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Lisbona, conferenza internazionale sui Public Affairs

27/06/2007

Riportiamo l'intervento di Toni Muzi Falconi a Lisbona: "Improving the quality of organisational decisions and accelerating their implementation: the case of Mo.Ve for sustainable mobility in metropolitan areas"

Lisbon, 28 June 2007
Presentazione powerpoint - Intervento a Lisbona (PPT 1,1 Mb)
What is Mo.Ve?
Mo.Ve is a non profit organization based in Brussels and actively involved in researching, defining and advocating  public and social policies for sustainable mobility in European urban areas.
"Sustainable mobility" is intended as the implementation of reasonable public, private and social policies to ensure that citizens may safely, efficiently and effectively walk, use public and private motor transport and bicycles in urban sprawls. Sustainable mobility has these days become a priority issue in metropolitan areas all over the developing, emerging and developed world.
Mo.Ve is today temporarily formed by four European national automobile clubs, whose principal stakeholders are: European, national and local public policy planners and decision makers; civil society organizations and associations concerned and involved in issues and activities on sustainable mobility; as well as private and public sector organizations and associations operating for the achievement of sustainable mobility in urban areas as well as other European automobile clubs who are not yet members;
 
What does Mo.Ve do?
Mo.Ve discusses policy measures on specific issues developed by the Scientific Committee and with the support of public debates and workshops organised in countries of association members. Namely, Spain, Italy and Austria.
Mo.Ve operates through an Executive Board; an international and interdisciplinary scientific committee; an interactive and dedicated virtual environment and an annual Forum in Venice. Some insight on each activity:
1. Develops the Association: Enlargement the membership base; develops Communication activities; Management and administration
2. Organises initiatives: Annual international forum in Venice; Road-show of national events; Meetings with EU institutions; Scientific Committee Workshop
3. Promotes scientific activities: Link with scientific network, institutions and stakeholders; Cooperation with other European initiatives/platforms; Relationships with European institutions; Monitoring of EU financing; New members/sponsors
4. Supports scientific activities: Identification of priority issues and sub-topics; Setting up of research projects; Drafting and evaluation of papers/projects; Stimulation scientific community on sustainable mobility
 
The activities organised by Mo.Ve during the year have their highlight at the Venice International Forum where some 100 carefully selected public policy makers, scientists and leading representatives of other stakeholder organizations and automobile clubs meet to discuss policy measures on specific issues developed by the Scientific Committee and during the other annual activities. 
This approach fully complies to the assumption that an organisation (to be effective) should "step out of itself" before making decisions and listen to its active stakeholders, while attempting to understand and subsequently interpret their attitudes, expectations, opinions on its potential operative options.
 
Why does Mo.Ve do it?
Because it recognises itself as an Active Stakeholder and it wants to have a say& indeed in this last decade it has sparked a new intense activity amongst an increasing number of relevant subjects (from London to Madrid to Rome to the European Parliament..)  which may be defined as "participation to the decision making process" in which these subjects are conscious of holding a stake, either because the decisions taken cause consequences on them or because their opinion might influence the decision.
In simple words, Mo.Ve promotes a series of activities and initiatives with the ultimate aim & to encourage dialogue and confrontation and, finally, to disseminate the argument that automobile drivers are also walkers, public transport users, cyclists and are concerned by urban congestion, pollution and mobility constraints as much as any other users.
 
Mo.Ve's President Franco Lucchesi during his opening speech at the 2006 Mo.Ve International Forum:"We are called to make a serious effort in order to have a better comprehension of the issue as a whole, to understand the motives of one another, the reasons-why of the different stakeholders of mobility. Each one of us have at heart the same problem:
 
Let us leave for a moment the specific case of Mo.Ve to analyse what I define as the envisioning process. We have seen that an organisation defines a Mission statement (Who am I, what am I, what do I do) and it is generally accepted that whoever the organisation is, or whatever it does & just by its very existence, it produces consequences on others. Furthermore, having defined also a vision statement (where I want to be in x years) the transition from mission to vision is the strategy and will inevitably also create consequences on other subjects. Then an organisation will define which values, rules and behaviours it pledges to respect while moving from mission to vision. Ultimately, to implement its strategy an organisation's leadership will decide which specific objectives are better suited to ensure that transition, also by considering alternative options (if...then), and how it will go about pursuing those objectives in the quickest and most effective manner.
As previously stated: an effective organisation at this point, and before making decisions, will "step out of itself" and listen to those active stakeholders, while attempting to understand and interpret attitudes, expectations, opinions, etc& and this for two main rational reasons:
1. because in listening to stakeholder expectations the organization may decide which, if any, are to be integrated into the final decision, without necessarily and/or abruptly modifying the selected strategy and, in most cases, improving the quality of that specific decision. Should the organization realize that this can (or should) not be done because those expectancies may not be integrated without abruptly modifying the very objective, then it will need to decide on whether to step back and rethink its options, or proceed in any case. This dilemma falls into the managerial principle of responsibility: i.e. it is up to the organizational leadership to make the final decision, and this is one of the reasons why that function is compensated;
2. because if the organization decides to integrate at least some of those expectancies, it is only rational to presume that those stakeholder groups will support the operational pursue of those objectives or at least will reduce their hostility& thus allowing the organization to accelerate the implementation process of the single decision. What's more, the organization will also have a clearer idea of the resistance it will in any case encounter from those stakeholder groups whose expectancies it will have decided not to integrate into the decision, thus gaining more lead time to prepare to bypass, overcome or at least deal with the obstacles more effectively than if it had not anticipated them in some detail.
In any case, the organisation's listening activity doesn't necessarily imply that the decisions will be adapted to accommodate all of the emerged expectancies&also because they are often in contradiction between themselves..
 
