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WINTER IS COMING: Views from Reykjavik #2

Thoughts, views and offers from Changing The Terms, the research-based internal communication consultancy based in Iceland.

BY Mike Klein

Seasonality is a bit subjective here in Reykjavik. It's more a function of the number of hours of daylight than the air or particularly the water temperature. 

Indeed, 66 North, the country’s prestige sportswear brand (think “Izod for Icelanders”), has the longstanding slogan “Waiting for Summer since 1926.” 

But the calendar and the cold are beginning to converge.  Winter is coming - and not just to the places here which were sets for Game of Thrones.  

ONBOARDING REMOTELY

Moving to a city 1500 km from the nearest capital is certainly an all-in bet on the future of remote working.  Having noted the difference between working with old clients and new clients remotely over recent months, I teamed up with Canada’s Andrea Greenhous to produce this piece on Remote Onboarding for the collective at IC Beyond.  

THE CONTINUING PANDEMIC

I’m sure I’m not the only person these days who says this, but I generally don’t believe Donald Trump.  And I particularly don’t believe him when he says that a COVID-19 vaccine is coming imminently.

My sense, and my advice for internal communication pros, is to plan for a long haul. That means working with your organizations to develop communication and cultural principles that will embed the kind of resilience both to survive the pandemic and seize the opportunities it may bring.

I wrote a piece on the latest wave of COVID and its implications with Jill Leake, a UK-based comms and change consultant.  The main advice - organizations need to show much more consistency between their “talk” and their “walk” as the pandemic continues.

(The piece was written as a “Podtext” - a written online dialogue. Here is my article from last week on Podtexting.)

CONNECTING WITH THE ICELANDERS

Reykjavik sunset
Reykjavik at sunset

As an internal communications professional who has mainly worked with large companies, I must admit it is different to be in a place where, on the one hand, “large” companies are those with more than 500 employees. More interesting: communication in the entire country often looks to me like “internal communication” does in 100,000 employee-enterprises.  (I wrote a piece on this before the pandemic.)

I’ve only started making the rounds of communication and change professionals here in Iceland, but a few things stand out:

  • They’ve been genuinely happy to meet
  • They’ve been equally willing to share their insights both about local issues and about professional issues more globally
  • They ask excellent questions

If anyone is looking for an Icelandic angle for your podcasts and panel discussions, let me know. I have some great guests for you. For example, Vidir Ragnarsson is a global leader in the pay equity and diversity & inclusion arenas.  

TEAM SMARP

One of the things about the way I approach my work and my network is that there is much that I like doing as an independent. But I also think I can accomplish as part of larger teams and communities.  So while I continue to pursue new projects and opportunities on my own, I’m also working with a number of specialist firms and with a top-rated internal communication platform, Smarp.

Smarp is my most ambitious partnership - where I’ve teamed up with longtime internal communications leader and IABC Fellow/legend Brad Whitworth as Senior Advisors to deliver strategic services (think planning, research and training) for Smarp’s growing base of clients.

The commercial side of this is in its early stages, but our marketing and thought leadership efforts are in full swing.  Brad and I each have at least one five-or-so minute “Comms Shift” podcast per week, and Smarp recently published my guide to “What a CEO should know about Internal Communication.”

AWESOME PARTNERS

In addition to Smarp, my other active partners include:

Mirror Mirror: an innovative set of tools and processes looking at organizational alignment at the team or enterprise level.  Mirror Mirror founder Lindsay Uittenbogaard is a long-time “partner in crime” of mine, having worked together in varying capacities since 2007.  What I like about Mirror Mirror is that it takes a lot of the personalization (ok, a lot of the “BS”) out of the analysis of organizational gaps and, by doing so, put teams and organizations on the track to alignment.

Corporate Diplomat: created as “an end-to-end” M&A communication team, Corporate Diplomat is a firm that takes a holistic approach to advisory in an M&A market where the rational and numerical tend to overwhelm the pivotal human side of the equation. I’m a Senior Advisor with a focus on internal communication, building on my experience working with M&A in the telecoms, airline, packaging and materials industries. 

Open: a leading change communication and transformation agency offering a unique mix of strategic advisory and creative execution skills, including a wide range of digital capabilities.

ReputationInc: an international management consultancy with a strong record of integrating internal communication and change within the larger corporate picture.

Innovisor: the world leader in organizational network analysis for business. 

As all of my partners are Europe-based, I’m particularly interested in finding strong and interesting US and Asia/Pac partners to work with and cross-promote.  

CLOSING THE "TRIANGLES"

I’m passionate about my network - not only about what it can do for me, but also about how I can help people in my network. 

It’s not just been true in times like these, but it’s been a big part of my practice since I started in 2016.  

Each year, I set out with a goal of connecting a minimum of people with new connections, based on the calendar year (17 in ‘17, 20 in ‘20). I’ve also given numerous sessions with NL-based networking expert Lin McDevitt-Pugh to embolden participants to proactively introduce people within their communities.  

This week, network expert Valdis Krebs took the practice to a new level with a post he called “Network Weaving 101” - putting a name to this practice of proactive connection, and illustrating how it is both easy and impactful.  

SOMETHING FOR YOU

With the holiday season soon approaching, I'd like to offer the first two in my series of free self-assessment tools: Grapevine Communication and Remote Onboarding.

Each assessment tool involves a look at the issue through a short set of questions, a self-assessed rating, and the identification of key challenges in the way of moving each issue forward.

The tools can either be used to focus your own thinking on a key issue, or as the basis of a conversation with me about your challenges.

To order the guides, please email me at mike.klein@changingtheterms.com.

Thank you for reading - and I look forward to hearing from you. To schedule a conversation, visit https://calendly.com/changingtheterms/30min.

Mike Klein

Internal communications pro with a bent towards increasing impact while reducing noise and friction. Former US political consultant, London Business School MBA. Tribal loyalties include IABC, EACD, Tottenham Hotspur FC and the Wisconsin Badgers.

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