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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC

Stacy L. Wilson, ABC is president of Eloquor Consulting, Inc., in Lakewood, Colorado. Stacy has more than 27 years of experience and has focused exclusively on internal communication and organizational development since the mid-1990s. Stacy and her company specialize in intranet governance, usability and content, and change communication.

Stacy is also the conference chairperson of the 2014 Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit, July 29-31 in Chicago, Illinois. This event is designed for communicators and technologists to learn how to reinvent their intranets and move toward a digital workplace that drives productivity, innovation and measurable business results. For information or to register, visit http://www.aliconferences.com/events/intranet-and-digital-workplace-summit-2014#

In the meantime, read on to learn how Stacy helps organizations communicate more effectively with employees and leverage internal communication to deliver results.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What is most important for people to know about you?
Stacy L. Wilson, ABC: When I left not-for-profit for corporate I needed a new cause. Employees became my cause and passion. My work is focused on making work life better and more rewarding for the employees of our client companies, leveraging technology where possible.

PB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
SW:
The people and process side of technology fascinates me. I believe organizations too often launch new technology without paying attention to how it affects people and processes. This results in low adoption and poor ROI. I’m especially interested in human psychology and resulting workplace behavior. I enjoy teaching about technology governance, how people interact with their digital tools, and how people interact with online content.

PB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
SW: While working for a child welfare agency in Ohio, I managed the communication budget used to attract foster families. I reached out to my counterparts in a half-dozen other agencies and together (I facilitated) we created the Foster Care Cooperative. Working together and pooling budget, the agencies were able to do a lot more outreach in the community and attract far more prospective foster families. That agency is still in operation today, using the same logo we created in the early 1990s.

In the mid-1990s I led the implementation of the first intranet for Sprint PCS. While we saved the company millions of dollars with it, more importantly, we changed the entire mindset within Sprint Corporate about what an intranet should do. I came over to corporate to lead a similar effort for the entire company, where I laid the groundwork for what today is an award-winning intranet, managed by the woman I hired when I was there. It’s a legacy I probably won’t have another opportunity to create.

In January, I completed a project for the Fortune 100 logistics company mentioned below. This was the most comprehensive digital workplace roadmap I’ve ever been involved with. It is a terrific example of how to engage many users in the upfront planning and requirements definition to ensure adoption and big ROI. As a result, they have a big pool of champions from which to draw during implementation.

PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
SW: As a communicator, I want to get employees actively involved in communicating, and I want to leverage communication to achieve business goals. As a consultant, I am highly participatory and collaborative. I think of myself as a teacher when I lead conference sessions, not a speaker or presenter. This is true in my consulting work as well; I teach so the client – or conference attendees – can do things on their own.

PB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
SW: My internal communication planning methodology was recently developed into a SharePoint add-on called ElevatePoint Plan. I’ve honed this method during my nearly three decades of communication work. Now, anyone can drop it into their SharePoint to manage the communication planning, implementation and reporting process.

I’ve created an entire suite of communication tools based on past work. This includes tools for digital workplace projects, manager communication, change communication, etc. I often give these away when I teach at conferences.

My methodology for helping clients create governance for intranets and digital workplaces is really important. I’ve used it for many Fortune 500 companies, tweaking each time to improve or customize to their needs. Our clients really love the approach.

My methodology for content migration, while always evolving, is proving very useful for organizations with a lot of old content and a new platform. Our approach is flexible, yet diligent enough to deliver sound ROI.

PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
SW: My projects include:

  • Creating a strategic internal communication function where there previously wasn’t one, at a specific site (Fortune 150 mining company), including strategic planning, skill training, message assistance and consulting on their digital tools.
  • Evolving the home page and resource area of the intranet (global insurance company), including user research and testing, counsel on integration of social, taxonomy and information architecture direction.
  • Implementation support for a new digital workplace (Fortune 100 global logistics company), including content migration, governance, training, taxonomy, adoption and communication for launch (Will be starting on this project soon).

I’m also writing regularly for SharePoint Pro Magazine sharing what we learn in client assignments. On a personal level, I serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Counsel at the nearby hospital that last year saved my husband’s life. I, together with other patients and their family members, provide direction and feedback to hospital projects from the consumer perspective. It’s a very rewarding effort.

PB: As conference chairperson of the Intranet & Digital Workplace Summit in Chicago this month, what would you say makes this event unique?
SW: The smaller, more intimate size is great. Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) conferences include a lot of interaction and dialogue among participants. Everyone gets to know each other and connect in meaningful ways. As chair, my first task is to ensure learning and my second is to help each speaker shine.

PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
SW: Some of my favorite resources are:

  • John Kotter: Probably the single greatest influence on my work
  • Geert Hofstede: Really useful when working with global clients
  • Mike Klein: I may not always agree with Mike, but he’s always got something important to say
  • Groundswell: Really altered my view of what digital tools should do for the business
  • Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn’s book on culture: I use it all the time
  • Liz Guthridge: Very strategic and always looking at the psychology behind things
  • IABC: Even though it’s going through ups and downs right now, I continue to support the organization that has shaped me as a communicator
  • Roger D’Aprix’s communication model: Live by it
  • Malcolm Gladwell: Blink and Tipping Point gave insight into how to run my business and provide sound direction, Outliers helped me rethink parenting, while I took David & Goliath as direction for small business success; all very insightful

PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
SW: Stacy L. Wilson, ABC (accredited by IABC) swilson@eloquor.com, 303-522-0411 http://www.linkedin.com/in/stacylwilson, www.eloquor.com/blog, @stacylwilson

What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in future Brilliance@Work profiles?


