Behind the scenes in the creation of an eye-catching textbook

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The design of Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice was a labour of love for the creative team behind the textbook.

Graphic designer Nina Heryanto conceived the striking illustrations on the book’s cover and its chapter opener spreads, which feature everyday consumer items, from toothpaste to chip packets.

In a testament to the quality of its design, Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice, written by marketing guru Professor Byron Sharp, is among the books to feature in the Australian Book Designers Association’s (ABDA) illustration showcase. The ABDA showcase series celebrates the best of Australian book design, with each focusing on a particular element, from illustration to photography.

Nina said the team at Oxford University Press had worked closely with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, of which Dr Sharp is Director, to develop the textbook, ensuring its appearance reflected its high-quality, accessible and engaging text.

The designers started by developing a mood board to determine the look and feel of the book, then produced cover design concepts, from which a few were chosen for further developments and considerations by the rest of the team.

“A team of about six designers were involved in the project over two years, with some direction from the institute. We created a logo, which we used in illustrations of everyday products.

“The clean design of the logo set the tone for the rest of the book,” she said.

“It also reflects the emphasis on fast-moving consumer goods – everyday purchases and items that are familiar and accessible.”

The generous use of original illustrations, both on the cover of the book and on the chapter pages throughout, offered a rare opportunity for Nina and the design team.

“It was intense, but fun, and it’s quite rare to have the chance to create so many illustrations because it is so time-consuming. Illustrations really suited the subject, given that marketing is a creative industry.”

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Nina also took into consideration the audience for the textbook, which was aimed at first year university students.

“We wanted it to look sophisticated and accessible, but not childish or too upmarket.”

Nina has worked for Oxford University Press for the past four years, working at Pearson education after completing a graphic design degree.

She said that she continued to get a buzz out of holding the finished product in her hands.

“This book was a labour of love, not just for me but for everyone involved. It really was a team effort, from the publishers to the production controller.”

Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice by Byron Sharp

 

Tasting for the Queen, screw tops and the best summer wines with Jancis Robinson

One of the world’s leading wine critics, Jancis Robinson, visited Australia to sample some of Australia’s best drops and share her wisdom on all things wine.

Jancis has been one of the leading international voices in wine for more than 20 years, and among Jancis’ many accomplishments was being named a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee, which recommends bottles offered to guests at events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. She also edited the Oxford Companion to Wine.

During her visit, she spoke to Clare Bowditch on the ABC Afternoons program. In case you missed the conversation, here are some of her pearls of wisdom, on everything from coping with tasting hundreds of wines a week and screw-on bottle tops.

How to choose a wine fit for the Queen

Jancis explained that a specially-selected committee meets about three times a year for a blind tasting session. It chooses on the basis of quality, rather than its origin or price. In fact, the prices for the wines included in the tasting have included tipples that cost just a fraction over $10.

“There is no such thing as a direct correlation between price and quality when it comes to wine,” Jancis said, with some wines overpriced and others underpriced.

Independent wine sellers or supermarkets?

Jancis likened wine shopping to book shopping, saying the best wines could be found at an independent store, where the buyer could talk to a knowledgeable staff member about their preferences. She said bigger retailers (at least in the UK) tended to focus on price, rather than quality.

“It’s [wine] a complicated subject – it’s no good saying it’s simple,” she said.

Screw top or cork?

Jancis was uncritical on the emergence of screw top wine bottles.

“I can understand why wine producers want to be sure that what they put in the bottle is what people drink,” she said.

Other benefits she named were the time saving nature of opening a screw top bottle, compared with a cork one. However, she also noticed a move towards using better-quality corks as a sign of handcrafting of wine by modern producers.

What are the best wines for summer?

Now that the weather has warmed up, everyone is wondering what is on the drinks menu. For Jancis, rose is the go-to wine for summer. She said while Australia has been quite slow to embrace “pink wine”, it was starting to become more popular.

She also said light reds including a gamay, Beaujolais or a slightly chilled pinot noir were well-suited to warm weather.

“Lighter bodied, refreshing lighter red wine is perfect for summer,” she sadi.

How much wine does a critic drink?

