Monday, March 29, 2010

Strategy, Strategery and Management By Hair on Fire

In my 20 years in the world of work, I like to think I’ve seen just about every permutation of communications/message management. I’ve worked for companies or organizations that set up intricate, focus group-driven strategies and never budged a millimeter from those plans.

Conversely, I’ve worked places that had ’strategery’: they thought they had a strategy–perhaps even had one on paper, but in real life it was really pretty seat-of the pants stuff. It was all do/say what works well at the moment, worry about future implications later.

The third type of communications management I’ve experienced is by far the worst: hair on fire. The hair on fire plan involves one faction of the organization demanding a coherent strategy, another part bucking that strategy; and a third, ultimately dominating faction who believe in a nihilistic, “damn the torpedoes” flurry of activity–running around with their hair (figuratively) on fire. Every day is a new day. “The strategic plan’s a great idea but it doesn’t apply today” or “we have a strategy?” and activity (however fruitless or pointless) equals performance.

All three of these communications/messaging management areas have their problems–even the competent, stick-to-it strategy (there needs to be some “wiggle room” even in the best strategy).

However, even strict, no-improvising adherence is usually better than sitting down for a day or two and hammering out a strategy then locking it in a drawer and rarely revisiting it– ala strategery.

Strategery-oriented organizations know in general what they’re supposed to be doing, but somehow January becomes June and June becomes October and very few communications-related goals are achieved because strategic plans are not followed or even revisited for tweaking. In effect, they are an exercise like climbing the rope ladder at a team-building event–you feel good about completing it and everyone pats each other on the back, but it has dubious far-reaching benefits.

Hair on fire: well, all I can say about that is good luck. If you work in an organization that cannot come to grips with a coherent, basic communications strategy and instead spends all its time and energy reacting instead of managing communications to prevent brush fires, then you need help. Fast.

All it may take is one PR crisis, the loss of key personnel or a competitor with its stuff together to start your company on the path to failure.

Which communications management does your company or organization practice? Do you have any horror stories–or better yet, stories of hair on fire being doused by a competent strategy? Let us know in the comments section–you can remain anonymous.

Originally posted at the AlexanderG Whiz Blog.

Shaken Not Stir Fry

or: A Quantum of Stir Fry

In keeping with the Sauce's predilection for good recipes, we present this offering, loosely inspired by James Bond (somehow).

I’ll be the first to cop to being a pretty boring cook. Unless it was toast, eggs, spaghetti or something you could put on the grill I was reliably Dr. No. However, one evening in a fit of inspiration I gave my wife a break and created this dish using ingredients we had on hand. It’s now a family favorite (at least I think it is).

The shot of vodka is really the only thing remotely tied to James Bond, but hey, it sounds cool. Tastes alright, too.

Have fun with this—you don’t need all these ingredients (you may not eat meat–hey, whatever works for you) or you may want to add some ingredients of your own. It’s really up to you. After all, you only live twice, 007.

Your License to Kill…The Ingredients:

1 medium-sized red, yellow or white onion, chopped

1 medium-sized red pepper, chopped

1 medium-sized green pepper, chopped

1 medium-sized yellow pepper, chopped

1 clove of fresh garlic, chopped

Optional: Fresh diced tomatoes, chopped

¾ cup of olive oil*

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

* Or 1/4 cup butter

1-2 tsp crushed black pepper

1-2 tsp kosher or sea salt

14 oz. summer “rope” sausage or kielbasa, sliced

Louisiana Hot Sauce

1 shot of vodka

3 cups No Yolks egg noodles

5 cups water

From Q…The Tools:

1 medium-sized skillet

1 medium-sized pot



Walther PPK (Kidding…)

The Mission

1. Heat olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or if you choose, melt REAL butter—if you use margarine I don’t know you) in a medium skillet over low heat. Add onion, pepper(s), garlic (tomatoes if you choose) and sautĂ© all over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add sliced sausage or kielbasa—they should resemble little coins of flavor amidst a sea of veggies. Move the pieces around in there frequently.
3. Season with Louisiana Hot Sauce, black pepper and salt to taste, stir frequently.
4. Add 3 cups of egg noodles (or noodles of your choice) to 5 cups boiling water. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
5. Cover skillet and let cook 10 minutes—especially good when sausage starts to blacken at edges. Juice should be red and taste a little spicy. Add more olive oil and vinegar if necessary.
6. Drain noodles.
7. Try not to let the skillet contents overcook, as vegetables will become too soft.
8. Add shot of vodka just prior to serving, stir.
9. Serve vegetables, sauce and sausage over noodles in wide bowl. I prefer chopsticks, but it’s a little labor intensive. (Keep in mind, though, the chopsticks are an effective weapon in case Blofeld and his cat shows up uninvited.)
10. Serve with wine, beer, Vesper martini or any other beverage.
Enjoy and try not to let it drip on your tuxedo—Moneypenny will notice!

Originally posted at AlexanderG Whiz Blog.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blogging Here and There

Hi we're doing a lot of blogging here these days, so if you want more sauce, just say G.