Recommendations (you might like this)

Being More Intentional About Asking – Why?

With everything going on these days (and, despite what in particular is going on right now (psst… COVID19, of course)  – aren’t most days packed full with one darn something or the other?)

SO, In that vein, I’ve pulled out my old copy of Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why,’ and have started to re-read it.

Can’t think of a better time. For me, I’ve been noodling the idea that it’s a pretty good time to clarify one’s first principles, and not always run on autopilot all the time… like, probably, most of us do.

Anyhoo – if you haven’t heard of this book before — here’s a link to Amazon.


They Always Hate the Logo

Noted in passing a few weeks back that Red Hat is engaged in an admirable act of corporate bravery.

The software company, based in downtown Raleigh, is in the midst of an “open brand project” and in October is due to roll out an all-new logo. The color red, and a hat, are likely to figure in it somehow presuming in-house designers follow the advice they’re getting from customers and employees. — Ray Gronburg, writing in the News & Observer

Perhaps on the line, according to the News & Observer, is the fate of ‘Shadowman,’ the company’s iconic fedora-wearing fashion plate, seen now for some time surveying the Raleigh skyline from his perch atop RH HQ.

Outside looking in, ya gotta admire how the company is tackling the task, taking the time to engage its community and obviously spending a lot of time on the project.

They should.  Brands are valuable, and when managed well bring a lot of value to a company or organization.   And while a logo isn’t the brand (say it again, preacher!) – truth of the matter is, logos can be the place where the brand battle is either won or lost.

Make no mistake — whatever they do, some people are gonna hate it.  Maybe a lot of people.

That’s just the price of admission for playing brand steward.  The more interesting question will be — what will they do then.

Red Hat knows open source, and from what I hear that world can get kinda turbulent.  So – it’s popcorn time.  I’ll be watching.


Just Words or Something More?

“I think values are really, really important, but I also think that too many values are just words.” — Lou Gerstner, former CEO for IBM

Gerstner’s thoughts in McKinsey Quarterly stuck a nerve when I stumbled onto them the other day. We all operate from our values, but articulating them – getting them out on paper to share and really think about them – seems like a helpful exercise… a good lens to focus behavior.

But it’s hard to discount what Lou says next.

“I think values are really, really important, but I also think that too many values are just words. When I teach at the IBM School, I use the annual reports of about ten major companies that invariably announce, on the back page or inside back page, “These are our values.” What’s striking to me is that almost all the values are the same. “We focus on our customers; we value teamwork; we respect the dignity of our workforce.”

But when you go inside those companies, you often see that the words don’t translate into practices. When I arrived at IBM, one of my first questions was, “Do we have teamwork?,” because the new strategy crucially depended on our ability to provide an integrated approach to our customers. “Oh, yes, Lou, we have teamwork,” I was told. “Look at those banners up there. Mr. Watson put them up in 1938; they’re still there. Teamwork!” “Oh, good,” I responded. “How do we pay people?” “Oh, we pay on individual performance.” The rewards system is a powerful driver of behavior and therefore culture. Teamwork is hard to cultivate in a world where employees are paid solely on their individual performance.


The Simplest Thing for the Real Thing

“To see your name on a big brand, it makes it personal” — Ricardo El Torro, 22 year old Coke fan

Can it really be this simple to lift sales?  When you see your name in lights – or on the bottle, as it were – you buy.  Yes, I think it is.

The Wall Street Journal has a story up in their CMO Today section last week crediting a recent marketing campaign with a 2% hike in sales.  The Share a Coke campaign slaps the names of individuals on every bottle.  “Share a Coke with James” or Sarah or David, I suppose.

Sounds like the campaign broke in the U.S. in June.  But I didn’t see anything about it until my wife and I were traveling in the United Kingdom this summer.  I gotta say – we both noticed Coke for the first time in awhile.

We all like to see a story about ourselves in the hometown newspaper.  Or today’s equivalent – Facebook.  But it’s not everyday we see the impact of the phenomenon quantified.