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Communication & Collaboration During Times of Change
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by SEAN KEATHLEY


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An introduction to institutional change and approaches to help break down organizational silos

Nothing brings out internal strife quite like change. Large-scale institutional change like branch optimization and transformation often evokes organizational challenges, shining a light on the cracks and gaps between business units that a company may not even know existed before change came knocking. Given the work we do in helping usher in institutional change, particularly in the financial services sector, we get an up-close look at the process of stakeholder communication and collaboration among key business units like marketing and facilities and how they work together (or don’t). 

Rest assured, turf wars and “political” infighting are natural outgrowths of change, especially for those employees who crave the comfort of the knowable and stable. But let’s face it, organizational change is a moving target. Things can change on a dime, and key stakeholders have to try to catch up both with each other and the decisions needing to be made. With network transformation in bank branches and retail stores, there are modifications to physical structures taking place at the same time that brand and market elements are being implemented.

Right Brain/Left Brain

When organizations want to institute system-wide change, often one of their first acts is to bring together different and distinct stakeholders who will bring their proficiency to the endeavor. While this instinct is a good one since you want to benefit from the experience and expertise of the best thought leaders within your organization, what you may not expect is that these diverse groups may have wildly divergent views on what’s important and what to do next. In network transformation efforts, these key influencers are often facilities managers and marketing/brand managers.

Adrenaline’s CXO Gina Bleedorn talks about how these influencers see the world differently. She says, “Facilities people are looking at very functional things like the paint peeling on the wall, whereas a marketing person doesn't necessarily notice facility conditions like peeling paint, but looks at the poster on the wall and notices the content in it. The facilities person doesn’t really care about the content in that poster. It’s like a right brain/left brain divide.” In short, facilities people are factual and analytical in their approach and the marketing people are more synthetical, incorporating creative elements. 

Bridging the Gap

Now, it may seem these two groups are like oil and water, but there are approaches to help get them on the same page. While there are no shortcuts to communication and collaboration, successfully bringing together these two different world-views will define the success of the transformation. Because let’s face it, there will be both paint on the wall and a brand elements like a poster, and those key stakeholders have to validate each other’s spheres of influence. In our experience, the first step toward coordinating better collaboration is understanding that these two groups speak in different languages. 

In other arenas where people are literally speaking different languages, organizations bring in intermediaries who are well-versed in both languages. Beyond translators, these emissaries are fluent in both language and cultural elements that inform and influence the communication between two groups. This same type of approach also works when people are figuratively speaking different languages like we’ve described with facilities and marketing people. This type of intermediary promotes organizational harmony by providing platforms for productive conversations, critical thinking and decision-making. 

Given that dialogue is key to better decision-making, it would seem obvious that all organizations would kick-off their change initiatives with strategic planning that involves an intermediary to facilitate internal collaboration. However, since most organizations have never gone through such a large-scale institutional challenge before, developing a structure for cooperation is not something organizations are necessarily well-versed in. In our next article on change communications and collaboration, we will discuss the strategic planning necessary to develop a comprehensive framework for change.
 
To speak with one of our experts about transformation within your organization, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com.

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Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.


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