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November 20, 2012

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In my experience this kind of dynamic isn't unusual in government communications, and it can be really effective. But it will inevitably go badly off the rails if a) everyone isn't clear about how it works and/or b) the communicator loses perspective on their role and power.

How does it work well, Rueben. It seems to me a leader always has to know approximately what his right hand is doing--and saying.

I think it's actually more dependent on the relationship between the two non-communicators. So in this case that would be the mayor and the super. If there's effective communication between those two so they know what each other is saying and doing, then it can work. When that happens, the communicator can be the third person in that loop, supporting (and where appropriate informing) the direction those two agree to take. But if that basic management relationship is broken, then even a smart and ethical communicator will inevitably be put in an impossible situation at some point. They become the kid trying to hold together a bad marriage. And of course if you have a communicator who instead sees the disfunction as an opportunity to build themselves up, that's only going to make things worse.

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