Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Develop the Mind of a Strategist

Strategy is a mindset, a way of thinking about decision making, work issues, even a wide variety of life-related issues. Michel Robert in his book, “Strategy Pure and Simple: How Winning CEOs Outthink Their Competition” defines strategic thinking as, “. . . a fresh approach to the subject of strategy. It identifies the key factors that dictate the direction of an organization and is a process that the organization’s management uses to set direction and articulate their vision.” In a later book he said, “. . . the companies that will prosper and outpace their competitors during the next two decades will be those that will be able to outthink their competitors strategically . . . the winning CEO in the future will be the one who can craft a singular strategy that gives the company a distinctive advantage.”

Becoming a strategist means committing to a mental approach that outthinks the competition, or the opposition, or the media and produces a distinctive or unique approach, series of steps, solution options, or direction choices.

It’s easy to list these outcomes but much tougher to consistently achieve them. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a management process, not the creative process. Creativity and strategy are different. I’ll address the differences in a future blog. Today let’s learn how to develop the mind of a strategist by helping you assess your strategic tendencies.

A LITTLE SELF-ANALYSIS


How strategic are you? What’s your strategic mindset? Here’s an exercise you can do privately to determine just how strategic you really are. Assess yourself against these strategic attributes:
  • Inconsistency: The strategist is intentionally inconsistent; in fact with a true strategist, inconsistency is a virtue. Strategists relentlessly question all assumptions. The goal is always a different approach and identifying new options.
Are you predictable? Do you approach problems in the very same way, is what you recommend and think about virtually the same every time?
  • Conclusive Approaches: The strategist seeks the force and impact of a conclusive result even though that result may only be One of a series of increments and often not terribly exciting or very visible.
Is your approach always to try to find the “big idea” or, if that’s impossible, to “do things,” or to create activity and action, or to simply generate visibility?
  • Substantive Intensity: A strategist applies focus and intensity to the most critical parts of a problem or opportunity through fact finding, truth seeking, and reality testing.
Do you focus primarily on the communication aspects of an issue? Can you see problems and issues and their priorities from the boss’ perspective? Do you make operating recommendations, or do you merely suggest language changes or media contact that produces mindless visibility?
  • Laggership, Entropy: A strategist understands the priority and sequence of doing something and also of doing nothing. There are always a variety of options for action, including non-action.
Are you a person with a bias for action, attack, stuff, things, and the irrepressible urge to tell people?
  • Pragmatism: A strategist attempts to clarify, refine, and carefully target; to deal in facts, truth, and reality-based information; and, wherever possible, to forecast results that can actually or reasonably be achieved as well as the unintended consequences of various action options. A strategist usually forecasts underwhelming results.
Is your focus on the words more than analysis of problems and opportunities? Can you, do you accurately forecast the intended and unintended results of your recommendations?

A USEFUL MODEL

The model I like most for describing the strategic thinking process was developed by Kenichi Ohmae as presented in his book, “The Mind of the Strategist: Business Planning for Competitive Advantage.” The epiphany, for me, came on page 14 of this book through an illustration called, “The Mind of a Strategist,” (reproduced here with permission from The McGraw-Hill Companies).

The powerful insight of Mr. Ohmae’s approach is his analysis of the three management thinking methodologies:
  • Mechanical systems, process thinking (I call it “linear thinking”);
  • Intuition; and
  • Strategic thinking.
Let me talk about each of them as I’ve come to understand them and teach them to others.



Linear Thinking

The linear thinker is the manager, boss, or specialist; the physician, the economist, the engineer, the scientist, or your typical CEO.

This thinking is typified by a more chronological, more linear approach. Linear thinkers are the people who not only plan with the end in mind, but actually use a structured outline format, chronology, order of manufacture, etc. It’s the doctor, lawyer, engineer, MBA, operations manager, boss.

