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Move your IT initiative forward with the Know-Feel-Do communications framework

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The Know-Feel-Do framework helps you advance key IT initiatives by sharing the right information with the right stakeholders at the right time

Strategic, well-timed internal communications are the key to unlocking internal engagement and action. They’re at the heart of every successful corporate initiative, and IT is no exception.

As an IT leader, you know exactly how to roll out a new technology platform across a large organization or explain the big-picture value of your latest initiative. The biggest blocker you face isn’t logistical or strategic. It’s getting internal stakeholders on board, helping them understand the value of your project and ensuring they take the necessary steps to achieve your objectives.

But not all internal communications strategies are created equal. To do it right, you need to go beyond one-size-fits-all messaging and assess each group of stakeholders individually to determine what they need to know and when. This is called audience segmentation. It may sound simple, but it can be surprisingly difficult — especially during times of rapid or large-scale organizational change.

That’s where the Know-Feel-Do framework comes in.

What is the Know-Feel-Do Framework?

Know-Feel-Do is a popular, outcome-based communications framework that helps you build effective internal communications and influence your target audiences. In short, this useful framework prioritizes the needs of those who are receiving the communications by considering three simple questions:

  • What do we want them to know?
  • What do we want them to feel?
  • What do we want them to do?

These questions may sound obvious. However, even the best communicators usually default to the information that is most relevant to them rather than what matters most to their audience. For instance, executives are most likely to think about the big picture. When talking about an initiative, they might focus on the strategic business outcomes. But that may not be the most relevant or timely information for team members who must first understand how the initiative will impact them and what they need to do to support it.

In addition, using this framework in a structured way ensures you treat each group of internal stakeholders individually. The answers you come up with for each group can (and should!) be different — and you should tailor your communications plan to follow suit.

How to use Know-Feel-Do to drive IT initiatives

Before digging into the Know-Feel-Do questions, start by defining specific objectives for your communications plan and identifying your target audiences.

Once you’ve done that, you can systematically move through the three Know-Feel-Do questions for each audience and each objective.

1) What do we want them to know?

In one sentence, define what your target audiences need to know in order to make your communications plan successful.

For example, if you’re launching a new IT service desk, all employees might need to know that a new platform is launching, as well as how they can access it and what will happen to existing support tools. The IT team, on the other hand, might need to know what the new platform is, why it’s launching, how to use it, how it will impact their day-to-day work and how to communicate with internal clients about the change.

One way you could address these different information needs is through the frequency and various channels you use to reach your audiences. All employees might be better informed through written communications with linked resources. The IT team, on the other hand, might benefit from more frequent communications, including live training sessions, executive messaging and manager resources.

2 ) What do we want them to feel?

Next, consider how you want each audience to feel after receiving your communications. This step is especially important in change communications, where you want to bring employees along on a transformation and need their buy-in. The answer to this question tells you how to influence and inspire action in your target audiences.

For example, if you’re preparing to transition from one payroll and employee benefits platform to another, you’ll want to make sure all internal stakeholders feel informed and supported throughout the transition. For key support functions, like HR and IT, you might also want them to feel like they are an integral part of the transition and prepared to support it. For senior leaders and executives, you might want them to feel energized and equipped to communicate about the timing and benefits of the transition. As you build your communications plan, you’ll want to keep these perspectives in mind to ensure that you’re conveying the right messages to each audience.

3) What do we want them to do?

Lastly, think about what actions employees need to take in order to achieve your objectives. Focus only on the top priorities for each group and avoid getting too specific. The goal of this question is to ensure that your communications articulate a clear call to action.

For example, if you’re rolling out an IT platform, you may want end users to set up their accounts and begin working on the new platform as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, you may want your IT team to support end users with specific actions and information, and to approach this support work with patience and kindness. Because these audiences have different calls to action, you’ll need to create separate communications for them, and this should be reflected in your communications plan.

Why Know-Feel-Do works

The Know-Feel-Do framework offers a simple and straightforward blueprint to craft effective internal communications that meaningfully move your IT initiatives forward

By using Know-Feel-Do, you avoid blindspots and thoughtfully segment your communications by audience to inspire engagement and positive sentiment. Perhaps most importantly, Know-Feel-Do forces you to clarify and prioritize the specific actions you want each audience to take next. With Know-Feel-Do communications, you plan more intelligently and equip your team to know exactly what’s required of them and when. These prioritized calls to action are the step-by-step building blocks to achieving your overall communications and business objectives and, ultimately, driving program success.

Have an IT initiative or transformation that needs to win the hearts and minds of every employee in order to succeed? Book a call with our experts.

About the Author

Abby AlvarezCommunications Consultant

Abby is a collaborative, strategic and innovative internal communications expert with a passion for creating connection, building alignment and driving change. Abby specializes in translating business priorities into effective communications strategies to reach the right stakeholders and achieve results. Her areas of expertise include employee engagement initiatives, culture transformations, mergers and acquisitions, crisis communications, and HR and IT transformations.

Connect with Abby Alvarez on LinkedIn →

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