Last week I participated to an exclusive and ‘secret’ summit of CCO’s from 15 major global corporations during which they discussed some of the major challenges facing their increasingly relevant organizational function assisted by a handful of ‘sparring partners’ from academia, ngo’s and consultants.
I will mention no names nor location as per agreement, but will instead relate a few of the primary issues and how they were discussed.
No intention here to ‘scoop’ anyone, but only to make others (scholars, professionals and associations) aware of the level of debate today in the upper circles of our community. Just a few points:
1. We have by now learned that sustainability is an integral part of corporate governance and also how to prioritize this awareness in all our communication activities. Thus, it is our responsibility to make sure that:
a) each of the activities that our function implements directly must face a thorough test of responsible communication indicators and full coherence with corporate strategic or tactical objectives…no more frills or nice to haves….
b) our next step is to engage other primary management functions (marketing, finance, human resources, procurement, production, r&d…..) in governing relationship systems with their respective stakeholders along similar lines. This implies we must develop and deliver policies, processes and resources and facilitate/stimulate this to happen as quickly as possible.
Enough with internal turf wars. Our function is now fully embedded in the upper management cycle of our corporations and we need to concentrate on delivering demonstrable added value to our internal and external stakeholders;
2. This awareness has been over the years pushed on us mostly through external and environmental pressures, but it has now become embedded in our professional and managerial genes.
It is now time to become more proactive and move the game forward from sustainability to durability, i.e., the ability of the organization to adapt and thrive over a long period of time, particularly given the challenges of the current economic climate;
3. Participants, representing many diverse economic sectors, had no doubts on the seriousness of the current economic downturn but clearly expressed different perceptions about the length of the crisis and its actual and possible consequences.
None however doubted that the major challenge for the profession today is to substantially and quickly review the ‘business as usual’ approach of this decade, and adequately stimulate the development of their own competencies as well and most importantly those of their collaborators by ensuring life long on-and-off site professional and business knowledge opportunities by mixing inputs from, and dialogue with, leading figures representing academic, civil society and consultancy communities.
And now my question to you: if these senior professionals are aware of not being sufficiently adequate to meeting these challenges, do you think that we–scholars, educators, professional associations–are up to it? How should we interpret this indirect message?