Sunday, 25 October 2015

No Cape Needed - how to improve leadership comms

Through interactive infographics, inspiring tips and advice from CEOs, lists for easy reading and quick references, David Grossman's new book 'No Cape Needed' becomes an enjoyable and useful read for internal communicators and business leaders alike.

From the start, and in simple, plain language, Grossman describes the criticality of communication when it comes to leading:

"You can use communication for high impact by coaching and mentoring someone, by influencing others who may be tentative or uncomfortable in a new role, or by helping develop a young person to be his or her best self.

"In the same way, you prevent the skeptics and naysayers from spiralling into a negative pattern, or help a struggling individual find the courage and the map to make real change. Lastly, you can use communication to make substantial changes that aren't just about helping a company or team go from "good to great" but instead create a lasting legacy through a new strategic direction."

But, Grossman does stop there. He guides you on how to become a better communicator regardless of whether you manage people or not. What is particularly interesting about this is that everyone needs to be ready to lead when a particular situation requires. And that means everyone needs to be ready to communicate effectively too.

I have selected some of the points that the author makes and that I believe are worth repeating.

Be yourself 

To command respect, the author claims, an individual doesn't have to be the most vocal person in the room. "Instead, be yourself and know your leadership style. Understanding yourself can help you maximize your effectiveness, while staying true to your values and approach. A goal to strive for is to show up more as who you are in the workplace."

Indeed, it can be tempting at times to try to use a style that we admire in others. However, we may end up wasting our time if our approach does not reflect who we are since our colleagues and teams will not respond positively when they know we have not been authentic. A good application of this point is with the extroversion versus introversion debate. There is not such a thing as one style better than the other. "Each style can be highly effective...Introverts take notice and increase the frequency of your communications; extroverts work to improve the quality of what you communicate."

Set the context 

Another point that Grossman concisely elucidates is that "without context, there's no meaning." An easy way to confuse people is by jumping into a message without helping them understand where it comes from.

It is important to realise that every one of us comes into the workplace with our own context - a blend of our culture, the way we were raised as children, experiences, education and more. This context influences how we interpret information every day. That is why part of the role of leadership and communication is to create a common understanding of context. "For example," writes the author, "how do we view the current business situation we're in, and why does the plan just developed make sense? Setting context might involve talking about our current results and management expectations, new customer requirements, and data...all of which help us understand the current situation, or in other words, the 'why' behind the plan."

However, what I particularly appreciate about Grossman's advice is his sensitivity in going back repeatedly to a basic fundamental: knowing your employees.

Know your audience

"To truly move employees to action, we have to know what they care about and get into their mindset."

In truth, we have heard this sentence again and again. Yet, we might find ourselves spending much of our time and efforts setting business objectives and developing plans to achieve them. Absolutely nothing wrong with that; it's critical for the company's success! But, as Grossman puts it, "the most important element behind everything is your team. If they do not understand where they fit in, all of our lofty goals will go nowhere."

Often this means stop assuming that we already know the people around us and their needs. It may require pausing and imagining how they feel, and at the same time gathering information that could be useful to motivate them.

And, sometimes it is the small actions that make the biggest difference. It could be acknowledging critical milestones that are important to people, say 'thank you' for a job well done, find out and remember what they are passionate about, or celebrate their birthdays.

It all comes down to making people feel valued and good about themselves and what they do. Cited in the book is Laura Nashman, Chief Executive Officer at the British Columbia Pension Corporation, who brings in the most suitable piece of advice:

"We all thrive when we feel confident, competent and valued. When what we do is acknowledged. When we are recognised for the contribution made. When our humanity is respected, and we are welcomed and embraced for who we are and what we uniquely bring to the table. And when dignity is above all the most valued purpose.

"As a leader, your voice is powerful - it has the power to ignite and engage in the most positive and productive ways. Our power as leaders can also erode confidence in others, leaving them feeling empty, lost and demotivated. Recognize the power you have and use it for good."

Let employees get to know you

So, it is critical to know and understand employees in order to create an emotional connection with them. But it is equally important to help them know and understand you as a leader. One of the best ways of doing it is by sharing stories and connecting on a personal level. And Grossman shares some interesting questions for leaders to think about:

Which of your life experiences can serve as inspiration for your employees?

What can you share that makes you vulnerable and relatable? For example, what was your first carer experience?

What mistakes have you made that helped you become a better leader?

What can you share that personally connects you to your company's vision and your team?

