Category: Learning & Development

Knowledge is the Antidote of Fear

528128_10151085012794391_598681734_n(This comes from a South African male – working with multiple audiences including women across many industries for 17 years (Who many years ago trained SA Armed Forces in Buddy Aid – how to use everyday materials to render first aid when you do not have specialised equipment MacGyver style, who has facilitated hundreds of Health & Safety & Crisis Management workshops)

People often feel helpless and fearful in some difficult situations. The reason – Lack of Knowledge. Some become arrogant in order to hide their lack of knowledge.

The antidote to fear is knowledge. Knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses and ignorance. Knowledge of what to do in difficult situations.

Example – Scared of being hijacked by kidnappers. Attend courses facilitated by your local Police or Defence Agency. They often do this as Community Outreaches – for free.

Example – Danger of a loved one dying. Empower yourself with knowledge. Attend First Aid Training. You never know when you may need to save a life.

The point I am making is that often we are afraid because we have not made the effort to analyse a situation and equip ourselves with knowledge and skills. I mean do you know how to use a fire extinguisher, or do you even have one at home?

So here is a tip. Before you do anything, free yourself from the shackles holding you back. Attend some creativity workshops – These will enable you to think outside of the box, and is in fact some of the most important learning experiences you can ever attend.

As George Bernard Shaw said: “Some people said why, but I said why not”

Must Read – Leading Transformation & Captivating Communities by Brian Solis

Brian Solis’s new e- book “Leading Transformation & Captivating Communities” is a must read for anyone involved in Stakeholder Management and Change Action.

Here’s a quote from it: Social media has started a revolution in how people connect, learn and communicate, and its effects cannot be undone.

Here is a direct link to it –

I want this PR position, but they say I do not have enough experience! What Now?

How often do I not hear these words.

So, what now?

Well, you have choices, and one of those is to think laterally or out-of-the-box about it.

Many years ago I studied PR only to find the market in my geographical area too small too absorb new students never mind interns. So what did I do?

Well I never lost sight of what I enjoyed, but I multiskilled in three other directions. In the meantime I studied and got involved in PR – more about PR, reading every bit I could lay my hands on – formal situations as well as informally. Today I find myself as a management consultant to the very PR Profession. All my other skills combined with PR I have been able to repack into the holistic field of Reputation Management.

That is the one thing – continuous learning and application – anywhere, anyway and anyhow , just like David Bowie sang.

Secondly – How do you get experience if no one wants to give you a chance? Let me use an example – What does a person do that have just been retrenched? Most people try and find similar work, a few start thinking laterally and apply their skills in other areas. With other words they think of themselves as walking skills portfolios – not just a label – a PR person.

So you have a number of options:

  1. Try to get into PR in the traditional way
  2. Use your PR skills in other areas
  3. Start your own PR thing – formally or informally. Thus get a job in another direction. Then offer your skills to non-profits etc. after hours that way you get the best of both worlds.

Remember George Bernard Shaw said: “Some people look at a situation and say why? I look at a situation and say Why not!” The Russian scientist Szyigorksi said “Discovery means to look at something that very one else sees and thinking something different”.

If I was a person in that position I would immediately read a book called Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence G. Boldt – a brilliant piece of work combining both practical issues and mythology. If that book does not stimulate you in weird and wonderful ways to look at your career choice, few will.

Education & Training Programs Woefully Reputation Deficient


On the 2nd September 2010 I made a point in a blog post Discuss. Dissect. Decide that Reputation is a mission – critical task and is of such importance that it should be included in every meeting’s agenda and be included as a must in the Company Learning & Development Training Calendar – as a must and not an elective.

My point and reservations have now been vindicated through some interesting research by a company ReputationInc .

Here are the main facts they discovered by examining the curriculums of the leading Executive MBA programs identified by the Financial Times. They were looking to see how reputation was incorporated into the course work.

  • 1 in 5 leading EMBA programs teach none of the 10 core reputation disciplines
  • Just one of the 50 leading EMBAs has ‘Reputation’ as a core module
  • Communications & relationship building skills are taught in less than 20% of programs
  • Government & policy relations is covered by fewer than 1 in 5 EMBA program
  • Governance and ethics is the most popular reputation discipline being taught to business leaders today (no surprise there)

ReputationInc cites McKinsey research that found that one-half of global CEOs say managing external affairs is one of their top-three priorities. Yet one fifth of the world’s top 50 global Executive MBA programs do not offer any training in the core disciplines of reputation management.

