Looking to Build a Breakthrough Brand? Create Breakthrough Thinking
Listen to Episode 102:
Episode 102 Transcript:
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of success. On the web at businessadvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated, and sitting right across from me as always, is my business partner and husband Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. As always, it’s a pleasure to be joining you for another episode of Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. If this is your first time listening, our purpose is to spark new insights, inspiration, and immediately useful ideas for visionary leaders − and their companies − to accelerate to the next level of success. So Pam, what are we talking about today?
Pam Harper: Creating breakthrough thinking to create a breakthrough brand or company.
Scott Harper: Okay, that’s a good objective…
Pam Harper: Perhaps some of our listeners, in fact, saw an article in the January 1st issue of Fortune about a survey that they did that identified “breakthrough brands,” as they called them.
Scott Harper: Right; the article profiled 10 newer companies, including Airbnb, Slack, Tesla, Uber, Waze and others. They also visited well-established brands like Levi’s and Disney, that are experiencing new surge of relevance in consumer regard through various types of transformation. What they did was delve into a little bit of what makes a brand a breakthrough − what makes it works for companies.
The big question for any company at any stage of growth is, “what can we do for ourselves to create that level of emotional resonance and customer identification and customer loyalty that takes something like Tesla, or Apple, or Disney out there, Uber,” and makes it, “Whoa, I know that company. I like that company. I want what that company can give me”?
Pam Harper: Well, there are a lot of things that go behind it, but the bottom line that they found is that breakthrough brands or companies, new or established, have two things in common. The first is that they embody a purpose the consumers really care about, and the second is that they meet relevant needs in new ways that set them apart.
Doing this takes breakthrough thinking on the part of everyone in the company. First, let’s start out by talking about what we mean by breakthrough thinking, because people talk about this kind of thing. It’s like “innovation;” everybody wants to be innovative, everybody wants to have breakthrough thinking. Let’s be clear about what we mean by this.
Scott Harper: Well, “breakthrough thinking” is literally breaking a habit of thought that keep us focused on a particular way of thinking about things or doing things. It gets us into a mind frame that we can see possibilities that might be right in front of us, but we’re not noticing them, we’re not thinking about them.
Pam Harper: So it’s a little bit like a magic trick.
Scott Harper: It is like a magic trick. As you know, I’ve done magic as one of my many hobbies. I’m always really amazed when I see a trick and I go, “Whoa. How could that possibly be done?” Yet if I learn a trick, I think, “Oh, well that’s simple.” Some of this breakthrough thinking is kind of like that. It’s, “Oh, Uber… Well, you know, that’s pretty obvious.”
Pam Harper: We should have all seen that, right?
Scott Harper: We should have all seen that. You know, I can’t get a taxi? Okay, I’ll take out my smartphone and then I’ll call somebody up and *presto!*, there’s the car. Obvious in hindsight − so what kept people − aside from the technology didn’t exist, but once the technology existed − what kept people from doing that before the folks who developed Uber developed it?
Pam Harper: Habits of thought about transportation, and public transportation, and specifically cabs − how we get rides.
Scott Harper: Okay. So the trick so to speak is, how can we get our minds out of these habits that make us not see what in retrospect is obvious? How can we get that discontinuous jump so we can go to something that is pleasing, and surprising, and resonant with customers − and achievable?
Pam Harper: There are a lot of different ways to get at this breakthrough thinking. One of the things that I’ve used over the years, especially with clients that are trying to redefine what’s possible and change their game, is wishing.
Scott Harper: Wishing. Okay. That sounds a little out there.
Pam Harper: Wishing gets a bad reputation at times. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about it, so before we can talk about it, let’s get rid of the myths and the misconceptions.
Scott Harper: So what’s the first one that you’ve had to deal with over the years?
Pam Harper: The first one is that a lot of people will say, “Well, wishing is wishful thinking,” and that’s not true. It’s not one and the same. What makes wishing very powerful is the passion behind it. It’s engaging with my emotion and my imagination to think about, “What else could be out there? If there were no bounds, if there were no shackles, what would be happening?” The reason we care about that is because it’s engaging our emotions. As we know, the more that we feel something, the more connected we are with it, the more likely we are to have that grit that Angela Duckworth was talking about to overcome the obstacles to make it happen. That emotional connection is so powerful.
