Blog post,  Canberra Communications Professional series,  Communications professional

Don’t fix what’s not broken: Mastering the wheel instead of reinventing it.  

How often have you struggled with something that feels really simple? Or spent ages working on something and thought “surely someone has already done this?” 

While our content might change, a lot of what we do has been done before, or at least something similar. I am a big believer in not reinventing the wheel. I am not advocating for breaching copyright or stealing someone’s ideas but if you can use an existing template or an available resource why wouldn’t you. 

My first boss taught me this important lesson. Pilfer, pilfer, pilfer. I worked in a low budget marketing team, and we didn’t have the money or resources to be inventing everything from scratch, so we begged, borrowed and bargained.  

Yes, being original, creative and innovative is crucial. However, there is no need to spend valuable time reinventing the simple stuff, like a communications template or a slide deck. Don’t try to do something others have already attempted without knowing the outcome.  

Particularly when working in government there is a high likelihood that others have already had a crack at what you are doing, and you can ask them to pass on a template or resource or ask for their insights into what worked and what didn’t. Think about enterprise agreement communications, the rollout of a new work-from-home policy – others have probably got some advice to share. 

How to not reinvent the wheel 

None of us have the time to be starting everything from scratch, and often all you need is a little inspo to get you going. But where to start? 

  • Google – It’s obvious but you may be surprised at what is already out there. From templates to research to creative ideas. Spending half an hour looking may save you hours in the long run.  
  • Network – If you are in government ask comms professionals in other departments (or your own!), ask consultants that you have worked with, reach out to your local IABC chapter. I have found that more often than not our profession is a giving group of people who are willing to share what they have. 
  • Communication resources – There are a wealth of resources out there but here are a few I love:  

When you are asked for help 

At times we can feel a little bit of ownership or protectionism over our work. We spent hours and hours developing something, and then someone just wants to use it and take credit for our work!  

If you are approached and asked for help don’t be precious – share, share, share – it’s good karma. Remember one day you might need help too. 

Obviously don’t share confidential information and if you can’t send a whole document, offer to have a coffee and walk the person through your concepts or outcomes. We are better together so don’t hold your resources to close to your chest.

As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

Need a little inspo? Follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook – we share resources we have found and loved! 

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