A company starts with an idea. This idea is normally born out of frustration of existing circumstances and the belief for and the desire to provide a better solution. When moving from idea to structured thought and execution it becomes innovation. The innovation builds a company’s reputation.
After launch and proof of concept, the innovation needs to be stabilised and the execution optimised to reach scale and sustainable, long-term growth and impact. The optimisation enhances a company’s reputation positively as it enables consistent delivery against customers’ desires and on a large scale. Out of the optimization process, innovation opportunities arise, as new areas of improvements to customer satisfaction – internally and externally – are spotted. Ideally this innovation happens before it becomes a frustration by the individuals involved.
This innovation enhances the reputation of the company further and the already existing reputation allows quicker adoption of the innovation and influences the perceptions of the innovation significantly. Ideally this doesn’t happen sequentially but simultaneously and in perfect harmony. To achieve this, the strategy, the priorities and the resource allocation need to be aligned; innovation and optimisation needs to be balanced and enhancing each other; and the individuals are mapped accordingly and/or the individuals themselves position themselves in accordance to their skills in this cycle, and value the skills and capacities of each other. I call this a company’s ROI wheel and it is a based on the 3 pillars of marketing success.
Completely unconnected in its inception but completely connected in its logic is the Number 8 or infinity loop of strategy delivery, designed by Peter Duffy, HR Director of DMGT. It maps the capabilities needed in more detail. He uses “discovery” instead of” innovation” and “alignment” instead of “optimization”. See slide below.
A company starts with a hypothesis and then (following the arrows in the slide) gets into the right circle, the creative, comes up with an innovation, which – to be turned into reality and into a successful execution – needs to be underpinned and stabilised by the left circle, the optimisers. It is important to note that both circles – and therefore the capabilities – are of equal importance and are complementary.
A key component to deliver against this is clarity of purpose and culture (values), which then leads to a shared identity and reality which then creates trust, tolerance and transparency within the company, which in turn keeps the Company ROI Wheel – as described above – turning smoothly and with increasing energy and impact. Keillor and Hult’s research that cultural homogeneity and national heritage are the most important drivers of national identity and – in my experience – also the most important drivers of company identity.
Peter Duffy links culture and identity to mindsets and has identified 7 different factors (see slide above) that influence those and therefore require attention when building successful companies: Rituals and Routines, Power pockets, Organisational structure, Leader(s) Behaviour, Control Systems, Symbols and Conversations.
At a conference in India, he said: “Culture is defined by the stories we are telling and the conversations we are having.” The importance of this can even be seen at an individual’s level: The self-talk we have and the stories we recount frame the perception of ourselves and influence our behaviours. If this self-talk is healthy and balanced, trust, tolerance and transparency can flourish and we can start the journey from the individual all the way back up to where this article started, the interplay of Reputation, Optimisation and Innovation, which also shows that three models discussed work on every different level, be it individual, corporate or national.
The research ‘A five-country study of national identity – Implications for international marketing research and practice” by Keillor and Hult was published in the International Marketing Review, Vol. 16, No 1, 1999.
A special thanks to Peter Duffy for the permission to include his slides and wisdom.