This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
Archive for August, 2011
Not always.¬†When I’m in the blogosphere, volunteering, or attending church, or at my clients ¬†find myself in groups that are mostly white [certainly mostly North American], mostly of a certain age and economic level. ¬†I’m operating in a bubble.
This struck me over the head a while ago when I was attending the Living Art in southern Vermont. ¬†I looked up early in the training and realized it was the most diverse group of people I’d ever been in.
There we were 24 people. A few more women than men, but not by much. ¬†Ages ranged from 21 to 75. ¬†The youngest was an African American who’d served in the military and was now studying at Columbia Univerity. ¬†The 75 year old was a contemporary art expert and the daughter of holicaust survivors. There were two married couples. ¬†Two french Canadians, an Aussie, a Kiwi [affectionate term for someone from New Zealand] and a German. ¬†There were three East Indian Americans. ¬†There were about 4 students and one full-time mom. ¬†There was a¬†chiropractor¬†and a financier. ¬†It was an incredible workshop on creating. And working with this group of people was an amazing experience.
Back to reality.¬†According to an¬†article¬†in the Globe and Mail a while ago, it will take women in Canada 151 years at the rate we’re going “before the share of men and women at the management level” will be equal.
That’s not just shocking because we know that women make up almost half of the work force in Canada, or that women make most of the buying decisions, but because we know lack of diversity hurts “employee retention, productivity and innovation.”
If as an individual I know I’m in a bubble, how can I expect the organizations I’m involved with to be? How can we, and the institutions we work for, break out of our bubbles?
Yes, I’m sad to say we have no bananas today.
I’ve been in and around the blogosphere for 4 or 5 years. ¬†And, I’ve seen a lot. ¬†Some of it good [great]. ¬†Some of it bad. Some of it ugly. ¬†Today, I saw all three in one day.
And, I have an observation. ¬†Most of the communication, management and marketing blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook pages and groups I frequent start off very well; very well, indeed. ¬† They have a strong editorial point of view. They’re strategically oriented. ¬†Edgy, stimulating and provocative.¬†The people they attract are from different backgrounds. All of them looking for insight and perspective. ¬†The conversations that follow are driven by the “founders”. Then there’s a moment when either the authors/founders lose interest, or where they take a decision to change the model.
On blogs, they invite guest bloggers. ¬†This isn’t so bad, since they are usually like-minded thinkers. ¬†On LinkedIn and Facebook pages and groups they open up to public postings. ¬†Despite what any of us may think about democratization of information and crowdsourcing [both of which I am in favour of by the way]. ¬†I haven’t seen a crowdsourced blog or page that really stands up.
Vision, an editorial point of view and “curation” are important. They lead to more vibrant and interesting discussion. ¬†They help attract the ‘tribe’ of “like-minded” followers.
Instead these sites end up losing everything they originally stood for. ¬†The thinking – strategic not tactical, systemic not siloed, innovative not iterative is replaced by discussions on questions like – what are the top 10 things great managers do? what are the best practices for process mapping? what’s the best social media tool for ceo’s? etc. It’s more a pooling of ignorance or a thinly disguised “marketing” approach than anything close to something that will further the profession.
What’s happening? ¬†Lost is the thoughtful and thought generating discussion. ¬†Found is watered-down free association.
Please, please can we have more bananas!
It’s interesting to think about the impact this small thing, a smile, has on our ¬†boardrooms and¬†workplaces. As an example: ¬†”Impassive facial expressions are the default for men” ¬†and “women are more likely to… return a smile and … to smile when the are disappointed.”
So, the people in power aren’t smiling¬†[men hold¬†86% "of board seats among the 500 largest Canadian companies"]¬†and their women employees are out there smiling even when they are disappointed. ¬†See a problem here?
If employee involvement is our goal, then maybe we need to start with a smile!
Have a great weekend!
Today, I read an¬†article¬†about the growing demand for people who are able to tell stories in every media¬†- photographs, text, audio, video, alone or in any combination -¬†and made the case for pr [read communications] professionals to build these skills. The medium, it seems, really is the message.
So, I thought it was a good time to check in and see where we stand in this world of ‘content’ production.
Me? ¬†For the past couple of years I’ve been experimenting with different social media and getting used to writing and sharing ideas and stories online -¬†here, as support to¬†Michael¬†for¬†From Marshall and me, on¬†LinkedIn,¬†Facebook,¬†Twitter, and FourSquare [which after much frustration I've stopped using] and by commenting on other blogs when I feel I have something to add to the discussion. ¬†I’ve attended a two¬†Montreal PodCamps¬†and several¬†Third Tuesdays¬†to get a deeper understanding of what technologies and applications are out there, how they are used, and what opportunities there are for institutional communications.¬†I’ve met amazing people -¬†Mitch Joel,¬†Julien Smith¬†and¬†Michelle Sullivan¬†- who have advised, provoked and inspired.
In the past few months, I’ve been revisiting and rebuilding my structural thinking and consulting¬†skills. ¬†The most recent training was last week. ¬†I attended a fabulous 5-day¬†Advanced training¬†with¬†Robert and Rosalind Fritz. ¬†The importance and power of¬†structure to the creative process and in storytelling was clearly evident. I always knew this training was key to my professional consulting practice. ¬†Now I know it is key to being a good storyteller.
