See the hill. Take the hill.

In the midst of particularly brutal jargon-and-posturing project planning sessions, one especially talented public involvement expert I know (tip of the hat to Betty Burry) is prone to utter: “See the hill.  Take the hill.”

In six simple words, she manages to summarize the importance and the power of simple, direct actions and strategies.

She also underlines the rapidly increasing importance in a Web 2.0 world of taking a “Saving Private Ryan” approach to any kind of communication planning, whether public involvement, public relations or public anything.

Traditional communications planning in many organizations is being rendered obsolete by the speed and complexity of the environments in which most of us operate. Long, complex planning processes followed by lots of top-down direction and second-guessing is no longer sustainable when 24 hours may be all you have to win the hearts and minds of a skeptical audience or constituency.

Better to maximize the time, thought and resources spent in developing clear goals and performance measures (“we will not risk all her sons”/”bring Private Ryan back alive”). Then trust your best-qualified people to achieve the goal as they see fit and conditions dictate. (This approach has the added benefit of helping successful organizations engage and motivate staff when smaller, flatter hierarchies limit title/pay/resource rewards.)

Admittedly,  it’s a scarier approach to take as a manager and as someone who has to report to others who may not be so comfortable with speed and ambiguity as a communications initiative unfolds. But it is an approach that seems to reflect today’s realities and produces better results.

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