When compared across the years of data we have amassed on the subject, CorpU research has noted that learning executives have recently become much more adept at communicating strategy across their team and across their company. Nonetheless, many new learning initiatives flounder because not enough time was spent on internal and external marketing. Though focused on innovation, Georgia Everse's recent Harvard Business Review post, "Eight Communication Traps That Foil Innovation", lays out eight communication traps that can cause a less than desirable learning initiative roll-out.
Prof. Everse notes that "innovative ideas, initiatives, products, culture transformations, you name it, have little chance to succeed if they aren’t enabled by smart communications." Few people would argue with the point on communication, but the real magic is in her qualifier, "smart." Each of the eight traps presented in the article relate to making sure the content of the message matches the context - that being smart is saying the appropriate thing at the appropriate time:
These eight traps hinder smart communications. Here are some ways to ensure communicating success on your next initiative:
As the plan to roll out your next major learning project, consider the stated goals in the context of your overall learning brand:
Remember, every initiative is an opportunity not only to tell how the learning organization is part of the company's success, but also to show results, building the trust that will enable the resources and budget.
As you begin to work through the project, make sure that you use periodic, succinct updates to keep the team and the stakeholders aware of the challenges, revisions, and the progress. Use a consistent format for this audience-sensitive message so that it can be reviewed and assimilated quickly -- and make sure that the things that are of interest to them are presented up front, in a positive and jargon-free manner.
The hardest thing about smart communication is understanding that context changes, and it is sometimes difficult to notice the signals of that change. In order to make sure that you continue to keep the content of your message tailored to the context, pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal feedback from colleagues, staff, or stakeholders. Find the time to address signals you're receiving to make sure that you keep things moving forward positively.
The popular catch phrase, "Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast", may help assure that the projects move efficiently and effectively, but this mantra is missing a key component: communicate appropriately. When you ensure the right communication channels, you are creating the precondition for success.
Addressing these communication traps falls under Execute (Program Design and Delivery and Operations) in theCorpU 12 Dimensions of Learning Excellence.
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