Some weeks, Jancis tests hundreds of different wines. How does she cope with the effects of all of this wine? By spitting. Jancis does not like drinking during the day, but tends to enjoy a glass or two at home with her husband every evening.

Jancis’ full interview is available on the ABC Melbourne website.

Improve your wine knowledge with The Oxford Companion to Wine.

 

Halloween word-play

Ghost

We all know the most commonly-used meaning of the noun ‘ghost’. According to Oxford Dictionaries, a ghost is ‘an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image’.

But are you as familiar with the verb, used in a relationship sense? To ‘ghost’ someone is to end a personal relationship by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. That time you texted your new boyfriend several times and received no reply, ever? Or left numerous voicemail messages? You were ghosted.

Witch

When someone mentions a witch, most people think of the image of a woman with magic powers, wearing a black cloak and pointed hat, flying on a broomstick.

However, the word ‘witch’ can also be used as a verb. To ‘witch’ someone is to enchant them, often referring to a woman’s beauty ‘witching’ an admirer.

Used as a noun, ‘witch’ also refers to an edible North Atlantic flatfish, sometimes referred to as Torbay sole to broaden their culinary appeal. Apparently it is off-putting to order a grilled witch at the fish and chip shop.

Zombie

The zombies of movies are usually white-faced and vacant-eyed, described in Oxford Dictionaries as, “a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions”.

But zombies do not only appear in horror movies, and later in the viewer’s nightmares. They are also present in philosophy, described as, “a hypothetical being that responds to stimulus as a person would but that does not experience consciousness”.

An example of the usage of ‘zombie’ in philosophy is:  “So if the zombie hypothesis is correct, physicalism is false”, or “Nothing in the zombie theory explains why they act the way they do, unless we hypothesise the existence of unseen causes, demonic puppet masters, or the like.”

Other more recent meanings for zombie include:

  • a slow-witted person;
  • a cocktail, made with rum, liqueur, and fruit juice;
  • a computer controlled by another person without the owner’s knowledge; and
  • a zombie bank, which is insolvent but still able to operate due to government support.

Ghoul

Have you ever been described as a ‘ghoul’? Perhaps you should be. While a ghoul is most commonly considered to be, “an evil spirit or phantom, especially one supposed to rob graves and feed on dead bodies”, there is another category of ghoul that is more familiar in everyday life.

The term ‘ghoul’ can also be used to describe, “a person morbidly interested in death or disaster”.

If you routinely watch RPA (showing medical emergencies treated at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) or CSI, and count Wolf Creek and Saw as some of your favourite movies, you might be displaying some ghoulish tendencies.


More creepy word facts are available at Oxford Dictionaries, including:

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

 

Finding new Australian words

By Julia Robinson, editor and researcher at the Australian National Dictionary Centre

It’s a year since we celebrated the launch of the new Australian National Dictionary, with its 16,000 Australian words and meanings. Since then we have not been taking it easy and neither has Australian English—we began collecting new words even as we sent off the manuscript to the publisher. We now have more than 300 items worthy of further research.

Our list is deliberately inclusive since we can’t know which terms will prove to be stayers. A number are new or recent coinages that just missed our editorial deadline; others are older terms we rejected as having too little evidence, but now look more established; some are speculative; and some simply flew under our radar. Here is a sample of the terms under consideration as future entries.

Familiar Australian words such as bush, koala, Anzac, and preference (the political sense) are the basis for newer terms: bush rave (a rave party in the bush); koala diplomacy (the loan or gift of koalas to another nation’s zoo, as a form of soft-power diplomacy); Anzac fatigue (what we feel after over-exposure to Anzac centenary commemoration); and preference harvesting (the flow of preferences to a micro-party or independent as a result of strategic preference deals).

We continue to coin terms related to politics. The double-dissolution federal election last year alerted us to the abbreviation double D, and the same election helped popularise the democracy sausage (the sausage sandwich you buy on election day at a polling booth sausage sizzle). The term sixty-sevener (a campaigner for the 1967 referendum) glances back in time; current concerns are reflected in quarry vision (our continuing fixation with coal as a major source of energy and revenue). A nickname for Greens politicians may be more ephemeral: tree tories (conservative on economic policy).

