My first ever sonnet
My first ever sonnet
Okay, this may not be the freshest concept, but it’s fresh to me and an important challenge for all.
Let me start with a story. Earlier this week a friend of mine sent an email out announcing Sunday, May 20th as Random Act of Art Day at a local beach. He said anyone who wanted to come should show up at 7 am (an inspiring time indeed at the beach, but not necessarily for getting up on a Sunday morning). My friend had no plan other than to create something. He went on to write that he didn’t know who would show up or how long he’d be there.
While it sounded like a romantic idea, I wasn’t quite prepared to commit. To my credit, I did set my alarm early enough to get there at 7:15 or so. But then my iPad was waiting at bedside to check my email, and perhaps I failed to mention that May 20th is my birthday—this year marking the beginning of a new decade. So I had to check Facebook to see which of my high school friends wake up early to send their birthday wishes (maybe actually condolences because they are as old as me.)
Finally, around 8:45, I decided to ride my bike to the beach, just to see how they were doing with the art. I was ready to rock. After meandering around looking for the right road that led to the beach, I finally arrived at around 9:15 am. No one was there. I saw no art. But I did notice the beach was still an inspiring spot even at that slightly later time in the morning. I was determined to create something, myself.
I soon settled on writing a message in the sand, ala the old “Kilroy was here.” But as I looked for the rocks with which to spell out my message, it evolved from “I was here” to “I am here.” At 60 years old, nowhere near finished with my life, my learning, my contributions, I found myself on a beach proclaiming my existence. I had created art in the form of a spiritual moment. A moment for me to remember. A story to share.
I think within all great art are moments both for the creator and for those who appreciate the art.
A group of five or six people from the neighborhood walked down to the beach while I was spelling out my moment. They asked me what I was doing and I started my explanation of Random Acts of Art Day rather sheepishly. But I gained steam as I went on with my story. I did so because it was my moment, and they were now part of it. They seemed sufficiently satisfied with my explanation. My fantasy is that, once I left, they walked over to look at my message and found meaning for themselves.
So the challenge is to create moments. I don’t know exactly what that means, much like I can’t explain all art. But if we could create for ourselves at least one moment a day, our lives would be richer, they might not zoom by so fast and we would have a world full of random acts of beautiful art.
The very act of creating a moment, says, “I am here.”
So if you’re here, show me the moment you’ve created.
Here’s a short video offering two simple lessons for nurturing innovation and transforming a corporate culture. Try it. You might like it.
Posted in Branding, Creativity and Innovation, Leadership, Training | Tagged change management, Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation, leadership, management, organizational development, strategic planning, Values | Leave a Comment »
I’m about to purchase a pair of basketball shoes. At my age, basketball is a combination of exercise and mental health therapy, with no hope of ever dunking the ball or even developing a nasty crossover dribble (note to those who guard me: I rarely go to my left).
So why should I care what basketball shoes I buy? Perhaps I’ll buy the most comfortable shoe I can find. Or the most durable. Or the cheapest. Or even the coolest looking ones. But no. The first thing I look for is the Nike Swoosh. Why? Because, like all of us, when I shop I take with me the part of my brain that processes emotion. It’s not that I don’t have the rational part of the brain with me, too. It’s just that the emotional part makes the decision, often unconsciously, and the rational part justifies the decision I make.
Ergo, I look for the Nike Swoosh, and then rationally choose the coolest, most comfortable Nike basketball shoe at my price point.
Where did my emotional connection with Nike come from? Certainly design plays a big part of it, though some of the Nike basketball shoes I’ve purchased have been pretty garish. It’s because Nike has connected with me on an emotional level higher than a maker of basketball shoes.
Three levels of needs: A strategy for earning brand loyalty
In my last post, about deepening employee engagement, I offered three levels of needs: articulated, un-articulated and unknown, un-articulated needs.
Let’s apply those need levels to my shoe purchase:
My un-articulated need, then, is for a coach to help me maximize my basketball abilities. Enter the Nike theme line: “Just do it.” Sounds like a coach to me. Enter all the iconic Nike commercials designed to inspire us to higher performance. Looks like a coach to me. Enter the iPod+ shoe—a shoe with a training tape built right in. Acts like a coach to me.
This is obviously not a rational connection I have with Nike. It’s an emotional one—the kind that can withstand a rational sales message from a different label claiming a more comfortable, durable, fashionable basketball shoe. That label won’t be my coach.
What brands do you love?
Try the same laddering exercise with a brand you love. Ask yourself when you buy this product, what are you hoping for? It would be great if what? Why would that be great? And why would that be great?
Apple doesn’t just sell me an elegant, easy to use computer. It doesn’t just make me more productive. It’s my creative co-conspirator, always innovating ways in which I can express my creativity. Therefore, I am an emotionally connected Apple evangelist.
Next time you go shopping, note brands to which you’re most loyal. How have they connected to the emotional part of your brain? I’d love to hear your answers.
