Transcript: Leading change in a traditional organisation 

0:00 Right so today we are in Liverpool
0:03 Cathedral, a building which was begun
0:06 a little over a hundred years ago
0:08 at the turn of the last century and
0:10 completed in 1978, thereabouts,
0:13 thereabouts, I need to check my notes!
0:16 here we go
0:17 74 years in build
0:19 and I believe some have taken longer but
0:21 that's obviously an extraordinary length of time,
0:22 an incredible accomplishment as you can
0:25 see behind us. The great space which we're
0:28 now standing in is capable of holding
0:30 2,000 people and for a brief chat today two
0:33 of them myself and Stuart Haynes the
0:36 director of communications at Liverpool Cathedral
0:38 and Vicar of Ormskirk Church.
0:41 He has been very kind enough to share some
0:43 of his time and talk about some of the
0:45 challenges in leading change in a
0:48 traditional establishment in a traditional
0:50 organisation, obviously a cathedral
0:52 and the church are one of those such
0:55 organisations, and then some yes!
0:58 I'd be really keen to hear about
1:01 what changes you've seen in your career,
1:03 in particular around the communications
1:05 in an organisation. How has it changed
1:07 in the course of your career and the last couple
1:09 years? I suppose from a public's
1:12 point of view the biggest change is
1:14 obviously the digital revolution and the
1:17 whole sort of switch from print and
1:19 paper. I sort of remember the first
1:22 email type of sending a
1:25 good few years ago back in the office
1:27 and it was very exciting when you don't take a
1:29 piece of paper around the office anymore
1:31 and that has changed both the way we
1:35 think about communication, the speed which
1:37 we do communications and that whole
1:39 process. But when you relate it to a church
1:42 that is still sort of founded on a
1:45 scripture from 2,000 odd years ago that
1:49 doesn't really sort of do change, both in
1:52 a sort of actual way in terms of sort of
1:55 the mechanics of stuff but also
1:58 the sort of mental way in terms of the way
2:01 we think of things, we like to think very slowly and
2:03 carefully about any change, that's
2:07 a good thing, well it can be a good thing
2:09 but it's where the conflict
2:12 comes i think that's a problem.
2:14 So one of the big conflicts I have with
2:16 my job is around people like
2:19 yourself saying what we need to be
2:21 speedy, we need to be digital, we need to
2:23be social, we need to be engaging in that
2:25 kind of way and a lot of people say yes but
2:28 our constituent market don't get it
2:31 they still want paper, they still want print.
2:33 They still want to be engaged within what,
2:36 probably for a lot of people is even
2:38 before the traditions that they're aware of.
2:41 That conflict
2:44 I suppose, that's interesting in all of
2:45 itself but that gives you some some
2:47 difficulties in communicating with that
2:49 community so that the community perhaps is
2:51 more diverse. Yes, it also gives the
2:56real challenge for an organisation like this
2:58 is where do we put our effort in
2:59 communication so one potential pitfall is
3:05 the thing around saying do we think ok we
3:09 have to do two lots of communication with
3:11 all the snazzy digital, reaching
3:13 out to new generations kinda stuff and
3:16 then we'll translate all of that onto bits
3:17 of paper, magazine and print.
3:19 Or do we kind of think well how can we
3:21 invest in improving the access at people
3:25 who don't want to engage in the new way
3:29 should we say, how do we give them the
3:31 skills, tools and confidence to do that.
3:33 So as not to exclude people who are not
3:35 specifically digital? Yes,
3:38 that sounds like a fine balance.
3:39 Well the balance is actually what route
3:42 you choose to not exclude those people,
3:44 so do you choose the route of
3:46 giving them stuff in the way that they're
3:47 used to and you're not included in that
3:50 way, or do you choose to give them the
3:52 skills to cope with the digital world.
