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Engaging Leader™

051: The Impact Equation | with Julien Smith

The Impact EquationYou and your team likely have ideas from time to time that you think would make a difference in the world. But how do you get your important ideas to spread, to engage a larger audience to see them, act on them, and even join a community around that experience? Perhaps more challenging, how do you create a trustworthy, human brand, when the world seems be relying on digital channels like social media that actually reduce our physical closeness to others?

To help us answer these questions, our guest is Julien Smith. Julien is the CEO of Breather, an on-demand space company. He’s also the New York Times bestselling author of three books, including his latest, The Impact Equation, which was co-authored with Chris Brogan. Julien has been an author, a CEO, a professional voice actor, a radio broadcaster, and a consultant and speaker at some of the largest corporations in the world, including Microsoft, American Express, and Heineken.

Julian and Jesse discuss the components of the “impact equation”

Impact = C × (R + E + A + T + E)
Contrast Reach Exposure Articulation Trust Echo

To help listeners understand this equation, they break down each component and how it informed the launch of Julien’s exciting new company, Breather – a mobile app that allows you to find, reserve, and unlock private rooms with couch, a desk, fast wifi, and plenty of outlets.

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Engaging Leader™

039: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations | with Michael Slind

Michael_Slind

Not so long ago, power within organizations emanated from the commands of top executives. But as we’ve discussed in several episodes of Engaging Leader, more leaders today recognize that driving their team in a traditional command-and-control manner doesn’t work anymore. So does that also mean that old models of top-down corporate communication don’t work either? How can leaders today communicate things like goals and vision and values … which are still needed to keep an organization aligned?

To help us address those questions, our guest is Michael Slind. Mike is senior editor of Stanford Social Innovation Review. He is co-author of the book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations from Harvard Business Review Press. Mike’s previous experience ranges from research at Harvard Business School to editorial work at Fast Company magazine, as well as work with Tom Peters and other business thought leaders.

Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their OrganizationsMike discusses four elements to organizational conversation:

  • Intimacy: leadership
  • Interactive: channels
  • Inclusion: content creation and control
  • Intentionality: strategy

Examples discussed on the show:

  • AthenaHealth
  • Cisco Systems
  • EMC Corporation
  • Duke Energy

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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If you like our show, please rate us on iTunes. That makes a huge difference in helping more people discover it. We love to know your thoughts about this episode. Please submit your comments below! You can also email comments to Jesse at [email protected], subscribe to him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

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Blog

How Gamification Changes the Engagement Game

Recently I was asked how gamification fits with other engagement strategies, or whether it replaces them altogether. The answer reveals a major reason why gamification is a game changer.

I define gamification as game-inspired tactics to engage people. Traditionally, corporate communication experts have viewed the process of engaging a target audience as a progression from awareness through action.

Traditional Engagement Levels | EngagingLeader.com

For example, if an employer launches a wellness program with the objective of educating and motivating their employees to eat healthier and get more exercise, the traditional approach is to…

  • Start with awareness tactics to catch the attention of employees and frame the conversation with the proper context. For example, these tactics might start with a brand identity for the program (to help employees view it is an important endeavor, with high-quality resources provided as a win-win for employees and the company), along with an announcement memo to employees, a postcard to their homes (to help engage their spouses), and posters and other signage.

Over time, other tactics may be added to develop the engagement level of employees so they…

  • Understand what healthy eating and exercise is and why it’s important,
  • Agree the changes are necessary and become committed to changing their behavior, and finally,
  • Take action by making healthier food and exercise choices.

Traditional Engagement Levels and Communication Tactics | EngagingLeader.com

(This diagram is simplified for the purpose of illustration. For example, in actual practice, various tactics such as social media are used at multiple levels. An actual communication plan should be custom-developed based on the organization’s goals and circumstances.)

A Needed Breakthrough

Some engagement efforts are particularly challenging because success only occurs when the audience’s action becomes a permanent habit. With wellness programs, for example, despite ongoing reinforcement communication and coaching, the long-term participation rate at most companies is low and health-risk factors such as obesity remain high.

Well-designed gamification offers the potential to break through that challenge not only as an additional tactic to encourage progression through the engagement levels, but by completely changing the engagement levels themselves. I realized this when Wharton professor Kevin Werbach pointed out what happens when a person plays a video game like Plants vs. Zombies for the first time.

