Most of our clients would say that they have three primary assets – their brands; the goodwill tied up in the relationships they have with customers and consumers; and their people. And many would place people at the top of the list.
Putting to one side the issue that most people, not least the burgeoning millennial generation, don’t like to be classed as an asset (which is somewhat dehumanising and has implications of ownership), we know what they mean: it is through the creativity, enthusiasm and application of people that great things are achieved. Therefore, it is a major occupation of brand owners to work at engaging, nurturing and developing the best people in order to achieve the goals of their business.
This is probably why we are regularly asked two questions:
- We’re hiring, do you know any good brand managers because they’re proving hard to find?
- B the way, do you think great brand managers are made or born? I’m wondering, should we grow our own talent or just buy it in?
How has it come to this? After all, whilst its true origin might be debated, Marketing is hardly a new thing. The problem seems to be that some businesses have lost faith in their ability to develop great people. It isn’t surprising when you consider the direct and indirect cost of formal, off the job training. And that there are lots of experts out there saying things like “training doesn’t work” (Google it, you might be amazed). Like this from David Maister, trainer, writer and Harvard professor: “the majority of business training, by me and by everyone else, is a waste of money and time, because only a microscopic fraction of it is ever put into practice”.
We have a Tangible view on this. Of course, like some consumer research, some training doesn’t work. The wrong sort. Training that is too abstract, academic and detached from the day to day operation of the business. The right sort of training is action oriented and experiential, the sort that produces results in real time, whilst it is happening.
We have answers for those two questions:
- Yes, we work with plenty of them. They’re the ones who are inquisitive, ambitious and always looking for new questions and finding new answers
- Of course, you can buy talent, and focus on integrating them into your culture and way of thinking. However, the best brand owners grow their own, developing from within, retaining and sharing knowledge, insight and wisdom and reinforcing their own values and behaviours as they go. Learning by doing.