The following guest blog post is written by Alan Williams and Samuel Williams, authors of “The Values Economy: How to deliver purpose-driven service for sustained performance”
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do.” Elvis Presley[i]
The key context for organizations is a landscape that is volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and the meaning of these terms is continually becoming more extreme. The situation is fuelled by our ability to communicate information at lightning speed to millions of people. The very existence of the traditional organization is being challenged with new forms of collaboration and virtual organizations.
But against this dynamic landscape blurred by speed and change, we remain, at our core, human beings with some basic and simple characteristics. We are emotional beings in need of a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging. These base needs are immensely powerful.
We believe that just three factors are combining to create a fundamental shift:
- Choice – people are making decisions at a more emotional level, based on what is important to them and to express their opinion and identity[ii].
- Communication – in our super-connected world, authenticity has become the new Holy Grail because organizations are no longer what they say they are but are, instead, what others say they are[iii].
- Control – Organizations no longer ‘own’ their brands. The role of customers and employees (past, current, and potential) as ambassadors for their organization has, in some ways, replaced the traditional marketing function.
These three factors are combining forces (we refer to it as C3) to create a turbo charged shift in balance from traditional, fixed, singular organizational ownership and push marketing, to a less rigid, more complex concept of brand co-ownership and pull marketing. A perfect storm of values-driven choices, communication driving the power of stakeholder opinion and the concept of shared brand ownership has created a new paradigm which we refer to as The Values Economy[iv].
The traditional role of the organization was to bring order, direction, and control. But as the world becomes more dynamic, this approach is less and less relevant. It is more appropriate to have flexibility of objectives, action, and reaction; to be able to adapt, to be agile. It takes too long for the traditional command and control approach to respond. Decentralised decision-making is needed but this freedom needs to be exercised within a framework. Alignment is key.
Of course, organizational alignment is no mean feat to achieve: connecting organizations from the boardroom to the front line, aligning the hearts, minds and bodies of perhaps thousands of individuals to come together to represent a common way; overcoming barriers of individual interests, functions, different companies, geography, and cultural differences; and doing this consistently, where any failure or shortcoming can be communicated to millions in a flash. No mean feat indeed – but if it was easy to do, everybody would be doing it already. And we all know from personal experience that, while there are some notable exceptions, it is not commonplace.
[i] Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) also known simply as Elvis, was an American singer, musician and actor.
[iv] https://www.worldvaluesday.com/values-economy-arrived/ (accessed 29 April 2018)