Stumbling through situations is a great teacher. I have tried hard to extract lessons from my experiences, including missteps and small victories. Now, with a bit more than two decades of historical perspective, I can begin to put my arms around the bigger picture of this profession–and reflect on what I wish I’d known when I started.
Dear Rhode Island, We’ve been in Rhode Island for a year now, and I thought it was time to write a quick letter to my new home state. So far, it’s been a wonderful experience. From the beaches of South County to Wright’s Dairy Farm — and so much in between — Rhode Island feels like a warm hug.
The chief executive should have skipped the meeting, but attended it, and a group is threatening to leak this information to a major local paper. I mentioned to the chief executive I expected a call from a reporter asking about the meeting; the chief executive was visibly upset. Pausing for a minute, the chief executive had an idea. I should tell the reporter the leaked information was false. “I didn’t attend the meeting” would be the line I was to deliver.
Recently, while searching for a file on my home computer, I stumbled upon a document entitled “Communicate on Purpose.” The title fascinated me, but I admit it rang no bells. Until I opened it.
Most organizations crave stability. They forecast budgets in one-year increments. They develop multiyear strategies. They invest in the long-term development of employees. But that stability can be threatened in an instant by events beyond their control — including the abrupt loss of their chief executive. It happens every day — from Fox News to aircraft carriers to the local PTA.