CEOs have many responsibilities across the strategic, operational and financial areas of the organisation.
Let's delve into why a communication architecture is one of their most important operational responsibilities of a CEO.
Why is the communication architecture important?
An organisation's communication architecture governs and defines how communication occurs across the organisation, whether vertically through management or horizontally across teams.
It's responsible for facilitating communication of the organisation’s strategies and priorities, and establishing a framework for decision-making and how those decisions are communicated.
It is therefore foundational to every operation of the organisation.
What's included in a communication architecture?
A communication architecture is made up of many different elements. Here are some of the key elements that a CEO needs to define.
Structural foundational elements: These set the ecosystem that the communication operates within. Without them all communication will be significantly diluted and constrained:
Meeting structure and standards – What meeting norms should be established to ensure they remain productive?
Organisational structure – This should be continually reviewed to determine if it is meeting the needs of the rapidly scaling organisation
Decision-making framework – Who can make what decisions and when? Which meetings contain which decisions? How are these decisions communicated?
Retrospectives – How and when should retrospectives occur? The ‘review’ part of the ‘plan-do-review’ cycle is often short-changed.
Frequently occurring elements: The main week-to-week communication mechanisms in most organisations include (but are not limited to):
All-hands – Define how to structure the all-hands meeting and how frequently it should occur
Performance email – How often should this be sent and what key metrics should be reported on?
One-on-ones – What levels of management should be engaged and how frequently should they occur?
CEO email – One of the most important forms of communication. Everything about this communication should be defined by the CEO.
Long-term elements: These are the bigger picture reviews that often give a basis for the senior leadership team to communicate with one another, and then upwards to the board, and cascade out to the broader teams as needed:
Performance reviews – The CEO needs to decide if they are needed, and if so, how frequently. My strong recommendation is these are quarterly as a leadership team.
Strategic reviews – How frequently should planning and goal-setting occur and be reviewed? Annual cycle that naturally syncs with the quarterly review and adjust cycle is most common.
Business reviews – What aspects of the business should be reviewed? This may include products, services, teams, projects and more. Classically this has deep-dives quarterly, but is most often done on a rotating and prioritised basis (there just isn’t enough time for everything)
TAKEAWAY: Many different elements come together to form the communication architecture. As it is foundational to an organisation’s operations, CEOs should regularly review and adjust all aspects of the communication architecture as required.