This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
But, you do have to think about it. ¬†
Here’s the text of an email I just sent to a well-known and respected restaurant in Old Montreal that obviously didn’t think about it:
“Imagine booking a reservation weeks in advance.¬†Imagine looking forward to spending your anniversary on a beautiful terrace and eating a fabulous meal with your husband. ¬†Imagine waking to a picture perfect summer’s day knowing you’ll be having a special end to the day. ¬†Imagine getting a call to tell you [actually it's worse than that. I booked the reservation. My husband got the call. It could have been a surprise. I'd told them it was our anniversary] … ¬†Sorry you don’t have a reservation and… it’s your fault because you booked online and …we’ve had a wedding booked for months and…¬†No real apology. ¬†No offer of anything to compensate for ruining our anniversary plans.”
I’ve had drinks on this terrace and a meal or two. ¬†The service and food have always been impeccable. ¬†But, in this one interaction they have erased all that.¬†The restaurant has left us to try to find something at the last minute in a town where the nice terraces at good restaurants are booked way ahead.
There’s a lot of begging on the streets of Montreal. ¬†From relatively sweet street people to aggressive and sometimes scary squeegee kids; swarming drivers at major intersections. Cleaning windshields and begging for money.
But, the squeegee kids have been replaced by a new set of bad guys. ¬†And sadly I used to think they were good guys.
You can see them a block away. Two or three students with big smiles, dressed in orange, blue or read vests and carrying clipboards. ¬†They stand there and then as you get close, they pounce. “Ma’am” as they move in front of you [slowing you down], now their hand goes to their heart [sincerity], the smile turns to a frown… ¬†[sadness... "you'd have to be heartless to walk away" is the message] and then the question: Would you like to give to… [fill in the blank] Would you like to learn about…[fill in the blank].
No! No! No!
These fundraising approaches are getting more frequent, more manipulative and more aggressive.¬†On a particular walk last week I was attacked – that’s what it felt like – three times in 2 blocks by two different and highly reputable not-for-profit brands. I was almost afraid. ¬†I was certainly uncomfortable. ¬†It’s bullying. ¬†And, it’s bullying from two very reputable organizations.
The technique must work to raise funds in the short term but for a over 100 years of brand building was wiped out on just one walk!
I know it’s tough. ¬†Raising funds for causes that matter is getting tougher every day. ¬†But,¬†when you’re under pressure is not the time to lose focus; to lose your values. It’s time to refocus and revisit your values.
OK.. He didn’t die, but he could have.
The city of Montreal [at least 1M of us] was on a boiling water alert this week. Water was murky. No one seemed to know if it was just a problem of sediment or whether it was bacterial.
I was on my way to a meeting in the east end of the city when I saw a brief headline on the Montreal Gazette on my phone. I ordered a coffee and asked if they were outside of the boiled water area. They said yes.¬†I drank my coffee feeling I was safe. A couple of hours later I learned that the coffee shop was not outside of the boiled water area.
On Friday morning we learned it was a sediment problem not a bacterial problem. Happy? Yes. ¬†But it could easily have been something much worse. Imagine¬†Walkerton¬†with 1M people!
The more I’ve thought about it, the more angry I get. The information we got seemed lackadaisical¬†at best. And, ¬†restaurants, hotels, and other public places didn’t know or didn’t seem to have emergency protocols. ¬†Robocalls [fake calls to people during our last federal election that got people to go to the wrong polls] did lots better at targeting people.
In an interview of Richard Branson, who was in town for C2Mtl, he was asked to respond to a series of one word cards. One word was “drink”… He said among other things: ¬†”I made a mistake of drinking the Montreal tap water last night, quite a lot of it…”
Different scenario and he would have been dead. Oh and so would I and about 1M others.
Communication. Timely, direct, clear and accurate communication. Reaching the people and organizations that need to know. Having emergency protocols that we all know and understand. ¬†Kinda basic.
Montreal? What have you learned from this?
- Partners would inform each other immediately – face-to-face or by text or by email – of the outcome.
- Employees directly involved on the pitch, in the office and in other offices, would also be informed as quickly as possible and ideally in a face-to-face meeting [conference call or Skype if necessary because of the schedules of the partners] with a chance for them to learn the outcome and discuss the implications for the team. ¬†This meeting would be relatively short.
- Other employees – depending on the size and nature of the news and it’s implications – would either receive an e-mail [while the pitch team was in their meeting] inviting them to a small group meeting with their partner, or to gather with the pitch team for a celebration or mourning
- Peers and colleagues outside the office would be informed as appropriate after that
- The partners and pitch team would create opportunities for debriefing and learning within the days following the news.
