As we evolve the ways in which we work, and the outputs of the work we do, uncertainty will abound. At IDEO, my team made this video about embracing ambiguity.

A line in my SXSW talk caused much panic and uncertainty when I previewed it in the office.

I said (something to the effect of), “Throw out your brand house.”

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R.I.P. Brand House slide that caused internal angst, confusion and a bit of fear

But the thought didn’t end there.

Even though it was (intentionally) a tweetable phrase and a bit ambiguous, the intended takeaway followed:

Brand as a framework or static guidelines doomed to live in a deck or on a piece of paper is no longer relevant.

Let’s be clear.

That does not mean that we are no longer relevant.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are more relevant and necessary than ever. …

We are here to do amazing work that we’re excited and passionate about.

We are here to do it with amazing colleagues who surprise us with their intellect but whom we also count on for their down-to-earth, playful demeanor.

We are here to make it happen in partnership with clients we like; like really like — we want to drink beers, chat about their kids, their recent vacation to Bhutan. They respect us and we respect them.

And. We are here to build brands people love.

It’s not that we forget why we are here. Sometimes we just forget to talk about it. …

Each year, we ask you to participate in an employee engagement survey. The outputs this year highlight the type of organization we strive to be: one with engaged, passionate employees who intend to stay. However, the survey results don’t tell us what exactly we should do to improve — they simply point out opportunities, gaps, and needs.

To continually become a more engaged Interbrand, it is exceptionally clear there is no silver bullet.

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Synthesis of employee feedback in public

To identify what we should do, we focused on the verbatims (that’s company speak for “your comments”) to unlock needs and expressed desires from you. Publically, we synthesized the comments and asked for input — What’s missing? Do the themes still resonate? Are there areas that are now more important than ever? The synthesized comments moved from floor to floor looking for additional input. Apart from a resounding desire for better coffee (we heard you, better brew begins in 2015), we distilled five emerging requests: Recognition, Collaboration, Honesty + Transparency, Real World, and Less Talk More Action. These areas are dynamic; they are also not unique as any great organization will always struggle to balance and focus on these five. We must tune and re-tune based on employees’ changing needs and desires and the context of our business and offerings. …

Be optimistic, open-minded, and courageous.

The following outlines my requests for you as members of our leadership team. They’re not mandates. But they do require consideration.

Don’t panic if your immediate reaction to the following is “hell no.”

Sit on it until the end of the week. Decide if your reaction is due to a serious impediment to business (a client, a project, a team) or if it just makes you uncomfortable. If it’s the latter, find the courage to do it, find someone to keep you accountable, take a deep breath, and/or hug someone. …


Beth Viner

GM at Kickstarter, @IDEO alumni, crossfit obsessed, early bird, color lover, currently contemplating dog ownership

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