3:55 Because as a church we might be
3:58 sort of providing the old standard
4:00 communication but a whole world around
4:01 them, is all in the new stuff so by
4:05 keeping them in that place are we actually
4:07 excluding them from a brave new world
4:12 if we want to call it that. So a difficult
4:14 position then to not exclude anybody
4:16 because that will be wrong and perhaps
4:18 part of a solution is to help them forward
4:20 with new skills,
4:22 and if anything it's a positive thing
4:23 that the community, the churches that are part of the
4:25 community can actually do that
4:27 to include people but not exclude them
4:29 if they can't make that step for
4:31 whatever reason.
4:31 Yes well we talk in church terms about
4:33 being a family and so it's how do
4:36 you have every generation of how we talk
4:38 to one another and the rest of the
4:40 world is very much sort of a large part of it
4:43 is looking at different generations
4:45 and in their own blocks, we're still
4:48 cross-generational and that's a challenge.
4:50 That's happening in microcosm as well isn't it,
4:52 so every family or many families have
4:54 that cross generational challenge
4:56 and one of the things you know
4:57 instead of the entire family sat in
4:59 front of Cagney and Lacey as it used to
5:01 be a few years ago, I remember those days,
5:03 all right, whatever it might be that
5:05 there are now proliferation screens
5:06 connections and everybody's watching
5:07 their own media stream in their own
5:09 space and not necessarily talking to
5:11 each other, that's happening at a much
5:13 bigger scale across all the communities
5:15 that might interface with the church.
5:16 Yes, and when you've got an organisation like ours
5:19 who wants to spread a message out to the
5:22 wide population and reach a younger
5:25 generation, when you said the Vicar of Ormskirk
5:28 well, one of the things about being
5:30 a Vicar as you're called to proclaim the
5:32 Gospel afresh to each generation.
5:34 Well, that's very old language but you
5:38 can interpret it and say how do I reach the
5:41 young kids is it worse or different people
5:45 with the sort of truth that I know,
5:49 and it sort of becomes very challenging in
5:52 terms of well that there is no more
5:56 group you know I asked my son ages ago
5:58 well, how do I engage with your generation,
6:01 what apps are you on, what social media are you
6:04 on and he said it depends on what you're
6:06 interested in
6:07 and we're trying to get a message
6:09 to everybody, it's quite difficult.
6:12 There's been a sort of scattering of
6:13 those different platforms there used to
6:15 be very few that reached a lot
6:16 of people with them, now that's the
6:18 dispersed it's quite difficult. What about organisationally, so the
6:21 you know there's a phrase I'm informed of
6:24 you know we've talked many times about that
6:25 you've heard this once or twice but
6:27 that "culture eats strategy for
6:28 breakfast"
6:30 So what about sort of organisationally in
6:32 the wider organisation, is there a pressure
6:35 to lead the general technology in?
6:37 Do you think you see
6:38 opportunities but it's difficult to...
6:41 I think what you find in church
6:44 kind of communications is that you've got
6:50 culture and then you've got this horrible thing called
6:52 well it's wonderful, what a thing to say but
6:54 the horrible thing called theology and that can
6:57 really stunningly push forward and so
7:01 the culture of the church is to sort of
7:04 look after the traditions
7:05 and maintain the traditions I mean even this Cathedral
7:08 which is quite a modern building as you say,
7:12 has a traditional feel in the way that it's
7:14 built, the Gothic arches and all of that. So tradition
7:17 is really important and so those in
7:21 the church, who are experimenting with new
7:24 forms of communication, not radically,
7:27 not cutting edge, but new forms for
7:29 traditional organisation are seen but
7:31 they play with the toys on the edge and we'll do
7:33 the real stuff elsewhere and getting
7:36 that message across to a lot of people
7:38 is very very difficult. For whatever
7:43 we might think about it there's some
7:45 interesting examples of communicators in
7:46the digital space right now more than
7:48 one springs to mind is the recently
7:50 elected president of the US who has made
7:52 great guns in terms of getting audience
7:55 which he has direct access to,
7:58 is that a sort of state things to come?
