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Communicating effectively with your workforce

Mark McCrindle

Presented by: Mark McCrindle, award-winning social researcher, best-selling author and TedX speaker.

Run time: 38:55

Download a copy of this podcast (MP3, 23 MB)

Marc McCrindle presentation

Presented by: Mark McCrindle

Mark McCrindle:

Thank you Nigel. You could have gone on with some magic tricks. That was a great show and a great example of excellent communication as was Nick's presentation as well for those that were just here on sedentary lives but it was visual and real world case studies and interactive - all of those elements that are so key to effective communication in the workplace or in any other context. So you've just seen two great communicators.

I want to talk a little bit about the context in which we're communicating and I guess some of the key characteristics that define how we learn, how we respond to messages and really what defines our processing of information in this digital era of today. We certainly are communicating in a different time and a different context to workplace communication of 10, 20, 30 years ago. The new generations are shaped in a different way. I was looking at words of the year for the last five years. Every year dictionaries come out and they say 'This is a new word', 'This is the word of the year.' If we go back to 2011, five years ago, the word of that year was 'app'. Didn't have apps prior to 2011. Didn't have tablets prior to 2011. We had medications but not tablets on which we interact and these smartphones and these apps. So a new word for a new device and a new concept of interacting. The word of 2012 was the word 'cloud'. Now clouds have been around for a while too but the word has changed to conceptualise where we store our stuff. So new words highlighting the new technologies of today. The word of 2013 wasn't even a word. That's how strange these times are – 'hashtag' and that tells a lot about how we get our information. People don't even go to mainstream news websites to get their information. They just look at what are the trending hashtags because people are time poor. They're overloaded with information. They don't need more content. They're trying to find out what it is at the top of the pile. What are people talking about? What's the key content and so hashtag, a new category of collecting information and finding out what's happening.

The word of 2014 tells us something about our times as well – 'selfie' – a new way of taking photos, new way of communicating and that tells us something about communication. It's visual these days. A lot of the apps, a lot of the social media content that is shared of course is visual, not just written, the new way of connecting. The word of last year, the word of 2015 is another word that's not a word. Very strange the words of the year. This is the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year of 2015 and it was an 'emoji' and they don't even know how to describe it except for this phrase, 'face of tears with joy'. But that's how our world has changed and even in our text communication, interesting that they're called 'texts' and yet so much of the text is not actually text. It's images, it's pictures, it's emojis. Even now on Facebook it's not just the 'like' icon but a number of other emojis or emoticons that you can use to communicate how you're feeling. So it's communication that's visual, not just written. It's communicating of the feelings, of the emotions and not just of the rationale because you get a sense even with the new words and the new technologies, social networking, social media, it's of the relation or not just of the cerebral. This is hopefully highlighting how times have changed and it's happened in a decade.

Well if we go back a decade, Facebook had not yet gone public. It was just still just being used at universities in the US and in the last decade since it has opened up, what a transformation we've seen. In fact if social media sites were countries and you looked at the population of these social media sites and compared them to countries, then Facebook would be the largest country on the planet with 1.4 billion active users. In fact it was late last year that Mark Zuckerberg said that there was at one time in December last year, there was one billion people all logged into Facebook all at the same time. That's one in seven people on the face of the planet all on that one platform at once. It's phenomenal. The speed and the spread, the take-up, the adoption of these new technologies. More people on Facebook than people in China. Twitter has twice the population of what would be country three, the US. So if social media sites were countries they would dominate the population of the world. Even new sites like Instagram would round out the top 10 if social media sites were country. Instagram, they're another example of a visual medium of connectivity. We're still trying to see the business case for some of these sites like Instagram. Just a lot of people taking photos of food at the moment but I'm sure it will find more of a business purpose.

In fact I found a guy who picked up a good insight with Instagram. He put this up 'Instagram is down. Just describe your lunch to me.' But you see the point of these sites. They're visual. They're for fun. They're to keep in touch. They're social. Even that word 'selfie' which sounds narcissistic. It sounds isolationist. Actually is a photo normally not of yourself, by yourself but of others and sharing that with others. These are ways of communicating and connecting in a digital sense and it highlights how our era has changed. So this is the context in which we're communicating. It's what we call the great screen age and it's emerged in this decade and it has changed everything in terms of communication.

Now if we think about the screens that we carry, they were getting smaller and more portable. In the last couple of years they got larger – iPhone Plus and the iPad Pro. Their screens are getting larger. Here's a guy who picked up on a bit of a future trend as well which I thought was quite good. That's where it's all headed – bigger screens, but whether they end up getting smaller or not, well it's going to vary. But one thing that we do know is that we're spending more time on the screens and we're spending more time in front of multiple screens. There's more of this multi screening taking place. We're more bombarded with content on those screens. We're more easily distracted by those screens. So the ability to get that face-to-face connection, the ability to communicate outside of the screens is harder and the need to do it more proficiently is greater. It was an academic researcher Sigmund who studied the time per day the average adult in a Western nation spends face-to-face interacting compared to screen interaction and you can see this massive growth in the electronic media time per day and the decline of the face-to-face interaction. In fact in every year that Generation Z have been around they've only ever known a world where screen time is greater than face-to-face time. That is the great screen age. That is the screen ages. That is the era of today.

What I want to do in terms of defining therefore how we communicate in this context is talk about three characteristics of this context of our era. It's not what screens we're using. We're using whatever the latest screen is. We're pragmatic about that. If a new screen comes along we'll grab that. These screens that we use, the technology is just a tool and we'll upgrade with the latest tool and what we're looking at on the screens will continue to change. There's always going to be anew app or platform. But I think what's more profound is not who's using the screens or what we're using it for but how the use of screens has transformed us from an information processing perspective, that is the more interesting question. I want to just share three words that define how we have changed through the screens from a communications perspective.

The first is that it's made us post linear. We're not sequential. Books are sequential. Street directories are sequential. Phone books are sequential. It's about starting here and moving there. It's about the alphabetical. It's about a process. It's often a linear process but technology by its nature is a disruptor. It's kinaesthetic and you go to where you want to go to. You don't have to move through things in a sequential way.

You've seen a rise over the last years in infographics which are post linear forms of communication. Where do you begin? You just sort of start to consume it in some way. It's very 21stCentury and you've got some of these infographics that we put together in your packs this morning. But technology is like that. It disrupts the normal processes and patterns and sequences. We were shaped in the linear world. Our classrooms looked like that. We all face the front and the teacher was out the front and gave the knowledge to us. That's how learning took place. That's not what schools look like anymore. They're far more student-centric, far more collaborative in nature. The teacher has become a facilitator of learning, not the deliverer of the content. They might share something but then they'll use a bit of technology. There's some group work. They will utilise other input mediums. The pathway from school was pretty linear. Half the class left at Year 10 or so, went into vocational learning, did a trade, entered the workforce. The other group would go through and complete school and go to university perhaps. That's changed. The growth in the university sector is in dual sector delivery and the pathways from vocational training into higher education and vice versa is enormous now. So far more fluidity in that regard.

We used to get our learning from encyclopaedias and that's what dominated the learning environment. Now of course it's an era of Wikipedia where the users create the content. It's not just the experts who put that together. I was wondering recently whether Encyclopaedia Britannica are even still around because they were founded in 1768. So for a couple of hundred years they dominated the learning and again, a linear process to gathering that information. I remember when I was in junior high school years and there was a knock at our front door. There was the Encyclopaedia Britannica salesman who dutifully did his thing and my dad dutifully bought the $2,000 set where it sat in our lounge room for some years thereafter not getting that much use but that's how it was. So I was on the app store the other day with my phone and just wondering if they're around. They'll have an app if they are and I found it. The fully expanded 2016 Encyclopaedia Britannica app and it was $14.95. I've got some young kids. They need learning and I thought 'No, it's not worth it' and I didn't buy it which is very sad, a sad indictment on our world. My dad was prepared to pay $2,000 and I'm not prepared to pay $15, but it shows that in this era of the democratisation of information we expect to access it free. We are fine with it being web created by the community, not just by the experts.

