Just published the second edition of an "execs unplugged," Reality TV sort of internal communication. It is both human, and connected to the business. It introduces leaders as people, discussing what is on their minds and answering questions tossed out on subjects such as strategy, new products, culture, leadership philosophy, and neat things on the bookshelves and walls in their offices.
Some highlights for me of benefits, in a BEFORE and AFTER perspective, on how employees would get certain information.
- Read emails and docs which do not convey passion, and which rarely reflect "personal" sentiments or inflection
- Sit through hour-long Webcasts, Videos, and Powerpoints ... and be on the watch for the relevant parts
- Read content designed primarily for external audiences, such as Analysts, Journalists or Customers
- Only the elite few get 1x1, relaxed or "casual" time with the top leaders of the company; few employees see the the execs as just people.
- Generally takes "handler(s)" to write/edit and help get the documents, powerpoints, etc., "just right."
- Takes time and cycles of many.
- Watch content which conveys passion and emotion, and includes the human element of the leader behind the words.
- The content comes right from the source. No handlers altering words.
- Content comes in bite sized pieces -- an average of 4 minutes -- clearly tagged, categorized, and searchable.
- Content delivered with the employee audience in mind -- more candid and applicable.
- Every employee now gets personal-feeling time and perspective from the top leaders of the company.
- More, and better chances of people connecting with the content, the people and the strategy of the company.
- Quick. Streamlined.
[PHOTO: The "document" containing a description of the video, the video -- which automatically runs when you open the document, and tags for future search. Below this screen shot, people can rate and comment on the video. The video resides behind the firewall at EMC (not on YouTube).]
Screen shots from one of the videos, where Brian Gallagher, our SVP of Symmetrix Platform Engineering, shows us around his office, his lab, and "The Walls of EMC Patents."
When deployed on an internal social network, people can rate the material and let you know through eyeballs and comments which content hits the mark, and which doesn't. Readership stats are viewable by all in real-time. Think back to the hard-copy newsletter (which has many benefits, granted.) Who knew what articles were read and which hit the mark? Who knew what the total readership was ... for real?
This video/TV experience doesn't replace the other business communication norms -- it adds options. People learn and work in different ways. For some, reading documents is the way they best get information. For others, audio/visual is optimal.
So, how did EMC's employees respond to this newer form of communication on company "people, business, and culture?" In less than one business day, the 8 video clips provided had over 2,000 collective views and employees gave the compilation 4.5 stars out of a maximum rating of 5.
What did it take to produce them?
Essentially: Some guts to ask the execs to do it. A flip camera, mini tripod, about 10 - 20 minutes of my time for each interview, about 10-20 minutes of the exec's time for his/her interview, some editing time to cut the content down to the most compelling 2-5 minute takes (thank you Brandi Hamlin!), some upload time to the collaboration network (thank you Thom Lytle!) to get it into a fancy looking table with faces and hyper links to all the individual documents, an old fashioned email to the employees, together with a banner on our employee intranet (thank you Toni DeVanna and Emilie Greene!), letting everyone know about the new content.
--------------- Talk Back ------------------
What do you think about the model?
Are any other companies doing this? I'd love to learn from them how to do it better.
Well, I still need to get these accessible via employee mobile devices (that's coming soon), audio quality varies if you're listening in certain environments (older PCs I think), it could use a little more program management than we've been giving it -- to ensure it gets on execs schedules, that we don't inundate the lucky video editor with 8 videos to edit within a 1-2 day window (on top of her "real" day job), and so we can start producing these on predictable dates (like the first Tuesday of every month.) It could also probably use some filming technique tips for me -- like should the interviewer always be off camera, or be included like they do on 60 Minutes? ... and likely more.
Like social media, it also sounds more free and easy than that ultimately is. The work involved, while less, is still a bit of work. In social media, you have community managers that come with certain skill sets you may or may not have had clearly identified in pre-2.0 jobs and job descriptions. When launching this type of "real-and-raw-video-oriented-communication," it too takes some different behaviors, and a chunk of time that you did not have previously allocated.
But it is fun! And the feedback from the people, telling you to keep doing it and how it saved them time, helped them motivate others, and made them feel more connected and "plugged in" to what is going on tells me the pivot is worth it.
What do you think could make this model better?
-- Polly Pearson