Author: Diane Oettinger-Myracle
No matter how hard we try, change always seems to stress organizations and the people living through the transitions. Communications can play a major role in overcoming resistance and accelerating progress, especially two-way communications based on the principles of inclusion, co-design and transparency.
“If It’s For Us, It Needs to be By Us.”
When the Girl Scouts of the USA launched its transformation efforts a few years ago, we built an extensive communications campaign around this principle. It began with the creation of a website. It was our way to connect everyone in our distributed Movement and offer anytime, anywhere access to the most up-to-date and accurate information. The site quickly became more than just access. It became a center for Q & A discussions, rumor busting, peer-to-peer connections, idea sharing, timelines and testimonials. Since learning has become so personal, it became our showcase for a variety of formats including podcasts, videos, photos and selfies. It also allowed us to measure our own effectiveness. We could see from the peaks and valleys in activity what was resonating and what was not.
Graphics was another key communications tool, and in line with the principles of inclusion, we used them in unique ways to expand the sense of “being in the room when it happened.” Let me give you an example. We held a retreat to collect organization design ideas to align with our new strategy. The 100 participants represented a cross section of voices, but there were still too man y who felt left out. To invite more voices into the process, we took the graphics from the retreat and displayed them as a storyboard for several weeks. We trained retreat participants to serve as docents who guided their colleagues through gallery walks. We also digitized these graphics and recorded a docent tour for use by our members across the country. After a few weeks, we hosted several live chats to collect reactions and more ideas.
A For Us-By Us commitment requires involvement, and lots of it. When we introduced four new competencies for fit with our new ways of work, we knew we could not dictate their meaning. That would need to be built collaboratively by all of us. To drive this involvement we introduced a peer recognition program that was simple and open to all. When you encountered someone behaving in a way that brought the intention of the competency to life, you could recognize them in a simple online process. In 400 characters or less, you tell the story of what they did and why it was so meaningful. All stories were saved in a digital library to build common meaning. A committee of peers selected a few examples to be shared at monthly staff meetings. In no time at all, our new competencies were guiding our behaviors toward success.
Inclusion is a meaningful and often overlooked communications tool. It does not focus on the difficult task of changing people. Instead, it offers the organization benefit of the knowledge already in its system and invites each of us to help build the organization that we want to be a part of. That is a powerful change accelerator.
This post was contributed by Diane Oettinger-Myracle. Formerly Strategic Change and Innovation Architect with the Girl Scouts of America, Diane is now Managing Partner and Leadership Coach at TMT Associates, Inc. Diane participated recently as a panel member for a presentation on Communicating Change. Her blog shares some of the highlights of her experience with the Girl Scouts of America. More information about Diane can be found by visiting www.tmtassociates.com.