Anybody in the crow’s nest?

The current and justified infatuation with CSR and governance is just the tip a very deep humanitarian iceberg. This...

September 8, 2003

The current and justified infatuation with CSR and governance is just the tip a very deep humanitarian iceberg.

This collossal and entrancing icesculpture only began to surface when the internet emerged to make transparency and multi-personal communication possible. Within just a few years, it is now towering above us.

The ethosystem-changes which created this new organic structure are almost fully established. We are entering the Relationship Age.

As indicators of fundamantal change, we have seen the advent of stakeholder transparency networks. Real time strategic change processes and open space dialogue forums have started to gain traction. Accountability standards and pervasive intangibles reporting are infesting the corporate world in a very constructive way.

Individuals are increasing seeking authentivity and truth. More than half of us have boycotted a producted within the last year on ethical grounds. Finally the worldwideweb is returning to its roots as a communications channel to enhance personal collaboration.

Even at an enterprise level, we are seeing a move away from control structures (CRM) and towards viable social software applications.

This miasma of stakeholder interconnectedness (‘New Mutualism’) demands a response, and traditional perception-management responses to regulation and aggressive NGO scrutiny just won’t cut the ice.

This ‘New Mutualism’ requires a fundamental re-evaluation of stakeholder roles and relationships and the ways that value can be created.

As power and control barriers start to disintegrate, the humanistic iceberg is rising fast, displacing greater and greater volumes of stagnant water, festering with the decaying corpses of mass-marketers and financial soothsayers.

(NB. This analogy could stretch to tidal waves and sunk ships and the playing of last waltzes…but it won’t!)

Our collective challenge is to start turning the corporate ship now (oops…sorry, slipped out!), before these inhuman businesses lose trust altogether.

Corporate Enterprise must address this mutuality as an opportunity to build common human agendas between stakeholder groups, whether those stakeholders be distinct communities, or, as is more likely, the same people, engaged in schizophrenic role-play as custo-supply-ees.

In the almost-words of Margaret Thatcher’s Saint-quoting speech writer: “Where there is conflict, we must bring confluence”.

Corporate brands should hastily reinterpret their business humanity in the light of this mutual dependency, and enact this humanity through the medium of their brand.

The bad news is that they will have to abandon their focus on messaging and perception-management and embrace the existence a more human and complex ‘brand reality’, which exists in stakeholders’ heads.

Brand Reality Management (BRM – sorry!) will be worlds away from the transaction-crunching niceties of CRM and traditional mass marketing.

It will addresses human beings as whole people – in all their glorious schizophrenia – in all stakeholder roles.

Iceberg ahead!!!!!

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