How to avoid failure and get a successful brand result

Once you’ve established the foundation of identity I’ve talked about, you’re all good right? Wrong. Now the work begins. Every day something will come up to test how much you care about and believe your purpose and those values.

There’s a daily battle for your brand going on inside your organisation. Even the most straightforward action can ripple out and inadvertently undo something else.

But recognising it’s happening is a good place to start. Another good place to start is to read Dietrich Dorner’s book on failure. A rollicking walk through the small, sensible steps we take to disaster (to paraphrase the book description), The Logic of Failure will help you think about connections between even seemingly unrelated actions. This is a skill you’ll need if you want to build a brand result people have confidence in and care about.

To learn more about how your brand is a result click here.

Now, a book about failure might be a strange companion for a successful brand result. However, the groundwork of success is in the everyday actions of people across the organisation. How they are deciding what to do and how to do it is the battle.

In his book Dorner says:

“When we fail to solve a problem, we fail because we tend to make a small mistake here, a small mistake there, and these mistakes add up. Here we have forgotten to make our goal specific enough. There we have overgeneralised. Here we have planned too elaborately, there too sketchily.”

These small failures are especially true when people are barreling through their daily list of things to do. There’s barely enough time to get the system fix in place, a new colleague into their job, the product on the shelf or the supplier signed up. Let alone to sit down and think through the possible impacts of each of those things and further their alignment with your organisation’s identity, promises you’ve made and experience you want to deliver.

Fortunately, the results of your actions rarely create life and death emergencies. More likely, things just don’t work as well as they could.

The new system doesn’t improve how things flow, and over in shipping, it made things harder.

The new person never really fits in and since they started others have begun to leave.

The product sells well, but over in customer service call volumes are way up.

The new supplier turns out to be unreliable, causing your delivery times to slip and upsetting customers.

It’s a constant trade. To stop and think through every potential ripple of any action will paralyse the organisation. But let’s not end on the idea that if you don’t, you’re laying the groundwork for failure. Here’s where your organisational identity comes in.

Think of it like a plan for that daily battle. In the army they call it the “commander’s intent”, a way to decide what to do in the heat of the moment that’s aligned with the overall direction.

People need a sold grasp on what they care about and believe, and what those things mean for their roles and responsibilities. It’s your best defence against the kind of failure Dorner outlines in the book.

And while there’s no guarantees, establishing the practice of using identity to help you think through problems and decide what actions to take will give you a more robust and resilient brand result.

See you next week.

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