All posts by Michael Ambjorn

Michael is Past Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators. He is also founder of Align Your Org where – with a participation-centric approach – he and his colleagues enable effective strategic planning, communication – and clarity of execution. He has held leadership roles at IBM, Motorola and the 260–year–old Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. A consummate connector, speaker, facilitator - and mentor - he is also active in a number of further networks. You can follow him @michaelambjorn

IABC International Executive Board – Applications Now Open

I want you to consider stepping up to serve the profession – by taking a leadership role at the highest strategic level.

I’d like you to consider taking a seat at the table. In the IABC boardroom.

Why?

At IABC we believe in a global standard for professional communication; one that is open, one that knows no borders. Our work is more important today than ever – and the next board year is a crucial one: it’ll see the kick-off of our next three-year strategy.

But I have to be honest with you: serving at this level is demanding, yet that has never put the best people off. It is an opportunity to join our skilled, diverse and gender-balanced board. Supported by a small cohort of full time staff at the International Headquarters, this group is responsible for the effective management and leadership of your Association on both the strategic and executive level.

IABC is now looking for applicants to serve on the 2017-18 International Executive Board, including for the role of Vice Chair.  Applications close on Wednesday, January 11th.

It’s excellent experience that will benefit you in your career. It’ll provide you with invaluable insight into the strategy and operation of a global organisation. You’ll make life-long friends too. I certainly have.

How

To apply, visit the IABC website now and find out more about the process and requirements. Again, applications must be in by Wednesday, January 11th

If you have any question about serving on the IEB, please reach out to current Board members, any of whom will be pleased to give you insights into the challenges and rewards of the role.

And please help spread the word about this opportunity. Here’s your hashtag: #IABCieb.

Thanks for all you do to advance professional communication around the world – and thanks for your continued support of IABC.

Michael Ambjorn
IABC Nominating Committee

Help shape the future of the IABC Foundation

Looking for an opportunity to pay-it forward – and give back to the profession? Here’s a way you can do just that: step up and serve on the new IABC Foundation Committee.

At the 2016 World Conference in New Orleans, the IABC Foundation was re-launched – focused on driving IABC’s mission to drive communications as a force for good in business and society.

What is the IABC Foundation?

The mission of the IABC Foundation is to generate resources to fund and support strategic initiatives in line with IABC’s mission and to demonstrate the power of professional communication as a force for good in business and society.

Your opportunity to lead at the strategic level

The Foundation Trustees are now seeking to establish a new committee that will provide strategic guidance and execute the activities of the IABC Foundation. Specifically across the development of these four pillars as part of the revitalization plan::

  • Gift of Communication – Providing the tools and funding for chapters to give back to their local communities.
  • Gift of Experience – Invest in experience-gaining activities for the next generation and those in transition. Includes scholarships, internships, mentoring and more.
  • Gift of Excellence – Support certification of professional communicators around the world
  • Gift of Insights – Grants for targeted research that results in case studies, white papers or other publications supporting member needs, IABC thought leadership and advocacy for the profession.

Who are we looking for?

To implement the revitalization plan, committee members need to have an understanding of:

  • Philanthropy and fundraising
  • Strategy setting
  • Finance and marketing.

Vacant Positions: Chair, Vice Chair – and Committee Members-at-Large.

How to apply?

We are inviting IABC members in good standing to apply, or nominate a colleague. Read more here – and please help spread the word.

Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, 16 August at 5:00 p.m. EDT

This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference.

Michael Ambjorn
IABC Nominating Committee

2016 IABC Chairman’s Award

These two exceptional leaders have each made contributions to IABC that have had a global impact advancing the association and the profession. Both are role models for IABCers around the world.

Ginger Homan ABC
Ginger Homan ABC

Ginger Homan, ABC, has made a strategic contribution to the association above and beyond the call of duty. Operating at the highest level, her contribution has been centerpiece to the execution of the 2014-17 strategy for IABC, effecting a turnaround. Ginger is the embodiment of a world class board member: open, accountable and effective – with a relentless focus on enabling organizational delivery. She is also a joy to work with.

Jennifer Andrewes
Jennifer Andrewes

Jennifer Andrewes brings to life the best of IABC in the field. As an organization we believe that in today’s world, communication can be a force for good in business and society.  To make that happen we need to reach into boardrooms around the world. Jennifer and her chapter team out of Wellington, New Zealand, raised the bar in terms of height and breadth reached. Opening doors for IABC with leading government departments, blue chip corporates and agenda-setting non-profits – and those who influence them as strategic advisors. This is true leadership both advancing and enhancing the profession.

Learn more about the Chairman’s Award – and please join me in congratulating these two exceptional leaders.

