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Brand is dead, CSR is dead: long live SOI

The Clarity Business yesterday hosted visiting British author and global thought leader Neil Gaught for a memorably provocative session on what organisations have to do to stay relevant in the rapidly evolving world in which we live:

Says George Hulbert: I'm often asked what we do at The Clarity Business.

Simply, we help business to succeed by helping them clarify what they do, how they do it and what they achieve for their customers. And then we help them prove it - through actions and words - along the way engaging with their audiences in meaningful ways.

Then global thought leader Neil Gaught came to NZ this week and upped the intellectual level by several degrees. What he said at a memorable session at Generator in sunny Auckland will help us all to be clearer about what all organisations should be doing if we want to succeed now and in the years to come.

He got our attention firstly by saying: "Brand is dead, CSR is dead. Why is everywhere – but we all know why because we’re all connected. 

"Sustainable businesses - the ones that want to succeed and flourish in a sustained manner over time, in an era of intense consumer scrutiny driven by our complete access to information online - need to change their aspirations and their operations."

His main point was that business needs to have a real purpose – it needs to get real. "Hiding behind brand and CSR no longer cuts it. Business now around the globe is about sustainable products and services: that's what generates competitive advantage. And capitalism itself is changing – people are looking at it in different ways."

This means that HOW a company operates is much more important. 

The reason for Neil's global tour - which has so far taken in multiple cities in the US, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, and will go to Australia before finishing in Silicon Valley - is to get people to challenge what’s going on, and get to a point where more leaders understand not just that business must be good for society AND profit at the same time but also that there is a simple way of structuring action that delivers on it: through a Single Organising Idea.

Citing Unilever as the poster child of organizations that successfully marry social and economic purpose and act on their SOI, Neil says that this is a strategic management tool, not just a brand / marketing initiative in the organisation's shop window.

"The Core SOI approach outlined in my book is so much more powerful than just defining your purpose. It is logical, practical, and CEOs can understand how to apply it to their organisations succeed for their shareholders - and the planet."

Thanks Neil: powerful stuff.

And if you want to buy the book, click HERE: