Marketers are too concerned with claims. The work of the marketer is more subtle. We should be more concerned with fostering conclusions than forcing claims. Our work is to create a special mental condition. Indeed we arrange words to nurture “inevitable” cognitive conclusions. When someone is challenged by your claim, their natural posture is defensive – they fight it. When someone arrives at their own conclusion, their natural posture is offensive – they own it.
There are a series of conditions that are a prerequisite to an existential transformation. The first is awareness. One must become aware of the differential gap. The second is dissatisfaction. The term dissatisfaction is mild, but it may be thought of as encompassing a continuum. The end of that continuum is despair, or even hopelessness.
Until there is awareness, and dissatisfaction, true change cannot take place. The hardest man to transform is the man that has deluded himself into a state of self-satisfaction. Blessed are the poor in spirit, they shall see God.
Despite my emphasis on management as shaping the efforts of people, I think there may be room for the understanding of a new concept: permeation. It seems to me that the greatest leaders somehow permeate their organization. It is more than training people. It is more than tasking people. It is infusing them and thus the entire organization.
Somehow I know that absolute honesty is the path. The problem with understanding its significance is wrapped up in a conflation of terms. Honesty, while important, seems only a virtue. It is much more than that. It is a state of wholeness. Kierkegaard said"purity of heart is to will one thing." Honesty is the agreement of all parts. It is a condition of integrity.
The problem with the notion of "Brand Promise" is that it places the origin on the sender rather than the receiver. The fact that you tell me that I can trust you (i.e., a promise) does not mean that I actually trust you. In fact, I might even have a negative response to the claim.
We need a notion of brand that starts with the receiver, and that takes the form of an expectation as opposed to the form of a promise. Brand represents the aggregate experience of the value proposition - not just my experience as a customer, but the market's experience, and the reputation associated with the same. That experience fosters an expectation, and the brand must deliver on that expectation.
A promise does not have the impact of an expectation because a promise is originates with the sender, whereas an expectation originates with the receiver - and thus is more powerful. Brand delivery works better when we understand that it is not about making a claim, but helping a prospect arrive at a conclusion. People challenged with a claim naturally resist it. But people who arrive at a conclusion will naturally defend it.
Work needs to be viewed differently. Work can be viewed as a protest against non-existence, but even more, it can be viewed as an act of worship in face of the possibility of the ultimate. Elsewhere in my writing I have spoken of non-existence as zero and existence as “at least” plus one. I have also spoken of the absence of the ultimate as a zero, and the possibility of the ultimate as “at least” 0.5. I do not want to debate the mathematical possibilities. Any scholar that does so may miss the point. The point is (at least for this observation) that existence is predication and work is the predication of myself into the world. This predication can be more than a protest against non-existence. It can also be an act of worship even with just the possibility of the ultimate.
Never substitute clarity for action. Moving forward does not matter if you are not moving in the right direction. Some leaders substitute “reflecting” with “charging.” But the action should be born out of the reflection. Get clarity, then act. When you do, your actions will be far more elegant, far more fluid, and far more effective.
As time passes I become more conscious of the fact that art, in its many forms, offers a way to transcend the gap between my unanswered questions and my uncertain decisions. Art takes me beyond my ability to rationalize and brings me closer to conclusions and layers of conclusions that are only apparent when the creative process transcends the cognitive process. It is helpful to perceive ourselves as artists, creating beauty out of the “stuff of life.”
As human beings we are by nature challenged with internal conflict. This conflict manifests itself in multiple forms, but perhaps the most essential is our struggle between right and wrong - at least as we perceive it. The challenge can emerge as a battle. Over the years the battle wears us down. True peace might come if the good or the right defeats the bad or the wrong. As time passes, this seems impossible. We then approximate a truce. We accept the measure of the wrong, and try to seize or hold on to a measure of the right. With this acceptance comes this sense of peace. One must be careful with this approach. Is this peace or a just a resignation to death?
William the Conqueror, though voracious in war, recognized the need to promote stability in times of peace. Henry I and especially Henry II spent themselves in developing a solid governmental structure. I think, in most cases, the leader himself must be a good manager. This is different from much contemporary advice.
I think sometimes we as leaders deceive ourselves into thinking that we can set the course and let able administrators manage. I think the best leaders can do both. And in the absence of an able administrator we had better do both.