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Because of past projects, I can get in a lot of doors because people still remember who I am. But, once inside, I have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to persuade people to even slightly change their ways. It is exhausting and I often find myself compromised.
For instance, I deal quite a lot with brand issues and yet I believe that branding (as it is understood today) is dead. What I try to persuade companies to do is to look at who they really are and who they want to be (and why they want to be) and then try to alter outside perceptions to fit the 'real' personality of the company. However fiction keeps intruding because companies are so scared - they want to be someone they can never be. My compromise is in having to deal with this - and coping with such things as mission statements and vision statements that are just self-serving crap that consume huge amounts of corporate time and then are put in a drawer and forgotten.
I feel genuinely embrrassed to take their money. The guilt is only softened by the fact that I can then buy time to work on the things that I believe in.
I have come to the conclusion that bottom-up is the only way things are going to change. Or perhaps middle-up/middle down. So I focus these days on trying to convert people whose minds are not yet closed by power, but still have enough knowledge to understand the system they work in. It's slow.
In a couple of weeks I will face 30 very heavy institutional investors. I am going to try to explain SOS to them in 30 minutes. Daunting. I'm going to attempt it by humour and a lot of visuals. All there is to hope for is to plant a seed of doubt, supported by the use of a name they might recognize - Charles Handy has been rated among the Thinkers 50, the most influential living management thinkers. He co-founded the London Business School.
This is what he has said:
"It is a paradox that in our democratic societies it is only the corporations that are resolutely undemocratic. This will become more blatant as the front-line workers find their voice - a voice that organizations will ignore at their peril...
In this new world people want to be regarded as belonging to something, not just used by it, as members not employees, citizens not human resources. They want a voice in what concerns them, the chance and the right to make a difference".
It will be a drop in the ocean, of course. But even if just one of these people wants a chat afterwards, it will have been worthwhile.
OK this has been my usual I,I,I, rap. But the point I wanted to make is that humour and visuals are powerful tools for sneaking in mind-benders. The most difficult part of the communication process is the last 5 centimeters. And another aphorism "It's not what you want to say, but what people are ready to hear"
These are all things that should be remembered here at ET. Being right is not enough. Having all the facts is not enough. And we should think more about Changing The Game, than playing it.
You can't be me, I'm taken
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