When we watch the news or study past events our focus is usually on the big picture. The aim is to get ad much information as possible often in as short an amount of time as possible. History focuses on big events, strategy and planning. and those few leaders and famous people. But that misses the most important element- individuals.
The impact of events now and in the past on real people’s lives is where the most compelling story lies. If you think about the news reports that have the most impact they are usually when we see events through the eyes of the people living it. So called ‘ordinary people’ are the key to really understanding what is happening.
The same is true when we look back at events in history. I had a love of history at school and that was mainly due to the fact we studied the lives of real people. We looked at social and economic history which was less about battles and more about the industrialisation of the UK.
Last night I watched the newly released film Dunkirk and while I know what happened the strategy and plan I had not thought about it from the individual perspective. It was moving and left me overwhelmed with emotion and why was this? It was because it looked at events through the eyes of a soldier, a pilot, a boat owner and others and each became a personal insight. Moving because these are real people with real lives.
As communicators we can often get caught up in the strategy and planning. We focus on the big picture and those key people involved and we miss the most important thing. Real people and seeing them when we are looking at a planned approach or the impact of an incident. I have written many times in this blog about the importance of real people to our work.
I believe is essential to have this understanding and ability to see the individual impact if we are we to have effective communication. It is not the strategy that will mean our approach does not work if it misses the target it will be because of people. We may have failed to involve them, failed to understand them or disregarded them.
When we sit and are confronted by a problem at work or we watch a report of events around the world try to think about the individual lives that are involved and what it is really like for them.