Anders DOEN is de sterkste boodschap

Anders DOEN is de sterkste boodschap

Er wordt heel wat afgepraat. En geschreven. Met het idee dat deze woorden – gesproken of op schrift – iets in gang zetten. Mensen bewegen om iets te gaan doen. Hoe kan het dat we denken dat woorden zo belangrijk zijn om gedrag te beïnvloeden? Omdat het makkelijk is? Omdat we woorden in overvloed hebben? Dat is misschien ook precies het probleem…

Als communicatieadviseur krijg ik vaak verzoeken om communicatie te doen (logisch 😀). Ze hebben een adviseur nodig, die zeker drie dagen in de week communicatie gaat verzorgen. Elk zichzelf respecterend programma / project zet communicatie tegenwoordig hoog op de agenda. Dat is goed nieuws, maar de invulling ervan bepaalt het succes. Bij het verzoek om communicatie is heel vaak ook een beeld hoe dat er uit moet zien. Een wekelijkse nieuwsbrief om mee te beginnen. Een eigen website, een eigen logo. Vooral veelcommunicatie. Drie dagen in de week communicatie produceren om over de doelgroep uit te storten. Wooaah, failure guaranteed.

Hoe het communicatievak is veranderd

Met ruim 20 jaar ervaring heb ik het vak zien veranderen. Vroeger had je als communicatieadviseur exclusief toegang tot de communicatiekanalen, dus deed je de communicatie. Tegenwoordig zijn die kanalen toegankelijk voor iedereen. Van communicatie doen voor een organisatie, verschuift het naar communicatie mogelijk maken (infrastructuur bieden) en adviseren over de juiste inzet van kanalen en de juiste boodschap. De communicatie wordt gedaan door de persoon of het team, die daar de logische afzender van is.

Deze verschuiving zorgt ook voor nieuwe uitdagingen. Doordat iedereen toegang heeft tot de communicatiekanalen, wordt er veel meer gecommuniceerd. Waar je voorheen een overzichtelijke stroom van communicatie had, voelt het nu als een lawine. En de oplossing om in die lawine je punt over de bühne te krijgen is NIET door heel veel te communiceren. Echt niet.

Hierbij een plaatje wat ik al jaren in mijn achterzak heb en bij elk adviesgesprek op tafel leg. Ooit gevonden op internet. Het geeft precies weer waar je focus moet zitten. Niet alles wat je zelf (als organsitie, afdeling, programma of project) interessant vindt over de doelgroep uitstorten, maar ontdekken wat relevant is (dus dan moet je echt in de huid van je doelgroep kruipen) en alle energie daarop richten. Als je teveel meeneemt wat niet relevant is, dan is de kans dat juist het relevante stukje van je communicatie niet aankomt.

Het kan anders. Het moet anders.

Sinds een paar jaar heb ik de stellige overtuiging dat anders DOEN de sterkste boodschap is. Dat vinden de programma’s en projecten nogal ingewikkeld. Want een woord is nog geen daad. En woorden zijn sneller gerealiseerd. Veel trajecten in organisaties zijn gericht op ander gedrag. Een andere cultuur, een andere manier van werken. In plaats van het erover te hebben, kun je beter laten zien dat de verandering er al is. Door de dingen anders te doen. Of door iets anders te doen.

Voorbeelden

In plaats van een directeur die een grote groep medewerkers toespreekt, nodigt de baas een hele kleine groep medewerkers uit om mee in gesprek te gaan. In plaats van ghostwriting, worden teksten door de mensen zelf geschreven. In plaats van zit en luistersessies, organiseer je een sessie waarin mensen zelf aan de slag gaan om iets te leren. In plaats van de afdeling communicatie die de communicatie onder controle houdt en alles binnen de lijntjes houdt, naar het stimuleren van initiatieven vanuit de werkvloer, die juist die lijntjes overschrijden. Elk bedrijf heeft piraten nodig (leestip “Be more pirate”, nu weet je ook wat de mensen in de metro op de foto hierboven aan het lezen zijn). Ze zijn er al en als je ze een zetje geeft, dan kan dat enorm veel impact hebben op de verandering die je beoogt.

