“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know” Jim Rohn.

Communicate and Engage to Infinity and Beyond!

Article by Mark Gregory:

I have never come across a single person who has been associated with change, in one form or another, that has not articulated the power of effective communication as an imperative for success. John Kotter, probably one of the single most influential people on the subject of change and change management in the last two decades, describes communication as; “one of the eight most critical steps within any business transformation”, and he talks about “communicating your vision and direction to the power of 1000”.

From my own experience, if I had received £1 every time I thought I had clearly communicated and then found myself having the same conversation (just like in the film Groundhog Day), or when the person had told me they had understood me, only to find out later that they hadn’t, I would be a very wealthy man. My experience of communication within change is that the breakdown is even more apparent, as change also invokes lots of other emotions that restrict us from receiving the correct messages.

It is my view, formed from experience, that the subject of communication is the most untapped and misunderstood element of change. If we want to effect true and sustained change, we require a bit of what Buzz has going on. We need to communicate and engage to ‘infinity and beyond’.   


Communication vs Engagement

Often when people start a conversation with me about communication, they are actually, without realising, really referring to engagement. I use a simple maturity continuum to describe communication versus engagement with respect to change.

Level 1 – Awareness:

You meet someone you know and ask them, “Have you heard about the change that is going on?” They haven’t, so you make them aware by explaining it to them.

Level 2 – Understanding:

You meet someone you know and ask them, “Have you heard about the change that is going on?” They have heard of it but don’t know the detail, so you explore it with them and help them understand.

Level 3 – Advocacy:

You meet someone you know and before you can speak they say to you, “Hey, have you heard about the change that is going on?” They then proceed to tell you all about it, becoming an advocate for the change.

‘Awareness’ is communication, ‘Understanding’ is the tipping point between communication and engagement and ‘Advocacy’ is engagement. It is important that we understand where the audience is on the continuum and recognise what it may, therefore, need to move to the next stage. All too often, we assume the audience is at a more mature stage than it actually is, that all the members of the audience are at the same stage, or, worst of all, we simply do not think about it!

Communication is a process where people are aware and understand. Engagement is a process whereby people become personally implicated in the success of the change.

Organise to Communicate and Engage

Quite simply, if you want to create engagement, you have to organise to provide it and, in my experience, organisations do not. They continue to believe they can invoke change by connecting with people in the same way they have always done, using the same methods, in the same format, with the same output. Remember Approaches to Change – 1? What did we say? Without a doubt, you need to do something different here if you want a different result. Let me give you an example: when once leading a change programme within a large organisation, I actually created an engagement steering group that met at least weekly and, at times, daily over a twelve-month period. We focused on using every avenue possible, even inventing a few new avenues along the way, to connect with our change audience. We quite simply took the audience along the engagement continuum, always looking at different approaches.

Time and Energy

The success one has in this area of change is a pure function of time and energy. My experience shows that organisations and leaders generally do not apply enough time and energy in this area, preferring to work on the detail of the change rather than engaging the audience in it. Remember Approaches to Change – 3?  No involvement generally means no commitment. How much time do you spend focusing on the change engagement proposition?


Change sustainment is about engagement; engagement means advocacy, and advocacy means focused time, energy and organisation. Underestimate it at your peril!


Always remember the Buzz Light-year effect – ‘Communicate and Engage to Infinity and Beyond!’

If you have any thoughts or questions regarding this article or any of our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch – click here to contact us today.

Read more…. click to see the series 1, 2, 3


A bit more information is shown below.  However, we can arrange for you to speak directly to National Instruments, who can share more information and explain the successes they are achieving and sustainable improvements. Contact Mark to discuss 07793 422 438.

Our work with National Instruments started with the design, development and delivery of a Vision for the Future, working with the European Management Board, leading the team through a vision development process to prepare, generate, engage & embed a powerful image of the future.

Delivery of a Lean Awareness Educational Programme followed and was delivered extensively across Sales, Marketing, Finance, Administrative Operations and Human Resources, including the European board and all European management levels.

Working with the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for EMEIA and their Management Board we then designed and delivered a series of workshops in support of the introduction and establishment of the balance scorecard approach for EMEIA.

Working with the Director of Operations for Europe, then followed a series of bespoke process improvement workshops focusing on:

  • Improvement of the Sales Opportunity pipeline, multimillion pounds saving.
  • Improvement of the Service Equipment Management Process pipeline, multimillion pounds saving.
  • Improvement of the Software Renewal process, multimillion pounds saving.

Working with the Director of HR for Europe, we developed a future vision for HR moving from transactional activity to strategic. Using our four-stage PDCA process; ‘Prepare, Develop, Create, Aquire.  Educating and coaching the team to generate a series of strategic A3s (the Unleash & Engage Ltd, Power of A3 Programme) forming the basis of the communication strategy for the European HR function, which leaves the team with sustainable improvements in use today.