They report that the missing disciplines include CSR, stakeholder engagement, government relations, communications, and reputation management strategy.
More worrying still, just two of the top 50 business schools surveyed offer a dedicated reputation module and 80% offer no training on either public affairs or external communications – the two core “hands-on” skills executives need to build reputation. “The results reveal a frightening gap between the reputation skills business leaders must possess in 2012 and the cursory attention they get in the traditional executive MBA.” 
The programs with the highest ranked scores for including reputation are Henley Business School, Essec/Mannheim, and the University of Texas at Austin: McCombs.
I also agree with this statement: “On this evidence, companies and shareholders should be concerned that Executive MBA programmes risk creating ineffective business leaders who leave academia without the skills to actively manage the precious asset of corporate reputation,” said John Mahony, CEO, ReputationInc.  “Reputation management skills are vital for today’s CEO who sets the tone and mood for a corporation and must lead from the front in communicating the purpose of the brand and its value to society.

Many managers are not born ready to meet this challenge and will benefit from coaching and confidence building in reputation, something today’s Executive MBA courses fail to adequately provide.”

The problem though is that it is not just MBA modules that lack this, but also Director training programs, Government Officials training, town councillors development programs and Internal Learning & Development programs that suffer from this lack.

The research clearly shows that training in managing external relationships is mandatory for all executives (Again a vindication that my Stakeholder Reputation Management course has filled a very important gap these past few years)

It is my belief that the problem is derived from the past where it was believed that Reputation was naturally an extended PR & Communication function and discipline. And, although communication forms and integral part of the discipline, there is now a realisation that Reputation Management requires advanced systemic thinking skills and thorough understanding of intangible issues, reputation and strategic business drivers.

The report goes on to say that “These findings should be a red flag to corporate affairs directors and those responsible for leadership development in global corporations.  Knowingly or not, next generation leaders will be under-prepared
to steward their company’s corporate reputation in the coming decade.”

This statement just reminded me of the conversation in 2010 I had with the Learning & Development Manager of an international bank when they were considering my Stakeholder Reputation Management program for internal use. He was of the opinion that it was not a must, but should be an optional elective for senior executives.

How these words will haunt now. If only the financial services community understood that importance. Just perhaps there may have been less Reputation Damage.

As Warren Buffett, the world’s most astute investor have said many times: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, and if you understand this YOU WILL DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY”

Funny though that most managers miss the last part of the quote. The research quoted above shows how important understanding this difference is.

The missing difference in the MBA programs – “ If I do this, or make this decision, will it harm my (own) or my company’s reputation?”

Understanding this difference is vital in an Era where Reputation is the New Bottom Line.

Your Name is a Precious Commodity


Your name will arrive at a destination long before you do, so best make sure you have a good name, so the old adage goes.

I was reminded of this last year when I arrived in Beijing to facilitate a Crisis Management & Crisis Communication for Reputation Protection seminar at the Grand Millennium Hotel.

There were a number of delegates that had flown in from places as far as Hong Kong and when I asked the audience what brought them there, the delegates specifically replied. ‘My Reputation’

This just reminded me again of the importance of reputation in marketing & communication. But this subject also worried early authors and philosophers. Here are a few selected quotes worthwhile of thinking about:

“Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness.”–St. Jerome.

‘Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of – for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.” (Socrates – 469 BC – 399 BC)’

Individuals sometimes forget that they themselves have a reputation- just like their organization. Countless studies show that Corporate Reputation is an organization’s biggest asset, yet most dangerous risk in the marketplace.

It is no different for a person. In fact depending on your chosen career, position and stature, it becomes your stock in trade and a lever for success. For consultants and professional service providers reputation is sacrosanct.

It boils down to three crucial elements:

1. Know-how (Your intellectual capital i.e. what you know);

2. A Network of contacts (Social Capital – who you know);

3. Your Reputation (Reputational Capital – who trusts you).

The key for any person who is interested to build their own reputation is to work on these 3 elements as part of their own career development plan.

Many years ago someone shared the concept of the 3 E’s with me. I think it is a Dale Carnegie concept that I am sure you will find valuable in the building of your reputation.

The Three E’s:

E – Earned the right. You can only address a person or a group if you have earned your “stripes” be it through qualifications, experience, and preparation. Doing research, reading and studying your chosen field adds to this. It is about what you know.

E – Be Enthusiastic. Will you buy from a salesman whose product does not generate enthusiasm in himself?.

E – Be Eager to share. Are you eager to share your knowledge, the gem or nugget of wisdom that you have with the person you are talking to or the audience?.