State-based terms are represented on our list, especially from Tasmania. Tassie tuxedo (a puffer jacket); turbo chook (the Tasmanian native hen, a flightless bird with a fast turn of speed); and flannelette curtain. If you live on the wrong side of the flannelette curtain in Hobart, you live in the poorer suburbs—the wrong (flannie-shirt wearing) side of town. Western Australia gives us white, a term for a western rock lobster that is a pale pinkish-white colour after moulting, and white run, the annual event in late spring when whites migrate in large groups to spawning grounds in deeper water. Branch-bombing (branch-stacking) also seems to be associated with the west.

The typical Australian habit of creating words with an ‘ie’ or ‘o’ ending is still going strong. Recent coinages include convo (conversation); deso (designated driver); devo (devastated); smashed avo (seasoned, mashed avocado on toast); reco (surgical reconstruction, as in knee reco); nettie (a netball player); parmi (parmigiana, as in the dish chicken parmi); and shoey (the act of drinking alcohol out of a shoe to celebrate a victory).

The word kangaroo continues to be productive in Australian English, contributing to kangatarian (a person who eats kangaroo meat but avoids other meat, on environmental grounds). The trend for using ‘roo’ as a suffix in the names of national sporting teams (Socceroos, Hockeyroos, etc.) continues with the Wheelaroos (our wheelchair rugby team). We have also found ‘roo’ in wazzaroo, a one-off coinage for a roadkill kangaroo (‘was a roo’).

Several well-known Australians contribute to our list. John Farnham’s fondness for farewell shows is celebrated in Johnny Farnham comeback and chuck a Farnsie (referring to a comeback, especially after a farewell performance or retirement). Rugby League player Trent Merrin’s private life is alluded to in doing a merrin (having a partner who is considered out of one’s league). The historical figure Ned Kelly still has a grip on our imagination. He gives his name this century to the Ned Kelly letterbox (a letterbox resembling Kelly’s armour, especially the helmet, where the eye opening is the mail slot). The expression Black Caviar odds (very short betting odds) honours the four-legged legend of the racetrack, Black Caviar, undefeated in all her starts.

Our concern for wildlife is apparent in the terms resnagging (putting old logs back into river systems to restore habitat for native fish) and pinky (a pink, hairless pouch young, especially a baby wombat or kangaroo). An orphaned pinky may be rescued from the pouch of a female killed on the road, and relocated by carers into the pouch of a surrogate mother. We have seen this described as pouch-surfing, a play on ‘couch-surfing’. An old term we’ve discovered recently for a baby mammal is platypup, a name for platypus young, first used in the 1940s with reference to the first platypus bred in captivity.

Finally, we have collected a number of new idioms, such as calm your farm (calm down, relax), a twenty-first century expression we share with New Zealand; and more new starts than Centrelink (referring to someone who has had more chances or opportunities than they may deserve). For variants on established Australian idioms, Mark Gwynn discusses some results from our social media campaign elsewhere in this issue.

A living language is never fully contained between hard covers. Even so, we have been surprised by the number of potential Australianisms we’ve identified in a short period of time. We hope to continue gathering new words at a similar rate over the course of the next twelve months as we move towards launching the Australian National Dictionary on the Internet.

 

 

Making the dictionary ‘fair dinkum’

By Mark Gwynn, Researcher and Editor at the Australian National Dictionary Centre, @ozworders

As a primary school student in the mid-1980s one of my favourite in-class activities was the ‘Dictionary Game’. My teacher, Mr Brenchley, would read out the definition of a word, and ask us to find the word that matched the definition in our dictionaries. There is one word that stands out in my memory, partly because I was the first to correctly guess it. Mr Brenchley read out the following definition: ‘false; pretended’, and gave us a clue that the word was also in the name of an Australian rock band (he always liked to add a bit of popular culture into the question). The answer was ‘pseudo’, and the band in the clue was of course Pseudo Echo. I can’t remember any of Pseudo Echo’s songs now, but as a lexicographer I’ve become familiar with the prefix pseudo-, and some of the words formed from it such as pseudonym. Back then, I also learnt from my dictionary that pseudo is derived from ancient Greek, as are many of the words in English beginning with ‘ps’. Dictionaries can teach us all kinds of information about words, language, and history, and Mr Brenchley introduced us to the riches of the dictionary.

