Culture eats strategy for breakfast….

….and technology for snacks. Today, we focus too much on planning, building processes, establishing procedures and ensuring technical capacities, when, in fact, marketing and communications is increasingly all about culture and execution. As communication is moving away from a control + form paradigm (the old way of building a brand) to an activation + content paradigm (the new way of nurturing a brand) it all boils down to this: Is your organizational culture fit for the modern communications landscape? In most cases, it’s not. Below is a – by no means a fully comprehensive – list of what is required in terms of communications culture in a world where everything communicates.

Transparency: People want to see behind a brand; what it stands for, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what good it does, what drives it. And today people have the capability and means to find it out. And when they do, they express their views, good or bad. All aspects of a brand must be prepared to meet the public eye and that can only be accomplished by a strong culture for transparency.

Innovation: In Nextopia, Micael Dahlén, Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics asks; What’s your next big thing? Unless you are able to create products and/or services that resonate with what your audience wants next, then you are off the radar. And be sure that your culture links product and service development with communication so that when you launch your next big thing, it has a story integrated in it.

Opportunism: With the speed of news, opinion, economy and trend cycles increasing, organizations must nurture a culture of agility, even opportunism. Be quick to grab the opportunities that arise, otherwise someone else will.

Boldness: This is where most organizations fail. We are trying to manage a brand that today is in fact managed by someone else – the consumer or stakeholder. Instead of trying to control a brand, we must create a framework where our stakeholders can play with the brand. Losing control and increasing interaction is a bold but inevitable move.

Ecosystem: No-one creates value in a silo. Seek surprising partners, passionate ambassadors, feisty critics and bold thinkers and make them interact within the context of your brand. Your culture spans beyond the boundaries of your organization, be sure that it creates value for everyone interested.

Clarity: We have all seen them. The 150-page PowerPoint’s with analysis and strategy definition. A solid analysis and definition is all nice and well, but unless it can be boiled down to a sentence or two on what it is that the organization is out to accomplish, then the we cannot expect stakeholders, internal or external, to love it and live by it. Once you have boiled it down to a sentence or two, you must, as trendspotter Jeremy Gutsche says, be obsessed by it.

We can have the best plan in the world, but if we do not have culture to execute it, it’s worthless. Technology without proper utilization is obsolete. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Think about it. Yum, yum.

Author: Fredrik Heinonen