To Make Your Brand Beautiful, Eliminate Bias
"It turns out members of the upper-class are more dishonest, corrupt, deceitful, and unethical than their lower-class counterparts," wrote Charles Faraone the other day, summarizing a 2012 study.
Put less dramatically, the higher you go the more likely you are to break the rules. A counter-intuitive finding, as most people think that poor people are more desperate and therefore more "naturally" predisposed to being criminals.
Educated people are fortunate. They are forced to read academic texts. Their brains are molded such that there is at least a token respectful distance between the imperative to act, and the act of making a decision.
Most of us are not educated, even if we've gone to school, because really good teachers are rare and few people have the time and space to really study.
We're thrown out there into the waters of business, and we do the best we can to swim. Today, that means we create or join an entity that lives or dies on its brand.
Economic need has a positive side. We learn to draw quick, "good enough" conclusions quickly. This is a survival skill; without it, we would simply die in the competition.
But as a long-term proposition, "gut feel" just doesn't work. To drive a business into the future requires rationality as well as emotional intelligence. Ruthless, continuous reflection.
And your strategy has to be objective. That is to say, it cannot suffer from the unconscious biases you and your peers bring to the table. It cannot be the product of an article in Fast Company, one person's impenetrable "genius," or an unquestionable canon that doesn't hold up to common sense in the daylight.
Nowadays, it is fashionable to dismiss traditional notions of strategy. We celebrate a "nimble," "adaptive," "flexible" and "organic" approach.
But you cannot dispose of strategy. You run an organization of people. They must understand how you plan to get from Point A to Point B. So that they can support you, and do it on their own.
Bias, however unconscious, and bad or unskilled strategy always go together. You can tell in about 5 seconds, because the ordinary person can't explain what it is their company does, how they do it, or why.
In a good place, however, the strategy fits neatly on a wallet card. (I've seen it!) The thinking is smart, and it's seamless, and it's visible wherever you go.
Smart strategy, neatly executed, with impressive results.
That is how you turn a business into a beautiful brand.
Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo credit: