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How the smartest guys in the room might become even smarter

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Management, Media, Mining, Publications, Strategy


Last October, we posted a Strictly Boardroom article on the subject of ‘in-reach’ i.e. the opposite of outreach. It just means bringing other stakeholders voices into the frame. This emerging, simple idea has great potential to both foster innovation and improve social licence in our industry.

In the social licence arena, the problem with a corporate outreach approach (such as corporate social responsibility or CSR) is that it does not effectively incorporate the local communities needs into the decision-making process – it is the local community, not the company that is best placed to determine which social needs most need tackling. It is also a missed opportunity for the company to involve the local community more actively in business decision-making, thereby creating greater local ownership of the corporate strategy and a strengthened social licence.

Another example of outreach failing is in universities’ approaches to industry innovation activities. Again, these are often flawed as academics do not listen to business on what the most pressing needs are that need resolving – the ones in the best place to describe what these needs are. The outreach approach here negates the opportunity to apply the best minds to the biggest problems.

Unfortunately, there is a human element to ‘in-reach’ which makes it difficult to introduce – it is linked to superiority. People conduct ‘outreach’ when they believe they have something superior that others would benefit from. In-reach requires humbleness, listening to others, especially those who may be deemed your social inferiors. Unfortunately, humility is not common in corporate board rooms or academic staff rooms, which is a shame as this is a key way the smartest people in those rooms, could become even smarter.

The article is available to subscribers on, or contact me: How the smartest guys in the room might become even smarter

For keen followers of the Strictly Boardroom column, our book “Strictly (Mining) Boardroom Volume II: A Practitioners Guide for Next Generation Directors” was published last year and is available as a paperback or e-book from Major Street Publishing or Amazon. We’re pleased to say that the book received a very positive review in the AusIMM Bulletin and in Geoscientist magazine – the members publication of the Geological Society of London.