The thinking that developed the smartphone was never going to come out of the thinking that developed the Nokia phone because phones back in the day had buttons and it was sequential instructed and it was to make a phone call. But of course the smartphones, occasionally people use them for phone calls but not so much. It's all that other interactivity and they're phones that don't have buttons. The tablets of today are computers without keyboards. That sort of thinking was never going to come out of the IBM mindset which is a computer for a business purpose, but rather they're post category these devices. They're entertainment, they're for work, they're for connectivity. They are post linear. So we have changed as people in terms of how we learn.

Baby Boomers and Gen Xs were shaped in the world of the verbal and now it's a world of the visual, from a sit and listen environment to a try and see, more participatory learning environment of today, from the teacher to facilitator, from job security to flexibility and variety and lifelong learning. From the commanding and controlling model of leadership as we discussed earlier to the collaboration, the participation model of today, from curriculum-centred to learner-centric, from closed book exams to living in an open book world a few clicks away from any piece of information on the planet. So suddenly it's not the content that matters but the access to it that's key. It's not therefore that particular piece of knowledge but the skills and embedding intuitively or through process the behaviours. That's what matters today and that's what we need to keep in mind in communicating, not just the content which can be gained effectively through digital means.

We were shaped in this linear environment where the ABCs were on the wall of our infant's classrooms, no doubt A for Apple and B for Bumblebee and now the ABCs look a lot more digital. I just took some letters from some digital brands here to put this together. I thought I would just test you, in fact not even putting letters up, just taking icons from this digital era and we'll start. See if you can guess what these logos are. So start with A for angry birds and then B for blogger. Well not too many bloggers out there. What about C for chrome and then D for Dropbox, E for Evernote, very good and F for Facebook and then G for Google Maps. Very good. So it's a digital world and it's the visuals that we respond to, even beyond just the written words and hardly any letters appearing here, and yet we immediately know what they are. It's a post linear environment and secondly it's post literate.

I want to share this and then get you to interact a little on what this means in terms of how we communicate, but by the post literate I mean that it's not just what we say and the written form that influences in a visual way. Let me give you an example of how much times have changed just in this last decade. This is a photo taken outside the Sistine Chapel, an occasion that takes place every so often. It's been going on for hundreds of years when there's a papal conclave and people there waiting to see the puff of smoke and who the next Pope is. This was in 2005 just before Pope Benedict was announced as the new Pope. Here is the exact same scene just eight years later, outside the Sistine Chapel, 2013 now awaiting the announcement of Pope Francis. You can see in 2005 there's one flip phone in the corner. That's about all I could see and what a transformation. A timeless process outside a timeless setting in Rome and yet, in this eight year period everything changed in the crowd and that of course is in our era.

This emerging generation born since 2010 and we've identified them a little bit more on the infographic that you've got but we've called them Generation Alpha. They're also multimodals. They're globals in terms of their connectivity, but we've called them here Generation Glass because for them the medium of interactivity, the medium of learning is not paper that defined us, it's not the exercise books or the text books that was of our era, it is of course the glass. It's the glass that they carry in their pockets, it's the glass that they now wear, the wearable glass of today. It's the glass that they'll wear on their faces. The first car they learn to drive on will have a head-up display where the glass comes to life. Think about the glass of our world. We were all told when we were growing up 'Hands off the glass', 'Don't touch the glass.' Now of course you have to touch the glass. It's kinaesthetic and it's tactile. The glass is designed to display visual content, images, pictures. The number one search engine, if you look at time spent within a search platform for Generation Z is no longer Google. They spend more time searching within the YouTube platform because they don't want to read an article about something. They want to watch a video on something. That's how they process information. Glass is designed to display visual, video and icon-based communication.