If in the ‘Dictionary Game’ the question had been to guess what the words bludge, cooee, dinkum, or ute meant, we wouldn’t have been able to find them in our school dictionaries, because back in the early 1980s they contained almost no Australian words. The current edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus has several hundred Australian words and meanings. Learning about Australian English is essential to understanding how English is spoken and written in Australia, and underlines the importance of having Australian dictionaries. It’s not just the obvious words like bogan and tradie that are Australian, but particular senses of standard English words. For instance, in this dictionary paddock has two senses: an Australian sense defined as ‘an enclosed piece of land, usually part of a rural property’, and a British sense defined as ‘a small field where horses are kept’. These distinctions across the dictionary are fundamental for understanding the variety of English we use in Australia.

In the sixth edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus over 120 new words have been added, as well as a similar number of new senses, and many revisions have been made to existing entries. However, the addition of new material into a school dictionary is not necessarily the most important aspect of a new edition. As editor, it is my responsibility to make sure the core vocabulary that students need to be familiar with is up-to-date, and to provide guidance on usage. An interesting way of thinking about this core vocabulary is through the tool of a language corpus (a large set of texts that can be analysed for things such as word frequency and common word forms and grammatical features). The Oxford English Corpus, which we consult in our dictionary editing, contains over two billion words with just over a million of these representing lemmas (that is, the base form of word; jumps, jumping, and jumped are all example of the lemma jump). Amazingly only ten of these lemmas account for 25% of all the words in the Oxford English Corpus. These lemmas are: the, be, to, of, and, a, in, that, have, and I. The 100 most common lemmas account for 50% of the corpus; the 1000 most common lemmas account for 75% and so on. As my colleagues at Oxford Dictionaries succinctly put it: English consists of a small number of very common words, a larger number of intermediate ones, and then a long ‘tail’ of much rarer terms. It is these common and intermediate words that are the most important for students’ literacy education.

While new words like 3-D printing, crowdfunding, selfie, and skype have been added – and these additions are important to reflect our changing society – it is the updates to existing entries that form a substantial part of the editing process. For example, in this edition of the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, a new sense of cloud has been added: ‘(in computing) a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet and used to store, manage, and process data in place of local servers or personal computers’. The dictionary also contains a large number of usage boxes that provide guidance and clarification for words that can present difficulties with pronunciation, spelling, grammar, or their use in Australia. These are kept up-to-date to reflect changing attitudes to language, but also contain cautionary information that provides guidance to students about words that may no longer be appropriate to use, or where there is some confusion about the use of a word in particular contexts (e.g. alternate vs alternative). We aim for the Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus to be an authoritative reference work for students to continue their journey of literacy learning and to discover the richness of English in Australia.

The Australian Schoolmate Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus has been placed on the shortlist for the Educational Publishing Awards Australia, to be announced in September.

Schoolmate dictionary

Celebrating Father’s Day with the ‘dad joke’

It appears that dad jokes are having a moment. Some of the coolest fathers on the planet are airing their own dad jokes, and some decidedly less cool dads are following suit.

The dad joke is described by OxfordDictionaries.com as, ‘An unoriginal or unfunny joke of a type supposedly told by middle-aged or older men.’

In the lead up to Father’s Day on Sunday, September 3, we’re showing our appreciation of these fatherly funnies by taking inspiration from the trendsetters and some less well-known jokers.

Barack Obama and Ryan Reynolds are just two of the high-profile dads publicly displaying their proclivity for the dad joke.

At his final Thanksgiving celebration as President of the United States, Barack Obama famously took the opportunity to display his prowess with the dad joke. After saying that his daughters were not present because they couldn’t take his turkey-related puns anymore, he swiftly moved on to unleash a few of his best:

 “When somebody at your table tells you that you’ve been hogging all the side dishes, you can’t have anymore, I hope you respond with a creed that sums of the spirit of the hungry people: Yes we cran.”

and

“I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom, who met their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they weren’t chicken.”

