Let me tell you a story, and you see if you identify with it.
Then I’ll suggest what you need to do about it.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a young Communications Manager full of hope and energy.
He established his team, developed brand strategy, created marketing strategies for a range of different products, delivered tactically.
He won internal praise. He won international awards.
Life was hectic, incredibly so. But deal-able with.
It was fun.
Then it all changed.
The recession happened.
Everything got taken away.
The free-rein creativity.
And, in its place, minutiae.
The 107 tiny little jobs that needed to be done there and then.
The up-against-the-coal-face batterings that came from a lack of time (or energy or ‘leadership’ buy-in) to create strategy.
The constant checking back – Can I spend £100 on this? Can I authorise that? – the waiting for meeting cycles to align so that decisions could be made.
Decisions which, in a previous time, would have been made on the spot without the need for reports, project authorisation forms. Meetings.
Each little job was another tree that needed to be climbed, or cut down.
Very quickly, the trees obscured the wood.
Eventually, there was no wood.
Does this sound familiar?
I’m betting that it does.
After all, we’re all in this global crisis together. And while this young Communicator’s situation might not be directly comparable to yours, you’ll know the feelings, the emotions, the sheer work load that is being described.
At times like these, we need to step back to see the wood for the trees, to torture the metaphor.
But this act of stepping back is another tree in itself.
Another slot to block out in a calendar where everything else is urgent and taking time and space is seen as a luxury.
Another Thing To Be Done.
Another quart of energy to be expended.
You know what I’m talking about.
It’s simple for me to tell you that you need to take the time out.
That you need to step back from the bark to see the whole forest.
And that, in doing so, you’ll make all of the other little problems go away.
Because you’ll know what you’re doing.
Where you’re going.
How your current actions fit into the bigger picture.
And what that bigger picture actually is.
You know it. And I know it.
What we need now is to do it.
Because it’s the most important thing that we, after the economy’s collapsed around us, after the reins have been ripped from our hands, will ever do.
If we don’t do it, no-one ever will.
It’s time for a fresh start.
A new look at the strategy.
A chance to begin again in a new, unfamiliar world.
But at least we’ll be able to see the wood for the trees and know what’s really important and which, of those 107 tiny jobs, can actually wait.
And we’ll know how beautiful the whole canopy, spread out before us, is.
Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
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