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Today’s article typically resonated with me. It’s titled: “Combining Brand Management with Workforce Enablement”.
It’s about the speech by Jon Iwata, SVP of communications and marketing at IBM on the future of the communications profession at the November 4th 2009 Institute for Public Relations Distinguished Lecture Series at the Yale Club in New York City. Full text of the speech is here.
"One day soon, every employee, every retiree, every customer, every business partner, every investor and every neighbor associated with every company will be able to share an opinion about that company with everyone in the world, based on firsthand experience. The only way we can be comfortable in that world is if every employee of the company is truly grounded in what their company values and stands for."
IBM has developed an IBM Brand “System”:
Picture a framework with five columns. From left to right the columns are labeled what it means to look like IBM, to sound like IBM, to think like IBM, to perform like IBM and ultimately to be IBM. Simple enough. You could in 30 seconds create the same frame for J&J, Chevron or Ketchum. But of course it would — and should — take you much longer to fill in the details. Every word, every phrase and description in that framework would be painstakingly chosen. Because this is your corporate genome. It describes what makes your company unique. Developing the framework is hard work, but it’s only the foundation. Because, like a genome, the real work — and value — are in bringing it to life.
For example, we are now collaborating with our colleagues in HR to redesign IBM’s leadership competencies for the first time in many years. If this is ultimately approved by the CEO – and we’ll know in a few weeks – it will mark the first time in my 25-year career that the foundational elements of HR will not only be aligned with our brand and workforce strategies, they will be essentially the same.
I would like to see some examples on how this works in an environment where efficiency programs are run in parallel with innovation programs and (re)branding programs. What is the ideal role of HR in all of this ? Will HR be degraded to a “management” machine to deal with lay-offs only ?
I’d love to see more HR in a true leadership role. Leadership as opposite to management in its narrow definition of executing a course set out by somebody else. See also below the very important message about the role for HR in creating the eminence of our workforce.
About this, Iwata says:
But the building of constituency goes beyond the reaching of audiences. It gets to how a company establishes shared attraction and shared values: how it shapes not just common ground, but a deeper, enduring, shared idea.
They weren’t simply sending messages to audiences. They were creating audiences.
They weren’t shaping relationships with existing constituents. They were creating constituencies.
This is the basis of our Smarter Planet strategy. We are specifically and deliberately working to validate and stoke the optimism of forward-thinkers. We are saying to them – because we really believe it ourselves: “Your hopes for your industry, your city, your environment, your community are now within your grasp. This isn’t a metaphor. We can actually build a smarter planet.”
Our work of late tries to get at the real substance of change, the real issues on the table. The work is long-form. It’s argued, not pitched. It doesn’t focus on our products and services.
It purposefully invites people to
And lastly about Building the eminence of our workforce.
I believe that 2010 will be the year that corporations grapple with and ultimately accept that their employees are engaging with – and must engage with – social media. We’ll certainly go through a necessary period when people raise all sorts of objections.
The CFO worries about financial disclosure. The General Counsel fears intellectual property leakage. HR will say we’re helping competitors recruit our people. And everyone will be nervous about criticism of management. These are all legitimate.
So the answer to all this may be another set of policies and guidelines for using social media. My employer has indeed such a set of policies. They are difficult to find, but they exist. But are another set of policies and guidelines a solution. Will the fact that each employee has to sign-off the blogging policy or any other code of conduct really change our actual behavior ?
I doubt it.
Let’s say we actually do that. Then what? Policies and guidelines may keep individuals and their companies out of trouble but, by themselves, they won’t create business value.
The key is to build the eminence of our workforce.
What do I mean by “eminence”? No matter what their industry, their profession, their discipline or their job, people with eminence are acknowledged by others as expert. It’s not simply to know a lot about Tuscan villas, digital cameras or banking. You need to be recognized as an expert. And when you show up – in person, or online; in writing, or in conversation – you are both knowledgeable and persuasive. Because being an expert and being good at communications aren’t the same thing, as we all know.
Which is why
we need to make the creation
of this kind of workforce
an intentional act,
a new discipline in our function
Yes, we need guidelines and policy – but also training, resources and support for broad networks of experts.
Related to this, i found just a couple of days ago a great post from Hugh McLeod’s site titled: If your boss tells you, “our brand must speak with one voice”, quit.
I once had a boss who didn’t like the fact that I had a blog. Especially when I blogged about stuff that was relative to our industry. Yeah, “Our brand must speak with one voice” was his idea. Yes. I know.
Actually, the reality was, HE wanted to be “The One Voice”. He wanted all the credit, and all the rewards. He didn’t mind me put ting words into his mouth– stuff I had written– so long as the outside world gave him all the credit. But he didn’t want me in any other role, other than subservient, nowheresville wage slave. He fought tooth and nail to keep me from ever becoming a rainmaker inside the company, something he wanted all for himself.
And back to the end of the speech by Iwata:
To me, this is what “values” are about… and what “authenticity” means. This is about consciously choosing a unique identity. And it’s about actually being that unique thing you have chosen to be.
In other words:
Leading by Being