Get your brand in front of the market or be run over

Unless we create a culture of innovation, our business will be left behind. This requires the knowing of what to do and the ability to do it. Easy to say, not easy to do, in fact 70% of corporate initiatives fail to be initiated. (or so says Michael Jarrett, a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD)

Power questions to prevent innovation failure

Here is Michael Jarret’s set of power questions (thanks heaps Michael!) which define the conditions that need to be in  place to realise your initiative.

1. Do you have the right strategy?

2. Do you have a fair and open process?

3. Do you have the project management disciplines in place?

4. Have you positioned this as a real initiative?

360 degree branding to create the conditions of success for innovation

360 degree branding can take you a long way to setting up the optimum conditions for innovation. 360 degree branding includes consumer branding, personal branding of leaders, stakeholder branding and internal employee branding. It requires a deep understanding and deployment of the science of branding ie: creating the perceptions to generate the desired behaviours.

Let us walk through Professor Jarret’s power questions one more time, with our branding hats on, to demonstrate just how powerful 360 degree brands can be in achieving strategic execution.

Power questions to prevent innovation failure (take two, this time with branding science insight!)

1. Do you have the right strategy?

Is there a clear goal?…. how well have you communicated the vision to your  employees and stakeholders. The vision and the organisational values that underpin it, must be communicated to every individual in order to succeed. Everyone in the organisation needs to relate the vision to their personal world, and see their role in realising it. Brand stories can help make this crystal clear.

You also need some sound strategic marketing and marketing research to ensure you have the right strategy. You will need some robust and tested answers to the following questions:

Do you know your brand promise, value proposition and target market? Do you understand your segmentation?

How well do you know the competitive landscape? How well can you navigate your way past the competitors?

Do you understand the changing structure of the market? Are there  impending policy changes that could impact on how you deliver value?

You need to ensure you have the right organisational structure in place to deliver on the strategy. Product siloed organisations typically fail to deliver outcomes around customer segments, the lines of power push against the outcome. You need to ensure the power structures in the organisation and performance recognition, support the outcome. We have walked with many cross matrix managers who have failed to sell the project to the siloes of power across the organisation. Large corporates, such as banks and pharmaceuticals, often fail at this point.

Fair and Open process

I love the simplicity with which Michael Jarret explains this. He even advocates polling the strategy with stakeholders and employees. One way branding disciplines can achieve this outcome is through co-creation. Workshops, one on ones, crowd sourcing, forums, and polling are ways in which co creation sets up a fair and open process. In Hearts and Minds experience of creating employee and stakeholder brands, co-creation is the most powerful form of engagement, bar none.

Project Management Disciplines

Sure there are the systems and processes that make things happen to specification and on time, but there is also another critical pathway to project management discipline, that is, the creation of alignment through  Principles of Agreement. This is by understanding and agreeing on the scared cows, beliefs and behaviours, that need to be in place for all the project stakeholders to give themselves 100% to the project.

These Principles of Agreement become part of the project’s brand. The principles upon which the project is created, generates a set of perceptions that drive the desired outcomes. I have seen the seemingly impossible achieved with  Principles of Agreement.  A concept I adapted from Warren Buffet’s Principle Centred Capitalism (thanks Warren, eternally grateful for your depth of character), Principles of Agreement help manage project risks and better leverage project opportunities by creating project relationships where high trust, honesty and openness, flourish.

Is it perceived as a real initiative

A management consultant once told me the primary driver of executive behaviour is fear, specifically the fear of feeling embarrassed by their colleagues. This boils down to a fear of not being taken seriously in the organization, which is tantamount to professional suicide.

Projects and project directors are full of this fear. In their game, you are only as good as your last project. The personal brand of the Project Director can impact greatly on whether the project is seen as a real initiative. If project credibility is low, blockers will undermine it. Blockers in the organsation, tapping into the fear of change spread the mantra, “this too will pass”.

By understanding the conversations of the blockers, managing the personal brands of the Project Directors and spinning project brand stories that reframe and position positive perceptions, the credibility of the project can be maintained. A consciously designed, 360 degree brand, can generate the desired perception amongst employees and stakeholders of ” I believe”, and only true believers will become stakeholders in the project’s success.

Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds

Founder Thought Leaders Circle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s