Michael Ambjorn
2015-16 IABC Chair 

Commercial Thinking Critical to Creating Lasting Change

An interview with Clare Woodcraft – by Ginger Homan, ABC in connection with the 2016 IABC World Conference Foundation Panel on giving.

A world that doesn’t need foundations – that is the dream that drives Clare Woodcraft CEO of the Emirates Foundation.

Clare Woodcraft
Clare Woodcraft

“We are working to eradicate a problem, to create solutions that can be spun off into self-sufficient businesses,” says Clare. “That is how you get long-term solutions. We can deliver social value through our businesses and get to a place where we no longer need foundations.”

Under her leadership, Emirates Foundation has transformed from one that was a short-term grant giving organization to one that is focused on solving a social problem – permanently.

“The idea is to focus your efforts so that every dollar spent helps make true, systemic change,” said Clare. “Before we were giving to all sectors. It is very difficult to measure social impact, to determine what is working, what is not.”

Using the model of Venture Philanthropy, the Foundation conducted market research to understand the gaps in the market and then to determine how to fill them. Based in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, they explored the economic challenges of the country, along with the country’s goals and the underlying core strengths.

The research showed that by focusing on the youth of UAE, the Foundation could help create a sustainable future for the country.

Today the Foundation has six programs, all focused on inspiring, empowering and guiding youth to create a thriving nation.

“Even the approach to fundraising is different,” says Clare. “No longer are we going into a corporation and asking them for money to support our causes. Now we are bringing something of value to the table and asking them to partner with us for mutual benefit. We build a value proposition around their corporate objectives, showing our common goals and how we can create more social impact together. These are true partnerships — we are offering them a service, not just asking for money.”

Foundations experimented with variations on the classic grant-giving model for years, but as budgets got squeezed, philanthropists began blazing new trails in funding models designed to yield social impact, as well as a financial return on their investments. Clare has taken this model and created a foundation with programs that can solve the social issue, but also generate enough funding to ultimately be self-supportive.

“Our goal is to create programs that fix a social issue,” says Clare. “What do young people need? What does the market need? Can we create a product or service that closes the gap? Then we test solutions and find the right balance using business-based concepts. That doesn’t mean we are turning the philanthropic sector into a commercial entity,” she added. “What is means is that there is a call for philanthropic funds to be spent wisely and more systematically so that they create long-term change.”

“In today’s world, businesses can’t just focus on the bottom line. Millennials want companies that are focused on meeting a purpose beyond the profit. They want to be a part of a business that delivers not just to the shareholder, but the broader stakeholder base.”

At Emirates Foundation they measure results with solid metrics tied to each program – how many did they deliver services to, were services delivered cost effectively, were participants satisfied, was the issue solved?

“The mindset of the organization has changed,” says Clare. “We are much more entrepreneurial – more like a private sector company. We have great traction with our corporate partnerships and funding from the private sector too. They trust us to create value – and we are.”

2016 IABC Annual General Meeting – Q&A

This post will be updated as we go through the Q&A – making sure we haven’t missed any of the questions from Twitter and submitted by email. If you have an additional question not covered here, please let us know.

Q: IABC Code of Ethics – the version approved at the 2016 AGM – when will it be posted to iabc.com?

It is has already been updated – find it here: iabc.com/about-us/governance/code-of-ethics/

Big thanks again to IABC Fellow Barbara Puffer ABC and the Ethics Committee for their leadership in this consultative process.

Q: 2016 IABC Survey – what were the key insights and when will we learn more?                

Thanks to all who participated: members current, past and prospective. We had a great response rate.

The results are literally just in and analysis is still underway.

The board reviewed the first draft at the board meeting immediately before the AGM. It is the first time we’ve done this in a long time – and the first time with professional support. Once we have actionable insights, they will be really useful for HQ – and Regions and Chapters. For more on how this will unfold, keep reading.

Running a survey after a break, compared to a consistent year-on-year survey, is a bit different. Basically, people share feedback as far back as last time they were asked. In this case it is a number of years. Which also means that a fair amount of the feedback did not come as a surprise to the board – as similar input has been gathered from 1:1 meetings, chapter events, conferences and so on. What it has added is an important and essential additional layer of data – and with professional support from the vendor, an independent view.

We want to make sure we use the data to focus the organisation – and help us advance in a positive way.

Big thanks to Claudia Vaccarone who wrote the board paper that kicked off this whole process – and the Membership Task Force for their massive contribution – and thanks to Stephanie Doute and Carlos Fulcher on staff for driving this forward.

