The whole idea of “fashion” is curious to me. In my mind’s eye, a bunch of very smart men and women, usually in Europe, and usually dressed in runway attire, are sitting around in rooms and coming up with what is “next” in fashion. A few assumptions I make when it comes to these “meetings”:
- They’re really just going back 30 years, adding a few ruffles and a little less material and calling it good
- They are compensated by consumers continually buying new clothes, so they are incented to come up with new fashions
- They probably giggle every once in a while when they realize that people are actually going to buy and wear some of the silly looking clothes they put out
So what happens from here? We, the consumers, watch for what is “in style” and then race out to buy this apparel. Only then to turn around, beat our chests, and exclaim that we are “individuals” by wearing what we wear.
I’m not an expert in the field of fashion, so this is speculation and a little fun. However, something I am more qualified to address is something I see, discuss, and hear about in my business daily: culture.
Culture is an important buzzword right now. There are studies, questionnaires, articles, blog posts, etc. out on the Internet based around culture. If a company doesn’t wear their culture on their sleeve, they must not have one. If a candidate for a job doesn’t ask about culture, then they must not care about it, which means they can’t work for a “culture conscious” company. Is culture really a differentiator?
To back up a little, what are companies doing right now to bolster their “culture”? We’ve seen everything from holding regular parties; conducting service projects; having break rooms with ping pong, pool, Fussball tables; nap rooms; off-site activities; gaming (as in video games) rooms; in your face marketing; extravagant traditions that attract news media; scooter race tracks in their buildings and so on. (In full disclosure, we at NaviTrust have some of these things as well).
With so many companies trying to become more extreme in their culture development, their efforts are beginning to fall on deaf ears. It goes back to my fashion comment. With so many voices beating their chest and claiming to be “unique”, all while going along and doing what other companies are doing, is there really a differentiator?
With so many voices singing the same tune, what is the true differentiator? True “A” players have always, and will forever be attracted to challenges and problem solving. If a company is able to get a little vulnerable during an interview to share true problems, challenges and shortcomings, the best talent will be attracted to it. They want to come in, solve problems, ‘make a difference’ and be rewarded for it.
It comes down to one simple question: Do you want an individual joining your company so they can get paid to play ping pong? Or because they can help your company solve problems and become more profitable?