The Importance of Connecting the Dots

This week I had the honour of participating in the Government of Canada’s Learning Day for federal communicators (see the Storify summary here).

In facilitating the Leaders’  Panel what struck me was the theme of integration – in fact, Ian McCowan, Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Communications and Consultations at the Privy Council Office (PCO) made a compelling argument for “dot connecting” as a top core competency for communications professionals.

I couldn’t agree more. One of the most powerful ways in which communicators can contribute unique, strategic value is by connecting the dots in our organizations.

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.

Increasingly, I also notice that head hunters are looking for “integrators” to fill senior communications roles.

The key lesson learned? If you want to get serious about your communications career, get serious about connecting the dots.