If we look at Communication and PR through the lens of a strategic corporate function, we should recognise that much of what we do is attached to an agenda.
In some cases, that agenda is personal – you want to progress up the ladder, you want to be seen to add value, you want to be recognised for your merits etc. In other cases, that agenda is purely organisational – you know that if you propose a course of action, there will be consequences, either good or bad.
Some of these consequences are known, others are less likely to occur, and others are highly improbable to happen. However, when you do have an organisational agenda that does have you in the driving seat, below are the questions you should ponder over (as a minimum).
The more honest you are in your answers, the easier it will be for you to find a solution and make that agenda sail through .
Will the consequences of your action be far-reaching or moderate?
For instance, your answer to this question could be:
They are certainly going to be far reaching. The change that I am proposing is intended to have ripple effects across my organisation worldwide. I know my initiative is highly needed by the organisation – being a non-technical initiative, it may take some time to gain complete support but, in a world that is more driven by teamwork, engagement, leadership and the like, it’s high time for technical organisations to remember that their main asset, both internally and externally, are the “people”.
What resources do you need from your organisation to make that agenda happen, and to what extent are those resources scarce? Is there anyone else in your organisation that needs the same “things” that you do?
For instance, your answer to this question may be:
With respect to my initiative, we have scarce human resources but sufficient financial ones. There aren’t very many colleagues willing to volunteer their times pursuing such a challenging and complex initiative. There are many colleagues who have offered their support but their reasons are far from being generous – everybody would like to have their names associated with success and, if possible, do very little about it. Hence, my “recruitment support” effort is quite daunting. Momentarily, I am quite happy driving it and dedicating a lot of my time to it – there may come a time when I no longer manage to do that. But, to this end, I have already begun preparing the “crew change”.
Consider the risk and complexity of your agenda. To what extent do others in the organisation perceive it as risky and/or complex?
I wouldn’t be surprised if your answer to this question would look like this:
They don’t perceive it as risky at all, on the contrary. But they certainly perceive it as complex and, in the beginning, many were against it – they were simply trying to cover their “Gosh, I wished I had thought about it myself!” with pathetic excuses related to “we are a technical organisation”. Now, funnily enough, the only thing they can talk about is “XX” (my initiative).
Based on your responses to a, b, and c, what are the conditions that drive the need for a coalition of support for your agenda? What are the implications for the way you go about pursuing your initiative?
Are you ready to make it happen? Can you see not just the first moves on the board but the end of the game, too? Be brutally honest with your replies to this question, which may look like this:
The conditions driving my coalition of support are generally reliant on how much “fame and fortune” my initiative could bring to the other Department Heads and to our organisation in general. I know I have their support. But what some are trying to do now is to get a “slice” of my agenda’s success. Whilst I have no problem with that and they can be as famous as they like, where I need to be careful is not to allow these latecomers to taint the original mandate of this initiative. It is about asking some hard questions about what we do and how our work serves all our stakeholder groups and the society overall.