SimplyIC and Collaboration from Alzheimers, Boots and BA

25 May 2022

Put a bunch of professional communicators in a room and there’ll be laughter, encouragement, and some good ol’ fashioned problem solving.

In the Collaboration Zone at the SimplyIC conference this week, internal communicators from across industry, sector, and country came together to tackle the biggest issues facing organisations today through the lens of communications.

Eight sessions across the two days covered topics from crisis comms to neurodiverse workplaces, hacking the hybrid workforce to mindful leadership. Unfortunately our 106 rep Millie could only be in one place at one time, but from the sessions she caught two overarching directives made themselves clear: empower your people and be strategic.


A successful internal communications (IC) campaign doesn’t just broadcast information, it encourages engagement and makes space for employees to have their own voice. People aren’t going to speak up and engage unless they feel empowered, and our SimplyIC hosts had some pretty good ideas on how to make that happen.

Aoife from Alzheimer’s UK talked about creating a culture that empowers a neurodiverse workplace. This process is inherently tied in with any DEI initiative, as “a diverse workplace is a neurodiverse workplace”, and neurodivergence is intersectional. Aoife’s DEI strategy at Alzheimer’s UK is pinned around the Curb-Cut Effect; a phenomenon where a policy, resource or accessibility feature designed to benefit a vulnerable group ultimately benefits everyone.  If we design our workplaces around this idea, then we empower more people to access the resources they need and simply make life easier for others.

Empowering people is also vital part of any culture change project, as Lesley Allman demonstrated with her Boots No.7 case study. In this award-winning culture change project, a democratic approach was adopted as employees from all levels were brought into the development phase. This meant the people expected to live the values had a say in them and thus created a sense of ownership and pride in the company. This was achieved through focus groups, surveys, and line manager training as they became the standard bearers for company culture.



“The best laid plans o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley”

Fortunately for us (but perhaps not for him) Drew McMillan, former Colleague Communication & Culture Director at BA, has significant experience in crisis communications – especially during Covid. He distilled his experience down to four principles for avoiding disaster:

  • Have a plan and keep it alive
  • Put aside your ego
  • Accept imperfection
  • Put your people first

Every crisis is an issue, but not every issue is a crisis. In your plan, make sure you limit the number of people who can declare a crisis, build in clear approval processes, and run crisis stimulations to keep the plan alive. Crises are highly demanding on people, and when people are tired they make mistakes. Recognise when people need relief, make space for them to talk freely, and work to maintain that trust.

Bringing us from the reactive to the proactive, Advita took us through a pragmatic approach to attaining rich data for auditing or assessing IC channels and campaigns on a budget. As IC people we need to be strategic and work out ‘what do we already have?’ Platforms like Yammer have free analytics for example. And what about the people we work with? An inter-departmental brains trust is highly valuable, consider reaching out to the finance department if you need help with processing data and offer your comms expertise in exchange.

Workshopping real-life challenges attendees were facing and creating a safe space for the serious and the silly made the Collaboration Zone fertile ground for learning and bonding. Inspired by and going beyond these conversations, we have one or two thoughts on how to develop creative solutions for communications challenges, so get in touch if you want to find out more about how 106 can help you!



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