Big Picture Listening as Model of Influence

Apple Marketing Philosophy

One thought I had this morning as I was re-reading my own blog post from a couple of days ago is that although everyone talks about how valuable listening is, few are willing to acknowledge it as a skill. Fewer yet are prepared to reward it… isn't there even a saying that says we're prepared to kill the messenger?

When paired with remembering, listening is akin to honoring. Which gets us back to closing the gap between promises made and promises delivered.

I had this G+ exchange with Jan Hemmingsen. He says, "The problem is mostly that the communication doesn't go full circle. Organizations communicate and are thus listened to, only they are often deaf to anything, but their own voice… Sadly.."

It's a misconception that corporations listen to themselves. Mostly don't. Which is part of the problem.

Here's why

They're quite busy listening to third parties: Boards, institutional traders, squeaky wheels and power hungry people, external consultants who can provide benchmarks yet not do, agencies and "best practices", the list goes on…

Yet, what they don't listen to is their need to do some hard thinking for themselves and figure out what they do well and what they need to stop doing to find what they haven't realized about their business. Big picture listening and disciplined doing.

Said another way, they don't get out of their own way. It's a known/acknowledged problem. All because they're busy not listening to themselves. As an example of this point, think about how many organizations take their own internal skills and people for granted.

You're awesome in two ways to the average company, from the outside as external collaborator, and seen from behind as you take your leave.

When we talk about instilling and living core values, we're talking about speaking clearly and acting appropriately. And you can do that when you know yourself. You know yourself after doing the hard thinking and getting clarity around what different things mean and how they relate.

Discipline and perseverance

This is the way marketing should have always been done and it's only because of tough times that marketing now has to be done with the discipline of management rather than the heavily subsidized freedom of the artist.

When you do that, you have messages like Apple's marketing philosophy (by Mike Markkula), which you see above: clarity, simplicity, and actionability. Empathy, focus, and impute go to the core of Apple's model of influence and understanding what to look for, what to add or take away, and so on.

This goes back to my model of influence and whether you even understand the importance of analytics (listening and observing) and how this is linked to feedback on what you should stop doing or start doing.

Big picture listening

By just saying you need to collect and analyze data, all nuance is lost. Setting the course, adjusting as needed, and staying in it for the long haul takes discipline and drill. It takes a lot of doing.

You almost need to break down the modern marketing method — communicating, conversation, listening and observing — and match it to the right marketing task — executions — which lead to a variety of objectives all done with the right intent or influence.

Otherwise you risk following the way of the management guru and what matters is not what you say (and do) but the passion with which you say it. Everyone nods in approval, high energy in the room, and the business is left alone, picking up the tab.


[image and hat tip Diego Rodriguez]


0 responses to “Big Picture Listening as Model of Influence”

  1. So much of this resonates.
    Best practices – Fortune 500 companies which basically created the market in which they’ve dominated for the last 30 years should be setting best practices – not seeking them out.
    “Top talent” is sought out, only to be ignored once assimilated into the org. Surely the ideas of our own employees aren’t as good as those we can buy for six figures from a consulting group.
    I consider myself a big picture kinda guy, but whether we’re looking at or listening to the big picture, it’s important to remember that our own organizations are part of that big picture too.

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