Ryan Reynolds also got in on the act, posting this one to Twitter:

“Went to Disneyland because my daughter’s obsessed with Mickey Mouse. She was so excited when I got home and told her.”

Once confined to the privacy of the home, dad jokes are now doing the rounds on Twitter, with less famous dads joining Obama and Reynolds to share their best.

Twitter’s @baddadjokes has a whopping 33,000 followers. Some of @baddadjokes’ best include:

“What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted.”

“What’s the leading cause of dry skin? Towels”

“RIP boiled water. You will be mist.”

If you want to give your dad some inspiration for his next dad joke this Father’s Day, consider the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotes.

This hilarious collection of humorous quotations, full of wisecracks and wit, snappy comments and inspired fantasy, has been specially compiled by the late British broadcaster and raconteur Ned Sherrin, with a foreword by satirist, Alistair Beaton.

Fathers will be able to find the best lines from their favourite jokesters and wordsmiths, hopefully improving their own repertoire.

Entries range from Russell Brand’s cutting remark,

“No wonder Bob Geldof is such an expert on famine. He’s been feeding off ‘I don’t like Mondays’ for 30 years.”

to Arnold Schwarzeneger’s quip that deciding to run for governor of California was:

“The most difficult decision I’ve ever made in my entire life, except for the one in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax.”

Long live the dad joke!

Humorous Quotations

Other Father’s Day gift ideas from Oxford University Press:

Holy ST       Companion to food      Beer

Sherlock       Wine

Move over, tennis mums, a new breed of tennis mom has arrived in the updated Oxford English Dictionary

You might remember the term tennis mum being used to describe women who returned to tennis after becoming mothers.

Now, tennis mom and tennis dad refer to parents who actively and enthusiastically support their child’s participation in the sport.

They are among the tennis-related, lifestyle, current affairs and educational terms included in the latest update of the Oxford English Dictionary.

More than 50 new words and 30 new senses related to tennis were added to the dictionary, after consultation with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

They included bagel, tennis slang coined by player Eddie Dibbs in the 1970’s, referring to a score in a set of six games to love due to the similarity of the numeral 0 to the shape of a bagel. Superbrat is also a word which is used in contexts other than tennis, but was famously applied to the tennis player John McEnroe by the British press in response to outbursts on court.

Forced error is used to describe a mistake in play which is attributed to the sill of one’s opponent rather than the player’s own misjudgment, while chip and charge refers to an attacking style of play, in which the player approaches the net behind a sliced shot.

What else is new to the OED?

A new usage of thing was introduced in the dictionary update, used in questions conveying surprise or incredulity, such as ‘how can that be a thing?’ This has been traced back to an early episode of television series The West Wing.

The new sense of woke, meaning ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’ has also been included. Its use by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in particular the phrase ‘stay woke’ is thought to have introduced the word to a broader audience, especially on social media.

Old sayings have also been tweaked, with footless (as in, footless drunk, an alternative to the more familiar ‘legless’) and son of a bachelor (a euphemistic alternative to ‘son of a bitch’).

Oxford Dictionaries announced post-truth as its 2016 Word of the Year, and since then, the huge increase in its usage has given the lexicographers enough evidence to add it to the OED.

In the educational sphere, the OED update included MOOC, an acronym for massive open online course, which you might have spotted on your social media feed and wondered about its meaning.

A range of words for wedding veils were added to the dictionary, including a birdcage veil, blusher veil, cathedral veil and fingertip veil.

Another lifestyle addition was the Danish trend and culture reference hygge, defined as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’.

Finally, ZYZZYVA, referring to a genus of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found on or near palm trees became the new ‘last word’ in the OED.

You can find all the new new word entries, sub-entries and senses on the OED website.

For more on Australian dictionaries, visit the Australian National Dictionary.

 

 

Celebrity activism: do we really need another hero?

