In these last two weeks -as I am sure each of you- I have been struggling to make some sense out of what is happening in the world, in order to advise clients, friends, colleagues, as well as my shareholders…. on how to interpret current events and act positively.
I have come up with this ‘story’:
You hold one final fiche in the Casino.
Rather than place it on any individual number, you will probably place it either on red or black.
If you lose you walk out; if you win you place one fiche on any individual number, and the other, once more, on either red or black…..
inspired by the last five/ten financial/economic crisis of the post war period (depending on the country), the organization will choose to focus efforts on consolidating existing strenghts and temporarily freeze engagements on innovation, out-of-the-box projects, expansions or accelerations….confiding that in a period of minimum 6 months to maximum 18 months, things will pick up again and….business as usual.
this crisis has nothing to do with the last five/ten financial/economic crisis of the post war period, but is a discontinuity of ‘business as usual..even in difficult times’.
The organization will choose to focus efforts on innovation, out-of-the-box projects, expansion and acceleration…will reasonably freeze the mere consolidation of existing strengths….in the expectation that a whole new ball game will come into place in a six to eighteen month period, in order to gain from the competitive advantage reached by not having exhausted energies on wasteful business-as-usual consolidation.
These two approaches clearly imply highly different consequences of stakeholder relationship and communication policies and programs.
The black approach (likely to be adopted by a majority of organizations, many of which will, however things turn out, inevitably end up changing their identities…. as they merge, are integrated, or simply disintegrate) and will need to focus on differentiation, reassurance and market expertise and competencies.
The red approach (likely to be adopted by a minority of mavericks, many of which will presumably get it wrong anyway and… proceed to extinction) will need to focus on emotional and engaging story telling, creating spirited conversations and attractive spaces in which to host stakeholder interaction.
As they say in Latin:
tertium non datur (i.e. no third option).
This because any organization cannot realistically and coherently focus on both in the same period: it will not succeed (besides, of course, which of the two interpretations proves to be right) unless it fully concentrates on one, as they are culturally in conflict…. specifically internally, but also on the market place.
At least one more specific consequence is relevant for us.
In both options the issue of trust is central:
° yet in the black scenario the intensity of stakeholder reputation is the true driver of trust, in the sense that by consolidating existing forces you are also consolidating existing and new stakeholder communication with the aim of increasing your reputation in order to maintain your strengths (..or, more sadly, peril);
° while in the red scenario, the quality of stakeholder relationships is the true driver of trust, in the sense that while innovating and out-of-the-box projects your need to engage your potential stakeholders so that they join you and support you along the discontinuity journey (…or, more sadly, bankruptcy…).
Does this make any sense to you?
I am sure many will not buy the need to choose an option but will want to play both games at the same time.
But, remember, you have only one fiche to play.
Otherwise there would not be a crisis going on…either way.
Eager to read your opinions.