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We delve into the vital role of diverse communication strategies in fostering innovation and change within organisations. It challenges the traditional top-down communication model by highlighting the benefits of incorporating horizontal and bottom-up communication. By embracing a broader conversation that includes various internal and external perspectives, organizations can better navigate their inherent complexities. We emphasise the importance of a shared language to unify teams.

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If you caught our summary last week from the event hosted by the Change Management Institute, you’d know that we explored five key themes around innovation and change. Today, I’m diving into the first of those themes: Communication. This theme merges my observations from the event with my longstanding experiences in the change sector.

Traditionally, communication in organisations flows top-down. This structure stems from the inherent complexity of organisations and the strategic allocation of resources—starting from the top makes initial sense given the clarity and direction it provides. However, effective communication in today’s dynamic environments demands more than this one-dimensional approach.

On the night of the event, it became evident that embracing horizontal communication—sharing ideas across different departments and even outside the organisation with partners and suppliers—is crucial. This broader engagement fosters a diverse environment where varied perspectives, both internal and external, can thrive.

Embracing the Complexity of Communication

Moreover, flipping the traditional model to encourage bottom-up communication is equally important. This method prioritises the voices of individual colleagues, embracing a people-first approach. One might wonder why such an approach isn’t more commonplace. The answer often lies in the complexity and messiness it introduces to the traditional, streamlined process.

Yet, this is where the magic happens. Embracing complexity through a shared language that everyone can understand and use is essential for fostering innovation within teams. It ensures everyone is on the same page, despite the apparent disorder.

Innovation in change doesn’t have a predetermined source; ideas can spring from anywhere and anyone. They need to be nurtured in an environment open to a broader conversation—one that doesn’t restrict the flow of innovation but rather facilitates it by altering the machinery of communication.

Consider the analogy of coal mining: the coal remains in the ground, but the machinery to extract it needs to evolve to remain cost-effective. Similarly, updating our communication strategies can lead to discovering those rich seams of knowledge previously thought unreachable.

As we continue to explore and implement varied communication strategies within organisations, it’s crucial to consider how much we are willing to invest and what our appetite is for extracting these valuable insights. Stay tuned for more insights as we delve deeper into the machinery of communication and its impact on innovation and change.