Curiosity is the Antidote to Best Practices: Insights from IMI Lunch & Learn
In the realm of internal communications, Joanna Parsons is on a mission to disrupt conventional thinking about best practices. As an internal comms expert, she emphasises the need to reevaluate our approach to communication strategies within organisations. Joanna recently delivered a virtual Lunch & Learn session, where she shared insights on internal communications, the limitations of best practices, and the transformative power of curiosity.
What Does “Internal Communications” Mean?
Internal communications encompasses all the ways information flows within an organisation, excluding communication with external entities such as investors or stakeholders. It serves as the lubricant in the engine of an organisation, reducing friction, facilitating goal achievement, and ensuring smooth operations. It’s more than just an internal postal service—it aligns employees, aids in employee retention, boosts profits, enhances productivity, and improves safety levels.
The Best Practice Conundrum
While best practices are hailed as proven and reliable methods that have stood the test of time, Joanna challenges the notion that they are always the best fit for every organisation. The obsession with best practices can be limiting, as it encourages a one-size-fits-all mentality, disregarding the unique context, culture, and resources of each organisation.
Best practice is, by nature, unstrategic and backward-looking. It may stifle innovation by promoting complacency and discouraging exploration of new, more effective approaches. The language of “best” itself implies a sense of perfection, limiting our ability to adapt and innovate.
Embracing Curiosity as the Antidote
Joanna suggests a shift in language—from “best practices” to “good practices.” This subtle change encourages us to view these methods as starting points or insights rather than rigid plans that must be followed. The true antidote to the best practice conundrum is curiosity.
By fostering a deeply curious mindset, practitioners can ask critical questions about their organisation, employees, and challenges. Stephen Shapiro’s advice to focus on questions rather than answers becomes a guiding principle:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- What are the obstacles to success?
- What would success look like?
- What resources do we have?
- What have we tried before?
- What does it need?
- Practical Takeaways
To implement this shift towards curiosity in internal communications, consider these practical takeaways:
- Be alert for the words “best practice.” Challenge the notion and be open to alternative approaches.
- Solve for the problem you have. Instead of applying preconceived solutions, understand the unique challenges your organisation faces.
- Be curious. Embrace your child-like side, indulge your creativity, and actively question the status quo.
In the dynamic field of internal communications, embracing curiosity offers a path to innovation and effectiveness. By moving away from the confines of best practices and cultivating a mindset of continuous questioning, internal communications professionals can unlock new and tailored approaches, fostering a more engaged and aligned workforce. It’s time to trade the rigidity of best practices for the flexibility and creativity that curiosity brings.