The Paine of Measurement, August 2021
The always provocative and insightful Charlene Li caught my attention the other day with this headline: Does Culture Really Eat Strategy for Breakfast?
It’s not culture vs. strategy—it’s culture and strategy
She put into that great headline something I’ve believed for years: Who a company is and what it stands for is more important than its strategy. The pages of my Image Patrol column for PR News are strewn with references to the cultural rot at the core of so many crises. No matter how good their strategies for growth might have been, Wells Fargo, Deutche Bank, Theranos, WeWork, and many other brand casualties were all brought down by toxic cultures.
In contrast, organizations with strong healthy cultures can more easily adapt to abrupt changes in the marketplace or technology—even if those changes blow up the strategy. Anyone remember 2020? A strong healthy corporate culture means that employees understand how to behave and what to do, no matter what.
Charlene says, “culture and strategy are symbiotic.” You can’t execute a strategy effectively if the culture won’t support it, and you can’t just create a culture without having a purpose.
Which brings us to the theme of this issue of The Measurement Advisor, and of this year’s Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement: Measuring DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and Advocacy. (The Summit is coming right up on October 6th and 7th, so get your tickets now.)
Culture > DE&I > Comms Strategy > Measurement
Many organizations today have landed on DE&I and/or Advocacy as a basis for a hopefully-effective communications strategy. Driven in part by surveys like the Edelman Trust Barometer, which reveal that consumers expect corporations to take stands on social issues, organizations increasingly incorporate social advocacy and cause marketing into their communications plans. And, while DE&I should be intrinsic to corporate culture, rather than trotted out for effect, it too has emerged as a communications strategy. Witness the performative use of #juneteenth, #blackhistory, #pride, etc.
We often see these hashtags from companies whose Leadership webpages are overcrowded with white men. Do we really have to remind anyone that crowing about non-existent diversity is sure to backfire? Even well-meaning diversity efforts can have unintended negative consequences.
Which is precisely why we are tackling the challenging topic of measuring all of this at October’s Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement. Measurement minds want to know: how is that DE&I of yours doing? Are you making some kind of actual progress? Or are you just loading up Twitter with hashtags, and your website with faces of color? Do you know how to measure the effectiveness of DE&I and Advocacy?