From Noel Turnbull on Culture

I know we are aiming for 10 requirements but might I suggest a slightly different way to produce an outcome.

Essentially a culture of listening is predicated on dialogue which is the key characteristic of what our industry ought to be doing – encouraging dialogue between organisations and publics/stakeholders. Dialogue is only possible if there is some mutual basis for a meaningful discussion. Without knowledge and understanding speaking and listening is essentially a futile exercise. At the same time the practicalities – requirements, instruments, methods – of dialogue vary between markets, cultures and countries. Cultural relativity is a factor in how we operate.

In such a situation, rather than requirements, could we re-direct our focus towards a set of principles which can be operationalized in different ways depending on the organisations and the cultures in which they are followed. This is akin to differing regulatory approaches where one focuses on principles and the other on prescriptions with the latter prompting more and more prescriptions to cater for new eventualities.

To this end some principles on which a culture of listening could be built might be:

1. Creating an organisational and communication vision based on building trust through transparency and meaningful relationships with stakeholders and the wider community.
2. Implementing policies and principles of transparency based on internationally recognised standards for corporate social responsibility, sustainability, financial and governance reporting. (Some egs could be cited under each).
3. Implementing policies and structures which cultivate and maintain enduring stakeholder relationships.
4. Striving to align organisational values and strategies with the public’s interests.
5. Establishing evaluation methodologies which measure and monitor the quality and range of key stakeholder relationship characteristics such as trust, empathy, confidence (any others?)

Please note that points 3. And 5 are rough paraphrases of some of Craig Fleisher’s thinking on public affairs strategic planning models.

Not sure if there is any help but might prompt some further discussion.

About The Melbourne Mandate

Global Alliance for PR and Communication Management
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6 Responses to From Noel Turnbull on Culture

  1. Gregor Halff says:

    Thanks for your comments, everybody. May I please encourage us to move the conversation back to the working group ‘Culture’. Noel and I will reschedule the phone conference for next week very soon

  2. Roanne Argyle says:

    I really like this direction. Not sure if these qualify as principles or requirements (they could certainly be re-framed). What about:

    1. Aligning stakeholder communications (which would involve 2-way dialogue) with business/organizational strategy (this is absolutely required or it will not be sustainable over the long-term);
    2. Adequately resourcing the communications function and ensuring accountability through measurement and reporting (while a culture of listening and dialogue is everyone’s responsibility, realistically, someone should own the program); and
    3. Tying program outputs to business/organizational outcomes

    A key principle, really, is the commitment to being a two-way communications organization.

  3. Pamela Mounter says:

    Neil an interesting and helpful direction and glad we are delaying the conference call to take account of this. However may I suggest that if we are to be useful for our members we do draw up some very specific requirements that are non-negotiables, for example:
    – leadership commitment
    – don’t shoot the messenger
    – commitment to action on feedback

    Would it help if we each contributed ideas in advance of the teleconference, and then discusss them there?

    Kind regards


  4. toni muzi falconi says:

    The sense of listening is opposed to that of speaking. Organizations normally have speaking cultures but hardly listening ones and, in my view, communication becomes effective and stakeholder relationships improve when more than 50% of the organizational effort is on listening (that includes boundary spanning, desk research, participant as well as passive observation, dialogue, involvement).

  5. Alan Smith says:

    These are good observations Noel (and thank you for making them). As I write this we are (I think) about to share our first drafts on this blog (drafts we’ve been working up over the past 2-3 weeks). Once they’re up, we’ll take a look at them again in light of your comments here, and you should too. I agree that to have something couched as principles rather than requirements makes sense and, indeed, overcomes the challenge of trying to help professionals from multiple cultures, countries, markets, and at various stages in their careers, all trying to make sense of one document.

  6. Rene Benecke says:

    I support the motion of principles rather than requirements and would like to add that we need to address the matter of the person (PR professional and community members) as key player in the engagement matter. Personal traits of openness and care as key listening skills together with the knowledge (grounded in research and engagement). International case studies may be very valuable to contribute to a best practice approach.

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