In line with the fact that some of the feedback did not come as a surprise, some recommendations are already well underway – as per the AGM remarks from the 2015-16 Chair. That said, there is much to be done to further advance the organisation –

Timeline

  • June 2016 – Email to all participants with thanks for participating; top insights and next steps
  • June 2016 – Email to all IABC Leaders building on the above + Q&A on IABC Leadership Forum
  • July 2016 – Email to all Regional and Chapter Leaders with more relevant insights for regions and chapters as relevant
  • November 2016 – IABC Leadership Forum Call status update and Q&A
  • February 2017 – Leadership Institute – status and Q&A

We will also report progress as relevant on this blog – and in our regular reports.

 

2016 IABC Annual General Meeting – in brief

The meeting in brief:

Also, at the meeting the 2015 AGM Minutes were agreed, the revised IABC Policy Manual was noted and the IABC financials were discussed – including the 2015 Audit Report

Annual Report

2015-16 Chair’s remarks in brief

1000+ leaders around the world put their shoulders to the wheel in the last year. It is thanks to these hard-working practitioners that the association, and our shared work for the profession, has moved forward. So if you meet an IABC leader, please stop and say thank you. They’ll appreciate it.

In addition to the progress reported in the Annual Report

RECOVERY

We’re returning to growth and we’ve overcome the show-stopping issues.

We have conducted the comprehensive portfolio review we promised at last year’s AGMand this has enabled us to:

FOCUS

First and foremost on Strategic Advisors – the strongest segment in the IABC Career Roadmap – because we can’t be all things to all people. This was further to a global consultation (Council of Regions, Regional Conferences, and LIs etc.). And it has been validated by the recent survey (results literally just in!).

Which in turn means we’re now obsessing about:

VALUE

A member wall is kicking in just after World Conference – increasing membership value overnight + the Membership Task Force has made further huge strides (stand by for survey insights for chapters and regions!) – and a pricing review under way working with the Finance Committee.

Which in turn leads us to our secret advantage as an association:

LEADERS

We clarified and aligned Who Does What and our Theory of Change – and a re-designed Leader Centre is on the way. We have also reaffirmed the continual investment in leadership – including our commitment to a competency-based Open Call – and much much more…

All in line with our brand platform… and our commitment to be:

OPEN

Regular quarterly reports, annual report + board blog with 70+ updates in the last year – and a GuideStar Gold Star rating for organisational transparency.

In conclusion: thank you leaders. You made it happen. You created connection like never before.

Here’s to the 2016-17 board – and our 1000+ leaders around the globe who will take things to the next level. Stand by for much much more on the year ahead from Dianne and the team.

But first: #IABC16. Let’s make it heard around the world.

Michael Ambjorn

P.P.S. If you want to do a deep-dive, you may also want to check out some of the other posts on this blog. Here are the key categories and what you can find within them:

#IABCieb Notes & Queries

Notes from IABC International Executive Board meetings.

IABC Leadership Forum

Q&A and more from the 2015-16 Leadership Forums.

Annual General Meeting

Notes from the Annual General Meetings.

Field Notes

A range of reflections – some examples:

Guest posts

Does exactly what is says on the tin. We always need more of these.

The Weekly Venn

It is all about the intersect…

 

The #IABC16 Bloq Squad – step up!

Here’s the official blog squad for the #IABC16 World Conference

Be sure to follow these intrepid international reporters – they will share their insights from key sessions – as 1,000 communicators from around the world convene in New Orleans.

Brad Gorman
Brad Gorman

Brad Gorman
United States

Communications & Engagement Manager at Whirlpool Corporation.

Follow @BradGorman

Claudia Vaccarone
Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone
France

Head of Market Research & Customer Experience at Eutelsat and also a member of the #IABCieb.

Follow @claudia_v_

Alain Legault
Alain Legault

Alain Legault
Canada

Directeur des communications, affaires publiques et relations gouvernementales at Cégep Edouard-Montpetit et son École nationale d’aérotechnique. Also #IABCieb. 

Follow @IcareMtl

Amy Miller

Amy Miller
United States 

Senior Customer Communication Specialist at LexisNexis, one of the leading providers of legal, government, business and high-tech information sources. 

Kristin Hancock
Kristin Hancock

Kristin Hancock
Canada

Manager Of Communications College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.

Follow @KristinAnneH

Christine Elmer
Christine Elmer

Christine Elmer
Australia

Director, Marketing and Community Relations Cabrini Health 

Step up and join the #IABC16 blog squad: be a conference reporter in three easy steps

  1. Write a brief (<500-word) story about a session you’re attending, drawing out key learning points and highlights – following the IABC Content Guidelines when developing the story.
  2. Tag with #IABC16 and post it on your preferred platform – for example: LinkedIn, Medium or your own blog.
  3. Share via your favourite social channels – again using the hashtag so others can find it and help spread the word.

