What’s Your Belief?

One of the biggest challenges in business (and life) is to lead change, that is, a fundamental change based upon a real shift in mindset or logic. It’s not that difficult to change results, it is really difficult though to drive a sustainable change, one that sticks and drives continuous improvement beyond ones presence.

Replacing Madness
One of the most pressing issues, to me that is, in marketing (madness) today is that we need to stop purely focusing on everything that leads up to a moment of value exchange and instead focus on improving how (use) value is co-created between all parties involved. I know this is a popular discourse within the on-line Customer centric, Service Design, Service Science and ‘what-have-you’ community, yet in real marketing life I see too little evidence that change is really taking place. Still > 80% (my ‘estimate’) of all efforts (time and money) is put on driving people into the funnel (that no longer exists).

Increasing the pace
Also in my work I see a clear challenge to increase the pace of change. Yes, we are making changes every day and yes we are experimenting (agile) approaches. Still I feel we are not (yet) accelerating enough. Not to an extent I dare to say “see you at the finish line” to the competition anyway.

The Business of Belief
Without connecting any dots beforehand I started reading The Business of Belief, by Tom Asacker, some two weeks ago [disclaimer: Tom was so kind to offer me the book for free without any obligation to write about it, nor do I get compensated in any way for writing this blogpost and/or links followed, books sold or any other benefit you can think of]. Tom’s book gave me some really good food for thought on my approach towards change, which has been built upon reasoning mostly. Logical reasoning with my left-side heavy brain. And whilst this is something of a capability I enjoy very much I came to realize (again I must ad) that I’ve been completely ignoring what it is that drives people.

People are not driven by logic, they are driven by desires, by their beliefs. And as Tom sets out so eloquently and passionately

“It seems simple, and it is. But how and why our minds work to create and nourish our beliefs is quite curious and largely invisible to us”

Confirmation Bias
What we believe is true is based on everything we’ve seen and encountered, proven and unproven. It is our version of the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth). Our choices and decisions are driven by it as much as we seek (information) to confirm it. It’s the very reason why there is such a thing as confirmation bias, even amongst the best scholars and statisticians.

Now (here I go reasoning again, but bare with me) since I have been ignoring the very essence of human reasoning I have been largely unable to drive the real change I am looking for. I’ve been focusing too much of my effort on explaining through argumentative reasoning how we should change and why. And I’ve been giving too little thought into what they believe and painting a clear, compelling and desirable picture of where I believe we should be heading.

Painting the picture
In The Business of Belief, Tom Asacker not only sets out how our system of beliefs work, he also makes an excellent case how leaders can paint a desired picture of where they believe one should go as well as some welcome and pragmatic suggestions on how to get there. I will not spoil all the fun by telling you here. Go buy the book!

After reading the book there was one question nagging in the back of my head. You know the feeling. My feeling was (and is to some extent) that, as a leader, you do not always know exactly what the picture looks like. Certainly not in these difficult times. So how can one paint a desired picture without knowing what it looks like?

So I asked Tom and here’s what he said:

“That is THE question of these chaotic times. As an organization, what are our aspirations? How do we imagine a better future for our people, our customers, and our community and then bring that vision to life in tangible and meaningful ways?

Uncharted waters can be viewed as a challenging and exciting adventure; a chance to stand out and really make a difference in one’s work and for the world. But no one wants to venture to an unknown destination. Leaders must define the vision based on their understanding of how the world of their audience presently exists, and how they imagine it should exist at some future time driven by their passion for change.”

Exactly what I’m putting my effort in now, not reasoning why we should look at the world differently, but envisioning what that different world looks like from their point of view. How’s that for inspiration?

At least, that’s my belief now. What’s yours?

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2 responses to “What’s Your Belief?

  1. Tom’s book sounds interesting, checking it out.

    I’m a closet linguistics, behavior theory, etc… nerd so this stuff is fascinating to me. So many of our beliefs (personal, and also about others) go unchecked and we miss out on insight. Do you read Bertram Malle at all? He’s got some interesting research going on over at Brown… http://research.clps.brown.edu/SocCogSci/

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