Thursday, 25 April 2013


Accepting reality in order to change it”
(Philip Weiss)

This post is inspired by 'HyperThinking. Creating a New Mindset for the Age of Network' written by ZN eCommunications CEO and Eurocomm Chair Philip Weiss.

The concept of 'HyperThinking' as explained by the author really caught my attention. Philip Weiss  defines it as: “a radical philosophical discipline and practical thinking process that advocates ongoing intellectual adaptation and development to meet the changes imposed by a rapidly moving, Internet-driven age”.

HyperThinkers” are described by Weiss as “people who want to change the world by adapting their own individual mindsets to the new realities of our world.”

The author challenges us to stimulate better thinking by directing close attention to four dimensions:
  1. HyperShifting: to imagine and/or create new mental paradigm as a way to explain unforeseen changes; to examine and challenge fundamental personal values and preconditioned ideas; to look at the world from another person's perspective.

  2. HyperLearning: to continually gain knowledge and/or practical skills; to apply constant practice and time investment to ongoing learning. “If we are to stay relevant to the challenges that tomorrow will bring”, @pweiss writes “we need to start and end the day by educating ourselves.”

  3. HyperLinking: to explore and study new and emerging Internet technology through direct experience, experimentation and playful interaction. “The world of Internet networks offers us extraordinary opportunities for connecting with like-minded people, for learning and for sharing.”
    I like the encouragement given by the author of not being afraid of the world of electronic information but rather make efforts to understand how it is organised and will evolve: “...And if you are looking at its relevance to the business then the possibilities really start to become serious...I have no doubt that in exploring these new horizons you will find some very surprising answers.”

  4. HyperActing: to turn an abstract idea or concept into a reality through focused, concerted and determined action; to adapt and change an existing project and its underlying assumptions when faced with an unforeseen change in circumstances. To explain this dimension, the author makes a relevant observation: “it is not about being hyperactive in the negative sense (everyone has the image of a frenzied child careering about wildly in different directions without purpose). On the contrary, it is about harnessing precious mental energy and channelling it into what you are doing, applying your ideas with passion and clarity.
Within the book there are many suggestions on how to embark on the hyperthinking journey and great case studies are given on how people, teams and organisations have benefited from applying this discipline/process. Indeed, I would recommend reading it (a big thank you to Marc Wright  and Silvia Cambie who let me know about it!). It is a book that really makes people think (hyperthink!).

I would like to conclude these marginalia by reporting the beautiful author's words given almost at the end of his work: “Always remember to be looking for solutions whenever you face a difficult problem or a challenge...don't dwell on what goes wrong; rather, discipline your mind to start exploring possible solutions, however difficult or unrealistic this first appears.

Phil Weiss was one of the guest speakers at the simply-communicate simplyTV series that took place on 12th April from Eurocomm 2013 conference 'Disruptive Communications in Disruptive Times' in Brussels.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

'simply' another wonderful week

“'Simply' another wonderful week at simply-communicate, everything internal communications, employee engagement and internal social media”. This is one of the Tweets that I wrote on Friday evening 12 April, after coming home from the office, with an amasing feeling of fulfillment and joy for the way the whole week was spent at simply-communicate.  

This week has been very important for the simply-communicate team who attended an important event held in Belgium, Brussels: the IABC Eurocomm 2013, the conference which was focused on the important theme of 'Disruptive Communications in disruptive times'. 
How should we communicate internally during periods of change and disruption?...very remarkable topic!
During the conference many important speakers gave important presentations and insight based on their expertise, studies and research on these relevant topics.

Due to the meaningfulness of the conference, simply-communicate run a special edition of the monthly simplyTV show coming live from Eurocomm 2013 in Brussels on Friday 12 April.

Marc Wright and Silvia Cambié (who also gave a remarkable talk during the conference on how big-name brands are turning to social media for greater exposure) interviewed some of the special Eurocomm 2013 speakers:

John Smythe - CEO of Engage for Change, discussing on employee engagement as well as his much anticipated book, “Velvet Revolution at Work”;
Aurelie Valtat – Digital Communications Manager at Council of the European Union, on launching a successful digital strategy;
Rav Dhaliwal of Yammer and EuroComm sponsor - talking about enterprise social networks as collaborative and problem solving tools;
Celine Schillinger - Director of Stakeholder Community at Sanofi Pasteur discussing how she helps to engage internal audiences around the Dengue vaccine;
Phil Weiss - EuroComm Chair, talking about this year's conference theme,“Europe in an age of disruption”and how to thrive in this disruptive environment.

During the time when both the Eurocomm 2013 and simplyTV show were taking place in Belgium I was closely following the simply-communicate team from the London office while making sure to keep our community of internal communicators informed via Twitter, Yammer, Linked, Facebook...

If you were interested in knowing more about the Eurocomm 2013 conference, its topics and presentation as well as the discussions that took place during the simplyTV show, I would recommend to watch the recorded version of the simplyTV show which is available at your convenience on the simply-communicate website.

