A pilot program I have been recently involved with, setting out to assist the evolution of a” Sydney Harvest” brand of local produce has not delivered the results hoped for.
After years of agitation by produce growers in the Sydney basin, beset as they are by aggressive competition from the chain stores, lack of scale and high operating costs as a result of being in semi urban areas, governed by urban concerns, the pilot was created. It was a collaboration between a small number of Sydney basin growers, and specialist retailers aimed at delivering the freshest and best possible produce to those discerning and demanding customers who choose to shop at the specialist produce outlets.
The value proposition was simple : “You know it is fresh, because it come from down the road, you know the retailer, and here is the grower, guaranteeing product provenance and farming practice sustainability”.
In considering the reporting of the exercise, part of the shortcoming of the pilot was that there was little commitment beyond the verbal from the participants, even though the verbal commitment was strong. This is very common in the early stages of collaborative exercises, everyone says “yes” and waits for others to do the lifting. The emergence or otherwise of a “champion” someone who takes on the challenges at a visceral level, can be the main bellwether of success.
Watching a presentation by Seth Godin last night, he articulated just the situation we had.
There was no “connection” between the participants beyond the superficial, the human connection was not there.
Godin calls Connection “The asset of the future” and in a connected world, it would be hard to argue against this proposition. He further identified 4 pre-conditions of connection occurring.
- Co-Ordination. There was co-ordination in this pilot, but it was managed from the outside, by me, there was little skin in the co-ordination part of the game by participants.
- Trust. Trust evolves over time as a result of behaviour, it is never given, it has to be earned. In this case, we underestimated hugely the role to be played by trust, and the preconditions necessary for its evolution.
- Permission. Seth is talking about permission being given by the subject of a marketing effort, so this pilot is a different set of circumstances, nevertheless, whilst” permission” was given in the sense that all signed up to the pilot knowing exactly what was going to happen, and the role they were expected to play, when it went away, nobody missed it. The “permission” whilst given was nothing more than a superficial “OK”
- Exchange of ideas. In this case, whilst there was superficial buy in, the subsequent behaviour did not include interaction amongst the participants. They were too busy and pre-occupied with the normal business to put the time aside to exchange ideas, and get to know on a human level the other participants ,exchange ideas and experiences, and learn from each other.
This stuff is really, really, hard, and the only way we learn is by jumping in and having a go.