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Let’s Get Real: Navigating a World of Meaningless Expressions

We loved this look into modern language by Dan Pallotta from his recent Harvard Business Review blog post, “I don’t understand what anyone is saying anymore.” Another term that has lost its meaning is “Let’s exceed the customer’s expectations.” Employees who hear it just leave the pep rally, inhabit some kind of temporary dazed intensity, and then go back to doing things exactly the way they did before the speech. Customers almost universally never experience their expectations being met, much less exceeded. How can you exceed the customer’s...
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In This World of Decision Fatigue, Does Your Brand Still Matter?

In This World of Decision Fatigue, Does Your Brand Still Matter?

Image from Fast Company Just look at what the average Joe faces when looking for a headache remedy.  It goes on: will he pay with Visa, MasterCard or American Express (and which of the twelve or so he has in his wallet will he choose – the points one, the rebate one, the…)? Will he Tweet about his experience, update his Facebook status or share a picture of the mess through Instagram? And to recover from the shock, will he walk into Starbucks and order a coffee using six or more variables? We love having choices.  But choices can overwhelm us. We quickly become victims...
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Has Dilbert Summed Up Your Brand’s Attitude Toward People?

Has Dilbert Summed Up Your Brand’s Attitude Toward People?

How does your brand reach out to people? Is it “pretending to be interested”, or is there a genuine effort to connect meaningfully to the people vital to your brand’s success? Is it stuck thinking about facts, figures, categories, segments, markets, etc., etc., or is is focused on “human beings”? Is it acting like it has the upper hand because of the economy, or is it treating people in the way they deserve? Is your brand’s brain about to fall out of its yawn hole, or is it imagining how your brand can truly matter to people? ...
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What’s Happened to “Human” Resources?

What’s Happened to “Human” Resources?

Metrics. They’ve taken over business. From the C-Suite to the front-line, everything is measured, evaluated and judged. Why? Mostly because we can easily measure things now. But there are limits to the value of metrics. You can only measure what is evident or what people are willing to divulge. You cannot measure the intangibles that drive people to believe in, or act on behalf of, an idea. As some wag put it recently, “You can’t measure the ROI of your mother.” So as HR departments pore over spreadsheets, and C-Suiters sweat over the results neatly presented in their...
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If You Believe Your People Are Engaged, Think Again

If You Believe Your People Are Engaged, Think Again

We recently came across an old, but provocative article in The Economist entitled, “Corporate culture: The view from the top, and bottom”. It detailed findings from the “National Governance, Culture and Leadership Assessment”, a survey based on thousands of American employees “from every rung of the corporate ladder”. Key findings from our perspective: “41% of bosses say their firm rewards performance based on values, only 14% of employees swallow this.” “27% of bosses believe their employees are inspired by their firm. Also only 4%...
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Why Emotive Branding Prompts Tension – And Why That’s Good

Why Emotive Branding Prompts Tension – And Why That’s Good

The process of emotive branding takes our clients to a new and unexpected place. It’s a real eye-opener. Our clients suddenly see new possibilities for themselves, their colleagues, their customers and their brand. At the same time, they feel tense. And that is good. Why? Consider this extract from Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”: “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwile goal, a freely chosen task…i.e., the existential dynamics in a polar field of tension where one...
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Part 15: The Meaningful Workplace – The Future Is Here

Part 15: The Meaningful Workplace – The Future Is Here

Summary Armed with engaged and motivated employees – housed in a meaningful workplace – a business becomes a powerful force against what Gary Hamel calls, “the threats of accelerating change, hyper-competition and commoditized knowledge.” The meaningful workplace is the workplace of the future. Its clearly stated ambition serves as a beacon to everyone in the workplace. The way it leaves employees feeling makes them eager to participate, collaborate and create. The behavior of the employees creates a meaningful culture that serves as a magnet to prospective recruits,...
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Part 14: The Meaningful Workplace – Self-propagating Meaning

Part 14: The Meaningful Workplace – Self-propagating Meaning

A process of self-discovery and self-identification “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi The focus in the development of a meaningful workplace really needs be on self-discovery and self-identification. It is about helping employees to be aware of, to identify with, and to connect to the ambitions, feelings and behaviors the business seeks in its workplace.  The efforts to build a meaningful workplace must not result in dictates, mandates or rule books....
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Where Is Your Brand on People’s “Trajectory of Life”?

