Time for Timelessness
Re-authoring Brands from Within
The watch’s suicide
As a young adult, having grown up in Germany, I felt slightly rebellious against the habit to wear a watch on the left arm. This ‘mainstream rule’ reminded me of the negative aspects of time, its rigidity, constraining my free spirit in its creative flow. For many years, I lived well without any watch on my arm. Not a big thing, as time was indicated everywhere. Some months’ ago, I got into a ‘flirt’ with a cheap golden Casio watch, a model similar to my very first silver one in the late 70ies. In the meantime, live has convinced me about some advantages in being structured, in our time- and action based society, and still more in my professional responsibility as an organizational consultant.
Some weeks later, I travelled with my ‘new’ watch on the left arm to a processwork facilitation training in Kyiv. Working on unfolding unconscious personal and group processes, we normally get slightly confused after some days, wandering between dream and reality. One afternoon, in a giggly mood, we talk and walk with some colleagues along the river Dnepr until we get to a huge bridge.
Since I rarely cross a bridge without pausing on it, I ask my companions, if they minded to rest a moment in the middle of the bridge. We slow down, pause, look and dive into the shimmery sun play in the water. As suddenly, with a decent bang … my golden watch touches the edge of the bridge before falling freely into the depth … ending up in the river.
After mentally checking the weight of my loss, I start laughing, feel relief and tell my companions about my yearlong watch struggle. I finally understand, it is not me against structure, time or watches, but stillness, pause, timelessness also want to have their space. In this delicate spaces, flow rules over time. These moments are deeply nourishing, I connect to the flow, magic can happen and the most amazing phenomena is that structure emerges – with ease – out of the flow.
This tension between flow and structure is at the heart of what I believe supports organizations to develop powerful stories and brands. I believe that a successful brand is both an expression of an organizational identity, a vehicle for its myth, and the quality of the process, the flow, through which it comes into being…
To inspire – connect to your myth
A brand can be much more than a name or a symbol; it can be a whole experience. This experience gets strong and convincing when it is connected to the organizational myth.
Each company has its myth; it is a basic pattern like the DNA of the system. The myth is timeless, not easy to catch, an experience rather than a sentence. To search for it, is like a treasure hunt. Getting in touch with the myth is like a precious archaeological discovery. A story based on the myth has the potential to inspire. It is like a bonfire for a group, it creates community and makes sense. People engage.
Give space to collective creativity and knowledge
With story, time enters into the game. A story is the journey between who you are and who you can be in your best possible future. After a first phase of listening, a group of people is invited to work on their brand’s core story. Walking and working on this storyline becomes a collective transformation process. The attitude to support this journey is quite different to the concept of expert consultancy. A storyworking facilitator, contributes with the capacity to listen, to catch sparks, to work with diversity and tension – all that, to support the group’s own creativity to unfold.
After the narrative mapping (listening) and the collective journey to transform tensions into collective creativity, the team and its brand(s) are ready to step On Stage (storytelling). It is time to perform, to prioritize content, consider format, get into dialogue with the audience, overall to develop a brand strategy. At this point the strategy is emerging out of the flow – with ease and grace. It is now the power of collective awareness that organizes the process.
Drop your watches
As many of us wear watches on the left arm, it is a challenge to give space to this kind of deep diving journeys in organisations. Our action based western cultures framed by the speed of digitalisation have difficulties to stand still and to recognize the creative power and the knowledge of the collective. Time to acknowledge that the resulting inspiration, connectivity and community feeling are like ingredients for an energy drink or better part of an empowering Ayurveda treatment, which empowers all of us, organizations and brands to success- and joyfully face the speed and uncertainty of our times.
Be on fire! Let your story work!