By Teresa Waugh
The Open Mic events are still new, and momentum continues to build since their inaugural session in December 2021. The platform informs and educates employees across WAPA who are seeking to learn more about what WAPA does as an organization, how it is done and what challenges and opportunities are faced in fulfilling our mission.
Open Mic promotes a common understanding of WAPA, which is both complex and vast, and allows employees to get to know each other.
Each month, a subject matter expert shares information and insights in their area of expertise virtually, using Microsoft Teams. Open Mic was the first WAPA-wide event to be held using this tool. As anticipated, the first few sessions were less than technically perfect, but that didn't slow anything down. An average of 261 employees have attended each session.
“We have a great turnout each time," said Auditor Lisa O'Brien, an original Integrated Communications Group member and Open Mic producer. “The audience is engaged and asks great questions. People really enjoy learning more about what, why and how things work at WAPA."
It is vital to keep pushing the needle, to try new things and to learn by doing. As WAPA's core value states: “Be curious, learn more, do better. Repeat." Open Mic events offer a safe place to do that, test messaging, develop speaking skills and test presentations, which can then be polished for the next audience.
One of the greatest benefits of this effort is that it builds a portfolio of material that captures expertise and organizational knowledge. The program is inclusive, thereby reducing costs and saving time. Attendees learn more about WAPA, allowing them to identify a potential area of interest before seeking details or competing for a leadership development opportunity. This is an efficient way to iteratively prepare the WAPA workforce for the future.
“We have dozens of ideas for potential topics and speakers for 2023," said Power Marketing Advisor Bob Langenberger, another original ICG member and Open Mic producer. “As long as we have presenters willing to share a little bit about what they do, Open Mic will continue well into the future."
Open Mic recordings are available for anyone to view any time. Knowledge Management is helping to create condensed versions of each event.
The platform was created by the ICG, whose mission is to identify and close communication gaps and traps and tackle emerging communication challenges. Born out of WAPA's first internal communication survey and focus groups in 2019, the ICG continues to mature and focus on opportunities.
“Working on Open Mic and with the ICG has been a very rewarding experience," said Langenberger.
“I'm excited for new projects starting soon, but Open Mic will always be my favorite," O'Brien added.
Note: Waugh is the chief public affairs officer.