By Tony Tiernan
A body in motion will tend to stay in motion, according to Sir Isaac Newton. Not if it’s a strategic change initiative, like developing and implementing your organizational brand.
Maintaining momentum is crucial to the success of the brand effort. The longer it takes, the more likely the initiative is to run into the sands, leaving your people disappointed, cynical and reluctant to commit themselves again. And if you do eventually drag it over the finish line, the chances are it will be so diluted and unremarkable that they (and you) will wonder why you bothered.
Here are a few useful things we have learned about maintaining momentum:
1. Own it. This is about who you are as an organization, and why you matter. The initiative needs active, visible leadership from the C-suite.
2. Turn up the pressure. Set an ambitious deadline – and make it public.
3. Report as you go. If you leave a communication void, people will fill it by imagining the worst.
4. Aim for inclusion, not consensus. Gather input widely, but limit the final decision-making to a very small group. Make this ground-rule clear to everyone.
5. Accept imperfection. Your brand will evolve over time and so will the language you use to describe it. There are few things as futile as trying to synthesize something differentiated and meaningful from the contradictory wordsmithing of a group of senior executives.
6. Welcome discomfort. If it’s not bold, it’s not memorable. When you’re clear about who you are, you also become clear about who you are not. And you can’t hide anymore behind generalities. That’s a good thing. But it’s not comfortable.
7. Don’t dance the two-step. Don’t keep re-making the same decisions, for example by re-opening the whole debate again to accommodate someone who didn’t make the previous meeting. This can result in a “two steps forward, one step back” pattern that causes delay and uncertainty. It also usually results in a watered-down decision.
Are you ready to figure out who you are, what you stand for, what makes you special, and why anyone should care?