The Stockholm Accords: Not Radical…But Revolutionary

An eventful summer has kept me largely away from the internal communication blogosphere over the last several weeks, but one thing that deserves mention—and has seen much comment of late—is the agreement on the so-called “Stockholm Accords.”

The Accords, which speak to the legitimate role of strategic communication within and around the business environment, at first glance appear to be an innocuous set of documents—and one which breaks little new ground.  To the uninitated observer, the documents treat internal and external communication as separate disciplines, which has prompted them to be criticized in a number of quarters, and, the critics argue, their collective authorship mainly by international “public relations” groups renders them yet another effort to perpetuate the externally-focused status quo.

But what is actually remarkable about the Stockholm Accords, in my view, is that they subtly but comprehensively redefine the status quo itself.   In essence, they declare, strategic communication has emerged as an indispensible driver and definer of business and corporate strategy.

While the Accords do speak to distinct internal and external roles, these roles now exist in a context where internal and external intentions are explicitly and implicitly aligned and integrated into an organization’s overall thrust.  To the extent to which the Accords speak to tactics, they speak to those tactics necessary for communicators to gain the access, power and resilience to support the newfound centrality of their roles for organizational success—including the solution of organisational problems beyond what may have been considered the previous remit of communication.

Indeed, it is not much of a stretch to move from the wording of the Accords themselves into a view of the organization where its success reflects a combination of its abilities to manage resources and its ability and willingness to demonstrate and deliver on its intent.  If intent management is to be considered as fundamental and central of driver of organizational behaviour as resource management, then it means that communication is truly taking its place alongside finance, operations and technology–recognizing, of course that communication is, ultimately, the means by which intent gets transmitted and operationalised.

The Stockholm Accords call themselves a call to action—not a call to arms, but by no means a call for permission either.  They set up a vision of a world very different than the one where communication disciplines played second fiddle to the “real work” being done by the operations, finance and accounting guys, and they declare this world to be the real, viable, current state of affairs.

In doing so, they challenge us to stop asking for a seat at the table, and start acting as if we have one.  While moderate, not radical in tone, the Stockholm Accords are nonetheless revolutionary.  Viva la revolucion!

To download your copy of the Stockholm Accords, please visit: http://www.wprf2010.se/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Stockholm-Accords-final-version.pdf

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4 Comments

  1. Jon

     /  17/08/2010

    Great post Mike, thanks for making me step back from some pretty deep-rooted pre-conceptions about the PR industry and see through the reddish mist. A great summary that should inspire every reader to take a closer look and/or get involved. I took the liberty of linking this post to my own piece on the Accords, which was inspired by your incisive take on the initiative. http://j0n1.com/2010/08/17/the-communications-revolution-according-to-stockholm/

    Reply
  2. Good stuff, Mike – I’d despaired of reading anything complimentary about the effort. Much like the Barcelona Principles of Measurement (http://www.amecorg.com/newsletter/BarcelonaPrinciplesforPRMeasurementslides.pdf), the effort is welcome to begin setting more concrete standards for our profession. My involvement was brief in the Accords (and not at all in the Principles), but I applaud the effort. I know that some have been quite critical, seeing the Accords as a naked power grab, anti-democratic and even subversive, perpetuating the concepts of control over the current vogue dedicated to transparency and social empowerment.

    Thanks for writing this.
    S.

    Reply
  3. I don’t disagree that the Stockholm Accords are subversive. Indeed, I find that part of their seductive appeal.

    🙂

    Mike

    Reply
  1. The Communications Revolution according to Stockholm « Riding the ripple

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