Yesterday I spoke with a CEO of a fashion brand. I asked him how his business was and what sort of challenges he saw for his organization. At first he told me that the challenge was keeping the quality of the design and keeping the relations throughout the distribution (about eight contries in Europe). But at second thought, what was really difficult was getting alignment and helping everyone make sense of what the organization was all about. He described his leadership challenge as driving a car with a unsturdy steering wheel.
His description of the difficulties of creating a strong identity (I like to talk about identity rather than brand – because “brand” and “branding” has so many odd meanings to different readers) is a common thing these days. The energy of a strong identity lies in the common understanding among all participants in the organization. And the process of making sense of the organization is mostly left to arbitrary incidents and among colleagues and the imagination of each member of the organization. The effect is a scattered picture of many meanings and identities trying to pull in just as many directions as there are people working together.
The Authentic Identity starts in each member of the organization. And certainly within the leader of the company by setting up processes that help everyone create meaning and make sense of where the company is going. One of the first steps I suggest working with is to make the authentic story thicker. That means finding the stories about what we are and what we’re good at and building every activity from there. It sounds simple (and in a way it is) – the question is: When was the last time you did it?
Fashion week in Copenhagen