Where does communication fit in our organizations? Recently, IABC’s World Conference Program Advisory Committee Chair Neil Griffiths explained the conference theme – Communication Crossroads – as a critical look at where communication fits. As a speaker for the upcoming conference, I have some thoughts about where it fits in our organizations and how it’s related to the digital workplace.

Communication’s fit in the organization

I’ve long believed communicators have a unique view of an organization in its entirety. They have to see the entirety, lest they miss important insights that may influence their strategies.

brainstorm your digital workplaceSome communicators see the organization with an eye for the employee. Others see it with an eye for the business. Regardless, it’s this broader view that positions communication professionals to lead in many ways. I believe we have an obligation to action, including facilitation and leadership.

The difficulty comes with having the courage to lead outside a perceived sphere of influence. I often work with communication leaders who can’t look past the mechanics of communication roles. They cannot see the larger leadership roles they should be taking.

Take your digital workplace

Take your digital workplace – including your intranet – as an example. Some of you right now are saying, “yes, please take our intranet and don’t bring it back.” So many intranet and broader digital workplace implementations fail, for various reasons. One big reason is taking an approach that doesn’t support organizational goals.

Sometimes it’s IT’s bent for implementing a new shiny tool with no user research or guidance. Other times it’s an executive’s fascination with something referenced at a conference. Regardless, technology often is implemented without proper research, strategy, training, or governance.

If you’ve not used business goals and values as drivers for decisions about technology, you likely are not using technology to its best advantage for your organization. Your employee digital experience may be disjointed, disconnected, and void of business tasks and collaborative interaction. Ask yourself, what could it be?

Make a start

The first step is to grab your current digital workplace strategy by the horns and make it something that truly connects to business strategy, goals and values. Want to learn how? Join me at IABC’s World Conference in Montréal in June. I’ll teach a session on this very topic. You will take home a tool and a strategy draft you can use to lead your organization.

Organizational priorities

What words reflect your organization’s priorities?

If you decide to join me for this very interactive session, I recommend bringing your business’s strategic information: goals, objectives, foundations, strategies, mission, vision, values, etc. At least come with a fairly in-depth knowledge of them. Doing so will help you get more value from the session.

You’ll notice my session is in the Leadership and Strategy track. While the session focuses on the digital workplace – the internal side of technology – there is no reason you can’t use the same methodology and our tool to develop external technology strategy. For those grappling with social media strategy, this will help you.

What to do when you get home

The end game is to get value after you leave World Conference. Be prepared to collaborate with others – namely operations, HR and IT – to finalize a digital workplace strategy that provides long-term direction and ensures good decision-making. This is a great opportunity for communicators to shine in a leadership role; not to mention a very strategic one.

After all, that is right where communication fits; in a strategic leadership role. Having tools and proven methodology gives you th
e confidence you need to step out in front of an often vexing challenge. Digital workplace strategy is more challenging because it’s often either driven entirely by IT, or completely orphaned. Whether you own it ,or just facilitate it, this is a good place for a professional communicator to be.