In my recent article, “The Search For Meaning – Why More Data Is Not Enough,” I talked about moving up the information ladder to find more meaning in your data. In this article, I will focus on the last step of the Information Spectrum – Finding Your Center of Gravity.

Data continuum

The last step to move up the information ladder is to find your brand’s center of gravity. Finding this place makes every other skill work in sync. I always think about rock climbing when I’m thinking about finding my personal center of gravity. When I’m rock climbing and having a difficult time finding my center of gravity, many times I try to change my focus and think creatively about the situation. Often in climbing it’s easy to get overly focused on the goal of completing the climb, instead of thinking creatively about the more immediate situation that you’re in. In some cases, the only way to the top is to go sideways or sometimes down to find a new, creative solution to the problem. Sometimes it means trying to use your body in a new way, like hooking your heel on a hold above your head, and using your hamstring as a bicep, pulling the rest of your body up, finding a new center of gravity.

Introduce Conflicting Viewpoints – The first step in implementing this kind of creativity is to expose the people you work with to a variety of conflicting perspectives. It’s important and valuable for people to realize there are many ways to look at a problem. One good way to do this is by having a robust social media presence, allowing everyone to participate in creating the brand.

Encourage Raw Ideas – Get in the habit of bringing radical new ideas to the table. Every time your team gets together, take five minutes and ask for the most creative idea, no matter how crazy. Support it with a rotating award.

Reduce Resources – Try giving your brand team fewer resources and see what happens. Be sure to give them more time to do things themselves. Instead of hiring someone else to lead a meaning-making session in the quest of finding your center of gravity, experiment with doing it yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes and get frustrated with the process. That’s all part of the game. The key is that you and your team are learning.

Facilitate An Institutional Memory – In your quest to find the center of gravity, make sure that the process is documented and shareable. It’s not only important to share the findings and inspiration, but also the process. In order for a company to be positioned on the center of gravity it must have the capacity to learn as an organization. Remember to facilitate the ability of your team to share their experiences through stories. We’ll talk more about this in Chapter Eight.

Allow Experimentation – Another key to making meaning is to allow the process time to explore mistakes and dead ends. Too many brands are looking for the right answer instead of being open to seeing the environment as it is. As we discussed earlier, it’s the difference between looking and seeing.

Use Short-Term Mentoring – Seek out the people in the brand who have a wealth of experience in meaning-making in the context of the environment you are exploring. Let your team use them as short-term mentors. Short-term could be a one-hour dialogue or a couple of days of learning.

Don’t Be A Slave To Research – How many times have you heard, “Well, that’s what the research says” when you know that it just doesn’t feel right? When you feel this way, take the time to dig deeper. If your gut tells you something is lacking, or just plain wrong, trust your instinct. Don’t take anything at face value. Go slower and farther in locating the real center of gravity. Then you can go faster in your innovation process.

Participate In Dialogue – Earlier we talked about the difference between dialogue and discussion. While discussion usually leads people to hold separate points of view, dialogue can lead to shared meaning, the first step on the road to finding the center of gravity.

Change Environments – All too often, brand teams get in the habit of holding a weekly meeting in the same room, using the same agenda, at the same time every week. While that’s an efficient way to have a meeting, it’s probably not the best way to inspire meaning making. Try to keep the creativity flowing by changing things up. Alternate the team member who runs the meeting weekly. Let them develop the agenda. Infuse creativity.

 Offer Your Time And Energy – In any brand, whether it has ten or ten thousand people, it’s critical that the leaders of the company and of individual teams are accessible and willing to give of their time and energy. Developing a culture of such generosity will yield enormous benefits in laying a foundation of trust, where creativity can flourish on the road to finding the center of gravity.