Last post

This blog was created to communicate to students doing my course Managing Organisational Communication. The benefit was to show what a blog was, how easy it is to create, and the connections or links that can be created. I would recommend it as a useful tool for teachers. Most systems require users to login to see if there are new messages. However, with RSS functionality on blogs, the message can go to each user that has signed up to RSS.

This is the last post for this blog. I’ll be creating another that is relevant to my new career.

Conversations

The theme of our course could be charaterised as ‘conversations’ – that conversations are essential for relationships, to make meaning, to create, innovate and share information whether communicating internally or externally. This weeks lecture was about ways to engage customers, business partners, the media, among others, in conversation; about having something to talk about that meant something to people, and that made them want to find out more.

The ways to do this have been laid out in a very straightforward fashion by Lois Kelly in her book called “Beyond Buzz” (see chapter 1 at Foghound blog). If you already subscribe to her blog you would find lots of information about what’s happening in the marketing industry at the moment. Through the blog today I found out about a short video which highlights the tension between what companies want to tell us and what we want to hear. Have a look at it at Bring the love back blog. It seems the old ways of marketing are now really being challenged.

According to Lois Kelly, stories, points of views, metaphors are some of the things we could help companies develop steering them away from the corporate speak and marketese we’re so tired of hearing.

Telling Stories

All around me are posts, snippets, gossip on telling stories about yourself, about a company, about a new product. The art of the story is back in vogue, or rather we realising how useful a story is to convey information. It used to be that stories were the focus for histories of people, relationships between people, and a way of educating. Now we see stories being used in many organisational and educational settings.

I was on the Yahoo site when a title caught my eye An Interview Strategy: telling stories. All about preparing short stories about yourself, about your skills including how you overcame crises, stressful situations, failures, as well as how you contributed to a team, saved money etc. This reminded of Penelope Trunk’s post Be Memorable by telling good stories about yourself from her aptly named blog ‘Brazen Careerist’.

Telling stories is an art. Some people seem to have this wonderful ability to spin a good yarn and others, like myself, really need to work on it. I wonder if those people that tell a good story also tell jokes really well. I know that sales people tend to have the gift of the gab, but does that mean they tell an engaging story. Some sales people though, manage to create a huge number of stories – about them!

Wikis

We briefly discussed the use of Wikis as a way to share knowledge in an organisation. To see what a wiki is go to The Social Media wiki . A wiki enables people to share, modify, and add information to a website. It is similar to a blog in that it is easily updated and typically has lots of links to resources. It looks different though and can take some getting used to. Some wikis require you to register before you can add or change information.

You can offer your skills for a project to promote information on using Web 2.0 tools and examples of their use in non-profit organisations at Welcome to Best Practices in Using Web 2.0 in Nonprofits. This wiki has a different format.

Another wiki which you may find to be useful is The New PR Wiki . The home page has some dated information, but there’s a section on New which is current and has fairly recent entries. This wiki is password protected and you’ll need approval from the ‘owners’, if you wanted to become one of the authors.

One advantage of some wikis, like those at pbwiki, is that they offer you the ability to convert documents created in the wiki into pdf format.


Communicating in the Organisation

A few weeks ago we talked about internal communication and how effective communication leads to better business results. I presented a number of points on downward and upward communication. These points could be repackaged/massaged/ significantly reworded, and combined with other insights, into a strategy for internal communication.

In relation to the use of technology to enhance communication have a look at Jane McConnell’s Globally local – locally global blog and her post on Mar 27, 2007 about using Web 2.0 technologies.  She proposes a 5 step process in considering these technologies.  Like many internal communication experts, she believes that technology by itself won’t improve communication and that it’s important to understand what employees do rather than making assumptions about what they need.

Interestingly, Rudnick and Kouba find that people have come to expect organisations to provide the same ease of access to information that Google provides. This is their article on the Google effect.  Since some/many people are, or becoming, used to the various social media tools outside of the organisation, some are saying that video will be key to communicating. It may simply mean that a variety of ways to communicate have to exist.

In our internal communication statements, it is worthwhile considering adopting similar ‘rules of engagement’ as outlined in Bob Sutton’s book and blog posts.

Knowledge and innovation

Always interested in trying new things – I’ve added a widget to this site in the hope that it will make it easier for you to see the articles needed for the next lecture. The blackboard system prevents me from uploading particular documents. I am supposed to be providing a link to the document instead. However, it can take some time to find them as there are a few. As I have the documents anyway, it’s more convenient to load them up in one place.

The article about Passive Aggressive organisations is a photocopy which was handed out a few weeks ago. If you don’t have this, I’ll bring it to the next lecture.

Negotiation

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to fill in the Beyond Reason preparation guide.  This requires a bit of time! Think of a conflict situation you have experienced and fill in the guide as best you can. Don’t worry about getting definitions of the terms, the real aim is to think about your situation, how you feel about it and to consider the other person’s point of view.

And read the article by Weiss on Podcasting. An interesting way to convey information about mediation!

We’ll get some practice in negotiating, so please come prepared.

Jerks at Work

Last lecture I talked about jerks at work. It just so happens that Bob Sutton is the author of a book, The No Asshole Rule, that talks about jerks and the cost to organisations of hiring jerks. Things have gone wild in response to Guy Kawasaki’s blog on this very topic. In this post he talks about ways to find out if someone is a jerk before you start working with them. Certainly something to consider seriously.
A number of organisations are building in ways to avoid hiring jerks. A company called SuccessFactors has a document called Rules of Engagement that employees have to sign. One them is ‘I will be nice…’ and another ‘I will be a good person to work with – I will not be an asshole.’ I like the rules – if I had to sign these, it would give me confidence about the type of people working in the organisation.

To find out if you’re in danger of becoming an ….. take this test.

Virtual characters

I received an email yesterday urging me to check out the virtual characters now available through Oddcast.  I’m interested in text-to-speech (TTS) which involves synthesizing recorded bits of speech into something that sounds like human speech. TTS involves typing out what you want the synthesizer to say. However, its not easy to recreate natural sounding human speech for all sorts of reasons. We still haven’t got there, but I was impressed with the virtual characters.

Via the Oddcast site I found another interesting blog, called New York State of Mind, put together by a student at Duke University in New York. In her last post she has a link to her ‘Bloggers bible’ – there were a few good tips and some recommendations for how to run a multiblogging blog. She blogs about a collaborative poem written about the 9/11 disaster.

On the topic of virtual characters, MyCyberTwin have developed an artificially intelligent character that can converse online with visitors. The character is given personality traits and conversation topics and can be embedded into blogs, virtual worlds, and social networks such as MySpace. Some businesses are looking at it for better brand experiences. By giving it your conversations you’ve had in emails, IM, it learns to talk and be like you!