That’s the estimated value of the free consulting I received during my seven days in the Green Room. But that doesn’t begin to capture the actual value of the experience. Because you can’t put a price on epiphanies. Or a mindset change. Or the increased excitement, confidence and enthusiasm I developed after working with Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW) for a week.
I submitted my question to CAWW in May 2014. Submitted with bated breath. What were the chances this international collective of brilliant thinkers and do’ers would want to discuss my small company’s challenge? But they did!
My question was: “How can we retain the close-knit culture of our small organization even as we experience dramatic growth?” I work for a small tech company based in London, Ontario, Canada. As recently as last year, it was possible to know everyone in the company by name. Now , with new hires joining us every week, that intimacy is no longer possible. Or at least, so I thought. The Change Agents helped me realize there are many things we can do to keep the StarTech culture alive and strong even as we grow like crazy.
The conversation in the Green Room was vibrant and crackling with energy. I asked a ton of questions of them, and they asked many of me. It was a dialogue in every sense of the word.
Whatever question I asked, there was always a seasoned expert available and eager to address it. Whether it was about our hiring process, corporate culture, change management or plain ol’ intranet solutions – there was always a helpful Change Agent ready to share relevant insights.
And the insights included a powerful mix of theory and practice. Change Agents use evidence from psychology, sociology, organizational behaviour and management research to establish the principles for 21st century workplaces. They also have a plethora of case studies from organizations large and small that have implemented communications strategies, engagement campaigns, and more around those principles.
So, what did I learn? I learned the future of employee communications is about enabling. Enabling employees to connect with each other. Enabling employees to find their own information. Enabling employees to work out loud so that others see what they’re doing and want to help. The future of employee communications is building platforms that enable employees to connect and self-organize. The future is decentralizing communications so message come from the people who own them.
The dozen or more Change Agents who participated in my session were helpful, friendly and sincerely interested in supporting my company’s success. These people are serious when they say they want to “change the world of work!”
They were a diverse group with a wide range of experience: in-house comms, IT and knowledge management types; consulting and management expert types. Many Change Agents currently work in-house – at the UN, Lexmark, Teach for America, etc. – or used to work in-house – e.g., as SVP of HR for an international bank, or an IT and comms professional at IBM. These people know the challenges of moving projects through organizations, getting buy-in… all that good stuff. The other Change Agents members are independent consultants, and they’ve worked with many companies across a range of industries (many of them household names).
The best part about my week in the Green Room was that it epitomized the “Work Out Loud” culture CAWW advocates to clients. Using their online platform, I interacted with subject matter experts all around the world at different times of day and in varying amounts. Some Change Agents were regular contributors throughout the week; others popped in when they saw questions that interested them. But all were helpful. Importantly, the timing always worked for me because I could drop in and out of the discussion as my schedule allowed.
If you have a burning question or planning opportunity related to your organization, my advice to you is this:
If CAWW is ever gracious enough to open their doors to another Green Room participant, leap at the chance!
This is a Guest Post by Anthea Rowe, Communications Manager at StarTech. Ms. Rowe applied to be one of Change Agents Worldwide’s Green Room clients. If you’re interested in applying to become a Green Room Candidate, apply at this link.