Scott Harper: Well, it is, but there’s still this conception that wishing is just not realistic. You said “wishful thinking, hoping.” I can wish for anything. I can wish for a magic pill that will make me fit, and strong, and sleek, and make my muscles pop, and not hurt me at all. But it doesn’t make it happen.
Pam Harper: Now, let’s go back and think about this. Wishing is not reality, so that is true, but if we go back say 200 years, think about would there be an Uber?
Scott Harper: Well, there weren’t any cars.
Pam Harper: That’s right. What’s realistic about that? Would there be a television that people back 200 years ago could have wished for entertainment where they could have it coming to them from all over the world.
Scott Harper: Of course not. But they didn’t.
Pam Harper: But they didn’t. What else could we wish for? We could have wished for music at any time of the day or night. Well, you can get that now anywhere in the world. Go to your iPad and figure out if you have Pandora.
Scott Harper: Yeah, but see, you said something pretty important there, and that is people 200 years ago wouldn’t wish for TV because they couldn’t imagine it. The technology wasn’t there.
Pam Harper: But you can wish for the outcome.
Scott Harper: Ah! Okay.
Pam Harper: No, I can’t wish for an Uber, but I can wish for the outcome.
Scott Harper: Okay − an easier way to get a car… and the thing was that of course, the folks who developed Uber realized that the technology was there. So in that cast, the technology was there − the smartphone and so on − so that anybody else could have imagined it. They just happened to have that flash of insight. So you’re saying the wishing can help us get to those insights more easily, can kind of break that chain.
Pam Harper: Yes. So when you combine that passion and accept the fact that there’s a lot that we don’t know how to get somewhere, but if we imagine the outcome, then we’ve got something to work with. A wish taken seriously becomes a purpose.
We’re going to take a quick break right now, and when we come back, Scott and I are going to talk more about some of the principles behind wishing and making your wishes become reality. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: We are so glad you’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. We’re brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at businessadvance.com. We focus on enabling visionary leaders to dramatically increase momentum in their companies for game-changing results.
Pam Harper: Does this topic resonate with you? We have more. Check out related episodes to expand your perspectives and take away even more immediately actionable ideas. Just go to growthignitersradio.com, Episode 102, and scroll down to Resources.
Scott Harper: And while you’re there, sign up for our weekly alert of upcoming episodes so you’ll always be up to date.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper, that’s me, and Scott Harper. Today Scott and I are talking about creating breakthrough thinking for breakthrough brands using the power of wishing. You can find out more about this episode by going to growthignitersradio.com, Episode 102, and scroll down to Resources.
Scott Harper: Okay, now we’ve talked about how wishing can help us break habits of thoughts and create those discontinuous jumps of insight that can lead to breakthrough thinking, and it’s nice in concept. The question is, how do you do it? How can business leaders and their teams and their companies actually employ wishing in a practical way that gets them to something that is actually actionable?
Pam Harper: Okay. There are some principles that I’ve found very useful in working with this. Incidentally, it’s not just business leaders − anybody can use wishing to drive breakthrough thinking.
The first principle of wishing is to start with a positive aspirational context. The reason for this is because if you go in the other direction and you’re wishing for something to stop and you’re problem-focused, you’re closing yourself down. It’s narrowing your focus.
Scott Harper: Okay, so this distinguishes wishing − this positive aspirational wishing − from how at least I’ve seen a lot of brainstorming be employed. Brainstorming “how do we solve this problem? How do we create a solution, fight a disease,” whatever. You’re right − it does tend to track people on variations of what is already being done.
Pam Harper: There’s a place for brainstorming, but this is strategic; this is opening up strategic possibilities. And the more that we’re focused on opening up to possibilities and opportunities, the more we’re going to find them. There’s the saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might just find it.”
Scott Harper: Yeah, because you open things up. Okay.
Pam Harper: That’s right, so stay open to the possibilities.
Scott Harper: Now, do you have an example of this?
Pam Harper: Well, I remember one group that I was working with. We were focused on working together to find a new way for them to grow. One of the things that I decided to do with them is to start wishing. Now, this was a very distinguished group of people that were not used to wishing, so this was a little avant-garde. One of the things that I set out for them was that we had to stay open to possibilities. We started with that as a context, and they were willing to go with me on this. They trusted me. I said, “If we go and we look for what’s possible, then we’re going to find it.” You can imagine that when you go on a treasure hunt, you’re not looking for solving the problems of muddy grass. You’re looking at treasure, and it’s the same way. Think of the analogy of going on a treasure hunt.