Today, I’m officially committing myself to the next step in my journey¬†to create compelling content and learning how to share it in different ways. ¬†Sure, I will continue to blog and do the stuff I’ve been doing, and, over the coming months I’ll be learning and building mastery [OK getting competent] with as many communications technologies¬†and applications as I can.
This is a pretty big step for me. As those of you who know me will attest I’m no geek! ¬†Here’s my starting point. ¬†What technology is¬†usable¬†and what’s not!
Ouch! ¬†And, it is a secondary choice to a primary choice to producing great, compelling stories that I can share. Standby.
You?¬† I’d love to hear about what you’re doing to build your storytelling and media skills? ¬†What were your successes? What did you learn from your failures? ¬†What can you recommend?
BTW:¬†I’ve already started experimenting with my¬†new camera¬†[Canon S95] [no commercial relationship]. ¬†I’m still not working with the SLR ¬†or video features, but I’m looking forward to that. ¬†And, the scanner is plugged in and ready to go so that I can start a family project I’ve been thinking about for years. ¬†An opportunity to experiment and learn to tell a different story in a new way…
Years ago I was a serious about photography. ¬†I loved my SLR camera. ¬†I took several classes and had achieved a certain level of mastery. ¬†I shot images I really loved.
Then came digital. ¬†I was lost and overwhelmed by the technology and eventually ended up with a blackberry and the occasional very bad shot. Yesterday I decided to change all that.
Michael and I arrived in the photography shop universally hailed as the best photo place in town and were greeted by two nice gentlemen. ¬†We’d just walked for 90 minutes to get there in the bright sun and as my eyes adjusted to the light I realized I was in photographer heaven. ¬†The place was packed with equipment and people. ¬†We lined up and eventually got to speak to a nice young man.
Over the first 20 minutes or so he told us fact after fact about the two models that he thought best met my need and budget. He was professional and pretty restrained.
And then, he reached for a third model. His voice changed. The way he handled the camera changed. And he told a story. He told us he’s sold this model to a friend of his who was looking for SLR features in a light weight point and shoot. ¬†And how having bought this camera his friend was raving about it. It was a short story. Maybe three sentences. ¬†And it changed everything. ¬†I bought that camera. Yes, it cost more. But it weighed less and … his voice and the story closed the deal.
Sometimes, stories sell.
Oh dear! ¬†Now I may need to head to Pheonix. ¬†Stories do sell.
PS: For those of you who are interested I got a Canon Powershot S95 and I’m now ¬†on pg 29 of the 196 pg manual! Can’t wait to get shooting.
The Gay Pride parade today got me thinking about pride and parades.
Montreal is a city of festivals. ¬†And, it seems that every festival has a parade celebrating the pride people have in their community – Carafete- celebrates the Carribean community, Comedy Fest – funny people and things, Canada Day – being Canadian, St Jean Baptiste – the historic roots of French Quebec and of course Gay Pride – celebrates the gay, lesbian and transgender community.
So, where is the parade that celebrates workers and the pride they have in the work they do?
Of course, labour day began as a celebration of “the economic and social achievements of workers“. At its centre was a big parade as this photo of Labour Day celebrations in 1900 clearly shows.
By the time I was born Labour Day parades were a thing of the distant past in my part of the world. ¬†In fact, Labour Day had long since morphed into a celebration of the last weekend of the summer. Labour had little to do with it.
The closest thing to a pride in work parade¬†I ever saw was the London Harness Horse Parade on an Easter weekend years ago. ¬†The London Harness Horse Parade’s roots go back to the end of the 19th century.
The parade’s objective is “to improve the general condition and treatment of London‚Äôs working cart or heavy horses and to encourage drivers to take a humane interest in the welfare of their animals.” And, yet, as the men and women [sometimes many generations] and the symbols of their work – their horses, their carriages, their tools wearing the costumes or uniforms of their trade – walked by us for hours. Pride in their work and in the symbols of their work was palpable. It was beautiful. And, I hate to admit it, but there were moments that brought tears to my eyes.
Where’s our pride? ¬†Can you imagine a parade devoted to celebrating workers/managers and¬†their work in your community? ¬†A parade that would give them a chance to show the pride they have in the work they do? ¬†If so, what would it look like? ¬†And, can I come?
Today, Lisa Barone asked a very simple question: ¬†what is marketing? ¬†Inspired by her post, I thought we could try the same thing here by mirroring her approach to answer the question: ¬†what is internal communication?
Step 1: ¬†First, Lisa turned to Google. ¬†So off I went to search internal communication is. ¬†Here’s what I got:
- internal communication issues
- internal communication iso 9001
- internal communication iso
- internal communication israel
- internal communication is necessary
- internal communication is a type of communication
- internal communication is defined as
- internal communication is poor
- why internal communication is important
A little dark humour perhaps. ¬†The second is of a room full of people looking at a panel and a screen. It was called ‘Video conference’. ¬†And the third:
Poor stressed out guy on a phone entitled “Taking Notes’. Ouch! It was only at image 4 where people were apparetnly in conversation with each other. ¬†Though I have to say, there was a menacing quality …
I don’t know about you, but this exercise has left me even more perplexed and discouraged than Lisa in her search for “what is marketing?”
What is internal communication? ¬†After today’s exercise, I have no idea. ¬†Tomorrow, I may try this exercise on employee communication. ¬†As for today, I’m off to take a pain killer.