BE THAT NUTTER on the bus!

“It was a tough journey yet the results speak for themselves.

You’ve heard Jim Collins’s phrase in Good to Great about leaders needing to get the right people on the bus?

Well one of the problems with being ahead of the change curve is that people in meetings look at you like the nutter on the bus”.

I’m quoting a client who recently proudly celebrated their successful brand engagement drive which has generated some very impressive bottom line results over the last five years, despite very testing economic conditions.

They are one of the case studies in Brand Champions selected for the very reason that, as with the other case studies, the top team understand that sustainable brand development comes from a solid internal culture and that the only way to achieve this if for HR and Marketing, not the most likely of bedfellows, to get into bed together, strategically speaking.

It can be tricky to realise this when you’re trapped within the internal silos of structure charts and organisation politics. So it’s one of the value-adding insights external advisers can bring. Which is why, when I have been approached to help create an employer brand or a service proposition whether for an investment banking division or a major healthcare business, the first question is usually the same:

“Do you have Marketing and HR around the same table with the backing of the CEO?”

If the answer’s “no”, then we make it so, regardless of whether the project is badged brand or employer brand or culture change even service proposition development.

Like it or lump it but sustainable brand development is all about synergy not about internal competition.

As so many change programmes discover too late, be they brand, tech/process or HR driven, the best laid plans and processes are undermined, not by a shortage of spreadsheets or governance, but by a shortfall in one of these areas:

  • employee engagement
  • communication
  • culture change
  • leadership role modelling

Yet far too many organisations still believe they can bluff, spin and now “buzz” their way to enhanced performance through dumping content and data through “whizzy” new channels or considerable “buzzy” advertising spend to drive brand awareness.

Few stop to ask themselves:

“What do we do when we attract customers or recruits but are not able to deliver on the promises we make?”

In my experience, this is down to one of three things:

  1. Naivety
  2. Silo thinking
  3. Seeing this as a problem for someone else

The point the CEO was making during the presentation of their case study (they were COO at the time of the change by the way), was that the truly enlightened are too often dismissed when the approach they propose differs from currently presumed wisdom/current culture. Yet they are being viewed and judged through the lens of a prevailing leadership culture iornically not quite fit for purpose given the pressing need for change.

Now, I’m sure there are many HRDs and Marketing Directors and a few CEOs who will be reading this and dismissing it as the rantings of another nutter on the social media bus.

I’ve certainly heard my fair share of detracting voices down the years.

I can think of some who have managed to protect and ring fence their budgets for long enough to survive a budget round or two and have then moved on.

I can think of some who have made a lot of money for themselves from making a lot of people redundant.

But the ones, most notable, are those who couldn’t, at first make the leap of faith to reach across their silo, yet when they did, are now celebrating the results from taking the path less trodden rather than the path of least resistance..

In the main the same individuals have all built truly sustainable brand-focused cultures wherever their careers have taken them.

But perhaps it’s a coincidence that those organisations include some of the best places to work and highest ranked brands?

“ding, ding”

* Want to read more stories from the business transformation front line? Pick up a copy of Ian P Buckingham’s Brand Engagement- How employees make or break brands and Brand Champions – How Superheroes bring brands to life.

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