I’ve been thinking a fair bit about what my role is in the big scheme of things, in and around the increasing network of networks I move between or in which there may be an expectation I should be part of. Also what value I bring, and who for. And it seems from recent chats, over coffee or online, I’m not alone in this. More people seem to be questioning the purpose of various aspects of what they are doing and how they are expected to do things differently, move to a next stage or in what is happening around them. It may be changes at work, adapting to new phases of family life, even down to things like changing seasons, or not as it seems these days.

Recently I’ve not been practicing what I preach; which should be making time to see what others are doing, thinking or contemplating and, if relevant, apply that thinking to my world and reciprocally share my thinking. So yesterday I knocked off early and did some catch up reading; those things we ‘favourite’ as a sort of ‘to do list’ but rarely seem to get round to digesting. Two of the articles I read really resonated with me. Both blogs about redefining and change.

The first was by Euan Semple on the comms2point0 blog about local authority. In it @euan, suggests that public sector organisations will increasingly need to change if they want to stay relevant. No shocks there then but what struck me in his post is Euan inadvertently described what my job has morphed into; “encouraging engagement in topics or activities, helping people find their way around subjects and encouraging them to take responsibility”. And actually, that could apply to a fair few people I know.

My ID badge has a role I used to do 4 years ago and names a department that was renamed at least 3 restructures ago. My job description doesn’t say the above either. Maybe that’s just it – it’s about staying relevant, the photo of me is the only thing that still matches the physical me. So I’m thinking is what I do now making a real difference and will it in a year, two years? I think it is, and as long as my ‘keywords’ include, and I deliver, what Euan describes then that works for me.

Perhaps working in a more networked way will bring about a blurring of professions, organisations even? And again, does it matter as long as people get the services they need. I’m thinking the emphasis on how we are found will change so that we are increasingly located by ‘what we do’ and ‘how we can help’ more than by the traditional name or service title approach? And that’s a difficult concept for some as it involves opening up and giving a little bit more of yourself.

Does it matter that professionalisation of areas of work may be under threat as we look to diversify what we do? I say this as I’m due to renew my professional body membership shortly and I’m questioning what I get from it against how much I get from other more local networked resources. The true answer is I don’t see the benefit as I don’t invest the required time; it’s a “it’s me, not you” scenario. A bit like gym memberships I suppose, although I’ve just renewed that with no quibbles as I see I need to keep physically in shape to cope with life, and I enjoy being there too. Perhaps professional bodies will adapt to stay relevant too.

And then I read the second article by Tim Rayner. Titled Becoming a meaning maker it’s a bit deeper than the stuff I normally lean towards but well worth the read and maybe that’s where I’m going. The bit I related to was as follows;

“We get caught up in being this or that kind of professional identity. We define ourselves through our jobs and roles. While we can and do find meaning in professional roles, we should never forget that they don’t define our full scope of possibility. We must be prepared to disrupt ourselves every now and then in order to see the unexpected opportunities in daily events and take our lives in new directions”

So, perhaps all comms professionals and others will be moving to more of an engagement/involvement role in the future. Can we afford not to?

I’d be quite happy to be acknowledged as a ‘Meaning Maker’ who connects people and things.

Thanks to Euan and Tim for sharing.