Occasionally, I come across a piece that describes CEO peer advisory groups or forums as gatherings where group members receive unbiased advice and counsel from their peers. I understand the intent; it’s just that unbiased is the wrong word.
I’m picking a nit here for two reasons: 1) Group members are biased (we all are). The intent is to communicate that the members are impartial, and because they don’t have a stake in the outcome, they can trust the independent, no-hidden agenda nature of their thinking. It’s true, but that’s different from being unbiased. 2) Stating that the members are unbiased actually rips the heart out of the peer advisory group value proposition. Biases are among the big reasons for joining. For example, I will never see the world through the lens of an engineer or a finance professional (among other countless biases, including age, race, gender, home country, etc.). Because of that, I want to surround myself with people who are shaped by who they are, along with their successes, failures, and natural gifts – which includes the fact that they see the world differently. Having access to those differences is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s among the most significant reasons to join a peer advisory group or forum. Bottom line: language matters.
That said, the value of bias lies in its transparency. Expressing our views as cloaked in self-proclaimed objectivity is tantamount to telling half-truths. Biases are the seeds of diverse perspectives – the opinions and ideas that grow within us. We don’t tend to admit to our biases because we believe they will compromise the integrity of our point of view – the reality is that they inform that point of view. When CEOs win battles but lose wars, it usually happens when someone’s bias is either hidden or ignored.
The Whole Ballgame
The title of this article, Communication is the Whole Ballgame, reflects my bias as a communication professional – a career I have enjoyed since my first job in the field in 1987. Now that you know that, you can appreciate my point of view from my specific bias. Once you apprehend the views (and biases) of others, you can form your own ideas for what you need to do for your organization in 2024.
Last week, in my article 2024: Time to Sound the Alarm, I looked at internal communication, the resulting financial losses suffered by companies worldwide, and how being more intentional about addressing it will go a long way toward stopping the bleeding. It will also create greater clarity among team members, set the stage for powerful collaboration, and increase organizational capacity while improving employee mental health.
You may find it far-fetched to believe that if you communicate more clearly, more often, and with greater alignment between words and deeds, you could simultaneously address all these challenges. Yet it will. In the same way, a football coach at halftime will say that the team has a chance to win if they can protect the quarterback, tackle with greater reliability, and avoid turnovers. Simple, yes. Easy? No.
Communicating Your Value Proposition
If language matters as much as my bias informs me that it does, then here is the question every CEO should ask every year: Are we communicating our value proposition in a manner that is clear, relevant, and as compelling as it can be? It’s entirely possible that what worked last year won’t cut it next year, or because you have not revisited your messaging in a while, you suspect that you are leaving money on the table because you don’t do a good enough job of helping your prospects connect the dots for why they need you. Challenge your team to up your company’s game in this regard. Combine asking AI a series of questions with inspiring the intellectual human firepower within your organization to create something magical. Why settle for anything less?
Peernovation is the process of promoting innovation and growth within a peer group or community. It involves collaborative efforts among individuals to share knowledge, skills, and ideas to create new or improved products, services, or processes and ultimately achieve a shared goal. Peernovation encourages a culture of learning, experimentation, and cooperation, where everyone contributes their unique experiences and expertise towards achieving the collective vision. It is a dynamic process that transforms traditional hierarchical innovation models into a more inclusive and agile system where everyone can contribute and benefit.
Is it perfect? No. However, it inspired me to re-examine how I was articulating Peernovation’s essence. It made me realize that my interpretation of what Peernovation is all about was clouded by what Chip and Dan Heath called The Curse of Knowledge (in their book Made to Stick). They noted, “The problem is that once we know something—say, the melody of a song—we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. We have difficulty sharing it with others because we can’t readily re-create their state of mind.” We may not be able to do so readily. Still, we can do better using what REF describes as collective intelligence – a combination of AI and the beauty and creativity within our humanity. I would suggest that if we can do 1% better, it’s worth the effort. Why?
Because communication is the whole ballgame. 2024 should be the year you consider bringing a new level of intentionality to what you put out in words and deeds to your employees and the world. Celebrate your wins during 2023, reinvent your communication in 2024, and flourish for years to come. That’s my bias.
I look forward to learning yours.
Written by Leo Bottary.
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