AB Thinks  →  10th January 2022

Solutions not resolutions

It’s been more than a week since that symbolic night. After days lounging around the house trying not to feel irritated with your sibling/parent/partner, the clock chimed midnight on the 1st January, bringing in a New Year – and with it, millions of New Year’s resolutions.

With a glass of prosecco in one hand and a cheese twist in the other, perhaps you vowed that this would be the year you, er, ‘drink less alcohol’ or ‘eat more healthily’. Or perhaps you bargained with yourself. Small, measurable goals are easier to achieve than large, vague ones, after all. You will floss your teeth daily, for example, or set a timer on your apps to reduce your screen time.

Whatever your resolution this year, the likelihood is that it focused on improving your health and wellbeing in some way. It’s also likely that, by now, you’re struggling to keep it. (Research shows that the vast majority of us will have given up on our resolutions within the month.)

You’ll also find your social feed being inundated with articles advising you on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions, why to make them and whether they’re powerful or pointless.

At AB, we’re ditching the term all together, replacing resolutions with solutions. It’s an important difference:

Resolution: a promise to yourself to do or not to do something.

Solution: the answer to a problem

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Internal communication is all about finding solutions that last. Sometimes they can be small commitments that are easy to implement or a bigger project that needs structure to make an impact for the long haul.

So, in the spirit of solutions, not resolutions, here’s five tips for problem-solving from five world-leading IC experts which are guaranteed to boost the health of your organisation this January and beyond.

#1 Give a sh*t
Straight-talking ICology founder Chuck Gose advises all communicators to ask business leaders what keeps them up at night. ‘Really focus in on how you can use communication to solve a problem they’re facing – that’s when you start to build that relationship and be that advisor. We want leaders to come to us eventually, but it’s okay if we go to them at the beginning.’

#2 Help everyone understand why they’re here
For comms expert Jane Mitchell, having a clear, singular goal is key to a respectful attitude and fosters creativity and diversity. ‘In the world of corporate ethics and values, ethical failures are often down to people not really understanding why they are there. Not necessarily what they are there to do, but why they are doing it, and how it connected to the bigger picture.’

#3 Learn from every department
‘All successful comms should come from a partnership with another department,’ says Maliha Aqeel, Comms Head at Fix Network World. ‘If comms or marketing try to do everything themselves, they’ll inevitably miss out on things that could bring value to the organisation.’

#4 Be the right type of storyteller
Business storytelling specialist Gabrielle Dolan reminds us that there are four different types of storyteller: ‘You have the Bragger, whose stories aren’t engaging and there’s really no purpose to them… Then there’s the Joker, who tells engaging stories, but there’s no purpose except to be funny. And then you have the Reporter, who’s clear on the message they want to get across, but they use a lot of facts, figures and statistics, and it’s not engaging. And then you have the Inspirer, which, ideally, is where you want to be. The Inspirer is clear on the message, but they’re using personal stories, which makes it more engaging.’

#5 Be honest and authentic
Honesty is the most important thing a CEO needs from their comms team, according to Executive VP and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Pfizer Sally Susman. ‘You need to be unafraid to tell your CEO what they need to hear – candidly, respectfully, and privately if necessary. You shouldn’t be too intimidated to have potentially uncomfortable conversations in a truthful, respectful manner.’

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