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January 13, 2009

About the company we keep

On the day when industry figures released have been labeled as no less than ‘frightening’, and as we wait for a continuing rollcall of businesses to fall by the wayside, this is a thought about what’s going to get many out of the ditch and how we view the company we keep.

Honest face

No matter how seismic this current redefinition of commercial drivers seems to be, one thing that remains the same is that the platform for growth and change has always been people.

The singular piece of IP, the unique process, the first mover advantage, the heritage and culture behind a unique offer, none of these build or sustain a business without the people who are behind them. They’re the ones who have the ideas, the vision to open minds to new ideas, the ability to be inspiring, that helps businesses turn corners.

McKinsey are talking about and highlighting the upside of investor and operational transparency. It’s becoming clearer by the day that the people who build blatant integrity and transparency back into businesses and the way they work, and that can encourage that most precious of commodities, investor and consumer confidence, back into their businesses, are the ones that will win. This is not management land, it’s about real and honest relationships.

As the brand is being marked down as a bygone buzzword, with compelling stats telling the narrative of their sorry decline, what’s becoming the most credible story for tomorrow is that if you don’t have a social brand it’s likely you may not have a sustainable business.

Acording to this article, 'a Mediaedge:cia study found that 76 percent of people rely on what other people say versus 15 percent on advertising, and 92 percent of people now cite word-of-mouth as the best source for brand information. Universal McCann found that 74 percent of global Internet users write reviews online, while 75 percent of people consult blogs before they buy, according to Bazazarvoice. Brands have nowhere to hide.'

And as organizations wipe the slate a bit and redefine many of the numbers that add up to their corporate reputation and what it’s worth, now’s the time to start supplementing it with new value.

The value that’s set to increase is the personal reputation of the people that are associated with a business. What's beginning to matter more and more are the leaders that have a voice, who blog, who twitter, who bring a position and a point of view, a platform for action and a following to a business proposition because they believe in it.

There’s lot of talk right now about how to monetize, or not, these relationships. What that boils down to ultimately is the same thing that has been the make or break of many a business for some time - how well it’s overall DNA is aligned to deliver its vision, how well the synapses actually do work as a connected entity. This is the hallmark of visceral businesses.

This is the time for many businesses to be doing a lot more to encourage the talent that’s already in their business to rise up to the surface and find a voice, and it's something that can happen from within and without to the point where both become seamless. That way businesses and organizations can constellate themselves into social brands that are open, transparent and able to command a following.

It all boils down to the company we keep. And the type of company management we leave behind.

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