They are the people that public relations people or any creative or intuitive person loves to hate because linear thinkers seem so organized, so “logical,” so … well, linear. Very few public relations people can be linear thinkers for long. This is the reason why few public relations professionals ever become CEOs of businesses other than public relations agencies. And, my guess is that most PR agency CEOs would rather be in the field with clients anyway.

With the linear thinker, the end to be achieved is identified early (maybe years earlier), and a plan is constructed backwards to include every detail, up to and through today.

Intuitive Thinkers

Public relations professionals and other creative people such as artists, painters, news reporters, and writers are intuitive thinkers. Intuitive people don’t indulge in much truly analytical thought. The goal is to find the great idea and/or the most interesting or creative solution – the big idea.

The “Jell-O Phenomenon” is the best way to describe how the intuitive thinker works. You’ve all made Jell-O or at least know what it is. You boil the water, stir in the powder until it’s dissolved, put the bowl in the refrigerator, and at some point in time – we’re not exactly sure when (there may be a deal between God and General Foods) – Jell-O happens. It’s an amazing mystery.

While the linear thinker is driven by a process, a timeline, a chronology, and a structured outline with basically all of its elements known, the intuitive thinker is simply driven by a deadline. There is little long-range thinking about how things will turn out until the very last minute just before the deadline (when the Jell-O Phenomenon happens). It’s unexplainable. It’s a mystery.

With the intuitive thinker, no deadline, no progress.

It’s this unexplainability, the lack of evidence, which upsets the linear thinker (read boss) and frustrates the intuitive thinker (read PR person/ reporter) because, “they (linear thinkers) just don’t get it.”

Strategic Thinkers

The strategic thinker, as you can tell by Mr. Ohmae’s diagram, takes an entirely different approach – on purpose. Inconsistency is one of the key attributes of strategic thinking. It’s consciously, relentlessly, purposely following different approaches. The strategist is intentionally going for a result that no one expects or may recognize.

Liberally interpreting Ohmae, strategic thinking is a process involving four segments:
  • Problem dissection;
  • Analysis and weighing of constituents:
  • Scenario development based on different constituent configurations or options; and
  • Creative re-integration.
When you examine Ohmae’s diagram, you notice just how different the three thinking styles are:
  • The linear thinker moves symmetrical concepts around, more to reconfigure than to reinvent.
  • The intuitive thinker seeks the critical fact, idea, notion, or insight among a host of other potential ideas and concepts.
  • The strategic thinker is, literally, deconstructing the problem in ways that are unique.
  • The pattern of assumptions made by the intuitive and linear thinkers is totally challengeable in the strategist’s mind.
As you compare the solutions, you see a graphic depiction of the difference in the product these thinking styles produce.

The linear thinker’s result is symmetrical, it adds up, has balance, and to a certain degree resembles the original problem.

The intuitive solution is the classic “silver bullet.”

The strategist’s solution often looks very little like the original problem. And, in fact, while utilizing elements of the original problem, a distinct and unique solution is the result. A strategist’s goal is to transform the problem prototype into a command opportunity, a command strategy, a series of actions leading to a powerful result or series of results.

Clearly, good managers and decision-makers, even staff people, are situational thinkers. They can be intuitive. They can be strategic. But, for an organization to execute a strategy there must be a process by which strategy is developed and then translated into language and action plans that everyone can understand, support and execute.

In the next edition of Lukaszewski on Strategy, I’ll talk specifically about how managers make strategic decisions and how intuitive thinkers and strategists can structure advice and counsel in ways that make both more understandable, acceptable, and usable for management; I call it the 3-minute drill.

(For more information on this subject, contact the author by email at jel@e911.com or explore his website at www.e911.com. You may also want to refer to Chapters 1, 3, 7 and 9 of his book, Why Should the Boss Listen to You, The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor, Jossey-Bass, 2008.)

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James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at Amazon.com.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can There Ever Be Ethics In Social Media?