Ultimately, it is about allowing your colleagues to see you as a real person. "People want to know who you are before they will listen to what you have to say. And for new leaders, all stakeholders wonder, 'Who is this person? And why should I believe and follow them?' With all the slides and facts and figures, charts and graphs, commitments, acronyms and videos, it's the stories that people remember and value."


The book is filled in with plenty of further insights. If you want to explore the nature of leadership communication in a simple way, then 'No Cape Needed' is the perfect companion for you. The visual format and friendly tone of voice make this 294-page manual an easy and memorable read. Chapters also include an investigation into social media and the remote workforce, as well as an email etiquette guide and tips on having courageous conversations at difficult times. So, No Cape Needed!

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Holacracy at Zappos - how it all started

When Alexis Gonzales-Black (pictured right) came across holacracy for the first time she was working as a recruiter in talent acquisition at Zappos. Most significantly she was part of the first pilot group to implement the revolutionary management system inside the entire company. 

Defined as 'bossless' holacracy is a relatively new way of running organisations, which promises agility and adaptability without resorting to politics, and by combining the elements of both hierarchy and a more collaborative approach. 

Gonzales-Black realised that the new operating system resonated with her own way of working. "I always tried to self-manage in the past; I tried to take ownership over my work and a lot of the principles that we saw in holacracy just reflected the way that I had personally tried to conduct myself. So, I was very intrigued early on, and very quickly became a part of the implementation team. I joined up the team and then helped to roll out to the rest of company. I have spent about 2 and half years doing that." 

The influence of holacracy on Gonzales-Black was so strong that ultimately she decided to set up her own consultancy. Today, she helps other organisations implement this alternative way of working.

I wanted to speak with Gonzales-Black to explore the principles and practice of holacracy; the Zappos story - when did it all start?; as well as the benefits, challenges and skills required when adopting this radical management approach. 

Gloria Lombardi: When was the idea of implementing holacracy at Zappos originated? 

Alexis Gonzales-Black: Our CEO Tony Hsieh read ‘Triumph of the City’ by Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser. The book claims that as the size of a city doubles, innovation and productivity per citizen increase by around 50%. So, as cities become denser, they actually become more productive and innovative. 

What struck Tony was that the opposite tends to be true with companies – as organisations grow, they tend to become more bureaucratic, siloed, and have much more difficulty in communicating across teams. 

So, the question that was really presented to us was: How can we make Zappos more like a city? As we grow and become denser, how can we make our networks become more efficient, productive and creative? 

Holacracy was the system that we chose to implement. 

GL: Why holacracy? What benefits does it bring to the organisation?
AG-B: The first benefit that we saw early on in the Zappos implementation was about releasing the potential of our employees. In holacracy you are not confined to one area of the company; you are free to reach out across different teams and silos to take on work that you are passionate about. Many employees who had a desire to take on more responsibilities and make a bigger impact in Zappos, they were all of a sudden freed up to do that. 

So, we found that people were happier because they were pursuing their interests and they were also contributing more to the business. In terms of creating an environment that releases the potential of your people, holacracy is a superior choice over the traditional hierarchy. 

Another benefit is around the pace of the decision-making and the desire for more rapid iteration. Many companies struggle with the long time that it takes for them to make decisions and re-organise the company. Some decisions can take months to get buy-in and consensus. What holacracy does is that it creates a system that allows you to iterate very quickly, and allows the company to evolve. At Zappos, at any given day, there were a hundred changes going on - the company was growing, shifting and evolving as data and feedback changed. 

GL: How did you communicate the launch of holacracy - which is quite controversial in some respects - to Zappos employees?
AG-B: We knew that the first step had to be around education. This was, as you mentioned, a totally radical idea that was going to change the way we had always thought about management. So, we started with a series of classes called Holacracy 101, where we described the theory, the basics tenants and practices. We did that for the whole company. 

However, we learned primarily by practice. Without much hesitation we started conducting holacracy in governance meetings and tactical meetings. Through practice employees were able to understand how and why this system worked. 

GL: Has anyone said a firm 'no' to this new way of working?

AG-B: Originally, there was a lot of fear around the decision to move into holacracy because it is a very rigid and structured system. As described in the Constitution there are very explicit rules about what you can and cannot do. 

For some employees, the initial reaction was, ‘This is not in line with our culture; Zappos has long been known as this incredible family, spirit, fun culture; we are free flowing, very organic and natural. This is not who we are and what are values are.’ 

To help people with the change we had to encourage them to feel comfortable and to really understand why all those rules were in place. Once we all understood those structures, then we could make an educated decision on what was right for us, which parts of holacracy were right for us and aligned with our culture. 