Zo organiseerde ik een paar jaar terug een sessie zakelijk tekenen voor 160 collega’s. In twee uur tijd leerden ze op een andere manier hun boodschap over te brengen. Er waren heel wat kritische geluiden, want zonde van de tijd van al die mensen en zonde van het geld. Maar… een zaadje was geplant voor ander gedrag. Die 160 mensen brachten het in hun teams en die gingen er ook meer aan de slag. Het verspreide zich als een vuurtje. Zo veranderde communicatie van kille powerpointslides naar inspirerende tekeningen. En dat bracht een nieuwe vibe in de organisatie. Mensen voelen dat er iets verandert.

Het afschaffen of radicaal veranderen van reguliere processen is een hele sterke boodschap

Dit anders doen gaat zeker niet alleen over communicatie. Maar vooral ook over allerlei business processen die je anders gaat doen. En dit is altijd mijn advies aan organsitaties, programma’s of projecten. Ga het anders doen. Daarmee wordt de verandering tastbaar en geloofwaardig. Dan gaan de mensen mee.

Het stoppen van dingen is bijvoorbeeld een hele sterke boodschap. Bijvoorbeeld het afschaffen van exclusieve parkeerplekken voor de directie (heel makkelijk te doen) of het radicaal versimpelen of afschaffen van de jaarlijkse businessplanningscyclus (dat ligt ingewikkelder). Gedrag beïnvloed gedrag. Woorden doen dat niet (voldoende). En dus zijn daden geweldige communicatieboodschappen.

Kortom, in plaats van al die woorden, probeer eens in daden te gaan communiceren. Het wordt er een stuk leuker, interessanter en effectiever door.

Kanttekening: Ik gebruik ook veel woorden om dit uit te leggen. Ja, scherp gezien! Hoewel er steeds minder mensen zijn die lezen, heb jij het tot het einde gered. En daarmee hoop ik dat ik je geholpen heb met dit verhaal. In mijn werk ben ik ondertussen afgestapt van ‘communicatie doen’ en stimuleer ik organisaties (en programma’s en projecten) om tot die daden te komen die zoveel meer zeggen dan alle woorden die je er aan kunt geven.

The Struggle of the Digital Transformation

The Struggle of the Digital Transformation

It’s a strategic focus in any organization: The Digital Transformation. But it’s a struggle. How come this proves to be so difficult? In this article three main mistakes and three challenges to get it right.

Mistake number one: A Chief Digital Officer

One of the ways organizations try to ensure progress is to appoint a Chief Digital Officer. Someone with a lot of power, at a high level in the organization, to make it happen. But how can one person – surely with a team – bring the organisation in the right position, when a Digital Transformation impacts everyone. Yes… everyone in the organization. And everything. The transformation should not be the responsibility of one person or team. But it should be a shared responsibility throughout the organisation.

Mistake number two: Tech is just a tactic

I have said it before, and I will say it again, and again, until you get it. Tech is just a tactic. A huge problem with the approach of a Digital Transformation is to focus on the tech. With having the tech in place nothing will change. I guess tech is a tangible thing and thus easy to focus on. Also the phrase Digital Transformation implies that it’s all about digital stuff. But don’t be fooled. Tech is an enabler. It’s part of the transformation. But it’s not the hard part…

Mistake number three: Outsource the approach

As many organizations struggle to understand what is required, they get a consultancy firm on board to help them out. This firms sets up a team, and then – with military precision & high pressure on timelines – the organization is taken through a step-by-step transformation. But as soon as the consultants leave the premises, the transformation bounces back to where you started. Or worse .. leaves you in chaos, because the organization doesn’t own the process. You left that to the consultants…

These are just three big things I see. So how to quit the struggle and start doing things that work. Here are some key points. 

