often, employee culture is driven from above. Rigid protocol is commonplace,
leaving no room for innovation; not initially succeeding at a new venture can
feel like the end of the road. Yet, says opening speaker Chloe Marsh, head of
engagement at social housing firm, RHP, “Nothing was ever achieved by staying
in your comfort zone and playing it safe.” With this firmly in mind, CommsHero
London got underway with a plethora of communications experts, its range of
enterprising speakers – as well as several plates of doughnuts.
second of three conferences, after Cardiff on 8 November and with the
last taking place on 29 November, London’s #CommsHero began
with a pep talk from image-led communications specialist, Fran O’Hara, who also
documented the day through visual minutes. Sharing her experiences of working
at Disney, dressed as a giant Tigger, O’Hara explained that to master a task in
front of you, “Start where you’re going to end up.” That would have prevented
her, O’Hara explains, from floundering in a fit of confusion when faced with
entertaining hordes of small children in a heavy, hot costume during the summer
And while Disneyland is oceans away from the roomful of
communications professionals gathered in the centre of Camden, the message
resonates: think about the task ahead, then plan for it.
Developing a ‘Dare to fail’ employee culture thus
requires a solid base from which to launch your innovations. This is what Grant
LeBoff, sales and marketing strategist for Sticky Marketing, says – in his
role, digital and web-based marketing, evidence is crucial. LeBoff describes
how communications and marketing, as a department, requires more time and
investment than ever.
Rather than being, as it is so often described, an
‘adjunct’, marcoms should be integrated into business strategy and provide
support for employees willing to take risks to get results. Perhaps what
resonates most, however, was LeBoff’s assertion that in communications today,
“You have to stand for something.” If global brand Coca-Cola can’t ‘cut through
the noise’, as highlighted through its simplification of flavour and packaging
design, then other organisations have no chance. “Keep it elegant and simple,”
LeBoff says. Find your message, and run with it.
Thus commitment to delivering that unique or individual
approach became the #CommsHero message.
For Helen Reynolds, digital communications strategist at
social media training consultancy, Social for the People, this is on what
effective communication is built. How can we be happier and learn through
failures?, Reynolds asks. Most importantly, don’t take criticism personally.
Your own happiness is vital to being effective and is part of what ‘Dare to
Fail’ is about. Taking control of your own happiness and limiting your exposure
to the negative side of failure has surprising results.
And, says Reynolds, if the worst does happen, make it
into a story from which you and others can learn. “Don’t panic, deal with it
and find a way for it not to happen again,” she says – but not before
overseeing a communication challenged based on which #CommsHero team could
build the highest structure from marshmallow and linguine (“Sainsbury’s had run
out of spaghetti.”)
Social media and innovation in digital is another avenue
down which communicators can get lost. Differentiating content between personal
and corporate accounts can be difficult; pitching the right tone of voice
problematic. But there are means of overcoming these obstacles. As Paul Taylor,
innovation coach at Bromford Lab, says, “Would you follow your own corporate
social media account?”
With this in mind, Taylor says, thinking big leads to the
best results. He says, “When you think 10x bigger it forces you to do something
fundamentally different,” and while this may seem daunting, “The best ideas
come from groups of people, networks and people exchanging ideas.”
Tim Scott, HR and social media consultant, agrees. For HR
professionals, Scott says, it can be difficult to overcome the idea that
‘Daring to fail’ is sometimes what’s needed to keep an organisation fresh.
Changing the perception of outlets such as social media is perhaps what’s
needed to ensure all employees taken on board the ‘Dare to fail’ mentality. As
Scott says, employee advocacy, personal learning and development, increased
brand engagement are just some of the advantages the less cautious, more integrated
approach can deliver.
Choudry, sales and marketing director of Resource, creator of #CommsHero, says, “The
dare to fail concept is a celebration of the attitude of people and organisations
who dare to be different and try out new ways of working. Most other events
have speakers showcasing their finest work. However, as #CommsHero has always
been about being different, I wanted to have a speaker line up of people who
are brave enough to show off those moments where things went wrong on their
path to a successful outcome.”
Choudry ends, “Delivering three events in one month was
my way of showcasing the dare to fail attitude.”
Daring to take a risk and perceiving failures as prototypes
for future innovation rather than the end of a chapter became the mantras
underpinning the day at #CommsHero London. “Be yourself and accept that some
people might not like it,” says Marsh during her round-up of the day. Only then
will the confidence and resilience to ‘Dare to Fail’ begin to push the
boundaries of average to show what employees really can achieve.
SANDYS – @_amyms
Chat – @CommsChat