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PLane-crash

When it does go wrong, everyone will know about it – immediately

The good news is that all 103 passengers and crew survived the crash of an Aeromexico flight that came down shortly after take-off from Gaudalupe.

That really should be all there is to say, were it not for the fact that passengers who escaped the aircraft took pictures of the crash and posted them online, even before the emergency services arrived.

That is how fast news travels today, via social media. Anyone with a mobile phone can be an on-the-spot reporter. For businesses considering their crisis management plans that knowledge should be an immediate jolt to review such plans and be prepared for immediate response. Even if only to prepare holding statements, to be used until facts can be ascertained.

How many businesses with, any sort of public profile, can say they are prepared for such immediate response? Waiting to have all the facts at hand is becoming a luxury that can make a public facing business look slow and disengaged.

Immediate review of public response protocols and standby statements should be, if not already done, an urgent priority.

It may be impossible to predict every eventuality but it is possible to be ready for the unexpected.

RMK+A has long experience in managing media and public response to significant situations and in providing businesses with the tools to react, in a reputation sensitive manner.

The-brave-new-world

The brave new world – well, not just yet

If we listen to some of the futurists and tech pundits, very soon, we will all be sitting back in the driver’s seat and letting the autonomous car do all the work. In this brave new world, there will no road fatalities, traffic will flow smoothly and we will all arrive at our individual destinations relaxed and on time.

Like all utopian dreams the impact of the single most troublesome variant is often omitted. Humans. Humans with individual needs, desires, objectives, with their capriciousness, unpredictability, selfishness, inattentiveness and competitiveness. All of which any autonomous vehicle system will have to cope with.

Even if we were to ban all direct human control of motor vehicles (and that’s just not going to happen) humans will still share spaces with such vehicles, interact with them and come up with incalculable variations as to what they expect such vehicles to do for them. Otherwise they will not be individual vehicles at all, they will be public transport – with all the predictability yet limitation that entails.

The technology to allow vehicles to be partially, even largely, autonomous already exists. What does not is an agreed public policy and regulatory framework for the operation of such vehicles nor the closed systems within which they can operate free from the risks of human vicissitudes.

In an ideal scenario autonomous vehicles will talk to each other, operate within a network that has infrastructure also providing interactive information, plan and execute trips based on individual choice yet consistent with capacity, and prioritise user and community protection. Never mind that there can be cases where that last dual requirement is not easily reconciled.

No road fatalities, even within an autonomous system, is impossible. Yet the argument runs that the fatality cases will be so few that the larger gains justify the far lesser exceptions. But who makes that ethical judgement? Moreover, who takes responsibility when things inevitably, go spectacularly and tragically pear-shaped.

One of the luxury car companies recently issued a very brave statement saying that they would take full responsibility for any failure, causing accident, of one of their vehicles operating in autonomous mode. Quite apart from the lawyer’s picnic that can be had from the effort to define both failure and cause, any company with international exposure would soon find even a tiny percentage of incidents within their global fleet enough to drown them in claims.

The truth is that fully autonomous private motor vehicles (that is running all the time autonomously) is as much science fiction as the flying cars of the Jetsons. Yes, there will be more and more sophisticated ‘driver aids’, many of which will allow full autonomous operation in certain circumstances, under certain conditions and with certain supporting infrastructure. Yes, there may even be closed systems – such as inner city grids – where only vehicles that can be switched to autonomous mode will be allowed to enter. There may well be a day when all new cars and heavy vehicles will have such capability. However, so long as there are humans in the mix, there will remain the need for personal responsibility and ultimately, intervention and control.

The more likely outcome is a sensible combination of both improved vehicle capability and improved infrastructure allowing for opportunities to decrease road trauma whist increasing efficiency. To say nothing of better driver education and increasingly convenient public transport options.

We already have a closed system mass transport platform where the operating vehicles can perform the tasks assigned to their human controllers, without intervention. The air transport system. Yet pilots not only remain in the cockpit they also continue to carry individual responsibility for controlling their aircraft. At all times! Can’t see that changing anytime soon.

RMK+A consults widely to automotive businesses on matters of vehicle industry and transport public policy and government engagement.

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.