But some of our people had to go through a period of real pain and challenge. 

GL: Have some people left Zappos as a consequence of holacracy being implemented? 

AG-B: This spring, our CEO, pulled out an offer – knowing that holacracy was going to be our official way of working, he gave a very lucrative package to people who wanted to leave the company. 

About 210 employees left. However, I am not sure how many of them left because of holacracy. They did not do a study about: ‘Was it holacracy that really made you leave?’ 

Probably, some people left because the new system did not align with their own personal set of values. But, from the outside looking in it seems that a lot of workers were also enthused by the offer. 

GL: In your own case, you left Zappos because you wanted a career change.

AG-B: Yes. A lot of people would say, ‘Oh, you left because of holacracy’. Many times I had to explain that I did not leave Zappos because of that. I actually left because I wanted to bring operating system into other companies. It is a big difference. 

GL: In your view, we will see other large corporates adopting holacracy as widely and successfully as Zappos?
AG-B: Zappos is definitely the most difficult implementation that I have ever seen because it was big. We were 1500 people when we started the implementation. 

Most of the companies I work with now are smaller; it is easier to implement holacracy with smaller teams. It is really advisable that you start thinking strategically about your structure when the company is still very young. 

Holacracy is not for everybody. But it can work for different companies depending on the size, the age and most importantly for having an entrepreneurial mindset – which it is very important when it comes to operating well with holacracy. In fact, one of the elements a business can look at to see if holacracy is for them is: ‘Do your employees and your company possess that entrepreneurial mindset?’ 

There are many other social technologies, or operating systems, that are similar to holacracy. All of them are considered to be responsive or revolutionary. When you look down the road, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, companies will have to move towards those more responsive systems in order to stay relevant in the marketplace and to evolve quickly enough to stay on top of the game.

I think that the system of holacracy is one of them and it will continue to grow among business communities. 

GL: You mentioned the entrepreneurial mindset. What other competencies and skills are required by employees who need to engage with holacracy?
AG-B: The entrepreneurial mind-set incorporates a few different skills that people need to possess.
First of all it is mindfulness - this is the ability to recognise the tensions going on inside the company. Then, it is about being able to think critically about those tensions, being solution-oriented, and being able to generate proposals around that. 

What is difficult about holacracy is that most people for the majority of their career have given challenges and decisions to their managers to solve. In contrast, with holacracy, instead of giving decisions to somebody else or hiding behind somebody else’s approval, you have the full responsibility to process it on your own. This way of operating can be liberating but it can also be very scary. 

So, it is a whole suite of skills that employees need to develop and grow in a self-organised environment - from building that entrepreneurial mindset we mentioned earlier, to mindfulness about setting tension, and critical thinking skills along with boldness and courage to speak up in meetings – the confidence of speaking up and pushing back respectfully while having difficult conversations. 

GL: What does all this mean for leadership?
AG-B: We see a much more thoughtful and nuanced leadership. Instead of leadership being a title or a number of years that you have been inside a company, leadership is emerging all across the company and in many different ways. 

Leaders lead by influencing and motivating others, by using enquiry and by being partners rather than autocratic decision makers. It is about inspiring and questioning as opposed to the rigid management practices that we have mostly known until now.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Contextual technology is the future of business

"Companies need to move their customers from the position of being a target, and to the heart of the business. Instead of marketing and advertising more, organisations need to use new technology to give users exquisite experiences. Organisations that treat people with kindness and show dedication to social causes such as climate change and poverty are going to absolutely kill their competitors. This is Lethal Generosity."

The sequel to Age of Context, ‘Lethal Generosity: Contextual Technology & the Cutting Edge’ by Shel Israel (pictured right) has just launched and already promises to become another popular book among tech enthusiasts. It is the result of the two intense years of research that the author has conducted into the world of technology and its impact on business and society.

As a big fan of his previous work, I wanted to speak with Israel about his latest discoveries and what to expect in the business world in the years to come. In this interview he shares some of the trends happening across the world, what leading corporations are doing (or should be doing) to stay competitive in the marketplace as well as the influence of new technology on the way we work. All subjects thoroughly explored in Lethal Generosity.

Gloria Lombardi: Two years ago, the popular Age of Context that you wrote with your friend Robert Scoble was published. What prompted you to start working on Lethal Generosity immediately afterward?

