IoIC Live '16: Time to reinvent IC

Delegates left IoIC Live 2016 with a call to action ringing in their ears from Dr Leandro Herrero.


The viral change expert told them, if they wanted to ‘humanise’ business, they would have to reinvent internal comms and occupy spaces all around their organisation.

He started with a quote from Cicero, who said: ‘Non nobis solum’ or ‘Not for ourselves alone’…

“I think we lost the plot for a few centuries,” said Dr Herrero. “When we talk about humanising business, there are lots of cynical people who would say ‘Are you serious?’

“I think there’s an opportunity for making things more human, but what can you do as internal communicators?

“I have a secret plan – why don’t you occupy the space of humanity?

“I have news for you. In the same way as banking is needed, but banks aren’t, it’s the same for you – communication is needed, engagement is needed but not your function. You have to reinvent yourselves.

“I’m not saying get better or start playing with more digital toys, I’m talking about reinvention.”

He aligned his strategy with the Occupy movement, which set up camp in the City of London.

“Occupy the streets, the ones in your organisation,” he urged. “Occupy the spaces that are in need of something, often the spaces where nobody is in charge.

“It might annoy people, but you can be annoying! Let’s call it the Birmingham Protocol.”

Dr Herrero offered a six-point plan for brave internal communicators

Re-humanise the language

  • Bring character back with words like generosity, sacrifice, joy, compassion and care, instead of writing about the need to understand change.
  • Talk about employee engagement as if engaging people and enhancing life in itself is a good thing to do – not because it makes people produce more!
  • It’s no good hiding behind ‘business’. People say I’m sorry to do this but it’s business’ – that’s not good enough.

Curate informal organisation

  • People talk to each other in the men’s room or the cafeteria, and no-one is in charge of that, but it’s where stuff happens.
  • Reclaim connections by talking face-to-face in informal discussions. Remember connectivity is not communication – we’re all more and more hyper connected but we aren’t collaborating.

Master storytelling

  • Many of you will say you already do this, but too often it’s top-down, whatever people say.
  • Segmentation does not just mean talking to managers differently – how about talking to different age groups, or part-timers, or people in IT? Know the tribes in your organisation.
  • Know about heroes and anti-heroes – no-one wants to know about someone flogging themselves to death to save the company £5million, it just annoys them! They want to know localised stories about people like them, so they think ‘That could be me’.

Fight the reductionism epidemic

  • We’re told reducing and condensing is good, so we opt for simplification and bullet points. Some things can’t be simplified, occasionally if something is 20 pages, it’s 20 pages.
  • Avoid the tyranny of the one-off, the conference where everything is packed into one day – by 5pm no-one remembers anything!
  • Never produce those ’10 things you must know about…’ lists – they’re bull****.
  • Realise that no-one reads any more. If you send and email or a newsletter, the chances are no-one reads it. We even allow for that in our language, we say ‘Can you take a look?’ because secretly we know.

Close the loop with purpose

  • We talk about ‘purpose’ like it’s the new black. Why don’t we ask the question ‘What’s this firm for?’ is it just to make money? Is that a purpose?
  • It’s the same for people. What’s their purpose? Some people work at a particular job because it pays their mortgage.
  • The question employee engagement surveys should ask is ‘Why on Earth are you still here?’

Choose where in behavioural change you want to be

  • Communication is not change and cultures are not created by training and communication, you need to tap into people’s behaviour.
  • You need to know about behavioural economics and new disciplines. You must reskill because behavioural change does not come from business.
  • So, choose where you’re going to be. Communicating is not the same as triggering behaviours, which is not the same as sustaining change, which is not the same as creating a culture.

Dr Herrero finished with four steps to take:

  • Reinvent
  • Occupy
  • Act as owners
  • Ask for forgiveness afterwards

He then urged: “You have to start somewhere, so don’t delay.”

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