Can There Ever Be Ethics In Social Media?
Has There Ever Been Ethics In Legacy Media?
Can We Find The Truth, Anyway?

By James E. Lukaszewski ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA

I keep hearing communication colleagues pining for set of rules for social media like those in legacy journalism i.e. critical thinking skills, validated sources of information and quotes, insertion of editorial judgment steps, off the record conventions and ethical principles. My question is since when have there ever been 'rules' ethical or otherwise that actually ever stuck in Journalism? Not to mention that these so called journalism 'rules' have been imposed on the rest of us without our participation or permission.

Social media is wildly open and operating free of the cumbersome fiction of 'rules". Better system, cleaner, more open, when you participate you’d better expect to be exposed in someone’s on line communication. Enter the social media world with your eyes open, or stay out. The question is why play in the legacy media game where you have no say in the "rules"? In fact, the rules in American journalism only favor the journalist. It is hard to believe that social media will facilitate any new rules.

CRITICAL THINKING?

It would seem that America has gotten along very well without "critical thinking skills."
Newspapers are dying because the public seems to believe that most of what they read is fabricated . . . well maybe that's critical thinking at work in reality. I am in the crisis business . . . on the ground when things happen. In these situations the coverage early on is 85% or better made up . . . to beat the competition, and the bloggers and bloviators. No much critical thinking there.

Where is this sought after critical thinking happening? In Congress? The Supreme Court? In Universities? In businesses? In Public relations? It seems extremely rare in modern journalism, and, of course non-existent in the 140 character world of new media.

SO LET’S MAKE OUR OWN RULES

The true beauty of social media is that practitioners can make their own rules, find their own audiences and publics and communicate directly with them. In so many recent news events, Newtown CT, Boston bombing, Houston explosion, Hurricane Sandy we’ve witnessed the unbelievably clumsy, ethicless, error riddled, largely fabricated performance of the legacy media. Legacy media performance has become so ridiculous, journalists have begun to pre forgive their bad work by announcing that the public should expect errors and mistakes early in big stories. I guess their assumption is that those error problems will all be fixed later. But are they?

The nonsense news was so bad in Boston and Newtown that victims, survivors and relatives called CNN and the other media begging them to stop reporting until the right information could be found. Media mistakes were powerful irritants and insults to the victims’ families. American news mediums never intend to shut up until they have the stories pegged dead right. Or even half right. Imagine CNN and Fox or the BBC or NBC putting up a poster that says, “We’ll be back on the air when we have some proof or truth we can verify.” Instead we see the lying, fabricated, infuriating and deceptive flashing “Breaking News.”

Social media doesn’t have these problems because we already know that half of what is posted is bogus and fabricated; half of the rest is riddled with unverified or validated information and data, half of the rest is from Looney tunes, and the remainder may actually be partially reliable . . . or not. The goal is to be contentious, insulting, confrontational or at least outlandish . . . and to get noticed. How is this different than legacy media?

The difference is emerging, as Pew research has shown. Eighty percent believe and trust new media, even though everyone is pretty aware of what it is, rather than newspapers not at all, radio somewhat more, and television somewhat more than say radio.

These communications realities dramatically illustrate how important it is that we as individuals get really good at managing and controlling our own information destinies because only we can, and only we care.

WAS AMERICAN JOURNALISM BETTER IN THE PAST?

But wait, American legacy journalism has always been better than social media on any basis, more trustworthy, more accurate overall, civil and more principled. Right? Hardly.

Journalism in America it turns out has always been a rough-and-tumble business. Read Eric Burns’ 2007 book Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism. It’s like taking a walk through today, only without all the digital applications and fancy stuff. The ability to spread gossip was colossal, but in those days limited to how far one could toss a newspaper. It's a very contemporary story, about George Washington, and his confusion over how, being as great a man as he knew he was, yet, his treatment by the press, and press treatment of his wife and mother-in-law was at least as depressing as it might be if he were alive today, being subjected to Fox news, CNBC, Rush Limbaugh, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times (on even numbered days).

