What can food shopping tell us about creating an effective internal communications plan? More than you’d think, says 44’s Nick Robbins, as he looks to break bad habits and become a lean, food shopping machine
I am confident I won’t be alone when I say that the current restrictions on our daily activity are certainly making me reassess what had become common behaviour in pre-lockdown days. Going ‘cold turkey’ is something I associated more with Trainspotting than my food shopping habits, but the ‘stay home’ message has allowed me to break a particularly bad habit – and find unerring parallels between it and good internal communication plan.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to walk to and from work, which used to involve going outside rather than from my bedroom to my kitchen table. This walk would take me past a number of supermarkets and I, almost without fail, would pop in on my way home to pick up a few bits for tea that night. Often these would be ‘one and done’ ingredients – those that would be consumed that evening and contribute to only one meal.
These ‘one and done’ shops became routine – and not a particularly positive one.
What meal planning has taught me about internal communication plan
Now I’m fully converted to meal planning and trying to make more from less. Without the option of supplementing a meal idea with whatever I can pick up in the supermarket that evening, I’m diving deep into my cupboards and drawers to find long-forgotten herbs, spices, beans and pulses to rustle up hearty meals that stretch out over a day or two.
It was while I was whipping up a use-up-all-my-veg pasta dish last night that I noticed links between my Damascene moment and establishing an internal communication strategy.
Having to purchase ingredients every night was a reactive solution to the issue at hand: delivering a good meal. It left me scrabbling to find a different, ersatz solution when I got home as I’d not been able to locate the items I wanted (and thought I needed).
Creating a meal plan, however, has reduced that ‘deadline’ panic. I know what I need to produce, what ingredients (or resources) I need and when it will be made – it’s the basics of an internal communication plan. And like any good plan, my new system is encouraging me to do more with less.
That all comes down to better resource management. When I am shopping now, I’m thinking about how I can stretch those ingredients out to contribute to multiple meals – not just one. It’s this, more than anything, that informs my meal planning. How can I take one ingredient and use it in different ways at different times to maximise its value? With that attitude, my shopping basket looks a lot different.
When thinking about an internal communication plan, it’s a similar conversation. How can I create content that can be adapted and delivered across various media and channels? From this starting point, we start to extract the highest value from our input – whether that’s money when paying for our shopping, or the time of our content creators.
Perhaps the most instantly noticeable thing about my change in shopping approach has been the impact on my wallet. Planning, for similar reasons to those we’ve discussed above, is more cost-effective. There’s an attitudinal switch that’s taken place too – maximising value, rather than gilding the lily.
Establishing a routine for my evening meals doesn’t create inflexibility though. Much like with an internal communication plan, I have to listen to my audience and be reactive when necessary. But it’s the forward planning that allows me to do this. I’ve given myself options by thinking ahead. Before, I had no flexibility because that shop in the evening was providing the important ingredients (or the all-important finishing touches) to only one dish. Now, I can look at my cupboards and see a variety of meals ready to go – it all depends what the audience wants that evening.
Putting creativity at the heart of your strategy
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and this simple approach is one I’ll continue going forward. I get the sense that I’m improving my cooking skills and have far more opportunity to be creative. Finding my own solution to a problem is far better than buying one off the shelf. And I have the time to experiment with options too: I can test, measure feedback and implement changes for next time – it’s all contributing to perfecting my approach.
For an internal communication plan, following this method affords you the opportunity to try something different and be ready to measure its impact. Perhaps you have the time to work on a gamification element that you want to add to your usual activity? It could boost engagement, and crucially, you’ll have the time to establish how that will be measured.
My new approach isn’t revolutionary – in fact, it’s what I should have been doing all along. But an external restriction has given me the time and space to perform a ‘food shop audit’. I looked at my actions and realised it was, to put it mildly, sub-optimal.
I’ve gone back to basics. I’ve questioned my previous decisions and actions, and established a new plan that’s more effective and sustainable.
If you’d like to discuss recipes, store-cupboard bargains or if you’re thinking of freshening up your internal communication plan – give us a call or drop us an email.