”, but to keep on building!

 

The Mathematical Idea

Numbers

If you were an accountant, just imagine if the unthinkable happened?  What if you were at the crucial stage in developing a strategic profit and loss statement, or an annual budget and you ran out of numbers!

Yes, instead of numbers being an unlimited thought concept, what if they were an actual physical asset that was purchased, had a market value, and were manufactured in a finite quantity? How would the accountant cope? If they ran out of “4”s, could they continue the financial analysis that they were working on by replacing the “4” with a “3”, after-all they are close? Somehow, I suspect not!

So why is it that some corporate organizations tend to have a greater proportion of innovative ideas compared to other companies? After all, aren’t ideas, like numbers unlimited and freely generated?

One probable answer is the culture of the organization and the environment that has been established to encourage and promote innovation of thought. Many progressive companies are well aware of this requirement and have developed a range of thought creation initiates to drive and maintain the innovation process focused on targeted applications. If we go back to the accountant, it is all very well have an unlimited supply of numbers, but the key is how these numbers are applied to a specific problem thereby creating a solution. The same can be said for ideas, it is great to have a plethora of them, but the real opportunity is obtained when they initiate a creative solution that leads to additional sales revenue via a new market or product.

So next time you use your calculator to solve a mathematical problem, try to think of the numbers on the keys from a slightly different perspective. Why not view those numbers as the inputs for a range of ideas which when combined via a systematic approach lead to the generation of a creative and new solution. By the way, in this calculator there would be no “Error” function, for when generating ideas, there are no mistakes, just opportunities for improvement!

Too Many Cooks do NOT Spoil the Broth

Too Many Chefs

There are many key factors required to achieve a magnificent slow cooked gourmet soup.

First, there is the Chef that coordinates the whole cooking process utilising their wealth of experience based on a proven and never ending method of trial and error leading to the desired soup result. Next are the ingredients that when merged together in the right proportions yield that optimum flavour and texture. Let us also not forget the liquid within which all the ingredients can be distilled, can freely permeate, and then combine to form the necessary soup consistency. Other important requirements are heat, time and a suitable cooking pot to allow the progression of the ultimate soup masterpiece.

A successful Chef will also welcome feedback from their peers and will happily consider their suggestions on other exotic ingredients that may compliment and improve their recipe. Some of these ingredients may provide an immediate taste impact, others may take time to infuse and then add a more complex and subtle addition.

The combined result of all of the above is the achievement of gourmet soup perfection!

However, this soup methodology can also be applied to the process of innovation in the corporate office.

The Chef
There needs to be an owner of the innovation process that coordinates all the idea inputs and directs the progression towards the required end result. The key is to have one Master Chef, but also numerous Apprentice Chefs that can assist and take-over when required so the innovation process doesn’t lose momentum and focus (after-all, without the proper attention from the chef(s), the soup may boil over and be ruined!)

The Pot
Ideas need a receptacle for their collection and development. Suggestions for this could be a corporate internal communication forum where thoughts are shared and discussed in an open environment, a brainstorming session, or other creative methods that meet the cultural needs of the organisation. The pot needs to be of the right size to accommodate all the ideas that might be generated throughout the process. Too small a pot may lead to participant frustration; too large a pot may lead to ideas being lost?

The Ingredients
Ideas need to come from many sources within the corporate organisation. All employees should be invited to participate to allow for greater diversity of thought and enhanced potential creativity. These ideas can then be further refined and combined by the skill of the Chef’s team as appropriate.

The Soup
The business needs to have an overall objective for the output generated from the innovation process. For instance, a Chef will know whether they are planning to make a soup and not a cake! If the objective were deemed to be a cake, then a completely different methodology would be required.

Time, Heat
Ideas need time to develop and mix with others that are placed into the cooking pot. Some ideas need to be broken down further via additional analysis (or heat) following which a new array of exciting and complex ideas may become evident.

You may recall that old saying “Too many cooks will spoil the broth”. Well, in this instance, you need many, many cooks as each cook (or fellow employee) brings with them a wealth of different ideas all based on their own insights and experiences. It is the collection of these ideas that leads to an endless array of innovation and creativity. The secret to innovative success is how these multitudes of ideas are mixed and brought together in a format that reinforces innovation. This is where the role of the Master Chef is so important in blending all these ideas into a soup that meets the requirements and tastes of the organisation.

To conclude, may these ideas help you develop a brilliant soup based on that distinctive taste of your own corporate innovation! Bon appetite!

 

The Gravity of Change

Apple on the ground

Gravity is one of those laws of physics that you know will work in all circumstances, what goes up, must eventually come down. The only variable is the rate of descent.

This creates an interesting opportunity in the establishment of a culture of “change” in the corporate environment. If the change is to work effectively, it must start at the top of the organization. Once in motion, the law of gravity comes into play and the change gradually permeates down through the whole organizational structure. The higher the starting point of the change, the greater the momentum and the better the chance of success in the change reaching the lower levels.

However, if there are any resistors to the downward movement, these blockers should be quickly identified and removed to allow the continued progression of change.

Gravity also ensures that change proceeds only in the required direction. Should a change start progressing in an undesired path, gravity will naturally implement the appropriate course correction.

One problem with gravity is that change has minimal impact on the corporate organization if it starts at the bottom. Here the change will have a limited life and will quickly run out influence and will eventually stop.

So next time you observe the influence of gravity in your surrounding environment consider how it can be used to implement an effective program of change in your corporate organization. Don’t fight the laws of physics, but rather, use this proven law to your advantage and let gravity do the work. But make sure you start the change at a high level to achieve the maximum impact.

 

The Business Vote….In or Out?

