In times of darkness, how do you navigate your company toward the light?
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
We are in a time of crisis. This is the global economy’s darkest hour in desperate need of a solution. A solution that, like a compass, will help us navigate ourselves and our businesses into the light.
Yes, there is light. As we know, after every economic downturn there will always be an upswing. The question is, how do you as a business leader make sure you catch the upswing?
While the world is currently investing billions in search of vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, the very next question on everyone’s mind is: how do we solve for the effects that the virus has had on our global economy?
The BRANDSYSTEM team, together with our investors, are focused on one objective: the creation of the world’s first AI business guidance system - a system that will help businesses rebuild for the future, but this time with an effective immune system to ward off the effects of the next world economic crisis. Fortunately having started our mission 8 months ago we have a jump start on a solution.
We feel that, even though BRANDSYSTEM is not complete, we need to start sharing our progress and insights as we know that we can help.
This is how we see the future of commerce, and the role BRANDSYSTEM can play in fixing the current economic situation:
The new economy: playing the infinite game.
We will have to rebuild the economy, business by business, person by person, but should we rebuild the same way we did in the past? Should we scale our businesses aggressively-without insight or certainty, assuming every move we make is correct? Should we continue to meander in the dark trying to grow our businesses with growth the only metric of success. The short answer is NO.
Increasing pressure due to economic constraints will force us to scrutinise our businesses, and the way we grow them much more critically.
We will have to insist on a sustainable model.
Old economy graph depicting unattainable infinitly growth and the new economy graph depicting infinite success
In Simon Sinek’s book, The Infinite Game, he talks about the success of a business and how it is NOT about winning by playing the finite game.
A finite game is a game like soccer, with a pre-determined start and end time. The team that wins, is the team that scores the most goals in that pre-determined time.
The game of commerce does not have a start and an end. The sole objective of the company is to keep running successfully forever while achieving milestones along the way. Since infinite growth is impossible a new way of measuring business success is required.
A new way to measure business success
In her book Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth explores the thinking needed to address the twenty-first century’s social and ecological challenges. Raworth suggests a new economic structure where businesses must operate within a band that sits between the social foundation and the ecological ceiling in order to keep a healthy ecosystem between humanity, economics and the planet. The band represents the regenerative and distributive economy.
The Doughnut: a twenty-first century compass. Between its social foundation of human well-being and ecological ceiling of the planetary pressure lies the safe and just space for humanity.
The concepts introduced by Sinek and Raworth lie at the heart of the BRANDSYSTEM Brand Promise. A big breakthrough in the development of BRANDSYSTEM is the creation of the AI consciousness framework that allows our neural network to help navigate a business toward playing an infinite game. We can use a sliding scale with two opposite variables to explain how this works.
At the bottom of the sliding scale you have “Consume” and at the top of the scale you have “Create”. For a business to survive it needs to operate in equilibrium between these two points.
Think of it like a tree. A tree grows by consuming water. The tree uses water to deliver on its purpose to produce seeds. As it consumes water it releases oxygen that becomes the building block in water. The water consumption enables the creation of the fruit which is the promise to the fruit consumer community around the tree. The tree will repeat this process until it dies and becomes soil for a new tree to grow.
Tree in equilibrium between consuming and creating
When does a tree (my company) die?
Technically a tree starts growing and dying the moment it is born, this goes for every single living thing on the planet including a company, but does it mean that the death of your business is a certain fate? A tree grows seasonal cycles - during the scarcity and cold of winter it survives by shedding its leaves and stops producing fruit, while in spring it prepares for the summer season of growth and sprouting of fruit. This happens to a business as well. It too must shrink and grow according to changing market conditions (seasonal cycles).
Over time the rate of cyclical change has increased dramatically. According to the book Better and Faster, Jeremey Gutsche and his team at Trendhunter.com analyzed over 250,000 ideas and companies to understand what made them successful. One of the insights that they gained was that innovative businesses start with a new idea and grow that idea into a viable product which is then farmed. Jeremey uses an analogy to explain the act of moving between hunting (creating innovative ideas) and farming (consuming the fruits of those innovative ideas). The team noticed that in 1978 companies on the New York stock exchange took longer to move to top 10 positions than present day. The average time was about 100 years back then, while today that rate of change (start to end) has decreased to a mere 5 years. This is known as the rate of change of innovation.
Jeremey and his team noticed that some companies come and go, but that there are a special few that manage to control the cycle by reinventing themselves (die and create new) before the market conditions force them to. They carefully controlled the timing and the way they hunted and farmed, and when they realised they were farming for too long, quickly culled what they had to and began hunting again.
If you combine Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, Raworth’s Doughnut Economics and Gutsche’s hunter vs farmer cycle, you end up with a new way for a business to measure itself and structure how it consumes in order to create.
This becomes the new framework for measuring business success, where it is not about infinite growth in a finite world, but rather a sustained equilibrium that leads to infinite business success.
The secret to playing the infinite game is that a business must be willing to move along the infinite 8-track in order to remain relevant and survive. To pass through the middle part of the track means that the business is willing to reinvent itself according to its North Star, what we call its Brand Promise.
Our new economic equation with Brand Promise at the centre
A Brand Promise comes with a decision-making framework that allows the company to continuously reinvent itself. This enables it to deliver the promise it makes to its customers and employees in innovative and more efficient ways every time it passes through the middle of the track.
Brand Promise at the centre with decision tree
We don’t need pictures of boats, we need actual boats!
Enough about the theory. How does it work in practice? We designed BRANDSYSTEM as a functional tool allowing the user to not only gain insight from the company’s current performance but also provide direction for the company’s future efforts.
The BRANDSYSTEM company health interface
In the diagram above take note of the three defined sections in the interface. The first section is about measuring the company’s current performance. This section is divided into three parts. The first part is “Care”, which is focused on measuring the company’s progress against customer and employee success.
BRANDSYSTEM Care measurement
The second part is “Calculate”. This measures the company’s progress against marketing and financial objectives.
BRANDSYSTEM Calculate measurement
The third part is “Create”. This measures the company’s performance against product and service delivery.
BRANDSYSTEM Create measurement
These three measures culminate in expressing the company's overall health.
This is evident in the middle section.
Screenshot of overall company health with Brand Promise
This section includes the Brand Promise, which forms the basis of the brand’s Artificial Intelligence calibration.
Now for some (weird) serendipity: the symbol of 8
There are exactly 8 steps in calibrating a brand's artificial intelligence using BRANDSYSTEM:
1. Define and calibrate the target audience
2. Define and calibrate the problem statement
3. Define and calibrate the solution statement
4. Define and calibrate the market landscape
5. Define and calibrate the unfair advantage
6. Define and calibrate the positioning statement
7. Distill the positioning statement into a Brand Promise
8. Define and calibrate the brand’s artificial intelligence decision-making framework according to the Brand Promise
By completing these 8 steps we give the brand’s AI a way to evaluate whether a future effort like a new store or product is in line with the company’s 8-step strategy.
The +Add New Future Effort function in BRANDSYSTEM
Now, in order to calibrate the way we measure the company’s current performance, there are exactly 8 data collection points that indicate the overall health of the businesses:
1. Social media channels
2. Digital channels
3. Point of sale cloud system
4. Marketing system
5. Employees and KPI’s
6. Cloud accounting system
7. Brand assets
8. Company targets against the Brand Promise
Landing interface with new economic model super-imposed
Stay tuned for next month’s edition where we take you through