The Changing Nature of ‘Communications’

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Remember how communications worked in the past? The boss had the information and made the decisions, reporting relationships mattered, and one knew the chain of command. A recent article captures the essence of the change. “Old power is like currency, it is held by few, it is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads and it captures. New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open,participatory, and peer driven. It uploads, and it distributes”.[1]

As I read this I was reminded of a quote I saw recently “What a culture we live in. We are swimming in a sea of information, and drowning in ignorance”. It would seem that the challenges facing leadership, management and organizational effectiveness are much harder than in the past. And with these challenges, communications almost determines the work to be done. It is no longer an adjunct to the work, but the work itself.

The author, Sean Gibbons, in a recent article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, outlines how communications must change for successful organizations.[2] “What constitutes modern communication s is much broader than many suppose. Practiced at its highest level, communications is much more than PR or marketing. Smart, strategic communications:

  • defines, cultivates, and understands important audiences;
  • crafts and shares compelling stories;
  • builds relationships and deploys influence;
  • convenes, listens, and designs;
  • it analyzes data and gathers intelligence;
  • it creates conversations;
  • it understands and directs the best of old and new power.” 

We haven’t tackled the ‘how-to’s’ for these challenges. But thinking about the changes and seeking to understand the impact on the organization may hopefully guide our day-to-day actions and decisions.

[1] The Harvard Business Review Cover Story, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, hbr.org/2014/12

[2] The Case for Communications, Jean Gibbons, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Feb.24, 2016

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org