Voting

At election time you will find a politician strategically working their electorate in an attempt to win as many precious votes as possible. The politician will tell you what they have done in the past, and what things they will do in the future to ensure your personal interests are being maintained. If you find the political sell credible, you have the option to vote them in, or out of their parliamentary seat of power.

What if this voting concept was utilised in the corporate office? Why shouldn’t senior managers, such as the CEO, MD, be voted in or out of their role by a range of key stakeholders which includes their shareholders, peers and more importantly their subordinates? Some senior managers typically sell themselves exceptionally well to their shareholders, but typically do not view their direct reports in the same manner, nor with equal importance.

Why shouldn’t the senior manager on a regular basis be required to promote themselves, just like a politician at election time, to their employees where they outline their vision for the organisation, how they will achieve it and the future benefit derived for all workers? At the end of the promotional and lobbying period all employees would vote on the senior manager’s performance and credibility. If the vote is poor, this would result in the immediate dismissal of the senior manager as it would be apparent that they have not inspired their staff sufficiently to deliver the required business strategy. It would also benefit shareholders as it would be a good indicator of the future performance of the organisation under the leadership of this senior manager.

It’s just a thought, but the concept could also lead to greater transparency in the corporate environment where all levels of the organisation feel as if they have some political control, ownership and influence in the future direction of their business?

Eyes Down with a Positive Perspective

cemstride

When sojourning around the corporate office you will encounter a variety of co-workers with differing walking styles. Those people who are confident will typically walk with a sense of purpose and will greet you with a determined look that locks their eyeball with yours. Others who are less positive by nature will tend to waddle around the building with their eyes well entrenched with a downward stare and minimal opportunity for communication.

Many an office will parade an endless array of motivational signage on the office walls to encourage people to change their perspective and to react in a more optimistic manner. However, there is an untapped opportunity for inspiring those with a downward glance whilst walking throughout the building that utilises an office environment that is frequently under utilised and ignored from a marketing and change management directive, that being the floor!

The floor provides an intertwining matrix of messaging possibilities:

Different Carpet Colours
Why do all carpet colours need to be consistent throughout the building? Why not create a pictorial affect to inspire people who work within various departments? For instance, those in marketing could have an outer space carpet with an endless array of stars and galaxies to help inspire a creative thought? Those working in finance could have a carpet with many numbers, $ signs and mathematical formula permutations? Those in HR, could have a multitude of employee faces beaming up at them to reinforce the diversity of culture within the business?

Safety Messages
For those danger areas where people collisions may eventuate, why not have some floor signs saying “Beware, slow down and exercise caution otherwise there may be unwanted facial contact”?  Or, in the canteen, “Look out for slurping coffee carrying colleagues!”

Management Notifications
When a senior manager is approaching, a floor notification could be transmitted to approaching co-workers stating “Be happy, smile, look like you are busy!”

Personalised Walking Tones
For some co-workers that need that extra form of encouragement, the floor would have the ability to read certain employee feet and walking styles.  For those individuals identified, an appropriate piece of “power music” would blast out from the floor to give them that psychological lift whilst moving throughout the building!

There is an endless array of floor possibilities in the corporate office. The key is to start viewing all aspects throughout the building that “little bit differently”! May these innovative and creative ideas lead to hours of happy and positive walking in your place of work!

 

The Corporate Reception Area

Circular Reception Desk

When you enter a shop for the first time your senses are seeking out data points with which to form an impression that usually influences your buying behaviour whilst in the store, and afterwards with respect to potential repeat visits. Each store tries to create their own individuality that differentiates themselves from their competition through a variety of different coloured décor, sounds, smells, staff dress code, personality style and other mannerisms.

So what can we learn from this in the corporate world? The answer is heaps, particularly with respect to the business reception area.

Business reception areas are the portal through which all new clients enter and they are in essence the “shop front” to the corporate organization. So why not make this “experience of entrance” one that will place your business on a pedestal that will be the envy of your opposition?

Some thoughts for achieving this that are that “little bit different”:

1. Facial Recognition
For clients that have visited your business previously, why not use facial recognition to send their details electronically as they are walking to the receptionist who can provide them with a personal salutation of welcome when they sign in?

2. No more dull waiting time
Should your clients arrive early for a meeting, why should they sit around aimlessly reading the traditional range of dated and boring magazines and newspapers?
A much better and innovative alternative is to provide a range of other more interesting options such as; a dedicated barista to provide that optimum coffee brew, free WiFi so they can check E-mails, a well stocked library with comfortable reading chairs, a golf practice putting area with your company logo on the green, or an array of dynamic computer games, etc. I’m sure that these options would be much better appreciated!

3. Video Messaging Booth
Should you client not have sufficient time for the meeting with your organization through no fault of their own, or should your employees be double booked with too many meetings, the reception area would be equipped with an array of video messaging booths. Here the client could sit down in private and make their presentation or provide feedback to a video camera which would record their message. This could then be E-mailed to the appropriate person in your business for viewing at a later date.

4. The Outdoor Reception Area
Why not have a built in outdoor glass enclosed reception area instead of one with the more traditional corporate appearance? This could comprise a variety of outdoor garden elements that are in sync with the climatic seasons with a well defined footpath meandering to the reception desk. For instance, there could be a grassy mound with occasional animal (eg cow, kangaroo, horse) strolling past the clients, an intermittent and random rain shower requiring the use of strategically placed umbrellas or an ice-cream stand located amongst a sand dune or rock-pool?

I’m sure that these creative and rather unique additions to the corporate reception area would have a lasting and positive influence on any client that may visit your business.

Why not consider some of these ideas when designing your next office building?

I’m sure that it would indeed make people “think that little bit differently”!