05 October 2015

Naked and Extraordinary – A Dialogue on Radical Transparency

I’ve just spent an amazing weekend with my family at the remote South Eastern Victoria coastal town of Paradise Beach. I don’t get there often enough but my arrival always seems timely. A welcome connection with nature and much needed disconnection from first-world problems, it’s a place to shed the inconsequential that zaps my energy and focus.

There’s something confronting about the isolation of Paradise Beach; a forced introspection and sense of ‘aloneness’ set amidst the rugged, natural beauty of the environment. One can’t help but surrender to the sheer vastness, which triggers big existential questions like: What am I truly passionate about? What makes me happy? What do I want my legacy to be?

I’ve been more introspective than usual of late and increasingly intolerant of the self-serving ‘spin’ that is rife in so many aspects of business. Frankly, it’s a gigantic ‘pissing contest’ that doesn’t make sense in a world craving intimacy and authentic connection. Businesses need to get humble, transform and get up-to-speed with ‘new power’ if they want to maintain relevance in this new paradigm. The good news is bounty awaits those who are brave enough to abandon redundant modes in place of interdependent and shared value models.

Hence, transformation is a progressive evolution with pros and cons. What’s crucial in our leadership and governance is that well-meaning selfimprovement doesn’t morph into a crusade-like agenda to prove something.It starts by listening and noticing, learning to balance shadow and light in every aspect of our context and relationships, and to not fear the crucible of refinement that exists wherever growth is present.

What’s crucial in our leadership and governance is that well-meaning selfimprovement doesn’t morph into a crusade-like agenda to prove something.

Brands will be tested and more than ever and they need to maintain a firm grip on identity. Without a clear understanding of ‘who’ they are and ‘why’ they exist communication is void of the vital relational essence that enables consumers to identify, trust, and bond. It’s much bigger than disruption as a context in itself. What I really want to hone-in on is peoples’ reaction to external forces and getting comfortable withgetting real’.

In work, life and love – who are we when the walls of the heart, mind and soul are laid bare?

People are the life-force of brands and brands need to be more human to succeed and thrive. When corporate agenda and values are misaligned the risk of a brand being out-of-sync with its market increases. Not unlike my experience in Paradise, there comes a point of reckoning when a brand is confronted with a force greater than itself and in that crucial moment, we can either choose to maintain a safe trajectory, striving to control environment, or dig-deep and own values of authenticity, diversity and social inclusion – the foundation of healthy and reciprocal, life-giving relationships.

Sounds easy enough, right? Whether institutions are agile enough to embrace the complexity and diversity born of this age is a moot point. Companies of all shapes and sizes are being challenged to ‘get real’ and there is no set formula for success. However, there are new rules of engagement. Something truly extraordinary happens when a brand ‘gets naked’ and transparent with customers and stakeholders. The ‘true test’ is open dialogue and the elimination of hierarchies.

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