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Streets without traffic signs

Get rid of all traffic signs and rules, except two: “Yield to the right” and “Get in someone’s way and you’ll be towed”, and watch a dramatic decline in the number of accidents. Reports here and here. It would be really interesting to know under which circumstance it works and under which it doesn’t. By analogy, the safest car would be one that felt really unsafe, but wasn’t.

The GEF doesn’t get it

The GEF, the Global Environment Facility, is a really important institution with an image problem. Its website is enough to make a grown man cry.

For example, it has five news items on the home page. The first item on the website is French President congratulates New GEF CEO. That reminds me of those important news items on state media in countries that shall remain unnamed, “The President today exchanged warm and heartfelt greetings with the President X of Y as he flew over our country on his way back home from the conference on…”

The second news item is New GEF CEO Appointed. Fair enough.

The third item is STAP meeting held in Washington. Don’t boast about meetings. A meeting is not an achievement.

The fourth item is Winners announced for 2006 Development Marketplace. A stunt.

The fifth is about another meeting, this time in Switzerland.

The GEF newsletter is no better. The first three items,

  1. Highlights of November Council Meeting
  2. GEF Chairman and CEO to Retire
  3. Achim Steiner Elected New UNEP Executive Director

These items are all inward looking. There is nothing about what the GEF is actually doing or has done. Guys, what are you actually doing, except holding meetings and appointing each other to important positions, or retiring?

So, let’s write to the new CEO.

Dear Ms. Barbut,

Congratulations with you recent appointment, but why don’t you get in contact with a communications professional? I would recommend Paul Argenti, professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and one of the leading experts in the world on corporate communications and reputation management.

Yours sincerely,

Lars Smith