Gamified Engagement Levels | EngagingLeader.com

The player’s experience demonstrates the change-up from the four traditional engagement levels to the five gamified engagement levels:

  • Notice there is still an awareness phase (when the player first notices the game), but then …
  • She moves right into action. The first level of the game is ridiculously easy, so the player learns how the game works as she plays.
  • There’s no manual or written instructions; the player simply learns by doing, and after she gains an understanding of the basics, the game becomes more challenging.
  • The game continues to become harder and more interesting, and she is motivated to come back to the game on a regular basis, until it becomes a habit. At this point there is an emotional connection similar to the commitment level in the traditional process, but from a behavior-change perspective, she has already advanced far beyond mere commitment.
  • Finally, she levels up to mastery; not only does she continue to play regularly, but she plays so well and knows so much that other players bow down before her awesomeness. If this were a gamified wellness program, she would not only have adopted a healthier lifestyle, she would be evangelizing fellow employees and coaching them to reach the higher levels.

Does Gamification Replace Other Engagement Strategies?

That depends on the scope of the program. For a relatively small scope, such as getting employees to complete their expense reports on a timely basis, early data shared by software providers such as Badgeville shows that gamification alone seems to make a significant difference. For a larger scope such as wellness, additional tactics probably increase the percentage of employees who progress to each higher level. And if the scope is quite complex, such as a business transformation or any change that affects the employer-employee relationship, it’s crucial to have a broader strategy that makes a clear, human connection between employees and their leaders about why the change is necessary, where the team is headed, and so on.
Still, gamification can be useful at every engagement level. For example, if a game is really fun to play, awareness will spread by word of mouth especially if integrated with social media such as Facebook or Yammer. For that reason, rather than tacking gamification on to one of the levels as an additional tactic (in the chart below), it is represented by a big, green G as a tactic to consider at every level.

Gamified Engagement Levels and Communication Tactics | EngagingLeader.com

 Jesse Lahey, SPHR, is the host of the Engaging Leader podcast, host of the Game Changer podcast series, and managing principal of Aspendale Communications. Connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

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Blog

The 5M Framework for Communication Strategy

Man with megaphone.
“We need a strategy to communicate this,” Bill told me. “We should probably send out a letter to all employees, or maybe a brochure.”

Bill was handling his communication situation the way many business leaders do … skipping critical planning steps that put the real “strategy” into a communication strategy.

The natural tendency for many leaders when facing a communication issue is to jump right into tactics. Unfortunately, by not being strategic, leaders can miss opportunities to more effectively engage employees or others – or worse, produce unintended negative consequences. As in other areas of business, strategic planning for communication starts with defining the desired outcome and then planning the engagements that will bring about that outcome.

There are five basic components of a solid communication strategy. We call it the “5M” Framework, because the messages need to stick even better than 3M Post-it® Notes or 3M Scotch® tape.

  1. Mission/Measurement: Why do we need to communicate? What business outcome(s) does this strategy need to achieve? How will we know if we are successful?
  2. Members: The point of any communication is people … to lead (influence) them, be influenced by them, or nurture a relationship with them. With whom will we communicate? Have we thought about all the stakeholders – everyone who is impacted by this issue or has a “stake” in it? What do we know about them, and what are the gaps in our understanding about them that we will need to fill in?
  3. Messages: What are the key messages we need each stakeholder to hear or read? What are the critical few things we want them to know, believe, or do? Sending too many messages can overwhelm or confuse people, or at best cause them to ignore or forget our core points.
  4. Media: What communication channels or tactics will best connect with each stakeholder? What is the best timing for each tactic? Do we need redundant channels (for example, both Facebook and Twitter, or both email and face-to-face) to ensure everyone hears the messages at least once … or for greater impact, three times? Who will be a credible spokesperson for the messages?
  5. Manager/Champion support: Yes, managers or other key influencers should be identified as stakeholders in the “Members” step above. But over the years, I have learned that involving these highly influential people is so critical to success that it needs a stand-alone planning step. The best leaders go beyond simply providing managers with information to cascade along to employees. They engage with managers early, encourage their input, and help managers to take ownership of the communication and to translate the meaning to their team, in their own words.

In Bill’s case, it turned out that sending a letter or brochure to all employees was not the best plan, at least not at first. Instead, we held a series of meetings with key stakeholders to gather input and support, we created Q&As for two types of stakeholders and a leave-behind brochure to support pilot-testing the program, and we waited for several months of program feedback and improvements before planning a broad mailing and reinforcing communications.

To better ensure that you end up with the outcome you really want, be sure to think through each of 5M components of a basic communication strategy.