So of these apps that we can put on the glass, 1.5 million of them available, I looked up the downloaded apps on the Australian list from the App Store just to find out what our most downloaded app was last year thinking that maybe it's going to be a productivity tool or a learning tool or maybe a social media tool, but unfortunately it was Candy Crush. That's what we're doing with the glass at the moment. But you can see it's the world of colour, it's the world of touch, it's the world of portability, it's the world of interaction. The growth in education now is gamification and Nick gave you some good examples of that with the truck drivers and managing sedentary behaviours. How can we use games and activities as an incentive to get people to think about health or safety or workplace interactions. It's this sort of world and it has been transformative. So we've got to find new approaches to connect in this new era.

You notice on your glass there's less and less words. It's the icons that tell the story. You don't find P L A Y written anywhere on it. It's got the triangle now. It's just the universal symbol and stop is the square and record the circle. These symbols are how we operate these days. When the technologists invent new technologies they have to invent new symbols to go with that. Now we understand what these are because these symbols on the technologies have to be global. They have to cut across language barriers. We know that our brain can process visual images far more quickly than it can process written forms. I remember in my psychology years learning about Miller's Magic Number, seven plus or minus two. Now that's the maximum amount of items you can store in your short term memory – between five and nine items unless there's some linking or anchoring process. We're not very good at storing just items, text or numbers but the brain has no known limits, or there are no known limits to the brain's capacity to store visual images in terms of how long they can be retained and the numbers of them.

Whenever you meet these experts in memory, these mnemonic experts, they've got these tools where they can learn every name in a room or they know pi, the number pi to hundreds of decimal places, they all use pictures. That's the way they do it because that's how the brain works. I think we can communicate in that form. You see it not just in technology. Even in real estate now they use icons, how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms.

I grabbed this one from a Sydney app because the 1.5 bathrooms I understand, but the 1.5 car spaces. I mean really. How useful is that. Half a car space in the garage there. Maybe for a scooter or something, a fixie for the hipsters. But that's the world where words aren't the currency but the icons are. You know in the world of safety, in the world of workplace communications the brain can process a symbol far more quickly than a word. It cuts across those literacy levels. It cuts across those language barriers. It cuts across the generations and these universally understood of course – no smoking or no diving. I did see a new one someone added recently – no Gangman style. It's very 2012 and we've all moved on from Gangman style.

Now I'm going to pause for a moment and get you to take a minute with the person decide you to discuss in this context it's a post linear, so it's not the structured form. It's a post literate, so it's not just the written form. We've got to find new ways of connecting in this world of information overload. What are some of the tools and techniques you find useful? What are some of the changes you have found helpful in connecting? What works these days? What might have worked in the past that no longer does? In light of our focus on activity and interaction, I've got to make sure I walk what I'm talking here, a quick activity for you with the person beside you, the person who's going to be your discussion partner for a moment. A quick reflex test at this stage of our Tuesday afternoon now. I'm going to call out four numbers and get you to respond to these numbers. So it's a quick 10 second task.

So here's how it works. In a moment you'll hear me say 'one' and when I call out the number one you've got to raise your left index finger in the air like so. On the call 'two' you've got to place your right hand flat in front of you and your buddy will be doing likewise as you face each other. On three you place your finger on their palm and they'll rest their finger like this on your palm. As soon as you hear me call out 'four' you've got to grab onto their finger without letting them grab your finger and whoever's grabbed the finger has won the point. All right, so quick reflex test and then we'll discuss.

So face each other. A group of three will work if it's a three or a two. I'll talk you through the numbers. Here we go. Firstly we have one. So your left index finger raised, fantastic. Two. Now you've got your right hand flat. Excellent to see. Three. You place your finger on their palm and likewise. Very good. Four. Well done. We didn't do a safety check first on that one. I hope no dislocated fingers. I'm going to give you one last chance to even the score before you discuss. So very quickly we have one. Left finger raised. Two. Three. Four. All right. Well done.

So you can discuss who won what and then have a discussion about how does effective workplace communication need to take place these days compared to the past? I'll give you a minute or two and then we'll share some thoughts together.

