Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) together with my good colleague and dear friend, professor Majken Schultz. As always it was a great experience to share my theory and experience with an interested and engaged crowd, who were keen to learn more about how to create value in a company by using authenticity to grow a passionate brand.
I have lectured at CBS a number of times, however this was the first time after the launch of my new book Den autentiske virksomhed (“The Authentic Company”). I was delighted to share the podium with Majken, who was my supervisor back when the book was still a dissertation in 2006. The whole experience brought me back to where it all started – it has been a wonderful and exciting journey to where Stagis and I stand today. A journey that included visiting owners and managers of companies such as LEGO, Hästens, Alessi, Absolut, Ducati and BMW.
More than one hundred and twenty managers, communications professionals and students attended the conference. They heard Majken and I speak on authenticity, branding and identity and the value of joining these three elements as a means of creating growth, passion and leadership in the brand of the company.
I started the conference by presenting authenticity as a concept and a tool. I had chosen the two companies Ducati and Noma to illustrate where authenticity has been used successfully to respectively create a turnaround and provide inspiration for a new unrecognized position in the market place. I then elaborated on the three dimensions of authenticity (historical, reflexive and expressive authenticity) and how a company can be rated on these three dimensions in order to discuss possible ways forward for the brand. The discussion that followed had excellent questions and insights from the audience and I really enjoyed the debate. For me it's certainly the most interesting part of giving a talk, when the participants want to know more, discuss the cases and the idea and question to what extend it can be used.
In the second half of the conference Majken explained organizational identity and how this ties to authenticity. One of her most important points in this regard was the fact that identity is at the same time “who we are” and “where we are going” and an ongoing internal discussion in the company between employees, managers and stakeholders to reach consensus on this. Authenticity can be used to create a point of reference for all involved parts.
At the following networking reception I spoke to a bunch of interesting people telling me how their companies are working – or not working – with creating a focused and passionate identity. Many of them told me that they felt inspired by my presentation. Well, I am the one getting inspired by all of you. Every presentation that I give leaves me with loads of inspiration and new perspectives and viewpoints on authentic identity and I often receive feedback that I can use in my future work. I know Majken Schultz had a great time too, so hopefully we'll get back to doing more talks during the fall.
Thanks to everyone who participated at the conference – I look forward to meeting you again sometime. The participants have received emails with a link to our presentations. If you missed it, don't hesitate to send me an email. We might put together a few sound clips and video from the event - until then you can view videos from our conference in February.