Moving from communications order taker to strategic value creator



Have you ever experienced the following scenario:

The telephone rings and it’s your boss. “Hello Ms Communications Person.  Registration for the International Conference of The Circus Arts is dramatically down compared to previous years.  We need a marketing campaign to increase registration…Pronto!” Click.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of these calls, you’ll know that they can make you feel like you’re the one living in a circus. The questions that go through your mind may include:

  • Why did my boss choose a marketing campaign as the tactic to increase registration?
  • What does the conference manager think of this approach?
  • Why is registration low this year anyway?
  • Is this the right approach to solving the problem?

Marketing communications professionals owe it to themselves and their employers to move from being “order takers” to “value creators.”  There are many models out there that can help you become more strategic.  A really useful model for communicators is called “ComAdd” for Communication, Analysis, Design and Development.

I recently learned about ComAdd in Ithaca College’s course Needs Analysis and Performance Consulting.  Developed by Diane Gayeski, Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and founder of Gayeski Analytics, this model can help you establish the communications function as a strategic asset in your organization.

Here are some tips inspired by the ComAdd model that can help move you from being an “order taker” to a “value creator”:

  1. Identify the performance gap.  This is done by describing the big picture goal and contrasting it with the current reality.
  2. Ask why certain performance issues or behaviour are occurring.  What are the barriers, incentives and disincentives to doing well?
  3. Could the job, environment or work process be redesigned?  As Gayeski notes, “Most performance problems are the fault of the engineering of the organization, not the fault of individuals.  Most people come to work wanting to do a good job.” (SCM. Vol. 8, Issue 5, 2004)

The process of applying the ComAdd model is tantamount to peeling an onion.  Each layer must be appreciated before you can uncover the most appropriate solutions. What you discover may surprise you…and add another tool to your communications toolbox.