Scott Harper: You’ve got this context that says, “I want something to happen. How many ways can I make this thing happen?” But we’ve seen it time and again, people kind of get stuck in, “Well, that’s silly. That’s ridiculous. You’re wishing for the sun and the moon and the stars, and that can’t possibly happen.” What do you say to that? How do you deal with that?
Pam Harper: Wishing can be silly, but that’s okay. I mean, who would have imagined, going back to our first segment, 200 years ago, would we have been pushing a remote to turn on a television? How silly would that have been? How silly would it have been to be driving a car? We were using horse and buggies in those days, right?
Scott Harper: Right.
Pam Harper: I wasn’t around, but they were. But the point is that it can seem silly, and so you have to put it in context. These principles are building on each other, so if we have a context that makes sense, and we’re looking for opportunities, and we’re okay with the fact that this is a process, it’s not an event, the first part of the process is to get a little silly, is to tap into our imaginations. When we were children, we had no problems being silly. We were able to actually create a lot more. Children are known for being able to create.
Scott Harper: That lack of realism is necessary to, again, create the break.
Pam Harper: That’s right. That’s a good way of putting it, Scott. You’re creating a break with your habitual thinking. “No, we can’t do this. Oh, we have to do that.” Instead, what we’re doing is we’re creating a path towards possibility. There is going to be a time to get more realistic. Remember, we are actually taking that idea and saying, “We’re going to get silly. We’re going to find a way to use it later.” But first people have to feel safe to feel silly, so it takes very careful handling of the situation so that silliness just doesn’t get slap-happy. Silly as I’m talking about it is about tapping into your imagination and creating wild possibilities.
Scott Harper: Okay. Then the idea is, is there something in there, in that out there wish…
Pam Harper: That’s how you take it back into reality, because within every piece of silliness is a core. There’s a core of the wish. “Why do I want this silly thing? Why do I want a car that flies?” Why would Uber want a car that flies? Could be a lot of reasons. I don’t know them, but perhaps we’re all out there wishing that there was a more convenient way to get around traffic jams. The point here is that we have to be thinking about why we want what we want.
Scott Harper: And that’s the core. So you can take this “out there” idea and say, “What is in there that we can use?” If I wish for that magic pill that will make me buff and fit, the core is I want to be healthier, easier.
Now, something else that you’ve spoken a lot about, that we should also mention, is that wishes can evolve.
Pam Harper: Yes. The wishes we generate for breakthrough thinking are going to need to evolve as customers, technology, and other things in the business environment continue to change.
Scott Harper: As businesses, we can wish our way into one business model that’s very successful, but we have to keep thinking about what’s coming up, what’s changing-
Pam Harper: What’s next.
Scott Harper: … and what’s next. Don’t stop wishing. It’s a journey.
Pam Harper: Keeping in mind the principles of wishing and how they build on each other can be extremely powerful in creating the breakthrough thinking that we need to create breakthrough brands.
We’re going to take another quick break, and when we come back, Scott and I are going to talk more about some immediately useful ideas for bringing your wishes to life. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated. We’re on the web at businessadvance.com. We’d like to thank those of you who’ve reviewed and rated our podcast on iTunes so that more people can find us, but some people have told us that they’re not quite sure how to post review. I’ve created a short video that removes the mystery from the process.
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Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Today, Scott and I are talking about creating breakthrough thinking for breakthrough brands. We’re talking about specifically using the power of wishing to accomplish this in a faster and even more effective way. You can find out more about some of the resources that are associated with this episode by going to growthignitersradio.com, Episode 102.
Scott Harper: We’ve talked about the idea of wishing and how it can help us break out of the track of normal thinking, to create the emotional resonance that it takes to get us to new levels, and inspire our customers in new ways.
Okay, how do we do it? We’ve talked about the principles. Let’s have some specific steps that are actionable, that people who want to start wishing more effectively can employ. So what’s the first one?
Pam Harper: As soon as somebody’s done listening to this episode, the first thing I recommend is making sure that you have your dream team together. I mean this literally. If we’re talking about wishing as being a form of dreaming, one of the things that is very important is to have a diversity of perspectives. We’ve talked about this in other episodes − tapping into you organization’s intelligence; we’ll have a link to that.