The extraordinary wisdom of U.S. founders to constitutionally protect such an unfettered exercise of freedom remains a monumental cultural achievement. One could argue that America continues to achieve enormous success every day in spite of the tremendous generation of contention and anger that all legacy and now social mediums seem disposed to create. Somehow, for nearly 300 years, Americans have been able to sort out what matters (maybe less than 2% of what they read, see, and hear) from the various mediums. Some days, despite the 24 seven media bleating, there is nothing new to learn from them. Social media has just vastly expanded the contentiousness of the communication wasteland.

Institutions that seem so determined to disrupt people's lives without providing some rational and constructive offsetting benefit reap the ire, the disinterest, or the denigration of the disrupted resulting in searching for alternative sources of truth to aid in the individual pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

THE TRUTH INDEX

For years I have provided my clients with a process and guidance to help determine the likely truthfulness of what they read see and hear in the news, and now on line. I call it the Truth Index. It’s designed to help them remain calm and focus on what, if anything, really matters in all the nonsense, negativity, and noise called news. Here it is:

TO: Executive Addressed

FR: James E. Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA

RE: The Truth Index: Assessing the Believability and Credibility of News Interviews, Stories, Reporters, Bloggers, Bloviators, Bellyachers and new media Blowhards.

START WITH THE TRUTH

The truth about journalism, according to Janet Malcolm (The Journalist and the Murderer, New York, Vintage Books, 1990, pp. 3-4), is that “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse... On reading the article or book in question, (the source) has to face the fact that the journalist - who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things - never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own. The disparity between what seems to be the intention of an interview as it is taking place and what it actually turns out to have been in aid of always comes as a shock to the subject.”

Legacy journalism today is relentlessly competitive, amoral, aggressive, and negative. New media has multiplied the level of contentious intensity, negativity, and outrageousness. Survey after survey demonstrates the public's belief that reporters use deception and practice reckless reputation destruction while at the same time the public is increasingly trusting new media. News subjects need the means to judge the validity and believability of their news interview experience, the resulting stories, and of the behavior of the reporters who question them. New media is an extension of these behaviors. Anyone blogging or bloviating is today considered a public journalist.

TRUTH INDEX TEST QUESTIONS

The higher the score, the lower the believability and, probable validity of a news story. Question reporters directly. Test their believability credibility, and therefore, the probability of story truthfulness.

  

      Score



Yes
No

  1.   Did the reporter personally witness what he or she is reporting about?
1    2    3    4    5


Yes
No

  2.   Did the reporter have any specific knowledge about the topic prior to reporting about it?
1    2    3    4    5


Fair
Unfair

  3.   Is the description and dialog of opposing views balanced, equal, and fair?
1    2    3    4    5


Fair
Biased
Unbalanced
  4.   Is the story clearly biased, unbalanced, or unfair?
1    2    3    4    5


Few
Many

  5.   How many emotionally charged, inflammatory, and negative words, phrases, or concepts are used during the interview and in the final story?
1    2    3    4    5


Truthful
Deceptive

  6.   How does the story content direction and perception square with what the reporter told interviewees before the interview?
1    2    3    4    5


Some
Too Much

  7.   How much “surprise” material was used during the interview?
1    2    3    4    5


Some
None

  8.   How do the observations of others present at the same news event compare with and support the reporter's version?
1    2    3    4    5


Few
Many

  9.   How many anonymous sources are used?
1    2    3    4    5


Respectful
Disrespectful

10.   Was the reporter insulting, overly suspicious, or disrespectful?
1    2    3    4    5


Yes
No

11.   Does the headline or online promotion appropriately reflect the content of the story?
1    2    3    4    5



In my experience, which always involves clients in contentious circumstances, usually of their own making, truth is never the product of deception, disrespect, or insulting, aggressively negative behavior whatever the news medium of the skill, reputation or experience of the Journalist.

