During branding workshops with company principles and employees, it’s my job to put my outside perspective to work, and therefore, my charge to sometimes play the bad guy: questioning long held assumptions, challenging cherished claims, demanding specific proof points, asking someone to validate the relevancy of a claim from their targets’ point of view, forcing owners and employees to come face to face with the real truths … be they good or bad.
For me, it’s easy—I’m on the outside looking in. I don’t have to work next to these same people day after day. My only interest is in getting past the chaff, carving out useful insights, and getting at the core truth about a brand.
But what if you’re conducting your own brand workshop amongst your own employees?
Making them comfortable with the uncomfortable
Likely, your employees are interested in maintaining a good and respectful working relationship with each other.
So it isn’t always easy for them—or you—to so easily question long held beliefs about your company or your market or your value to customers or how the marketplace views you . . . people may be afraid or uncomfortable to contradict or confront someone else’s opinion or belief or ‘fact’.
So you’ve got to make getting to the truth fun.
Pull out the Bullshit Buzzer.
Place it in the middle of the table.
Let everybody know that anybody may reach in to press the buzzer whenever they hear a statement or claim that simply doesn’t pass the smell test.
But . . . they must be prepared to explain exactly why. And then encourage whomever issued the unbelievable remark to defend their view with solid reasoning or facts.
This exchange usually ignites a very constructive and revealing discussion amongst everybody around the table
Don’t be surprised
Just don’t be surprised when—more often than you’d expect—the person who pushed down so quickly and confidently on the button doesn’t NEED to explain why they think a remark was bullshit.
Because everybody at the table has already burst into laughter.
Because everybody at the table—and throughout your company—already KNEW the particular claim/statement/viewpoint/talking point/belief was full of caca, or just so much pointless, toothless fluff. They’ve ALWAYS known it. (But were always afraid to be the one to call it out.)
“We’re pretty much viewed as the leader in the industry.”
“Our level of service is unmatched.”
“Oh, all our customers love us!”
These moments provide a wonderful relief! And a big step forward towards discarding useless (and harmful) fluff on your way to getting to the good stuff.
All’s well that ends well
Using the Bullshit Buzzer to help alleviate any uncomfortableness with conflict and embolden everybody to speak up and speak out and get past the crap, will bring truly constructive discussions.
Get one here for less than ten bucks. Dress it up with your own 'BS Alarm' label.
It will bring insights. It will bring laughs. It will bring unity.
And—ultimately—It will help bring out the core truths, those wonderful nuggets of useful insight. The ones you’ll need as you continue working to reveal your brand's differentiating strengths, leading to a clean and clear articulation of your brand's position and purpose.
Have fun doing it!