This week has been very important also for the new internal communications content that has been published on the website.

In particular, we have presented the important case study of Gatwick Airport and their adoption of Yammer, the internal social platform that helped the organisation to inform, involve and inspire all their employees during the challenging time of the London 2012 Games. This is a remarkable and fascinating story of how internal social media can really help an organisation to facilitate employee engagement. With a genuine and passionate approach Caroline Thorpe, Head of Internal Communications at Gatwick Airport, describes the adoption of Yammer and what that meant for the organisation: “It was really easy for people to participate on Yammer and for once our frontline staff were the ones telling the news, not waiting to be recipients of news...Having a forum where everyone has a voice meant anyone could share their experiences. That created an incredible sense of community...”

Also, we have published the article relating to the Rising Stars initiative organised by VMA Group with the aim to support and encourage the development of the young generation of internal communicators who have a strong desire to make a difference in this industry. I found this initiative of real importance since gives the young generation the chance of being seen, heard and appreciated for their contributions and efforts. Also, the piece - which features Michelle Morgan, Senior Consultant in Internal Communications at VMA Group - gives advice on the skills, attitude and work ethics that are required today by young internal communicators who want to make a real impact in their workplace: Adaptable, Confident, Courageous, Empathetic/emotionally intelligent, Focused, Positive, Self-aware, Resilient, Robust.

Indeed, it was another very important week and now, while writing this post on a Sunday evening, I cannot help but just looking forward to another 'simply' wonderful week, everything internal communications, employee engagement and internal social media!

Wishing you too, as well as your colleagues and your whole organisation a new week full of fulfillment, purposes and achievements! 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Innovation, Creativity and Work Environments

A few days ago I was reading an article via Fast Company about the challenges that traditional working environments have been facing inside our businesses. In fact, today, according to the article, our organisations need office freedom to be able to be more productive.

In particular, one of the office freedom's benefits described within the article would be the ability to overcome 'Groupthink', a phenomenon that often occurs in our workplaces undermining creativity and innovation.

Groupthink , the article reported, “is the psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people. It’s when the desire for conformity in the group results in an unchallenged outcome.

 We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we agree with something that we may typically challenge. People within an organization try to minimize conflict and reach a decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by protecting themselves from criticism from the group as a whole.

This point made me think of 'Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking', remarkable book by Susan Cain. In the chapter titled 'When collaboration kills creativity', Susan Cain describes 'The rise of the New GroupThink and the Power of Working Alone'.

In fact, similarly to the Fast Company's article mentioned above, Susan Cain reports a series of studies and research showing that the right working conditions that allow exceptional performance inside our businesses might not be always found in traditional workplaces.

For example, Reebok International in 2000 consolidated 1,250 employees in their new headquarters in Massachusetts. While the managers assumed that their shoe designers would enjoy an office space with plenty of access to each other so that they could brainstorm, shoe designers told them that actually they needed peace and quiet to be able to concentrate.

Similarly, company 37signals, for ten years beginning in 2000, asked hundreds of people where they liked to work when they needed to get something done. They found that people went anywhere but their offices, which were full of distractions.

Also, according to another range of studies reported by Susan Cain, while traditional brainstorming does't actually overcome peer pressure – the brainstorming's idea was originated by Osborn during the 1940s/1950s purposefully to tackle this phenomenon - the online brainstorming does. “Group brainstorming electronically, when properly managed do better...the larger the group, the better it performs" the author writes. "The same is true for academic research – professors who work together electronically, from different physical locations, tend to produce research that is more influential than those either working alone or collaborating face-to-face.”

This is due to the fact that while participating in an online working group let collaboration to emerge, at the same time the 'solo thought' – vital to creativity – remains free from peer pressure.

Indeed, the author reports that this is not a case against face-to-face collaboration at all. In fact, “studies show that face-to-face interactions create trust in a way that online interactions can't”.

Instead, the suggestion given by Susan Cain, would be to refine the way we do it, by creating more flexible settings in which people are both free “to circulate in interactions but also to disappear in more private workplaces when they need to focus.

“I have experienced this phenomenon personally” Susan Cain writes. “I wrote most of this book on a laptop at my favorite densely packed neighborhood café. The café worked as my office because it had specific attributes that are absent from many modern workplaces. It was social, yet its casual, come-and-go-as-you-please nature let me free from unwelcome entanglements and able to deliberately practice my writing...The coffee shop was full of people bent over their own computers, and if the expressions of rapt concentration on their faces were any indication, I wasn't the only one getting a lot of work done.”

Finally, Susan Cain reports that many organisations (e.g. Microsoft and Pixar Animation Studios) are starting to understand and embrace the value of flexible settings. These organisations are creating new plans and conditions for their employees that allow both solo and collaborative work so that so to benefit and respect every type of individual. That way, innovation, creativity and productivity are sustained within the whole organisation.

If you wish to know more about Susan Cain views on these topics, I would recommend not only reading her interesting book but also watching a 20-minute video on YouTube  where she  presents the major key points expressed in her work.