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Your hope is my nightmare: which way for business communication?

Two of my favorite people in the internal comms world are Lise Michaud and Stephen Welch.

Lise—I have massive appreciation for her launch of IC Kollectif, the emerging Center of Excellence in the internal communication field, and I eagerly await the often-outstanding content that comes from “ICK’s” various channels.

For the holiday season, Lise asked the question of “What is your greatest hope for the Internal Comms profession in 2017” to a variety of IC pros and thought leaders.  Stephen, whose answer appeared this morning, is a fellow North American-turned-Brit who shares my passion for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, so I am generally inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.  But reading this sentence in his answer after my morning Starbucks, I had to strap on the gloves:

Internal Communication professionals should become more coaches and strategic advisers to senior management, not people who actually “do” communication. Every time an internal communications person actually ‘does’ a communication, a leader somewhere is not doing his or her job”

I get this may be Stephen’s hope.  Indeed, I have been hearing this complaint/advice since my time starting in IC in the late ‘90s.  I reject it – and actually find it nightmarish –  for two main reasons:

  • We often have better and clearer vision of the big picture and what resonates about it than do many of the people we work for, and generally a better way of articulating it than they can.
  • We should not despise our own skills and talents: as communicators our strategic, empathetic and craft skills are all interconnected, and are reflected in the “communications we ‘do’”.  We should not tie one or both of our arms behind our backs as a matter of principle, or withhold helpful contributions to make some kind of point.

Indeed, while some think that leaders taking full ownership of communication delivery is some kind of a dream outcome, I prefer to dream of a more dynamic relationship between leader and communicator—one of dialogue and discussion which empowers communication professionals to deliver the most resonant, best-targeted and highest impact communications we can deliver.

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Wonderloop: The Future of Intranets in 20 Seconds or Less?

Having been involved with the birth and launch of a social intranet for the last two years (and other stillborn efforts beforehand) an enduring disappointment has been the inability to convince people to register and complete even a brief biographical profile that would allow other users to learn more about those people than simply “name, rank, and serial number.”

But an app I learned of at the recent EACD European Communication Summit struck me as a potential game-changer.  It’s called Wonderloop, and is based on a radically different view of the optimal profile—a video clip of 20 seconds and a collection of tags, which allow users to be identified, searched and connected with people with common interests, or who seek expertise.

While some profiles, including the ones on my company’s intranet, take minutes to complete and require at least semi-competent English writing ability to avoid lasting embarrassment, Wonderloop’s system makes it easy to re-use existing tags, minimizing the impact of bad terminology and bad spelling, while allowing a user to establish a presence quickly and cleanly. Built-in messaging complements a tag-based search engine.

One clear downside is the variable quality of the video selfie, though one’s video clip is easy to replace and update.

To be sure, Wonderloop faces challenges.  Currently, it is only available as an iPhone app, rendering it incompatible with nearly all existing intranet platforms, and with everyone who doesn’t kneel at the Apple altar.  It is a true start-up, whose Norwegian founder, Hanna Aaase, has had to encounter one of the most formidable barriers to initiative and perseverance imaginable, the infamous Scandinavian phenomenon called the Janteloven, reflected in the rejection of a government grant application on the grounds that the Wonderloop idea “was too ambitious.”

Wonderloop is not excessively ambitious in and of itself—a simple combination of short videos, tags, messaging and other allied features like favoriting and introduction.  But adding 20 second videos could make a people search or a search for subject experts far more interesting, and make today’s intranets more ambitious, and far more engaging.

If you do kneel at the altar of Apple, and have an iPhone, you can try out Wonderloop by downloading it at the iPhone App Store and registering your account details inside the app. Upon approval, you can then move about the site. 

wonderloop