There’s an old saying about an organization’s reputation in the business world, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Businesses today are constantly striving to keep control of their brand. This battle over brand perception is nothing new. However, what is different today compared to five or even ten years ago is that companies are now more aware of the thoughts and feels customers have towards their brand. Maybe though, instead of trying to maintain control of your brand it’s time to let go and lose control of it. Do it successfully, and you will be shocked at the outcomes.
While sorting through my inbox this morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a Google Alert. Inside this email, there was this Ted Talk about businesses’ and their constant struggle to maintain control of their reputation. So, out of curiosity I decided to take the five or so minutes and watch it. Turns out that frog design CMO, Tim Leberecht, has some interesting ideas for organizations and their continual battle with maintaining control of their brand.
He argues that while companies have always struggled to keep control of their band, the increases in technology over the past five to ten years have given organizations more control about what others say about them. “Hyper connectivity, transparency, allow companies to be in that room now – 24/7 they can listen and join the conversation. In fact, they have more control over the loss of control than ever before,” says Leberecht. So if companies have more control, how do they take advantage of it?
Give people more control
Leberecht, believes a key for companies is to give more control to their employees, customers, and clients. He points out that business today have the capabilities to successfully collaborate with these other groups to help create better content, products, and designs. “Research has shown that giving employees more control over their work makes them happier and more productive,” says Leberecht. He cites the Brazilian company Semco Group and their novel approach to let employees set their own work schedules or Netflix and Hulu’s open vacation policies. These give employees more control over their work which results in increased employee happiness and productivity.
Give people less control and more meaning
“Traditional business wisdom holds that trust is earned by predictable behavior, but when everything is consistent and standardized how do you create meaningful experiences? Giving people less control might be a wonderful way to counter the abundance of choice and make them happier.” So how can corporations do this? How about forcing employees to help others. According to Leberecht, “A recent study suggests that having employees complete occasional altruistic tasks throughout the day increases their sense of overall productivity.” Or try conducting speed meet and greets. By holding these speed meeting sessions employees are given less control and less choice, but are given greater social interactions.
According to Leberecht openness is paramount for success today, however he does warn of being too open. If an organization is too open then nothing is open. At the end of the day Companies can chose to give their employees and customers more control or less. “They can worry about how much openness is good for them, or what needs to stay closed. Or they can simply smile and remain open to all possibilities.”