All right. I'm going to interrupt your discussion and I'm going to bring you back just to share some of those thoughts. So, we could have discussed that longer. Lots of thoughts and insights there which is important, but just so we can all benefit from some of those discussions, just a couple of thoughts you had or what you heard about how communication has changed, what you need to keep in mind. Yes?

Audience Member:

Just how in the past it's always been you'll get in groups and you'll talk about health in the workplace or take extra steps or get moving. Now it's 'Okay, let's all load this app.' For me it's very isolating. It's a less social which is my biggest concern.

Mark McCrindle:

Yes. So sometimes we can rely too much on the technology and 'everyone download this app' or 'go through this process' technology and we lose that social which we don't want to. A timeless human driver that we all share is of course the need for social interaction. That's why teleworking, people are happy to work up to about one day a week, about 20% of their time off site or from home or the café, but as you start to increase that people say 'No, no. I don't want that.' In fact Generation Y are the least likely to say they want at least half of their work working outside the office because the one social bottleneck through which we all pass these days is the workplace. So there's that need for the collegiality, the interaction and workplace training offers a great chance for that social interaction. So a great point that you raise. The other point you had?

Audience Member:

The other generational lack of thing because we'll have old managers who don't believe that a teleconference or an email is consultation.

Mark McCrindle:

Yes.

Audience Member:

So there's the way into the consultation.

Mark McCrindle:

Right.

Mark McCrindle:

Yes, yes. So the generation gaps. Yeah, some use the technology, some don't.

Audience Member:

You lose the body language, the ability to read people's body language and the 'How are you?' or 'Are you okay?' or whatever is because you can't see them.

Mark McCrindle:

Yeah, great and that's where we can again, use technology too much. What is timeless is not only the social connection but that human interaction, the reading of body language, the facial gestures, the most ancient form of communication is gathered around a fire sharing stories and interacting together. That's what a lot of our workplace training or those staff meetings can be. It's around the campfire. It's sharing stories. It's sharing anecdotes and real world case studies and that is as timeless and as effective a communication as you can get. I saw another hand. Yes?

Audience Member:

We've got a generation gap here, my partner and I. We thought this is a very good, clear, standard operating procedure with four clear steps, very clear instructions and so on and at the end of it, it was just like any other SOP. You didn't know why you were doing it.

Mark McCrindle:

Okay, good point, with your activity. Well at least on Friday afternoon you're in the staff meeting, you've got a quick activity to break it up, but it does highlight, I mean in terms of the reason for an activity like this, we've got shorter attention spans. This is just a 45 minute session and yet we're not going to sit down for 45 minutes and have someone lecture us. We expect a bit of interaction. We expect a bit of group discussion. We expect a quick activity or some visuals. That's just the norm. It's not just for the next generation. It's for all of us as generations. Now we all respond to that more facilitated learning environment where we change the modalities rather than a sit and listen lecture style of the past. I saw a hand up back there. Yes?

Audience Member:

So for me I think it's that the method of communication is actually gained. I think previously it was a very structured way of we have a message and this is the one we're going to use to deliver that message to our workforce or whatever it is. Now we're in a world where it's all about self learning. If you want to learn to breakdance you go on YouTube and learn how to breakdance. If you want to communicate a message to the workforce you can do it through paper, you can do it through presentations, you can do it through email. There's so many methods of communication available for us and with that I guess there's the possibility of you know, diluting the message through the workforce and I think that's why people enjoy a simple message.

Mark McCrindle:

Yeah, great point and excellent discussion around that. It brings up that theme that someone shared a moment ago too that sometimes it can be too individualistic and we do need in our organisations values alignment. We need in our organisations a common message and that can often happen not just individually but when we gather and talk through something. So I think that timeless communication of gathering, of interacting, of sharing stories, of connecting, not just relying on technology alone is still important.

