26 October 2010

Stop communicating, please!

Gerry McGovern, the famous guru on the subject of writing for the web has this famous line: giving an intranet to a communicator is like giving a pub to an alcoholic. Makes me smile every time I hear it, but it is so true!

In fact, this rule probably applies to most of the tools we use internally. Very often, when a manager or a project leader asks my advice, I tell him or her to skip 90% of what they were planning to communicate. Why write a newsletter that nobody reads, why add yet another full, non-relevant intranet page, why make a brochure about your project?

We need to reverse our tendency to communicate. My personal view is that our job as internal communicators should be to reduce the noise, not to add to it. Stop sending, unless you are really sure that you could add value for your readers.

Yes, I am guilty too, don’t get me wrong, but I have promised myself to change my habits, as the era of social media and information overload has changed the way that people want to receive information. Of course, we should not stop communicating, but, at least consider to stop SENDING.

So, why did I write this blog post, isn't that a contradiction? Remember, I am still that alcoholic in the pub, and old habits die slowly. In fact, I will probably write some more blog posts about this subject in the future, as I think the underlying trends will impact the world of internal communications immensely. And, of course, I must be arrogant enough to assume that I am adding value to you readers. I need a drink…


  1. You are so right. We have a mantra for our comms teams which is: 'fewer things better' - not sure they've quite understood it yet though! :-)


  2. Cheers, Jan!

    With the emergence of all the new and interesting social communication tools many 'alcoholics' need to switch to a different brand ie. communicate differently, and that's certainly going to take time!

  3. Totally agree. Intranets are here to streamline internal communications and bring at least some order in the communications chaos.

  4. Thanks for the support Richard, Martin and Denis. Richard, I like the mantra, I'm afraid we'll have to repeat it time and time again.

  5. Hi Jan - so happy to discover your blog! Greetings from NetJMC, intranet strategy specialist for IAA - intranet alcoholics anonymous!
    Shall we start a local chapter?

  6. Haha, Jane, you are my favorite intranet dealer, of course! Consider me a member of your chapter, glad that you found my blog, I linked to your blog in my blog list.
    Hope we find an opportunity to have our first chapter meeting soon! I saw on your blog that they did ask you to keynote in Utrecht. That is great news. Hope to meet you there.

  7. Nice post, Jan. You've listened long enough. So you're allowed to say something now. Please keep going! :-)