Operating at the intersection of an institution and its stakeholders; a disciplined and rigorous approach to issues management should be at the heart of any program designed to understand, build, and protect an institution’s reputation. Unfortunately, within most organizations, issues management is poorly defined and poorly understood. Instead of being viewed as a strategic tool, it conveys a deviousness or sleight of hand, “spin” used to confuse rather than to educate, a reactive process to put the best face on the issue of the day. And in many cases, that is all it is. It ends up being about trying to construct a credible explanation to minimize criticism and increase support for an institution’s position, policy, or course of action—however poorly considered.

If issues management is to provide valuable strategic insight to your leadership team, it cannot simply be about rationalizing preordained positions. To be effective, it must explicitly incorporate reputation as a key variable into decision-making.