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SRI in the Rockies - Strategic Memo (Think Differently)

SRI in the Rockies - Strategic Memo (Think Differently)

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Published by Brian Reich
Strategic memo to accompany panel discussion on communications and social media in the socially responsible investing industry.
Strategic memo to accompany panel discussion on communications and social media in the socially responsible investing industry.

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Published by: Brian Reich on Nov 19, 2010
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05/05/2011

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SRIintheRockiesSTRATEGICMEMOS
 
STRATEGICMEMORANDUM
TO:SRIIntheRockiesAttendeesFROM:BrianReichSUBJECT:ThinkingDifferently
BIGPOINT:Howwepromote,discussandcreateengagementopportunitiesforinvestors,andprospectiveinvestors,aroundsociallyresponsibleinvestingmustchange.Rightnow.
Oursocietyhaschanged—dramatically—overthepastfewdecades.Weoftentalkaboutthesechangesinthecontextofbusiness(
 flattening
),governmentandpolitics(
opening
),andcommunity(
connecting
).Butchangesarebeingseeneverywhere,ineverycommunityandeverysectorofoursociety.Theyarebeingfeltbyallofus.TechnologyandtheInternethavealteredhowwecommunicate,howwegetandshareinformation,andwhatmediaweconsume,aswellastheveryreasonswechoosetoengagewitheachother,onlineaswellasoff.Makenomistakeaboutit,theseforcesarealsore‐shapinghowindividualsinvesttheirmoney‐‐andwhattheyexpectfromthecompaniestheysupportandtheinvestmentadvisorstheylooktoforguidanceinreturn.Someofthesechangesareobvious.Informationmovesfaster;peoplearemorecloselyconnected;audiencesactivelychoosewhattheywanttoseeandhear,andwhotheytrust.Notsurprisingly,therelationships,aswellasthetypesofsupport,weexpectfromorganizationsarechangingasaresult.Today,theubiquityoftechnologymakesitpossibletospreadamessagefarther,andhaveitbeembracedbymorepeople,thaneverbefore.And,especiallywiththeriseofsocialplatforms,itisclearthatweareoneglobal,interconnectedcommunity,capableoftakingdecisiveactiononthoseissueswepassionatelyshare.Butnotallofthesechangescanbesoeasilyglimpsed.Fromwithintheorganization,andfromwithout,therearenewpowerhierarchies,newrelationshipsbetweenconsumersandproducers,andnewfeedbackloops.Considerthefactthatmostorganizationsnowreceiveinstantfeedback(e.g.,real‐timemeasurementoftheirimpact)directly,andfromtheirmostimportantconstituents.Thisallowsanynumberofadaptations—forinstance,howsomethingispositionedorpromoted—tohappenonthefly,andoftenwithoutattractingattentionornotice.Groupsthatchoosetodevelopdeeper,moremeaningfulrelationshipswiththeiraudiencesareseeinginterestamongcustomersmaterializeinwaysneverbeforeimagined.Butthiscutsbothways.Whilenewtoolsmakeitpossibleforeveryonetohaveaplatformfromwhichtospeak,thoseorganizationsthatstillattempttomaintainstrictcontrolsovertheirmessageoftenfindthemselvesbattlingforattention‐‐andinsomecasescredibilityandrevenue‐‐fromthevery
 
samepeoplewhooncesustainedtheirefforts.Today,indeed,anyonecansparkabottom‐up,grassroots‐fueledrevolutionormovementthathaspowernoindividualorentitycouldhavereasonablyhopedtogenerateinthepast.Inthesecontexts—massive,disruptivechangeacrosseverysector—howorganizationsoperate,organize,andcommunicatemustbere‐imaginedaswell.Thismeans,forstarters,rethinkingthewaysthatmediacancontribute,beyondraisingawarenessandsupportingeducation.Inturn,thepassionandinterestofindividuals,locallyandglobally,mustbere‐focusedandre‐directed.Ultimately,wemustre‐envision
intoto
whatwepromoteandwhy,howandwhereourcontentgetsdiscussedanddistributed,andwhatkindsofengagementopportunitiesforinvestors(andotheraudiences)wecreatealongtheway.Inotherwords:everythingmustchange.
 Atotalresetinthinking
Whilethesociallyresponsibleinvestingworldretainssignificantinfluenceoverhowbusinessisconductedacrosstheglobe,itisalsotruethatthefinancialworldhaschangeddramatically.Therecenteconomicslowdown,takeninconjunctionwiththeincreasedlevelofconnectionamongindividuals,haselevatedbothour
awareness
aswellasour
scrutiny 
ofhowbusinessesoperate,influenceandareinfluencedbyforceswellbeyondtheircontrol.Manycompaniesarefeelingpressurefromtheircustomersandinvestorstoadapttheirbusinessoperationtoalignwithdifferent,andmoresociallyconscious,objectives.Atthesametime,mainstreammediaisstrugglingtoprovideadequateinformationtoconsumersaboutcoreissuesthataffecttheirfinancialwell‐being,personalhealthandthesecurityoftheircommunities.Collectively,thesefactorscreateapowerfulopportunityforallofus—thatis,wecancreatemoremeaningfulrelationships,andexperiences,betweenthepeoplewhoworkinsociallyresponsibleinvestingandthecustomerstheyserve.Keepinmind,too,thatthechangesweareobserving—thesocializationoftheinvestingexperience—isnodifferentthanwhatweareseeingineveryotherpartofoursociety.And,whilesomuchischanging,thefocusontechnology,orthedominantnarrative
about 
technology,isforthemostpartmisplacedorwrong.Yes,thetoolsandchannelsthathavebeencreatedinthelastfewyearshavegeneratedalotofexcitementandattention,andforgoodreason,butitistheirusethatreallymatters.Ourunderstandingoftheseuseswilldetermineourabilitytodrivetheoutcomesthatwe—individuallyandcollectively—desire.Thefactis:Forallthenewandexcitingopportunitiesthatexist,thecurrentwaysthatmostbusinessesandfinancialadvisers(andevenmedia)interactwiththeiraudiencefollowsthesame,traditionalpatterns.That’snotagoodthing.Itisnecessary—no,
imperative
—thatthevariousformsofadvertising,educating,engaging,anddirecting—thedecision‐makingofindividualinvestorsandthegestaltoperationsofanorganization—aremoreappropriatelyalignedandintegrated.Intoday’sworld,successcanonlyberedefinedasthatconcinnity,orharmoniousadaptationofparts.Yourinvestorswanttobelievethattheirsupportofyourefforts—thetimetheyspendandmoneytheyinvest—willbearresults.
Toshiftpeople’sbehavior,tocreatethekindsofconnectionsnecessaryforpeopletomoredeeplyengagewithsociallyresponsibleinvestments,wehavetobeginbyrecognizingthatthewaysthat

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