Learning the lyrics – people not technology, behaviours not activities

When we heard about CommsUnplugged the decision to get involved was an easy one. At Perago-Wales we focus on supporting organisations to deliver services that meet user needs and, in doing so, transform ways of working within organisations. Our experience spans agile delivery, programme management, technology transformation, change management, communications and more. The definition of ‘digital transformation’ is often debated, but for us we are clear that it is more than technology and to truly transform and meet user needs, collaboration is key and change needs to go beyond agile delivery teams and across the wider organisation. So what is the role of communications professionals in supporting and driving this collaborative change? People rarely argue that communications aren’t needed. In fact the words ‘it’s critical’, ‘without effective communications we fail’, are all too often heard, but what should the role of communications teams be in transforming through digital and how do they collaborate with delivery teams to deliver real change?

Space to think

Somewhere, somewhere in a field in Dorset we talked digital

CommsUnplugged was the perfect event for talking about all of this, away from the technology and in a safe environment that gave time for those attending to think and share learning. That’s why, back in May, we jumped at the chance to run a session on transforming through digital and the role of the communicator. Fast forward four months and we were stood in a marquee in a field in Dorset with nothing more than our trusty Perago-Wales post it notes, some marker pens, a flip chart and about 25 communicators from all parts of the public sector. We were well and truly unplugged and ready to start a conversation.

Demystifying Agile

We wanted to demonstrate what agile ways of working and digital transformation is about for us. There are lots of organisations that will help you deliver digital transformation, lots of frameworks and tools that help you work in an agile way and that’s great. The problem is it can also come with a bunch of jargon which can be confusing and an air of exclusivity and that’s not helpful for people who are new to this way of thinking and working. For us it about people. People are the common language that helps organisations deliver amazing results. They are at the heart of the outcomes you are looking to achieve whether they are end users of your service or product or helping to create it. If you give people the space to collaborate with each other and end users, promote transparency and create a safe environment to learn and improve you can’t go far wrong.

Listening to the LYRICS

If you’re not part of an agile team and haven’t experienced working in an organisation that is transforming through digital, then it is easy to think that your skills as a communicator need to be somehow different to be successful. Well, as Mark Dalgarno explains in his recent post, agile ways of working are radically different, but it is actually more about behaviours and adopting agile ways of working than having to learn new skills sets or activities. There are already some brilliant resources out there for communicators, whether that be campaign models such as OASIS on the UKGovComms site, The IC Space or Comms2Point0. These, and other sites, give approaches, case studies, models and training on best practise in communications. All of these remain relevant for communicators working in Agile teams and as part of digital transformation programmes. Where we need to think differently is in the way we use our skills, how we engage and how we support agile teams through different ways of applying those skills. We’ve put some things to think about into a handy acronym – so make sure you have a think about the lyrics!

Continuing the conversation

An hour in a marquee in a field in Dorset flew by. We’d have loved more time to understand the challenges and successes that the group had experienced, but it was great to start the conversation about the role of communicators in transforming through digital. What was clear was that there was an appetite to get involved, share experiences, think differently – and to learn the lyrics! Here at Perago-Wales we’re keen to continue the conversation so please let us know about your successes and challenges and let’s collaborate and share our learning.