Connecting the Dots

One of the most powerful ways in which you can contribute significant strategic value as a communicator is by making it a practice to connect the dots around you.

Connecting the dots is about cultivating the habit of seeing the inter-connections between issues, information and trends which may otherwise seem unrelated on the surface. This mindset is about having the savvy to see that what might appear to be a public relations issue really has its roots as an internal change management challenge, for example.

The most successful, sophisticated communications strategists I know have honed this ability, and eventually develop it as instinct. They look at complex issues and situations taking place in a dynamic public environment in a holistic, integrated fashion. This enables them to identify patterns, flag potential areas of risk, and point to creative avenues for progress in maximizing opportunities for positive impact or profile.

By the way, the person who best demonstrates this mindset for me is Paul-Émile Cloutier, whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating with on a range of projects over the past few years. Interestingly, his career took him from being head of public affairs for the Canadian Medical Association, to recently being appointed its CEO. I strongly suspect that his remarkable career progression (made all the more phenomenal by the fact that a non-physician was chosen among hundreds of impressive candidates as the head of the medical association) was fuelled in part by Paul-Émile’s extraordinary ability to read the public environment and steer a sound path forward by systematically “connecting the dots”.