Something shifts in people’s personalities as the weather warms with Spring. Have you noticed it?
Elevator and hall talk become more aspirational. More hopeful. I observe more jokes and smiles among folks. (At least among those without allergies!)
This season represents rebirth and renewal. A time to progress toward maturity.
As I’ve studied organizations over the years — the ways they try to build their brands and cultures — I’ve noticed shifts in people’s personalities as they embrace storytelling as an enterprise discipline.
Their word choices and tone become more aspirational and hopeful. Their communications sound more human and inviting.
I would like to briefly outline the three types of mindsets I’ve observed among professionals. These mindsets impact the way they market, sell, recruit and fundraise (inside and outside the organization).
The Projective Mindset
Just as the word captures, projecting describes throwing or casting something onto an object. Which is exactly what traditional sales and marketing techniques try to do.
A projective mindset sees customers as objects to be interrupted and persuaded to buy stuff. It relies on f-words (facts, figures and features) to appeal to one’s logic and reasoning.
Projective selling and marketing focuses exclusively on the thing being sold.
I recently read this on a sales training website:
Your customer or prospect needs your products or services. Explain this to him and make the decision for him.”
That’s projective thinking. I think we’re on this earth for a higher purpose than that, don’t you?
The Expressive Mindset
This is a welcome shift away from the projective mindset. However, this mindset is still self-oriented.
An expressive mindset seeks to use personal narrative to share feeling and meaning. The thinking is that if prospects like and trust you, they’ll do business with you. Which is a nice idea, but extremely unreliable in the white noise of markets.
Expressive selling and marketing typically focuses on the mission of the organization. But this approach tends not to connect the organization’s purpose with the story prospects tell themselves.
Hospitals are notorious expressive marketers. Here are some typical hospital messages:
- “We care more about what matters most.”
- “And you thought we couldn’t get any closer to our patients.”
- “Our patients gave us a thorough check-up. Here are the results.”
See how they’re all about the organization? That’s the expressive mindset.
The Connective Mindset
I believe the connective mindset is the Promised Land of organizational brands and cultures. It’s what I will practice and preach the rest of my career. Unless an even bigger idea comes along!
A connective mindset is an others-oriented perspective that finds and creates experiences that give value to others through a shared purpose. It treats people as human beings. It invites participation. It looks for ways to help others get functional, emotional and relational jobs done in their lives.
Rather than focusing on the organization or thing being sold, this mindset uses connective storytelling to propel people toward participation.
The Grateful Dead were connective agents. And they empowered fans to be connective agents too.
Acumen is a connective agent, bringing together investors and emerging world entrepreneurs through patient capital.
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was a connective agent. She blended business and activism in a way never before seen.
Which Mindset Are You?
You can identify connectives through their stories, because they aren’t about them. They’re about the people they serve and those like them.
The connective mindset is like an extension cord. It sees wall sockets and electronic devices and appliances, and seeks to carry power from one to the other.
The connective mindset is like a poet who sees similarities among dissimilar people or things and connects them through creative use of language.
The connective mindset is like the artist who says the unsaid and hears the unheard.
In a world full of noise coming from the projections and expressions of others, connecting people with themselves, others and resources is a powerful gift.
I invite you to practice the connective mindset.
It continues to breathe new life into me and my professional work. And I hope it will do the same for you.
(Image above by Wei Chen on Flickr.)