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Communal Literacy

by Randall Craig on July 13, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Presentations, Social Media

Tagged as: , , ,

Chances are that you know how to drive, but cannot fix the engine. Eighty-five years ago, however, the answer would have been different.

Motoring enthusiasts back in the 1930’s and 1940’s had to know the basics of automotive repair and troubleshooting, as the “newfangled” cars often broke down, needed constant tune-ups, and were not quite as reliable as cars today. At a certain point, however, cars became more reliable; they became more technically sophisticated, and car repair became more specialized knowledge.  You were either a Driver, or an Auto Mechanic.

Today, social media has reached a similar tipping point. The knowledge of how Social Media is wired behind the scenes, how to integrate them, and how they should be properly bound to a corporate strategy is fast becoming specialist knowledge.  Yet, at the same time, there is also an expectation of a minimal communal literacy:  “people” know how to drive the car, use the phone… and use YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Despite the incredible number of users, it is dangerous to assume they are comfortable with these new tools, let alone engaged with them.  Communal literacy assumes everyone – and every group – is at the same level.  The reality is that different groups may have vastly different levels of understanding:  older users might not have knowledge of LinkedIn; newcomers may be familiar with sites more prevalent back home; smaller communities might use the same tools but in different ways.  To “Drive” your message home – and engage your audience – requires an approach that recognizes that communal literacy doesn’t mean complete literacy.  Every group – and every individual – is different.

This week’s action plan:

You probably have an area of specialty that has taken a career to learn.  The next time you present  your ideas to a group, consider whether the audience needs to be auto mechanics, or merely drivers to understand what you say.  In other words, what is the communal literacy of the group?  You’ll generate buy-in when you’re neither patronizing nor overly complex.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



One step back, two steps forward

by Randall Craig on October 6, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

It’s always frustrating when after much hard work, you hit an obstacle: you’re not sure of the next step, a key person doesn’t buy in, or you forgot to book a key piece of equipment. When this happens, you (and your team) often become demotivated, and progress usually stops. You’re faced with the dual problems of no progress and no motivation.

Instead, why not consider a one step back – two steps forward approach? This is the opposite of what we typically consider, but can yield very promising results. Consider, for example, the analogy of a car in a driveway: if the car goes forward the best it can do is drive into the garage. If it backed up, it will be on a street, and can go anywhere.

Here’s the typical order of operations:

  • Act
  • Handle obstacles as they arise

Here’s what one-step-backward might look like:

  • Touch base with others to identify obstacles beforehand (and get their buy-in)
  • Act

The key benefit of this approach is that the “setback” occurs on your schedule, before you make commitments to others. And you don’t lose momentum from obstacles that could have been easily addressed earlier.

This week’s action item: The next time you are working on a team, before everyone moves forward, take a minute to reflect on the likely obstacles, and address them beforehand. A step backward beforehand gives your team confidence – and better progress throughout the project.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Not Like Me

by Randall Craig June 2, 2009

Clients, prospects, friends, family, co-workers, your manager, and recruiters: It’s easy to assume that everyone thinks precisely like you do. But they don’t. They each have their own experience, education, training. We know this instinctively, yet still we make mistakes based on this premise. Then during a presentation, in an interview, when we write reports, […]

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The World Revolves Around Others

by Randall Craig December 16, 2008

The harder you work, the greater your rewards. These words are pounded into our brains from an early age – but are they true? Unfortunately, our rewards are determined not just by how hard we work, but also by those we work with, and especially our managers. If we want to succeed – or sometimes […]

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Networking Three-Step

by Randall Craig June 5, 2007

Networking is probably the most important skill you can learn. It can help you find a job, get promoted, sell more stuff – and even find your spouse. Yet this key skill usually isn’t even taught in school. At its core, networking is actually very simple: it is the process of developing new relationships and […]

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Brainstorming Creatively

by Randall Craig March 13, 2007

Creativity can help you solve some of the most difficult problems, which is why it is an important criteria in new job postings. Yet why are some people so creative, and others aren’t? Creativity in business is something that you can develop through practice with your team, using a more enlightened brainstorming approach. In many […]

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A Different New Year’s Resolution

by Randall Craig January 2, 2007

Now that the new year is here, it is time to be thinking about all of the “resolutions” that you are going to make. For many people, the top resolution is to do something about their job: get that promotion, work on a special project, ask for a raise, achieve ‘balance’, or maybe quit and […]

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