The persistence of silos in internal communication

Kevin Keohane’s book can’t come soon enough for some people…

Much as we may laud the advance of Design Thinking in the upstream world of brand-led business transformation, downstream, in the world of employee communications, recent experience would suggest that some organisations are still depressingly incapable of joined-up writing.

It’s an all-too-familiar story…

  • Major change is in the offing, requiring extensive employee communications to build awareness and support for what needs to be done…
  • HR instructs consultants…
  • Comms decides it wants to own things (cue massive bun fight)…
  • HR sponsor lacks sufficient clout with top brass and gets steam-rollered…
  • Consultants are deemed “guilty by association” and come within a gnat’s chuff of getting fired…
  • Comms sees sense and retains consultants, but a whole new round of approvals is required, setting the project back weeks…

What’s worse is that we’re talking about a very large, venerable institution here, where you’d expect people to be a bit more grown-up about things. Sadly – so it would seem – the larger the organisation, the larger the egos involved. And the pettier the politics!

A tangential rant:
It’s precisely this sort of stuff that’s led me to allow my IABC membership to lapse. You see, IABC’s credo is essentially one of “sustaining innovation” – of becoming incrementally better at what you already do. It suggests there’s real value in becoming more and more specialist, which can only perpetuate silo mentalities, and which ultimately condemns most communicators to the role of downstream “craftsmen”.

Meanwhile, the rest of the creative professions are swimming in entirely the opposite direction – valuing a “whole systems” approach and using their well-honed empathic and creative skills to find entirely new solutions to the world’s most complex, unstructured problems. I know which camp I’d rather belong to.

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