In my own life experience I have found the concept of the 3 E’s incredibly helpful. If you go to my personal profile at and read the recommendations by other experts you will see how the three E’s have manifested themselves in my career and how they added to the 3 key elements of building a reputation.

The implications of these words is that reputation is something that needs constant work just like a gardener attending to his flower beds. Like as in gardening it does not take much for weeds to grow, pests to come and flowers to wilt.

Constant attention and vigilance is needed if you want to maintain and safeguard your reputation. Do you know what drives your reputation? Do you know what can add or subtract from that reputation?

In an area of instant information exchange, where new technologies support new ways of working and communicating, the task of managers is to develop good interpersonal skills and the ability to use new communications technology appropriately.

This use should include an understanding of the misuse and dangers inherent in social media. These days there are companies that for instance specialise in online reputation management — companies that attempt to remove damaging Web content for embarrassed clients.

Just as everyone was once promised 15 minutes of fame, each of us can now expect to have our own “WikiLeaks moment,” the CEO of The New York Times.

Social media expert and former dating columnist Julia Allison likens bad news on the Net like a digital tattoo. It’s like tattoo removal, Allison tells the Times. Although it is possible to erase, it’s expensive and painful and it may always leave some kind of mark.

This implies that companies and individuals need to be more organised and think strategically about the messages that they communicate, advertently or inadvertently. In today’s knowledge economy your reputation and name is your stock-in-trade. Manage it carefully.

Who – or What is right? Just a Random Thought

Who – or What is right?

Just because you are right, does not mean that you need to exercise that point or view.

We are not fish who have to take a bait. What is more important- Winning the War or winning a battle?

j0409404We have choice, and I think that a lot of people have lost that ability to think about the decisions they make. As Postman & Weingartner said in Teaching as a Subversive Activity….we need to become crap detectors.

Even Anthony Robbins indicated that it is useful to sometimes check your own values and beliefs, to see if they are still relevant.

But anyway, I just thought I would share this story that might help you to decide who to favor when faced with conflict.

An old man and a young boy were travelling through their village with their donkey. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked.

As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding.

The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked, “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.”

They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying “how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey”.

The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story?

If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass good-bye! Think carefully about which stakeholders are relevant and needs to be pleased.

Strategic Marketing and its implications for Professional Service Providers

Many of my readers may not be aware that I facilitate Marketing a Professional Practice workshops.

These workshops are designed to teach professional service providers ranging from architects to doctors to management consultants how to build their reputation and market themselves elegantly in an inter-connected society.

At my last workshop, I was asked for a classical explanation of strategic marketing and its value and why it should be in writing. So, here is my response:

As Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler says that the discipline of writing things down is the first step toward achieving them.

Strategic Marketing is a conscious and systematic process that involves the following steps:

  • Selecting target market segments using such classification as industry, readiness for consulting, company or division size, function, or issues such as productivity etc.
  • Analysing the specific needs of those market segments;
  • Developing the capabilities to address the target markets’ needs with expertise, relevant programs, and assessment and evaluation tools (that includes determining costs, prices and delivering service options);
  • Designing visibility and credibility strategies to increase name recognition and reputation in the selected marketplaces;
  • Identifying prospects and making presentations to specifically address prospective clients’ unique interests;
  • Providing the highest quality of consultant services on client projects;
  • Managing consultant client relationships to ensure on-going mutually beneficial partnerships.

Develop & Implement Cost-Effective Strategies, Tools & Techniques

The late Howard Shenson, in his book “The Complete guide to Consulting Success” writes that the marketing strategies consultants use have a profound effect on their chances for success.

He advocated the use of low – cost and no –cost strategies for consultants as his research showed that the use of indirect, more public relations like activities are far more effective than direct, hard-sell techniques that so many consultants use.

Tom Lambert echoed this in the book “High-Income Consulting”. Lambert used to conduct, in Europe, the world’s leading seminar on building and sustaining a consultant practice, which was attended by more than 200, 000 attendees worldwide. Lambert said that your overall marketing strategy should be aimed at becoming well known in your field, and that indirect methods of marketing brings clients to you.

He also emphasised that the tactics that you select must be consistent with the reputation and image that you want to create.

Laurence G, Boldt writes in the book “Zen and the art of making a living” that the name of the game in marketing is circulation.

Getting into circulation – and staying in circulation. Getting out and meeting people is circulating. Circulating flyers, making speeches is circulation”.

I liken it to Name Recognition. Whatever technique or tactic you use must be designed to increase your name recognition and to build your reputation. Above all, you need imagination and effort to try and see what works and what don’t work.