Challenge number one: Understand what it’s about

It’s so obvious, it’s often forgotten. Get to understand what it’s about. Truly understand what a Digital Transformation is about, and why it is necessary. Digital technology offers many opportunities. But it’s not a free ride. You have to get on board, or you will be out of business. 

Basically this is the story: you digitize anything that is possible, to free up the people to do the great stuff. 

People should not compete with computers. If we try to be as good as a computer, we will be defeated. The clue is that we – as humans – have unique qualities which a computer does not have. We have the power to link the head with the heart. To truly connect with people. Do things from guts, instead of ratio. That’s were innovation comes from. Digital Transformation means that you free up the human potential in your organization to do what computers cannot do. That’s where your competitive advantage is. So it’s not about understanding the bits & bytes, but about the difference and complementary way of working with artificial and human intelligence. Get the big picture. And then you will see how you can go from a to b to c. Also keep in mind that for every organization the path will be different, because the starting point is different.

Challenge number two: Love processes 

I know that most people hate processes. And then there are the very few who love them. People who are so passionate about fitting work that happens within an organization into tight processes. I’m sure you can recollect one or two colleagues who fit this description. These colleagues should be your best friends! In order to digitize what can be digitized, first it needs to be identified, standardized, with a clear process and then the step to digitization can be made.

Doing all the work in the way we want, is not the way forward. Now I realize that this will put a lot of people off. Most of us don’t want to be told how to do our work. We want to decide for ourselves. But try and look at it differently. Standardizing and digitizing our work, means that we free ourselves from the dreary stuff and get time to do where we can make a difference. The work that can not be digitized. The part where we add value! 

Challenge number three: It’s all about people

Reading challenge number one and two, I hope you already got the main message. It’s not about tech, it’s about people. First: to help the people in the organization to understand the bigger picture. To see the challenge, but more important the potential of where we are heading. Second: to help people to reshape work. To shift work that can be digitized, by standardizing and digitizing. And make the people who love processes your heroes. You need to work together on this big thing to make the shift. And third: know your people and their potential. Help them to further develop themselves to really add value in the area’s where a human touch is essential. 

If we are to have a happy future where we fully use the potential of artificial intelligence (anything a computer can do) we need to understand our own potential. Human potential is your biggest asset. That is where you should invest. To make it grow and make it stand out!

In search of a new story

In search of a new story

At the beginning of this year I published The Explorers, a series of interviews with people that are ahead of most of us, experimenting to find a way in life and work of tomorrow. In this search also the need for a New Story became apparent. It stuck with me. And slowly evolved into a clear ambition of making this New Story. A story that is comprehensible and appealing for kids, cause then – also – it will be simple enough for grown-ups.
While I am taking the first steps in this search I invite you to come along on my journey, where I will discuss with people, do research, read and try to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Also I would love to hear your ideas. Because one thisng is clear. It’s not my story. It’s our story. The story of our time.

Why do we need a story? We are searching to find meaning. And in this search a story gives us something to hold on to. Trust and connection. The great thing about a story is that it’s nobodies. Cause it’s everybodies. A story is a story when people start telling the story, and spread the word.

What’s the old story and what’s wrong with it? In the past centuries we have known many stories. Each fitting that specific moment in time. An important category of stories is related to religion. With god – in whatever form – in the lead. But the influence of religion is declining. So a new category has come. Instead of god, we now have money in the lead. Liberalism, socialism, communism. It’s all about how we divide the money. Money is power and the leading story tells us who has the power. It tells us who’s on the good side, and who’s on the bad…

Money really has us under it’s spell. We feel it’s not good and want to do things differently. That’s why we try and find value somewhere else. And thankfully the insights are increasing that not everything can be measured moneywise. For instance the shift from business case to value case. More and more we see that value exceeds money. And so a story that’s all about money has lost it’s credibility. It’s no longer feeding our need for imagination and brings confusion rather than connection.