Now I've said that we're post linear in approach. So it doesn't just have to be a structured form of delivery. We're post literate. So it doesn't just have to be a written form of delivery. Finally we're post logical. So it doesn't just have to be a rational form of connectivity. The participation, the discussion, the visual, the humour - all of the elements that you've seen through the conference today and with hopefully some of what I'm sharing as well is modelling this, that we need a variety of delivery modes and a good facilitation process to engage the learner in the learning journey.

Recently IBM put out their big data study and they said this, that there is 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created in our world every day. Now that's a lot of zeros. That's a big number. They went on to say that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Isn't it amazing? It continues to be the case. Every phone is a camera and a video recorder and everything else, and it's creating and adding content to the world and being uploaded all of the time and that content, that information that we swim in just grows month by month. So if all we're doing is creating more content, writing another email, adding another instruction and sending it out into the workplace, it is just information overload. They haven't caught up with the last ones. So we've got to find ways of simplifying. In a world of information overload and big data, simplifying. That's what we try to do. There's more data than ever before but data tells a story. You can communicate it in picture forms. You can tell the story behind the message and so engage that way.

If we move to the world of academia there's some big numbers here. There are two million peer reviewed papers published in our world every single year across about 70,000 peer reviewed journals. Now that's excellent knowledge, all scientific and quality research. Yet I was amazed to read that 80%, 1.6 million of these peer reviewed articles are never once cited by another academic. Not Nick's papers. They're interesting. They get cited and used, if you were in Nick's session. But there is a lot of dry research out there and even the world of academia, people aren't getting across that content sometimes. The long-winded articles and the statistical tables, people looking for new forms of communication in a time poor era. If we just bring it down to Australia there are almost 7,000 PhD theses published in Australia each year. All these local students, about 70,000 up to 100,000 words in these PhDs. You do the multiples on that. That's about half a billion words of local research contents these candidates write each year. I was again shocked to read that after all that work that a thesis, the average PhD in Australia is read just four times which I found quite interesting because at most Australian universities you've got at least three assessors of the PhD. You've normally got about two supervisors, you've got the candidate who's written it. So I'm not sure who's not doing the reading in that group. Some of those assessors I think giving a quick flick through maybe, but whatever that number actually is, the point is that it's not accessible in that form and so it's likely to be non-impactful.

We've got to find ways to connect, not only with the eyes of the head, that logical, rationale, but the eyes of the heart so people see it, so they get it, so they experience it and for workplace communications with the multi generations, with the cultural diversity, with the variety of learning styles and qualifications that you have in your teams, it is important that we connect in various ways, not just the rationale, the traditional form of mental engagement alone.

I try to think through this when I'm communicating. We often think that education or training is bringing people along this horizontal axis, this X axis of the cognitive engagement and the more content we deliver, the better it is. But if that's all we're delivering, if people get it here, but not here, then I'm calling them agreers. They'll nod their head, they'll say 'Uh huh' but it's not going to lead to behavioural change. They've understood the message but they don't believe it. They've heard what you said but they still think they've got a better system and so it doesn't bring about the behavioural change we expect. This is where a lot of our safety and workplace training sits. You've got a lot of people that give that mental assent but not that heart connection.

Now, if all we do on the other side, the vertical access is connect emotively or rationally, if we share those horror stories, if we wheel our the war stories, if we show the dramatic photos, we will connect at the heart but there needs to be the rationale. Otherwise people will say 'Yeah, I get it here but I'm not sure if I believe it. I'm not sure if I rationally understand the next steps or what you want in response to that.' There ahs to be that half connection but there's got to be the head connection as well and that's where the embracers are found. They understand what we're saying and they resonate with how we're saying it. They in a sense have the rational message that they've understood but relationally they connect with us, they're resonating with us. So head and heart they're on board, they're embracers, they're the leaders, they're the influencers, they're the net promoters, they're the transferrers, they are on board.