Also, submit your best story of the day on IABC’s editorial contributions page. Filed stories will be reviewed for possible inclusion on wc.iabc.com – and may be featured in CW Observer, a blog-based supplement to IABC’s magazine, Communication World.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Got Tone of Voice?

Use the brand framework as a model for reflection

As we come up to World Conference in New Orleans, leaders across the world are taking stock.

Here’s a perhaps unusual idea which we introduced in the most recent quarterly report: the brand framework can also be used a reflective model for where we’re at as an organization.

Characteristic Behaviour – what it means Bringing it to life at the board level
Accessible Collaborative, supportive, consultative
Open Transparent, direct, open minded
  • Concise notes from meetings published
  • Monthly Leadership Forum calls with open Q&A
  • Fast response to all organisational questions raised on the IABC LinkedIn groups, Twitter etc.
Lighter Fun, friendly, welcoming
  • This is a given wherever you are in IABC!
Contemporary Current, leading-edge
  • IABC sets the global standard for professional communication
  • The sponsorship of the Global Communication Certification Council is
Professional Effective and efficient

Why not have a go as you reflect on your own path in IABC the last year?

I would love to hear your thoughts – tweet me @michaelambjorn – and be sure to come to the Annual General Meeting at #IABC16 in New Orleans to share your biggest success as an IABC leader this past year.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Here’s the most recent report in full – in case you want to flick through it again.

IABC gets Gold rating for its commitment to transparency

2016 IABC GuideStar Gold Star RatingYou may have seen in earlier quarterly reports that IABC had recently achieved a Silver rating from GuideStar.

We’ll, we’ve now taken it to the next level: Gold.

It is in line with our strategy – and our aim to be open, accessible – and accountable.

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

As a non-profit we fit well into the work that GuideStar is advancing for the overall industry:

“We envision a nonprofit sector strong enough to tackle the great challenges of our time. GuideStar’s Nonprofit Profiles provide you with the information you need to make smart decisions, build connections, and learn from each other to achieve your missions.”

Big thanks to all who contributed to making this happen – and be sure to come to the Annual General Meeting at #IABC16 in New Orleans if you want to learn more.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

 

#FutureFitComms – the follow-up

Big thanks to conference producer Kirsty Brown who helped pull this together – and the IABC UK board (especially Casilda Malagon) for putting this event on. 


RESOURCES, ADVICE AND QUOTES

** If we’ve missed something above (or below), be sure to share it now using #FutureFitComms **

RESOURCES

Find more useful resources on this IABC Extreme Reading / Listening List as collated by your international peers.

ADVICE

At the heart of every good comms strategy…

  • Use of rigour and a systematic approach to answer – ‘on what basis do you know what you know?’
  • Communications sharpens the organisation’s mission. Make sure your comms strategy / plan is rigorously aligned to the leaders’ strategy.
  • Focus on business objectives or how communications makes the business more professional, rather than delivery.
  • Employ strategic planning that incorporates insights from staff on what think will work in their context.
  • Professional communicators are / should be trusted advisors. Claim your place!

IABC resources that can help you put the above into practice:

Organisations are about people…

  • Find your soul, humanise your brand.
  • Communicators humanise business.
  • Humanise it!
  • Good conversations with humans – “understanding the soul of the business. Trust and transparency are key.
  • Two-way conversations, through whatever channel it takes. Around the campfire analogy.
  • The growing importance and understanding of how our minds work and how we use that knowledge to improve our ability to understand and influence audiences.
  • Know yourself, know your customer. Required: self discipline!

Making it happen…

  • Know about filter bubbles leading to confirmation bias when reaching people.
  • Working out loud in a network #WOLAN.
  • Use visuals to make the complex simple.
  • Encouraging interactivity across cultures and technologies.
  • Integration of chatbots to interrogate engagement and social discussions.
  • Incentivise collaboration by remembering motivations: reputation; self satisfaction.
  • Don’t just protect a reputation, build a brand (the 3-some thing!)

IABC resources that can help you put the all of the above into practice:

  • Tap into your peers at IABC – attend local and global events (we hope to see you at #IABC16 too!).
  • Consider mentoring or apply to become a mentee – learn more here.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“The future of the future will still contain the past” – Everything But The Girl

PROPOSED NEXT STEPS

  1. Follow the speakers to stay tuned to what they’re up to next.
  2. Share this with a communicator who couldn’t make it but who might find it useful… and if you’re not already an IABCer, why not join now.

Big thanks to all who contributed in-person – and virtually.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn