Spare-the-politics

Spare the politics………puh-lease.

Phew, well I’m glad that’s over.

9-weeks of excruciatingly numbing political meandering that delivered………… well, not much.

One of the aspects of the campaign that we have been discussing internally has been if we learnt anything. The answer is a general ‘Yes,’ however the content you could treat on a take it or leave it basis.

Polls

Dare I say it, they were one of the highlights of the Aussie campaign.

Despite the general twitterings of the media, the polls were pretty much on a consistent ‘knife-edge’ across the campaign; the end result? A cliff-hanger.

Based on the musings of our esteemed daily papers one could have been excused for thinking that our pollsters were as reliable as their British counterparts (or the BoM forecasting Melbourne weather) with their ‘forget the numbers, Turnbull’s got it’ commentary.

Messages

It helps to have them.

Attempting to bore your target audience in to submission clearly doesn’t work.

Hopefully the last couple of months’ acts as the lethal injection that obsolete sloganeering without substance needs.

It could have been worse I guess: Cheap Cheap anyone?

The Greens

Surprising? Not really.

Well performed? Not really.

Going places? Most likely.

I would have thought that in the absence of discussion void of any real substance regarding a pragmatic (forget about visionary) forward-looking agenda for the nation, that there was a huge opportunity for The Greens to appeal to the abiding Australian sense of egalitarianism.

This ‘third force’ in Australian politics also appears to have been sucked in to a narrow (and narrowcast) script, despite the ample areas of opportunity (climate change, asylum seekers, homelessness, re-balancing Commonwealth infrastructure spending to include more public transport, the cost of living etc etc) for the further ‘Left’ of pour political landscape to carve out more ground.

The Greens campaign I would describe as overlooking the bigger picture; bicycle super highways have cool renders tho.

Our preferential voting system

Is it time to give it the boot?

As it stands all seats in the House of Reps come down to a two-horse race. Why is it that the jockey of every beaten horse then gets a say in the eventual winner, even though their mount dropped out before the home straight?

The ‘One Vote, One Value’ principle seems to be undermined when a vote for one set of values (or whatever substitutes for them these days) ends up in a camp with a different set of principles.

Preferences don’t even seem to make much difference. As a case in point, the ALP received its second lowest primary vote in history and was a kick of the footy from winning this election.

Which leads me to the……

AEC

I read earlier this week that India can count 800 million votes in a day.

Brexit was confirmed in 7-hours.

In Australia our measly 10 million votes are only approximately 70%. Sure we have the complexity of preferences and the use of the postal system etc, but surely we can speed things up a bit.

A move to first past the post voting, or maybe even using that futuristic thing called the internet could help?

Scare Campaigns

Work.

If, the target of said campaign permits them to.

With a week or more to go before the poll, a robust disaggregation of what was being considered for Medicare (and why), contrasted against the scaremongering may have enabled our soon to be re-sworn in PM to make a statesmanlike speech on election night.

Split the ‘Right’

Given the ‘conservative discontent’ within the broad church of the Liberal Party, will it be an ALP strategy over the course of this, and subsequent terms of government, to try and foment this unhappiness with the view to seeing ‘Team Cory Bernardi’ become to the Libs what The Greens are to them?

Perhaps, but unless we did away with preferential voting such an achievement wouldn’t make any tangible difference (based on where I presume preferences would flow).

What did we learn?

If you want to bring people with you, one needs to understand who they are, what’s relevant to them, and speak to them in their language. Ideally, this process won’t take any longer than necessary.

If you have an opportunity, take it. Never expect that it will exist forever.

Keep things simple, clear and efficient. No one has time, nor are interested in reasons/excuses why the apparently simple is actually not simple. In short, understand and meet expectations.

If, and when something incorrect is said; correct the record. Keep correcting the record until the record is correct. If you don’t do the work you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.

Strategy. A lot of strategies look great on paper and over sound great over a cup of coffee, but said strategy is going to deliver the same result as would have been the case prior to developing, investing in, and implementing it why bother? Better to spend the time identifying what you want to achieve and develop a plan that will actually deliver difference rather than same same.

So………

As things stand today, let’s hope that Sir Peter Cosgrove extends his French sojourn a little longer to allow the dust to settle, and for us innocent Australians to focus on the important stuff in life like football, kids going back to school, and paying bills. You know, the things that need to be considered by every Australian, every day (and yes, that includes football).

 

 

The-Trouble-with-Hollow-Men

The Trouble with Hollow Men

There is much dispute around the who actually first said “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything” but the implication is clear. A lack of conviction will leave one highly susceptible to group-think, demagogues and charlatans.

A lack of demonstrable conviction is also what appears to drive the disillusionment with our current political leaders and process.

The developed world appears to be beset by a twin crisis of confidence, moral relativism -driving lack of core values and total cynicism when it comes to our political leaders.

It can be argued that Trump, Brexit, the revolving door of Australian Prime Ministers and the retreat from the two party system are all symptoms of this lack of conviction and erosion of trust.

The electorate appears to crave conviction politicians and clear, visionary leadership. Yet, the combination of constant media scrutiny and ‘analysis’ and the cacophony of special interest demands pushes politicians, with any survival instinct, to move with the mood. Ultimately demolishing any credibility regarding principle.

Devising the solution to that dilemma is truly the modern conundrum.

For business the challenge is that the populace now uses the same cynical and sceptical filter when considering anything those with commercial power have to say them. This presents a significant barrier to effectively interacting with any stakeholders.

A vital step in getting through that filter is to own and live by a set of values that the community views as contributing to both the effective and principled delivery of products and/or services and to broader societal benefit.

