Who certifies the certifiers? Who accredits the accreditors?
Recently I found out that public engagement is beginning to be standardized. Meaning there is an association that protects, extols, and exemplifies the practice of the “profession.”
Like any standardization process, it leads to professionalization, focus on ethics, foundations of practice, accreditation, certification.
My question is Who certifies the certifiers? Who accredits the accreditors? Who makes the rules about these things? Who will benefit from the standardization? The practitioners, the association, the clientele, the industry?
Take the case of the safety movement. One accident in the family farm involving deaths of small children and the next thing you know, there are rules, more rules, and stringent rules on safety in the farm that actually creates more risks, work, and expenses utterly not safe, secure, effective to the farm owners! This is what I abhor and this is hopefully not what this public engagement standardization is going to be.
Standardization is only good as far as when lives of people are at stake like flying commercial planes, doing work in hazardous environments, undertaking heart surgery, etc. Unlike lawyers, doctors, engineers, and architects whose practice should be well-regulated for obvious reasons, public engagement is neither here nor there- it is a narrow profession as a profession, it is an approach, a methodology, a means to an end. Public engagement for whom, for what purposes and objectives, and for whose interests? Public engagement is context-based. It does not stand alone. In the grand scheme of things, there are many factors that operate with public engagement. It comes with other tools, approaches, and considerations.
Regulation will only suffocate the practitioners and inhibit the practice. The client and those that use the services of public engagement practitioners will judge what is acceptable and not acceptable, what is subterranean and not. Leave the sector alone. Let the best and the brightest thrive.
It’s a whole new world for those who wanted to make a difference at the global level.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and privacy issues have proliferated in the last 10 years. The rise of social media and the “me-media” has changed the landscape of activism, organizing, communicating and receiving feedback from the recipients of development work.
It also presented ethical, security, and privacy questions and dilemmas, that were not presently on-your face a decade ago.
It also opened the door for more attention and focus on stories where people and communities can take control over their narratives. eCommunities and emovements have arisen to build up local stories and ideas that have become possible and feasible in this day and age.
Here are the top tips in engaging social media for good:
1. Create compelling human interest stories that people can be moved to action. Be humane- it is not for publicity stunt or propaganda. These stories should be authentic and real. Real stories for real people.
2. Create a community of passionate supporters. Infuse it with relevant content-stories, facts, and people that have a strong connection with your cause and can also bring in the right support for it.
3. Do not join the bandwagon and start joining all the social media. What is the ROI of investing in such platform? What is the outcome? What is the best place to be for your work and organization?
4. Learn that marketing is about building relationships with people, not talking as trolls over FB, Twitter, Instagram.
5. Your self-worth and organizational worth are not tied to the number of likes, clicks, and shares. Do not believe in gurus that sell SEOs and marketers that sell marketing to marketers.
6. The lines between personal and public are thin and porous. You don’t have to be personal but be personable. If you are not proud of putting stuff in public, don’t do it! Fact-check your work and make sure it is accurate.
7. Make it easy to share and let authentic community members add their perspectives, thoughts, and opinions. Remember, in the long run, true communities win over haters, trolls, and wannabes.
Use social media to connect, empower, and elevate your stories and your charities. This is the new medium for this generation. It is not perfect but it's free and can be powerful.
Have you ever said no to a request and felt really happy about it?
Yes. That's what I felt with a considerable No that I gave recently. After a careful examination of my internal dynamics, what is going on with my day-t0-day load versus my strategic priorities, I have to say No!
Saying No is an affirmation to myself to clear what needs to be cleared and maintain that life-work balance that puts everything in the right perspective.
Saying No is a validation of my internal GPS. When the feeling is that you need time for the self, for peace, for things that you want to do as a person, and for things that you want to accomplish, for things that matter most in life.
The distinction between busywork and strategic work is very important to me these days.
Busywork can be disguised as good, lucrative, productive, and promising work but it ended up eating a lot of time, effort, and with unclear direction- it's like aimless driving! Aimless driving is very stressful.
Strategic work is different. It is aligned with your goals and priorities. You can see the results that will bring enough benefit for the short-term and long-term. Every time I do strategic work, it is always redounding to plentiful opportunities. There is no guesswork as to how it will help me get closer to my goals.
Acquisitions are fraught with many challenges, some inherited, some are newly created because of the transition, and some are mixed of both.
When an independent organization has been subsumed by another organization, the transition is never without instability and difficulties. The challenge for most executives is to create the environment where the transition provides the best avenue to sort things out - the past, the present, and the future scenarios.
The past - the subsumed organization is probably facing some challenges before the transition happens. This is compounded when the transition occurs. Personnel is confused, maybe upset, and completely feeling powerless to feel any sort of consideration about the changes that will take place. Maybe, some are against the move, some are in favor, and some have to leave the organization. Maybe the organization in question is completely disorganized and suffering from many organizational crises. When this is the case, the headaches and ills are transferred unfortunately.
Compounded with the transition, this can create a plethora of toxic and unhealthy behaviors which can lead to underperformance or non-performance of certain important keys tasks in the organization.
The present- the acquisition process with all the strategic and tactical considerations can boil down to two main things; 1) the preponderance of the acquisition- weighing the risks and the benefits to the organization taking over; 2) the long-term alignment to the strategic goals of the organization- could be a growth strategy or for another altruistic/ and non-economic reasons. Whatever the basket of perceived benefits, the present need is to review what works, did not work, and what needs to be retained, removed, and revised.
To chart the future that is aligned with the organization, strategies must be developed fully with change management in mind. Without the former, the latter becomes arbitrary, myopic, and rudderless. Without the latter, the former tends to fail big time. These two needs to come hand in hand, like a glove to the hand.
Where are you now in your acquisition or change management efforts? Have you considered these processes to keep your strategies front and centre and not be drowned by the sea of good intentions?
Tell me what you think!
Engagement is the lubricant to effective change management efforts.
Once the solution has been identified and a plan has been set in place, the question now is how to implement the plan and ensure that all the stakeholders are in the same page and would be able to support it.
The engagement process is very similar to many change management process in many organizations, be it in the public and the private sector.
It starts with understanding and knowing who are the authorities who need the approval of these mechanisms so that it is set for adoption throughout the organization.
Who needs to lead, articulate, and champion this at the public level? They hold the accountability role. It is with them that the buck stops, so to speak.
The second tier of engagement in the organization is the middle management and the staff. They need to be on board in the whole process.
At the implementation stage, they need to fully agree and provide the best support or facility to ensure its successful implementation.
The third tier of engagement is the public.
It could be your shareholders, stakeholders, volunteers, constituencies, customers/clients, and other important public entities that have a clear stake in the process.
They should be engaged throughout the process but in implementation, they should have a clear role to play - to be involved, to support, to be informed/updated on the progress, etc. They hold the keys to wider support from the communities they represent, can speak on behalf of your organization, and can oftentimes, clear the cobwebs of doubt, negativity, and pessimism about the changes that are being espoused.
The engagement process can be a long process for very complex projects and initiatives involving multi-stakeholders with varying degrees of involvement and agenda/interests.
It could involve a considerable amount of staff time, financial resources, and even public media campaign to solidify the changes in the minds of its target audience. It cannot be rushed though.
Taking the time to really get down to the target audience and create trusting and open dialogue bridges an otherwise hostile and indifferent crowd.
The key is to create the environment where people can trust the changes are for the better, that it welcomes their inputs and participation, and encourages healthy debate and discourse.
Between planning and implementation, the engagement is a must and cannot be taken out from shortcut purpose.
When this is done carefully and wisely, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial short-term growing pains.