Now sometimes in addition to the agreers and the seekers and the embracers you've got the hecklers. Now think about the hecklers. We all have them in the workplace and these are the ones who not only disagree with what we say, 'I don't believe that. That's rubbish', but they disagree with who we are or how we say it. 'I don't really trust that person' or 'I don't appreciate it. That lady is a waste of time.' So, if you think about the heckler, they give the angst, they push back on the message. It's not only a rational disconnect. It's often a relational one. They're bent out of shape about something and it can't just be solved by going through the content one more time and trying to convince them because it's not about the head. It's also about the heart and they're pushing back for other reasons as well. There has to be a relational solution as well as a rational one.

So hopefully something like this you can sort of think about where your team are at, and if you've got a lot of seekers, they don't need more stories or another group hug, they're already on board. They just need maybe how to apply it or the next steps rationally. If you've got a bunch of agreers they don't need another training manual. What they need is maybe a motivation or a story to bring them across, but once you know where they sit you know the solutions to bring them there.

Increasingly the social media, the technology has highlighted this vertical access and of course that horizontal one is always there when it comes to training. If we look at what's emerged in the last year or two it's the sharing economy online. The biggest hotel chains, the biggest providers of accommodation now is not the Hilton or the Accor Group but it's Airbnb and if you think about that, they provide connectivity for people to share their own spaces. The biggest taxi providers in the world now are not taxi fleets of our large cities, but of course it's the world of Uber. They have transformed the game. The biggest retailer in the world today is not a Wal-Mart or a K-Mart but of course it's eBay where the buyers become the sellers, where everyone gets involved and our communications have to be the same. It can't just be a downward flow of information. It has to be to the point where people own it, where they shape it, where they in a sense share it with themselves, that leadership across the organisation rather than the top-down approach, that self-directed team and that messaging that is shared by others. As I said earlier, it's not just the experts writing the content, but it's the web community that creates it and I think true in the workplace as well.

If we think about what the online world has done, the sharing economy, this collaboration, this participation model, they're not providing products but they're solving problems – the Airbnbs and the Ubers. In fact they're not just solving your problems, they're empowering people to solve their own problems. In fact even beyond that they're connecting people up who can empower others to solve problems. That's how it works and I think the workplace can be that same hotbed, that same environment, create that same culture where people take ownership of the message and share it with each other rather than just that traditional top-down approach.

When we create a culture of collaborative innovation, when people feel that they take responsibility for it, when they own it, when they can share it with their own peer group, in their own ways and through their own networks, that's when you get powerful and transformative communication.

I thought I'd conclude with a final story of good communication. We talked a little bit about the emerging generations and I thought I would leave the final words to emerging generations. A Gen Z girl. She just headed off to university and I put this little letter in my book. 'Dear Mum and Dad', she writes to her parents. 'It's now been three months since I left home for uni and I'm going to bring you up to date with everything that's happened but before you read any further, you'd better sit down.' Not great words to hear from your daughter. 'Well look mum and dad. I'm getting along all right now. The head injury I got when I jumped out of my window when my room caught fire has almost healed and fortunately the fire in my room and my fall out the window was witnessed by a worker over the road. He was kind enough to call the ambulance, he visited me in hospital and since I had nowhere else to live because of my burnt out room, he was nice enough to invite me to move in with him. So anyway, we've fallen deeply in love and we're going to get married. We haven't set the exact wedding date yet but we'll make sure we do that before my pregnancy begins to show. Yeah, so in light of my pregnancy I've decided to quit uni and I've quite my part time job and I've had to sell of all of that furniture that you leant me. I had run short on cash and I'm just going to hang out with this guy. Now I should tell you that he's not currently employed, nor is he highly educated but I'm sure over time you'll come to accept him just as I have.

So mum and dad now that I've brought you up to date with everything I just want to tell you that I was joking about that fire in my room and I haven't hurt myself or been to hospital at all. By the way I didn't quit uni, I didn't quit my job. I haven't sold off any of your stuff and by the way, I'm not pregnant, nor engaged. In fact there's no man in my life at all. However, it is true that I failed chemistry and to be honest, I'm doing pretty badly in statistics as well. Look mum and dad I just wanted to put those marks in the proper perspective.'

So, they're a pretty switched on generation. Keep it in perspective. All the best in communicating.

The End