I once met an artist who specialized in creating sculptures by balancing rocks. Strange but true. He would place one large rock horizontal on a podium and then lift another heavy rock, about 40 kilos, and try to stand it vertically on the horizontal rock. After some heavy lifting and subtile manipulations he would find a balancing point for the vertical rock to stand on the horizontal rock. And here something amazing happened: at the balancing point the vertical rock became weightless. What once took him all his strength to lift, move, and manipulate, was now weightless and he could turn and pivot the rock now with one finger. At the pivoting point all is still.
The Limits of Speed
It is an illusion to think that ‘going faster’ leads to success and I am repeatedly surprised in my consultation with organizations to hear how ‘going faster’ has become such an important issue. However, velocity can never be an answer to complexity.
While it is clear there is a need to respond swiftly, operate effectively, and get offerings to the market at the right time, this does not mean that our overall success is defined by going faster. Indeed, in every brand development process I have worked there are moments when to go faster would only damage the dynamics of the brand, the relationships, and the innovations taking place. So rather than an emphasis on continual acceleration, I would encourage a balance to be found in the ability to vary our speed.
The Limits of Effort
Similarly, it is a misconception to think that if only we are more determined in our efforts then we would be more successful, that if we pushed harder we would be more profitable. Effort however also has its limits, it is needed to a point and then a new momentum takes over. The same effort is not required throughout brand development. Particularly for leadership. Top leaders know that their role is best defined as one of initiating and then facilitating. Their original efforts are transferred to others.
The dynamics of most brand development process do not require us to keep pushing, for often there is a moment in the process that requires less effort, a moment of letting go, and then a pause when the energies are shifted, tipped over, to move from ‘push’ to ‘pull’.
Push, Pause, & Pull
The success of a brand can be defined even before the development process is completed. For I believe the success of a brand comes in the moment of ‘pause’ when you know that the brand has tipped over from ‘push’ to ‘pull’.
Consider brand development as following a three step dynamic: push, pause, & pull. The effort to set up and initiate a brand is the pushing. This is clearly very important, however I believe only the first step in the success of a brand. The second step is when the brand has gained enough momentum, has strong relationships, and is ready to be led by its own monument, then we need to stop pushing, take a step back, we pause, and allow the momentum to take over. The third step is to embrace the new efforts made by others who have taken over the brand, who are creating new relationships, and who are gaining new insights from the brand. The brand now pulls us forward. Pushing requires effort, pausing requires releasing, and pulling requires receptivity.
Just like the artist balancing the rock, at the moment of pause, at the pivoting point, all is still.
How can you vary the speed, and the effort, in your brand? When is it best to push, to pause, and to allow yourself to be pulled?