Mapping out comms

I’m interrupting a particularly lovely glass Barbera d’Asti to bring you this so I’ll be quick.

I’ve been through a couple of lean management workouts at work and they are great but take ages if they’re done properly and people grudge the time away from doing the actual work.

On the last two channel shift projects I’ve worked on, a colleague from IT who sits on these groups with me does business process mapping. At a lean project this is usually done with Post Its on the wall but Margaret produces lovely flow diagrams and at a glance you can see the really complex bits, the double handling and the dead ends. Managers can also see the weak points in the process that can be tightened up and the areas for improvement.

From the US National Archives under Creative Commons Licence via Flickr

From the US National Archives under Creative Commons Licence via Flickr

Last week we had a comms meeting with one of our departments and the Roads Head of Service mentioned in passing that this year a priority for him will be for us to look at how we promote the roads investment programme. This has always been a tricky one for us. Reporting roads faults is one of the biggest hits on our website and one of the biggest volume of calls for the call centre. This makes it seem like our roads are really bad but I can assure you they’re actually very good in comparison to some other council areas. We have a lot of remote rural roads as well as urban roads and we are spending a lot of money improving them. The trouble is that regular features and press releases about either particular roads or the whole programme wind people up because all they are interested in is their own road or the pothole they drive round on the way to work. We’re good at telling people about the road closing but not so good about telling them when it’s open again and if it was opened on time and on budget.

Anyway, I had a flash of inspiration about a slightly different use for Margaret’s process maps. We’re going to sit down and work out the process on paper from when a fault is reported, to the inspection, to the road being closed, the work being done and the road opened again. Just by looking at that process from a comms perspective we should be able to identify points where our team can step in, whether it’s with a tweet, a press release, a web item, whatever. I’m guessing here, but there may be scope for the roads officer to get on Twitter and upload a photo as the road is being opened. We may even decide to go old school with a leaflet through the doors of the houses and businesses affected by the closure.

I love doing this kind of thing because I’m basically nosey about other people’s business but it usually takes someone like me who knows nothing about the process to see it with a new pairs of eyes and question the things that are done that way just because they always have been.

So the proposal is done we just have to find time in our diaries. I actually quite fancy getting some training in business process mapping because I think it could be used a lot for comms plans.

Today I have learned:

  • lie-ins give me a sore head
  • going by the responses to my intranet survey it looks like I’ll be running an employee photography club soon – eep!

Tonight’s track

Tonight’s recipe

Chinese five-spice chicken salad


Serves 2

This is the quickest dinner ever – 10 minutes max – but healthy and tasty.


3 tsp Lazy ginger

1 tsp Lazy Red Chilli

2 tsp five-spice powder

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 chicken fillets, cubed

half a tsp sugar

juice of a lime

a good dash of sweet chilli sauce

a bag of baby salad

a good sprinkling of sprouted seeds (I used pea, bean and lentil)

Method: Put all the ingredients except the chilli sauce, salad and seeds in a bowl and mix well.

Heat a wok and tip in the chicken. Stir fry for about 5 minutes till cooked. Add the salad and stir till the leaves begin to wilt. Add the chilli sauce and heat through. Serve in bowls with the seeds sprinkled over the top.

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