In a world where we’ve never been so aware of being watched, everyone wants to “look busy”. Actions are good for that. Actions help everyone look like they’re working hard to get to the answers.
And along the way it’s very easy to believe you are doing things right, and therefore you have a strategy, when in fact you are simply part of what the market’s doing. If the market’s growing, it’s not a strategy to be there for the ride.
A lot of companies told a lot of people over the last decade that they had sound strategies proven over time. They didn’t have a strategy at all. They had actions that had kept them busy over time, and those actions were successful as long as the market rose. The key action was to acquire and revalue assets upwards, and then tell themselves and their shareholders that they were creating wealth.
The answers are not the actions. And plenty of actions don’t necessarily generate the answers. And yet there’s unswerving faith in many quarters that they will. Busyness is the new raindance. The more people do, the more reassured they are that the answers they need will sweep over the horizon and drop market share in their laps.
It’s not hard to do a lot of what you’re familiar with, especially if it keeps your team at the office long after home-time. It’s not hard to convince yourselves that all this hard work must have a pay off. It’s not hard to confuse predilection with productivity. In fact, it’s all very convenient. Because none of these actions requires leaps of faith. All of them all but stipulate continuing with what you and those around you know.
And while you’re busy doing all this, someone somewhere is changing the rules to tilt the market dynamics in their favour. What’s scary is that the people in your office are probably working so hard on what they’ve told themselves they need to get done – they haven’t even noticed.
We’re used to thinking of redundancy as a concept meaning “no longer needed”. In point of fact, the wider take, for brands at least, should probably be “no longer valued”. And one of the biggest contributors to brand redundancy is slavish addiction to action.
By embracing their “to do” lists, brands deceive themselves into believing they are doing more, achieving more, getting ahead – when in fact, often, they are actually eroding their value because they are too busy taking old actions to create new value. In effect, people are staying late, working hard and stressing themselves out so they can make their brand redundant. (Sadly, they also think that by doing these things, they are doing exactly the opposite.)
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