I’m not a fan of amusement parks. So, when I found myself at the famous Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, I skipped all 17 roller coasters and went to the water park.

Hey, can someone tell me where to find the lazy river?

So it might surprise you to learn that I love another kind of thrill ride: a big internal communication challenge, complete with ups and downs, dips and swoops and death-defying deadlines. An acquisition, for example. Or a massive organizational change. And, yes, even the biggest challenge of all: the crazy year known as 2020.

But after years of experience, I have learned a few secrets about riding communication roller coasters, which I’d like to share with you:

  • Safety first. Always keep your hands inside the ride.
  • As soon as you get an inkling that a big thing is coming, create a plan. Even the simplest plan on a page—objectives, strategies, tactics, timelines—helps organize the work so you don’t have to scramble.
  • Enlist as many team members as possible to share responsibilities.
  • Don’t be a martyr. If you need help, ask for it.
  • Draft key messages as early as you can and use them to gain stakeholder agreement about the story you’re going to tell. (This saves so many rounds of revisions later.)
  • Use the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix to determine approval roles. Sure, the EVP of manufacturing is interested in this issue, but it doesn’t mean she gets to review every email. Everyone agree?

And here’s the most important advice of all: Don’t get addicted to the thrills. When things settle down and become routine, don’t procrastinate about deadlines just to feel that shot of adrenaline.

After all, there’s nothing wrong with a lazy river.

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