8:01 I think that's a real lesson for
8:04 us all actually because i think, as a sort
8:07 of old digital director of communications,
8:10 you know, one of the
8:14 received things is what are your challenges?
8:16 Well you gotta go for the print media,
8:18 you've gotta go for the broadcasts, the radio
8:20 and stuff like that and all of them you've got
8:23 to persuade them to take your message
8:24 on, and someone like Trump has gone
8:27 right past that and he can put out only
8:31 two tweets in a day and the media
8:33 rush and follow that up and pull that,
8:35 pull that to him
8:37 and then there's something really going,
8:39 regardless of what you think of his
8:41politics or anything else it's all really clever in the way
8:45 that he's taken social media on. We
8:47 We've talked about our own media for many years now
8:49 and you know the example there's of
8:53 somebody who has absolutely and truly owned that media.
8:57 Maybe is was acquired through a TV show or various
8:58 other things but once acquired the ability
9:01 to do things, at a great scale with
9:03 it and leave without asking permission
9:05 from press or other media is a
9:07 very interesting example so we'll watch
9:09 with interest how that goes. I mean
9:11 I suppose
9:12 it's got to that point that's now given you a
9:15 conference that no other press secretary
9:17 or organisation actually attack the media and say
9:20 you're rubbish and you're wrong and
9:22 he's got the confidence whereas
9:24 everybody else is sort of like, we'll do a
9:26 bit of that but not publicly. Astonishing
9:28 without president but
9:29 yes very interesting. Well,
9:32 in terms of your journey,
9:34 what's been your biggest sort of
9:36 learning points and what
9:38 do you wish you'd known at the
9:40 beginning? That's a really difficult
9:44 question, I think it's really
9:47 about, in one sense funny enough
9:52 in setting this up you kind of
9:55 said all jokingly the content is
9:57 key and i think it is going
10:02 back to you know the traditional,
10:04 that the content is
10:06 important, how we make that engaging.
10:09 I spent a long time getting obsessed
10:12 with the sort of mechanics, so when
10:15 Facebook first started I spent loads of time
10:17 getting obsessed with how
10:19 many likes my page has got and all those
10:21 kinds of things which I think
10:24 everybody did, but actually took some achieving.
10:27 You must have done something right, I had a look at your
10:28 numbers yesterday and they are extraordinary,
10:29 Liverpool cathedrals put on a few. Yes,
10:32 I mean we punch above our weight
10:34 you know we're very proud of
10:36 tripadvisor stats on the city of
10:39 tourism we're number one there and i think
10:42 the Cathedral does punch above its
10:43 weight in so many fashions but i think
10:47 it's actually you achieve more
10:49 by being less obsessed by the numbers of
10:52 likes and more obsessed by the level of
10:54 engagement and the level of interest and
10:57 that whole sense of sort of connecting
10:59 with people and in a sense that's what,
11:02 if I go right back to the church I Reverend at,
11:05 that's what we're supposed to do. We're
11:07 supposed to engage and connect with people.
11:09 Jesus had followers,
11:12 he probably had likes and things like that!
11:15 That's how we kind of work through.
11:17 It sounds like that could be a paraphrased
11:19 "execute well, the numbers will follow"
11:23 Yes so many of the best things in
11:28 art and culture
11:30 are done by people who are passionate about
11:31 what they do and the content
11:34 and those kind of things and then people
11:36 just go I like that, that's really good
11:39 and it's again the old marketing truth is
11:42 you really want to get word of
11:44 mouth and you only truly get that
11:47 is if what you're delivering is good and what people want.
11:49 Absolutely couldn't agree with
11:52 you more
11:52 Well Stuart, that's been great really
11:55 appreciate hearing some of your insights
11:56 about communications so thank you very
11:58 much for your time.
11:59 Not a problem. Thanks

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