From the inside out

I was speaking at an event a few years ago and one of the other speakers talking about “brand” mentioned how they start with what the marketplace needs, what the gaps are and then works to fit the company to that.

If anyone has ever tried to put a square peg in the proverbial round hole, you will know how that typically works out – a short cut to making promises you can’t possibly keep.

Too many so-called “brand” programs start with some perceived differentiation or gap in the market place and then try to retrofit company practices and culture to meet that aspiration.

It doesn’t work.

Because the stark reality is that if people in the organisation aren’t hardwired to do “it” (whatever your “it” is), then you are wasting time and capital talking about it.

The lure and aspiration to be different than you are, do things differently than you do, is almost irresistible. Grass greener anyone?

Of course I am not saying things can’t change – of course they can. Given enough time and space even the Titanic could have charted a new course. It just doesn’t happen on a dime, or because someone thinks there is some gap for you to lever your way into. And it sure doesn’t happen in one leap.

And here’s the kicker, you will have no way to get there if you don’t know where “here” is today – navigation 101. Like it or not, what you do is who you are. So you better start by getting comfortable and familiar with what that current “it” is.

This is the critical step that gets missed.

In the rush to be something other, what often gets forgotten is what is. I’ll let you in on a secret from years of working with organisations understanding their “it”. Don’t underestimate the value of that part of the process. Because, most likely, you will learn more about what you can do, will reveal more opportunity and potential than five “blue sky” sessions combined.

So back to my initial premise, “it” starts on the inside.

  • What is true today?
  • What can you do today?
  • Talk about that.
  • Sell that.
  • Then if that isn’t where you want or need to be – start plotting your new course.
  • Don’t talk about “it” yet.
  • First, start making the moves and doing things differently.
  • One step at a time.
  • Then when you know “it’s” true.
  • When you are there.
  • When you know you are doing “it”.
  • Talk about “it”.
  • Shout “it” from the roof tops.
  • Deliver “it” to the corners and tips of your toes.

That’s [Bob] – for those of you who don’t know [Bob] you can learn about it here.

[Bob] starts on the inside.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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