Top 4 Reasons to Formalize your Corporate Communications Framework
In my last blog I explained what a Corporate Communication Framework (CCF) is and what it should look like. In this blog I want to answer the question – Why bother formalizing the CCF at all?
After all, chances are no one is asking for your organization’s CCF.
But, there are a number of compelling reasons to spend the time to get this down on paper. Here are the top 4 reasons why a Corporate Communications Framework should be formalized:
#1. Competitive Advantage
Formalizing the CCF is the first step to getting your organization to becoming a more collaborative organization. Firms that collaborate better perform better.
Clarity on which communication tools your organization uses enables greater collaboration by eliminating confusion.
The types of communication tools and the quantity of communications tools are constantly expanding. This expanded choice opens up possibilities. But it can also cause confusion and disarray. Sorting through the choices and the disarray is important.
The new technologies and feature creep within existing communication tools are blurring the lines of differentiation between the tools, which can in turn:
- Result in different parts of the organization using different tools for the same functional purpose. This often leads to ineffective communication and supports siloing within the organization, not collaboration.
- Lead to duplicate licensing – paying more than once for the same communication tool capability.
“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”
Having a good CCF in place means that the communications tools become enablers in the background infrastructure and your employees can focus on their jobs.
Time spent getting communications technologies working or sync’d means less time working on the job. People might think they are accomplishing something by getting the technology working but this has a huge cost impact to the business. Using work time to get communications tools working is another example of the Boiling Frog Syndrome (see Wikipedia excerpt) at work.
Getting technology tools functioning should not be a part of your meeting time. A perfect example is Skype. Getting Skype to work in corporate meeting environments, which it isn’t designed for, often leads to spending up to half the meeting time getting the technology to work. What you thought was a FREE communication tool is all of a sudden costing you a lot of money. But like the frog being slowly boiled, you may not be aware of this cost.
If the technology works without spending time getting it going, you can focus on the tasks at hand, and move your business forward.
#4. Accelerating Your Corporate Culture
With a well thought out and optimized CCF, there are more options available for what content is created and how it can be communicated. The people responsible for the Corporate Communications Strategy in your organization will have greater communications capabilities available to them. Having more choices and options on what content they communicate and how they communicate it means, they can communicate richer experiences with greater impact and can accelerate the messages that shape corporate culture.
We can make our organizations better at communicating by formalizing our Corporate Communication Framework. The CCF is a critical piece of a corporate collaborative ecosystem (CCE). Taking the first step of formalizing our CCF can be transformative.
Once your CCF has been formalized and optimized, make sure you review the CCF at least once a year. The rate of change is accelerating and communications tools are always evolving. The CCF should be a living strategy in your organization – like a movie, not a picture or snapshot in time.
The second step to transforming your organization is to move more of your organizations communications to Real Time. This can have a profound impact on your business. I will discuss this in more detail in a future blog.
If you need help sorting out the patchwork of communication tools in your organization and turning them into a tapestry, we can help. Contact us.
What is a Corporate Communications Framework?
A corporate communications framework is a structured way to look at the communications tools your organization is currently using. What tools are you using? Are they the right tools? If not, what tools are needed?
A Corporate Communication Framework (CCF) should not be confused with your organization’s Corporate Communications Strategy, which is about what content to communicate and how that content is communicated. The difference between the two is important because they have very different meanings and are managed by different roles within your organization. But, the better the CCF in place, the more options are available for what kind of content is created and how you can communicate it (the Corporate Communications Strategy).
Let’s step back and focus on the three questions above.
What communications tools are you using today?
We all use different communications tools – video meeting platforms, social media, email, texting, asynchronous video, and many more. The problem, however, is that most organizations have not mapped out the communications tools they are using in a structured way. They do not have a concrete current state.
But every organization has a current state, which we can dub their “informal Corporate Communications Framework”. By turning the informal CCF into a picture or diagram, you get a snapshot of your current state. Let’s look at how to do that.
2 types of communications tools
There are two distinct types of communications tools:
- Real Time communications tools (synchronous), and
- Iterative (asynchronous) communications tools
The Real Time and Iterative sets of communications tools become the two major categories for the Corporate Communications Framework.
The Real Time category includes person-to-person communication and group calls or meetings, using applications such as Webex or Zoom. The Iterative category includes instant messaging (chat) and social/work spaces, such as project management applications like Microsoft Teams or virtual whiteboards like MURAL. Iterative communications are often asynchronous.
Within each of these two categories there are two subsets of communication tools:
- Tools that are primarily used by individuals (personal tools) to give or receive a communication and;
- Tools that are primarily used to enable group communication and collaboration
It’s important to note that iterative tools are often used in real-time as well, based on the task(s) at hand or the working style of you and/or your team. Instant messaging is a great example of a communication tool that works both iteratively and in real time, but does not require all parties involved to be available in real time.
Final pieces of the puzzle
The Directory Architecture and the Integration Layers between the tools are the final pieces of a sound CCF. Adding these in gives us the final picture of the overall CCF.
The Directory Architecture is your organization’s people directory that the tools use to keep track of all the people that need to communicate together. A single book of directory is best, but with all of the tools that exist today, an environment with multiple directories is more common.
Making the multiple directories environment work requires IT integration. Integration may also be required to allow the four different subsets of communication tools to talk to each other and to enable the communications tools within applications.
Are the communications tools your organization is using today the right tools
Once your organization has a good understanding of what you are using — your current state — then you can determine if your current state is ideal or if change is needed. If you are like most organizations, you may find yourself facing one or more of the following problems:
- Your set of communication tools is not complete
- There are duplicate tools serving the same purpose
- There are too many directories
- Not all the tools work with each other, e.g. the Peer-to-Peer tools don’t work with the Group Conferencing tools
- There is a mix of legacy and modern tools performing the same role but used by different groups
- The tools do not provide a rich communication and collaboration experience
- There is no strategy around the selection and deployment of the chosen communications tools
How do you determine what the right tools are?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, as all organizations are unique, and will have unique needs. The right tools are tools that work well together, while enabling your team to communicate in the ways that work well for the work that they do.
ET Group is here to help you find them. Book a Discovery Call to find out how we can co-create a the right Corporate Communications Framework for you and your team.
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