I feel that there comes a point in one’s career where your head gets too full of information and experience. This is not necessarily a good thing, because what it means is that your own mental model and view of the world starts to get overly filtered according to all that information. Where it helps is in identifying issues, opportnities or solutions that others can’t see: The Voice Of Experience.
Where it doesn’t help is when your own starting point lies outside the world view of the person/people you’re communicating with. I’m sure there are psychological, political, and anthropological terms for this. Like so many things this is both blindingly obvious and yet amazingly complex as a communication challenge.
For example, in my calico career I’ve spent time in PR, marketing, HR and benefits communication, change management, management consulting, usability, knowledge management, musician, journalism, internal communications and brand management (not all in different jobs I might add).
As a result, it’s entirely reasonable for someone with that background to see knowledge management implications in a brand program, or to identify the organisational process changes implied by an internal communication program.
The challenge this presents is that this gives rise to perceptions of “overcomplicating the issue” – we just need a newsletter, an intranet microsite, a session on our values, so why are you banging on about strategy links, user experience, process change implications?
The answer, of course, is being able to turn this complexity into simplicity, which usually takes time. Taking time isn’t very fashionable these days in a business world driven by deadlines, quarterly results and scorecards.
Two thoughts … first, this all ties in to my ongoing exploration of “the end of internal communications” — i.e., good IC/engagement people require a wide skillset not typically found in the IC practices of the previous generation.
More importantly, second, if you can take time actively simmering things on the back burner, take time in parallel to the daily grind, the simplicity will force its way to the surface. I’m really pleased to say after about a year of complexity (added to, of course, 15+ years of work-life) I woke up the other morning and in about 62 minutes hammered out an elegantly simple way of explaining the relationship among brand, employer brand, recruitment, and the deep/wide world of employee engagement.
Get in touch if you want to talk about it.