What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Risk & Relevance

“Markets are giving way to networks. In a networked economy, ideas, concepts, and images are the items of real value – you know, marketing. Demand creation and demand fulfillment.” – Steven J. Hayer, COO Coca-Cola Company, keynote remarks: Advertising Age, Madison + Vine Conference, 2003


What inhibits us from recommending the actions we would like to offer to clients, business partners and one another?

Meeting business objectives today is not only different than it was five years ago; it can be different than it was five months ago. We now find ourselves in a wired world where communication and implementation often occur simultaneously.

Technology has moved us forward, but old behaviors often persist in organized workplaces, not having been moved where these technologies and common practices were intended to take us.

In a fascinating way, where the early stages of re engineering were intended to destroy siloed behaviors, the very demands for speed and concurrent information may now be reinforcing old-world protective attitudes, imposing almost actuarial behaviors as opposed to encouraging collaborative and innovative cultures.

This phenomenon is echoed in our crowded merger and acquisition environment where people are naturally concerned about their jobs during what’s known as the “quiet time” when little information is publicized about the acquisition activities. Another contributing factor is the notion of “vulnerability” as referenced by Stephane Garelli, author of The World Competitiveness Yearbook, when he added that measurement category to his book several years ago. He suggested that an organization is only as strong as the smallest or any link in its alliance or value chain. In reality, influences such as these can bear down heavily on people’s everyday work decisions and risk-taking abilities.

These pressures become pervasive and subtle at the same time. They put us all in the position of wanting to do something differently to achieve different or better results but stopping just short of taking the risk.

Risk Relevance and Opportunity

Where does the important risk really reside? How many times have we heard or said, “sure, this is really relevant, but it’s just not in the area we deal with…”?

The critical issue is lost opportunity.

The risk must be weighed against the relevance, because the driver is in the latter.

Relevance can be determined by identifying what truly inhibits a team's ability to understand the fundamental issues that block reaching objectives and why less meaningful or seemingly apparent inhibitors are allowed to obscure a true picture of the situation at hand.

Too often, what seems to be inhibiting progress is simply not the real hold up. More often than not, the hang up will relate to a communication issue, generated either by intention or by mistake.

The true risk is not in upsetting traditional roles; the true risk is missing the relevant opportunity to:
  • Create a vital and relevant cross-functional discussion connected to a business objective
  • Provide a more inclusive knowledge-sharing experience that can produce faster and more effective results
  • Engage and activate networks that provide ongoing personal, professional and organizational development

    In simple terms, these networks exist, probably untapped and unrecognized for the knowledge and innovation they can contribute. Deciding what is relevant and measuring risk to work effeciently need these network connectors.

    In favor of risk-taking, consider that a more formidable risk exists that one day a client, a partner, or even senior management will not applaud you for being cautious but do just the opposite and say, “Why didn’t you push us?”

    We see this every day. It is in this unfortunate way that brilliant IT organizations are still thought of as help-desk entities; HR teams are not understood as true integrators of technology and human abilities; and a host of people with skills to share remain on the periphery of our concurrent and critical communication/implementation world. Time-sensitive opportunities for professional and business development are wasted.

    What is the real issue as opposed to the apparent issue?

    The real issue is that we don’t have time to explore the onrushing culture change as it happens.

For example:

  • “Appreciating culture change by activating the social networks” is not a soft phrase – but one that takes time to understand and appreciate how it relates to ROI

  • Realizing what inhibits knowledge flow and knowledge exchange in an organization is neither mysterious nor complicated – but it takes expertise to demystify and simplify
  • Understanding the internal, social networks that drive innovation is vital: it can enable us to appreciate how we actually communicate as organizations and how much everyone has the potential to contribute – but it requires an inclusive communications commitment

    Let’s think of Demand Creation as what people need and what people are asking for and Demand Fulfillment as what is delivered in terms of shared knowledge and information exchange.

Taking it from there will help refine our ability to understand Risk and Relevance.

Can you add the moments or stories where hesitation took over and the risk was not taken?


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