Monthly Archive June 2015

ByMichael Ambjorn

#IABCieb Notes & Queries: June ’15 Board Meeting

The IABC International Executive Board – aka #IABCieb – held its first board meeting of this term at #IABC15 in San Francisco and here’s a quick recap of what was on the table:

Strategy 2014-17 & 2015 priorities

Dianne Chase

Dianne Chase

Shannon Frederick ABC

Shannon Frederick ABC

Ron Fuchs APR

Ron Fuchs APR

Alain Legault

In addition to welcoming new board members featured to the right – and thanking those outgoing – the incoming board started off reviewing the road travelled so far.

From the strategic intent for 2014-17:

Financial recovery and sustainability is primary, as is the loyalty and development of our members and leaders and consolidating gains from the 2011-14 strategy.

The big opportunity to be grasped is then: Increased reputation in the profession; better brand positioning; and greater interaction with business – as a revenue generator and reputationally.

To the more detailed priorities for 2015.

I thought I might share what an engaging road it has been – as it has been a long one, I’ve put that right at the end for those who want to geek out on what it takes to arrive at a shared strategy – there are no shortcuts…

Following the strategy grounding, the board discussed alignment – and ran through the playbook for the year: essentially who does what, when and why.

The board then considered a number of papers for decision:

Membership Task Force & Survey Policy

Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone brought two papers for consideration. Both advance our 2014-17 strategy – and a number of 2015 priorities in specific. Both were adopted:

  1. The first one kicked off a focused look at our membership offering. A range of initiatives have looked at elements of membership over the years, yet based on feedback from our leaders across the world, it is time to take a look at the bigger picture as the market is changing fast. The group includes leaders from across the world identified through the IABC Council of Regions and will report back at the 2016 Leadership Institute.
  2. The second paper was on surveying – recognising that in the age of big data it also needs to be well structured! The aim is to switch from the current ad-hoc approach to a regular schedule of timely and relevant surveys from IABC that can help inform leaders for action at all levels of the organisation

Nominations Process

In the interest of securing the best leadership talent to help IABC deliver on its mission, vision and purpose – and in line with its stated philosophy:

“IABC is a volunteer-driven organization whose strength is derived from the dedication of its members to the advancement of their profession, with a commitment to improving the effectiveness of organizations through strategic, interactive, integrated business communication management.”

The board agreed to institute open calls for relevant incoming IEB Board and Programmatic Committees using the IABC Leadership Competency Framework. Look out for the Open Calls!

Editorial Committee

Stephen Welch

Stephen Welch

The board considered a paper I had asked Stephen Welch to put together in collaboration with Natasha Nicholson, IABC’s Content Director and Editor of Communication World (CW).

Natasha Nicholson

Natasha Nicholson

I am glad to report that the board agreed to a proposal to reinvigorate our approach here, making it a shared approach across all of IABC – we have great events, insights and outputs created across the world every day. Now let’s turn it into a real global conversation.

Look out for the Open Call for a refreshed Editorial Advisory Committee to come in and help shape the conversation that advances the profession – and if you’re a Chapter Leader, you don’t have to wait, you can align your event schedule to the CW editorial calendar right now (and indeed, pitch an article).

Audit & Risk

Learn what is happening within nonprofit boardrooms today in this comprehensive review and analysis of the Leading with Intent survey data; includes insights into trends, strengths, and challenges across the sector.

Learn what is happening within nonprofit boardrooms today in this comprehensive review and analysis of the Leading with Intent survey data from BoardSource.

The board agreed to a broader remit for the IABC Audit Committee.

Good industry practice, as set out in Leading with Intent – a national index of nonprofit board practice – indicates that an organisation of IABC’s size should have a separate Audit Committee. This is already in place at IABC, yet historically it has focused mainly on the association’s finances, unlike other organisations where it has a broader remit. Also, unlike many Audit Committees it does not meet throughout the year, nor does it consider broader risk for the organisation – as is good
industry practice.

Again, look out for the Open Call!

IABC Annual Policy Review Checklist

IABC Fellow Brad Whitworth ABC

IABC Fellow Brad Whitworth ABC

Zora Artis GAICD

Zora Artis GAICD

Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE

Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE

The board also had a report on the work done by the IABC Policy Review Committe, led in its inaugural year by IABC Fellow Brad Whitworth ABC.

