Many of (most of? ALL of?) us maintain multiple facades. We are one person at work, a different person when with our friends, parents, partners; and yet another person when on the Internet. And it even varies depending on where on the Internet!
Imagine if we could harness and channel the energy we spend on maintaining these façades towards something more constructive!
The same situation exists for businesses too. We have been conditioned to about our business in a particular language. Thus our business presents a façade “at work”. When we talk about our businesses in an intimate and informal context, such as with our close friends or life partners, a different language is used. Arguable one that is more authentic and real.
This is one big reason why I always ask clients how they describe their businesses in a highly informal setting. When clients open up this way, a lot of powerful understanding about their business can be achieved.
The process of melding our façades into one personality; the coming together of all facets of our selves – the good, bad and ugly – is called integration. Becoming an integrated person is part and parcel of growing up, of emotional maturity. It is the integration of new experiences and learnings, an ultimate acceptance of self.
An integrated person is whole and acts consistently with who they are. In this way, integration is the basis for authenticity. Strange but true - this complex amalgam of the messy stuff that makes up who we are actually makes it much simpler to be who we are consistently. From complexification comes simplicity!
In a business sense, being integrated gives each business clear decision-making guidelines on what to do. All the previously disparate parts now act as a united whole. Operations become consistent with the brand promises and the values inherent in the business as an entity.
Over time, decision-making becomes straightforward and true to the values of the business. There is no more retrospective justification for misaligned decisions and mistakes. Even the “mistakes” are in alignment with the values of the business.
Integration engenders trust from predictability*– because customers never get unexpected surprises. This is what makes one business stand out from all the others.
Differentiation starts with integration of what happens on the inside.
* Predictability of values does not hamper innovation. Far from it I believe. An integrated business has the spare energy, the focus, and the stability of their core foundations, to seriously play and really try different things. Because they know who they are and what they are about, they can focus on doing cool things.