Filming beyond the silos

17th September 2019

Working across organisational boundaries was new thinking 25 years ago, when Jack Welch championed the GE ‘Work Out’ process as an agile methodology to raise engagement and collaboration, and to reduce decision cycles.

Sadly, most business leaders today know that silo thinking is limiting, yet they still unwittingly reinforce silo mentality in their response to innovation. ‘Silo thinking’ is an inward-looking tendency that results in localised, disconnected decision-making and supports a culture where there is a lack of entrepreneurial risk-taking as well as a lack of ownership. This blindspot results both in leaders not responding to the possibilities of new developments from outside the organisation, and not recognising the potential of innovation from within.

I’m learning this anew, in describing the relevance of film-making to organisational leaders that talk about ‘digital transformation’ and ‘digital leadership’, yet who are often blind to the possibilities of friendly digital technologies (such as film) in their approach to people development and business transformation. And this is in an age where Millenials and Digital Natives inside and outside of the organisation constantly create and share ‘moving images’ to connect with and influence one another!

As a digital medium, film enables digital transformation

For instance, in describing to a Director of People & Organisational Development recently, how I use film-making to connect people, teams and cultures as part of a change approach, he said, “So this is corporate communications! Go talk to the Comms Team!” I did. The Marketing Director exclaimed, “Oh, I see! You do Talent Development – talk to the POD people!” From within their silos, each was partly right and yet also, completely wrong…

Film is the perfect medium for facilitating shifts both at leadership development retreats or business transformation workshops, as well as after these events, back in the business.

I’m not talking about the cheesy, heavily-scripted and massaged messages that form the usual fodder of employee and customer communications. Honestly - who believes this clichéd, predictable, over-processed stuff anymore?

This is not 'warts and all' filming, but it is absolutely not the heavily-glossed and over-glamorised corporate comms that we all ignore!

I’m talking about the power of film to humanise and to connect across silos… to tell emotionally-resonant stories of what honest engagement by real leaders, managers and project teams is like. We can all resonate with and relate to people who are being authentic and showing us how they are striving to make progress. This is not ‘warts and all’ filming, but it is absolutely not the heavily-glossed and over-glamorised corporate comms we all groan about and ignore!

Over the last 3 years, with my friend and colleague Jon Riley, I have been using film-based facilitation to develop leadership presence; to add value within meetings; and to spread change virally beyond meetings. This work is not simply a case of turning cameras on people and pressing ‘record’ in the way that production companies do… understandably, this is more likely to induce fight, flight or freeze responses! Rather, we have been using film-making as facilitators, an integral and innovative part of our workshop design.

This sort of filming is based on the power of creating emotional resonance more than factual persuasion; about giving teams a felt sense of what happened so that they share in the moments of truth and can also connect more experientially with the insights their leaders arrive it and wish to share; about inspiring belief through understanding the process that leaders go through as well as the outcomes that are realised in important meetings; and through using creative process to stimulate creative dialogues both at and beyond the awayday… And once edited, film enables 3600 viral communicationrather than slow information cascades down silod hierarchies.There are so many ways that film-based facilitation contributes to transformation.

As Jack Welch pointed out all those years ago, it just requires working beyond the corporate silos…

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