What the Trump media hangover teaches businesses

March 2021

2021 is the year of action, not distraction

  • IRMSA’s 2021 Call To Actions – It’s time to step up!
  • Close the gap between risk, compliance and ethics with ERM
  • Operational Resiliency: What is it, and why does it matter?
  • thryve’s roundup of noteworthy blogs from across the web

Learn more in the blogs linked below, enjoy our Managing Director’s monthly column, and thank you for reading thryve’s newsletter.

Letter from our MD

As the revolution to overthrow the Russian Tsar came into full swing, Vladimir Lenin said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

We tend to forget that human progress and decline doesn’t happen on an elegant curve. The many jagged tips on that graph might smooth out when you view it from a high-enough level. But look more closely, and you’ll see there are many ups and downs. The sense we get of neat human progress is an illusion and a way to convince ourselves that the future is inevitable. Yet progress only results from daily focus and effort towards doing as good a job as possible.

Civilisation depends as much on luck as on progress, perhaps even more so. A lot of progress ended up nowhere because luck didn’t favour it. And luck is a funny thing – you can’t decide luck, but you can make it. You do need the trailblazers and mavericks to push the envelope, but they only point the way. For progress to become permanent and useful, it takes the daily toil of average humans who generate society’s luck as part of their output. Economies didn’t rebound after the pandemic because of mavericks. They responded to the productivity of ordinary people. When they weren’t distracted…

The information age has made us prone to panic and fear of missing out (FOMO). Little demonstrates this better than the latest news circulation figures. News channels and sites are experiencing a post-Trump hangover. CNN is reported to have lost nearly half of its primetime audience, and the Washington Post had a 26% decline in unique visitors to its website. It’s obvious why: the Trump Administration created both spectacle and uncertainty, two things guaranteed to attract nervous and rubbernecking viewers. Now that the US has a much more stable administration, the fear and panic are gone.

But did all that news scanning help much? We could argue it served some purpose, and I still believe that news outlets perform essential duties. But we also fell for an old trap: we confused noise with information and general consumption with relevance. Most people didn’t follow the news to be better informed. They did it to get a sense of ease, especially that others share their anxieties about the situation. Now that the situation has passed, so has their yearning for news.

There are times when you nitpick every bit of information you can get your hands on. I imagine this is what relatives do at an airport after their people went missing on a flight. But in that situation, their priorities are clear. Most of the time, we consume information without really thinking. We enjoy it more for the fleeting emotional effect than a lasting purpose. In this sense, information is a massive distraction that takes our attention away from what matters: creating progress and luck through individual toil and focus.

Many companies find themselves in this trap, ingesting information for the sake of it. Most concluded that the problem is the abundance of information, which isn’t the case. The problem comes from a lack of focus on what they want to gain from the information. Yet unlike a news broadcast, which primarily wants to titillate bored or anxious viewers, a business falters because there is too much to understand.

This is why modern analytics are so very important. We call it a competitive edge, but it also solves a fundamental problem for organisations: how to get the best information without falling into a rabbit hole fueled by anxiety and FOMO. Using analytics, information can align with strategy, giving a clear vision forward.

Curation will be one of the most important roles of the digital era. It already is – many people make millions pooling content on Youtube, and companies such as Netflix and Spotify invest a lot to generate useful recommendations. They leverage data to accomplish it, and so should every business. Data and information aren’t going away. They have become so entrenched that no company can risk ignoring them. Using analytics, we don’t need to get caught in fits of panic and anxiety that accomplished nothing but flagging viewership after the storm.

That’s the equivalent of chasing ambulances and not the kind of luck a business, or society, needs. The key to progress is an informed purpose, not fear or frivolous consumption. If those are your business ethos, you might see your customer numbers plunge after the clouds part. But if you focus on helpful information spun from data analytics, you are on your way to a progressive, innovative and antifragile business.

Sean Pyott

MD, thryve

IRMSA’s 2021 Call To Actions – It’s time to step up!

The new risk report from The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) is their best yet. It’s sober and articulate but also helpful and looking for solutions to our most pressing issues. The Call To Action section is particularly interesting, making some very practical points on how risk management, agility and progress reinforce each other. thryve explores these five actions and reflects on what we can do to enable them.

Close the gap between risk, compliance and ethics with ERM

Guidelines released late last year by the Committee of Sponsoring Organisations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) may apply most to the United States. But it resonates with any business in the global market and the importance of using enterprise risk management to close gaps between compliance, risk, and legal actions. It’s a very compelling argument for formal and integrated enterprise risk management, as we unpack in this article.

Operational Resiliency: What is it, and why does it matter?

Anyone keeping their eye on the UK market will notice that operational resiliency will soon become a legal expectation from companies. But that is precautionary because we don’t need a law to adopt this concept – we need to do it out of necessity. What is operational resiliency, why is it so important, and how can you get started building it in your company?

thryve’s roundup of noteworthy blogs from across the web

How can your obituary help you be successful? Are you busy building an anti-fragile business? Why should Enterprise Risk Management be a top priority? And how can you track variance and uncertainty using modern data analytics services? These are all topics covered by our blog selection for March. Click through and expand your mind!