IMG_3463One of the wonderful benefits of leading and owning a business which has continual improvement and development as one of its values is that I get the opportunity to participate in some amazing seminars and learning opportunities. Two months ago, I was honoured to be the guest speaker presenting on “The need for Vision” at the Association of Manufacturing Excellence Australia’s bimonthly dinner seminar series. This time it was my turn to soak up some wisdom from Grant Donovan on the subject “Coffee Conversations – Leadership secrets of a high performance workplace”

I was surprised by what I learnt, but particularly by where my thinking went afterwards. The learning was counter intuitive in many ways to what we see happening in most organisations, where strong control is often maintained high in the organisation and orders are issued downwards on a frequent basis.

Grant’s central theme to the presentation was that the culture of an organisation is created through millions of conversations, generating story patterns that build a narrative which then creates the culture. He summarised his talk with three points:-

1. Treat people well

2. Engage them in the decision making

3. Empower them to execute on the decisions

Brand Paradise Rescued was created from many coffee conversations

Brand Paradise Rescued was created from many coffee conversations

This in turn prompted me to think about what a brand is. Quite simply a brand is (I believe) a potential customer’s perception of a product, service or values and its organisation. Much of that perception – rightly or wrongly – is derived from small packets of information received from a variety of different media; some direct but more often indirect. Subconsciously much of that information is created by the companies employees or their efforts, be it packaging, the product itself, the sales / service interface, etc. In a large organisation it is immensely difficult to have (and repeat) those workplace “one on one” conversations with leaders, who are trying to create that brand impression.

But suddenly it started to dawn on me how powerful and possible it could  be for Paradise Rescued to develop and sustain a successful brand. Within our team, the wonderful hours of discussion in the vineyard, on the phones and emails across the world, around the dinner tables, wherever… are indeed our best leadership asset in bringing our vision to life, delivering our mission and building an internal culture that mirrors our values which in turn develops the brand that we want. And similarly by taking time to engage with our customers and fans, both face to face and through our social media marketing programmes, they too can become our best brand ambassadors.

Grant Donovan's book - an excellent short read

Grant Donovan’s book – an excellent short read

And so back to answering the question: does an internal culture impact a brand? Absolutely – if you can get the inside job done well, then externally it has a good chance of looking good too. A brand is the story telling of an organisation! Think about that the next time you fly in a plane, organise your car insurance or buy some wine! Coffee anyone?

“Coffee Conversations – Leadership secrets of a high performance workplace” is by Shane Garland and Grant Donovan PhD.