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Paul Barton, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Veteran communicator Paul Barton, ABC, of Paul Barton Communications, LLC, specializes in internal communication and has helped organizations communicate effectively with employees for over 20 years. Read on as Paul shares his insights on strategic internal communication planning and best practices for boosting employee engagement.

Peggy L. Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Paul Barton: I’m an eternal learner and very passionate about internal communication.

PLB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
PB: My ability to take high-level philosophies, find all their nuances and then see ways to apply them to the world communication challenges makes me stand out, along with my depth and breadth in communication. I grew up in the back shop of my father’s weekly newspaper, so I learned writing, photography, layout and design at an early age. I’ve helped usher in a lot of technological changes. I helped four different companies launch their very first intranets, and I helped two companies begin their first-ever forays into social media. A lot has changed, but the basics of communication remain the same, and writing is still the fundamental skill. Clear writing is still a reflection of clear thinking.

PLB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
PB: The things we do as communicators that not only help organizations be more successful, but also enrich the lives of employees and their families. What we do is a noble profession, and I am very proud of that.

PLB: How do you help organizations inspire and inform employees?
PB: The first step is usually to put out the immediate fire. Often that’s a credibility gap between the organization’s leadership and its employees. You have to ensure your leadership has credibility before you can attempt to reach employees. Without credibility, a message is worthless. You begin to inspire employees when they see what they personally do is vital to the overall success of the organization, and then you help them to not only understand but to become part of the organization’s vision. Employees want to know that what they are doing has meaning. They are seeking clarity and purpose. If we are communicating just to inform, then we aren’t really communicating at all. We need to approach communication as an ongoing process. That process seeks to influence, is inclusive and listens to employees.

PLB: What inspired you to create your blog “Employee Communication Nirvana” and what types of information and ideas do you share with your readers?
PB: I wanted to share a vision for what the nirvana state of employee communication would look like. What would an organization look like if its internal communication function was as good as it could possibly be? What is our ultimate goal? I share philosophies and best practices that I hope inspire internal communication professionals to strive higher. I really like the feedback I get from my industry peers and the ongoing dialog.

PLB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
PB: The ones that really moved the needle for companies and at the same time made a real difference in the lives of employees – the wellness, 401(k) and safety campaigns, and the culture change and performance initiatives. I’m also proud that I was able to take struggling internal communication functions and turn them into high-performing teams. I believe I inspired a lot of young professionals who were new to internal communication. I still get calls from people who worked for me asking for advice and that’s a great feeling.

PLB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
PB: I’ve developed a lot of tools, templates and processes over the years that have helped me get out in front of my work, think strategically and act as an executive counselor. You have to plan the work or it will plan you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having the right “tools and rules” in place sets you free to do higher levels of thinking. For instance, my colleagues and I developed a strategic communication planning template that we improved upon continuously over a 15-year period in four different industries. It gives us the structure to make sure we are on time, on budget and on brand, and the process itself has been the springboard for some real breakthrough thinking.

PLB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your communication programs?
PB: Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate because it gets to our emotions. Logic makes us think, but it is our emotions that get us up out of our chairs and willing to take action. I’ve seen a CEO tell a story to a group of managers that had them pumping their fists into the air and yelling in support, and I’ve seen a safety video that had a widow telling a story about the husband who was no longer with her and her children that made the audience openly weep. A lot of front line managers think they can’t communicate company messages because they aren’t great presenters, but get them telling a few stories, and they turn into very effective communicators. The most successful employee communications appeal to heads and hearts, and storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

PLB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
PB: I’m just about to go to press with a book called Maximizing Internal Communication. It will be available in a couple of months on my website at http://paulbartonabc.com and on http://www.amazon.com. It’s full of all the tips, tricks, templates and techniques that I’ve learned and developed over my career. I’m also developing workshops about strategic communication planning, communicating change, crisis communication, employee benefits communication, and how to be an effective internal communication consultant.

PLB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
PB: I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great corporate communicators over the years and learned so much from them. I’ve also learned a lot from workshops and reading from the greats like the godfather of internal communication Roger D’Aprix; communication consultants Tom Lee and Bill Hiniker; writing coach Ann Wylie; measurement experts Angela Sinickas, ABC and Wilma Mathews, ABC; and technology guru Shel Holtz, ABC. I stay current by reading and participating in the LinkedIn groups dealing with internal communication and by following the #internalcomms hashtag on Twitter. There are a lot of great ideas out there!

PLB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
PB: You can connect with me in a variety of ways. My blog is http://www.paulbartonabc.com, my business Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/PaulBartonCommunicationsLLC, my Twitter handle is @PaulBartonABC, my LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbartonabc and my Google Plus profile is https://plus.google.com/+PaulBartonABC/posts. I look forward to talking internal comms with you!

What best practices in communication would you like to share in future Brilliance@Work profiles? What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?