by Laurence Cook
Choice is hell. If you don’t believe me, just try to make a quick decision on what to buy on any supermarket shelf you can name. There’s just too much to take in.
Fragmentation is the defining trait of modern life, not surprising when we are told daily of technology’s explosive impact. We have more media channels than we know what to do with. Torrents of information make our lives more stressful. Everything is quicker. Faster. Immediate. Whatever it is, we need it now.
It is bad enough in our daily lives, but when you look at the impact of this trait in business, it is very serious indeed.
Corporate reputations have never been so at risk as they are today seemingly held together by gossamer threads.
Broad goals and common themes are lost in microscopic analysis. Silos develop. Momentum stalls. Far from moving in one purposeful direction, businesses discover they are in an expanding universe each department pulling away in all directions from the central core. And, as with space, this movement is invisible to the naked eye; until it is too late.
Business is aware that forces are at work, but the remedies tend to focus on the effect rather than the cause. Employee engagement schemes work at cross-purposes to investor relations programmes. Customer experience development is developed in isolation to marketing initiatives. Compliance to ever-increasing regulatory requirements is at odds with internal communications programmes encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. The result is not dissimilar to the permanent hole in the road as each utility takes its turn to dig up the road for essential maintenance in some Sisyphean job creation scheme.
Often the remedies bring abrupt shifts in direction and emphasis, which test and stretch stakeholder relationships. And, erode value and reputations.
This is a considerable management and leadership challenge. And a communication opportunity. Ambition and perception must be backed by reality. It involves a concerted communication effort across the silos and functions of a modern organisation. It is communication beyond the glossy ad campaign, the internal newsletter and state-of-the art digital online platform. It is communication intimately linked to the operational well-being and structure of the business.
It is a focus on communications that realigns the business behind a credible, common goal, communications that recognises the importance of variety and innovation. But, most important, communications that looks to results directly measurable in hard cash and active management of the risks to reputation inherent in operational structures.
Our goal at Ogilvy 2020 is to identify and mend the connections between the critical components or drivers of value in a business – ambition, reality and perception. We create a planned interplay between these critical elements to help unlock hidden value in a business, reallocate resources efficiently and help make sure all pull in the same direction.