For more information and some handy tips regarding marketing consultancy services, read my chapter that I wrote called ‘Consultancy Marketing: Developing the Right Mindset’ in the book The Advice Business – Essential tools and models for Management Consulting by Prof. Charles Formbrun and Mark D.Nevins or attend the next Marketing a Professional Practice workshop in Johannesburg on the 24th June.

Footnote: The Marketing a Professional Practice workshop used to be called Marketing a Consulting Practice. Due to it attracting professionals like architects, lawyers and other professionals I have decided to change the name to be more in line with the target market.

A Company Obituary


Santa Claus is definitely not dead to many.

His reputation remains intact, but to the contrary, there are many companies no longer around.

In fact, if failed companies have obituaries many of them would read as follows:

‘Here lies the XYZ Company, born 1966, died 2010 after a reputation risk incident.

Mourned by directors, staff, shareholders, and other stakeholders. No flowers.

Rather send donations to the Society for the Preservation of Trust, Integrity and Reputation.

Afterthought: Most companies say that reputation is vital, yet if you check their annual learning & development agendas there are no provision made to train Directors, executives, management & staff about why reputation is an asset and a risk and should be managed and protected.

Digg This

Benchmarking is an Important Research Tool

I am little bit shocked. For the past 2 days I facilitated an Effective Communication & Stakeholder Management Master class at one of our local hotels for a conference organization.

One of the topics that I dealt with, was that of Strategic Communication. Emphasizing the importance of research, I asked the audience whether they used benchmarking as part of their secondary research methods. The audience which consisted primarily of communication practitioners did not know what I meant. This is worrying. Benchmarking is such an important research tool and can shorten the learning curve or reveal important gaps.

To help these delegates, I have prepared the following article which readers might find useful.

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is an objective & analytical technique that compares a firm’s business processes with those of other companies that achieved recognition for excellence for a specific process or function. With other words, if you are designing and writing a strategic communications plan, find out what others are doing. Why re-invent the wheel?

The goal is to identify and profile another organisation that achieved radical improvements, which significantly impacted their bottom line or reputation.

Benchmarking is not limited to a company’s financial performance, or industry. It’s a process that seeks to identify a company’s best qualities, regardless of industry. It focuses on practices used by industry-leading companies who constantly increase market share and profit margins by using radically better processes than their competitors.

This means you’re looking for companies that do something better than anyone else, in order to learn how they do it, so you can incorporate their processes into your inductive business plan. Thus Communication processes and/or Reputation can be benchmarked.

The most frequently used benchmarking tactics are:

ACTIVITY BENCHMARKING, which is directed at converting such support processes as order processing, project management, inventory, customer service, accounting and information technology into a competitive advantage.

COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING, which compares a company’s processes, products and services against that of industry leading competitors.

WORLD CLASS BENCHMARKING extends the activity beyond your own industry. It looks at who is best irrespective of the industry.

It’s used for those processes that are generic of nature, plus such activities as product development, engineering, manufacturing, and customer service. At least half the new technologies that transform an industry come from outside the industry itself. Also, by seeking the "best of the best" of non-industry standards, instead of the ‘"best of breed" in your own industry, you can leapfrog over your competitors.

The lesson – Benchmark your organisation’s Reputation building processes, communication and crisis management against best practices. That will assist you to build a sustainable lasting reputation for the future.


Catch them Early – An Employee’s First 30 Days

j0409404 Everyone spoke about Pres. Obama and Zuma’s first 100 days in office as being vital in setting a trend and laying the foundation for being a successful president.

So why are other employees treated differently?

Many managers forget that the first 30 days of a new employee’s tenure with the company is vital for that person’s career, performance and for the company’s reputation.

But in many companies, this process is left unattended. No wonder they call it orientation or induction. And, here I am thinking that induction is what you to do to a pregnant women, when they induce labour by putting small white pill under her tongue. Both terms just don’t cut it in my opinion.

This is where exposure to Armed Forces training helps. In the Armed Forces you undergo a period call basics. This process of culturization is also sometimes called psychological indoctrination. For instance, you get to carry a rifle for a couple of weeks, before they give you live ammunition. During this period you learn to handle your rifle under all types of conditions until you are accustomed to handling it.

This process is based on the Cycle of Learning which takes employees through a process moving from being unconsciously incompetent to eventually becoming unconsciously competent. This continuous cycle I discuss in a document called Reputation Risk and the Cycle of Learning (e-mail me if you would like a copy).

In 1991 Warren Buffett said these now famous words: “If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be understanding.  If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.”