And so this search for a new story has started. What better way to start than going back to Nico Baken, professor at the Technical University of Eindhoven. In the Explorers series he mentioned the need for a new story for the first time. I met him last Monday, in the Black Box at the Hight Tech Campus. He told me about all the signals he noticed in the world around us. And he shared his thoughts about this brand-new story. I’ll tell you more about this later.

First a little wandering in my own thoughts…
Humans have created the computer. From smart calculations to masterbrain. There is no end thinkable of what the computer can do. So at some point computerpower will be smarter than humans (this is what is known as singularity). This brings us to the question: What is the value of humans? Or rather .. what is the meaning of life? 

Our ideal: the human as computer
Throughout history humans have described themselves by comparing them to the – at that moment in time – leading technology. And so now, we like to see ourselves as a computer (for instance the book ‘We are our own brains’) and with this ideal in mind, we have focused on developing knowledge and the rational capabilities of humans. Comparing humans to computers on the long run makes no sense. Because it doesn’t match our uniqueness. For humans are more than a rational entity.

Researcher and philosopher Alix Rübsaam, from the University of Amsterdam, talks about this in this video interview.

Evolution of Maslow theory

New motives
At school I learnt all about the pyramid of Maslow, the model which shows the hierarchy of motives. But this theory is no longer valid. The highest goal of humans can never be ‘just me’, because what makes us unique, is our ability to have meaningful connections with our surroundings. (Connectedness, you could call it).

So after self actualisation – the highest phase of Maslow- an extra phase should be added that is all about connecting. With our surroundings, whether it be human or nature.

We have challenges on different levels. Because computers are becoming smarter, they will take over work from humans. This is nothing new. In the Industrial Revolution machines took over our work. Now similar things will happen. “Work” will shift to other area’s that can’t suffice with just the increasing intelligence of computers (Artificial Intelligence). Like creative of craftwork, imagination and social interaction.

However – because for so long our ideal has been the computer -we have developed ourselves in a direction that is proving to become a dead end street: The rational side of humanity. While we have neglected the emotional, connecting and imaginative quality of humans. So now we are off balance, time is urging us to (re)develop the area of imagination/intuition and the cability of connecting with others. Cause slowly this quality has slipped away. Just take a look at younger generations. They are digital savvy, but increasingly socially unequipped.

Now back to Nico and the new story. The essence is that we need not be afraid. These are times of abundance, if only we learn to see things in a different way. Make smart combinations. Point of attention is that the dominant idea is that we are living is a time of scarcity, with money as the big decisionmaker. The system – that evolves around possession (rather than use) – is preventing us from sharing the abundance. While sharing is very natural thing to do, cause in the end, we are just social creatures….

Another issue is that we let ourselves be guides by truths, that are nothing but the truth. A socalled ‘fact cabinet’ could be helpful to refer to real facts, instead of ‘facts’ that are useful only for the messenger.

Opportunities, aAundance and miracles. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable many things, but we need to be in the game. Step up and take responsibility, as humans. Watch this video: the Ted talk of Sam Harris “We need a Manhattan project”, to understand the necessity of taking responsibility.

Nico pleads for a shift from ‘surviving’ to good living. He is optimistic and tells me that the traffic lights are green. But we need to stimulate the right qualities of us as humans. Heart, Hand and Mind. Imagination, reason and intuition. This threesome of knowledge sources will lead to and endless upgoing spiral. In short a time of opportunities, instead of limitations. A time of chances instead of threats. If only we learn to see.

And so the mission begins. After I heard the story of Jason Silva at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, his plea to become a new billionaire (not in money, but in positive impact on the lives of people), I have found my mission. To facilitate and share the new story. A story of today, confidently heading towards tomorrow. A story that connects and inspires.