Organisations like to have opinions. A “line to take” on a particular subject.
That’s helpful because if you can make clear where you stand, people are better able to decide if they want to stand with you. Potential new customers might decide whether or not to spend money with you, if they know your views on certain issues. Potential new recruits might apply for jobs you advertise, if they know they’ll end up working with colleagues who share similar values.
Getting opinions like this out into the world is easy enough. But there’s a huge amount of work that has to be done before you get to that stage.
Good corporate opinions work best when they’re an aggregate of thoughts from many people in the organisation. When they reflect the opinion of the organisational entity , not just the most senior leaders.
Getting to this point requires discussion and debate and, in many cases, a willingness to compromise. You may not get it right first time, but the process of listening, articulating, sharing and refining will pay off. The larger and more complex your organisation, the harder this will be. You might have to go through many versions to reach it, and even after that the end result won’t necessarily be a static thing; it might change.
There’s a relationship here with corporate values. The stronger and clearer your organisation’s values, the easier it will be for everyone on the team to align around particular points of view. (See a related post about writing Public Digital’s positions.)
In my experience, common approaches to corporate opinion are:
In most circumstances where I’ve seen it working well, agreement about corporate opinion happens much faster and much more organically when the organisation’s purpose and values have already been expressed clearly and simply.
The clearer you can be about what you want to achieve, the easier it is for your team to agree with those goals, and how to go about achieving them.
Agreement reached, your corporate opinion will be easier to settle on, and easier to communicate to the outside world.
Thanks to Zara Farrar, James Pallister and Amy McNichol for reading earlier drafts of this and making it better.
Filed under: work
(9 October 2020)