Let’s just imagine for a moment that organisations have no idea what they’re doing. And, by way of balance, let’s pretend that people have no idea what they want. Picture a world in which pretty much everyone is clueless, in which every next step is just guessed at and people choose things on a whim.
The last time you talked to someone about what they wanted to do with their lives how did the conversation go? Were they absolutely clear? Were there doubts? And how sure were they really? If another idea came along, a new job or an offer to move to another country, would they stick to their original plan?
If people are like this with their life plans, what does this mean for the day-to-day? Are they going to be loyal to brands? Do they know which cleaning products are best? Are they absolutely sure about their favourite place to go on holiday? Do they know what public services they really need?
Our decisions are a function of what we already know, what we can easily find out, our moods and whatever else happens when it comes to the crunch. Which is another way of saying that it’s essentially random. And organisations are just made up of lots of people, so how can we expect them to be any different?
Of course we don’t really talk about what organisations want. We talk about strategy. So, bringing us back to the beginning of the post, let’s just imagine that those strategies are completely made up, by groups of people with no clear idea of what they want.
What this means is that organisations and people can’t properly interact by way of transactions. Real transactions are heavily reliant on clear articulation and mutual agreement. In our random world that’s possible on a shallow, micro-level but it just can’t scale. And the mistake organisations make is that they think a minor transaction is a connection with their values.
Real connections come from something else altogether. When organisations don’t know what to do and people don’t know what they want, connections come from mutual support. People need organisations to help them make better choices as much as organisations need people to show them the way forward.
This mutual support through the gauntlet of indecision and randomness is a powerful thing, easily abused but easily spotted. Just because nobody knows what they want it doesn’t mean that nobody is going to notice when they haven’t got it.
And so, the important thing is to embrace and be honest about how little we have a clue. And how much we all need each other to create anything of real value. After all, everything is much more exciting that way. Let’s all stop pretending and get on with it.