Companies are failing to communicate why change is needed or help people to bring it about

From: Adaptation Ltd
Published: Mon Mar 19 2007

Most companies are not adopting new ways of helping people to understand and communicate complex messages. According to Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas, "There is a wide gulf between boardroom aspirations and achievements on the ground. People need to understand why changes are being sought. They also need to be equipped to help bring them about."

Companies should enable key workgroups to communicate in a ‘winning way’ according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, addressing corporate communicators this week at a Chartered Institute of Public Relations event at the East Midlands Media Technology Centre. The University of Lincoln Professor will explain how pioneering companies use new tools to engage key workgroups and enable them to handle communications challenges such as helping customers to buy complex products.

Coulson-Thomas’s research programme concentrates upon identifying critical success factors and what high performers do differently in areas that are vital for corporate success such as building relationships, bidding, pricing, purchasing and exploiting know-how. Some 2,000 organisations have contributed to studies to identify critical success factors and ‘winning ways’.

Areas examined range from communicating to visioning. Because most success factors are attitudinal and behavioural, investigating teams can distinguish the approaches of high performers or winners from the practices of low achieving losers. The results are summarised for the first time in Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ latest book ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ (Kingsham Press, 2007).

Effective communications are vital according to Coulson-Thomas, "Modern corporations are essentially networks of relationships based upon trust. When a reputation for fair dealing and accurate reporting is compromised the consequences can be dramatic. When bid teams and relationship managers cannot differentiate a corporation’s offerings from the competition business is lost."

The most successful communicators stand out. Coulson-Thomas explains: "They share information, knowledge and understanding with people whose cooperation is needed to achieve corporate aspirations. They are increasingly using a new generation of support tools to engage people in two-way communication and help them to understand. They encourage, welcome and react to feedback."

Prof. Coulson-Thomas finds: "Good communicators are not pre-occupied with themselves. They focus on the people they would like to establish, build and sustain relationships with. They try to understand, empathise with and reflect their aspirations, hopes and fears. They make direct and personal contact. They ensure people know what is expected of them and how they can contribute.’

According to Coulson-Thomas, "Communicators in winning companies consciously build mutually beneficial relationships. They forge longer-term partnerships. They are both sensitive and flexible. They listen. They monitor reactions and are alert to changing requirements. They recognise the importance of symbols and are visibly committed. They endeavour to match words with deeds."

The Professor’s investigations reveal that for companies with prospects communication is an integral element of management. It is built into work processes and the roles of managers. He also finds: "Successful communicators are more likely to think for themselves, question motivations, probe sources and assess likely implications. They take steps to ensure the veracity of corporate messages. They assume responsibility for what they communicate."

Coulson-Thomas has also found that: "Effective boards recognise that change can be stressful and only change what needs to be changed. Pioneers are using support tools to help people communicate complex messages to those likely to be effected and to show how they will benefit. When there are new products or technologies to launch people are enabled to explain with confidence and conviction their essence and help others to understand and acquire their offerings."

‘Winning Companies; Winning People, the differing approaches of winners and losers’ by Colin Coulson-Thomas is published by Kingsham Press (ISBN 1-904235-58-1; Price £19.95 plus postage and packing) and can be ordered on-line from

Details of Prof. Coulson-Thomas’ book ‘The Knowledge Entrepreneur’ which explains how support tools can be used to communicate complex messages and other reports presenting critical success factors and winning ways identified by the Winning Companies; Winning People research programme can be found from

Information on related bespoke benchmarking reports and workshops on critical success factors and winning ways can be obtained from

Information on support tools that can incorporate winning ways of communicating complex messages can be found on

Companies can also now compare their winning business, customer relationship and purchasing practices with their peers and high performing winners. Details of bespoke benchmarking and other services can be obtained from

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas has advised the boards of over 100 companies on how to improve board and/or corporate performance, reviewed the processes and practices for winning business of over 100 companies, authored over 30 books and reports, and presented at over 200 national, international and corporate events in 35 countries. He can be contacted by Tel: + 44 (0)1733 361149, Email: or via
Company: Adaptation Ltd
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