As humans we love to quantify. Predict. Determine. Forecast.
Around 300,000 years ago (when we as a human race began) predicting, determining and developing and sharing systems of knowing provided us humans with the opportunity to, well, not get eaten.
So we became pretty attached to these systems. And we carried them through the various phases and eras of human evolution. These attachments to systems of predictability became especially entrenched in the Industrial and Information Ages. Which makes sense. This world of order required a level of predictability in order to compete.
Then chaos ensued. The internet, mobile, social, millennials (just to name a few), took these idols of order and shattered them.
Many business owners and marketers still apply this type of systems thinking to the new world —
out of habit, conditioning or a desire to control.
“Let’s do more market research.”
“Who is our target audience?”
“What’s the right marketing mix?”
This, and many dated ideas of marketing, are relics of the old system of order. Yet they remain idols small business owners and marketers supplicate before in the hope of creating some order and security.
But we can’t bring order out of order.
Order can only come out of disorder.
So what’s a business owner or marketer to do?
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche succinctly summarizes our view on this matter:
Which loosely translates from Latin to “Fall in love with the uncertainty.” This means accepting the uncertainty with, dare we say, faith. Faith that if you push back against old systems, do the right things, infuse soul and wisdom in to your business, then order will return … for awhile.
We say that you turn into the unpredictability and harness it. Make it a source of energy.
So where is this primary source of disorder?
The world? Some governing body? Other people?
It’s us. You. Me. We.
We as humans are made up of systems as well as chaos. We are equal parts set structure and fluid form. Probably literally. This chaos comes in all forms. Our thoughts, our emotions, our endeavors.
In a business ecosystem, with plenty of chaotic acreage to bring order to, our system-obsessed mind tends to go nuts. We apply model after structure after system. And models are useful, but models, in and of themselves are flawed, and will never trump chaos. And chaos will eventually be ordered. For awhile. Of course, there’s not a lot of certainty in business. Ask Woolworth’s or Kmart or Kodak or Myspace or Blackberry or Blockbuster Video or Yahoo. Certainty is temporary.
The marketing you are doing today to attract leads will likely will not work tomorrow. And making marketing all about one repeatable model and directing your marketing department to be ROI-obsessed order takers may lead you down a path to short-term order, but as conditions shift or roadblocks arise or efficacy fades, chaos is sure to follow.
What if instead your marketing team were thinkers — as well as doers? What if they were strategically minded and action-oriented? Unless you don’t want that. In that case, you may prefer to be the type of leader with all the ideas, and all the delusions of order.
We’re certain of this …
As a brave leader, you will step into the chaos. You will be able to acknowledge you are part of the chaos. And when you do, some order will begin to emerge. You will have learned that how you lead is your brand. You will know that carefully nurtured word-of-mouth is infinitely more valuable that paid advertising. You will have built systems to listen to the humans who touch your brand. You will have learned to speak truth as a counter to the torrent of well-crafted marketing BS. You will see a tribe of loyal human beings form around you.
You will see that people are drawn to your authenticity and these connections — more than just leads generated through pay per click or Facebook ads — present markedly more value and significantly bigger opportunities.
You won’t be the first to boldly walk into the chaos. You can look to models like Yvon Chouinard, Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, LeBron James – and the thousands of yet-to-be-famous entrepreneurs, thought leaders, creators and makers.
We caution you of this: don’t worship them, don’t follow them as an ever-loving formula.
Simply let them be what they are – a source of inspiration for you to embrace chaos in your own way.
Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.
Want to bring a little order to the chaos of your brand? Join us in Austin on April 13 for another one of our BrandLabs! Discover your mission, hone your message, build your chaos-embracing methodology – all for only $99! Details and registration here.