Shel Israel: There are two basics reasons. Lethal Generosity is definitely a sequel to Age of Context, where Robert Scoble and I focused on five technology trends converging: mobile, social media, data, sensors and location. In terms of business adoption, Age of Context was a sort of fake-based book in the sense that we did not see very many applications in place yet. It seemed like things started happening in the marketplace immediately after we published the book. Particularly, new technology started being adopted in places like sport stadiums, hospitals, airports, and stores. So, I felt that I needed to write a new book; the idea was to take the first book for tech business enthusiasts and extend it into the world of marketing, PR, communications and other retails business decision makers.

The second reason was the emergence of an entirely new generation, the Millennials. They are the first digital natives in the world; their relationship with technology is different; the way a company communicates with them is also different - Millennials use technology to shift the power from the seller to the buyer. Rather than the traditional promotions created by a company, people influence each other. It is not anymore the business telling us how happy their customers are; users talk directly among themselves.

GL: Lethal Generosity is about the world of technology in itself. What should businesses be aware of?

SI: One of the main points of the book is that technology is allowing companies to give customers new types of experiences to build a sort of loyalty that competitors offering the same products will not be able to steal away from you. Those customers are loyal to each other and loyal to the experiences that the company give them. To do that, organisations need to use the five technology forces that I wrote about in the previous book: mobile; wearables; social media – which is the primary place where people talk about your brands to each other; location technology such as sensors and Internet of Things (IoT); as well as data.

GL: You mentioned wearable technology. Where are we at now? 

SI: Wearables are coming slowly - slower than I thought they would - but they are coming very steadily. There are already tons of devices that we wear or wrist. Most of them help people to excise and monitor their health functions. Some wearables are becoming very refined, the Apple Watch is of course a very elegant solution; there are other solutions such as the Fitbit which are much more pragmatic and affordable.

But, there are literally millions of new devices coming in. In the area of healthcare there is a lot that is going to be done. There are already necklaces that are able to monitor and report medical problems. There are also shoes with sensors that tell you when it is time to go out – they come from Nike.

Then, there are new device-to-device technologies that go beyond the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) that we have now. 

One of them is LTE Interact, which enables mobile devices and apps to interact with the world around them and eliminates the need to go through the cloud.

GL: How does LTE Interact work? Could you give me an example?

SI: LTE Interact allows people to start asking for bids on demand. For example, if you and I were in a market square with a group of five people and we decided that we were hungry, we could probably start Facebooking where we are at and say that we are interested in a seafood dinner. Thanks to LTE Interact the restaurants within short distances from us will be able to send us offers to come in to their place and offer us discounts or whatever so that we can choose between them.

GL: The power of location and context, indeed.

SI: Location is very important in this book. The trend is for communicators to start realising that things like 30-seconds video ads to catch people attention are very slowly but very steadily dying. 

The truth is that all sorts of places are being 'uberized'. For example, to compete with Airbnb, many hotel chains have just started adopting contextual technology to improve the experiences of customers. Similarly in retail, the trend is to use sensors in stores to know which customers are in, what are they buying, what are they looking for so that to be able to anticipate what they will want during their next visit.

GL: Fascinating or concerning? It, of course, poses many questions around the future of privacy.

SI: Yes, it does pose many questions. Yet, two years after Age of Context - where we examined the concerns around the future of privacy - we find that people are less worried. Again, this is particularly true with the Millennials who think that is good to trade some of their personal data for an improved shopping experience. This is a huge difference from what we were predicting a couple of years ago.

I do not know the repercussions of this. I think that there are a lot of reasons for concern around privacy; but I see no trend that says that the use of contextual technology is slowing down in any way. In fact it is accelerating rather quickly.

GL: What can you tell us about the impact of technology on the world of work?

SI: Technology is changing the way most people work across the world, and not just in the developed countries. Even street vendors in Sub-Sahara in Africa use technology to move money around through contact-less banks.

Almost all our jobs involve the collection and use of data today. But, ultimately it is about how we use that data to help end users. In this Age of Context, superior experiences are what matters the most – communicators should stop focusing just on sending out marketing messages.

GL: Given all the technology trends you have examined in Lethal Generosity, what can we say about the leading companies of the future?
SI: Most leading companies understand that their leadership position has being threatened. If you are a successful leader let's say in the hotel industry, right now you will be looking at the Sharing Economy. There has been a lot of talk around this topic such as what the ‘sharing’ is in the 'sharing economy'.

The truth is that companies need to see a future of competition that uses software as a platform. The only way to move forward is to join the movement and use the same types of technologies to modernise the organisation. 

