Changing business environment requires companies to communicate their strategy

Knowledge Sharing Breakfast discussed how communicating a company's strategy can be used to build a common understanding in a global environment.
Knowledge Sharing Breakfast

The departments of the School of Business take turns in organising Knowledge Sharing Breakfast guest seminars around various research subjects. A total of five Knowledge Sharing Breakfast events have now been organised in the school's history.

In February it was the turn of the unit of Organizational Communication and Professor Leena Louhiala-Salminen to invite a group of partners and directors responsible for communication to share their ideas. The main theme of the seminar was how companies can ensure that their strategy will be understood and implemented correctly in a global environment.

How can businesses with global operations get their personnel to move in a common direction and establish a common understanding of their strategy? Is achieving a common understanding even possible? These are some of the questions Vice Dean, Professor Rebekka Piekkari from the School of Business used to introduce the seminar in her opening words.

‘The infrastructure of communication is undergoing a revolution at the same time as organisations are shifting from static to dynamic project organisations’, said Professor of Practice Minna Logemann from the unit of Organizational Communication, belonging to the Department of Management Studies.

Communication has shifted from a local to a global level and communication responsibility has shifted from the organisational level to individuals.‘We talk about the democratisation and uncontrollable nature of communication’, Logemann said.

According to Logemann, communication itself implements a strategy within companies. Communicating in several channels on a global scale builds a new, common understanding of the goals and meaning of a company's operations. 

Our rapidly and constantly changing business environment requires a completely new kind of leadership. Companies that are able to keep up with the changes and adapt their operations to the prevailing conditions will succeed.

‘Each member of an organisation must understand the strategy in order to be able to react to changes in his or her work in accordance with the strategy’, Logemann reminded the participants.

Language is one of the building blocks of operations

‘Our corporate language is English’ − what does this mean and how far will it take companies, asked Professor Leena Louhiala-Salminen and Docent Anne Kankaanranta as they took the floor. They invited the participants to examine the challenges of communication in a global organisation from a linguistic perspective.

The discussion was animated as participants commented on the theme based on the situation in their organisation. Although English is the official language of global organisations, challenges are found on local, cultural levels. How language is used in social situations between non-native English speakers and the meanings created in these situations are largely culture-related. This aspect is emphasised by the English as a Business Lingua Franca (BELF) concept.

BELF is a source of challenges for company management. ‘It is essential to be aware of the role language and communication have in building the operations of the entire organisation’, Louhiala-Salminen said. ‘It is worth thinking about what the “official” English used by the company should be like’, Kankaanranta added.

At the end of the event Atte Palomäki, Executive Vice President, Communications & Branding from Wärtsilä Corporation emphasised that although the democratisation of the media has introduced challenges, it has also provided companies with a direct link to strategically important audiences. This is an opportunity that should not be left untapped.

The Knowledge Sharing Breakfast guest seminars are designed for business managers and decision- and policy-makers. They provide an opportunity to acquire the latest information and take part in an inspirational debate on topical subjects. More info

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