Are these not the type of words a new employee needs to hear? But words are not enough. Should we not empower the new employee right from the beginning to factor reputation into his or hers actions and behaviours?

Should we not right from the beginning lay the foundation for success and performance?

A Proper Orientation program can go a long way to creating a platform for the employees future growth. If we consider that reputation manifests itself through communication and the experiences that a stakeholder has a with an organization, then this process is crucial to preventing reputation risk in any organisation.

By ensuring that we have dedicated and focused employees who understand the value of reputation as an asset can go a long way to preventing the manifestation of Reputation Risk.

So to assist your reputation management efforts, I have prepared a document for you called ‘ The First 30 Days – An ORIENTATION PROGRAMME with a Difference’’ which you can get by contacting me

Let me know if this is useful to you.

Business Reputation Seminars January & February

Thought you might like to see the list of upcoming business seminars from REPUCOMM (me) in the next two months.

Managing a consultancy or an organization’s reputation may be the most important asset a CEO and his or her team manages – as a good reputation helps a company to attract business, investors, hire and retain the best employees, partner with other leading organizations and lower the cost of capital.

Reputation must be built from the inside out, and encompasses everything that the organization says and does. Reputation is an intangible asset at risk on a daily basis. A good reputation means your name is trusted. You are considered a sound investment, purchase, partner, and employer. All of this dramatically impacts the organization’s bottom line.

My three events will equip managers with the necessary competencies to manage this asset and risk strategically and with care.

Go to to see more information about these events.

You can register for these events online and I will do the rest.

Using Metaphors to teach the value of Reputation

The beauty about stories is that they are like metaphors. I once saw a study that said that metaphors appeal to both the left and the right side of the brain.

I am not a Buddhist, yet am extremely fond of Zen Koans.

The way I try and do it is to research before every group facilitation stories, anecdotes, metaphors and humor that I can have in the "wings" based on the diversity of the group.

That way I may have options available to "unlock the potential" of someone.

Just like a builder uses solid construction practices, we need to design or build our training based on proven ways how the brain works. We know a lot about adult learning principles and how the brain works. The "best practice" of using metaphors and analogies takes advantage of at least two key facts:

  • The brain works by building connections and associations.
  • The brain remembers more easily things that are novel or unusual.

The right analogy or metaphor can be quite novel, build connections to the material you are teaching and often create the "aha" experience the learners need to effectively learn the new information.

Let me use an example. If I am working with a group of executives about the organisation’s reputation, I will tell them that they have to be careful how they communicate, how they behave as it will impact on the way stakeholders perceive them. That is a linear and left brain approach.

But for some this story will have more impact.


A farmer slandered his neighbor. Realizing his mistake, he went to the preacher to ask for forgiveness. The preacher told him to take a bag of feathers and drop them in the centre of town. The farmer did as he was told . Then the preacher asked him to go and collect the feathers and put them back in the bag. The farmer tried but couldn’t as the feathers had all blown away. When he returned with the empty bag, the preacher said, "The same thing is true about your words. You dropped them rather easily but you cannot retrieve them, so be very careful in choosing your words."

Which one has more impact for you?

It depends on your style of learning and brain dominance preference.

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Minimise Reputation Risk by Complying with the Consumer Protection Act

Yesterday I had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop on Reputation Risk and the Consumer Protection Act at a conference held at the Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg by the Intelligence Transfer Centre (

Not wanting to overdo the legalities of the Act itself (since that was covered by other speakers) I focused on the implications of this Act and its potential impact on the reputation of an organisation.

Since the audience consisted of mainly legal advisers, I focused on the court of legal opinion versus the court of public opinion.

What struck me in the interaction with the audience was the disconnect between the two. Obviously this act brings a number of difficulties to the table, but it seemed that the focus by companies is minimum legal compliance, i.e  doing only what is necessary in terms of the specifications of this Act.

The audience found it interesting when I showed them why the Act was promulgated in the first place, namely that it was because companies paid lip service to the reasonable expectations of the consumer stakeholder. The Act now codifies basic rights such as the right to safety, the right to not be taken unduly advantage of and so on.

j0382683In my presentation I also focused on the importance of having proper and tested product recall procedures, adequate product labelling, communicating in a crisis situation and I showed them how lack of compliance with this Act could be equated with the lack of commitment to show that you care about the consumer, could lead to public naming & shaming on top of penalties, an increase in lack of trust, a damaged Reputation and ultimately lead to an increase in unnecessary cost.

I also emphasised the point that an organisation will have to address the thinking processes in the company through increased awareness training of this Act and Consumer focused thinking training sessions.

