Do myths and legends get in the way of communications?


Emma Hart
Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence

Nathaniel Aust
Dissemination Coordinator
Centre of Excellence

As a dissemination officer at the Centre, one of my daily tasks is to write blogs, web pages and reports about the benefits of good information sharing and the cultural barriers which exist. But before I start typing there are a number of questions I always try to answer in my own head;

  • who am I writing for?
  • what will motivate them to listen to my words and change the way they do things?
  • does the audience have any preconceived thoughts about information sharing which might be acting as a blocker to them embracing what I’m writing?

The first two questions are ones I can answer from my experience of working in communications for the past decade, but the third is one which needs a little more investigation.

Every one of us will have picked up a number of preconceived opinions, let’s call them myths and legends (that may be true) which are specific to our own sphere of work. For example, in my head comic sans is something which should be consigned to the vault of ICT mistakes, closely followed by the world of word art. As well as this, in the early part of my career, I believed the myth that social media was only for audiences south of thirty. I now know that the myth about social media only being effective for the young is false, although I still think I’m right about comic sans and word art.

Anyway, this got me thinking that I don’t know the myths and legends which may be lodged in the heads of my potential audience. So, I spoke to the one of the engagement managers at the Centre (Emma Hart) who work with my audiences on a day to day basis and asked her for some insightful nuggets on a couple of my audiences; frontline practitioners and senior managers. From her time working with these two groups, here are three common misconceptions she hears again and again and an argument for why each is a myth:

Myth one: Health are a blocker to information sharing.

Myth one busted: Health are not a blocker to information sharing. Their approach to sharing information is in fact no different to any other partner agency. One of the possible reasons for this misconception may be due to the complexities that are associated with an organisation that is on a scale as broad as health.

Myth two: Information governance (IG) specialists have the job of dealing with all information sharing issues.

Myth two busted: There is a long-standing perception that IG specialists hold sole responsibility for dealing with all information sharing issues, when in fact this isn’t the case. Information sharing is the responsibility of all people across organisations regardless of their seniority or the department that they work within.

Myth three: The government should just tell us what to do to resolve information sharing issues.

Myth three busted: If there was a one size fits all solution to information sharing surely, we would already have been told. The fact that no two places in England are made up of the same demographic of people with the same mix of organisations creating an identical local situation means that any solution needs to be identified by the local place for the local people.

I’ve only had the chance to talk about a couple of myths for some of the many groups which make up the information sharing audiences I communicate with. So, if you work in the information sharing world and have other myths or legends you want to highlight please let us know. Just send a quick email to info@informationsharing.org.uk with the subject ‘shine a light on a legend’ and have your say in this conversation.

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