Too often I see our profession standing back hoping that an abusive lesson from a journalist will teach the client something the professional PR person couldn’t… but that’s a discussion for another time.


By James E. Lukaszewski

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James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at Amazon.com.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Coherence or Communication? Another Buzz Word Enters the Business Lexicon

WOW, Booz & Company, according to the Bulldog Reporter, has done a new study revealing that a majority of business leaders (64%) said the biggest frustration for managers is having too many conflicting priorities. Most executives (54%) said they do not believe their company’s strategy will lead to success. Most (53%) could not say that their strategy is understood by employees and customers. The numbers get worse from there.

According to Booz & Company, the problem is “coherence”… the new buzz word. They have even developed a Coherence Test which yields a score designed to help business leaders determine, apparently, just how incoherent their businesses are strategically.

Executives and leaders blame these problems on strategies they don’t believe in, inattentive employees and customers who say they don’t understand what the goals and achievements are supposed to be. If employees don’t get it and customers are confused, the reasons and responsibility tracks right back to the doorstep of the CEO and top management.

Most CEOs, literally most, fail to recognize how essential their constant, direct, personal engagement is in communicating the strategic framework supporting decisions essential to the success of their programs, aspirations, and goals.

The Booz study omits two management performance areas that are absolutely critical to operational coherence (if there really is such a thing).
  1. The impact of Management Communication, and 
  2. The true nature of the executive communication functions.

Management Communication Impact

Too many CEO’s believe that if they say it once, everybody hears it, understands it, passes it on to others and will t make operational choices based on it. Yeah, sure. Here is where and how employees really get their information:

CEO................................................................ 5%
Upper Management.............................................. 6%
Middle Management............................................. 7%
District Management........................................... 10%
First Line Supervisor........................................... 30%
TGNTM (the guy or girl next to me).......................... 20%
IMIU (I made it up because nobody told me)................ 22%
                                                                                  100%

Yes, you read this correctly. Employees invent nearly ¼ of the decisions they make every day because they never get the word. Employees get 1/5 of their information from the person who works in the next cubical rather than reading themselves or listening carefully to what management is saying. And of course, their first line supervisor is usually the most important source of employee information in any organization. This is true despite the fact that the first line supervisor is the most neglected and often maligned member of the management team.

The lesson of this is about how much more the CEO and top management need to be engaged in directing the organizational capabilities and communicating strategic priorities downstream on an on-going basis.


Leadership Communication Function Ratios

In organizations that really work, regardless of the daily chaos and incoherence, you find engaged executives purposefully involved in making certain that everybody understands what is going on, what’s needed, and how to recognize success. A communication function analysis of effective executives looks very similar to this:

Function Daily Amount

Decision Making............................................... 5 %
Articulating Decisions........................................ 40 %
Coaching/Teaching/Motivating............................. 40 %
Forecasting.................................................... 5 %
Admiration Building........................................... 6 % (Management wants the credit)
Reputation Repair............................................. 1 % (More if there is trouble or controversy)
Repeating, Re-emphasizing, Re-interpreting............. 20 %
                                                                                117 %*

*Because the job of a leader is close to 24/7, anyone who does anything on a 24/7 basis is, by definition, doing substantially more than any peer in a non-leadership position. This is what leaders do.

It still is rather amazing to me that after doing work in communications for all these years, virtually every post-mortem I attend or participate in on the death of a strategy or the failure of an organization to successfully respond to emergencies, threats and problems, the very first functional failure identified is communication from leadership to critical areas of the organization. One has to wonder if those who teach managers and management and those who are managers and management are ever going to get this part of their job.

Coherence is a laudable goal for any organization. But, it is aggressive, constructive, helpful, and relentlessly incremental executive communication that gets organizations moving toward victory and the success they seek.

