Communication, strategy and revolution

Communication strategy, connecting the dots and conversations
Communication strategy, connecting the dots and conversations

When in Ethiopia recently I facilitated a workshop for an NGO forum around the topic of strategic communications in the WASH sector and particularly how you can develop a communication strategy – and does it make sense in the first place?

The workshop went very well and included a couple of very interesting sessions like a talk show about our experiences with developing communication strategies (funny how people are riveted to what is said in a talk show for being so close to a panel discussion format – but then a lot more informal), a fishbowl session on the pros and cons of using various communication channels, an open space session on any pending (parking lot) or new point and of course a number of presentations about the basics of strategic communication, just to clarify some initial doubts from participants and to have enough to chew on (a few years back I facilitated a workshop that I designed way too much as a participatory exercise to the extent that I didn’t provide enough matter for participants to share experience on – well it was in a specific context but I promised myself never to end up in that situation again). It is a fine balance to give enough information and enough space for participants to discuss and digest it (from their perspective and experience too).

But two of the more interesting aspects of that workshop were on the one hand a checklist of questions that we used to develop five draft communication strategies (based on the cases of five organisations represented by participants) throughout the workshop and then a special strategic communication 2.0 session.

The checklist of questions was actually developed with a number of IRC colleagues in 2008 and 2009 and I just updated and enriched it in view of this workshop (ah, the beauty of external assignments and deadlines to make things happen!). It turned out to be a rather useful checklist, judging from the results that participants came up with and their comments. I’m definitely planning to use it more and to keep refining it.

Hereby find this presentation:

And please share your suggestions on it!

The other bit was the presentation about the web 2.0 and how it could have some interesting applications for strategic communication work. This was meant to be a 20-min presentation at best but I got completely carried away and went on for 45 minutes through the presentation (of course in an interactive manner otherwise I would have performed in a room full of snoring folks).

It turned out to be a much more political exercise than I had anticipated as well and made me realise how much the web 2.0 and the opportunities it offers – creatively combined with everyone’s special attributes and crazy ideas – are a crucially working on a silent revolution agenda. Gil Scott Heron used to say ‘The revolution will not be televised, the revolution… will be live’. No man, the revolution will be (also) on-line…

The presentation is here and includes a number of excellent references I found through Twitter recently.

I need to dig further into this type of messaging because somehowit responds to my profound desire to work towards more empowerment and this seems to be the most promising approach in that direction so far, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to end up in a political struggle.

Starting with Powerpoint, to end with an Empower curve? The question remains open for now…


Published by Ewen Le Borgne

Collaboration and change process optimist motivated by ‘Fun, focus and feedback’. Nearly 20 years of experience in group facilitation and collaboration, learning and Knowledge Management, communication, innovation and change in development cooperation. Be the change you want to see, help others be their own version of the same.

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