One of the key tenets for any business to be successful is effective communication. However, as many of you know, this is a lot easier said than done. The astounding growth of mobile and social networking technologies and their accompanying skyrocketing adoption rates has changed how we define the very concept of communication. In fact, with so many reflecting on the legacy of innovator and marketing genius, Steve Jobs, some would say the iPhone and its ilk have forever altered the way we communicate with information, each other and our much-loved electronic devices.
As more and more enterprises look to embrace this technology-fueled shift, they are faced with real barriers in their communication strategies, beyond the traditional challenges. The stalwart separation between businesses and customers (otherwise known as privacy) and vice versa is certainly crumbling in the midst of the social networking era. In fact, Facebook reported its 2011 statistics show that "more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each month" and is projected to only grow exponentially. Now, organizations face a multitude of questions when contemplating their communication policies, including the management of corporate brand, whether it is internal or external, controlling the customer message and balancing that razor-thin beam of privacy.
Yet, no matter how things keep changing, some things remain the same — a cliché, no doubt, but one that is inherently true. In fact, the most common question I'm asked by end users again and again is, "How can I get my boss to understand what I'm trying to say in my briefs?" More often than not, this lends itself to mean, "How can I convince my boss I really need the money to solve A, B or C?" A seemingly basic component of communication, and one that can certainly determine business success, this is a mystery that plagues so many in the enterprise.
Recently, while attending a special lecture series at the Naval Postgraduate School, where my husband is attending graduate school, I got a chance to listen to Stephen M. Robinson, professor emeritus of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, give an interesting perspective on this question. He proposed that this difficulty in communicating with the C-suite is so difficult for the end user because of his or her inability to understand the gaps of knowledge or information the executive had to deal with. This isn't so hard to understand. How hard is it to write clear, concise instructions to an activity we understand so thoroughly? The answer is, "Very." Mr. Robinson presents the million-dollar question: Why should the executive care about your brief? If you can convey the reason in a clear manner, you have done most of your work in getting the approval you are looking for.
Furthermore, he even suggests a new model in which to win the interest of the C-suite, creating "serious games." While this idea seems more suited for tactical environments, such as military strategies, he proposes this certainly is not limited to such projects. While you digest the thought of bringing a home-made board game for you and your boss to engage in, the idea is this: By creating an interest in the proposal (in this instance, the game, given our modern culture's fascination with video games), you have overcome the biggest barrier in communicating with your boss. By creating a 3D, interactive model for an executive to engage with set variables, you have created a productive avenue for that individual to begin to fill in these information gaps I discussed earlier.
Just as you face a new communication model, so do we. I encourage you to interact with the many new facets of our multi-channel media outlet, most noticeably seen through our web-to-print model in this very issue. With our use of QR codes, hyperlinked content, portal-inspired website, social networks and our DOCUMENT Strategy Forum event, we invite you to embrace the next era in the communications world.
Until next time.
ALLISON LLOYD is the editor of DOCUMENT, the dedicated document management portal for executives, directors and managers involved with the management, strategy, creation and delivery of communications in B2C environments. She leads the editorial direction for all DOCUMENT Media outlets, including its magazine, website, newsletter and event. Ms. Lloyd is a thought leader and expert in the transactional and customer communications industry.