What got me though, was the lack of understanding and preparation amongst the audience when I gave them a simple exercise to do:

Think about communicating about a defect to consumers. What would you need to have in place?

Granted the audience were mainly legal advisers, but they did not know where to start. They did not know where a strategic communications plan would start or end. I just hope that they do have skilled PR or Communications personnel in their companies, otherwise they will find themselves in a pickle over their lack of adequate communication when the time comes.

Ultimately this Act does pose Reputation Risk in that a lack of compliance or adherence to public opinion demands will raise questions about the ethics, values and practices in an organization.

In 2010 I will be assisting companies with this compliance by facilitating in –house workshops on the importance of the Consumer Protection Act. This compliance needs to be viewed as part of the Stakeholder Management processes of a company and should not just be seen as a Compliance issue to be handled by the Compliance Officer or Legal Advisers.

Advertisement: I do offer a Crisis Manager Toolkit that can be used by companies as part of their preparation for product recalls and other incidents. See for more information or contact me.

I am just sitting here!

Once there was a rabbit sitting in a field and sprucing himself up. He polished his nails, cleaned his whiskers and even put on some deodorant. An eagle, flying overhead, asked the rabbit what the occasion was. The rabbit replied that "tonight I have a date with the Lioness. The lion is out of town, and the Lioness has a crush on me".

A few minutes later, the Lion returned, his flight having been cancelled.

"What are you doing, Mr Rabbit", asked the lion as he passed by looking at the spiffy-looking rabbit.

Answered the rabbit, "N-n-nothing sir. I am just sitting here talking nonsense to myself".

That’s exactly what I am doing right now!

Right now, I am wondering if this is just the sign of the times. What do you do when at the last minute many people cancel to attend a Masterclass, that they wanted to attend, but now can’t due to operational requirements.

I guess operational requirements take preference over learning activities. So, what now?

I guess I will just sit here for a while. Little I can do, the matter is out of my hands.

I will have to reschedule with these delegates. Watch for the new date!

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Reputation Protection & Defence Master Class 7 – 8 December

What: Reputation Protection & Defence Master Class
A 2 day Master Class that will enable Reputation Managers, Risk Managers and Crisis Management controllers to design and implement strategies and frameworks to mitigate reputation risk and manage repoutation risk incidents when they occur. (Event is already 50% full)
When: Monday, December 7, 2009 8:30 AM to Tuesday, December 8, 2009 3:30 PM
Where: Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg

Johannesburg, Gauteng   South Africa

A Crisis Simulation Checklist


Got a random call the other day from a Powerlines reader who asked me how I would critique a Crisis simulation exercise.

Here is an extract of my partial response:

I try and always facilitate a process with the group after a simulation to process the learning experience after a simulated crisis.

This involves each person providing a 2 – minute feedback about how they experienced the simulation, what they believed went well and the areas necessary for improvement  as well as completing an exercise critique form.

Apart from their feedback, this is what I will be looking for during a simulation:

  1. Adherence to plans -  I will need to review the plans beforehand, and verify adherence to plans during the exercise (but see below)
  2. Improvisation – cautiously review any improvised steps and assess these against:a) divergence from plans, i. e. have plans turned out to be dysfunctional, b) personalities, i.e. have individuals improvised to the benefit of the organisation
  3. Behaviour and personality interaction- how do people react to the challenge, albeit simulated. IMHO this is the most difficult area to look at, but it is something that must be done to reflect on people’s abilities.
  4. Outcome – how did the organisation perform against pre-set expectations or defined outcomes.
  5. Discontinuities – failed, aborted, modified exercises, or generally the underlying reasons for an exercise that went wrong.

What do you look for?

Announcement – Deon Binneman to Facilitate Specialist Reputation Management training courses in November


During the month of November I will be facilitating the following training courses in Johannesburg. These courses are designed to enhance your reputation management efforts.


10 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This challenging 1-day workshop enables participants to acquire the skills and competencies required to market professional services and/or a consulting practice. Through specialised, detailed and highly focused training, it provides delegates with the tools and necessary practical framework of every consulting marketing aspect. Upon completion of the course, trainees are able to design and develop a marketing plan that will take into account personal, impersonal and social media marketing techniques.

Read more:

11- 12 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This intensive 2-day training seminar explores international best practice approaches to Stakeholder & Reputation Management and will help organisations to comply with Section 8 of the King Code 3 Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The course gives a delegate the practical, experienced guidance they need for designing a successful Stakeholder Reputation Management system and includes a dedicated look at communication, engagement and relationship building and reputation enhancement practices.

