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Progress > Perfection

It’s all too easy, when we’re thinking about how to be better strategic communicators, to shrink in dismay at the distance between where we and our organizations are now, on one hand, and where we should be, on the other. Throwing up our hands and adopting a “can’t get there from here” attitude of resignation…

Designing a Message Architecture

I am struck that with few exceptions, organizations tend to invest relatively significant amounts of time, effort and money on communication vehicles (such as websites, brochures, annual reports and speeches) with relatively little focus on the core product of those vehicles – messages. That strikes me as a double problem. Firstly, it generally leads to…

Is your Communications Team in Trouble?

In my experience, communicators from various backgrounds and sectors share in an almost universal struggle to define the value they bring to organizations, and then communicate that value in a way that resonates with decision-making executives. This challenge comes up in three main forms: First, communications is often seen at best as overhead, and at worse,…

Becoming a Strategic Communicator – 5 Tips for Enhancing Your Value

The question I receive most often from communicators is “How can I be more strategic?” Here are my top five suggestions on enhancing your strategic value in a communications function: Ask good questions. The quickest way to add strategic value is to ask insightful questions that help sharpen focus on desired outcomes and results. Asking questions…

Avoiding the Curse of Knowledge: How to Create Shared Meaning During Change

The “curse of knowledge” is an insidious trap of organizational communication. The expression refers to a pattern that we observe regularly – a leader is so deeply knowledgeable about a topic that he cannot see the gap that exists between his level of familiarity with the subject and that of the employees around him. While…

Managing Internal Client Relationships: The Importance of Strong Employee Communications

It often amazes me to see that amid the oceans of material written about strategic communications planning, virtually nothing is said about how communications advisors operate on their ‘home turf’, in relation to senior management and colleagues in program or policy shops. It’s a peculiar omission, because the way in which you approach internal client…

Top 10 Questions Every Communicator Should be Using

Here are the questions I recommend as arsenal for every strategic communicator heading into a tough meeting or assignment: What does success look like? Why this, why now? What are the project or corporate objectives? What are the communications objectives? How can effective communications help advance the project objective? What are the main risks/opportunities? Thinking…

Consultation & Engagement: Creating Producers of Change

The key to successful change is sustained, visible and meaningful consultation and engagement. The goal is that you want employees and stakeholders to be producers, not just passive consumers of change. The Building a Consultation Plan Worksheet from the Change Agent’s Toolkit is a resource to help you plan out consultations at the front-end of…

The Goldilocks Effect in Communications

If you’re a communications professional, I’m willing to bet that you’ve come up against what I call the “Goldilocks effect”. That is, working with internal or external clients who can’t or won’t articulate what they want, but rather will only share what they don’t want. You know the drill: This one’s too hot. This one’s too cold. This is…

How to Showcase Your Invisible Value

One of the most frustrating things about being a communicator is that some of the areas in which we add the most value are often invisible. Here are some aspects of “invisible value” you may consider in evaluating your communications activities and reporting on the impact you deliver: Risk avoidance: If you’re in the business…