Going back to the hotel industry example, many businesses have started to adopt apps to let people check into a hotel without even going to the registration desk, and open a room by typing a four-digit code in their mobile device. So, the trend here is to use contextual technology to give people a better and easier experience.

"Companies need to move their customers from the position of being a target to the heart of the business. Instead of marketing and advertising more, organisations need to use new technology to give users exquisite experiences. Organisations that treat people with kindness and show dedication to social causes such as climate change and poverty, are going to absolutely kill their competitors. This is Lethal Generosity."

GL: Could you give me a concrete example of an organisation that is leading that way?

SI: Lethal Generosity is filled with case studies. For instance I write about the San Francisco 49ers football team. They have installed a combination of industrial Wi-Fi and sensors that allows people to order food and beverages which are delivered to their seats at any time during the game. Fans can also pool out their own instant replay of some particular moments of the match on their devices.
Surely, 49ers are demonstrating how those technologies can transform people experience. However, that is happening not just in American football, but in almost any sport - from soccer, to baseball, rugby, and cricket – companies can now use technology to improve how individuals consume an event.

GL: This is a good example, which perhaps not so surprisingly comes from Silicon Valley. But, how about companies in Europe, Asia or Africa? How is this type of innovation showing itself in those parts of the world?

SI: That is an interesting question. I live in Silicon Valley where a great deal of this innovation is happening. But, the rest of the world is catching up very quickly. In many ways, Tel Aviv is the closest – see for example the autonomous cars movement: while it has started in Silicon Valley, the technology that most probably is going to be used is coming out of Israel.

In the last two years, I have also noticed a great deal of interest, adoption and excitement coming out of Asia.

I would add that, among the places where we will see lots of business emergence over the next five years, are the developing areas: I mentioned Sub-Sahara Africa earlier; but also South-America, particularly Brazil.
Europe at present is more concerned about issues like privacy; they trust the government to protect them from businesses – whereas in my country we tend to trust businesses more than we do government. I’d say, and I write this in the book, that Europe has gone far too behind Japan, Singapore, some parts of India as well as of China during the last couple of years. Partly, this is due to their reluctance to adopt new ways of doing things; partly the business culture seems to be more resistant to change than anywhere else.

In fact, my honest advice to Europe is to really try to understand those new technologies and how they are changing the structure and nature of businesses so that they can really compete in a global marketplace.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Internal comms and the mobile revolution

The signs of the mobile revolution in business are mounting. “There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Apple's CEO Tim Cook at BoxWorlds 2015 conference this week. “The best companies will be the most mobile.” With that, he also highlighted the need to rethink business processes more radically.

But, what does it mean to become a mobile enterprise? What are the benefits and challenges for internal communications? 'What's in it for me' when it comes to both the organisation and our colleagues?

I spoke with Ciara O'Keeffe (pictured right), Director of Product and Customer Delivery at StaffConnect App. O'Keeffe is not a stranger to simply-communicate. She is one of the judges of our web-show 'WhatAppTV?', a programme that looks at leading apps in internal communications. In this interview she shares her top tips and key points to consider when launching an employee app, the benefits and challenges of mobility at work as well as what to expect from the future.

Gloria Lombardi: What's the biggest opportunity for internal communicators when it comes to adopting mobile apps inside the company?

Ciara O'Keeffe: The biggest opportunity is always going to be with the disconnected employee. I constantly hear people saying, 'I am really struggling to connect with colleagues who are not in the office on a day-to-day basis.' For me, that is an obvious use case for having an internal communications mobile app.

You will hear some people arguing that not everybody has a smartphone, but I'd say, this is the same with any channel - you are never going to have 100% adoption or reach. Yet, if you are currently only reaching 20% of those employees - who are generally the managers - then any increase is going to be a benefit. 60% adoption of digital channels is considered very good.

Also, consider the indirect communications that mobile drives. Let's say in your manufacturing plant 50% of people have a smartphone and they are working alongside some colleagues who have not any device; a key message has just being sent out by the company - more than likely your employees without the phone will hear from they teammates who have access to it.

GL: What’s available in the market in terms of app type?

CO: There are many options in terms of employee apps. You can have a single use case app or a multi use app. With the former, like an employee survey app for example, you might want to conduct a quarterly staff survey, especially in times of change as opposed to the traditional one-year survey. Or you may want an Instant Messaging (IM) app so that your shop floor employees can ask questions at any time and experts from across the organisation can answer them straightaway.

Conversely, you might need a multi-feature application that you can turn certain features on and off depending on the business need and how that need grows and adapts. It really depends on the use case of the company.

