by Jen O Neill
I’ve been thinking about the recent travel chaos that hit Europe and North America over Christmas when air travel practically came to a standstill for days due to the snow. Like many, I was stranded and sought information everywhere and anywhere in an attempt to figure out when I might be getting off the ground. Internet, radio, TV.
Watching the weather forecasts on French TV, I noticed that the weather curiously stopped at the French border. Changing channels to a Dutch station, the weather there stopped at the Dutch border. Same phenomenon on German TV; no weather outside Germany.
Did this mean that there was no weather in Belgium, situated between these three countries?
Not at all. Belgian TV showed me that the country was indeed having its own enclosed microclimate and not sharing it with its neighbours either. But as a stranded air passenger, I was aware of the larger picture-that all these countries were indeed sharing their weather and that by sharing their weather, the weather was having a much bigger impact than if it had stayed as numerous microclimates.
It’s not just TV weather news that can be accused of confining themselves within self-imposed borders. We can be guilty of it, too. Restricting our thinking and work within the confines of our own boundaries, such as narrow functional responsibilities, is unfortunately too easy to do. Silos can seem such comfortable places. Both for us and the information we produce as writers. How much information in our style guides, for example, could be used by other groups in the company but is never shared or has not been set up to be shared? Perhaps they don’t even know we have it. And what do they have that could be useful to us?
And yet, just as the weather has found, we can make a much bigger impact if we get out and collaborate with others. It can be hard to step outside the comfort zone. Yet if we want to develop and succeed professionally, we need to think outside of the box.
We need to be more like the weather. Circulate.