Book report: Primed to Perform – Identity

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Book by Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor

Reading notes by Yan Tougas

Identity is your reason for existing.

Identity comprises a set of values and behaviors that guide an organization’s decisions, heritage, and traditions.  Without a compelling and convincing identity, cultures become weak and organizations become less adaptive.  Companies with a strong identity also have the highest levels of brand loyalty.  Identity turns jobs into callings.

To create a strong identity, organizations need a clear and compelling objective.  When all parties trust each other to act appropriately, a clear objective frees the leaders from the need to create complicated rules and allows people to adapt when the original plan fails.  Because benevolence is ranked as the most important human value, objectives with a prosocial purpose are most compelling.

Once the objective is determined, organizations need a behavioral code to help employees solve problems, prioritize, resolve conflicts, motivate others, and respect the organization’s heritage.  When it comes to identity, actions truly speak louder than words.  Identity must be credible and omnipresent.  Real examples (heritage) must be shared over and over again.  Traditions create a common bond for all employees.  You can’t “set and forget” your identity.  It requires constant work and must be embodied in all employees.

Weak identity?  Ponder these questions:

  • What objectives unites and inspires my organization?
  • What behavioral code empowers people to make decisions and solve problems in a consistent, values-based way?
  • What pieces of heritage will help celebrate and maintain our unique identity?  Which new traditions should be seeded for tomorrow?

Aristotle taught that a person’s character (identity) was the most effective means of persuasion he or she possesses.

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