Strategy, Strategery, and Management by Hair on Fire
Hint: if you need a fire extinguisher, you're doing it wrong.
In over 30 (cough cough) years in the professional world, I've encountered nearly every variation of communications and message management. My experience spans three distinct approaches, each with its unique pitfalls.
The Precise Plan
Some companies craft meticulous, focus group-driven strategies, refusing to deviate an inch from their plans. While steadfastness can be a strength, a lack of flexibility can also be problematic.
The Illusion of Strategy (Strategery)
Other workplaces may appear to have a strategy, perhaps even documented, but their approach is more spontaneous and reactive. They act according to what works in the moment, with little regard for long-term implications.
General goals might be known, but months slip by without achieving communication-related objectives. The plans aren't revisited or tweaked, and they become mere symbolic achievements with no lasting value.
Hair on Fire
The most chaotic approach is marked by internal strife and a frantic, unguided frenzy. One group demands a cohesive plan; another resists it; and a dominant faction adopts a reckless, “damn the torpedoes” attitude. Strategy, if it exists, is ignored in the daily whirlwind, where any activity, no matter how fruitless, is mistaken for progress. This mode can spell disaster, especially when an unexpected crisis arises.
Of these, strict adherence to a well-crafted plan usually works best. It's certainly preferable to the option of locking a strategy in a drawer, never to be revisited – what I call "strategery." But even the most competent strategies need some “wiggle room” to adapt.
A Recipe for Chaos
As for the “hair on fire” approach, it's simply a recipe for chaos. Organizations that operate this way, constantly reacting rather than managing, are on a dangerous path. A single PR crisis or loss of key staff might send them spiraling into failure.
So, which communications management does your company or organization practice? Knowing this can be the first step toward success or a stark warning to seek help – fast.
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