As part of our HunchBuzz offering, we are often asked on how to put together a Communications Plan when launching and maintaining an Idea Management Platform. Well here you go….
Communication is a broad concept, one that everyone thinks they understand from their own day to day experiences. Some think it is having a conversation, others believe it is only when you are sending a message. Yet what a lot of people don’t know is that communication can be anything, from interpersonal relationships with colleagues and the non-verbal communication you give off, to the way you phrase a carefully worded document to a client.
Though communication is easy to take part in, it is a lot harder to maintain the type of communication you are hoping to achieve. Communication is a very two way and subliminal thing, where you can say what you think another person wants to hear without stating your true thoughts and intentions. Without clear communication, your ideas can be taken the wrong way and may cause failure in both the work you do, and the relationships you have with those around you. This is where a Communications Plan can help.
This can often be the rise or fall of a business, as internal communications is a central part to any organisation and the frameworks they have in place with both the network of staff within the organisation and to the clients they interact with. Communication must be clear at all times, both through the process of ideation and then in implementation.
So how does a communication plan support idea management?
With communication working hand in hand with innovation, creating a communication plan can improve any idea management initiative within an organisation. Think of it this way, idea management allows all staff to contribute their ideas in order to develop them and provide solutions for the company, yet communication makes sure these ideas and their final product are clear to all those who use them so that they can make the most out of it.
If you provide clear communication throughout the process of ideation, it is more likely for other employees to understand where you are coming from and to see the full scope of your idea. When others then go to evaluate your ideas, you can clearly see how well they interpreted your ideas as well as understanding their feedback with less room for misinterpretation.
A communications plan allows all team members to be on the same page as well, with all areas and tasks within projects understood so there are no cross-overs and misunderstandings. Having good communication within the team is a key to having good outward communication for your clients.
This also applies to the audience you are targeting as well, as the information you give them needs to be clear and concise, and well thought out. With digital technology giving people access to any information they seek, creating something more complicated without clear communication will simply make them want to stop participating.
Having a communications plan allows you to see how your clients are responding, with your channels of communication allowing you to see how your clients are interacting with the information you have given them. Your communications plan will make it easier to discuss these ideas with them, and your appreciation for their contribution will be noted.
So how do you create a communications plan for your Idea Management program?
- Set goals for your organisation so that everyone understands the objectives of communication, and what they are trying to inform others about. This needs to be done for every stage of the innovation/ideation process, as the whole journey relies on every step to be implemented correctly.
- Understand and determine who your audience is, as well as the people who will be communicating. Every person has a role in communication and they will all have different information to provide. Make sure everyone is clear on what they are discussing with others or showing.
- Plan the communication channels you will use that show-case your organisation in the most positive way. This could be from having social media channels for your company, or figuring out that emails are better than written communication for your clients. It is important to remember the message you are communicating, with some types of communication being less clear than others. For example, an email could be seen as an easy way to respond to a client but if it is rushed and not well thought out, the client could assume that your organisation do not care about your interpersonal relationships.
- Determine how frequently you need to communicate with both your employees and your clients. Often, employees do not want to be bombarded with information when they are trying to complete a task, yet you need to find a balance so they still feel motivated and engaged.
- Figure out who is accountable for communication in every level, so that people in charge of particular areas in the communication plan understand their role.
Though a communications plan may seem like a simple thing to do, it should be seen as a long term initiative for your organisation and not just a short term project for your team. Making it long term allows your company to see how important communication is to innovation, so that they are able to weave it into their daily work.
A communications plan can be hard work, but isn’t something an organisation should shy away from. Everyone needs to be aware of how they are maintaining their efforts over time, and how the work they are doing is being understood by clients and colleagues. A well thought out plan is the way to go to improve an organisation and to better the idea management system.
Jenni Guzman is resident Idea curator and creator of Content at HunchBuzz – Making Ideas Easy since 2012.