Commerce and Creativity

How do you demotivate people?


As I'm readying my notes and additional resources to share with the participants of relationships and brand building in the social media age at Social IRL tomorrow, I came across this amazing video with Jim Collins.

I was fortunate to meet Collins when he first talked about the three circles at the Fast Company Real Time keynote in Phoenix, before Good to Great came out. And again, I had a brief exchange with him after his passionate session about Good to Great for the Social Sector, at the Wharton Leadership Forum.

If you're looking for a great speaker to learn from, attend his presentations and watch his videos. His tempo, the tone, and the ability to use pause strategically are great ways to pull people right into the conversation with him. A skill more and more in demand in these days of mass and mutual distraction.

In the video, Collins talks about what demotivates people:

  1. Hype: a failure to acknowledge the real difficulties the organization faces
  2. False democracy: Inviting people’s input when you’ve already made up your mind
  3. Futurism: Always “pointing down the road” at distant goals and not at the tangible results of employees’ recent efforts

Which in turn prompt me to think about business and trade:

  1. Does your business confront the brutal facts of what they are about and the reality they are facing? Add the term "social" to marketing, media, and business, what do they look like? Is the business inhabiting its vision? Does social help close the gap between business promise and what it delivered?
  2. Here I'm also thinking about customers and social media campaigns. Raise your hand if you think those contests to pick a winning creative or something else are not rigged. Do they help your business take control of its promises? Then why do them?
  3. People like to be part of something while it's happening, how you time your rewards and loyalty programs, both inside and outside the organization is part of what is delivered, which is how the brand becomes as asset to trade.

Collins and co-author Morten T. Hansen have a new book out, Great by Choice (Amazon affiliate link) where they talk about 10Xers, which are companies that beat their industry by 10 fold. They included only seven companies (out of more than 2,000) in their study: Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines, and Stryker.

Interestingly, Southwest Air is also one of the examples we will talk about tomorrow.

The big question in the book is why some companies thrive during chaotic, uncertain, and unstable times while other companies do not.

We will look at why some social strategies work, while others, even those borrowing from best practices and (potentially) costing more, suck wind. The answers and questions are surprisingly aligned: it's about what you trade.


The first of our three hours at the workshop, we will frame the conversation. During the second hour, we will dig into participant specific questions, and during the third hour I will help facilitate how we connect the dots on most practice that will benefit your specific business.

I'll help with how you think about what you do so that what is entrusted to you, whether you're a marketer, communicator, or business owner, becomes an asset you can use to take control of the business promise and part of what you trade.

I sat in the hot chair on the corporate side in many an industry, often reporting directly to the CEO or CMO, through two acquisitions, joint ventures, two mergers, and one bust. I've been on the consulting side helping clients with day-to-day issues and executions. All I can say is: I feel your pain.

And, I see your opportunity. It is in times of uncertainty and chaos, when what used to work doesn't work anymore, that new paths are forged. Collins wrote about the process of writing: In nonfiction, writing is thinking; if I can’t make the words work, that means I don’t know yet what I think.

When you cannot make your social media programs work it means you don't know yet what the business trades. This is the conversation we never had and we desperately need to discover what works. Great by choice does require deliberate effort, discipline, structure, and drill.

Commerce is not a popularity contest. All the same, it doesn't mean we cannot have fun and be very creative.