January 18, 2018

Stating the position or actually addressing the issue?

Four business people in a discussionIt could be that I’m noticing this more for reasons that are particular to me. That said…

It seems to have become more and more common for representatives of some corporate bodies and local and national government to respond to a new question or challenge with a flat assertion of the current position or policy, failing completely to address the issue raised by the stakeholder.

For example, I saw a news report about the case for some individuals in a certain age range and category to be screened for asbestos-related diseases because it would potentially improve outcomes. The official response stated that the relevant advisory authority hadn’t recommended it, therefore, nothing needs to be done. Meanwhile, if you have symptoms, go to your doctor (and hope it isn’t already too late)… matter closed.

I could quote other examples.

I think we’ve got rather too good at this.

It might be a successful short-term defence from the organisation’s point of view but it’s very costly in terms of longer-term goodwill. The disrespect involved is very damaging to the relationship “capital.” No wonder we don’t trust organisations and governments much.

How do you see this?

And is it a mode you employ?

It’s rather easy to dead bat something… Harder to address the issue, though much more commanding of respect.

Demanding and accommodating

Three senior managers talkingIt’s good to be accommodating. It helps make a reality of collaboration and getting a group of people working together.

Sometimes though…

We need to be demanding.

Some roles involve directing an organisation on behalf of stakeholders of one kind and another. At times, that means asking clearly for what we want. That’s both the nature of the job, and the culture expected of the people involved—a shared value, if you like.

Different sectors have different expectations about the balance between being demanding and being accommodating.

Where’s the right point for you—soft or hard, or somewhere in between?

Good to be clear about this, perhaps even to flex a little, depending on the circumstances—on which tribe you’re with at the time. Or don’t expect to fit everywhere. That’s fine too.

Evidence – Finding your own

Group in discussionWe generally want evidence that something works, and our first thought is it’s to be found “out there.” What have other people done?

There are sound enough reasons for looking at things this way, and it can be important for influencing stakeholders and their decisions.

But at the same time, the habitual response is a sophisticated form of helplessness.


We could look for our own evidence. We could check the idea out for ourselves in actual experience. Then we would have the certainty of inner knowing.

The voice of direct experience has a different quality.

Much more powerful than “evidence” on a piece of paper.

In other words, whatever it is, just try it.