Where Is Your Brand on People’s “Trajectory of Life”?

In a recent New York Times article, philosophy professor Todd May suggested that life has a trajectory which can be conceived narratively.  “A human life can be seen as a story, or as a series of stories that are more or less related”, he wrote. And then he asked, “What makes a trajectory a meaningful one?” This is important, May writes, because we find ourselves in an age of commerce, in which people “are currently encouraged to think of the themselves as either consumers or entrepreneurs”. May points out that this drive to be “shoppers of...
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Part 13: The Meaningful Workplace – Going Beyond Selling

Part 13: The Meaningful Workplace – Going Beyond Selling

Going beyond sending “messages” “The words printed here are concepts. You must go through the experiences.” – Saint Augustine It was earlier noted that people today – including employees and prospective recruits – are looking for more meaning in their lives. This shift has not only prompted companies to reconsider their business models, product offerings and workplaces, it has made them rethink the terms on which they engage people.  This is especially true when trying to build a meaningful workplace. It becomes far more involved than simply...
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The Talent Challenge

The Talent Challenge

The talent challenge for CEO’s is real. According to a recent study by PWC, CEOS are hot on the issue of talent management with more and more seeing it as a tool to deliver real competitive advantage. Consider the drivers: 66% of CEOs fear talent shortages will strangle their company’s growth. Developed-market talent pools are ageing. Millennial generation of workers is bringing strikingly different expectations. Growth is now being driven by far-flung emerging markets, where top talent can often name its own price. No wonder 83% of CEOs asked told PWC they intend to make “some” or a...
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Part 12: The Meaningful Workplace – Making It Happen

Part 12: The Meaningful Workplace – Making It Happen

Making it happen: the meaningful workplace master plan A meaningful workplace is built from the company’s master plan – a “strategic platform” used exclusively by senior management – that defines the three core elements of “ambition” (purpose), “feelings” (values)” and “behavior” (building a culture).  This master plan drives all subsequent activities, which include: Macro Plans – how the business itself will be evolved,  Group Plans – how groups of employees will be engaged, and  Solo Plans...
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Corporate Culture Becomes Behavior

Corporate Culture Becomes Behavior

“Behavior” is the new “corporate culture” “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” – Albert Einstein A business’s fate is determined in large part by its culture. A “business culture” is the reality created by how people act, react and interact with each other based on their attitudes, beliefs and ambitions. The most damaging business cultures are those in which aggression, neglect and punishment leave employees feeling they have no reason to commit their energies and skills, share their ideas or help the company...
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For Brands, Being Human Is The New Black. And…

For Brands, Being Human Is The New Black. And…

Fast Company recently featured a story about IDEO’s Elle Luna’s talk to the Design Fair at which she declared: “Today, brands are becoming more and more like humans. They’re taking on more and more human-like traits.” Clearly, with our concept of emotive branding, we believe the same thing. Emotions are human traits which brands, as abstract concepts, do not literally possess. However, what a brand says and does can be designed to evoke specific human emotions. And when a brand consistently evokes the same set of emotions, it goes a long way to elevating the brand’s...
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Part 10: The Meaningful Workplace – Values Become Feelings

Part 10: The Meaningful Workplace – Values Become Feelings

“Feelings” are the new “values” “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou The goal of employee engagement is to drive employee attitudes, behavior, morality and ethics in such a way as to improve their productivity, morale, satisfaction and usefulness within the organization. However, many companies have struggled with converting their proclaimed “values” into compelling, work-changing experiences for their employees.  Often, the problems...
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