Contact Mark to discuss 07793 422 438.

‘How was work today?’ One of the most common questions asked when someone arrives back home in the evening. Your staff will naturally be talking honestly and openly about work to their friends and family, maybe even their co-workers but do they talk honestly to you?

The answer is no doubt something close to ‘probably not’. There are many barriers that will prevent a true, mutual trust conversation between you and your team. So how do you get the real answers?

Our employee engagement programs are a great way of understanding your teams real thoughts and opinions. We have now taken this one step further in developing the revolutionary new conversation generating StaffTalk365.

StaffTalk365 is a smart phone and tablet application that your team members download on to their devices. The app is easy to navigate and hugely engaging, without being intrusive. Staff can respond to a series of simple of questions with their responses being presented back in real-time, 24/7, through an engaging easily digestible charts and figures that you can view at anytime. The data is anonymous to protect the team members but it gives you an amazingly powerful insight in to how your team are feeling, how they managing situations, etc. You can then use this information to enhance the work experience or change your strategy.

StaffTalk365 has a huge range of benefits that will make a game changer for any business looking to truly understand its employees.

We are currently offering a free StaffTalk365consultation to any company interested in developing their employee engagement. If you are interested in finding out more, contact Mark on 07793 422 438.


Achieving Operational Excellence. What does this actually mean?

I guess that it means different things to different people. To me, it means ‘flow’.

There is no magic wand or quick fix for Operational Excellence, nor can somebody else put in the hard miles for you and hand you it on a plate. What we have managed to do at Unleash & Engage is distil the very essence of Operational Excellence, built a 12-week deployment model around this, followed by a three-month sustainment phase where the new habits are embedded as being ‘the way we do things around here’.

Guaranteeing 20% Capacity Improvement

Our Sustainable Operational Excellence model consists of 12 steps in 12 weeks and is guaranteed to deliver a 20% capacity improvement. What do we mean by ‘guaranteed’? We will help you to achieve at least the same amount of work in 20% less working hours, OR we will help you to achieve 20% more work in the same number of working hours, and if we can’t manage this in 12 weeks, we will keep working – at our cost, until we achieve it.

The main benefit we see when we work with teams is that the level of engagement goes through the roof when people unleashed from the box that the organisation has put them in (whether intentionally or not). This is the most satisfying part of our work and the reason why we do what we do.

Once we reach the targets that we agree at the outset, we don’t stop making progress. In our most recent engagement with a large multinational company, we achieved more than double our target levels of improvement – measured during weeks 8 – 12 of the engagement.

As a member of the team on the client side says “I’ve been involved in lean projects and other improvement stuff, but this is the first time I’ve seen something that’s truly transformational. What we’ve achieved in such a short amount of time is amazing”.

Our model contains a number of simple tools, which when combined together with leadership coaching, and deployed in just the right way, produces really amazing results.

We would be delighted to come and speak to you about how this could apply to your organisation. We have made it successful in project teams, transactional functions, finance teams, sales teams, white collar, blue collar, distributed teams, design teams, so please don’t hesitate because your team is ‘unique’ or ‘special’. Those are exactly the types of teams that really get our attention.

None of the steps are scary, and taken in isolated, they can appear trivial. However, when built together, with the involvement of the team, and the time and commitment from the front-line Manager, the results can be truly staggering.

Please contact us today if you want to know more.

The 12 Steps to Sustainable Operational Excellence

1, Launch Event – Establishing an understanding and expectation through experience

2, Team Vision – Bringing a sense of purpose to the everyday activities of the team

3, Daily Stand Up Meetings – Driving accountability and performance across the team

4, Visual Management – Making work clear, creating a high-performance environment

5, Standards – Setting a strong foundation on which to make improvements

6, Process Confirmation – Taking the opportunity to see and coach the team

7, The Standard Diary – Making time for the things that really matter, every day

8, Problem Solving – Increasing performance every day by making things better

9, Workload Levelling – Distributing work fairly and evenly across the available capacity

10,Skills & Versatility – Building a well-balanced suite of skills across the team

11, Coaching & Reinforcement – Tailoring the style of the Manager to each individual

12, Sustainment Planning – Transition of ownership, preparing for further improvement

The Sustainable Operational Excellence Model is a process that has been in the making for a number of years. We’re delighted to have formalised and refined it with the ability to now offer it as one of our core services. Thanks to our incredible delivery team, we are already seeing a huge impact from everywhere we’ve deployed the model.


Greig Walker, Director at Unleash & Engage.

Connect with Greig on LinkedIn