Read more:

18 – 19 November, Hotel Apollo, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg


This two-day Masterclass provides comprehensive and practical coverage of all aspects on how to protect and defend an organisation’s reputation, and is based on more than 25 years research and experience on how to protect business reputations. It provides ways of implementing reputation risk management and protection frameworks and examines the four different ways to define reputation risk. The course includes online reputation risk, crisis management & crisis communication strategies.

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Registration forms for these courses can be obtained from Deon Binneman by sending an e-mail to

These courses will be of particular interest to managers interested in the management of corporate reputation, prevention of crises and quality of relationships, It is of particular relevance and benefit to Corporate Affairs, Public Relations, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Officers, Risk Managers, Compliance Officers & Corporate Communication practitioners, consultants and Professional Services Providers.

Registrations for these courses closes this Friday the 6th November. More information about the facilitator can be obtained at

Book now to secure your place.

Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class Registrations Close Today!


Your chance to register for next week’s Stakeholder Reputation ends this afternoon – Thursday, the 15th October at close of business.

This is an ideal opportunity to join friends and colleagues to learn about the important strategic subject of managing stakeholders and their impact on organisational reputation.

Here is a quick test for you. Can you answer the following strategic questions:

  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What are our stakeholders’ stakes?
  • What opportunities and challenges do stakeholders present?
  • What economic, legal, ethical, and social responsibilities does our organisation have?
  • What strategies or actions should we take to best manage stakeholder challenges and opportunities?
  • Do you have a system for managing relationships with stakeholders?
  • How do you measure results? What metrics do you use to assess and gauge stakeholder relationships?
  • In a crisis how quickly can you communicate with your relevant stakeholders?
  • Do you know the various methods to engage with stakeholders and when not to use it?
  • Can you state how much you are spending on each stakeholder group and what your ROI is?
  • Have you developed a set of rules on how best to manage the process of building stakeholder reputation with each stakeholder group?

To learn the answers to these questions and many more, attend the Stakeholder Reputation Master Class next week at the Hotel Apollo in Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.

To learn more about the program, go to or e-mail for a brochure and registration form.

This is the last Stakeholder Reputation Master Class event for 2009 so register now.

Hope to see you there and share valuable learning experiences with you !

P.S If you are interested in learning more about professional services and consulting practice marketing, check out my workshop for consultants and interested individuals – Monday 10 November : Market your Consulting Practice:

Congratulations to Jacko Maree – the most trusted CEO in South Africa

An article in the Business Day today states that MORE than 200 directors and executives of JSE-listed companies believe Standard Bank’s Jacko Maree is the most trusted CEO of a listed company, according to results of a recent survey on corporate reputation management.

The annual Trust Barometer study by Ask Africa draws a link between strong leadership qualities of the head of a company and its ability to attract talent, customers and investors.

What better way to have your performance and behaviour measured than by your peers in a transparent manner? (This a good example of a 360 degree feedback survey and its value).

The annual Trust Barometer study by Ask Africa draws a link between strong leadership qualities of the head of a company and its ability to attract talent, customers and investors. The Trust Barometer is a corporate reputation benchmark survey that ranks listed and non listed companies across a range of reputation drivers such as innovation, leadership and social responsibility.

The link between reputation, trust and CEOs are clear, considering that winning companies have winning CEOs and executives,” it says. The study says leadership** is the strongest driver of reputation , and that the responsibility for leadership rests on the shoulders of the CEO, “making his role crucial to the trust and reputation of a company”.

But Ask Africa director Sarina de Beer says reputation management in many companies is not being taken seriously at either board or management level.

Companies only seem to spring into action when their reputation is under threat from a crisis, such as a strike . Management of corporate brand reputation is a distinct management and operational imperative, she says. She faults some listed companies for having a narrow view of who their stakeholders are, limiting them to shareholders and customers.

Read the full article at:

It is always good when great minds think alike. In my newsletter Powerlines 87 which I sent out yesterday, I made similar observations about the lack of proactive reputation management by corporates.

It is also intriguing that so many executives profess that they understand stakeholders, until they attend my Stakeholder Reputation Master Classes. So often they come to me afterwards and say, we never knew it was this important and complicated.

Reputation is derived from the way an organisation is perceived by it’s stakeholders and how they measure the institution’s performance and behaviour. Standard Bank, by the way have done a lot of work in this area. They have a dedicated Stakeholder Management unit influencing this process.

Well done to Mr Maree. May your example resonate!

