In particular, I was thinking about how much information is communicated in the schematic map of the Underground system. It is apparently 100 years since a unified map was first produced, but the current diagram didn’t appear until 1931.
It is interesting to discover that this world-famous version was designed by Harry Beck, an employee who worked on it during his spare time. I like the idea that Beck showed initiative in doing this – and I’m not really surprised to read that he had a hard time convincing his bosses to adopt his idea (nor that they didn’t give him sufficient credit for many years).
All too often there is untapped talent in our organisations and management fails to capitalise or recognise the goodwill and value that engaged employees can bring.
Feedback from employed friends indicates that this is even more the case at present. Ignoring concerns about job security and no pay increases, it seems many companies feel employees should just be grateful to be in employment and are failing to communicate with, in favour of issuing commands.
It is perhaps relevant also to link this to Underground thinking as employees are critical in “below the line” communications. Whether they are motivated or enthusiastic about a company is essential in ensuring credible internal and external communications.
I once worked for a company where I was the only PR person, but I viewed every single one of the 700 employees as part of my team. I needed their support to achieve any where near the communications clout of our two main competitors (who had PR functions numbering 28 and 44 people respectively).
They were part of my schematic communications map in engaging with all our different stakeholders. I also gained enormously from the initiative that my mega-team provided – whether it was in our CSR activities, staffing at motorshows or creative design ideas.
Never underestimate what is underground in your organisation – you never know, you might have the communications genius of a Harry Beck right under your nose.