How you link your project to the corporate strategy

Anybody who works on projects or would like to get a project approved is challenged when it comes to show how the project creates value to the company and fits into its vision and strategy. Of course, it can be done by writing several pages in a report. But if you need to show it to your decision-makers in the company that is not going to work.

Recently, when I was working on my latest project, a global implementation of a new Intranet in Arla Foods, I had the same challenge.

Here is what I came up with – it´s a classic strategic house that many decision-makers can relate to.

You start on the top, on the rooftop – this is the Company vision. Here you type in the vision of your company.

The first brick below the Company vision is the company strategy. Just write the main focus areas in your business strategy. Try to translate thebusiness strategy into short headlines.

After the company strategy, you have to show the derived business needs that link to your project. To succeed with this you might also have to study some of the more local strategies (HR, IT, Communication strategies, Company Culture, Core Values etc.).For instance, if you work in a global company and a part of your strategy is to grow outside the EU, then a derived business need could be a “global mind-set”.

Your project is simply the name of your project.

Every project should have a purpose – or several purposes that link to the derived business needs. Here you show what the main purpose(s) are. It doesn´t matter if you have 1, 3 or more. However, I would stick to max 3 as each additional purpose adds to the complexity of the overview. Surprisingly, we have exactly three purposes in my project – “One Arla Feeling”, “Collaborative Workplace” and “Working Smarter”.

The key improvement area is where you show the link between the purpose and the improvements you deliver. For instance, we had areas such as “New front page”, “Global Access”, “New Service Portals” and “New News module” under the “One Arla Feeling”purpose.

Naturally, the key improvement areas should also give your business some business benefits. You put them in the main business benefits area. Here you can choose just to show a few or split them up as I did in one main buiness benefit and some additional benefits. You can use numbers or text arguments – it depends on what makes sense in the situation. I used text arguments like “Improve efficiency”, “Increase knowledge sharing” etc. But you could also just use the numbers from your business case.

Next question you have to answer is how you measure your success. Here you set up some general KPIs and KPIs per track. Again, this could either be plain text or numbers. Whatever makes sense.

Finally, we have to look at the foundation of the project – the critical success factors. I´ve got three (again…) in my project – Project cost, Business Readiness and Governance.

When you go through this model with your decision-makers/executives make sure, that you use animations in Power Point to walk it through step by step, otherwise it can become too overwhelming.

You can also use it as a kind of report by using colours to indicate your achievements.

I hope you find this little tool helpful. If you have any ideas on how to improve it then please share your thoughts!

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How to make your (internal) messages stick

According to a recent study, the first thing most of us think of when we wake up in the morning, is our smartphone. I thought it would be coffee, but that´s not the case anymore.

The price for having a smartphone and an endless amount of apps at hand is distraction. If something bores us, we grab our phone and entertain ourselves. As a consequence, our attention span has dropped from twelve to eight seconds, Microsoft argues in a recent study.

Luckily, the evolution of digital has also given us who work with internal communication many new options to create engaging communication.

But in general, we are by far not good enough to exploit them.

According to a great infographic from Mbooth and the analytics company Simply Measured, pictures and videos are by far the most efficient way to communicate on social media.

  1.  On Facebook, Photos are liked 2X more than text updates and videos are shared 12X more than links and text posts combined.
  2. 42% of all Tumblr posts are photos.
  3. Photo and video posts on Pinterest are referring more traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Google+.
    (you can read more and see the infographic here)

Today, up to 60% use online media as their primary news source and up to 20% use social media as their primary news source. And in five year’s time 25% of the workforce consist of digital natives who haven’t even experienced a world without the Internet.

The consequence of this development is that employees expect information to be short, relevant and easy accessible.

Infotain your employees

Today, internal communication competes with channels like Facebook, Instagram and Buzzfeed for attention. They deliver on important parameters like relevance, entertainment and access.

If the internal comms department would like to get their messages through, corporate news and information must be shorter, more visual and entertaining – and accessible.

My own experience is, that we are still too focused on writing long articles, even if we are using digital channels. Many of the long articles we write can easily be converted into great visual communication such as infographics, videos or just photos with a little piece of text.

In Arla we created a few short video and visual formats that could both inform and entertain our colleagues. Last year, internal communication did a great infographic about the milk intake in Arla. Instead of just communicating the amount in billion kilos which can be difficult to imagine, they created the infographic below. It was a huge success. People loved it, they shared it on social media, printed it out and took it home to show family and friends. And when I visited a transport hub in the UK a couple of weeks later, this was the news they remembered. The Infographic was also published in a press release (read more here).

Studies show, that we process pictures 60,000 times faster than text. In other words the extra effort pays out – the message is more likely to stick.

Videos also work well. Recently, when I was on a plane it occured to me how boring the flight safety videos are and I wondered if anyone pays attention to them. Look around in the plane next time you are travelling somewhere…guess what – no one watches them anymore. Some airlines did something about it. Take a look at the two videos below – which video will most likely catch your attention on a plane? I guess I know which one…

Information:

Infotainment

I am not saying you should hire Peter Jackson to instruct your next corporate movie. But use some of the same techniques – something that makes people wonder, and makes them want to stick to the end of your movie (which of course should not exceed two minutes – if you expect employees to watch longer movies, I think it might be a good idea to hire Peter Jackson…).

HOW TO STOP BEING BORING

A simple rule of thumb for your communication is that people don´t read anymore – they look at pictures. But the great thing about visual communication is that you can start today. Here a four examples on where you can easily use more visuals:

1. Business processes or something that is difficult to explain in plain text  – Consider a short movie or an infographic.When I worked in danish rail we often experience situations where we had to explain something that is complex to explain. In these situations, an infographic was a great help to employees and journalists to understand the issue. For instance, it was difficult to explain why snow can cause delays. Banedanmark, our infrastructure operator did a great job together with www.grafikgert.dk in creating this simple infographic.

2. Numbers – Use visuals that can be understood in seconds. Get inspiration from infographics on how you can communicate them in a more untraditional manner than showing diagrams. You may assume that employees have seen diagrams before – and that they don´t find them as interesting as the finance department. Some companies have great products that they can use to visualize numbers and percentages. In Arla, we have milk cartons, Carlsberg can use bottles, a train company can use trains and so forth.

3. KPIs –  Use smileys or colours to give the receiver a quick overview. This one sounds like a no brainer – but I have seen KPIs communicated to employees by using extensive spredsheets and where you really had to focus to find out if the result is good or bad.

4. Strategy – Very often a new strategy is communicated with some statements and numbers. Often, they confuse as the employees do not understand what the core message is – what do we have to do different? When I worked in DSB S-train we had the same challenge. But  the core message was that we needed to get a closer understanding of our customers needs. Therefore, we created this little visual piece that uses the S-train time table to make our point.

It may take an extra effort to do visual communication – but you can be certain that the extra effort pays out. Studies show that only 10 out of 100 people remember the message delivered in plain text or audio efter three days. If the text comes in combination with a relevant picture, 65 out of 100 remember the message after three days (read more here and a great blog post about infograhics here). Last but not least – it´s fun and challenging! Enjoy.