I’ve had the privilege of directing external and internal communications “in the trenches” during a number of major industry revolutions over the last several decades.
From a communicator’s standpoint, what do they all have in common? The need to win over the hearts and minds of those people whose daily work is most impacted by the change, as well as those leaders who must invest their money and resources in the transformation.
Here’s some of my journey.
Quality matters: getting it right every time
Believe it or not, there was a time when the unwritten rule in manufacturing was “just get it made, and if it doesn’t work right, we’ll fix it later.” Budgets were based on this. Neither management or skilled labor cared much about quality; the focus was quantity. Their working relationship was adversarial.
Then, after Japanese carmakers carved away American-brand market share with reliable, high-value products, Detroit’s Big 3 leadership got serious and hunkered down with the UAW union, forming on-the-production-floor quality circles driven by input from the teams. Ford’s “Quality is Job One” mantra was a fresh idea, mission and marketing niche. They meant it, and it worked.
My work: As I sung praises for advanced data-gathering tools and statistical quality control for my clients, I articulated the transformation of both the people and the technologies, and enjoyed watching the turnaround.
The take-away: the power of integrity and commitment, supported by advanced technology.
At right: Artwork from our marketing communications; aircraft manufacturing quality control
The world is flat
Globalization was flattening the business world, and we witnessed customer call centers, IT work and other services move offshore. I helped to articulate and market the more sensible “best shore” approach that leverages a productive and cost-effective combination of resources.
My work: communication during overhauls in the IT and law industries.
The takeaway: the financial value of a satisfied, life-long customer should be the key focus.
Doctors don’t want to be clicking on a keyboard when they’re with a patient
Technology was my entry point to the healthcare industry, and I was amazed that so many clinicians weren’t using computers to document patient care so that digital records could be easily shared.
Momentum only came after competitive pressures, plus federal government incentives and threats. Then the race was on.
My work: for three years, I directed the communication team for the largest implementation of a single comprehensive Electronic Health Record system to date (in 27 hospitals, 400 clinics).
The take-away: be sure to uncover the resistance to high-impact changes, and focus on getting the voice of the peer champions out there to address it.
Recent journeys have included care delivery transformation and integration of partner organizations. Change is the only constant; my career has celebrated this fact. New adventures to come.