Archive for the ‘Organizational Communications’ Category

In perhaps a sign of what’s to come in the field of organizational communications, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently announced that it is launching the Center for Social and Cognitive Networks. The Center will be part of the Army Research Laboratory’s Collaborative Technology Alliances.

Drawing on the fields of social science, neuroscience, and cognitive science, and incorporating the work of experts in physics, computer science, mathematics, and engineering, the Center will study the role of social and cognitive networks in society and organizations.

Read: Rensselaer to Lead Multimillion-Dollar Research Center for Social and Cognitive Networks (RPI press release dated 10.22.09)

The Center’s research will cover five primary areas. Of the most interest to me was topic number two: networks and the transfer of knowledge within organizations. More specifically, the press release states that researchers will focus on “digital traces of collaboration and communication within an organization at all levels to understand how information flows.” Though much of the research in this area will focus on the Army, there is no doubt that the findings will be applicable to a wide range of organizational systems and settings.

In fact, according to Boleslaw Szymanski, Rensselaer’s Claire & Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and the Center’s appointed leader:

The impact of our work will be far-reaching. We are in an entirely new world where Twitter, cell phones, and wireless communication change the way we interact with each other. Together and with the support of the ARL, the researchers in the center will be able to investigate how technology enhances social interactions and how those technologies and relationships can be used to better measure and understand people’s interactions with each other.

Besides the obvious benefits of having research dedicated to exploring complex social and organizational interactions, the Center’s work will help emphasize the science behind communication within organizations. Too often, internal communications is viewed as a “soft skill” promoted by former journalists with a penchant for producing glossy employee newsletters. Research drawn on scientific disciplines will give credence to the field and hopefully help internal communicators earn buy-in from key stakeholders and secure a seat at the strategy-making table once and for all. Phew!

(PS: thanks to a loyal reader–my dad–for bringing this to my attention!)


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Lately, I’ve been reading and posting a lot about the use of technology in internal communications. In doing so, I’ve discovered that it’s easy to become preoccupied in learning about the newest software, gadgets, and tools that promise to transform your organization’s internal communications from good (hopefully) to great.

But even sophisticated technology can’t be separated from what we would probably consider the more basic means of communicating. In other words, internal communicators can’t afford to abandon excellent written, verbal, and persuasion skills in favor of hopping on the latest technology bandwagon.

That’s why I was so happy to stumble upon a feature article in IABC’s Student Connection (a newsletter for communications students) about writing for the Intranet. It was a good reminder that internal communications needs more than technology to be successful.

Read: Modifying Your Prose to Fit the Intranet by Shel Holtz for IABC Student Connection

Shel Holtz, ABC, IABC Fellow, also blogs regularly about internal communications at: A Shel of My Former Self.

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