Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Convey Strategy via Effective Communication

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." - Plato

Crafting a good strategy is difficult, and executing strategy is challenging, the linchpin between strategy and execution is the effective communication to convey the messages across the organization, how can you do it right?

The open dialogue of big “WHY”: When communicating a strategy or organizational changes to a team, it is important to explain the "why" behind your communication. All too often, discussions are held at a senior level where the reasons behind a strategy are talked over extensively, but those reasons are not explained to the wider audience. This can lead to teams not understanding a strategy, or not buying into it.

Avoid the “Lost in Translation” Symptom: Strategy communication has to be customized from general management background to technical background employees. The mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialism. Ultimately a strategy has to end up expressed in people's job descriptions and workloads. Engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, etc. The highly effective business leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguist” who can master at different business dialects and convey the right message to tailor different audiences.

The simplest answer is "often." Communication, communication, and communication. Ideally, in language and settings that they understand and embrace, which in turn means spending enough time with staff to understand their language and the forms of communication that make sense to them. It is important to provide both a high-level vision of the organization's strategy, then bring it down to specific goals and objectives that are relevant to individual staff members and workgroups.

Effective communication with immersed management team: Successful implementation of the strategy is to organize a 'total immersion communication and dialogue program' for the senior and middle-level management group to establish a thorough buy-in of the organizational strategy, and the role each one and each department has to play for its implementation. Repeat the same module to other employees through the executives who have understood and can explain comprehensively to the other members of the organization. This needs to be done before rolling out the strategy for implementation.

Welcome strategy debate for challenging your strategy: To give teams a sense of ownership, invite them to challenge your strategy. Not only does this hand the strategy to the team, but can also give good ideas to improve it and can show you who should be sitting on your the meeting to devise next months/years strategy!

Encourage creative communication; instead of just descriptive communication, to convey strategy more vividly. Organizational communication is mostly conducted as old-fashioned “lecturing” (message – media – audience) as opposed to “participant-centered learning and understanding” (Socratic Method). Of course, the latter is more costly and time-consuming, but much more effective. However, most senior leaders prefer to rush their communication, “don´t waste time and money, and start executing." But what is more, inefficient than a whole organization that attempts to execute a poorly understood strategy? It's crucial to be more creative and be interactive for strategic communication.

In summary, the strategic communication needs to be more engaging than top-down; “multi-linguistic’ than single language-speaking; more creative than descriptive, more profound than louder, not only pay attention to what has been said but pay more attention to what’s not being said, to bridge the gap between strategy and execution, functional silo and holistic corporate view; reality and vision statement.


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