The idea behind this is that when I talk to groups about wishing, some people can really be out there in terms of their wishes; other people maybe not as much. But ultimately when you go through the entire process of wishing, the people who are not as much out there can be helpful in refining these wishes. What we’re starting to do now in this segment is say, “How do you take something that’s really out there and make it actually happen?” Well, you need people with a more grounded, realistic perspective, and even they are able to break free a little bit of where they’ve been, so it averages out to something that is much more workable.
Scott Harper: Okay, and as you said earlier, if you’re going to have people with different perspectives and different ways of thinking, they have to have a real respect for each other. The leader has to create the environment that is going to give people the sense that they’re going to be respected, they’re going to be heard, even if they don’t get it or they come from different angles. In fact, different angles are absolutely essential for the power of wishing.
Pam Harper: That’s right. That is the second immediately useful point, which is whoever it is that is leading this, make sure that that person understands the power of wishing, and also understands some of the caution, because if people don’t feel safe, it doesn’t’ work. People have to feel safe having conversations that are a little out there. People have to feel safe about the confidentiality of this all. People have to feel safe that if they put themselves out there and they are vulnerable, and they come up with an idea that is far out…
Scott Harper: Wishing is vulnerability’ absolutely.
Pam Harper: It is. That people won’t turn around and go, “Whoa.” It takes trust, and so whoever it is, make sure that they’ve handled groups where they can create that safety, and that they understand the principles of conversational intelligence and trust and all that goes with it.
Scott Harper: Right, and as you said, then it’s important to be able to have the ability to not leave people dangling out there in the outer limits of wishing, but then it’s what you do with it that really makes sense.
Pam Harper: That’s right. That’s very grounded, and that’s where those people who have that sense of, “Let’s be real about this,” come in handy, because they can begin to say, “How can we turn this into real action?” There are a variety of things that you can do. One of the biggest things I recommend is saying, “How would we know that we’d actually achieved a particular milestone? What would be happening?” If you can’t immediately get to that milestone, you have to get a checkpoint in place to say, “What are the checkpoints along the way?” so there are many milestones.
Scott Harper: Sure, so if I can’t reach my wish now, immediately in the way I envision it, go to the core again that is the thing that’s behind the wish, and what can I do to achieve that, and what does that take, and what does that take? You back into it, and then you can move forward, and that can really give you new perspectives and go, “Oh, I never thought of it that way.”
Pam Harper: That’s true. It’s a little bit like the metaphor of climbing up a mountain. You like climbing…
Scott Harper: I do indeed. Another hobby.
Pam Harper: That’s right. If you can’t get a foothold in one direction …
Scott Harper: You go laterally and you find another route. There are many, many paths up the mountain, and they’re all right as long as they reach the top.
Pam Harper: That’s right, and we exist not in such a nonlinear world that there are a lot more ways to get to something than just one linear path. The last piece of immediately actionable advice that I would give on this topic is to brainstorm through the obstacles, because when you’re taking something that is so out there, and breakthrough thinking is, there are inevitably going to be issues. We’ve been talking about that there is more than one way. Remember that I said early in this episode that brainstorming comes in handy later. This is the later. Working with a group that is impacted, or impacts the goal that you’re working on, when you come against an obstacle, you work together to generate a list of ideas that could help solve the problem.
Scott Harper: Okay, that’s where those practical thinking people come in handy.
Pam Harper: That’s right, that’s another place. The more ideas you come up with, the more likely it is that one of them may be useful to address the issue.
Scott Harper: Okay, so you’re going then from the big wish, to the core, to milestones, and then using practical problem-solving, brainstorming to overcome obstacles to get to the final result.
Pam Harper: If you sum all of this up, there are a lot of ways to get to that breakthrough thinking, to create it so that you can get breakthrough brands. The power of wishing is one of them.
Scott Harper: Thanks, Pam, and thanks to you out there for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To get show notes and resources links for this week’s episode, go to growthignitersradio.com, Episode 102.
Pam Harper: Until next time, this is Pam Harper …
Scott Harper: … and Scott Harper …
Pam Harper: … wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to discuss with your team.
Scott Harper: What do you and your customers wish for, and what can you do now to start bringing your breakthrough wishes to life − today?