As a connoisseur of books of various genres, I rarely feel jealous of other people’s book collections. Among the very few people who make me jealous of his book collection is Noke Kiroyan, who I usually refer to as ‘Pak Noke’. But it’s not just about series of neatly arranged books, but also his persistence in reading and utilizing the contents of his book collection as a reference when he is speaking and writing.
Everyone who knows him briefly or in-depth will surely have the same impression as what I stated. Mr. Noke never spoke and wrote carelessly. The content of the speech and the writing is ‘all flesh’ and is always conveyed in a compelling manner. That also can be seen from Pak Noke’s recently published book of a compilation of public affairs articles.
And, as will quickly be noticed in this book, is that Pak Noke is a man who dialogues the books he cites with examples from Indonesia. His experience as CEO of several leading multinational companies over the decades, then leading national companies in the field of public affairs, plus his activities in various organizations, has made him have a lot to say to the readers.
I read the introduction to this book with a smile.
I read the introduction to this book with a smile. After introducing a character named James Grunig — who needs no introduction if you are in the world of public affairs and/or public relations — Pak Noke describes a classic study conducted by Boston University in 1978. This is an interesting strategy to emphasize that the two main stakeholders of the company at that time were the community and government.
But it does not stop there, Pak Noke then deftly continued his discussion on the concept of social license to operate, which was first recognized in natural resource-based companies, especially mining, oil, and gas. In this way, this book draws the attention of its readers to the awareness that this is a book that does not merely talk about ‘theory’ and cases ‘out there’ but is a book that is rooted in the cases of Indonesian land, even though the theories and concepts are not from this nation.
To emphasize this, Pak Noke then spoke in full three pages about the development of public affairs in Indonesia before closing the introduction. Lt. Gen. TNI (ret.) Agus Widjojo’s speech emphasized: “Noke Kiroyan’s book has its roots as a source and study material that is widely used in learning about the functions of public affairs by providing reliable guidance. It becomes an essential matter for all stakeholders to have and as a reference in its implementation, especially those who have been active in the field of public affairs for a long time.” Of course, those who are in this field will be able to use this book as a reference. However, in my opinion, those who are new or even who are still about to start climbing their career in this field will also benefit greatly from reading it.
I do not know if there is a book in Indonesian that explains the ins and outs of public affairs as clearly and carefully as what Pak Noke pointed out in the first chapter. It was the discussion in the first chapter that led me to the conviction that both those who had been in this field for a long time and those who had just stepped out would feel that they had found a solid foundation.
I do not know if there is a book in Indonesian that explains the ins and outs of public affairs as clearly and carefully as what Pak Noke pointed out in the first chapter. It was the discussion in the first chapter that led me to the conviction that both those who had been in this field for a long time and those who had just stepped out would feel that they had found a solid foundation. Not only because his ‘theory’ was given there, but also because Pak Noke talked about what he believed in this field.
The thing that perhaps will cause different opinions from various people is when Pak Noke discusses business sustainability. In this article, it is emphasized that business sustainability is a pragmatic thing, not normative or idealistic. Those who view that there is some kind of polarity between pragmatism and idealism will find that the writing is a “Kurukshetra field”. Pragmatists will feel that they have found comrades in arms, and those who adhere to idealism may feel disappointed.
However, anyone who knows Pak Noke closely will know that what he is saying is an affirmation that business sustainability is not just “sky” but must be well grounded. An understanding of what sustainability is and what corporate sustainability is, must be translated into policies, strategies, procedures, programs, and projects along with their implementation that make sustainability truly possible. To be sustainable, companies must be able to provide solutions to economic, social, and/or environmental problems faced by society in a way that benefits their capital owners.
The case study on Indonesian palm oil and the attitude of the European Union Parliament is an excellent conclusion to the first chapter, recognizing Mr. Noke’s attitudes, as well as being a very effective introduction to the next chapter. This chapter on stakeholder management begins by explaining what a stakeholder is and its management. The next article, explaining the misconception held by many Indonesians regarding stakeholders — that is sadly until now, according to my observation, has not yet been ‘cured’.
Pak Noke explained how companies should start building relationships by first mapping their stakeholders. Only from this mapping, then a focused approach can be done. Here, Pak Noke’s experience is clearly visible in utilizing stakeholder theory, stakeholder identification theory, and various international standards and guidelines for the Indonesian situation. The assertion of the machine gun and sniper approach — presumably, this was the original thought of Pak Noke – very useful for readers looking to find a grand strategy in relationship building.
It is important to remember that Pak Noke is not writing a practical manual or stakeholder mapping and engagement methodologies. All principles have been clearly stated, and cases that confirm the applicability of these principles are also very adequately discussed. The case studies in the mining industry — where Pak Noke has been very influential in making the industry socially responsible — emphasize the benefits of a stakeholder approach even more.
In Indonesia, the practitioner who shares perhaps the most detailed of what Pak Noke said in that chapter is Herry Ginanjar. The dozens of posts he has made on LinkedIn are very useful to follow. I hope Mas Herry, as I usually call him, will be able to publish his work which will certainly complement the second chapter of Mr. Noke’s book.
The third chapter of this book shows that Pak Noke is not only good at leveraging a stakeholder approach in ‘normal situations’. Crisis is a test for companies that can lead to their end, and those who pass the crisis will come out stronger. Mr. Noke’s first article in this chapter emphasizes the risk of death, referring to the famous case of Bell Pottinger. It is in the following writings that we can read how Pak Noke guides the company through various crises and learns from it. I really like the posts “Sometimes It’s Better To Be Silent” and “Value Journalists, They Will Help You.” Both are very practical and contain profound wisdom.
All of Pak Noke’s knowledge and experiences presented here are still of immense benefit in making public affairs “reach the skies” as well as “walk the earth”.
For those who are curious about the various activities in the realm of public affairs, chapter four will be very useful. The public debate about energy in Germany, raising public support for infrastructure development, and how to evaluate and communicate CSR could be found here. Is there anything that has not been discussed? Of course. Pak Noke did not discuss the challenges posed by the development of social media or even Artificial Intelligence to public affairs that many people in the company may have stuttered. But does that then make this book out of date? Absolutely not. All of Pak Noke’s knowledge and experiences presented here are still of immense benefit in making public affairs “reach the skies” as well as “walk the earth”.
Back to the book collection question and Pak Noke. I can of course put additional rows of books and journal articles that Pak Noke has not mentioned on the bibliography page. But that does not mean Pak Noke hasn’t read them or used them in compiling this book. My conviction is unanimous, Pak Noke compiled a much larger library than is written at the end of his book. Pak Noke has also translated his long experience into wisdom and practical advice scattered throughout the chapters in this book. The fifth chapter, no matter how awed people are going to be by reading it, does not adequately summarize the extraordinary experience of Noke Kiroyan, and his footprint in public affairs in Indonesia.
Depok, February 7, 2021.