Never fall behind the Dalai Lama – technologically!

October 14, 2011 by

Yesterday I was fortunate to be part of a Digital Workplace panel at the 10th annual Strategic Communication Management Summit at a very plush hotel in London’s Mayfair with about 200 internal communications managers from a host of household name organizations. There was a talk from Fiona MacAllan, a very impressive woman from Nationwide Building Society, large UK financial services firm, just before my spot. Fiona is Head of Internal and Change Communications at Nationwide and she showed a superb approach to measuring the actual value that her extensive team deliver. But what was shocking was that a show of hands after her talk revealed that 95% of the people in the room did no measurement whatsoever of the work they deliver. So you are part of a function costing a substantial amount to your company and you decide not to measure the value of what you deliver. Very hard to fathom!

For better or worse I decided when on the panel – along with two well-informed and technical guys from Microsoft’s SharePoint team and also Yammer, the enterprise micro-blogging – to refer to this straw poll on measurement and how disappointing it was to see such a failing. Not sure how many friends I made but Fiona was nodding with encouragement at least! What we got into big time was the huge opportunity that the shift from the physical to digital workplace offers for communicators. When your staff are less present physically there is an extra need to glue the organization together through digital communications –  as it’s the digital touch points of intranet, micro-blogs, instant messenging, email, web conferencing, video etc that provide the connection lost by being together less and less in the flesh. I talked about the need to move to a function that enables, guides, tracks and monitors in the digital workplace. Tracking what is trending in the organization and seeing what is being searched for provides a sense check on what staff are concerned about and where.

But that got me thinking about the measurement show of hands. If the function has taken metrics and measurement so casually, what will it do when faced with the workplace transformation we are in the midst of and that will run for the next 20 years or so I believe? By engaging and joining the active conversations already happening in the organization and using the metrics they produce is a powerful tool but only if you choose to take this opportunity as the extraordinary gift that it is. If I were a 21 year old entering that communications field I would make sure I was highly technical and very much driven around measurement – as well as strong on the core communication levels. Just to make the point we talked about the recent Google + Hangout Video Feed Live with the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu which was superb. My parting message was whatever you do you should never fall behind the Dalai Lama technologically – as that is just embarrassing! So his approach to communication could be a useful new benchmark.



Categorised in: Collaboration, Intranets

Paul Miller

Paul Miller is Chief Creative Officer and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG), rated by the Financial Times in 2020, 2021 and 2022 as one of the UK’s leading management consultancies in digital transformation. He is a business and social entrepreneur. His latest book is ‘Nature of Work – The new Story of Work for a Living Age’ (co-authored with Shimrit Janes). His previous book, ‘The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future’ (co-authored with Elizabeth Marsh), was shortlisted for the Management Book of the Year 2016 Award. Paul’s previous book, ‘The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work’, helped to popularize and explain the term “digital workplace”. Paul has given many inspirational talks on the digital future of work, for audiences at Microsoft, IKEA, Google, Accenture, Harvard Business Review, Cisco, European Commission, IMF, Adobe and Oxford University.

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