GL: You have just mentioned 'use case'. What else should an internal communicator think about when embarking on the app journey? 

CO: They need to be 100 per cent sure of the internal use case and how it relates to the business outcomes. It should not be, 'We need an app'. They need to clarify the success factors that they are trying to achieve and what does success look like once they have implemented the app. For some organisations, success would be reaching out to 50% more employees or receiving colleagues' feedback on a quarterly basis or reducing hierarchical barriers by opening up direct communications with leaders.

When choosing a particular app they should always relate back to the strategic outcome they are looking for.

Also, they should decide if they want to buy an off-the-shelf version or embark on building their own. I have always gone with the first option - building any kind of sophisticated app is complex. With off-the-shelf version enhancements, innovation and support are included, or at least they should be. This way, communicators can concentrate on making the app a success internally and leave the rest to the supplier. Also, timing plays an important role here - an off-the-shelf version can be switched on and customised in a short time. However, some organisations want a very customised app, and therefore, they decide to work with an app building company. So, internal communicators should give themselves more time than initially they think, as they will need to get it right from the start.

GL: From a communication perspective, what are the best approaches when introducing a mobile app inside the organisation? Are there similarities with other digital channels?

CO: Anybody who has helped launch an enterprise social network (ESN) will see some similarities. Yet, with mobile apps the process is lighter. If your budget is small, try to secure a pilot to test your favourite app for a minimum of three months. You really need six months to get good usage data. That way you are more likely to gain internal support from the right people, if you involve them in the pilot. You will also know if it is a good fit for your organisation before you fully commit to the product.

One of the key things to know would be to never go to your people - especially if you are asking them to use their own device - and say, 'This is something you have to use'. They may well come back to you with, 'Well, this is my device and I choose what I download on it.'

Think about 'What's in it for them'. Always involve your employees in the process; ask them to design the app with you and show that you have delivered on their feedback - that way they will have a connection with the channel and will be more likely to invest time in making it a success.

Also, it is vital that you involve IT from the start - if you try to get it into the business without their knowledge it will not help your case, and probably, it will not help your relationship with them. You need them to help you with security compliance, technical support, app deployment methods and any integration you may want to do both now and in the future.

GL: Talking about content, what does work well for an employee mobile app? And, what doesn't?

CO: Ensure that the content you publish is created purposefully for the mobile device. Don't just copy and paste lots of lengthy articles from the intranet. That is not going to work on the phone. Use short, snappy and visual messages instead. Generally, print material should be halved in order to be put into the intranet; you should think at least half again before you put content into mobile.

Think about the apps that you use outside of work - generally, it's a mixture of interesting information, alerts and notifications along with some sort of community pull. The same principles should be applied to your internal communications app. You should have the ability to send push notifications to users to alert them of important posts. When other users mention them or comment on their posts they should be notified - this creates a community feel and builds the social aspect of your app.

The relationship between what you expect at home versus what you expect at work is narrowing. Hence the same principles of what an organisation is offering to employees should apply - Is the content you are creating something you would like to receive outside of the company?

GL: How else is the mobile phenomenon 'disrupting' the more traditional internal communications?

CO: The mobile phenomenon challenges internal communicators to think differently and that should be welcome.

For example, it is good news for authentic leadership communication. CEOs and leaders who are out there, such as at client meetings or on the go, can take quick pictures and instantly share them with the rest of the organisation. 

That is the type of content that engages people - authentic, real-time and transparent; employees appreciate that it is not ghost writing.

That direct line of communication really helps, especially with workers who don’t have frequent access to leadership content. Studies have shown that employees see the lack of direct communications as representative of their company's lack of recognition for their contribution.

GL: Mobility does not necessarily mean mobile. Looking forward, how do you see the future of mobile communications? I am thinking of wearable technology, for instance. 

CO: As always, external communication is leading the trends. Going forward, wearable technology such as smart watches will be critical, especially for reaching retail employees who cannot use a smartphone on the shop floor. They would be able to see important alerts like health and safety notifications, or hospitality updates or quick notes that an important client has just walked through the door.

It would really revolutionise the way we do business. There is currently so much innovation happening that it’s easy to get overwhelmed about where to start. As I mentioned, focusing on the desired business outcomes should keep you on track. That’s why it is exciting for me to work with many different clients - finding out what their strategy is, what their goals are, and figuring out how mobile technology can be used to drive that.

If you are interested in knowing more from Ciara O'Keeffe, she will be running a table session about employee apps at SMiLE London on 9th November.

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate