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Priorities And Metrics

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We often default to using narrow parameters to qualify worthiness or quantify excellence. We focus on a company’s revenue or an entrepreneur’s net worth, count the number of books an author sells or followers an influencer amasses.

What we choose to measure has a direct impact on what we then prioritise. And of course, what we prioritise determines the kind of companies and communities we build.

Better then, to set our priorities first and metrics later.

Image by Andrew

A Question Of Pride

filed in Success

Like most of their friends and neighbours from big Irish-Catholic families, my grandparents didn’t have the luxury of an education. They were not bookish, in fact, they were barely literate. They couldn’t teach me much about history or science. But they taught me a lot about pride.

My grandparents may not have had status, but they did have a place in their community. They valued fairness and doing the right thing by their neighbours. Their door was always open—kettle always on. They shared the little they had. They worked through their problems, knowing they didn’t have the all the right answers. They were not afraid of failure or a hard day’s work. They proudly sent their children to school in clean clothes with full bellies. And while their aspirations might seem small by today’s standards, they were huge by theirs—at a time when people lived from hand-to-mouth. Week-to-week. Brown envelope to brown envelope. I think my grandparents, and yours too could teach us a lot about how to live and work today.

Our grandparents would probably tell us to stop deferring to others (and Google) to find the answer and to start reflecting on what was right by, and for us? They would ask us why we’d stopped making fewer decisions that spoke to our heart. They would question our belief that success could be plotted on a graph with a neverending upward trajectory. They would wonder when it became fashionable to think that pride was just a vice that would surely come before a fall.

Growing up, I was lucky to be surrounded by people whose metric of success was doing what they were proud to have done. I can’t think of a better way for us to measure what matters.

Image by Alastair Green

The Power Of Identity In A Competitive World

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Nobody who read the pre-match reports or the post-match statistics would have predicted a one-all draw. Iceland, a country with a population of 334,000, was fielding a team of semi-professional players, in their World Cup debut against Argentina, one of the world’s best footballing nations. There was no way Iceland could compete with the experience and skill of the Argentinian team.

During the game, Argentina had 78% of the possession and took twenty-seven shots at goal. Iceland had only eight. On paper, the dominant team—which also happens to be captained by this year’s world-leading goal scorer, should have won by a mile. Iceland secured an unexpected draw, not by trying to beat their opponents at the Argentian game, but by playing their own game.

The Iceland manager, Heimir Hallgrimsson, summed up his team’s strategy like this:

“We know how we can win football matches. It is just a fact that Argentina have superior individuals with superior skills and if we go one-on-one with them you don’t need to ask who will win the game. We have to play in a special way and we have a clear identity.”

Iceland was never going to win by competing like Argentina.
They triumphed by playing like Iceland.

When we get caught up competing, we get caught out playing catch up.
It turns out you don’t need to compete when you know who you are.

Statistics from the BBC. Image by Thomas Leth-Olsen

What Successful Companies Do

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Just one thing.
Successful companies help people do things they want to do, so they can be who they want to be.
What do the people you serve want to do?
How can you help them to be who they want to be?

Image by Tim Dennell

The Sure Thing

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

Before we create a product, design a service or build a business we want to be certain the idea will fly. We want to know for sure that if we build it, people will come.

If we only did the things we were certain would work, we’d never create anything original.

Originality is a leap of faith and success is unpredictable.
Certainty comes with the benefit of hindsight.
Bestsellers are always a surprise.

The best we can do is have the courage to begin before we’re certain.
Taking a risk is less risky than doing nothing at all.

Image by Roberto Trombetta

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