How to Listen (Organisational Listening)

Kevin Rye, 27/04/2020

How to Listen (Organisational Listening)

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Key Insights:

  1. All companies have difficulties with listening to stakeholders (in this case, fans), so don’t think football is the exception
  2. Try as much as you can to institute a ‘culture of listening’ – find practical ways, informally and formally, to spend as much time listening to as many fans as you can

The good news for anyone who finds Fan Engagement a challenge is that it’s not just clubs that struggle with how to deal with their stakeholders.

Companies the world over find dealing with their stakeholders difficult. This report on ‘Organisational listening’ by Jim Macnamara from the University of Technology Sydney is a great reassurance to everyone grappling with the issue, and should be read by everyone in football, even if only the key findings on pages 6-11. You can also watch a short video below explaining a bit about the concept.

Something that the report recommends in all organisations (and football clubs are no exception) is the creation of an ‘architecture of listening’ (page 8). This would help football clubs reorientate to become more focused on engagement with their fans, rather consultation. We’ve reproduced the relevant section below (Page 8 of the executive summary).

Organisational listening cannot be achieved simply by adding a listening tool or solution, such as automated software applications, listening posts, or a tokenistic ‘have your say’ page on a Web site.

Organisational listening has cultural, procedural, political, structural, resource, skill, and technological dimensions. Effective organisational listening requires what can be described as an architecture of listening comprised of eight key elements:

i. A culture of listening;
ii. Policies for listening;
iii. Addressing the politics of listening;
iv. Structures and processes for listening;
v. Technologies for listening;
vi. Resources for listening;
vii. Skills for listening; and
viii. Articulation of listening to decision-making and policy making.


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