As much as I hate cliches, the one about “culture eating strategy for breakfast” is the bitterest, most accurate, and yet the most ignored. And this is particularly the case in the world of organisational communication, where leadership teams spend countless hours coming up with the perfect “strategy” that aligns with their vision. Only to see the whole thing crumbling down in a matter of weeks!
After studying dozens of cases of failed internal communication strategies, I’m convinced that:
- It’s never about the strategy
- It’s always about the vision, and the people responsible for execution buy into the vision
2 is what most organisations miss out on. They think drafting the vision and asking their communications teams to execute it will set them up for a well-rounded and lasting organisational communication program. One couldn’t be more wrong about this.
How can you have people execute a plan they don’t believe in? It’s impossible! Also, as the leadership, it’s irresponsible to assume that the communications team will do their bit to ensure that their program complements the organisational vision. Because that never happens.
The onus is on the leadership to sell (or even re-sell) the vision to the communications team. Get their buy-in and then have them develop an organisational communication (org-comms) vision that complements the central vision. Doing so will set the right expectations while holding the org-comms team accountable for the short, mid, and long-term results.
But what about “culture,” you ask? Well, culture is driven from the top-down. And for that to happen, one must have clarity on where they should be heading. The leadership must invest time in setting an org-comms vision that complements the company’s vision is what’s needed to set the tone, pace, and the way this team will execute at the outset.
So, culture might eat strategy for breakfast, but the leadership gets to decide what’s on the menu. And teams that exercise this choice often end up with an org-comms approach that’s lasting and changes the course of their companies’ success.