Will 2017 issues and crises bring about permanent change?

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It seems at times that 2017 was a year that lurched from issue to crisis, and crisis to issue.

One interesting aspect of this is that many were self-inflicted and others were made worse because they were badly handled.

Almost certainly there were other issues that were so well managed we never heard about them; and by well managed, I mean that appropriate and timely action was taken to resolve the issue before it became significant, and not just cover it up.

However, despite the continuous “shock horror” headlines, there was also a pervading feeling that long term good and reform will came out of many of the problems.

If it does happen it will be a very big step in avoiding the same crisis over and over, which happens all too often. These days, when organisations have a systemic problem drawing public criticism, they must accept they need to do something positive about it.  If not, change will be forced upon them.

What was once acceptable practice, even a decade ago, is no longer tolerated.

The various woes that have beset the financial services industry are a good example of this evolution.

Could the Royal Commission, which will impact on all aspects of financial services, have been avoided if banks, insurance companies and superannuation funds had already implemented real change in their culture and relationships?  An important part of such an approach to issues management would have included appropriate communication to show a fundamental commitment to a change in attitude.

If a plethora of problems were highlighted in financial services during 2017, Telcos didn’t fare much better, with the spotlight on poor service, incorrect selling, and mischarging. Changes have already been forced upon them and things simply have to get better in 2018.

2017 was also a big year for political crisis and issues management. Much of the issues management going on in politics seems to be in response to self-inflicted woes.  While this is particularly true of Trump in the USA, Australian politicians have shown themselves adept at focusing on self-interest rather than the best interests of the people who elected them, and the good of the country.

During 2018 we’ll probably know more about any real change in the way the Australian Government and political parties will operate over the next decade.

Will the public reaction to our politicians’ disconnect with the electorate result in a better political approach, or will we see a permanent place for the “lunatic fringe” in politics?  It’s too early to say, but I believe, optimistically, that the good sense of the electorate will insist on changed approach by politicians.

There has been great focus on issues involving workplace harassment and equal pay for women in 2017.  Channel 9 didn’t handle Lisa Wilkinson’s departure well and as a result drew attention to pay inequality in a way that highlighted it as a major social issue for all women. Hopefully this will speed up changes in the wider workplace.

In addition, the Weinstein case has started a snowball of revelations about atrocious workplace behaviour.  These will definitely lead to change in workplace attitudes to women.

So, equal pay and a harassment-free workplace for women – that’s something worth making happen in 2018.