Last century the communications environment was typified by hierarchy, information control, broadcast and audience passivity. In the current century, communications are characterised by interconnectedness, speed, transparency, surveillance, and diversity, according to David Cowan in his book Strategic Internal Communication: How to Build Employee Engagement and Performance. The book aims to provide advice on internal corporate communications in the new information space.
While communications are faster and cheaper than ever before, there are also more pitfalls to negotiate. In order to help readers navigate through the complexities of internal communication, the author provides a tool called the “dialogue box”. The dialogue box contains four quadrants: intelligence, emotion, narrative and interpretation. All of these should be taken into account in devising a communication.
An interesting claim made by the author is that “corporate culture does not exist”: employees are a collection of individuals engaged in a range of cultures and subcultures, and that explains why internal communication is a difficult and frustrating task. While I agree with the proposition that employees have different personalities, ethnic backgrounds, political beliefs etc., I am not sure that this negates the concept of corporate culture. Every organisation tends to have behavioural norms that grow over time and make that organisation different from other organisations.
For a book relating to communications, I found some of the author’s sentences to be a bit more complex than expected. Nonetheless, the book contains plenty of helpful insight for anyone who has responsibility for internal corporate communications.