I have just started reading @adwooldridge ‘s book, The Great Disruption, a fascinating collection of his Schumpeter columns in The Economist that address the causes and consequences of the unprecedented disruption of business over the past five years. Bingo I thought! A way I can combine my love for all things comms and the digital revolution with my love of Economics. Yes I said it, my love of Economics. I studied Economics and like Silvia Cambie, have fond memories of Schumpeter (I also recommend Silvia’s blog). Adrian’s recent column, A palette of plans – focuses on how difficult it is to choose a non conflicting yet innovative strategy in disruptive times and how you then implement it. It occurred to me how much the role of the Internal Communicator is changing and how crucial it is in strategy implementation. Internal Comms leaders need to be equally as innovative as they are equally responsible for the bringing the strategy to life and it’s success or failure.
My affection for Schumpeter derives from his theories around entrepreneurship. He was one of the first scholars to propose that innovation and technological change of a nation comes from the entrepreneurs, or wild spirits as he called it; “.. the doing of new things or the doing of things that are already being done in a new way”. We can all be entrepreneurs or at least wild spirits in our own way by thinking differently. I’m not suggesting we do this by simply rocking the boat but by being brave and embracing technology and digital innovation in order to be adaptable in the digital age.
In his recent column, Adrian discusses the difficulty of conflicting strategies; how do you marry the status quo with the disruptors? He alludes to companies such as Pepsi Co who are ‘ambidextrous’ and have a group to maximise strategy efficiency and a group to disrupt it, before someone else does. But how do you paint from this palette of strategies without, ‘making a Jackson Pollock of it’. Successfully communicating strategy (once you’ve figured it out that is) is absolutely paramount. It is an incredibly exciting time in the world of communication. If you do not communicate this affectively you will be part of the 70% of businesses whose transformations and strategy implementation fail (according to the preeminent Dr John Kotter) because they didn’t engage their employees effectively in the process. Even if your strategy is a masterpiece, you need to bring everybody with you.
Many, like me, will find these disruptive times exciting and liberating as we no longer have to conform to structures that are in place because of tradition. We can change the rules and create a future workplace where we want to work. For many though, this disruption creates a culture of anxiety and uncertainty. Leaders need to be seen to embrace and adapt to this change; carrying the torch through the turbulence. They must provide guidance, encourage collaboration and an empowering sense of autonomy, allowing employees to invest in themselves and add further value to the company. They need to embrace the technology that already exists in order to navigate successfully through disruption. Embrace it and quickly.