These days there is a tendency in many organizations, both national & international, to talk about “innovation” and how they are implementing it. It appears to be essential that any “quality” company can proudly state in its internal & external communication that it is an “innovative” organization. Where ever you go, everyone seems to be talking about it. There are even organizations that have created entire departments dedicated exclusively to the search for “innovation”. However, they are looking for “innovation” only in the development of their products (both old and new); in the opening of new markets; finding new niches for their products; new marketing techniques to stand-out from their competitors, etc. They do, however, seem to have forgotten one key element of “Innovation”: Communication.
Many senior managers seem to suffer from the “ostrich syndrome” (burying their head in the sand) and prefer not to think about innovation in other areas of their organization. Obviously, it is much easier to leave the rest of organization as it is – especially if it is functioning “O.K.” – after all, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it! – than to make improvements which might annoy / confuse employees, make people uncomfortable or end the “quiet life” in the company. The fact that the organization could function more effectively, with greater profits with (possibly) less costs and with the future (almost) guaranteed with an honest introspection to see where the rest of the organization could improve – or “innovate” – is either forgotten or passed over!
As a consultant & trainer in interpersonal communication, it seems illogical to me that an organization could begin the search for “innovation” without thinking seriously about how to “innovate” their own, often outdated, internal & external communication systems. As we all know, the communication inside and outside the organization is one of the most important elements in it’s success. However, it is an element that many senior managers don’t want to change, don’t think about or are afraid to.
There are many directors who reject tried & tested communication models of proven efficacy solely because they do not fit in with THEIR way of communicating with other people. This resistence to change seems to go directly against the spirit of “innovation”. One concrete and common example are in the traditional company presentation style: frequently they are just masters’s reading classes where the presenter just reads what is written on the screen which just unconsciously insults the audience who presumably all know how to read; The presenter turns his back on the audience which is guaranteed to break the communicative link; The Presentation is in a dark room where the presenter can’t see, or control, the audience; often there is a lack of structure and an overload of unnecessary data.
In these cases, the information does not reach the audience in a clear & understandable form which results in a waste of time and energy for both the presenter and the audience. However, the colleagues of the presenter – out of a misguide sense of loyalty – often do not give real & useful “feedback” – they prefer to pretend that it was “great” so that the presenter does not feel bad and does not realize that his presentation has been “boring, too long, or with too much irrelevant content, etc”. It is sad that this type of presentation is still seen by senior managers as being “Serious”, “professional”, “They way we have always done it”, “ safe”, “appropriate for an organization like ours”, etc. Presentations of this type come from, and now belong in, the past but many senior managers feel uncomfortable with presentations which are done in a different (and modern) style. The truth is that the world has changed a lot from the last century and frequently this is forgotten by senior managers – What functioned well 10 or 20 years ago, is less effective today because our communication systems have changed. Our clients have new ways of thinking; receiving & processing information; and what THEY need in order to learn or understand. Presentations should be made for the audience and not the presenter – or his boss -who still live in the last century.
Thankfully, this situation is changing. There are now many leading companies & organizations where senior management ha had the wisdom & intelligence to examine the efficacy of their internal & external communication & have decided to standardize and “innovate” their communication style, both formal & informal, so that different divisions, branches or offices have the same training, knowledge and effective & elegant communication styles. These changes always result in better communication, increased motivation, enhance company image, both inside & outside the organization which results in greatly improved results.
Changing the old-fashioned & traditional communication styles is the best investment in “innovation” that a company or organization can make because it is by using innovative communication that you can show how innovative it is!
A question for senior managers: Why invest a fortune in time, money & resources in creating & maintaining “”innovation”” teams, if you can not elegantly and effectively communicate this “innovation” to your audience in the most effective form for THEM?
(c) ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L., Madrid, Spain. November, 2012.
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