Whenever a business interest, product, or person is suddenly forced into the limelight, a predictable set of counter-intuitive effects occurs. These effects can be prepared for, often pre-empted or mitigated. The limelight or public visibility can be caused by positive or negative events. Managing sensational visibility depends on anticipation, planning, and preemptive, sensible counteraction:
Effect 1. Inverse Credibility – Opinions of the lowest employee, neighbor, public official, or competitor will outrank and overcome the facts supplied by scientists, CEOs, acknowledged experts, sometimes even Nobel Prize winners.
Victim values define who is credible in adverse situations.
Corollary: Pick a strategy that ends and prevents the production of victims.
Effect 2. Inverse Intellectual Content – Complex, difficult to understand issues and nuances are reduced to abject simplicity.
The rule of the thirteen-year-old applies. If it can’t be explained so that your mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or an average thirteen-year-old can easily understand it, it will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or misspoken, all of which will be considered your fault.
Corollary: Go for a strategy that focuses on what is simple, sensible, constructive, and positive.
Effect 3. Inverse Relationships – Those most negatively affected (victimized) by your actions will have irrationality on their side and be more powerful than common sense or the greatest-positive majority. People you may not respect, or like, will have great power over you and your decisions.
To paraphrase what Margaret Mead said early in the 20th century, “Never underestimate the power of a handful of dedicated individuals (or victims) to change everyone else’s life.” Believe it. They can and they will.
Corollary: Find your own core group whose passion, energy, and commitment is aligned with your goals and objectives, and turn them loose.
Effect 4. Inverse Compatibility - Getting to and staying at a table – no matter what – is crucial to controlling outcomes. Overcome your discontent, your distrust, and your disrespect for your opposition. Compatibility isn’t necessarily essential to winning. What’s essential is engagement with trust. Be in the discussion, in the fight, in the dispute, in the debate – positively – until the situation is resolved. Make a superior argument.
Corollary: Drive the discussion in new directions. Focus on tomorrow. Yesterday will kill you if you go there. Everyone owns yesterday from their own perspective and will never change. Nobody owns tomorrow. That you can build together with many others.
Effect 5. Time vs. Healing – In high-profile disputes, discussions, and problems, time lags, delays, and unresponsiveness are always counterproductive. Delay is perceived as arrogance or incompetence; postponement is perceived as collusive; and being non-responsive is admission of guilt or negligence acts.
Corollary: Do it now; say it now; decide it now; ask it now; challenge it now. Act decisively; decide; control; energize with ideas and goals. Move toward tomorrow and toward victory.
Explosive visibility remains sensational as long as you allow it to. Get ready for it,
help it catapult your ideas forward towards the sensible, doable, positive victories
and destinations you choose.