The political question that means everything to internal communication: Live from Iceland
[caption id="attachment_1114" align="alignnone" width="3968"] Icelandâ€™s parliament, pictured here, has been addressing important political questions for more than 1000 years. In the first of a week of short blog posts written in Iceland, I discuss the biggest "political" question facing internal comms.[/caption]
With high profile elections and their aftermath dominating the news outside the â€œfirewall,â€ itâ€™s occurred to me that their underlying dynamic â€“ the tension and balance between â€œauthoritarianismâ€ and â€œliberalismâ€ - also has a huge impact on internal communication.
Part of the problem is that organizations are managed on â€œauthoritarianâ€ lines â€“ evidenced by hierarchies, chains of command, and institutionalized opposition to dissent.
But people in organizations are more â€œliberalâ€ about who they discuss business matters or whom they decide to trust.
In my view, internal comms has overcompensated in reinforcing the authoritarian side of organizational culture. Overreliance on cascades, the â€œcorporate we,â€ one-sided town-hall meetings and demands for 100% engagement scores have combined with a trend toward ultra-simplified one-size-fits-all messaging. The result:Â unbalanced narratives, which stifle discussion and minimize the space for thoughtful engagement.
Is the answer an overthrow of hierarchy and structured communication? NO!
It is not a move to something like â€œholacracy,â€ a contrived anti-hierarchical management approach. Holacracy has stumbled as it has replaced chains of command with elaborate and time-consuming committee processes â€“ shifting the organizational balance in the opposite direction.
Instead, it is time that managers, and especially internal communicators, acknowledge that organizations are both authoritarian and liberal in nature, and start adopting practices that build on the strengths of both to work better together.
Time for the Influencer Scan
A key first step in understanding the liberal or â€œself-organizingâ€ side of your organization is an Influencer Scan â€“ to find the three percent of your people who are currently driving 90% of your conversations.Â If this is what you want to do, contact me here: email@example.com
Live from Iceland is a week-long series of short blog posts I am writing from magnificent Iceland.Â Live from Iceland is sponsored by Iceland by Helgastina, a personalized travel planning service that unwraps the countryâ€™s hidden gems.Â