Brad reported that the Policy Review Committee has assisted across a number of areas across in the
2014-15 board year:

  • First broad review of the IABC Policy Manual for 10+ years.
  • Terms of Reference review and recommendations for the Global
    Communication Certification Council and the IABC Ethics Committee.
  • Review and recommendations for 2015 updates to the IABC bylaws.
  • New model bylaws for a Region – with a pilot roll-out for APAC.

Big thanks to the hard working 2014-15 team: Michael Ambrozewicz, Suzanne Poggio and our Executive Director Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE. Also congrats to Zora Artis GAICD who has taken the lead for this strand of work for 2015-16.

Notes from the road to #IABC1417

The IABC operates against a rolling three-year strategy and as the 2011-14 strategy came to a close, the work preparing the way for 2014-17 – aka #IABC1417 – was already well underway:

Russell Grossman ABC

Russell Grossman ABC

Back in 2013 the board directed the then Vice Chair, Russell Grossman ABC, to convene a working group to deliver a framework by June 2014 – and Russell in turn asked me to do the facilitation work.

Recognising that IABC strategy is by its nature iterative – we need to bring all stakeholders with us – #IABC1417 is not a big bang; more an evolution that helps us transform over time.

Overview of how we got to where we are at today:

  • Summer 2013 – Russell Grossman ABC convenes Strategy Group virtually
  • October 2013 – Strategy Group meets for Think Tank in Los Angeles and defines the challenge, sets out ambitions and identifies high level opportunities
  • November 2013 – January 2014 – Strategy Group deliberates further on Basecamp
  • February 2014 – The Council of Regions (CoR) and the leader of the Chapter Relations Task Force + key staff hold a Think Tank session at the 2014 IABC Leadership Institute in New Orleans. Burning issues are explored as a way of creating a common purpose. Prezi:
  • March 2014 – Outputs from the new deliberations continue on the dedicated Basecamp site; Past Chairs asked to start wrapping up outputs and outcomes from 2011-14 – aka – #IABC1114 so that we can honour and celebrate the many people who helped make it happen.
  • April 2014 – Strategy Group discussion continues via dedicated Basecamp; IABC’s International Executive Board (IEB) reviews strategy discussion deck
  • May 2014 – Deliberations continue virtually across the IEB and Strategy Group Basecamps in preparation for more formal review
  • June 2014 – A formal proposal for the strategy is taken to the IEB for approval
  • July 2014 – A senior staff day-long summit with the IABC executive held to further align on the strategy and agree the prioritised operational plan for the year which flows from it.
  • Autumn 2014 – This then determined the strategic workplan for IABC staff, to operationalise for 14- 15. The Strategy also became the workplan for the 2014-5 IEB.
  • January 2015 – Then IABC Chair Russell Grossman ABC gives update in quarterly report
  • February 2015 – Q&A with leaders at the ’15 Leadership Institute in Orlando
  • April 2015 – Further update in quarterly report
  • June 2015 – Annual Report for financial year 2014 issued

Stay tuned for the next steps on this blog.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

ByMichael Ambjorn

Introducing #IABCieb Notes & Queries; a Weekly Venn and more…

David Kistle ABC, IABC Chair 2004-05

David Kistle ABC

The first Chair of IABC to blog was David Kistle ABC – back in 2004 – some eleven years ago. Topical at the time as blog was in fact then the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year.

Russell Grossman ABC, Chair 2014-15

Russell Grossman ABC

Russell Grossman ABC picked up on this precedent as part of his commitment to visible leadership – and I’ll be carrying it on across my 2015-16 term.

I’ll be sharing Field Notes from trips. Also, to keep things regular, look out for a Weekly Venn connecting tools, people and practice related to international communications.

Last but not least, one of the things I’ve heard repeatedly over the years from our leaders across the world is a desire to be kept up-to-date with the broader work of the association’s board. People put in a remarkable amount of time and effort across the globe to advance the profession (and of course our shared organisation) and communication and collaboration are at the centre of making that work.

To that end I am introducing a category on this blog called #IABCieb Notes & Queries.

