Over the past 10 years I have been involved in projects where we used e-mail based social network analysis and a “virtual mirroring process” to let employees learn about their own communication behavior tracked through e-mail analysis. Through a process of open dialog, employees are provided with a unique opportunity to constantly discuss group dynamics and leadership behavior that are usually taken for granted. This process is essential to nurture the creation of communities where clients and employees participate in a process of knowledge co-creation.
The expression ‘we’re in uncharted waters’ seems very apt during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are plenty of questions to ask. What does this mean for me and my organization? What will be the next normal? In unprecedented situations like this one, there are no simple answers, no ‘best practices’ that we can turn to. But this is also a time when professional networks demonstrate their value. We can share experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t and brainstorm ways to address new challenges…and old ones.
From panic buying to online shopping, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviors during very short period of time. Since I teach Consumer Behaviors in the online environment in our graduate program, I would like to discuss the emerging consumer behaviors, analyze the underlying factors that drive the behavioral changes, and provide suggestions about organizational response strategies. So far, four consumption trends have emerged.
How are communication leaders around the world responding to the Covid-19 pandemic? What do they see as challenges? And how will they adapt to a post-pandemic environment?
These are some of the topics we discussed with Artemio Garza, who leads Egon Zehnder’s Communication Officers practice in North America. Artemio is a core member of Egon Zehnder’s Marketing and Digital practices. Based in Miami, his special focus is on multi-unit retail, consumer goods, and private equity companies.
Carl Zangerl (CZ): Tell us about what your job at Egon Zehnder entails.
Artemio Garza (AG): Our mission at Egon Zehnder is to create a better world through great leadership. I have a marketing and communication background myself, and I advise companies on how to structure their communication functions and help identify people who can assume leadership roles.
We’ve been talking about the term ‘digital transformation’ for a long time. Many organizations have been re-thinking how they do business, how they interact with customers, and how they engage their own people.
The realization is now setting in that the current Covid-19 crisis is accelerating the pace of digital transformation. I regularly turn to McKinsey for insights on what’s going on in the economy and organizational change.
Here’s what they they are thinking: “The coronavirus pandemic is a humanitarian crisis that continues to take a tragic toll on people’s lives. There’s no denying it is also acting as a catalyst for change—economic, societal, personal, and corporate—on a scale not seen since wartime. The scale of the change and the speed at which it’s happening is shining a bright light on the fact that companies are facing a once-in-a-generation shift. And for all the uncertainty about what the future will look like, it’s clear already that it will be digital.”
So what are the implications of all of this us, as communicators?
During my tenure on the board of the Boston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, I had the good fortune of meeting and staying in touch with Jodi Freedman. Jodi was a communication leader at the Bose Corporation for many years and recently accepted a position in an entirely different sector (healthcare) and during an extraordinary time (the Covid-19 pandemic).
She posted the following article on LinkedIn, and her reflections deeply resonated with me — facing the challenges of learning about a new organization and sector, compounded by those unleashed by a profound crisis.
I’d like to share Jodi’s reflections with you:
In her blog, alumna Stacy Raine, CPS’17, shares her perspectives on many issues facing communicators, especially those working in the non-profit sector.
In her most recent post, she discusses communication with donors during the coronavirus pandemic and makes several excellent suggestions.
I couldn’t agree more with Stacy: “We’re all in this together, helping each other get through a very tough time. I keep hearing that we need to “be human” together, and I couldn’t agree more. Be human, focus on helping people get through this crisis through providing opportunities to connect and learn, and build engagement with your donors.”
There were two defining moments that led me to create Destination Nature, a three-episode podcast series for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The first was when I watched my friend and colleague give an update about his science to a group of Nature Conservancy supporters as we stood on an Atchafalaya riverbank in southern Louisiana. The leaves were rustling, the birds were calling – the sounds were painting such a vivid picture around us as we listened to him talk about what TNC is achieving there. I wished every supporter could hear it.
The next was when I was driving home with my young son one day, and I decided to play an episode of TED Radio Hour called Everything is Connected. It was a show about nature, and as we listened, Yellowstone National Park began to appear in front of us. We heard the sounds of wolves howling, of birds singing, of rivers running, of beavers eating, of ducks calling, of bears growling. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and what I saw was profound. My son was no longer in the car with me. He was a thousand miles away, in Yellowstone National Park.
“Innovation cuts across all sectors of life and all aspects of a company,” says Tucker Marion, chair of the entrepreneurship and innovation programs within Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim School of Business. For this reason, organizations—and even individuals who innovate effectively—have the potential to make an impact on the landscape of their industry, just by being willing to take risks and learn from their mistakes.
While Marion says individuals should feel motivated to hone their innovation skills through training, he also acknowledges that a few common qualities exist among those who have already embraced innovation in their lives and workplaces. Below we explore six common qualities that effective innovators share.
Communication is the fire that fuels the workplace engine. It is difficult to overstate just how important communication can be to a successful organization.
Case-in-point: A recent survey of 400 companies conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that, on average, each company lost $62.4 million per year due to inadequate communication.
“In an era when Artificial Intelligence and other digital technologies are changing the way organizations operate, communication skills will become even more vital to strengthening relationships and promoting collaboration and adaptability,” says Carl Zangerl, faculty director for the communication and human resource management programs within Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.