A regular refrain among my co-conspirators in the CommScrum movement is the need for folks to widen their horizons and seek inspiration from sources outside the usual suspects.
Having long since fallen victim to the “the curse of the curious”, I’ve discovered that there’s really very little to be gained from digging the same hole deeper. Beyond a certain point in your career development, it’s not how long the downstroke of your “T” is that matters (the depth of your specialism), but the breadth of the crossbar (your ability to connect ideas and insights from other disciplines).
Kevin Keohane, has had a particular bee in his bonnet for ages now – and rightly so – about the myopic focus of internal communicators and their professional associations (don’t expect any sessions on Value Disciplines or Chaos Theory at IABC’s upcoming EuroComm event!). If you want to be a better communicator, stop attending comms conferences, and go seek out a talk on Complex Adaptive Systems instead.
Likewise, I’d humbly suggest that anyone calling themselves a strategist should put down their copy of HBR and pick up a book on Design Thinking or, if you prefer, whichever one of Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant texts happens to be closest.
I asked Santa to bring me the job lot of those this past Christmas and I’ve gleaned more from the compelling narratives of The Tipping Point and Blink than I did from all the HBR case studies we were force-fed during my MBA.
Take, for example, the awesome power and relevance of the number 150. Show me the MBA case study that reveals it. I sure as hell don’t recall one. (I knew of the concept of channel capacity and George Miller’s magical number 7, but this 150 business was a new one on me. If it’s new to you, just google “Dunbar’s number”).
Then go and find the nearest available copy of The Tipping Point and read Gladwell’s portrayal of Gore Associates (the makers of Gore-Tex). When it comes to reshaping organisations to fit reality, a more inspiring and persuasive antithesis of 20th century industrial-age thinking you couldn’t hope to find.