“Fake news” is running rampant 24/7, particularly as it impacts the new Administration in the White House. Right now, one story where the fire burns hot is President Trump’s executive order that in part bars refugees of seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States for a period of 90 days. As soon as the original document was signed, the mainstream media began reporting that the order was a “Muslim ban,” a narrative that the White House mightily refuted as “fake news.”
As defined by the Administration, the correct basis of the executive order is that it is a temporary immigration “pause” to enable the government to put stronger vetting procedures in place for those from the nations named above who are not American citizens and wish to enter the United States. But instead of accepting the order as a document created to protect the security of the United States, the rollout was met with revolt by thousands that believe it specifically targeted Muslims. The fault for this misinterpretation was clearly laid at the feet of the new Administration and ultimately lead to the order being rewritten. But even after more clarity was given to the document, it was shot down a second time by the lower courts. Today, referred to as the president’s “Travel Ban,” it sits with the highest legal authority in the land, the Supreme court. Is there a root cause for it being misinterpreted right from the get-go?
From what I’ve assessed, from the start there was little communication among the appropriate government agencies that should have been, but were not, consulted on the content, verbiage, and timing of the executive order. Their valuable input might have avoided the headlines and continuing “News Alerts” blanketing the airwaves with minute-by-minute coverage of the fallout. I contend that just a spoonful of synergy added to the communication process, would surely have helped the medicine (executive order) go down a lot more smoothly for President Trump.
Having served as Director of Corporate Synergy for The Walt Disney Company for a decade, I know how important internal communication shared across business units, in this case government agencies, is to dodging PR disasters like the one in which the White House has often become embroiled. What if the Chief Executive and his staff had consulted with Homeland Security, Congress, the Department of Justice, the State Department, and other appropriate agencies on the text, legal implications, travel ramifications, and implementation timeline before the president signed the order? The result would have been a much more comprehensive and specific document that clarified its restrictions and alerted those who could be immediately affected by it’s guidelines rather than causing mass confusion at international airports that then incited global protests.
Synergy, when properly woven into the internal communication process of any organization, even the federal government, is key if those in charge want to keep the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing. Doing so will safeguard against surprises, train wrecks, and PR disasters. Unfortunately, most businesses do not understand the concept and even fewer grasp how to make it work across their organizations. At Disney, synergy was worked on a daily basis through a specific division dedicated to internal silo-busting, relationship building, and communication on all corporate priority projects. There were no broken links in the 60-plus individual business segments in the overall company chain. It worked and it showed.
Mr. President, you can avert many Executive Branch calamities. Just incorporate a spoonful of synergy into your internal communication process. I assure you, it will help the medicine go down in a much more delightful way.
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About the Author: Lorraine Santoli has established herself as corporate America’s singular expert on the topic of synergy having created the first internal silo-busting synergy program at The Walt Disney Company. A public speaker and lecturer on the topic, Santoli is the also author of the book, “Inside the Disney Marketing Machine,” (among four published books), a behind-the-scenes look at how the synergy program was developed and implemented to great success inside the entertainment juggernaut.