Outside-in thinking

As a communicator, you are essentially the “glue” between your organization and the public you serve. Communicators have the unique, powerful ability to bring what I call “outside-in” thinking to their organizations – the intangible skill, experience and instinct to know how an issue will play among your key audiences.

In this capacity, you can contribute strategic value by bringing the external perspective to internal discussions on issues or projects. Applying “outside-in” thinking to challenges will immediately inject a fresh perspective to deliberations, which otherwise often get mired in the internal dynamics of process.

Very often, “outside-in” thinking is the door to providing strategic communications value to your organization. It can be difficult, because this mindset can also mean challenging insular thinking and assumptions that may have taken deep root within your company.

Here are some suggestions on how to integrate “outside-in” thinking in your work:

  • Become the advocate for your audiences and stakeholders. Make it a practice during meetings or strategy sessions to wear the hat of your key audience groups. Contribute input from that vantage point – you’ll almost certainly be the only person to do so.
  • Craft messages from the perspective of your audiences. When writing key messages, create the content from the lens of the audience. Consider: what makes them tick? What matters to them?
  • Become a student of public environment analysis. One of the most effective ways in which you can contribute unique strategic value to your organization as a communications professional is to become a go-to person with knowledge and data about your public environment. Get to know your audiences, stakeholders and competitors inside-out.

Think about “outside-in” thinking as a way for you to immediately contribute unique, strategic value in communications – it’s a simple, yet powerful technique to help set you up for success.