Who – or What is right?
Just because you are right, does not mean that you need to exercise that point or view.
We are not fish who have to take a bait. What is more important- Winning the War or winning a battle?
We have choice, and I think that a lot of people have lost that ability to think about the decisions they make. As Postman & Weingartner said in Teaching as a Subversive Activity….we need to become crap detectors.
Even Anthony Robbins indicated that it is useful to sometimes check your own values and beliefs, to see if they are still relevant.
But anyway, I just thought I would share this story.
An old man and a young boy were travelling through their village with their donkey. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked.
As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding.
The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.
Later, they passed some people that remarked, “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.”
They then decided they both would walk!
Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.
Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying “how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey”.
The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.
The moral of the story?
If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass good-bye!
I start every seminar and presentation with definitions, so that I can establish a common framework through which I can work with my audience. In particular there are a number of definitions to describe reputation and reputation risk, each serving a slightly different purpose. These need to be further explored so that you can decide on how you will manage reputation.
The classic definition is that Reputation is all that is generally believed about your character, respectability, credit, integrity or notoriety. (Latin: reputatio – reckoning). But it is not enough to guide us.
I also use these definitions that give it more meaning:
Reputation is a state of mind – A Set of memories, perceptions and opinions that sits in your stakeholders’ consciousness.
Reputation is the net result of the interactions of all the experiences, impressions, beliefs, feelings and knowledge all stakeholders have about a company.
So what then is Reputation Management?
It is essentially a consulting discipline that realizes that Reputation is both an asset and a risk. The definition that I therefore like to work with says that Reputation Management is the building, sustaining, and protection of an organization’s good name, generating positive feedback from stakeholders and resulting in the attainment of strategic and financial objectives. It implies that there is a definite financial link between the work we do in reputation management and the bottom line.
However reputation is also the greatest risk that an organization can face.(Think of a run on a bank). As Warren Buffet have said: ” It can take twenty years to build a good reputation, and only five minutes to destroy it”.
WE therefore have to consider the following definitions as part of our approach to building and protecting reputation.
- Definition 1: (Stakeholder Perspective) – Reputational Risk emerges when the reasonable expectations of stakeholders about an organization‘s performance and behaviour are not met. This has been listed in some surveys as the most dangerous reputation risk of all. It essentially involves taking a look at each stakeholders needs and expectations, matching the drivers of an organization reputation and minimizing the gaps that exist.
- Definition 2: (Asset Perspective) – Some studies show that Reputation makes up between 55 – 73% of a company’s asset value. In this instance, Reputational Risk is defined as the loss of earnings that occur in a situation of negative public opinion. It normally results in loss of sales, share value decreases and breakdown of relationships. Many a crises have led to stock price decreases and impact in other areas of the business.
- Definition 3: (Incident Perspective) – Reputational Risk is the exposure incurred from unexpected incidents, or from unanticipated response to the institution’s initiatives, actions or day-to-day activities. This definition implies that Reputation Risk is the risk that an activity, action or stance performed or taken by a company or its officials will impair its image in the community and/or the long-term trust placed in the organization by its stakeholders, resulting in the loss of business and/or legal action, and is closely linked with the asset perspective.
- Definition 4: (Compliance Perspective) – Reputational Risk can also be defined and viewed as the loss or negative publicity that can arise from failure to meet regulatory or legal obligations.
From the above definitions it must be clear that essentially all risks and all related components of an organization potentially impact on reputation. This implies that reputation needs to be systemically managed if an organization wants to extract maximum value from it. Tip – It is essential that you define Reputation Risk in these four ways in your business, as each definition implies a different mitigation strategy and potential danger.
My question to you – Have you adequately defined Reputation Risk in your Business? Do you have a Reputation Risk framework that spells out how you will mitigate, treat and respond to Reputation Risk? If you don’t, you have some work to do.
The following story was shared years ago with me (Caveat- I cannot remember who) but it is worthwhile considering the discussions at Copenhagen.
In the year 2009, The Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the USA and said, "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over populated and I see the end of all flesh before me.
Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have six months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights".
Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard….. but no ark.
"Noah", He roared, "I’m about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"
"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah. "But things have changed. I needed a building permit. I’ve been arguing with the inspector about the need for a fire detection and sprinkler system. My neighbours claim that I’ve violated the neighbourhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.
Then the Government and other stakeholders demanded a bond be posted for The future costs of moving power, trolley and other overhead obstructions, To clear the passage for the Ark’s move to the sea. I argued that the Sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There’s a ban on cutting local Trees in order to save the Giant Spotted Owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls. But no go!
When I started gathering the animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will.
As well, they argued the accommodation was too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.
Then the Department of Environment Affairs ruled that I couldn’t build the Ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Institute on how many previously disadvantaged individuals I’m supposed to hire for my building crew.
Also, the trades unions say I can’t use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark building experience.
To make matters worse, the Customs and Revenue seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.
So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least ten years for me to Finish this Ark."
Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow Stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?".
"No", said the Lord. "The Government beat me to it!"