The Promise
What do you promise?

We were conducting a marketing workshop for a client and we did a number of exercises so that we could get a group consensus about their core objective and key messages.

As part of this session we were trying to define their “essence” , their heartbeat , who they are and exactly what they are all about – this was really useful as it helped us to understand them even more and it helped to deliver some extra clarity to their own senior team.

The session was steering it’s way towards a Mission Statement, an outward and inward declaration of intent that they could stand over, which hopefully was going to be a lot more than corporate dribble and something that would actually connect with their audiences.

The problem is I actually hate all of that Mission Statement “stuff” – I guess the original intent was good, but for me it has become a corporate and organisational formula and I have yet to read one that stops me in my tracks and tells me something genuine, honest and emotive about what they actually do and what they believe in.

I wanted to introduce something deeper and more meaningful so I wrote a word on the flip chart – Promise

OK folks..  “What can we promise?”

Initially this question made people shift uneasily in their seats …how can you really promise anything? Is that leaving you open for inevitable failure? Is a promise a little juvenile? We live in a world of broken promises and is using that word even credible any more? What if we don’t live up to our promise?

Once the idea settled a little and the group started to get their heads around it we started to think about “what we could promise“. At this point we had a really incredible conversation that quickly went to the absolute heart of what they were all about and there was now an enthusiasm about making a real promise.

Why was there discomfort initially around using the word “promise”?

Besides making a commitment that was deeper and probably much more personal for everyone concerned it also gives you little scope for failure and sets that bar really high. On the plus side it shows that you are prepared to lay your commitment on the line and be measured by it without that margin for error.

Is it really that risky to make a genuine promise and then stand over it?

What’s your promise?

Greg Canty is a partner of FuzionPR

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