It has two simple aims:

  1. Share brief notes from board proceedings;
  2. Collate questions, queries – and their answers – for easy access.

Want to geek out and get a bit more of the backstory – and also the basic template I went through to explain this approach in more detail to others?

Read More

ByMichael Ambjorn

The year ahead: greater interaction, greater connection

SAP CEO Bill McDermott thanking his comms advisor on stage at #IABC15

SAP CEO Bill McDermott thanking his comms advisor on stage at #IABC15

If the financial crisis didn’t teach us anything else, then it hopefully taught us that it is not just commercial firms that need to operate professionally and with a solid business model.

Non-profits need to do that too, and increasingly we see expectations like this put on government departments as well. What is common across all of these? These organisations need solid professional communicators to support them. Don’t take my word for it. Take SAP’s CEO – our keynote speaker earlier [at #IABC15] – take his word for it.

The Global Communication Certification Council will, under the leadership of Sue Heuman, ABC, deliver the next level exam. Meanwhile the Academy will step up under the leadership of Theomary Karamanis to meet the need for new skills in fast changing landscape.

What can you expect from me? I will follow the path Russell has forged for visible leadership at IABC. At the time Russell took over we needed a strong central figure to continue to hold things together. Looking at this room, and reflecting on the progress we have made – as challenging as it has been – I would like to venture to say that we now need a thousand leaders to stand up and be counted.

We have a thousand leaders in this association.

You’re a highly engaged bunch. You’re kind. You’re hard working. And you’re demanding.

So what will I do to help you? I will do my utmost to live what we want the tone around here to be:

Accessible          Open         Lighter         Contemporary         Professional

To that end, and accompanying the now once-again regular quarterly reports I am instituting a quarterly progress call – the corporates amongst you will know it as an earnings call – but we of course have no shareholders. We do however have stakeholders and we need to continue to have regular exchanges, as piloted this year as ‘open mics’. Look out for an invite to a Google Hangout where you can hold me, and the board, to account, ask questions and get straight answers.

I will also kick off a new conversation once a month – aligned with the IABC editorial calendar – and I encourage you to participate, or indeed, kick off your own.

What do I hope to review with you when I stand here next year?

Read More

ByRussell Grossman

Stepping Across Content

It’s Sunday fortnight (that’s every two weeks folks) so time to write my blog.  In this case, my final as IABC International Chair, before I step across to the Past Chair role.

An attendee at the special Reception we held here in San Francisco, to thank all our leaders from across the world observed that, while I absolutely seemed content to hand over the reins, that action lacked the sense of imperative of my two predecessors.

I explained, simply, that I have had a good year; one in which much has been achieved – the reason being that Robin McCasland and Kerby Meyers worked so hard to tackle some of the really big issues the Association faced, so that the coast was clearer for me to progress.

So as I finish up the year, content I am.  At a personal level, it’s been great.  But more importantly, I believe it’s been one in which IABC itself has moved forward again.

Much of this has also been possible through the arrival of Executive Director, Carlos Fulcher; and as any Chair knows, working well with your Chief Executive is an essential precursor for organisational success.

I’ve been true to my promise to be more open and transparent with members.  I’ve made visible leadership a priority and have visited, in person, around 50 chapters, events or corporate members this year.
I’ve also done this blog fortnightly; produced 20 videos; been pretty active on Twitter; produced two Quarterly Reports (the next will be due in July); and created a direct IABC email link: – which did not have to go first to headquarters, and which I have usually replied to people on within 24 hours.

We also did the popular ‘open mic’ session at February’s International Executive Board, held at the International Leadership Institute in Orlando, and I held a similar session, virtually, with IABC Fellows later that month.

The response I’ve received to all this has been excellent. Undoubtedly, in a very enjoyable year overall, connecting with members has been the most enjoyable thing for me.

Plus, we have produced an Annual Report this year, for which I especially want to thank Vita Kernel ABC as the driving force.   That should be available online tomorrow (Monday).

Look How FarAnd of course we have launched our new ‘brand’.  I’ve used marks here around ‘brand’ because so far our communication has actually concentrated on a new logo.   It goes along however with the shared brand values which are an integral part of this exercise.

