Believing Your Own Bullshit!

For many years cultural gurus have talked up the idea of “brand pride” within a business culture. Countless CEOs have given birth to Anthony Robbins clones beating their chests and chanting loudly about their “genuine love” of the company and it’s products.

The culmination of this style of leadership is an insular company that believes it can over-power the context in which it exists – notably it’s customer, competitor and category paradigm. It also breeds a culture that fails to pick up on contextual shifts because it is so enamoured with it’s own bullshit that it fails to notice the world changing outside it’s hallowed doors.

Don’t get me wrong.

I think belief is a powerful thing. I just see more political followers of the CEO’s ego cult than true believers in the real role of retail businesses to solve their customer’s issues, problems, needs and wants profitably.

Finding the happy middle ground between self-delusion and self-flagellation is the critical ground that fosters a retail business focussed on continual improvement.

Creating a balance between executing bulletproof retail fundamentals and Einstein’s theory of insanity (“Anyone doing the same thing, year after year, expecting a different result each time is insane”.) ensures a healthy level of paranoia.

A paranoia that drives an anxiety to be – in the words of John Howard – “alert but not alarmed” in their eternal quest for continual improvement.

The best retailers in the world don’t believe their own bullshit; they don’t rest on their laurels. They have a genuine humility about them. They are only too aware that retail is relentless and that you are only as good as today’s sales. That the past is no guarantee of the future. That retail takes diligence, persistence, commitment and passion.

At the end of the day, retail is a form of commerce where the humanity of the organization is directly related to the successes it achieves.

Retail is not about subservience but it is about service. It isn’t about egotism but it is about confidence. It isn’t about propaganda but it is about perception. It isn’t about dictating but it is about solving. It isn’t about “my way or the highway” but it is about “you win, I win”.

Great retailers are confident enough to be sensitive to the context in which they operate, clever enough to find new sources of productivity growth, detailed enough to ensure excellence in execution and they never lose sight of the unalterable fact that what put their business where it is will keep it there.

Far from believing their own bullshit, they are too busy doing the business to gloat over it.