Communicate

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – at 30 frames per second, a video is worth 108,000,000 words per minute.

At Blueline Simulations we know the power of strong visual images – in fact, our highly successful Learning Blueprints are built on compelling visuals. Several months ago, we discussed how telestrations focus exactly on the ideas being communicated, helping the audience to clearly understand the key messages – in one viewing.

We have developed a straightforward process to create these successful productions with our clients. Here’s how we worked with a client who contacted us to help them communicate changes to a longstanding internal process.

At our initial meeting, we determined that their challenge was to communicate a clear, accessible message about an upcoming change to everyone across the entire organization. The delivery mode had to be repeatable and consistent to all – whether they were directly involved with the change or not. We helped refine the message’s three primary elements: 1) defining the change; 2) conveying the importance of total compliance across all units; 3) the long-term benefits of the change to the entire organization.

Following this meeting, the creative team swung into action, guided by the producer. First, the writer developed the script – a 4 & ½ minute narrative that got the audience’s attention, kept them interested, and clearly focused the primary message points.  The next step was the storyboard, where our artist created the visual metaphors, images, and other visual elements (consistent with brand guidelines) – to help the audience visualize the change and focus on the message and ideas.

After content and legal reviews, the artist moved the easel to the video studio, where, working with the director, all elements were shot – and all “live draw” elements painstakingly drawn as the camera rolled. The narrator then entered the announce booth in the audio studio and recorded – with the inflection of each word carefully delivered to reinforce the visuals and primary message points.

Once all elements had been created, the editor performed magic in the editing suite. By speeding up the hours of footage shot in the studio, incorporating special effects and animation, the now flowing visuals brought the script alive for the audience; this “speeding up” allows a significant message and supporting ideas to be powerfully communicated in a brief video. The final touch was adding just the right music to set the proper tone and feeling.

And the audience? In one viewing of this compelling, clear presentation they understood and remembered the intended message. That’s communication!

Do you need to communicate new ideas to your organization in a brief, engaging, and meaningful way? Contact us at Blueline Simulations and let us show you how the power of telestrations can be put to work for you.

We’re Not Trying to Diss on That Nice Bullet-Point Memo You Wrote, But…

Did you see my two previous blog posts? I wrote about the opportunity for greater linkage between communications and learning solutions; and then explored how narrative and metaphor have the unique ability to engage readers in a way that is highly participative.

Now let’s see if we can tie it all together.

At Blueline Simulations, we have developed a communication and learning tool that we call a Journey Map. It has proven to be a powerful device for:

  • Providing an easy-to-grasp overview of robust and complex messages.
  • Creating an involving narrative around organizational issues that allows readers to instantly see their role in the message.
  • Engaging readers at both a rational and an emotional level – so they don’t just understand the message urgency but feel it.

Here’s how it works. A Journey Map is a small graphic that is rich in both quantitative and metaphorical/narrative data. With dimensions of 11 x 17 (a standard “tabloid” sized page), the document is meant for “individual consumption” and not to be confused with our “Blueline Blueprint” learning technology.

The power of the Journey Map is not so much that it is “visual” (although that certainly grabs attention.) More importantly, it is “narrative”“ which means that it allows readers to connect not only with individual messages, but to better understand those messages in a context of how they relate to one another. These narrative-driven messages are “stickier” than those items in your bullet-point memo, leading to greater comprehension and retention. (Although I’m sure your memo is really good.)

The Onboarding Process as Narrative Journey

For example, one of our client partners worked with Blueline to rebuild its new-employee onboarding process. Of course, what is onboarding but one grand story? It’s a story about possibility, change, the aspirations of the new hire, and the vision that the new hire and the organization both share. Whew. That’s a lot of “tell”. And when you try to communicate all of that aspiration in a series of bullet points, you can hear all of the air going out of the balloon.

Part of our solution was to create a journey map graphic that depicted all of these messages in a single narrative, built around images and data. Suddenly the messages all clicked together: New hires were able to “find themselves” in the journey visual, while organizational leaders placed their progress in the context of a broader goal. This solution (along with our learning approach) has helped to create a best-in-class onboarding solution that is now regarded as one of the best in the country.

Organizational Change; Career Progression; Mentoring Structures; and More

Similarly, another of our client partners  – a global pharmaceutical company – was introducing a culture change with dramatic implications for how associates interacted with customers. By presenting the change in narrative format, associates were invited to reflect on their own role within the initiative, and recognize how their goals were in fact aligned with the goals of the organization. (This stands is stark contrast to the “defensive” response that leaders were expecting!)

In fact, our many case studies sound very much the same. Our client partners have brought us organizational challenges deep in complexity;¦and time and again have been astounded by how those complex messages can be rendered with clarity and emotional engagement in a simple graphical approach.

Of course, we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve. Give us a call today. We’ll give you a closer look at our Journey Map solutions. We’ve also got some ideas for couching your message in a narrative context for other communications, including:

  • Employee handbooks
  • Investor communications
  • Change, vision, and culture messages
  • Organizational identity (including onboarding audiences)

But enough about us. We want to hear your story. Contact us, and let’s explore some ways to bring it to life.

 

Communications and Learning Professionals: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I’ve spent the past 20 years creating both communications solutions and learning solutions for some of the most influential companies in the world. One thing I’ve learned is that, from the organization’s point of view, those are two very different activities. Does the company need a communications campaign? Go hire the creative geniuses at Company A. Need a learning solution? Those would be the training hotshots over at Company B.

After all, communication is all about producing awareness; while the outcome of learning is new knowledge, skill and behavior.

Two totally different things. Right?

You would think so, considering how most organizations are structured. The communications folks sit on one floor of the building, while the learning and HR folks are on a different one. To get paid by everyone, I have to take an elevator.

At Blueline Simulations, we find these metaphorical and literal walls of separation unhelpful. After all, our professionals have extensive background in everything from organizational development to advertising to the fine arts. We believe your communications initiative should generate engagement and behavior change. And your learning programs should provide the message retention of a Madison Avenue ad campaign.

Come on, Corporate Communications and Training & Development. We love both of you the same! Let’s all get together!

We’ve been providing our clients with a unique mashup of learning and communications solutions for years now. We find that the people in Corporate Communications tend to join sides with the folks over in HR pretty quickly — especially once they see the power of aligning their efforts to create awareness, understanding, action, skill development, and exciting new ways of serving their constituents.

It all results in some pretty cool solutions. If you’re intrigued, we’d love to show you more! Stick around this blog. In our next post, we’ll show you some of the learning graphics and other tools we have developed to help our client partners achieve sustainable change.