Skills Programme Manager Rachel Clark reviews a valuable training opportunity for organisations on communicating potentially controversial subjects.

Industrial biotechnology (IB) is disrupting the status quo
Organisations across the breadth of IB are harnessing technological advances that enable more sustainable ways to create products that consumers demand.  The recent surge in public interest in the climate emergency means that the social license companies need to ensure their products are adopted is ever possible.  However, with any market disruption comes risk.

A Masterclass in Preparing for (and Avoiding) Controversy
You may have seen my previous blog where I described a training course in Risk Communication that Global Scot Andrew Powell delivered on one of his trips back to the UK from Singapore.  I felt Andrew’s training was really valuable to the IBioIC team, so we tested it out as a CPD course for our members at the end of November.  The course appealed to a good mix of attendees, from those in large multinationals to Scottish SMEs as well as those that support cutting-edge academic research and communicating risk and innovation to the public.

Deficit Model Thinking
There is a belief that filling a knowledge gap with technical facts on risks will lead to acceptance, but facts do not win battles!  Raising awareness by increasing someone’s technical knowledge does not bring about acceptance or understanding.  People need to know you care about what’s important to them, before they care about what you know.

The outputs?
To solidify the learning, the delegates had the opportunity to work on their own “message maps” for an issue or risk they were facing within their organisation.  This was an opportunity for Andrew to offer some initial consultancy on their situation and to generate an output to start a conversation back within their organisation.  It was also useful for those in supporting roles:

“In my Research and Knowledge Exchange role there is always the potential for controversy around the University’s activities and the “Risk Communication – A Masterclass in Preparing for (and Avoiding) Controversy” was a day well spent considering how to mitigate controversy. I found the group discussions around the theory really useful as it is always interesting to understand how others perceive communication, particularly when theirs is different to yours. The risk and counter action mapping was also really useful and could be used in many different situations.”  Fiona Deans, Strategic R & KE Manager – Manufacturing, University of Strathclyde.

A missed opportunity?
If this sounds like something you’d benefit from, we will be offering the course again in future subject to demand.  Please contact skills@ibioic.com to register interest and we’ll make arrangements to deliver the course again when Andrew is back in Scotland.