The Few & the Many: Free Trade, Outsourcing, & Communication

Have you noticed that some sound ideas get bad publicity? Two I have in mind are outsourcing and free trade.

No doubt you could name others, but looking at these two initiatives helps us understand a communication challenge for many companies and not-for-profit organizations.

Free trade and outsourcing both produce a few (well, relatively few) big losers, and many (very many) small winners.

More specifically, free trade leads to big losses for a relatively small number of companies and their employees. Companies can go out of business or be forced to drastically restructure; employees can lose their jobs. The adjustment pains they suffer are very real and very significant.

On the other hand, all consumers in a country that adopts free trade are winners. In other words, just about everybody. The gains for each person are small, yet, taken together those gains far outweigh the losses suffered by the losers. And the gains keep paying dividends year after year.

The story is much the same for outsourcing. A few employees take a very big hit, losing their jobs. At the same time, though, a lot of other employees get to keep their jobs because their companies become stronger. A few suffer for the many.

Which do you hear more about? You hear far more about the losers, of course. Why? Well, as a former news writer and announcer I can tell you that losers holler louder and longer. They actively seek media coverage. And that's not all: stories about layoffs have an inherent drama that stories about the preservation of jobs just can't match.

In addition, small-scale winners often don't know they've won, how they've won, or what they've won, so they don't march in protest or call news conferences. Add to that the general principle that good news isn't big news.

What do you do if you face a decision leading to many small winners and a few big losers? First, hammer away at the context, at the circumstances that drive the decision. For example, don't announce to employees that a new piece of equipment that does the work of three people will make you more efficient. Rather, explain the competitive pressures that force greater efficiency, and the consequences of failing to meet those pressures.

Don't assume everyone shares your knowledge. Few stakeholders understand the broader picture, and even if they could, the pressure of day-to-day events may keep them focused on just one piece of it. It's essential to start with as few assumptions as possible.

Communicate frequently: in advance, during, and afterward. Explain the problem, outline the options, list the decision criteria, announce the solution, and report on how well the solution has worked. Or not worked, which becomes the new problem.

You won't convince everyone your decision is the right one, but you might convince enough people to make further progress possible.

In summary, when a few people suffer big losses and many others make small gains, you can expect the losers to complain very loudly, and the winners to say little or nothing. To deal with these situations, communicate frequently and carefully.

Robert F. Abbott writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. If you subscribe, you will receive, at no charge, communication tips that help you lead or manage more effectively. You can get more information here: http://www.Communication-Newsletter.com

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


Creativity Management and Time Pressure

There is a pervasive belief that time pressure stimulates creativity.... Read More

Five Problem-Solving Success Tips

The ability to solve complicated problems quickly is more important... Read More

Develop Your Managers and Keep Your Staff

Following on from the last edition of The Organised Times... Read More

Knowledge Management - Lessons Learned and How To Identify Them

Many organisations use the term "lessons learned" to describe the... Read More

Get Meeting off To a Great Start

When asked what part of their job they find a... Read More

The Leaders Fallacy May Be Howard Deans Undoing

Howard Dean's tenure as chairman of the Democratic National Committee... Read More

Training Managers and New Trainers

Training managers use many of the same interpersonal and analytical... Read More

A Corporate Facelift With Sound Bytes

If Baby Boomers can get botox and tummy tucks, then... Read More

You Didnt Use Brainstorming to Select Your Measures, Did You?

IntroductionWhen Alex Osborn invented the creativity technique called brainstorming, I... Read More

How To Prevent Your New Manager From Becoming A Statistic

According to a study by the Manchester Group, 4 out... Read More

Why Free Agent Thinking Is Good For Your Company

It's no secret! Day after day the news is riddled... Read More

What Makes A Good Media Story?

Media relations can be difficult, but also rewarding. And the... Read More

The Significance of the Mundane

This article begins with a tip of the hat to... Read More

Be a Change Agent ( Part 1)

Aligning business organizations to be successful in the present and... Read More

Managing People - No More Mr Tough Guy

I believe the media and our culture sends the wrong... Read More

Employee Retention: Its a Changing Game

As a management consultant, I have seen some poorly conceived... Read More

Interviewing Applicants Can Be Hazardous to Your Wealth

1st Fact: Interviewing applicants is the most common way companies... Read More

ISO 9001 and Total Quality Management

Total Quality ManagementTotal Quality Management, or TQM, has become one... Read More

OJT - On The Job Training

IntroductionManagers have two powerful ways of improving the performance and... Read More

Management Team Section of Business Plans

Writing an award winning business plan is a great skill,... Read More

10 Steps Towards A Stress-Free Introduction Into Management

Becoming a manager for the first time can be an... Read More

Five Tips for Analyzing an Income Statement

In today's article, we'll be looking at the income statement,... Read More

Organize your Office- Seven Solutions

1. Create a filing system with broad categories such as... Read More

Knowledge Management - Capturing And Structuring Knowledge Into Reusable Assets

Many organizations have an approach for identifying and recording lessons... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management in Conservative, Staid Organisations

Conservative and staid organisations generally have a harder time implementing... Read More

Sexual Harassment Policy Guidelines Part II

SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION PROCEDUREEvery complaint will be thoroughly investigated.... Read More

Organizing The Information

Putting a piece of paper in a file folder is... Read More

5 Ways to Work More Effectively With Your Administrative Assistant

Stop hiring new administrative support staff. And learn how to... Read More

Romford Accountants: Accountancy Firm Roles and Responsibilities

If you own or operate a business in the UK,... Read More

Influencing the Organisation

There is a saying about management that suggests some managers... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management ? Idea Progression

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation... Read More

How to Attract and Retain the Right People

If you're one of the many executives struggling with finding... Read More

Stop Going to Meetings - 10 Questions to Ask Before Attending a Meeting - Get More Productive

We get invited to attend so many "meetings" but do... Read More