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Communications cascade check

This large department of a major government organisation was undergoing significant change and restructure, including the implementation of a new 5 year strategic plan.

Challenge

This large department of a major government organisation was undergoing significant change and restructure, including the implementation of a new 5 year strategic plan. This required a major programme of sustained communication to key stakeholders and to the wider staff group. Internally, communication was thought to be poor, with information often not effectively distributed or properly understood by staff. Our challenge was to devise a means of testing the efficiency of their information flow, and the effectiveness of their existing communication channels and to make recommendations for improvement.

Solution

We verbally communicated a message to senior managers and they had three weeks to disseminate that message to all staff in any way they saw fit. The message was constructed to contain two levels of content – basic and full, and two levels of meaning – ie why that particular piece of information had been chosen and why this task was being done at all. The senior managers were allowed to use all existing communication channels (e.g. newsletters, group emails, bulletin board, RSS feeds, intranet updates, word of mouth, presentations, desk drops etc) plus any additional forms of communication they felt appropriate.

We conducted thematic analysis on the results to identify patterns of communication effectiveness. We mapped out the ‘hot spots’ and ‘cool spots’ of communication, at departmental level and team level. The analysis provided key indicators of how and where communication was effective or could be improved. We identified the most and least successful supervisors, managers and leaders, the effectiveness of specific channels and how communication could be improved within the department.

The Impact

Our analysis and reporting allowed the organisation to improve communication across the department, and tailor the format and manner of communication at team level so that business-critical messages are not only heard, but understood.

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