So is CSR an exercise in the effective management of systems or is all about communicating on the go so to speak? Being an “old” systems person I have always favoured systems over the ups and downs of communicating on a case by case basis. But even I have to admit that systems will not do the trick on its own there need to be some form of room to manoeuvre.
On the other hand one should not think that organizations can communicate their way of out of everything so here is a short and incomplete list of things systems will do which “communicating” alone will not help you with. Of cause one can always argue that systems are communication just in another form but in this case I will keep the two separate.
- CSR Systems will create consistency. Creating effective management systems is all about creating rigidity in the organisational processes. One should not look at systems as something completely static but as a way that management can ensure that there is some form of strategic direction and that the odd case will not distort the whole organisations approach. For stakeholders this means that there is some form of consistency when dealing with the organisation.
- CSR systems is organised learning. People change but systems remain in place. This process ensures that organisations are able to learn and develop regardless of the people within its walls. The day when employees stayed within the same company until retirement is long gone. Today people change jobs much more frequent sometime within the organisation but frequently they change organisations as well. Even though companies have elaborate programs for retaining their employees there will never be a employee loyalty program that will not be matched by something better.
- Systems are control. Not all employees will think that the strategic interest of corporate management is inline with their own desires. And while systems are not able to change peoples mind they can coerce employees to act in a certain way that management wants them to.
- Systems are effective. Of cause they are otherwise we would have found another way of organising our processes and knowledge. Systems help organisations become more effective at what they do but they do not help companies come up with new ideas or create new ways of addressing new problems. Sometime management will confuse systems with efficiency in all the issues that their organisations are dealing with. A “systems only” approach will normally results in miscommunication and loss of reputation as systems do not confront current issues but are rather a collection past experiences and learning.
So what communications do which systems can’t? Follow the next episode…