In an economy often characterised by overconsumption, waste and fast fashion, the push for sustainability is not always popular. Particularly with some companies building their business models around planned obsolescence, the idea of developing durable, reusable and recyclable products – an ethos which we often associate with generations of the past – can seem to war against the interests of profits.
We often hear about echo chambers and groupthink in regards to the online world, our political leanings and our social groups. However, one of the areas most prone to the effects of groupthink is the corporate world.
One of the great challenges in any established industry is that players in a sector begin to look, think and operate in a very similar way — a phenomenon often referred to as strategy convergence. The reasons for this are quite simple. Companies tend to engage the same consulting firms to work with them, hire talent form the same pools of graduates, subscribe to the same news and attend the same conferences.
Gen Z have never known a world without the Internet. As a result, their hobbies, careers, identities and language are being powerfully shaped by their relationship with the online world.
A Deloitte survey found that only 10% of Gen Zs opt to watch a TV show or a film in order to switch off or recharge. In comparison, 26% say that online gaming is their favourite way to pass the time. For the rest of the Gen Zs in the survey, their favourite forms of entertainment are listening to music (14%), browsing the Internet (12%) or scrolling through social media (11%).
When talking about the online world, however, we are likely to mean something completely different in relation to Gen Z than we do in relation to their older counterparts.
There is no faster way to kill the customer experience than with confusion. Overcomplicated systems, unnecessary friction and brand inconsistency are some of the fastest ways to erode trust and rapport. With customers looking for integrity in their brands, there are few goals more key to the customer experience than maintaining simplicity and consistency.
Simplicity is one of the most underrated virtues of modern companies. Striving for simplicity does not mean you need to naively ignore the complex realities of life, but rather to aim to make things as simple and streamlined as humanly possible, and once you do, to stay the path.
Earlier this year, a cereal brand faked a whole set of endorsements and got away with it. The reason? They explicitly stated so, right beneath the pretend endorsement. UK cereal brand Surreal’s campaign featured a whole series of ads which all read along the lines of:
“Serena Williams* eats our cereal.
*She is a student from London and we paid her to eat it but the point still stands.”
Each statement came with an asterisk, leading the eye to the ‘fine print’ beneath the endorsement which acknowledged that it wasn’t actually the celebrity who gave the endorsement, but a random individual with the same name that they had paid for the glowing report.  The campaign went viral across social media, with the public appreciating the ironic humour and sarcastic self-deprecation.
While the dust has largely settled from the pandemic, the reworking of work that it set in motion is still going strong as companies and employees attempt to navigate their different needs and interests. Across the board, workers’ levels of stress and disengagement are at a high, as many are facing economic pressures, workplace tensions and unsatisfying team culture. For leaders, the need for intentional engagement with teams is pressing, and for workers the stakes are high.
The Return to Offices Revealing ‘The Great Mismatch’
Google’s recent update to its hybrid work policy has sparked backlash among workers and the public as it announced that in-person office attendance will be factored into performance reviews. Frustrated employees feel that the new policy represents an overly rigid approach to physical attendance by management.
We all know the importance of a ‘why’. For individuals and organisations alike, clarifying purpose is essential as a way of orienting goals and strategies, unifying teams and incentivising action. Many organizations have attempted to answer the ‘Why do we exist?’ question by crafting vision or mission statements, but these are all-too-often a concoction of policies, practices, strategic aims and goals. True driving purpose, however, is more fundamental, long-term and even philosophical than these things.
Years ago, I released a book named Memento that took me way out of my comfort zone. Unlike my previous nonfiction business books, Memento was for a completely new market and required an entirely different approach. It was a giftbook journal featuring a series of questions designed to prompt parents to write down their life stories as a keepsake for their children. Ten months after signing a big publishing deal with Chronicle Books in San Francisco, my family and I packed up and headed to the U.S. for a PR tour leading up to the book’s release.
While the media flurry took the predictable form of radio and print interviews, one appearance that popped into my PR calendar intrigued me. It was to record an infomercial on the Home Shopping Network. When the day of filming arrived, I caught a plane to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. At the airport, I was met by a driver who whisked me straight to the studios for hair and makeup. Little did I know how fascinating the experience would be.