P.S. As I was digesting this information, I was thinking about introducing a new acronym into the management lexicon to describe the behavior of employees in the incoherent organization. It’s called, the Dysfunctional Employee Attention Deficit Disorder, or DEADD. Perhaps Booz & Company can do a study to determine just how many DEADD employees an incoherent organization has. Oh well, never mind.

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James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at Amazon.com.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Let's Get Serious About Strategy

By James E. Lukaszewski ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA 
President, The Lukaszewski Group Division 
Risdall Public Relations 
New Brighton, Minnesota
As seen on the IABC MN blog

Strategy is a crucial driving force in any business or organization. It's the intellectual force that helps organize, prioritize, and energize what organizations do. No strategy; no energy. No strategy; no direction. No strategy; no momentum. No strategy; no impact. No strategy, going nowhere.

Strategy is a unique mixture of mental energy, injected into an organization through communication, which results in behavior that achieves organizational objectives.

For public relations practitioners, being strategic is the difference between being just another member of the support staff and being an essential participant on the management team with the ability to make strategic contributions to the overall management process.

Strategy. Sometimes I think there's more talk, wishful thinking, and disappointment over this topic than almost any other in the field of public relations. Practitioners suffer enormous anxiety and frustration over not "being at the table," "guiding the boss," "just being heard," or "just getting invited to strategy meetings."

So, let's have a serious, candid, and useful discussion about two essential elements of the strategy - 1) What it is and 2) Your strategic mindset.

WHAT IS STRATEGY? 

Strategy is, first of all, a state of mind, because a strategist is relentlessly and pragmatically results oriented. Strategy is the combination of attitudes, purposes, possible actions, and decisions bundled together as options for decision and implementation by management. Strategy can:
  • Give energy and momentum to a series of actions. 
  • Deny or drain energy and momentum. 
  • Draw attention. 
  • Confuse, obfuscate, and blur. 
  • Distract and disinform. 
  • Focus and intensify. 
  • Motivate and move people to action. 
  • Surprise, overwhelm, and dislocate. 
  • Ignore all previous assumptions, but still create a win. 
  • Create new directions by recombining old assumptions with new insights. 
IT'S ABOUT HOW YOU THINK

Strategy begins in the mind. It's a mental set. It's a method of thinking before it becomes a style of action. To be a strategist, it's essential to understand the three fundamental steps to creating strategy:
  • A clear understanding of the issues, problems, or questions to be addressed. 
  • A method of analysis or pattern of recognition. 
  • A translation process that enables management to understand and act on the insights and advantages of the strategic approach they will select from the options presented. 
GETTING TO THE TABLE 

If you're one of those who is frustrated or anxious about being out of the loop, don't feel alone. I have some first-hand news from the front lines of management. During the last 14 months I've made presentations and conducted workshops about strategy for security directors, HR managers, corporate counsel IS managers, financial officers, purchasing agents, plant managers, and hundreds of public relations practitioners.

The news? Every single one of these groups has as its top priority getting to the table, which means advising the boss and playing a key strategic role. There is a nearly constant corporate staff rush hour, with everyone heading towards the boss' office or to wherever the organization's strategic decisions are being made.

Ironically, in the past few months I've also had the opportunity to advise and make presentations before groups of chief executives. They have a rather surprising point of view - something like this: "Please spare me from another amateur corporate strategist - the person who doesn't have a clue about how the company operates, my goals, or our critical strategic needs; but who yaps at me every day and calls it strategy. What I'm hearing is 'Appreciate my work,' 'Recognize what I do,' or 'Give me a leg up on the other staff functions because I'm loyal."

While you may feel that the boss "really needs to understand what you do," to the boss that's just more yap yap yap, whine whine whine. Translation? When you can truly help the business in some substantive way, you will make it to the table. But if all you offer is how to get a news release out or the standard tactics from the pr tool kit, you're not going to be invited to the table _ at least while the discussions and decision making are taking place.

