5 Ways Clarity Can Replace Control

It’s one of the things Clay Shirky said at ASAE09–control is a thing of the past. Clarity should be the goal for today.  Clarity and control are not new topics among some of my favoriteassociation blogs. Still, the way Clay Shirky framed the issue was, well, very clear. Scott Briscoe talks a little about what Clay said at ASAE09 on Acronym, and I wanted to think about the practical side of it here.

Clarity takes courage. I just did what feels like my thousandth interview about the risks of social media. There is just so much fear out there. What if someone criticizes us? What if they say something that’s not true? How will we know what to do in response? Who are the right people to issue that response? These are questions driven by uncertainty and confusion, two conditions that clarity can remedy. Here are a few ideas about how…

  1. Have some conviction. Take a stand, and be willing to back it up. If you get negative feedback, consider the source. Pushing buttons isn’t a bad thing, so long as they’re the right buttons.
  2. Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself until you’re sure everyone has already heard. Then repeat yourself again. It’s your first line of defense against misinformation and misunderstandings.
  3. Be consistent. Even the best communicators need to step back and reframe their message from time to time. Persistent, long-term communication along a consistent path builds a resonant story and people’s trust.
  4. Mark out the path. Make sure your stakeholders–especially staff and volunteers–know what you’re trying to do and how they can help. This is where social media strategy, guidelines, education, and internal teamwork make all the difference.
  5. Adapt your branding. Learn to differentiate your organization’s official voice, while still accommodating your raving fans.

What other ways can clarity make a difference? I know lots of you have stories about how you’ve done some of these things. Please share them.

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