Resources

Podcast episode 003: 5 Steps to Creating a Communication Plan

Podcast episode 007: 5 Principles for Communicating Strategically (interview with Fred Garcia, author of The Power of Communication)

Video: Plan Effective Leadership Communication with the Target Outcome Scope

Video: How to Use the 1-3-3 Message Map to Make an Impact

Video: .

” href=”https://www.engagingleader.com/how-to-use-a-stakeholder-analysis-to-identify-audience-members-video/”>How to Use a Stakeholder Analysis to Identify Audience Members

Video: .

” href=”https://www.engagingleader.com/how-to-use-an-empathy-map-to-understand-your-audience-video/”>How to Use an Empathy Map to Understand Your Audience

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Engaging Leader™

007: 5 Principles for Communicating Strategically | with Helio Fred Garcia

Book Cover: The Power of Communication - by Helio Fred Garcia
©2012 Helio Fred Garcia

In this episode, Jesse is joined by Helio Fred Garcia, author of three books on communication. His most recent book, The Power of Communication: Skills to Build, Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, published in spring 2012.

For more than 30 years Fred has been a coach, counselor, teacher, writer, and speaker whose clients include some of the largest and best-known companies and organizations in the world. Fred is president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership. He has been on the New York University faculty since 1988, where he teaches in both the MBA program and the Master’s in Corporate Communication program. In this interview, Jesse and Fred discuss five of the nine fundamental leadership communication principles that are explained in the book:

  • See communication as the continuation of business by other means.
  • To move people, meet them where they are.
  • Plan ahead and align tactics with strategy.
  • Invest in continuous improvement in communication skills.
  • Harness the power of language and of framing.

In addition, Fred answers several questions concerning the importance of communication in leadership, including:

  • If communication is an indispensable leadership discipline, why does it seem that so few leaders invest time in building their communication competencies?
  • What are the risks for a leader of not being a master at communication?
  • What is the difference between framing and spin-doctoring?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively by Helio Fred Garcia

The Logos/Ethos/Pathos principle:

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Engaging Leader™

003: 5 Steps to Creating a Communication Plan

5 Steps to Creating a Communication Plan
©iStockphoto.com/kupicoo

The natural tendency for many leaders when facing a communication issue is to skip critical planning steps and jump right into tactics. Unfortunately, by not being strategic, leaders can miss opportunities to more effectively engage employees or others – or worse, actually produce unintended negative consequences.

In this episode, Jesse shares a five-step process for creating an effective communication strategy:

  1. Mission/Measurement (outcomes)
  2. Members (audience/stakeholder)
  3. Messages
  4. Media
  5. Manager/Champion support

 

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Subscription Links

RSSiTunesStitcher

Your Feedback

If you like our show, please rate us on iTunes. That makes a huge difference in helping more people discover it. We love to know your thoughts about this episode. Please submit your comments below! You can also email comments to Jesse at [email protected], subscribe to him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

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Video

Do You Know Your Target Audience? How to Do Stakeholder Analysis [video]

An effective communication strategy includes all 5M components: Mission/Measurement, Members, Messages, Media, and Manager/Champion Support. (We will be providing an overview of all 5M components in episode 003 of the Engaging Leader Podcast yet this week.)

Stakeholder Analysis is very helpful with the second “M.” It is a simple exercise that you can complete as an individual or group to identify which audience members have a stake in your communication/leadership issue. If you don’t identify all the stakeholders, you could miss important groups of people who could impact (positively or negatively) whether you achieve your objectives.

Once you identify the stakeholders, you may want to choose some of the key stakeholders to perform another simple exercise, the .

” href=”https://www.engagingleader.com/how-to-use-an-empathy-map-to-understand-your-audience-video/”>Empathy Map.

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Video

Do You Understand Your Target Audience? How to Use an Empathy Map [video]

One of the great leadership teachers of our time passed away on July 16, 2012. Dr. Stephen Covey was the author of several books, most notably the highly influential book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He wrote it way back in 1989, and yet it is still front and center in many bookstores today. In 2011, Time magazine named it one of the 25 Most Influential Business Management books of all time.

From Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #5 is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Here is how I apply this to leadership communication: Get to know your audience … the various types of stakeholders you are hoping to influence. Spend time listening to their perspective, or at the very least, mentally imagining yourself in their place.

A great first step to understanding your audience is the Empathy Map, which is a fun exercise that takes only 15-20 minutes. In this video, I show an example of how to use the Empathy Map.

Other resources you may want to check out are:

For the transcript of this video: How to Use an Empathy Map (video transcript)