Sometimes even the biggest disrupters should play by established rules
Last week saw the first public outing of the Wild Boars, the Thai football team who were rescued, to worldwide acclaim, after spending more than two weeks trapped in flood-filled caves. Though, sadly not before the death of one of the rescue divers.
However, this incredible story had some of the gloss taken off it by a spat between Elon Musk and one of the divers who helped in the rescue of the 12 boys and their coach. The row culminated in the Tesla founder and billionaire calling the diver a ‘pedo’ on Twitter, without any foundation. He subsequently deleted the tweets in question and apologised, pointing out that he had acted instinctively to the diver’s (rather crudely expressed) rejection of his offer of a mini-submarine to help in the rescue.
The tweets had drawn negative reaction from investors, analysts and journalists, groups with whom Musk has a sometimes fractious relationship, but in this case may have persuaded him that he had overstepped the mark.
The willingness to take big risks, desire to try new ways to solve problems and sheer inventiveness, aligned to a shoot-from-the-hip approach to communications, has propelled Musk and his companies into the stratosphere (in some cases quite literally).
However, there are clear dangers with acting on instinct alone and not taking on board different points of view. It’s all very well overthrowing the established order but that order has built up accepted protocols, ways of operating and communicating over many years. Your audiences will accept some challenges to this, but there is a line which it’s probably best not to cross.
We’d suggest that accusing someone of being a ‘pedo’ in a fit of pique is quite a long way over that line. While this is an extreme example, it does illustrate the potential downside to the maverick approach, and from a corporate communications standpoint, reinforce the benefit of consulting colleagues and valuing conflicting opinions.
As the Wild Boars would probably advise, it’s a team game.
Written by Brandon Stockwell, Director