Thursday, 31 December 2015

Deliverables for 2016

Finally, this old brontosaurus rex has manteshelved laboriously into the 21st century. I admit that ‘deliverables’ is a useful word – used properly. My problem over a few years now has been that when people use this word they too often seem to be worrying a saucepan on the kitchen floor like hungry dogs: they think that anything at all involved in the pursuit of a target is somehow part of the deliverables. So the process becomes confused with the needed result – the outcome or target – being pursued.

If I have a business-like resolution for the New Year – that shiny, polished and minty thing starting tomorrow – it is not to concentrate on the ‘what’ question, so much as the ‘how’ question. The how is about process, the ‘what’ is mostly to do with the deliverables. (In truth, this is the last time I shall use that word in this piece, probably.)

When it comes to communications strategies, the process in all things business is critically important. It concerns how we use our people and our funds effectively; it is the mechanism for reform, improvement and change, for redefinition, reinvention and stimulation of all the parts of a reasonably well-oiled machine.

That makes it all sound easy to accomplish, and it can be depending on how well the internal communications mechanism marries with the brand and all other aspects of external communications. I’m not going to use terms like social functionality, stakeholder engagement, reporting profiles and other such isms of business-speke. They will only confuse unless they are hard-fixed in a proper business diagram.

But let’s look briefly at the process.

By asking how we will achieve something, the question presumes you have a particular goal or a set of goals. They may be tactical, as concerns outwitting competitors; operational, as concerns the way you deploy your resources; and strategic, describing how these two factors build towards your vision for the future. If by chance you have not mapped out these three factors by the last day of December 2015, it might be worth getting the pencil or flip chart ready, pretty soon.

To meet the goals you need a process or set of carefully interwoven processes depending on the size of your company. For example, regular monthly checks against your business plan to measure actual versus desired results, budget spend and other er…achievables…is a very worthy process in pure business terms. How, whether and when you communicate your progress is also important to build into the programme. This part – this process of communication – should be part of the definitive plan. Do it well and everyone feels they are contributing to clear goals; do it badly and no one knows what to do, when to do it and whether what they have already done is worth anything to the organisation.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt they had achieved something useful at the end of each working day? Too often your main resource – people – are out of the loop and spend copious amounts of unnecessary time running round in circles. That is not just a factor of poor supervision or management, it is because too many people are not party to the tactical, operational and strategic decisions. However, if you happen to be spending fat wads of cash on knowledge management you might be barking up the wrong tree; there is a big difference between managing what you think people ought to know and what they really need to know, which is whether they are doing well or badly. An appropriate smile is worth a thousand emails from semi-detached bosses in adjoining seats. One approach is sterile and back-covering; the other is human and purposeful.

Enough for the moment. What I have avoided mentioning here is what I do to help businesses communicate better. Find out more on my website. Call me if you need help; tell me what you want and ask me how I might achieve it.


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