We live in a time unprecedented for information and knowledge in management and organizational cultures. Systems theory and other theories of organizational innovation state that there must be open channels of communication in the organization. Yet, today we use organizational communication based on the memo to communicate for the most part. With the technology available today it is easy to increase communication in your organization even with a tight budget. I am going to talk about 10 things one can do with technology to facilitate communication, either externally or internally. The applications are free and just take the investment of time/labor to get them going.
1) Start a blog. Yes, I know, everyone has heard this before. However, there are so many blogs that are boring or irrelevant. Make your blog interesting--invite guest posters who cover different aspects of your organization. You can even bring in guest bloggers who are external to your organization. Blogs can impart information, creating a dynamic conversation that can include different types of media, and is interactive.
2) Start a Twitter feed. Begin and maintain a Twitter feed with value added informational tweets. By this I mean, instead of just passing along a URL, pass it along with a short annotation, etc. that imparts why someone will want to spend their time following the link. Use hashtags for discussions on Twitter.
3) Share your best practices on a Wiki. I know the glamour of Wikis has faded in the recent past; however, they are still a powerful tool when it comes to sharing information. The fact that they can be made almost transparent via the use of history, comments and discussions is another plus for Wiki use.
4) Start an organizational discussion board. This can increase discussion and spark debate about vital organizational issues. These discussions can also document the chain of reasoning that led to a conclusion and subsequent action/policy. People can be referred to the board for a first step in a search for answers to their questions about the organization. This can ofttimes lead to individuals raising their opinions in writing--people who would otherwise remain silent on issues. Sometimes this platform can lead to increased participation and expression by people of this persuasion.
5) Start a Facebook organizational page. Utilize this to broadcast messages to members and associates on Facebook. This information can then easily be shared, or pasted and copied to other Facebook walls, pages, and discussion boards as well as other websites. You can promote public relation campaigns on these pages and start "cause" pages as well. This can help in increasing membership, as well as fundraising and building a list of allies.
6) Start a YouTube or Vimeo channel. This can be used to post public relation announcements, informational messages, membership communications, presidential messages and more. YouTube works well--one can then use widgets, and embed code to share videos on websites and social networking platforms.
7) Scrap that old print newsletter. A multimedia newsletter will allow for use of media that is used in other places, i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, etc. This will also make the newsletter a bit flashier and eye-appealing. Individuals who may not like to read the newsletter may enjoy some creative videos showcasing newsworthy events throughout the year.
8) Incorporate social software into your organization. This allows for the creation of profiles. This might not seem like a big deal, but it can potentially link people with common interests, who then may be able to collaborate to increase organizational mission accomplishment. An internal social software aspect can generally increase communication, teamwork, rapport, discussion and dare I say, innovation.
9) Create a Flickr account to share organizational photos. Photos do much to convey organizational attitudes, teamwork, camaraderie, as well as documentation of events and people. Photos from these accounts can be shared on other platforms and sites via embedding and widget use. This makes Flickr an even more powerful tool.
10) Begin or maintain an organizational culture that is free and open--one which encourages experimentation, documentation, assessment and rewards innovation. This is the most important technology, as it allows and budgets time for exploration into new techniques, technologies, ideas, and innovations. Which, in turn, allows for progress toward the fulfillment of the organizational mission. This culture must come from the administration of the organization and must be supported with time and resources.
In today's ever-changing dynamic society, we need to be thinking about leveraging our work, budgets and talents more than ever. Collaboration, innovation and increased communication go a long way in achieving this goal. Given that the technologies listed above are relatively free of charge, with the only costs an investment in labor and talent, we should be using them to increase efficiency, reduce costs and possibly increase revenue via increased support and presence in the community. The media available can increase the power of our messages and motivate people in ways heretofore unimagined; we just need to harness the power that is already there.