Adaptability vs. Structure: Channeling the Yin and Yang

[This post was shared both on my blog and LinkedIn page to garner more feedback from public relations professionals. Thoughts appreciated in the ‘comments’ section below.]

A Chinese philosophy, yin yang is used to describe seemingly opposite or contrary forces that when deeply explored may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent of the natural world. They also may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. At their most basic essence, yin and yang serve to illustrate the importance of a natural balance between variables.

As a public relations professional, I find myself married to structure. It’s how I was trained, and what I’ve learned as step one of a project kick-off. I appreciate the planning phase, and I use that phase to develop long-range, strategic plans to guide roll-outs, media relations, and the development of content for both digital and print. My friends often hear me say, “I like the illusion of control,” something that can be seen when I approach new projects and begin developing communication plans.

Yet over the last few months, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about adaptability and structure, more specifically the importance that both coexist in the workplace. Especially in my role with the City of Fishers, there are a variety of projects coming together and progressing at warp speeds. I’ve found myself spending less time in the planning phase, and instead diving very quickly into execution. While I still value the planning process, I’m finding that sometimes the structure I find comfort in leaves very little room for adaptability and creativity once plans are in motion – two ingredients imperative to a true public relations victory.

Insert the notion of yin and yang, the mentality that there must be equal, correlated balance between adaptability and structure. While planning is essential to coordinating a successful public relations campaign, the ability to be adaptable and allow for spontaneous creativity as ideas arise often transforms good ideas into great ideas. I would also argue that the ability to be spontaneously creative provides opportunities to keep clients engaged while campaigns are in the implementation stage.

So, I’ll pose the question to other professionals, in public relations and beyond, adaptability, structure, or a healthy balance between both?

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