Saturday, August 22, 2009

Reboot communications with urgency

Communications leaders should read this interview from Inc. magazine with Harvard Business School professor John Kotter, in which he discerns the difference between panic--the reaction lots of operations are having in response to big changes like the recession, or the shift to social media--and urgency. The latter's the more purposeful response, he says. While pegged to entrepreneurs, there's a lot in this interview to inspire communications leaders, particularly if you're looking to reboot your operation and the ways you approach communications in the 21st century. Here's a sample of what I saw that's useful:
  • You can inspire change in your team with urgency: "Talk about the big dangers and big opportunities...You're trying to get people to think. And you always say what you are going to do first," Kotter says.
  • Clear the decks so you're ready for action. Instead of the typical panicked response--long hours, fear of layoffs, looking busy to show value added--Kotter says the leader should head in the opposite direction, asking the team to purge anything on their calendars that doesn't propel change and forward motion. Then you have the space to look for new opportunities and ideas.
  • Take the time to set the stage for change. Here's a statistic to note: Kotter says 70 percent of change efforts fail due to the leader's failure to "create a sense of urgency around what they're doing" and moving straight to problem-solving.
That's just a sample from this thoughtful read. I can report that lots of clients this year are taking the time to build team urgency and support change with don't get caught's facilitated retreats that mix strategic brainstorming with training and goal-setting for communications that don't get caught behind the curve. Read more about them here, or contact me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz for more ideas and information.

Related posts: Re-tooling your training in tough times with focused retreats
Get your toes wet in the new-media pool: Social media orientation retreats

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