04 May 2009

New Next: It's what's on the inside that counts

I've been working on an internal communications project for a few months now, and have been therefore thinking about it a lot. It's so interesting to me now. I've gotten to play with some applications like Yammer and Jive SBS, and think about channels in a different way. Despite the newness, it still feels familiar. Companies are made of people, just like anything else, and I realized that communicating with people is just that: communicating with people, no matter the context. Sounds a bit obvious, but I didn't consciously think about it this way until I felt that "riding a bike" sense on the project.

Anyway, I wrote about internal culture & communications for the May New Next. For the past two months, the publishing schedule at the magazine was being shifted and sorted around*, so I think I actually wrote this back in February. Kind of explains the not-so-current nature of the examples, but the overall point is still relevant.

New Next: May 2009

Here's the text:

When brands and their agencies plan communications together, a component that largely gets overlooked is what to do within the company itself. Internal communications is a massive group of channels, and in the past couple of years it has become clear that what happens inside company walls is as important (if not more) as what is said outside.

A few brands have been on the right track and investing in their "insides" for a while now, and have earned respect in turn. Starbucks gives health care benefits, coffee and business education to all of its employees; Nokia's "Power of We" environmental initiative began as an internal credo and rallying cry; Google's "20 percent time" philosophy keeps employees inspired and allows them to enrich every part of their lives.

The most recent and impressive example of a brand that has done this is Honda, who recently relaunched their Power of Dreams Web site. Through a series of short documentaries, employees and friends of the company are interviewed to give candid thoughts and anecdotes.

Light bulb clusters

The series that launched first, Dream the Impossible, centers around the tenacity that Honda employees have in achieving seemingly impossible goals and being unafraid of failure. Engineers, designers and even Honda's then-president and CEO regale us with stories. They touch on engine failures, factory recalls, public apologies and taking risks without a safety net. Giving this type of bare-it-all peek behind Honda's curtain is admirable; how many CEOs publicly talk about encouraging their employees to fail as many times as it takes in order to make "fantastic advances in technology"? It feels honest and genuine, and not just a marketing gimmick. The videos also demonstrate the value that Honda places on community by showcasing anecdotes and opinions from employees at all levels within the company.

New videos will be uploaded every few months to give us a peek into Honda, and the minds that make the company tick. Together, the videos lead to an insightful understanding of the values and philosophies that fuel the company, and speak volumes more than a traditional ad campaign could.

The news about Takeo Fukui's stepping down actually broke a week after I sent the article to my editor, so I had to scramble to change the details. I was a bit sad, since his part in the failure video made the biggest impression on me. Hopefully the new President/CEO (Takanobu Ito) continues on with this philosophy.

* Amber also wrote an article that ran in the May issue. It's about the new platforms for tv-watching that are always popping up, and what they mean for content distributors, hardware manufacturers, cable companies, etc. It's really smart and insightful. Check it out: New Next: TV Channels the Internet on her blog. Both are x-posted to House of Naked.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...