“If you are doing anything at any given time during any day that does not support one, some, or all of these things, then your communications efficiency is suffering. Do you ever have anyone question your value as a communicator? Or the need for a communication that delivers useful information to an important audience?”
Jeff Posey, 2011
“As revealed in our prior studies, effective communication and financial performance are strongly related: Companies that are highly effective at communication are 1.7 times as likely to outperform their peers.”
Change and Communication ROI Study Report 2011 – 2012, p. 3, Towers Watson
>> Communication Efficiency: An Impact Creation Approach
Understanding how communication can deliver useful information to an important audience and how communication for innovation can be both efficient and effective requires developing a consistent impact creation approach.
A company’s impact creation approach is understood as a basic concept which encompasses three key elements to define and manage effective, valuable communication with different parties (stakeholder groups). The impact and value will foster sustainable meaningful communication for innovation over time.
The key elements of an impact creation approach are as follows:
- Description of parties and their interrelations to create impact through communication
- Identification of impact factors and description of the innovation communication scorecard
- Description of a measurement concept and reporting
1. Parties and interrelations (weak ties and strong ties)
Committed partners have close relationships (strong ties) and continual exchange with an organization (see also “Collaboration Curves” by Andrea Meyer). The first step, then, towards creating greater impact of communication activities involves identifying the organization’s committed partners – business partners, research partners, and other partners of an organization – their interrelations, and relationship to the organization (see Fig. 1).
In a next step, different communities /stakeholder groups and the wider audience of an organization have to be determined and their interrelations described in a so-called network communication plan and/or illustrated in a network communication map. The
different communities can create a pivotal impact on a wider audience of an organization (crowd wisdom and word-of-mouth communication).
According to diffusion theory, a network communication plan can also define groups of innovators and early adopters, etc. to identify actors as committed partners or part of different communities with a higher potential to support innovation (creation, dissemination, and exploitation).
Fig. 1 Impact Creation Approach: Parties
2. Innovation Communication Scorecard
Based on the communication management perspective of organizations (see post “Managing Communication for Frugal Innovation”), the innovation communication scorecard encompasses three dimensions: 1. resource markets, 2. communication markets, 3. sales markets.
Each dimension covers different impact factors in terms of criteria for measuring the impact of innovation communication. For instance, a high-tech company measures the impact of innovation communication on market success of a new product (sales markets) or the integration of stakeholder groups in innovation processes / collaborative innovation (resource markets).
The innovation communication scorecard can be used:
- to become more effective in communication management for innovation
- to compare corporations and industries (if the same impact factors and measurement concept will be used, e.g. standard questionnaire and weightings for industries)
- to communicate the impact of innovation communication management
Fig. 2 illustrates the structure of an innovation communication scorecard.
Fig. 2 Structure of an innovation communication scorecard
A list of impact factors to define a set of criteria for a questionnaire are:
- RM1: Increased collaborative innovation / collaboration within and across organizations / communities / networks
- RM2: More efficient capabilities / resources management for innovation
- RM3: Increased innovative capability / abilities to innovate
- RM4: More efficient use and development of resources & capabilities
- RM5: Advanced mindsets/imagination/knowledge for innovation
- CM1: Higher quality of innovation and research agendas
- CM2: Increased awareness of emerging themes
- CM3: Increased awareness of innovation
- CM4: Increased recognition of the potential of innovations within broader audiences
- CM5: Increased reputation on inter-organizational and intra-organizational level
- SM1: Higher market success of an innovation
- SM2: Wider deployment / exploitation of research results and methodologies
- SM3: Increased innovation diffusion
- SM4: Reduction of uncertainty to adopt an innovation
- SM5: Advanced consumer knowledge of an innovation (after market launch)
3. Measurement concept and reporting
Based on the network communication plan (1) and innovation communication scorecard (2), the measurement concept can be developed. The concept describes in-depth information gathering, quality management, time table, and responsibilities. Furthermore, reporting addresses different stakeholders simultaneously over different channels and over time. Reporting can be planned in a content calendar.
To sum up, for any organization, effective communication management for innovation requires developing an impact creation approach that describes an organization’s partners and their interrelations; identifies impact factors and an appropriate innovation communication scorecard; and describes a measurement concept and reporting practices.
The innovation communication scorecard can be applied:
- to be more efficient and effective in communication management for innovation;
- to compare corporations and industries (if the same impact factors and measurement concept will be used, e.g. standard questionnaire and weightings for industries);
- to effectively communicate the impact of innovation communication through reporting.
Finally, every organization should think about creating impact and value in their communication, not only because effective communication is correlated with financial performance, but also because this impact and value will foster sustainable meaningful communication for innovation over time. An impact creation approach can support this intention.
My special thanks go to the reviewer of this blog post, especially Julie Gould, who provides valuable feedback.
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