In Media and Society (6th ed. pp. 380–382), we discuss the pervasiveness of celebrity activism, particularly in recent times, considering social media’s ubiquity. Celebrity activists, including celanthropists (celebrity-philanthropist) and other cause endorsers and advocates locate themselves under multiple ‘issue’ banners. Some of these include humanitarianism, feminism, and political activism. Such celebrity engagement is not a new phenomenon. Now, though, it seems that connection to a cause is almost an expectation of celebrities as a method to leverage individual celebrity ‘brand(s)’. However, the explosion of celebrity activists providing opinions on various social, economic, environmental, and cultural issues, and pursuing charity and aid as self-interested pursuits can be problematic.

Critiques of celebrity activism include that it oversimplifies issues when celebrities lecture the public by assuming authority about complex matters, and that such activism tends to centre on the celebrity and their brand while diverting from substantive issues. By reflecting on some examples of celebrity activism aimed at counteracting the success of Donald Trump during the latter stages of the 2016 American Presidential campaign, we can briefly contemplate these critiques of celebrity activism in political and media landscapes.

We saw many politically motivated speeches, memes and videos by celebrities become ‘viral’ during the US election campaign. Some celebrities spoke out in the mainstream media, while many also regularly took to their social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to discuss politics. Further, they often spoke about the candidates personally – Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, in particular – in both positive and negative ways. Often, sharing opinions and having these opinions re-shared on social media amplifies the celebritisation of politics. Whether such activism achieves its intended political goals may be questioned. However, what can’t be disregarded is the way these uses of social media and celebrity attract mainstream media attention. This, therefore, reinforces the perception of celebrities as effectual activists, and the tools of social media as politically valuable ones.

One of the viral videos during the Trump campaign featured Hollywood royalty, Robert De Niro, declaring: ‘I’d like to punch [Trump] in the face’. In another of the key anti-Trump videos, celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. used humour to mock their own fame in an to attempt to encourage people to vote. Since Trump’s election, Meryl Streep, also a member of Hollywood’s elite, took the stage of the 2017 Golden Globes to accept a lifetime achievement award, and used her time to discuss Trump, without actually naming him, but drawing attention to Trump’s behaviour in imitating a disabled journalist, and how this might be indicative of his future leadership style.

Each of these instances of celebrity activism received varied reactions. De Niro’s allusion to violence was considered troublesome, the ‘shit ton’ of celebrities in the Ruffalo campaign were regarded as incompatible with everyday Americans, and Streep was rebuked for misusing and misunderstanding her privilege to allege that those in the room at the Golden Globes ‘belong to the most vilified segments of American society right now’. This last critique represents perhaps both problems raised above: the distraction of celebrity (in this case drawing attention to Streep herself), and the oversimplification of issues. Streep’s statement about the vilification of celebrities failed to recognise the distance between elite ‘outsiders’ such as celebrities and the sectors of American society less able to protect themselves from condemnation and marginalisation because of their absence of wealth, status and power. None of the celebrity activism resulted in Trump’s defeat, due to a myriad of other concerns and forces at play in democracy, although it’s worth considering what such activism that resulted in mass media attention did achieve. Does the attention it brings signal that many people feel alienated from traditional politics?

Celebrity activism, as noted, can be controversial for several reasons. However, celebrity political activists can sometimes articulate what others cannot by using their privilege to speak up and out in mainstream and online media cultures to mass audiences. Therefore, even for this reason alone, there can sometimes be a place for celebrity activism in the quest for social and political change in the current cultural climate. Celebrity activism thrives during this time of dissatisfaction with traditional politics, and it is unlikely that this will be the last election that celebrity activists take to the stage to perform supporting roles.

9780195597240Sarah Casey  works at Griffith University and is an author on the sixth edition of Media and Society (2016).

Moving crisis management from the ‘war room’ to the board room

Organisations that suffer a major crisis have a more than one in four chance of going out of business. Yet despite this level of risk, many companies continue to leave crisis management in the hands of operational middle managers or technicians with little expertise beyond how to recover when things go wrong.

