Rewinding the ‘wag the dog’ syndrome from integrated reporting to integrated thinking….


Since its inception, PR Conversations has played a relevant role among the more aware global public relations community in presenting arguments for the value of adopting integrated reporting from forward-looking organizations to inform their stakeholder publics and setting, with their active participation, involvement and engagement platforms through an ongoing, continued 24/7/365 dialogue.

A patient, curious and interested PR Conversations reader, by digitizing the terms ‘integrated reporting’ into this website’s search engine, will find 22 posts from senior professionals and scholars from all over the world dedicated to the dynamics of this concept, beginning from July 2006. [Click here to access these]

Over these years, the growth of integrated reporting practices has led many organizations to develop an ‘integrated thinking’ approach in order to collect information and make sense out of economic, environmental, social and governance indicators. This is now surging as one of the more advanced contemporary management platforms. [Click here to access the IIRC Chair Mervyn King’s most recent keynote given a few weeks ago in Vancouver at the Academy of Management Summit].

It seems to me that we are witnessing a typical case of ‘wag the dog’, where the effect (the tail) induces the context and the process.

In brief: as stakeholders demand to be informed on the organization’s ongoing performance and objective in an integrated way and therefore the organization needs to learn how to implement integrated reporting platforms to dialogue with their stakeholders. Also, and most of all,  it needs to devise an ‘integrated thinking’ management platform to improve the quality of its decision making process and the ability of its listening policy, as well as ensure a more sustainable overall business performance.

As Mervyn King also recently wrote:

The acceptance of integrated reporting in the last few years has been nothing short of phenomenal. There is acceptance of it by major corporations around the world, both public and private. The benefits arising from integrating thinking and reporting according to independent research done by Black Sun shows that a staggering 92% of companies adopting IR say it has improved their understanding of value creation. 84% have said that their data quality has improved. 79% are finding that their business decision making has improved. 68% report better understanding of risk opportunities and 78% see better collaborative thinking about the board’s goals and targets.

With the sole purpose of ‘moving’ the intellectual and professional cultural conversation forward, I wish to update PR Conversations readers on a couple of more recent developments of the integrated thinking/integrated reporting management thinking, at least from my side, hoping to stimulate others to give their thoughts and contribute to the development of what in my view is certainly the most interesting and promising avenue for our profession (however intended and described).

The basic idea stems from the attempt to turn around (rewind?) the wagging process so that the integrated reporting practices stem from a conscious and deliberately rational management/board decision, rather than from a hurried ‘bandwagon’ effect with all its risks (not that rational management doesn’t have risks…).

On one side of the integrated thinking/reporting ‘pipeline’ (horrible term, I agree), there is recent and relevant emerging issues analytics platform – called Datamaran™ – by the technology company eRevalue. You may look at this platform eloquently explained in eRevalue’s most recent website update (  Basically, it is as an early alert issues radar for board and executive management members; it provides expert intelligence on regulatory, reputational, and competitive risks to inform the organization’s decision making process. In turn, Datamaran™ moves the integrated thinking process within the organization.

On the other side of the ‘pipeline’ you have the continued reporting and dialogue platform with stakeholders. In my view, the most interesting development in this area comes from Italy, developed by my colleague and good friend Luca Poma on behalf of a highly innovative homeopathic pharma company called Guna.

In the following 3 minute videotutorial and if you can accept the naughty English accent (but this was done quickly over these last few days and anyone knows that Italy, beyond its normal issues, enters into a paralysis in mid August…), you may see a truly visionary approach to stakeholder relationships being implemented now for some years by a forward looking Italian company that can serve as an example.


In between you have the governance and management of the cultural change processes that are necessary inside the organization as one moves from one part of the pipeline to the other, whichever direction you decide to come from. And this is where, between the integrated thinking governance and management approach and the continued outcome of an integrated reporting platform for stakeholders, I believe lie the most interesting cultural change management challenges for organizations.


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2 Replies to “Rewinding the ‘wag the dog’ syndrome from integrated reporting to integrated thinking….

  1. Thank you Bob for your kind words.

    I have been closely following (behind the scenes) the developments of the Barcelona Principles that have very recently been updated, also because I was involved more directly in their 2010 inception.

    Much progress has been made on this issue by many different subjects, but most of all (in my view of course) by the Institute for Public Relations as well as by Katie Paine in the USA.

    Having said this, my view is that even the best of us continually fail to remind ourselves and others that even the 2.0 version of the Barcelona Principles intend to improve the quality and integrity of evaluation and measurement of organizational communication objectives, but certainly not those of public relations ourgrowths….

    If this does not become more explicit, the major risk is that we convince ourselves that by applying those principles we are now able to evaluate and measure public relations, which is a much more complex issue than communication, and has very much to do also (but not only) with the ongoing developments of our body of knowledge related to integrated reporting and its correlations with integrated thinking. Plus a host of other parallel aspects this blog has been voicing over time.

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