Culture Shifting: America’s next big industry?


This is how I see it. And it isn’t rocket science:

1. If you want to change your business, you also have to change your culture. If you want to change your culture, you also have to change your behaviors.

2. To do that, you embrace “Culture Shifting”.

I had a big moment of clarity back in 2004, in a line I wrote in The Hughtrain.

: The hardest part of a CEO’s job is sharing his enthusiasm with his colleagues, especially when a lot of them are making one-fiftieth of what he is. Selling the company to the general public is a piece of cake compared to selling it to the actual people who work for it. The future of advertising is internal.

You can call it “Internal Advertising” if you want; I prefer the term “Culture Shifting”- changing your company’s fortunes NOT by trying to directly change what the general public thinks of you, but by trying to change what YOU think of you.

Improving the company by improving the culture, by subverting the culture (for the better) using counterintuitive means. Exactly.

[Photo courtesy of Adbusters.]

And yes, Culture Shifting is also what drove/drives CND, the 1960s Anti-Vietnam-War Movement,  Occupy Wall Streett, AdBusters, the Google Bus ProtestersSame idea, different aims (And if you read Greil Marcus’ “Lipstick Traces”, you’ll learn that the same riff goes back to 1970s punk rock, 1950s French Situationism, early 20th-Century Dadaism, even back to the Middle Ages…].

The new Culture Shift business model will be the  intersection of the following four nodes: Purpose, Company Culture, Media, Action.

1. Purpose: It’s the “Why” of what you do, it is not the product, it is the Purpose-Idea, as expressed by Mark Earls, or “The Why” as expressed by Simon Sinek.

2. Company Culture is informed by “Purpose”, it is that actions that a business takes each and every day to remind people of their purpose. Purpose is a set of beliefs, and Culture is the expression of those beliefs in business, not mention, the main thing that informs behavior in the absebse of rules.

3. Media: Advertising, PR, earned media, paid media, call it what you will. Once you have a “Purpose” and a company “Culture”, those two things inform all of your advertising, PR, communication, social interaction and points of contact with the outside world. From your logo, to your ads, Social Media, How your planes and trucks are painted, etc. It all informs, reinforces and feeds each other.

4. Action. Lots of small moves. “Trojan Mice”, as it were. [Something gapingvoid is very good at, by the way.]. Totally informed by Culture. It has to be bottom up; it’s management’s job to learn how to make it happen without getting in the way.

Culture Shift is why “Delivering Happiness” became an international best seller. Culture Shift is why people flock to Nevada in droves to take the Zappos tour. Cuture Shifting is what makes companies like AirBnB and Kickstarter so successful.

This is why big PR firms like Weber Shandwick or Edelman, if they get it right, will steal millions of dollars’ worth of business AWAY from traditional Madison Avenue agencies.

Culture Shift is all about creating social objects. Exactly.

[One more time:] Stop wasting your life in the traditional broadcast-advertising-era quicksand. There’s a new game in town. Culture Shifting is a potential multi-billion dollar industry, still in its infancy. Get in early if you can.

[Further Reading: The Cluetrain ManifestoDelivering HappinessCreative AgeTribesThe Hughtrain and Lipstick Traces. All must-reads to better understand this brave new world of ours.]

[This was an update/evolution of an earlier, 2013 post etc.]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

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His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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