11/09/2014

What makes organisations successful?

BY Julian Gorham

Success is made from many things. An inspiring leader? An award-winning logo? Great products? Social media savvy? Hip HQ?

Lots of successful organisations have these. But the most important thing they have is a real and shared understanding of who they are, where they are heading – and how they are going to get there.

They also have a steely determination to use this as 
the basis for everything they say and do.

Identifying a unique positioning and then telling a compelling story is what successful organisations do well. GE? You can see. Shell? You can tell. And there are plenty more, big and small, who bring imagination and insight to bear at this most fundamental level of business strategy.

There’s another thing. None of it is half-hearted: The positioning and storytelling is consciously undertaken, seriously executed, passionately driven through the organisation and constantly reviewed.

When an organisation really works well, all the bits that make up what it is make sense to whoever might be looking 
at it – and from whatever angle: Customers, investors, employees, partners – even competitors: They may only see certain bits of the story, they may receive different messages, and have different experiences, but all of it adds up to tell a coherent, credible, consistent story.

The digital context magnifies this truth. We all know that inconsistency kills brands. But in a digital age you need to be insistent on being consistent – because you need to be consistent enough to everybody, all the time. There is no hiding place.

The gaps will get you. But when everything adds up, the positive effect is plain for all to see.

Clarity and simplicity are
 key, and the way to achieve these is by being relentless in abandoning the superfluous and identifying the absolute core of your message.

Clarity and simplicity are not easy— they are hard, very, very hard. If it was easy to be simple and clear then everyone would do it, but few actually do. It is a very noisy world indeed, and it’s getting noisier, seemingly, by the day. It is the people—and organisations—who do the hard work to clarify and simplify that will be the ones who are able to rise above the rowdiness, get their messages heard, and hopefully make a difference in the world in their own way.

For years people have been talking about brands as being ‘what people say about you when you’re not in the room.’ But it’s harder now – because that room is pretty much the size of the planet.