CEO as VidEO Leader
Shortly after Julie Sweet was named CEO of Accenture's North American business in 2015, she became the world’s first Chief VidEO, outlawing the corporate memo to champion video and live streaming as her main communication channels.
At the time, she described her decision simply: “It is very hard to transform your culture and your workforce to be a relevant company in the digital world if all of your processes are stuck in the traditional world.”
Bing-o Ms. Sweet.
Adrift Amid Change
Imagine this scenario: you’re the communications manager at a small organization (<500 employees) of highly educated people (>70 percent hold doctorates) where a series of CEO changes has subjected employees to ever-changing mission and vision statements.
Within six months of you sitting in your chair, the CEO announces his departure.
The communication tools at your disposal are in various states of unfinished business, including a confused mission statement and no exercised plan for employee communications nor an understanding across leadership for the responsibilities and commitments it requires.
On top of that, the energetic executive slotted into the CEO role is known to be a temporary substitute.
I was that communications manager, and it felt as if the future of an entire organization was in the balance.
We needed more than a course correction; we needed a course.
Video helps set course
Within several months, a new CEO was named and I worked with a motivated executive team to prioritize updating the company’s mission and vision statements (see a great article by Jennell Evans, of Strategic Interactions Inc., published in Psychology Today that explains the difference, with examples).
We established a series of all-employee meetings so the new CEO could explain every element of the new mission and vision statements, including:
· summarizing the thinking that shaped each element;
· reviewing what it meant to organization and its customers;
· presenting his perspective on the role employees needed to fulfill if the statements were to have value in the real world; and
· hosting an open Q&A at the end of the meeting, with follow-up resources made available.
And we taped every session so employees could revisit content when they chose and find the content they wished to review.
We also measured understanding and invited general feedback through surveys and in-person “pulse” check-ins with staff across all levels across the subsequent months.
I found myself routinely accessing that video for years, as the context it captured proved invaluable in helping to express our company’s mission and vision to varied audiences.
We had defined a course, and data made the case that video helped set a unified commitment within the heads and hearts of our employees.
John is a contributing writer at Frontline Productions with more than 20 years of experience in communications, including nearly 15 years creating, designing and managing executive and employee communications.