All posts filed under: Transformation

Motivation - Step 4 in building a purposeful culture

Motivation: Step 4 in building a purposeful culture

There’s a temptation to believe that the sheer logic of a good decision will sway the crowd; that if you make a good case and present it in an inspiring way, you’ve done everything you need to for that idea to gain instant uptake in an organisational culture. I’ve yet to see that happen successfully. I’ve seen it tried often – “now take that idea and apply it to what you do” – but never in ways that live up to expectations.

Education - building a purposeful culture

Education: Step 3 in building a purposeful culture

Having clearly outlined why change is needed and the opportunity that change could generate, too many culture change programmes then leave people to make the changes themselves without very much more explanation. So often, staff are handed new values and a new purpose, there’s some motivational meetings and perhaps a video and gift, and then the business just expects them to get on with it. The thinking seems to be that this gives people personal empowerment; that it brings the change alive for them.

Does corporate responsibility require more social creativity

Does corporate responsibility require more social creativity?

Some years back, Deborah Doane wrote a hard-hitting article about the “myth of CSR”. In it, she argued that CSR was a reaction rather than an action; that it was essentially a collective response to uprisings against the behaviours and morals of corporate institutions and that it had been encouraged by an historically weak NGO sector as a way to bring about change. Her concerns mirror many that I have independently raised.

Brand transformation: Don’t focus on the change, focus on the difference

I regularly refer to adrenalin as the chemical of change. To me, transformation must be radical and scary, because it pretty much requires the same levels of energy and momentum to get to a ‘dangerous’ place as it does to shift to somewhere a lot more comfortable. The only difference may be the time it may take for people internally to get comfortable again. That’s particularly true if you’re a brand that has fallen behind – where the shift required to even stay alive can feel huge. And yet for all the effort, the concern, the misgivings, where your brand lands can in reality be right in the middle of the pack – meaning that sooner rather than later, the company will need to repeat the same process in order to avoid being lost. So often, it seems, those undertaking brand change misjudge impact. People assess what has happened from the point of view of how far they have shifted rather than looking at the two things that really matter: the active difference it has …

The brands that dare: gamechangers

Some brands seem to rule the world. They’re big, powerful, profitable and widely adored. They talk and the world listens. They are the game-makers. They made the game and they continue to run it. Their playbook seems to pretty much decide the rules for most. But not everyone aspires to that level of success and not every market leader is at the apex of a totally satisfied segment. Which is why some brands opt for a different agenda. The gamechangers’ intentions are, quite literally, to change the world, or at least to shake the tree of the mighty incumbents. How do you do that without getting crushed or ignored? It depends. Did your brand start out as a challenger, or did challenging the status quo become your purpose as a brand? Because the starting point drives very different strategies and storylines. If your brand was a challenger from the start, one of the most powerful assets you have, providing it’s true of course, is a dirt-poor story. The brands that start from nothing and with …

Outperforming as a brand: making the right investment in disruption

Everybody professes an interest in growing. Everyone wants to outperform the market. Yet the challenges to do so are for the most part under-estimated and the appetite required to resource adequately in order to decisively disrupt is generally lacking. An interview with Stephen Hall and Conor Kehoe, two McKinsey directors, on why companies are reluctant to aggressively reallocate resources reveals that strategic inertia springs from two sources. According to Kehoe, there is unwillingness internally to move people and/or capital to unproven initiatives. And there is resistance from investors who, even though they like the long term results, are hesitant to accept short term downturns. The business case for redistributing strategic energy though is clear. In this study, the firm compared those who reallocate resources at a high level with those that were much more reluctant to do so. The difference was a 3.9% difference in annual incremental returns to shareholders. Over 20 years, that amounts to a doubling in total returns to shareholders (assuming all dividends are reinvested). Companies that actively reallocated resources continued to …

Brand repositioning: Radicalising your brand

Comes a point in the lifecycle of most brands when they hit critical complacency. The marque has mainstreamed to the point where it effectively blends with its surroundings to form part of the amorphous middle. That’s the black hole towards which all brands are drawn. Competitiveness erodes. Prices start to fall. Comfort levels and intransigence soar. Appetites for risk, so apparent in the early years, fall away. Eventually, the lights go out. We could all run a list of those that have succumbed. But whilst complacency and conservatism are easily spotted, they are much more reluctantly abandoned. Getting off the merry-go-round is difficult, because it requires management to re-radicalise; to muster the courage and the energy to pick new fights and wage new wars; to attack what they operate so efficiently and effectively now in order to save it. (Seth Godin in his book The Icarus Deception expresses clearly and strongly how and why industrialisation works this way.) It’s hard to be radical and commercial: hard because it so often looks unreasonable. As Gary Hamel …

Inspiration: Step 2 in building a purposeful culture

An amazing thing happens when you ask people to imagine their current workplace working to its potential. First, they smile. Then they hesitate. Then they want to talk about everything that’s wrong and why a better workplace is not real or practical or feasible. If you’re patient though and you persist, slowly, very slowly, they start talking about what’s possible. And once that happens, before long, there are diagrams and dreams and the volume in the room rises from a gentle murmur to an excited buzz. It’s hard to get people to quantify the possibilities. All their disappointments and concerns quickly crowd in to stifle the magic. But if you ask them patiently to put that aside and form a vision of what work should be like, aspiration slowly gets the better of them. This isn’t about creating a dream kingdom. In fact, what works best I’ve found is getting people to forecast what a “better us” looks like – and a key component to achieving that is asking them to find proof for what’s …

How would you like your brand story to end?

Bill Taylor has said that if your customers can live without you, eventually they will. Conversely, I’m fascinated by how so many industries will stick to business-as-usual for as long as they can before they have to change. In each case, the rules of supply and demand will at some point over-ride the sentiment of legacy. The more people who do what you do, the more easily you can be replaced, and the less noticed your absence will remain. Everyone nods at this point. But … That realisation actually spurs a fundamental question that businesses and brands should be asking themselves. And it’s a very uncomfortable question to confront. How would you like your brand to come to an end? To reference TS Eliot, with a bang or a whimper? Your answer will drive your strategy. Or rather it will drive the mindset behind your strategy. You can ride your current train of thought all the way to silence – do what you do for as long as you can until the margins become unbearable …