A fridge magnet I came across in America exhorted me to “be the person your dog thinks you are ...” That personal aspiration is also a good goal for those responsible for the corporate character and reputation of large organizations.
It is particularly true in a world where the post-crash climate of public opinion and the growing influence of social media mean there is greater demand for transparency and openness. More than ever, people are interested in how you do business, as well as what your business does. The demands for companies to perform, and to have the highest ethical standards, will only increase. The essential question that stakeholders will ask more and more is, “What is your social purpose and social value?” And among the most interested and important stakeholders are those inside your organization.
Recognizing the value of having good internal communications is not new, but it has never had so many dimensions, and we felt we should dedicate a large part of this Review to different aspects of this increasingly complex challenge.
Clarity and consistency are necessary for leadership to deliver the highest levels of performance. This is vividly brought to life by Colonel Thomas Kolditz of the US Military Academy, West Point, who in addition to being a leading academic on the subject, has also served in active military commands; his insight comes from the cutting edge. Other perspectives on engagement, empowerment, and the business of inspiration come from the legendary Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick and from Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey, the most successful racing car designer in history.
The most effective solutions for internal communication may differ from company to company, but some principles will always remain the same. The winners of the next FIFA World Cup won’t be just the best 11 individuals but will be the best team, the one that combines skills so well that individuality is lifted to a higher level, one that hardly requires verbal communication. Ensuring everyone inside is onside is not only important when dealing with issues of performance, but critical in determining how those internal audiences can lead the external relations, perception, and value of an organization.
The concept of creating value through smart engagement with stakeholders is central to our philosophy at Brunswick. The research by Professor Witold Henisz of Wharton showing that more effective engagement increases a company’s market worth is one we instinctively recognize. His work in rigorously evaluating and demonstrating the very real impact of communications on a company’s valuation is a powerful piece of thought leadership.
I am delighted to have as our featured interviewee Robert Thomson, Managing Editor of one of the world’s great newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, and Editor-in-Chief of Dow Jones. Robert has embarked upon one of the most challenging transformations in the news business today. In a multi-media and “globalized” world where digitization has challenged traditional business models, he has been reorganizing the newsroom so that it can recognize and prioritize the most important news, respond to it across various media platforms, and do so in a profitable way – the Holy Grail of the news business.
We have been enormously privileged to have such a roster of respected contributors and I hope it inspires further thought, debate, and progress in these critical areas. Tomorrow’s organizations, whatever their business or structure, will certainly be those that are the most effective in engaging their teams to deliver their greatest potential. I hope you enjoy this edition as much as I have and thank you for your time and attention.
Alan Parker— Chairman, Brunswick Group