At the end of the day, organisational leadership has, maintains and needs to exercise its discretional power of decision (the principle of responsibility), but this power can only be effectively exercised when and if all active stakeholders have been listened to.
 
But how will the organisation operatively listen to stakeholder expectancies, understand them and interpret the findings to improve the quality of the organisation's decision? Generally speaking, the public relations (or communications or public affairs) function is very likely to be the one to be entrusted for organisational relationships with the maximum number of stakeholder groups, and often the public relator  is therefore the natural candidate for this essential pre-decision monitoring activity.
There are of course many diverse ways to listen effectively, and a competent professional uses all of them according to the required time frame, the available resources and the relative specific relevance of each single issue and each of the involved stakeholder groups.
Ranging from an attentive desk background analysis; to the collection of direct and indirect positions expressed by the interested stakeholder groups on comparable issues; to the attentive study of the identity and the influencing agents of that same group; to one-with-one and/or one-with-few face-to-face, telephone or digital dialogue/conversation; to an attentive identification of the group's alliances and coalitions; to the adoption of participant observation; the application of network analysis techniques; to actual interviews; focus groups; on or off-line questionnaires; applications of tarot (trend analysis by relative opinion testing) and/or delphi predictive models& of issues management&.there is a very wide range of quali/quantitative analysis paraphernalia&
But the organisation needs to adapt existing research tools to a true understanding of stakeholder expectancies relevant to the specific potential consequences of each different decisional option and in many cases this will lead the organisation to change itself, rather than to only adapt, as many seem to believe, its communication to stakeholder needs.
This implies that public relations not only support organisations in modifying the external scenario by influencing stakeholders (this is the most commonly understood and more operative role) but also -and possibly more importantly- support organizations in modifying themselves by correctly interpreting stakeholder expectations (and this is the least commonly understood and more strategic role).
 
One step back&
Let's now analyse how this process has been interpreted and, in some way, achieved by Mo.Ve.
The Mo.Ve project is, in itself, a highly successful public affairs and public policy programme and it has authoritatively proposed to EU Governments, Regions and Municipalities realistic approaches to metropolitan mobility issues, by advocating inclusive stakeholder relationship management as the most relevant blueprint to effective decision making and implementation processes.
Coherently to what previously described, Mo.Ve's activities have interacted with the external scenario & through the involvement of the different stakeholders i.e. public policy makers, automobile clubs, scientists and other stakeholder organizations in dedicated events organised since 2002. These activities have produced policy statements and position papers, have stimulated the scientific research and debate and positioned Mo.Ve at the forefront of the sustainable mobility scenario. One of its most important achievements is the publication of the  "Governance guidelines for sustainable mobility in European metropolis" of 2003 which has been fully supported by the at the time - EU Transport Commissioner  Loyola De Palacio and has been by and large appreciated and as of today referred to in the London experience and in Madrid's "Mesa de Movilidad". This Handbook aims at providing guidelines for policy makers and thoroughly analyses:
1. The inclusive decision-making process. In what cases?
2. The Involvement. At what stage of the process?
3. Who promotes the process? Which partners? How to identify them?
4. Implementing the process
5. Achievable outcomes. What changes after the process?
 
With reference once again to our assumption we can see that the activities aimed at listening and understanding different stakeholder expectancies have progressively modified Mo.Ve itself. We can say that it has developed a successful strategic activity.
From a project initially launched in 2002 by a single organisation: ACI, Mo.Ve has now been joined by three other clubs which formed an Association in 2005, and in 2006 was recognised by  FIA as its think tank on sustainable mobility in urban areas (an issue it had not yet addressed&) ultimately enhancing FIA's awareness and competence on the issue and supporting its policy positioning as well as enabling a more effective governance of relationship systems with other stakeholders. 
 
There are many other points to be made in refining the conceptualization of a stakeholder relationship management approach and also about the Mo.Ve experience. Of course the processes of segmenting active and potential stakeholders from other specific publics like issue influencers, opinion leaders and end users;  measuring and evaluating the dynamics of content impact as well as the quality of relationships are also an essential part of the stakeholder relationship management process.
But I do not wish to take too much time and will stop here hoping that your curiosities and questions will allow me to tell you more.
Thank-you.
Toni Muzi Falconi
tonimuzi@methodos.com

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