This (relatively new) perspective is having some downstream impacts, some of which were widely discussed at the recent Chief Innovation Officer Summit in NYC. One such impact is the increasing focus on sophisticated internal communication efforts by corporate innovation (and HR / Talent) leaders, often for the first time (check out my recent article looking back at major innovation trends for 2015).
Communication activities have always been a part of almost all innovation activities. What is changing now is that innovation leaders are considering internal communications as a central element of their programs. In response, they are directing significant attention and resources to develop strategic (and tactical) frameworks to guide the their employee-focused communication efforts over time. This is a long-overdue and very welcome development.
There are a range of benefits that these strategic, integrated communications planning efforts can generate for innovation leaders, including;
Short-term communication activities are what innovation leaders should be moving away from.
Before heading off and developing a communication plan, it is important to note that these are medium to long-term initiatives. Short-term communication activities are what innovation leaders should be moving away from. It is important to recognize that planning efforts do take time, and can be resource intensive, at least in the early development stages.
The elements included within communication plans change on a company-by-company basis, but there are several consistent elements that should drive success, including:
Over the past 5-10 years there has been a determined and consistent effort to consolidate and restrict internal communications within corporate organizations. The result is that it can be difficult for innovation program leaders to get their messages across to their intended audiences. For this reason, innovation communication planning efforts are often designed to lay the groundwork for the development of new internal communication channels. These new channels can be directly controlled by centralized innovation teams or by internal communication groups. Whoever owns the channels, planning for appropriate resources and oversight is essential to ongoing success.
…far more difficult is to successfully manage and improve an ongoing communication channel over time, with an actively engaged audience and robust content flow.
It is actually pretty easy to build and launch a plan and even to launch a new communication channel. Everyone get’s excited, blows up balloons and eats cake. It’s fun! What can be far more difficult is to successfully manage and improve an ongoing communication channel over time, with an actively engaged audience and robust content flow. Innovation program leaders and their teams are extremely busy and often find it difficult to maintain focus and quality of these efforts over time. For this reason, a range of service providers such as Culturevate (full disclosure, this is the company that I lead) are playing a more active role in supporting these efforts with their corporate clients.
It was so great to hear so many innovation leader and vendors talking about the need for effective communication planning at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, and I look forward to hearing more of these efforts going forward.
On a related note, I am happy to provide a tactical innovation communication planning template, that might help address many of the points raised within this article. If you want a copy, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I can shoot it over to you.
By Anthony Ferrier
Anthony Ferrier is the CEO of Culturevate, an organization that empowers a company’s employees to execute ideas and inspire a culture of innovation, through employee networks, a resource portal and training programs (developed in association with Professor Chris Labash from Carnegie Mellon University). Anthony is a widely read author, speaker and advisor to industry leaders at organizations such as Pfizer, U.S. Postal Service, Johnson & Johnson, ADP and Fidelity. He previously led the BNY Mellon innovation program and has a Masters of Commerce (University of Sydney) and Bachelor of Economics (University of Newcastle).
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