Communication sets the flow of work, vitality, and pace of change. Strategy sets the direction and intended alignment of an organization. In order for that direction and alignment to be carried out, information must spread, be understood, and owned. Proper and thorough communication is the chain that links everyone together toward the same strategic purpose.
-Linking Chains of Communication-
The formulation of strategy is important and can be difficult. Once the strategy is set, the undertaking of implementation begins. However, if the follow through of communication is not done effectively then the strategy, no matter how insightful, game changing, innovative or powerful, will be all for naught. Effective strategy pulls upon the resources and capabilities of an organization to align them. With differing messages on what to do, how to do it, and where the organization should move forward, the strategy will not reach its full potential. While it may be that some stakeholders inside the organization do have the right message and understand the steps to take, those stakeholders will be undermined by all those that try to move forward in other directions.
To start the path forward properly, create a communication plan to spread the word, share milestone updates of progress, request input, and give tactical insight. The communication plan should be made with the following areas in mind.
- Clarity of messaging – The information must be clear so that it is easily understood.
- Consistency of messaging – The information must be continuously reinforced in all outreach efforts so every audience understands the same intention.
- Pervasiveness of messaging – The information should spread to all relevant stakeholders.
- Thoroughness of messaging – The information should reach all audiences in the manner that suits the audience.
To understand the relevant audiences for the communication plan, I suggest using the stakeholder groupings of the 4 I’s to help identify which kinds of messaging to put forth for the project(s).
Interested – Who would be interested in this project?
Informed – Who would be good to draw upon because they are informed in subject matter areas relating to this project?
Impacted – Who would be impacted throughout the course of this project?
Influenced – Who would be influenced by this project or who might be influential in implementing it?
Each stakeholder group should have its own messaging so that it is relevant to their needs. The core messaging should be clear, consistent, pervasive and thorough. Beyond the core of the messaging, slight nuances need to be present to reach different audiences and relate to the recipient’s interests. For instance, sending out a presentation deck on the benefits of a strategic initiative will be different for business audiences versus technical audiences, managers versus workers, field sales versus call center sales and so forth. It helps to think about the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for each stakeholder group. This means that the messaging should be customized enough so that the value, relevant actions and background information is relevant to each audience.
Implementation of a strategy is no small feat. The amount of people involved, time taken to execute and follow through for implementation is drastically more complicated than the initial formulation of the strategy. Pulling together a tapestry of threads for communication creates a beautifully synthesized strategic implementation.