Outside-in thinking


Top-level strategic communicators bring what I call ‘outside-in’ thinking to their organizations —that is, the ability and instinct to see how an issue, initiative or activity will play among audiences and stakeholders. And as a result of this discernment, the outside-in thinker has a talent for framing content in a way that hits the sweet spot of convergence between what matters to your organization and to your audiences.

To bring outside-in thinking to your organization, become the advocate for your audiences and stakeholders in these ways:

  • Prime your insight by reading what your audiences and stakeholders read and by going to the events that matter to them—in short, by getting into their heads.
  • Make it a practice during meetings or strategy sessions to wear the hat of your key audience groups and contribute input from that vantage point; you’ll almost certainly be the only person to do so.
  • When writing key messages in communications products or strategies, consider what makes your audiences tick, and what’s important to them.

Contributing outside-in thinking in your daily activities can sometimes mean rocking the boat, since it may challenge tunnel vision and insular assumptions that have taken deep root within your company. It’s also one of the most valuable things you can do as a communicator.

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