Corporate crisis management traditionally has a strong emphasis on tactical elements such as crisis manuals, cross-functional teams, table-top simulations, communications procedures and a well-equipped ‘war room’. However leading companies are now taking a more proactive role in crisis planning and issue management, shifting from reactive crisis response to proactive crisis prevention, and moving the focus from the war room to the board room.

But progress is slow. A global survey of board members, published in early 2016, found that fewer than half of the non-executive directors questioned reported they had engaged with management to understand what was being done to support crisis preparedness. And only half the boards had undertaken specific discussion with management about crisis prevention. Moreover, fewer than half of the respondents believed their organisations had the capabilities or processes needed to meet a crisis with the best possible outcome.

The reality is that many organisations still fail to prepare properly and continue to treat crisis management as an operationalised part of the emergency or security function. That may provide an adequate response to an incident when it happens, but contributes nothing to crisis prevention, long-term value or reputation management.

shutterstock_269821922-1

The other key factor driving increasing senior executive involvement has been the acknowledgment that most crises which threaten a company are not sudden, unexpected events, but are preceded by clear warning signals, which are frequently ignored. In fact, the Institute for Crisis Management in Denver, Colorado, which has been tracking business crises in the media for well over 20 years, concludes that about two thirds are not unexpected at all, but are what they categorise as ‘smouldering crises’ – events which should have and could have prompted prior intervention (and more than half of all corporate crises are in fact caused by management).

Together these two factors – that most crises are not truly unexpected and that many are avoidable – have fueled the move from the operational emergency context of the war room to strategic planning in the board room.

This evolution towards strategic recognition and prevention rather than tactical response has in turn expanded the crisis management role of top executives and directors. However it has also exposed a practical challenge. Most managers want to do what’s right for their organisation. Yet some struggle with deciding exactly what needs to be done to protect against the reputational and organisational damage threatened by a crisis or major public issue.

One response to this challenge is a new concept called Crisis Proofing, which focuses on the role of executive managers and the practical steps they can take to prevent crises and protect reputation. The barriers to effective crisis prevention and preparedness are well documented, but can be best summed up in two common responses: ‘It won’t happen to us’ or ‘We are too big/too well run to be affected by a crisis’.

Many directors and senior executives would prefer not to think about crises. So participation in crisis management does not always sell well at the top. But every top manager should be concerned with preventing crises and protecting the company’s reputation. An effective way forward offered by Crisis Proofing is to develop a genuine crisis prevention approach instead of just focusing on crisis response.

If crises are to be prevented before they occur, issues and problems need to be identified early, and acted upon at the highest level. While this may require a fresh mindset, the quality of executive and board involvement can make a real difference to crisis prevention and management, and there are some basic requirements which help facilitate this approach:

  • Integrating issue management and crisis prevention into strategic planning and enterprise risk management
  • Encouraging blame-free upward communication and willingly accepting bad news and dissenting opinion
  • Implementing and regularly reviewing best practice processes for identifying and managing issues before they become crises
  • Establishing robust mechanisms to recognise and respond to crises at all levels, both operational and managerial
  • Benchmarking crisis management systems against peer companies and peer industries
  • Participating in regular crisis management training
  • Promoting systematic learning from your own issues and crises, and the issues and crises of others
  • Providing leadership, expertise, experience and support in the event of a real crisis.

The Crisis Proofing approach demonstrates that responsibility for protecting the organisation lies absolutely in the C-suite. It gives practical advice on how senior executives can provide participation and leadership from the top. And faced with the fact that one in four organisations that suffer a major crisis go out of business, Crisis Proofing provides a realistic blueprint for how to save your company from disaster.

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Crisis Proofing: How to Save Your Company from Disaster is a highly readable conversation about the creation of a management mind-set committed to reduce the chances of a crisis from happening in the first place and how to minimise the damage from any crisis which does occur. Buy the paperback or eBook now.

Copyright: Sam D'Agostino - SDP Photo
PH: +61 412 350 700 - Australia 2003Author Dr Tony Jaques is an internationally recognised authority on issue and crisis management and the development of best practice methods. Since working as Asia-Pacific Issue Manager for a US multinational, he has established an international reputation in the field, and is a former Director of the Issue Management Council in Leesburg, Virginia. He writes the specialist online issue and crisis management publication, Managing Outcomes (www.issueoutcomes.com.au) and is also the author of Issue and Crisis Management: Exploring Issues, Crises, Risk and Reputation (Oxford University Press 2014).

