Creating impact through communicative action
This is what my client, a marketing executive, said at the end of the first workshop I facilitated in my new role as an entrepreneur. In 2019, after more than 20 years in large and small companies, where I was a long-time head of communications myself, I decided to turn over a new leaf to help leaders in other organizations overcome their business challenges. This was just before the pandemic. We were talking about the VUCA world, but real crises weren’t as evident yet. Inside, it was an emotional time, having left a job I liked and foregone a monthly paycheck. At the same time, I was full of entrepreneurial spirit to start something new. So I was encouraged by that feedback: It was the right move for me.
I had always wanted to be able to innovate and be creative in helping others solve real business problems through means of communication.
I hoped to prove that we can make a difference in business and society by communicating better and more effectively with each other.
Why focus on dialog and collaboration, you may ask? Having worked in communications most of my life and having led countless corporate change projects, I’ve seen time and again that change only becomes concrete when the point of communication is reached. During my PhD in the UK, I explored the perspective that communication is not primarily something that happens within organizations or between organizational members. Instead, communication is the process by which organizations come into being – arguing that change and impact are not a foregone conclusion, but are reflexively constituted by the act of dialog itself.
In today’s VUCA world, it is this view of business change that simply works, inspiring rather than frustrating participants
Rethinking communication leads to better management of challenges.
The new approach to communication is gaining momentum. I now get to work with a range of executives and teams, in a broad range of industries from manufacturing to healthcare and from banking to social enterprises. Large and small companies in Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Southern Germany and Austria.
In the process, I observe that managers repeatedly approach me with similar challenges:
- Leaders taking on new teams and striving for a new, shared direction.
- Teams moving beyond agile ways of working to reduce overload and to create flow.
- Companies that want to become more impactful with their strategy or take a step towards becoming a learning organization.
I believe the following principles, which also guide my actions, are helpful in solving these challenges:
- Being aware of the meaning and purpose of every entrepreneurial action enables clear decisions.
- Generative communication leads to healthy and vibrant organizations.
- Energy for change is sustained when the leader or leadership team changes their mindset, too.
- To understand complex systems, we need to take time for sensemaking, looking at problems from multiple perspectives.
- Culture is measurable and the ultimate proof of success in the VUCA world.