Guardian of Change (Communications Plan)
The Guardian of Change is better known as a Communications Plan.
Empirical research shows that it is best to guard and protect communications than to simply shout out. Different audiences need different parts of the message, and may react differently to descriptive terms used and the media used to communicate results.
The overall purpose is to get a group to agree on how it will communicate the results of its meeting and workshop efforts to others. Students with study groups average a GPA that is 0.50 points higher than students without groups. Why? Socialization.
At minimum, team members need an “elevator speech” that can deliver an effective synopsis of the meeting results. At the other extreme, if the meeting is strategic, there could be numerous audience types such as the investment community, suppliers, trade personnel, etc. If so, identify the key audience members before discussing the message, medium of communication, and frequency of communication for each.
When it is important that it sounds like the participants attended the same meeting together, consider agreeing on the rhetoric used to describe the meeting. Typically, the two major audiences are:
- What do we tell our bosses or superiors ?
- What do we tell people dependent on our results (ie, stakeholders) ?
After identifying the target audiences, ask for each, “What are we going to tell _____?” List the messages as bullet points that begin to homogenize (ie, create consistency) the meeting participants’ descriptions in the hallway about what was accomplished.
If necessary, discuss HOW TO communicate with the target audience such as face-to-face, email, etc. For complicated communications plans, further discuss frequency or how often to set-up regular communications. It may be necessary to schedule the communications so that the superiors are informed before other stakeholders. Failing to plan suggests planning to fail. Meeting participants will use separate methods and discrete rhetoric that may generate different understanding among stakeholders who are expected to share similar understanding.
Proactively consider a 330 Report, a written summary of results that should take no longer than 30 minutes to write and no longer than three minutes to read and reply. The 330 Report may be ideal for executives and other team members who are interested but not fully invested.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.
Become Part of the Solution—Improve Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.
- How to Communicate Meeting and Workshop Results (mgrush.com/blog)
- How To Structure the Introduction to Meetings and Workshops (mgrush.com/blog)
- Five Reasons to Hold a Facilitated Session (mgrush.com/blog)
- Responsibility Matrix, Agenda Design, and Parking Lot Management (mgrush.com/blog)
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Building consensus around proper alignment helps groups identify gaps, omissions, overkill, and to confirm the appropriateness and balance of their action plan.