Featured image credits:  [1] Shutterstock ID 269821922; [2] OUP 9780190303365.

Channelling my inner Bean?

9780195576801The final volume of the Centenary History of Australia and the Great War series is about to appear, bringing with it sensations of both satisfaction and relief. It’s always a relief when a lengthy project comes to fruition successfully and this one began in the planning and funding stages in 2007. It is immensely satisfying to have had a hand in a significant historical project and to have enabled a talented team of historians to give expression to their scholarship for a wider audience.

I was centrally involved in an earlier centennial project, also published through Oxford University Press, at the time of the centenary anniversary of Federation in 2001. That series, The Australian Centenary History of Defence, was a larger and more complex project than the more recent one but both share features in common. The first is the lead time involved. Multi-volume, multiple-author projects take time to put together and time to produce their outcomes: books. The pool of available and suitably-qualified talent is not large and most working historians already have a full slate of immediate and long-term commitments. Funding the research involves reasonably-sized outlays and must be secured from somewhere, while at the same time it is recognised that the project cannot meet salary bills for the authors if the budget is to remain within feasible limits. The necessary corollary of this is that work on the books will have to be part-time in most cases. All of these factors mandate lengthy lead times from inception to completion.

This pretty much describes the shape of the project that unfolded. Funding was secured from the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy, on the basis that the series would constitute the Army’s major enduring activity during the Great War centenary. The timing here was fortuitous since it led to signed contracts before the Global Financial Crisis broke – which would most likely have entirely changed the outcome. Having agreed to support the project, successive Chiefs of Army were unwavering in their financial commitment in the face of some acute budget pressures over the next several years.

A subsequent Chief of Army used to joke that he was funding the project in order that I could ‘channel my inner [CEW] Bean’, a reference to the Australian official historian of the Great War whose 12 massive volumes (15 if you include the medical histories) are a memorial both to their author and the events with which he dealt. Our own series weighs in at a modest five volumes for a total of approximately 600,000 words, so in no meaningful sense were we attempting to imitate or otherwise compete directly with Bean’s history.

Not only have reading tastes (and attention spans) changed over the last century, but historians now have a wider range of contemporary sources available to them and can ask new or at least different questions of the evidence. As the work which underpins volume 5 in the series demonstrates, we are able to manipulate large data sets to gain definitive answers to questions about, for example, the composition and make-up of the AIF, enlistment rates across the war, or a host of things that previous generations of scholars simply could not. It’s not that we have set out to tell a different story (the Germans still lose the war) so much as tried to tell the story differently.

To this end we structured the series semi-thematically, driven by my belief that the interconnectedness of various aspects of the war and Australia’s experience of it are often lost sight of within traditional approaches that treat Gallipoli as separate from the defence of Egypt or the conquest of Sinai or which sees the Western Front in isolation from the rest of the war effort against the German empire. Equally, Australia’s military efforts are best understood in the context of the much greater Imperial and Allied projects of which they were a part. A quite different picture of the development and experiences of the Australian Flying Corps is imparted when it is seen as contributing to and benefitting from developments in British military aviation across the course of the war rather than as the story of four discrete squadrons operating in France and the Middle East. Finally, the politics of Australia’s war, its impact on the domestic economy, and the social cleavages and tensions that arose as the war dragged on did not exist in a vacuum, many of these issues had counterparts in Britain and the other Dominions, and such comparisons deliver a more nuanced understanding of their Australian manifestations.

The Great War constitutes one of the seminal formative events in the making and shaping of modern Australia. The men and women who fought in it are now gone and its events are confined to History with a capital ‘H’. A century on, our perspectives and understanding are and should be different from theirs. Our need to make sense of it all is no less great and we hope that the series contributes in a significant way to that process.

(Dr) Jeffrey Grey
Professor of History, UNSW Canberra
Series Editor, The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War

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To learn more about the series, please visit our World War 1 Centenary page