Like an oil tanker, turning IABC takes effort, time and patience.  We started to turn the wheel in the 2011-14 strategy; now the ship has begun to alter course, and the propeller is at full speed.

IABC knows we must supplement, and in some cases supplant, our traditional activities with ones which will bring in new revenue sources; those we can then continue to fund activities at the local level with, and ones appropriate for today’s generation.

But let me squash rumours that I have heard more than once in San Francisco that IABC is about to kill off World Conference.    There are no such plans.   In fact, we have just signed up for the Hilton in Washington for 2017.

We launched Certification and the IABC Academy this year.    The first Certification exam was on Sunday.

Both were long-promised to our global stakeholders; and all the research we’ve done this year on business brokerage also points to this being a winner for the future.    More work on this in the coming year.

The fact that I have never been a Chapter President, nor ever served on a Region Board; never entered or judged a Gold Quill nor a Silver Leaf has, I believe, allowed me to increase our ambition this year to strike out in previously non-traditional areas while committing to the best of what we know is the heart and soul of IABC.

But this is a work for the Association far from finished and I know that Michael Ambjorn, who worked with me last year on our three year (2014 – 2017) Strategy is committed to continue bridging the gap between those – principally, older generations – who know and love IABC for what it has been and those – principally younger generations – who do not regard us as a has-been.

We must ensure we remain time served, but do not become life expired..

This year, also, we have established a Communications Committee to boost our external communications : a work started but again, there is more to be done.

Knowing when to step across – and thereafter to step down – is as important as knowing when to step up.    In the coming year, I am looking at IABC’s ‘talent pipeline’ : how do we attract not just enthusiastic people to leadership in IABC, but more importantly capable ones.

Then, how do we keep people trained and motivated rather than drained and deactivated.

And finally, when we’ve finished with them, how do we put the best leaders in the recycle, rather than the general trash (what we know in the UK as the ‘black bin’).

Look out for my past chair’s blog, devoted to this subject.

I‘ve had an immensely enjoyable year and would like to thank everyone – and there are a huge number – who have supported me in my work this year.

I could also not have achieved this role without the patience and forbearance of my long-suffering wife, Mrs Grossman who as I write this has yet again gone alone to our friends’ children getting married.

Thank you all – it’s been a blast (as they say in Canada).

(PS – The Secret Weapon)

ByRussell Grossman

Hurry Sickness : An Epidemic Affecting Executives

This is my penultimate blog.   It’s a diptych with my “worse than goldfish” one.

….So my eye was caught this week by an item in the Financial Times about “hurry sickness”.

A chap called Richard Jolly, a professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, has identified what he calls “an epidemic of executives spending much of their time rushing around”.

They cram so much stuff into their schedules that there is no time to metaphorically look out of the window.

I find much of my own day – and night – is like this.

I regularly have two laptops (work and personal) and an iPad out on the desk : switching to one when the other is showing what we affectionately know at work as “the circle of doom” – that little thing that spins round while Windows 8 works out what it is supposed to be doing. (Mac users please sigh at this stage).

This very blog has been created over a period of four days – three paragraphs at a time.

And I probably read no more than 70% of what potentially I could usefully read.  One day, I will get to the end of the IABC Policy Manual.  Though I have to get to the middle first.

Basically, unless it is short, easy to read, and to the point : it can all just become too difficult to bother with.

British Airways’ crisis manual is, famously, just seven pages long. This blog, like the way we write news releases today, is deliberately meant to be scanned quickly, tasted, then swallowed or spat out. I would prefer you swallowed.

We need to remember this when writing things.    IABC has produced an annual report for the first time this year.  It will be online later in the coming week.

Producing the report is a commitment I made on accession, to increase IABC leaders’ transparency and our connection with leaders.  The Annual Report is also designed to be a reference for non-members for some months afterwards.

The challenge was to produce something where more people would read it than had written it; an instance which does not always visit corporate reports.

I hope we have achieved this in the IABC Annual Report.   Look out for it later this coming week.

And special thanks to Vita Kernel ABC, Sharon Hunter and our pro-bono design agency ImageStudio Creative Communications Ltd who have all done a brilliant job.