Will Meaningfulness Actually Disrupt Business? Finding Your True North

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Peace for Paris

A photo posted by @jean_jullien on Nov 13, 2015 at 3:05pm PST

As I wrote on my personal blog, #ParisAttacks Aftershocks and the Urge to Find Meaning, there seems little doubt that we are going to see a lasting effect of the cumulative terrorist attacks. Depending on where we live, we are increasingly faced with the reality of multiple and ongoing aggressions. The effects of these attacks are important and wide-ranging. The challenge from a business standpoint is not to ‘react’ hastily; but to consider carefully the strategic implications, knowing that, regrettably and foreseeably,there will be more to come.

Disruption in the crudest sense

We keep on hearing about the buzzword of disruption. In the context of Friday’s attacks, this would be the most appropriate use of term in the crudest and most painful sense. And the disruption will impact more than just tourism and retail in Paris. Even if we are but a few days since the heinous #ParisAttacks, here is how I view the fallout and some of the measures businesses should be considering:

  1. Contingency planning for more crises (e.g. impact on business)
  2. Employee security may need to be tightened (including how to account for everyone)
  3. Vigilance on the conversation around diversity (attention to latent forms of discrimination, etc.)
  4. Extra attention and sensitivity on the wording and selected images of communication (internal and external) to avoid unfortunate #misinterpretations. This includes checking the policy for checking/stopping automated messages in the various marketing automation platforms in the aftermath of such a horrendous event.

In search of meaning

Notwithstanding these types of precautions and measures, there are bigger thoughts going through the minds of many people, such as “life is short,” “there’s a lot of bad out there,” “I’m scared” … For employees who are treading water at work or, worse, who are feeling close to burnout, there will be much more soul-searching in the weeks and months ahead. People will be thinking more and more about the sense of what and how they are spending their days. There will be more people thinking about how they can contribute and help in the “bigger picture” beyond manufacturing more widgets, pulling in more sales. What purpose does the sale of another widget serve? It is in this context that business will see themselves being disrupted by the quest for meaningfulness.

The Meaningful Mindset

With the advent of the millennial and the mindset of the Internet generation (which spreads across all ages), Mindfulness and Meaningfulness have grown in importance. Whereas the battles and agonies have been cast by most as not happening to or near me, the attacks of Friday, in popular Parisian neighbourhoods, involving so many young victims, are going to be yet another wake-up call, reinforcing the individual’s need for a sense of purpose.

Finding a True North

True North

If the pace of change and accelerating timeliness were not enough, there are deeper currents that are bringing about a most fundamental shift. I am convinced that companies that have been actively and materially nurturing a higher sense of purpose will attract and foster a stronger workforce Click To Tweet able to bond together more resolutely (than the others) through the turbulence. As I like to say, it's about finding your True North and having integrity with regard to the why of your business. Click To Tweet At the very least, there needs to a personal attachment to the time one spends at work. This is why I promote the notion that branding must get more personal — not just in terms of personalizing the offer for customers; but, for the employees who are on the front line, bringing their own energy and personifying the brand.

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