**Footnote – It is interesting that the study shows that Leadership is the strongest driver of reputation, yet few companies have Reputation & Stakeholder Management as a subject on their annual Leadership & Management Development agendas. Makes you think, doesn’t it? (Excuse the pun)

What has the SABC and a Fish Bowl got in common?

The dramas and changes unfolding at the SABC in South Africa can serve as an interesting case study about how leaders destroy the reputation, faith and trust in organisations. Not only has there been negative publicity about the organisation, but now even their nomination process for selecting new candidates for the Board has come under fire.

Prof Kupe, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Wits University and a member of the Save Our SABC Coalition has written an interesting opinion piece about this, to which I would like to add a slightly different take.

I believe that serious questions will have to be asked by those involved in changing the organisation around. It goes beyond just selecting new candidates for a Board.

I would ask: ‘’ What must be done to radically transform the SABC?’’. Obviously the quickest way to turn around any organisation is to get rid of senior management. In this case not only do they need new CEO, but even the Board has been dissolved.

But what about the people in the institution? Did they have no role to play in the fiasco? What did they contribute to the problem of decay and why should they get away with no action been taken?

Perhaps the best way for me, an outsider based on what I read to describe the SABC, is to use the fish bowl metaphor.

070803a5078 The fish bowl metaphor begins with a question. The question is this; "If the fish is sick what would you do, treat the fish or change the water?"

The logical answer is, you would change the water. Why? Because the fish is only as healthy as the water it swims in. The fish is the human cell and the water is the fluids around the cell(s). The ocean has a delicate pH balance of 8.3 and is maintain by alkaline mineral salts. Our internal fluids are like the ocean and are maintained by the same alkaline mineral salts – sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium and calcium. At the present the ocean pH because of global warming has gone from 8.3 to 8.2. This huge decrease in the ocean pH has caused potential health risks to all sea life including the loss of the coral reefs.

The same thing is happening to many of us with body warming, as our bodies are affected by our lifestyles. In the same way I believe that the SBDC is also suffering from the same ailment – body warming. It is not going to help to just change the top fish, even if one author did write a book called Fishes rot from the head.

What is needed at the SABC is a multi-faceted large system scale change intervention. The culture (the fluids) and communication patterns of the organisation will have to be changed.

Culture is often defined as it’s how we do things around here, but the other day I heard an even better definition – It’s how we intuitively do things around here. In other words it’s the way things get done without really thinking about how we’re going to do it. A Stage of Unconscious Incompetence or Competence?.

So, can the culture at the SABC be dissected? Edgar Schein (among others) points out that culture exists in layers. It is often compared to an iceberg. The level that is visible above the surface is the level of behavior. This is the easiest layer to observe and change but it is affected by invisible layers underneath. The first invisible layer of culture below the surface, according to Schein, is the layer of values: what we care about and what we think is important. You can’t observe values directly the same way you observe behavior but you can certainly infer what they are from the way people act. The deepest layer of culture – and the hardest one to observe, measure, or change – is the layer of fundamental beliefs.

What is the driving beliefs at the SABC? It is not enough to make structural changes, intangibles like morale will need to be tackled.

In my opinion, the only way the SABC can be changed around is if we radically change the way people think, act, communicate and participate at the organisation.

Joyce Wycoff wrote in her book “TRANSFORMATION THINKING” that thinking within an organisation is defined as the mental activity of every member of the organisation…all the idea generation, learning and skill development, exchange of information, communication and problem solving that make up the intellectual capacity of an organisation. (Intellectual capital is the sum total of what everyone knows in the organisation).

I just hope that the decision-makers at the SABC will not suffer from the monkey’s dilemma – the unwillingness to let go of something even when holding on, but will effect real changes.

When a monkey reaches into a jar and grabs a fistful of nuts, he’s delighted because he’s got what he wants in his hand. When he can’t get his enlarged fist out of the jar, he winds up not getting the nuts in the jar or the ones that he could get by going outside and climbing the nut tree. If he would just let go of the nuts in the jar, he also might stumble onto the idea of turning the jar upside down and pouring the nuts out!

The "fistful of nuts" syndrome is one of the main reasons that breakthroughs seldom come from the most logical place. Microcomputers were not invented by a major computer manufacturer; cellular phones didn’t come from AT&T; railroads, the major transportation system of yesterday, didn’t invent airplanes, the major transportation system of today. It’s very difficult to let go of something tangible to look for new possibilities.

The late Harry S. Truman said “We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow, free and open, across international boundaries”. To which can be added, “organisations will never be as successful at transformation unless it does the same to its communication and thinking processes”.