For pretty well every business I come in contact with, transformation means a lot more internal communication than they are used to.

This isn’t because the process or state of transformation is more communication intensive than a traditional company, but that in the digital age the weaknesses associated with poor internal communication, like every other operational weakness, are starkly revealed. In fact, I sometimes wonder how businesses survive as long as they do with the level of communication they have with their internal stakeholders.

I’m sure some of them wouldn’t be in the vulnerable state they have found themselves as a result of disruption if they had just communicated as they should all along.

The level of communications demanded of a successful digital business are no more than those of a properly run traditional business, so if you find when you embark on your transformation that the internal communications requirement is a bit much you have to question just how well your business has been run in the past. As I have said, under the magnifying glass of the digital environment no business can afford these kinds of weaknesses.

A good internal communications programme uses numerous channels and requires quite a few skills including training, presentation skills, writing, Intranet, social media and content production – increasingly video, so, if you don’t have anyone on-board with contemporary skills like these you are going to have to find someone quickly.

In fact, few of the businesses I encounter are equipped and I overcome the deficiency by bringing in external specialists. Because the Brand-Led Business Transformation format relies on numerous project teams to run the individual projects that make up the overall transformation, I introduce these external experts to whichever teams need them. This can work as a permanent arrangement, but it’s essential to get things moving, recruitment takes time and, at the outset, you are not always sure of the skills and experience you need anyway, so bringing in external partners in this way will at least solve your resourcing problem short term.

Frankly, I can’t see any alternative to an Intranet as the primary internal communication channel. You can build your own of course, but there’s no need to commit to this level of experience when there are great platforms like Oak around that you can customise to suit your needs. All you need beyond that is someone who knows how to get the best out of it.

Once you have created your intranet you should use this as the hub of your transformation. You can build dedicated spaces for each of your project teams, develop a social side to keep your workforce engaged in your brand and introduce training and knowledge archive, gamification and skills tests with rewards.

There is a vast amount of training involved in any transformation and it’s impractical to attempt this with traditional workshops. You could use these in a few key situations, although it’s not by any means essential, but video is definitely the way to go, so you’ll need some kind of video production resource to compliment your training capability. Increasingly, external training companies are introducing video to their repertoire, so you can just partner with one of these. Equally you can put all this together yourself. You’ll need a video production capability in many areas of your business during and after transformation and I’ve found it often pays to build one yourself. I’ve done so with a few clients. If you aren’t familiar with the world of video production you’ll need advice, but I found when I was learning, the years of experience I had working with TV commercial producers on campaigns for my clients stood me in good stead.

There are many advantages to delivering your training through your Intranet. For one thing, it ensures training is an integral component of your business culture, as it should be. The engagement provided by a well-managed Intranet will give you a means of monitoring the progress of your skills development.

My Brand-Led Business Transformation approach tackles internal marketing as an integrated marketing project. I use the Intranet as the focal point, but the critical component is the brand book I create for my clients as the end of the brand modelling process. I build into this a device for ensuring that every employee is engaged in the development process. Once on-board it is possible to monitor the progress of every individual, their level of engagement and their rate of personal development.

Any employee development programme should have a structure and that’s easy with a programme that’s delivered on-line. You can and should, of course build in a classroom training element, but by far the largest part of your training will be undertaken on-line, via your Intranet.

Training should maintain a clear purpose. You want employees to develop their skills in a structured way that will maximise their value to the organisation, so it’s important to develop multi-module programmes with rewards for achievement. There are many kinds of rewards. You’ll have to design a programme that suits your business, but it is important for employees to be able to see rewards for their effort.

The ability that an Intranet based programme provides to monitor progress means it’s possible to monitor the progress of every individual and step in where there are issues. Slow or struggling candidates can be supported and patterns of activity spotted and obstacles addressed. It is easy for example to spot where a team are struggling or failing to engage as you would like because of line management deficiencies, which facilitates intervention at an early stage.

Executed as it should be a campaign like this will prove invaluable in keeping the development of your business on track. You will not only be able to monitor the progress of every individual.

Training is a critical component of any transformation programme and you simply can’t afford to get it wrong. On-line training is the only way you’ll achieve the capacity you’ll need to change at the required pace and anyway, as a digital business it’s essential you adopt contemporary tools and demonstrate to all your stakeholders your commitment to the digital paradigm.

So, what are you waiting for? I’m happy to offer advice and support to any business that’s contemplating transformation, but if you aren’t already on the road you are late to the party and can’t afford to be one of the 70% of transformation programmes that fail. You need to get it right first time.

Phil Darby
January 30, 2019

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