People and relationships are at the core of all organizational strategies.
This means an adequately thorough and complete stakeholder analysis is key. If the stakeholder analysis is weak then so too is the strategy. And stakeholder analysis starts with adequate segmentation.
Segmentation doesn‚Äôt start with a list of generic stakeholders. It starts with a deep understanding of who will be impacted by what you are planning, saying, doing?¬† And how they will be impacted.
Seems so obvious, and yet it‚Äôs not.¬† In the past few weeks I was asked to pull together work of several other consultants to create an integrated strategic framework that would help identify gaps and overlaps in the work and thinking that had been done so far.
Communication was just one of 6 strategic priorities but every other priority had a significant communication component. Three consultants had already prepared three separate plans – media relations, government relations and fund development.
Each plan referred to their own key stakeholder, but not one of them adequately developed the segmentation. Instead, they were almost generic.
It‚Äôs a government relations plan so the target is government. No differentiation between Federal, provincial though both could impact the outcomes for this organization. No reference to which specific ministries. No differentiation between elected and non-elected politicians, or bureaucrats [senior and junior]. Even though each of these segments would have different and important impact on the work of this organization.
None of the plans did any more than a superficial analysis of this already thin segmentation. Instead of really thinking about what the client organization was trying to achieve in relationship to each of the segmented stakeholders, again, plans fell back into generic descriptions and no real analysis.
Even cutting an orange into segments takes some thought and skill…
And, the sad thing is, this failure to segment stakeholders and do some pretty fundamental analysis is not unusual.
The result. Bland planning and a focus on tools and tactics.
No strategy at all.
If you want to be strategic, then developing mastery in the art of segmentation is a good place to start.
So, what’s a good question? ¬†Today I’m going to share with you what I think is not just a good question it may be the best question: ¬†”Why?”
Yes the question is: “Why?” ¬†And if you’re asking me “Why?” Here’s why.
The answer to the question “Why?” will get to motivation. ¬†And motivation in leadership and communication is everything. By asking “Why?” until you get to the motivation you will find that the answer is either to:
- Make something go away? Problem-solve.
- Bring something into being? Create.
Problem-solving and creating are fundamentally different. ¬†They have different energy. ¬†Creating will always allow you to build momentum toward the thing you’re creating. ¬†Problem-solving will not.
“Why?” you ask. Well that’s a very good question…. ¬†For leaders and communicators knowing the difference is fundamental.
It’s a shocking fact that according to Canada’s health and safety website, “… every year work-related injuries and diseases cause nearly 1,000 deaths” in Canadian companies and organizations. ¬†That is nearly 3 work related deaths per day! ¬†That’s in a country with a relatively small population and well-publicised and enforced worker rights.
So, even though the two recent worker disasters in Bangladesh:
- a fire killed at least 112 garment workers at Bangladesh‚Äôs Tazreen factory who were locked in
- the building collapse at Rona Plaza that has reportedly killed nearly 400
The question remains what is the real cost of fast fashion and our seemingly insatiable demand for stuff? How many Bangladeshis are dying as a direct result of health and safety issues that could and should be changed? ¬†We don’t know. ¬†What we do know is that these deaths are avoidable.
Time to think about the impact of the story of stuff on workers…
What does health and safety and workers rights look like in your organization? Your supply chain? ¬†What role can we, as leaders and¬†professional communicators, do to change this very human disaster?¬†
Looking back to an Apple ad from 1997 for a little inspiration.
Where are the “crazy ones” in your world? “The misfits? The rebels? The trouble makers? The square pegs in round holes? The ones who see things differently?” Where are the people crazy enough to change the world in your organization?
What are you doing as an institution to support and encourage their crazy world changing ideas? ¬†If you’re looking for innovation, this may just be what it takes.
Have you ever asked yourself what a great communicator looks like in your organization?
Are there any? ¬†If so,
- Why are they great?
- What characteristics do they have?
- What impact do they have?
- What can you learn from them? ¬†What can the rest of the organization learn from them?
If not, why not? And what can you do about it.
Great communicators may just happen, but the ones I know are very disciplined about their communication. ¬†It’s not something they pull out at the last minute – “Oh now I guess I better speak to my folks!” It’s something that is absolutely build into everything they do and how they do it.
What is your organization doing to build communication mastery? I’d love to talk.