Tuesday, March 01, 2011

8 communication traps that foil brand innovation

Most leaders are interested in growing their businesses through innovation, but it's risky business: most innovation efforts fail.

After years of helping to make innovation happen as chief communications officer at Steelcase and as a consultant, Georgia Everse has a point of view that she’s willing to bet on:  Innovative ideas, initiatives, products, culture transformations, you name it, have little chance to succeed if they aren't enabled by smart communications.

In a recent article on the Harvard Business Review website, she says this includes communication within the core team, broadly in your organization, and with key stakeholders outside the organization, including your distribution channel partners, suppliers, journalists, investors and of course, existing and potential customers.

Ms. Everse is a communications and marketing executive with 30 years of experience and a proven track record of finding innovative solutions to complex business problems. She specializes in helping C-level executives find and articulate their vision and successfully use strategic communication to achieve their growth goals. Georgia is a visiting professor for the Ferris State University MBA program, in Design and Innovation Management. She is currently a partner with Genesis Inc., a brand, strategy and communications consultancy.

Here are the 8 traps she says to avoid as you innovate.
  1. Don't break ground in the wrong direction. If your organization hasn't explicitly communicated your core reason for being, you'll need to start here.
  2. Don't lose sight of the horizon. The complexity and uncertainty of forging new ground makes it easy to get lost.
  3. Don't make the process a mystery. Successful initiatives are supported by a well-defined process, which should become the foundation for successful internal communication.
  4. Don't under-communicate. For it to be successfully implemented, your development project needs to be accepted into the operations side of the business.
  5. Don't let cynicism undermine the process. Taking your company into new territory of any kind never comes without some healthy skepticism from your positive team players and cynicism from your naysayers.
  6. Don't let key insights hide in a binder. The best ideas are born out of a discovery process that unveils insights into the behavior patterns of people.
  7. Don't let jargon hide the truth. In most organizations different functional groups use their own languages. Recognize the power of words in getting the development team aligned and achieving the positive results you hope for.
  8. If it's off-brand, don't do it. There should be a strong connection between your growth initiatives and your brand strategy. The two should inform and sustain each other.
Click here to read the full article.

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