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
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.