Once a year we bring everyone at Speaking Up together under one roof.
The Big Day Out 2008 was I am glad to say a perfect expression of Speaking Up at its best.
There were two highlights for me. The first was our 'marketplace' where we recreated the sights and sounds of an East End market. Spivs wandered round with watches hanging off the insides of their coats. Traders bellowed from their stalls. Buskers played for coins. The place just buzzed while people swopped info and found reasons to talk with colleagues they had never met.
This idea came from a mad lunch I had with some staff. Totally unplanned but an indicator of how much better things are when you throw away the rule book now and then.
The second magic moment came when our African drummers didn't show up for their workshop. Two of our staff, Jo and Vicky, ran to the kitchen of the venue, borrowed a heap of pots and pans and ran the workshop themselves, based on something they had been to before.
We talk internally of 'The Speaking Up Person'. This kind of thing confirmed to me that we still do attract the kind of person you don't often encounter. Making Speaking Up the kind of place such people come to and thrive within is a big personal goal.
What does this mean? It means that you communicate in a real and genuine way with people. That you level with them and don't talk to using the language of KPIs (even if you have them). It means that your organisation is a place where good things can happen without undue complication or hassle. It means that you very clearly indicate,as managers, about both the mission and the plan. Finally it means you celebrate not only what you are achieving but also how you go about it. Because this is where the DNA of your organisation is located. The How.
When you think about your strategy, remember that in this crowded sector, the how is almost as important as the what.