I’ll admit to those of you playing Buzzword Bingo that I know the word engagement is most certainly on your card. I’ll chip in that perhaps it’s there precisely because engagement is worth talking about. Exploring engagement is really about helping employees identify for themselves, Why should I care? And how much of my effort is really required to max out my rewards?
How many of you have thought about engagement in relationship to your own work? Have you asked your employees and other stakeholders about the character of their engagement with your organization? Or is it, something that you just feel?
Three Levels of Needs: A Strategy for Engagement
The extent to which you, an employee or other stakeholder is engaged, is based on three levels of needs:
The first level of Articulated Needs, known to both organization and employee, likely comes from a formal or tacit job description and is the focus of most discussions regarding employee satisfaction and performance.
Strategy: When a formal review is performed, it’s good to provide a written list of the organization’s promises for the employee to check against.
The second level of Un-articulated Needs can be most insidious in diluting an employee’s engagement. Here, a set of expectations is known only to the employee, leaving up to luck, the organization’s ability to deliver. Meanwhile, the employee is thinking, why can’t they meet my needs?
Strategy: Ask the employee, is there anything you expect from the organization that you haven’t told us, and we haven’t met? Perhaps it’s more frequent feedback, a raise, more visibility in the organization. Then follow that with a discussion of how the organization might align to help deliver on those needs.
Often there are job benefits that an employee hasn’t even considered. This third level of Unknown Un-articulated Needs is potentially the most powerful in securing an employee’s buy-in, loyalty and increased productivity. This is the gift that the organization gives to transform good employees into ambassadors for the organization.
Strategy: Ask the employee to finish the thought, It would be great if the organization and this job would provide me with what? Why would that be great? and What else would be great? Find some areas in which the organization could satisfy those needs. Perhaps it’s personal or career development opportunities, such as a chance to grow a network, learn a new skill or have a platform for industry-wide visibility.
The Other Side of the Equation
All of these employee needs for engagement should be balanced against the organization’s needs from the employee. If the employee isn’t certain that his or her rewards are equal to or greater than what the organization expects from the employee, then burnout will ensue and the engagement won’t be sustainable. And because needs and responsibilities change, this equation should be revisited on a regular basis.
Implications to Your Organization’s Brand
If you’re wondering what employee engagement has to do with branding, then you are probably missing one of your most potent branding tools. Smart organizations brand from the inside out; that is, they understand that before you begin building a brand with customers, the employees have to buy into and be passionate about delivering the best brand experience. Customers can spot a half-engaged employee a mile away, and it certainly dilutes the brand promise beyond the moment of a less-than-satisfying interaction with that employee.
In my next post, I’ll discuss how these employee engagement principles might apply to customer engagement. In the meantime, any feedback you have for me would be a gift.
Four years ago, when I started GPS Creative, I wasn’t too sure about the name. Would people get the reference to Global Positioning System? Does it really encompass what I do? Does it have staying power? The one thing I did know, is that the URL was open and I was tired of finding all my other options taken. Admittedly, having gpscreative.com available didn’t help my confidence, when much less obvious domain names were already gobbled up.
Now, as I look back at all I’ve learned while helping individuals, teams and organizations plan for their future, I see the name as a lucky accident. Whether I’m taking organizations through strategic planning or brand strategy workshops, or teams through innovation training, or facilitating qualitative research, or as I work with my creative partners to develop marketing campaigns, the name still fits.
The Creative Road Map
It fits because, like GPS technology, the deliberate creative process through which I facilitate all the work I do, is based on understanding three basic elements:
Now think about how many projects, in which you’ve participated, didn’t have a clear goal. How many failed to explore all the factors of the current situation before the plan was implemented? How many had no defined steps for reaching the goal? How many simply were solving the wrong problem?
Without a deliberate process, these are the detours on which many of us find ourselves.
When I meet new prospects, there are two questions that are important to me above all others: What would you really love to see happen? And, What do you think is stopping you? From this, I can get a sense of where clients might want to go, and what they think their current barriers are to getting there. The map already begins to take shape.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
You might be wondering if deliberate creativity is somehow different from real creativity, which happens intuitively, and in an “ah-ha” moment. The answer is, “ah-ha” moments bubble up from the subconscious after an incubation period. Deliberate creativity doesn’t bypass those moments, it nurtures them. Moreover, with any trip you might take with a GPS device, you will probably encounter and be delighted by unexpected sights and new experiences along the way for which you hadn’t exactly planned. These will often be the stories you remember most vividly. The same applies to GPS Creativity. Along the creative path, you will encounter unexpected insights and new ideas for which you hadn’t planned—the “ah-ha” moments. These are ultimately the drivers of growth and innovation.
As someone who has worked in the creative side for many years, I still rely heavily on my intuition, a flash of insight, a new connection—but I’m also reassured that when I’m feeling lost, there is a map, when I need it.
And, I’m feeling better about the company name.
Posted in Branding, Creativity and Innovation, Leadership, Training | Tagged advertising, branding, business, change management, consulting, Creativity and Innovation, leadership, management, strategic planning | 3 Comments »