We know from our experiences working with larger organisations that they are the ones who are more likely to recognise that their reputation is so important that they “allow” it to appear among their top corporate risks. The big question is however: When Board members and senior executives say that maintaining their reputation is important; do they really understand how their reputation is impacted?
Many will see their reputation as being impacted by negative comments in the press. They may even assess this impact in terms of whether the criticism is local or national, and how long it lasts. But do they fully understand the complex dependencies within their business processes that could cause the actions or inactions that receive criticism?
Yes, there are differences between brand and reputation. And there is a lot that people do to project positive images of what they do. But is all the effort clearly focused, and are there plans in place to address actual concerns of stakeholders with deeds? Does effort get wasted window dressing the perceived or typical concerns of stakeholders?
This could seem to drive organisations down a rather narrowly focused approach to managing a sub-set of risks, but two things should stop this:
- The most successful companies plan and act consistently on a much wider range of risks than this. It may be getting a tired cliché, but enterprise wide risk management helps to put the right effort into the right places.
- Sustainability is a long term game. The immediate impacts of something going wrong may not be on your reputation, your wider stakeholders, or your longer term strategic objectives. If something really goes wrong the impact could be long and far reaching.
Imagine doing a post mortem on your organisation, looking back and seeing what you could have prevented going wrong. How could you have done things differently? It really helps if you can see what the important things really are, and make sure that the right things get done at the right time!