Chasing Tales

dog-chasing-tailLast year a friend of mine in DC went to work for the federal government after spending his previous career working in the private sector. A month or so after the switch he came to me saying, “You know people have got these guys all wrong, folks here work really hard.” I did not doubt the veracity of his statement. I know a lot of hard working government folk. (Yes Honey, I mean you too.) Recently we crossed paths again and he was rather despondent. He was dismayed how much time people in his division spent chasing rabbits down holes and how easy things were made difficult by “the system.”

(It’s worth taking a moment to say I hear this kind of story all-too-often in for-profit organizations also.)

I reminded him of his “people here work really hard comment” and said, “Remember, your dog is working really hard when he’s chasing his tail.” (And “Chip,” the Labrador in question, really does work hard! He is focused, resolute and even occasionally catches his tail…)

Something that is an output of our brand creation process is an “Observations and Recommendations” document. It often truly surprises clients what a fresh (and experienced) set of eyeballs (and a confidential set of ears) can learn about their organizations. Sometimes relatively easy things to change are having truly deleterious effect on morale or perceptions of the organization both inside and outside. But you can’t fix the things you don’t know about. You, chasing your peoples “tales” can, with proper analysis, stop them from continually chasing their own “tails”…

Because, if you don’t address these issues, it limits the brand promise you can make, or the kind of effective advertising you can do down the road. Not to mention the cost in employee morale.

One of my favourite quotes is by Basil King who said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Of course if one is going to act boldly it would be a good idea to be wise in the selected direction of all this boldness… The good news is that all the information you need for that wise decision is out there. In your head. In your staff’s heads. In your customers. If you ask them correctly or more importantly listen to them correctly they’d love to tell you.

It’s the difference between going bold, and getting bowled-over.

— Simon Dixon

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