Be careful what you pretend to be

Reality Green Road Sign Against Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

The biggest professional flop I was involved with in the last 5 years had to do with the project for a large department at a Canadian university. In short, the goal of the project was to help them get more business by reaching out more effectively to the business community.

I began by studying their target audience, their product, and their customer touch points. My findings? How much time do I have? Not much? OK: Their products & customer touch points were inelegant and outdated. In a word: unattractive. For example, they were delivering their seminars in cheap, airport-like hotels with dim lighting, poor ventilation, and uncomfortable chairs.

Was I surprised? Not really. I think that organizations are a lot like people. When you stop evolving, it shows. One thing did surprise me: they desperately and suddenly wanted to act as a ‘business.’ Why was this troubling? Because ‘the business model’ is only a good ‘template’ for businesses. And universities are not businesses.

To make a long story short, even though I was hired to deliver change from the status quo, the very people who hired me soon proved me wrong. For some reason, they were not willing to implement any new ideas. Not a single one. So at the end, there was just sort of quiet.

My 2¢:
Be careful what you pretend to be—truth in branding shines through—as does falsehood and phoniness.

May 23, 2014

p.s. Just recently, the university in question announced that they are shutting down the above mention department. Was I surprised? Not really.