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Assessing your communication options
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pixel.gif (807 bytes) Where does that leave us?
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THERE IS NO DOUBT that we could achieve better results and save a considerable amount of time and money if we always used the right method to meet our particular communication objectives. Whether the analysis presented here helps us make the right decisions is for you to decide. Depending on your own experience and view of the world, you may consider it over-simplified or an incidence of ‘analysis paralysis’. If you can improve upon it, I would welcome your suggestions.

Whatever the case, there is a danger of making methods our starting point – ‘we have a satellite TV network, what can we do with it?’ Clearly that is a case of a solution looking for a problem. As always, we should start with the goal, the purpose of the communication, and ask ourselves what method or combination of methods is most likely to achieve this goal? Let’s take some examples:

  • The training department of a major airline had the problem of how to communicate details of their 1000+ courses to their workforce. These details were constantly changing along with user demands and paper methods just couldn’t keep up. They employed an intranet, which allows them to reach all their employees wherever they are in the world and provide them with the latest information.
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  • There’s a danger of seeing technology as a panacea. Having analysed its business requirements carefully, one of the UK’s largest financial institutions decided that traditional classroom techniques were the best solution to develop telephone skills in their call centre operators. However, a CD-ROM was employed alongside to provide a flexible means for instilling basic knowledge and understanding, which trainees could use at their own pace and at any suitable time in the training programme.
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  • With a typically complex major communications exercise, a mix of methods will usually be required. A major retailer utilised a wide array of techniques as part of its change management programme for introducing its intranet: a number of demonstration machines were made available in the staff restaurant; a special edition of the staff newsletter was produced; a briefing document was issued to managers; a video was produced to put across the vision for the intranet and to set the tone; all employees had the chance to attend a demonstration and Q&A session; a programme to train new users how to use the intranet was included on the intranet itself.

To help in analysing these situations and choosing the most appropriate options, I have developed a decision-making tool in the form of both an Excel spreadsheet and a series of web pages that can be installed on an intranet. I will be happy to make these available to any readers who are interested in trying them out. Happy communicating!

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1998. All rights reserved.                                 Last revised 2/11/98.