The ship of Theseus, Trigger’s broom & the 10 key comms skills


How do things survive change?

There’s lots of philosophical and academic thinking around objects and concepts but what about people or teams?

In the classical thought experiment Theseus’s paradox we’re asked to consider if a ship that returns from a long voyage, but has gradually had every part replaced, is still the same object or something completely new?

People of a certain age might prefer to think of this as the Trigger’s broom paradox, but either way it got me thinking about the impact of change on comms teams and what we actively look for in the best performers.

Like most comms teams we’ve seen a lot of change in the last 18 months, with the whole public sector and indeed the whole comms industry moving through a period of rapid change.

Austerity, changing expectations, a host of new tools and a communications revolution have all combined over the past decade to transform the way we work.

At the same time the nature of work that we do is in a continuous cycle of seemingly ever-increasing change and yet when I look around the teams I work in I see the value of many of the same skills we’ve always needed.

Networks, tools and media come and go and with that in mind here are my ten timeless traits that will shine in any public sector comms team:

  • An understanding of your audience.
  • The ability to recognise a good story.
  • A hyper-sensitive bullshit detector.
  • A good writer.
  • Great channel management skills.
  • Organisational nous.
  • Able to win friends and influence people.
  • The skill of distilling complex issues into understandable stories.
  • Authenticity and some self confidence
  • Above all else, can always deliver.

What would you add to the list?

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