Several times over the past six months, I’ve been sitting with KCS program managers who are discouraged and frustrated… really frustrated. They feel like they’ve been doing everything they can reasonably do to communicate, and people still aren’t getting it. Managers act surprised when they see project plans that were emailed to them weeks ago, and key stakeholders complain that they don’t know what’s going on, even though they were briefed three times in the last six months.
Honestly, sometimes I feel the same way. I lead workshops and I’m often excited by how enthusiastic and well-informed a participant is after a few days working on KCS…and then I see them in a meeting four months later talking about the importance of review queues and I think to myself, “what did I do wrong?”
The program manager and I didn’t do anything wrong. But we didn’t do enough, either. It’s not enough to communicate—we have to overcommunicate. Otherwise, the message just won’t get through.
Let me quickly add, this isn’t because people are dumb, or lazy, or not paying attention. Essentially everyone I’ve ever worked with on a KCS initiative is a good person with good intentions. It’s just that there’s so much to do. There’s so much to remember, and so many PowerPoints in our emails. Our minds slide into familiar, well-trodden paths—of course knowledge publication requires a technical review! And the point of communication, which is to change beliefs and behavior, just doesn’t happen.
So, what to do? How do we avoid all this frustration? Let me suggest that unreasonable overcommunication is the only rational strategy.
- Expect to have to say things again and again. Understand that communication is an ongoing process, not an event. If you expect it, it won’t be so discouraging.
- Share your experiences with other colleagues doing KCS or other major change management initiatives. We’re all living the challenge of communication, and it’s great to share best practices—or even just commiserate. The Consortium for Service Innovation and Technology Services World are great venues for group therapy.
- Use your communication plan. If you have messaging activities scheduled every week, it’s just part of the job.
- Check your calendar. Do you have lots of 1:1 and small group meetings with stakeholders? If so, good for you. If not, it’s time to send some invitations.
- Don’t assume anyone really gets what you’re saying, deep in their gut, until you hear them say it to someone else with passion and precision.
Here’s the test I use. If I sit down with someone and they threaten to rip the slide deck out of my hand and present it to me unless I leave them alone, then I’ll know I’ve done my bit for unreasonable overcommunication.
Until then…are you available sometime Thursday for a quick meeting about KCS?