HELPING MOVE THE ORGANIZATION 

Bosses expect good staff work. The question is, does your staff work help those who actually know the business to do the business better, every day, from their perspective. If that's not what you have to contribute, your limited value as an advisor to management will be quickly discovered and you'll be excluded from the table.

I'm continually asked to review public relations plans and "strategies." It's striking to note that the vast majority of these activities have absolutely nothing to do with the strategic goals of the organization _ at any level. But, they are interesting and sometimes even award-winning public relations projects.

Bosses need to be with revenue producers, cost managers, business operations strategists. These areas are of greatest concern to them. Does the boss ever want to hear from staff executives about their concerns and strategies? Of course, if what is shared provides:
  • Valuable, useful, applicable advice beyond what the boss already knows; 
  • Well-timed, truly useful intuitive insights; and/or 
  • Advanced warning and options for managing trouble or opportunity, and their unintended consequences. 
WHERE MANY PRACTITIONRS FAIL

Staff functions like public relations are rarely constant players at strategy meetings for some rather obvious reasons:
  • Public relations solutions aren't necessarily a critical part of every business decision. 
  • Whining about the importance of the media has only limited value. 
  • Discussions about releasing information before the facts are known are disconcerting. 
  • Rarely are media concerns the first, or even the tenth priority in any management decision. 
  • Spilling your guts is not a strategy. 
  • Whining about anything is never strategic. 
STRATEGIES MUST MEET THESE TESTS
  1. Your advice help the boss achieve his or her objectives. 
  2. Your ideas advance the purposes and goals of the entire enterprise. 
  3. Even if the answers to 1 and 2 above are yes, how is what you propose really necessary? 
  4. The business or some aspect of the business will fail or not succeed if your advice is ignored .
In most strategic environ­ments what is most important is the ability to do and recommend less - but make what is sug­gested substantive and very important.

One clear lesson: dump the cynicism about management and get on the team. If your boss's team won't have you, find a team that will.

SO MANY "STRATEGIES" FAIL BECAUSE THE IDEAS: 
  • Don't serve a genuinely strategic interest. 
  • Don't have sufficient support and management "lift." 
  • Are developed without input and participation from the boss or someone the boss trusts. 
  • Usurp THE territory of others. 
  • Aren't related to those currently controlling the business. 
  • Are just poor unconvincing PR advocacy. 
WHAT IS MANAGEMEMNT LOOKING FOR FROM THE STRATIGIST?
  • Candor (Truth with an Attitude) 
  • Meaningful advice on the spot. 
  • Something they don’t already know 
  • Productive but different perspectives 
  • New information on topics that matter 
  • Doable, achievable options for action 
  • What to do next 
The question for you is can you deliver . . .or are you so focused on PR that you have trouble thinking up high enough to reach the attention of management?

Remember:
  • All managers from the time they are supervisors think and believe that they are great communicators. 
  • If all you have to offer is communications advice, they simply won’t hear or call you . . . until they decide what they want you to say, and they tell you to go say it. 
  • All issues, questions, and problems that face an organization and its leaders are always management problems before they are any other kind of problem. 
  • If you need appreciation for your work you will rarely find it at the table. 
  • I Repeat. If all you have to offer is communications and media relations advice, management and leaders simply won’t hear or call you. 
Time to really examine whether you are where you are for your own benefit, or for the needs, aspirations, urgencies and goals of the people you work for.

For extended discussions on these topics you might consider reading, “Why Should the Boss Listen to You, The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor,” by Jim Lukaszewski; Published by Jossey Bass, 2008. His newest book, “Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication: What Your CEO Needs to Know about Reputation Risk and Crisis Management,” published by Rothstein Associates Inc. earlier this year, is also available at Amazon.com.

(Also for more information on this subject, contact the author by email at jel@e911.com or explore his website at www.e911.com.)

If you’d like to argue and debate these ideas in real time, the author is ready and willing at 651-286-6788 office, 203-948-7029, 24/7 cell.
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James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at Amazon.com.

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