Sweeney Communications

Communicating for Change

By Roger D’Aprix
Jossey-Bass Publishers
ISBN 0 7879 0199 7

Change is a positive and inevitable force that invites employees to share an adventure into the unknown; it is a force we can shape and control to some degree with effective communication.

This is the underlying tenet of D’Aprix’s book and is still as relevant today as when he wrote 15 years ago.

The catalyst for change, he explains, is the tension between employees’ psychological contract with their employer versus competition, customer demands and other marketplace upheavals.

In this book he shares how to develop communication activities that clearly explain both marketplace forces and what the organisation is trying to achieve.

I love the analogies he uses in the early chapters to help explain what he means. Just listen to a few:
“Their visions are those reflected in a rear view mirror rather than those seen through a window opening on an adventurous world in which people can change, grow and flourish.”

“I believe that a human being at work is like a mountain climber, who must tether herself to other climbers and in some fashion to the face of the mountain itself. These connections keep her from falling into an abyss.”

Speaking from his experience D’Aprix says that almost all communication within companies is reactive during times of change, when it needs to be strategic to be effective.

Though he is writing 15 years ago, my experience is that not much has changed. In this current financial downturn, especially in the UK, many companies have reduced even reactive communications to a trickle.

In chapter three D’Aprix explains in detail the signs and consequences of reactive communications, underlying assumptions and politics. Then the remainder of the book is dedicated to a primer for market-based strategic employee communications.

At its heart this strategy has five purposes:

  • Communicating a clear and simple case for change, based on market and customer realities
  • Identifying and explaining the market forces the organisation faces in doing business
  • Formulating and communicating a responsive business plan
  • Outlining the consequences of success and failure
  • Telling and retelling.

The diagrams D’Aprix uses I find helpful, particularly his strategic communication model, matching business issues to market forces flow diagram, and communication questions pie chart.

My thanks to Angela Sinickas for recommending I read this book. It has been as insightful as she said it would be.

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