It is a basic as ‘don’t tell me what you are going to do for me, show me’.

How many businesses try to engage with stakeholders yet either don’t have a clear set of values to measure their interactions against or act in a manner that gives the lie to any claim to be living by such?

Spending the time and energy to formalise and inculcate a set of values is an investment that will deliver manifold benefit. All business leaders should first engage with their core management team and figure out what they all stand for. Then live it.

To fail to do so is to allow your enterprise to appear as hollow as the populists who may have their moment in the sun only to, sooner rather than later, have it shine through them.

RMKA has worked on developing relevant, beneficial and enduring values for many organisations. It is the core of any sound communication and engagement strategy.

 

The-Values-Deficit_826px

The Values Deficit

Reconciling the need for financial value with social values that drive reputation

Creating value is the foundation stone of all business – to make or grow something, to provide a service, to improve daily life.

This is the drive that results in surplus that can be traded and that has resulted in the interdependent global market in which we live.

But there is more to what is ascribed a value. To paraphrase the Bible, “man does not live by bread alone”. We seek community, family, security and, for some, spiritual certainty and fulfilment. To achieve those ends in a civilised society we develop a set of beliefs, behaviours and ethics; a guide to our actions. We give those actions value, typically based on what we perceive the results to be either good or bad.

Whilst there may be some cultural relativity, the core social values that are supposed to guide most of us are fairly common. Honesty, respect, tolerance and fairness are seen as essential social values. Their importance is attested to by the distress and anger caused when any, or a combination of those values are demonstrably absent in the actions of others. That is why we characterise such behaviour as criminal and seek to punish it and stamp it out.

The modern global village is made up of individuals, states and corporations. In the developed world we expect the same social values to drive ethical and fair behaviour by all. We probably hold the non-individual actors (i.e. governments, corporations et al) to a higher standard, particularly given the disproportionate power they wield. Amongst those who state that with great power comes great responsibility are Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and Spiderman.

That is where companies can find themselves in major trouble. In the drive to create monetary value, shareholder value and personal value for executives, they may forget the imperative to fit within the prevailing social values. That is, there is a Values Deficit TM. When that happens corporate reputation can, and usually is, destroyed.

The 24-hour news cycle means that corporate misbehaviour will quickly gain broad exposure and, sadly, there is no shortage of examples. The result is that not only are organisations held to a higher standard, but the general disposition of most of the community towards them is inherently cynical.

To gain and maintain trust, companies must align their values to community expectation and not only live those values, but also be seen to live them. When that does not happen we regularly hear complaints about a negative and poisonous corporate culture. Complaints that can justify the business equivalent of a lynching, or, at the very least, a pelting with rotten fruit.

Not aligning with expected social values, yet still seeking to profit from the community that shares them, is the Values Deficit TM that can turn any business into a market pariah.

Any organisation that does not do a regular check of its values, the culture those create and assess if its actions and messages convey the desired values, runs a serious risk of drifting into a Values Deficit TM. The very nature of fast-paced competition can hasten that drift and create damage to reputation before it is even realised.

RMKA are highly experienced in working with organisations to assess expressed and lived values and to communicate values alignment with the communities and stakeholders that support any organisation’s licence to operate.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Vacuums are good for many things – including boiling water at zero degrees. What they are terrible for is selling a message.

Prime Minister Turnbull came to the leadership of the nation in September last year, loosing the hounds of national expectation. Understandably he did nothing to dampen those expectations that had fairly, or otherwise, been hitched to his wagon.

Six months is a long-time in most things; even longer in politics.

The national commentary now associated with his leadership will no doubt provide sobering reading for him and his advisors.

Upon considered reflection, it is the opinion of this business that our PM is guilty of failing to manage the conversation, which in turn has resulted a massive decline in his personal standing and a 50:50 split in the most recent newspoll.

So what happened?

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the government instigated a conversation that it was not yet ready for. It kicked it off following the tried and true method of flying kites and selected leaks. All good so far; everything was on the table.

Australians could expect that complex and difficult reform would be calmly and rationally explained, and that the government would pursue the ‘right’ path as opposed to the politically expedient one.

It’s at this point in time some folks in the back office must have started to feel pretty uncomfortable. Increasing the GST was going to hurt too much (read: scare campaign on the horizon), and changes to super and negative gearing began tearing at the heart of a core constituency (read: conservative backbenchers).

Then there was silence.

Then the Opposition put out a policy.

Before the government knew it, it had lost control of a debate that it had should have had well within its grasp with plenty of good will and political capital to expend on driving it to the conclusion that the ‘nation needed.’

Simply put, the government appears to have been carried away with its potential to tackle a politically difficult problem and rushed into it without a clear pathway to explaining (and achieving) that task. En route, it ceded control of the discussion by creating a vacuum and allowing it to be filled by others with a somewhat different agenda to theirs.

Put another way, they went sailing without coordinates for the destination or the waypoints that they should have travelled by.

If we take a moment to compare and contrast here with one Donald Trump the difference is illuminating. Trump is so busy dropping bombs that none of his opponents (nor the media) have an opportunity to really lay a glove on him. He is leading a merry dance at an unprecedented tempo that does not permit anyone to get settled and really take him on. As an organisation, we do not advocate such a scatter-gun approach; it is however instructive to examine the techniques used across the political spectrum to maintain the initiative.

Ultimately the salient point is that if you are leading, you must know where you are going. There is never any reason, or excuse, to begin a journey before you are ready.

In the Australian context it is an opportunity lost for the nation. The saddest element of which is that it will likely take some kind of economic shock before tax-reform is meaningfully tackled again in the future.

To quote William Blake:

Not with a bang, but a whimper.