Communication Plan

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

People often resist change because they have not been informed and do not understand the reason for the change (the “why”). A communication plan is a simple tool that helps us manage this risk.

A strong communication plan focuses on delivering clear, consistent messages in a manner that is both convenient and attractive. Successful communications mix methods of delivery to ensure that the message is received. This is important because some people won’t read a detailed email but will listen intently in a staff meeting or vice versa.

Effective communication features messages tailored to each audience’s needs. Develop key messages (about five or so themes) that are most important for your audience to hear, internalize, and act on. At first, it is especially important that these messages are focused on the why rather than the how. Repeat the core messages to gain buy-in and adoption.

Communication plans are simple and powerful. Remember, the challenge is not in creating the plan but in executing it faithfully!

How to Apply It

  1. Identify all audiences you need to reach and what they need to know.
  2. Develop a series of messaging themes that can be tailored to the listener, focusing on the reason for change before the specific actions.
  3. Draft your plan, ensuring that all audiences are reached in ways that fit their style.
  4. Execute the planned communications and gauge feedback.
  5. Set a timeline for on-going messaging during the project.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • People prefer to hear vision messages from executive leaders and details from their direct managers.
  • People learn differently, so mix delivery modes and styles.
  • Relentless repetition is critical to retention.
  • Communicate in the context of other changes that are affecting the audiences.
  • Utilize existing communication forums when possible to avoid unnecessary disruptions

Example Messaging Themes from the DORA Call Center Project

  • Our goal is to deliver world-class service to our DORA customers.
  • We are operating in a tough environment: increasing call volume, increasing variation, etc.
  • This is our first Lean effort and sets the stage for continued improvement in customer service.
  • Call center people are important because they are the face of DORA to our customers.
  • Will engage the people who do the work in identifying and addressing opportunities.
  • This WILL NOT result in job loss.

Example Initial Communication Plan from DORA Call Center Project

Audience and Objective
Message Contents
Core team and supervisors – Prepare them to participate
  • What Lean is and why we should care (theme)
  • Project objectives and timeline My role in the effort and impact on me
  • What we will do
  • Next steps
Kickoff meeting (30 – 60 minutes)
Project Sponsor
Feb 17
All DORA employees – Awareness
  • What is being done with first Lean event
  • Why it is important
  • Update on progress in March
Executive - Director
Feb 17
Call center staff impacted by the analysis (3 groups) – Prepare them to contribute
  • What Lean is and why we should care (theme)
  • Importance of call center personnel
  • Project objectives and timeline My role in the effort and impact on me
  • What we will do
  • Next steps
Kickoff meeting (30 – 60 minutes)
DORA Supervisors
Week of Feb 20
Division – Awareness
  • Introduction
  • Scope overview
  • Permission to flow down to their Leadership
Staff meeting
Project directors – Sponsor and staff
Feb 23
Other call center in DORA – Awareness
  • What Lean is and why we should care (theme) Overview of effort
  • Contact names and when they can expect to hear next
Three-page flow down or talking points for supervisors
Week of Feb 27