I find it funny that what was once a fun game when we were kids has actually evolved into a REAL strategy for many large corporations – that game is “telephone,” and that strategy is corporate communications.

More executives are taking a tactic from Netflix and Hulu – Using Video Over The Top (OTT) approach to communicate to employees.

Schneider Electric logo

You remember, get a line of kids and start on one end with a simple statement and have each kid repeat the statement to the kid on the right until the statement makes it to the end. Without fail, the end result does not resemble the statement you started with. Well, that is exactly what many companies do to communicate key strategies and plans to their employee communities.  The process starts by bringing in the top managers of the company to hear the strategy and plans, then in a waterfall fashion, ask them meet with their direct reports, then ask that group to meet with their direct reports, and so on. What’s the end result?  I’m sure you can guess.

More companies are looking to break the ineffectiveness of this approach by using live video and Video on Demand (VOD) to communicate key strategies and messaging to their employees.  Not only does this remove the middle stops of the “telephone” process, but it also creates a golden opportunity for executives to show their passion and personality across the organization.

I’m not going to make this all about Millennials, but thinking of the motivations from younger employees is a good place start when thinking about taking this direct via video approach.  Just as the Internet has enabled publishers to go direct to consumers in the entertainment world, enterprise video has done the same for corporations and their employees.

One of our customers, Schneider Electric, which has a global energy services team of 180,000 employees, is charged with rolling out its corporate strategy each year. The Paris-based company had typically brought its top 1,000 managers to France for an annual kickoff with the goal of getting management on the same page to start the process of communicating the company’s strategy to all employees using the waterfall method.  In preparing for 2015, Schneider CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire decided it was time to take the message directly to employees.  He made the decision that the Leadership Forum 2015 would be broadcast via live video streams to all employees and would be then available via Video on Demand for those that missed it live.

So, after years and years of face-to-face meetings with top managers only, Leadership Forum 2015 was broadcast to employees across 55 countries to 465 sites reaching 35,000 live viewers.

Tricoire has an amazingly energetic style and his enthusiasm is infectious.  Having himself and his executive team deliver the annual message directly to employees was very effective – no trickle down “telephone” effect here.  Direct, impactful communications of the company’s top priorities, key areas of progress and financial goals were all direct benefits of this approach.  But on top of all the standard things you would expect this event made the global company feel closer together. It made the executive team look like a “team.” It created a bond between the executive team and the employees. Executives became people with passion and personality and accents and mannerisms. They started a real connection.

This is what they had to say:

“While the cable television production quality and the reliability of the stream were of utmost importance to us, the fact that we were able to reach more than 100,000 employees at the same time was truly priceless. We brought the management team and our employees closer together and cut out weeks and weeks of seemingly unproductive cascading time. We have now made this communication format the default solution for large-scale communication with our employees. Dozens of live broadcasts have been executed since and we are going to repeat the format for our annual kick-off meeting in January.”  — Torsten Raak, SVP of Experience Marketing at Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric partnered with us (Kollective.com) for the streaming and SD ECDN solution and with El-J Productions (el-j.com).  Schneider Electric now leverages this infrastructure multiple times a quarter for divisional and regional meetings and plans to build on their success for a bigger and better Leadership Forum 2016.  The numbers reflect the success!

The feedback from Schneider Electric employees was fantastic.  Comments about transparency, speaking directly to employees, having everyone on the same page, showing passion and teamwork dominated the post-event commentary.  We toast to you, Schneider Electric, job well done!

Schneider Electric is a wonderful example of what can be done.  Using video to go over the top to employees is a very powerful virtual venue.  It is clearly a venture of no return.

All the discussion of how to better manage communication and engagement with Millennials is a great way to introduce the idea of packaging your message differently.  The changing workforce clearly causes most management teams to have to think differently.  If you can’t create the venue for clear and direct communication and if you still plan on using the waterfall “telephone” approach, your effort on messaging will be in vain.