How many times have you rewritten your to-do list today?
Actually, let me pose this question in a slightly different way: how many times have you crafted a well-organized to-do list, then had a few so-called priority projects from your business partners come in, then crossed off and added some things, then performed a tiny, frustrated dance while you switched around the top priorities for the day, and then ultimately decided that most of the things on your list would have to wait until tomorrow?
If you’re like me, one who loves to make lists and cross things off, you’ve likely gone through this re-prioritization cycle numerous times in a day, in a week, in a month. That’s hours of our lives spent re-prioritizing.
The fact is we’re in demand, but constantly multitasking. We’re working on a lot of different activities, with various customers across the organization and on several channels – doing numerous things all at the same time. It’s no surprise we’re often exhausted each day, trying to reevaluate all of the activities, asks, and tasks that come across our desks each day.
And here’s the kicker…with all of this re-evaluation, it’s often hard to gauge whether our time (and company money) is going to the highest value opportunities. How can we focus our thinking and our customers’ thinking about the right activities to perform more efficiently, target for increased investment, or just stop doing?
With so many asks, project proposals that are often tactical in nature, or tasks that business partners could perform themselves, we often feel like service providers rather than a valued partners. How do we escape this time-consuming ‘need to prove value’ cycle?
Communications teams are realizing that it’s important to show the rest of the business that they’re more than message-creators or –takers, but rather, Communications functions are capable of solving real business problems, providing deep audience understanding and coming up with innovative and strategic solutions that make a real impact on the business.
This is really incredible stuff! Yet, one reason why we typically struggle with breaking free of low-value business partner requests is because in all of this self-awareness, we do not actually include our partners in assessing how valuable different communications activities are. This idea probably sounds intuitive, but most Communications teams don’t seem to do it. Instead, communicators will create their own list of priorities and then try to pitch it to business partners.
One company who has been very successful in focusing their function on the things that truly make an impact to the company’s performance is ConAgra Foods’. At ConAgra, communicators spot business partnership opportunities and prompt business partners to identify new value ideas. Communicators then use the conversation to surface and build consensus around higher-value opportunities to pursue.
So, how does this practice from ConAgra work? CEC members can hear the ConAgra team describe, in their own words, the shift they made and their answers to key questions, including:
- How would you describe the change that your function made?
- What was the initial spark for making the change?
- What does this actually look like in practice?
- How do you spot business partnership opportunities?
- How do your business partners describe how you work together?
- What advice do you have for other Communications teams?
CEC Related Resources:
- ConAgra Foods’ Business-Oriented Communications Function
- How to Structure Business Partner Conversations Around High Value Opportunities
- ROI Workbook
- Principled Service Tier Levels (ING)
CEC Related Blogs: