It doesn't matter where you see yourself fit in the hierarchy or, if you're lucky, the ecosystem. Public relations, marketing, social media communications - we're all in the business of understanding each other and what we want and need and by doing that transforming what is now into what is next.
This is the time of the year when we begin to look back at the predictions for 2008 and put a stake in the ground for trends we see for 2009. Stakes are good, they allow us to focus on what we commit to. However, I would suggest that the process for how you will achieve what you want to achieve (your strategy) is an even smarter travel companion - you get better mileage.
As part of the process, we need to challenge some assumptions.
- Business as usual will not work - do you have a new plan? How does this new plan address the dialogue between employees and customers, for example? How does your plan address the dignity of work and the respect for individuals?
- It's not about you, it's about "us" - call it what makes you comfortable, this means two ways to be: one listening, the other giving. Imagine what would happen if we all did that - everyone would be getting without ever taking. When you're kind, you become one of a kind.
- Value and brand are in the purpose and meaning business - talking about value props (perhaps they are props) and messaging the brand are futile if you do not have a purpose and do not give meaning to the words by being a living example. The same goes for all the other highly leveraged words.
- It's not just the words, it's how you say them - meaning comes also from intention. Maybe it starts as a checklist of things to do, when you say it to yourself as if you meant it, soon it starts taking on those connotations.
- Promises are running on empty - make fewer and make them count. Clarity is the most undervalued asset a business has. It's amazing how powerful it is in aligning everyone behind purpose in the creation of meaning.
"Too Much Cost, Not Enough Value"
"Too Much Speculation, Not Enough Investment"
"Too Much Complexity, Not Enough Simplicity"
"Too Much Counting, Not Enough Trust"
"Too Much Business Conduct, Not Enough Professional Conduct"
"Too Much Salesmanship, Not Enough Stewardship"
"Too Much Focus on Things, Not Enough Focus on Commitment"
"Too Many Twenty-first Century Values, Not Enough Eighteenth-Century Values"
"Too Much 'Success,' Not Enough Character"
To which I add what could be chapters in my own book:
Too many meetings, not enough meetings of the minds.
Too many barriers, not enough entries.
Too many people (who have to buy in), not enough diversity (of ideas).
Too many numbers, not enough real contribution.
Too many games, not enough of them game changing.
Too much concentration (of power), not enough conversation.
Too much control, not enough connection.
Conversation leads to connection. It allows you to understand issues and to change business processes before the business itself has moved away from what used to be successful and is no longer. Maybe your customers are not online, in that case you should pick up the phone. Social media may be the modern version of the telephone but it has single-handedly (through many media, actually) challenged the underlying assumptions of the way things were.
What I think has not hit home, yet, is that if you are in the (fill in the blank) marketing, public relations, social media communications business, you are in the changing the conversation business. And changing the conversation is game changing.
© 2006-2009 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.