Managing the Conversation

31 January 2007

My colleague David Ferrabee, for whom I have the utmost respect, asks a pretty inocuous question today: what is internal communications?

Towards the end of his analysis, he suggests it’s “the process of managing the internal conversation in an organisation.”

I’m no internal communications expert (and believe me, David and his team are some of the best), but the idea of “managing” conversations sits slightly uneasily with me. Maybe I’ve spent too much time with social media to make me think that any kind of information flow can be managed any more.

The mantra I have been reciting to anyone who will listen (and many more who won’t) is that it’s no longer about managing or controlling conversations, but about enabling and facilitating them.

I happen to think this applies just as much to internal communications as it does to external.

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4 Responses to “Managing the Conversation”

  1. David Ferrabee


    Thanks for bigging us up!  I think we are probably into semantics.  But let me see if I can dig myself into a hole.  Most of the people we get to talk to (and want to talk to) are operational and bottom-line focused.

    We try to turn their attention to how communications can help them deliver.  To do so we have to use common language: manage, lead, execute…

    Those can map onto some of your words: enable, facilitate, contribute…

    And, to be a bit controversial for social media purists, if the organisation owns the technology they need to get involved in the conversations that take place on it.  And help to point them toward useful solutions.  (Or manage them.)

    Right.  Fire away.  But think about it from the perspective of management and business success… as well as democracy.


  2. Niall Cook

    Fair points. I agree about managing the technology, but still not sure about managing the conversations themselves. Maybe it is just semantics though (or my paranoia).

  3. Steven Noble

    IMHO: Yes, it’s about how you will enable the conversation, but even more so it’s about how you will communicate.

    (I’m talking about communication in general, not internal communication in particular.)

  4. Change & Internal Communications

    Um.  Good question.

    I my last post I had the social media apostles take exception to the idea…

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