There is a great book called “On Looking” by author Alexandra Horowitz. In the book the author takes walks around her neighbourhood in New York with different people to see it through different eyes.
It’s a wonderful book and its premise is something that I like to encourage people I work with to do. Except, rather than walk around their neighbourhoods, I encourage them to walk around their businesses and look through different eyes. It’s a great thing for many reasons, including keeping promises and building a brand.
Outside of “cross-team” brainstorming sessions, how often do people in your organisation spend time in other areas? I’m not talking about a quick visit or business-as-usual meetings. I’m talking about real quality time. Taking a walk for a day or pulling up a chair in the back of the room (or warehouse, or department area) and just observing what happens without judgement or expectation.
Like the people in Horowitz’s book, some will focus on things you have to look down to see, while others will look up and outwards spotting completely different views.
It’s a sure bet that the finance person spending some time observing what happens on the manufacturing floor will look at things with a very different eye than the person who’s on the floor everyday buried in their tasks.
So how does this help you keep promises and build brand?
The experiences that people have when interacting with organisations are where promises get kept and the brand relationship is cemented. Those experiences are a complex combination of actions and decisions made at various points in all different parts of the business.
I almost feel a bit like a broken record on this topic, but it really can’t be said enough: It’s your whole organisation that builds the brand, not just the marketing department.
When you take a walk through parts of the business you aren’t familiar with, it’s easy to see the opportunities to strengthen and align the organisation.
The communication from finance that could set the groundwork for customer expectations moving forward, but doesn’t.
The sales discussion with prospective customers that embellishes what the product can do, but shouldn’t.
The new person who was hired because they had a solid background in that skillset, but who isn’t a cultural fit.
The decision on the manufacturing floor that could flag the defect, but ships it anyway.
The boardroom directive that could support the long-term strategy, but trades it for short-term profit.
The marketing initiative that could connect what the business cares about to customers, but goes for hype instead.
So this week, I’m asking you to go looking. Be explorers of the familiar terrain of your own business. Send people out for a day into different parts of the business than where they usually work. Have them take a walk using their eyes as the lense of what you care about and come back with what they observe.
You’ll see what you are doing in a whole different way and that can only be a good thing for the promises you make and keep and the brand that results from them.
See you next week.
Michel is an independent brand analyst 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 michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.
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