Friday Oct 03, 2008

A European Perspective



This week, I had the privilege of being in Austria, chairing the Marcus Evans conference on Employee Communication and Engagement. It was two days packed with presentations, perspectives and ideas. Even better, from my perspective, I was the only North American presenter.

So I had the chance to learn about Corporate Social Responsibility as part of the employee value proposition from a senior advisor at Hydro, a Norwegian metals company. Communicators from a bank in Hungary, a telecommunications company in the Czech Republic, and a financial institute in the U.K. spoke passionately about the importance of brand and the best ways to engage employees around it. Fiona McKerrow of Syngenta International AG shared her company's innovative method of challenging employees to create stories that demonstrated company values.

And yes, I shared the exciting work Sun is doing in the Web Next world, but was blown away listening to the great work happening at BT and ABB, as they push intranets to the next level. I also presented how we fuse change management and communication here at Sun; in return, I learned how OMV does it here in Austria.

Ah yes, we can be a sheltered lot here in the States. What we take for granted is seen as good, bad or sometimes just plain bizarre in other parts of the world. For example, a CEO who casually talks with employees? Not a big deal for us, but pretty unusual in more formal cultures. And it's fine to be a touch provincial – unless you're a global company. Then it's not OK. At all.

By the way, the next time I'm congratulating myself on my presentation skills, I'm going to remember my fellow presenters here in Austria, all of whom presented in English - a second or third language for the majority of them. Ginger Rogers dancing backwards - in heels.... Looking good.

So I thank the good folks at Marcus Evans for inviting me to act as the chairperson of this conference, and also for allowing me to share some of the cool stuff Sun is doing. I walked out of the conference with my head bursting with new ideas, but also feeling so proud of Sun and the work we've done. Sometimes you have to talk to people outside your own neighborhood to realize we have lot that we should feel very good about accomplishing.


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terrymckenzie

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