“I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” — Snoop Dogg
It’s never a surprise to find out that a successful person or organization has crystalline focus and virtually no gap between what motivates them and what they get.
What is less obvious, although perhaps actually better known, are the much more numerous cases where that kind of focus is not accompanied by success. Much rarer, meanwhile, are the cases where success takes place for unfocused actors. This difference reinforces the assumption that single-mindedness may not always be a cause but it is still nonetheless always a prerequisite. Winners are “giving it all they’ve got”. The resources are all on the same “wavelength”.
This always reminds me of many years when I worked in a succeeding startup company with someone, a naturally independent entrepreneurial guy, who insisted “I am not a resource!” He was a stellar asset, more than was I.
But I’ve long said that an “asset” is a resource with a job.
From that point, the usual thought that occurs to people is a mental picture of resources without jobs, because instinctively the brain wants to test if a resource without a job can still be an asset. Well, the executive’s answer is always the same: yes, if you can trade them for something else.
Okay, let’s take the next steps in the thought process. Why would a resource commit to being an asset if the control of the asset is out of the hands of the resource?
Just to avoid beating around the bush: the best case scenario for a resource is this: if you are the resource, be the asset you want to have. That’s not a typo; erasing the line between “having” and “being” is exactly what managers want their employees and partners to experience in their assigned roles. It’s exactly what they mean when they say they are looking for “commitment”. But there’s an asterisk. The asterisk is that the manager wants to define the asset as well as get the commitment.
This is totally normal! Manager’s predicate their own positive value on the possibility that their customers are going to agree with them, so they rigorously attend to what it is that resources ought to be committed to. The more customers agree with the result, the more likely it becomes market share. And the more that resources commit to being the manager’s assets, the more that’s called mindshare.
That sounds like a recipe for “everybody wins”. But what’s wrong with that story?
Maybe nothing. But first let’s get one thing clear. Typically, executives don’t share markets with their own employees. They share markets with other companies’ employees. From the executive perch, “Those guys have a piece, and I have a piece.”
… executives don’t share markets with their own employees. They share markets with other companies’ employees.
That is all about”share” as a noun. It’s talking about portions, not interaction.
For execs, it’s not a big stretch at all to think that if another successful company’s employees have superior mindshare at their place, it’s probably how and why they get more marketshare. Team Spirit! Yahhh!! Hold that thought, while we start to flip the script.
If there really is a straight line connecting mindshare and marketshare, it ought to stand up to scrutiny.
First, mindshare, defined.
Mindshare is: a percent of a population that agrees, regarding some kind of value and its priority. Experienced live, mindshare is important both as an offer (the probability of being preferred) and as a demonstration (solidarity! the attractiveness of being committed). As a result, it has impact — it becomes an organizing principle; it is a catalyst; and in effect drives most combinations of resources and resource users that turn into production.
It may seem hard to measure that mindshare, but the simplest way to grasp its impact is to compare life with it against life without it.
For people running organizations, mindshare and its effects show up in two arenas: external and internal.
Externally: it re-organizes positions in markets; it creates new markets or activates latent ones; and it reinforces or “validates” choices made out there. Fans of the 2010s will by now know that in the purple haze of network effects, it is better to have the effects without the network than it is to have the network without the effects. Mindshare is the target effect. In fact, mindshare is the target “network”.
Internally: mindshare cultivates communities of interest that reveal hidden or dormant resources (i.e., capacity); and from that, it sustains development efforts to create advantage.
So let’s summarize how mindshare represents opportunity for value — first, in the external context: nothing positive is more powerful than Preference. And second, internally: winning requires learning how to use your discoverable advantages. Associating simultaneously with those two starting positions — internal advantage and external preference — is the aspirational engine of mindshare’s energy.
Although that picture of mindshare stands in vivid contrast to “authority”, managers typically want to define the assets that they want their resources to become. Their idea of advantage drives their idea of what assets are desirable. But if the resources are not committed, the likelihood that the assets will materialize as advantages is going to be low.
So that must change. This introduces a little-discussed principle: there is an inside and outside of an organization, but the market exists both inside and outside, and mindshare determines that market in both.
To make this clear, we have to define “market”.
Investopedia offers the following: “A market is a medium that allows buyers and sellers of a specific good or service to interact in order to facilitate an exchange.” More abstractly, Wikipedia shows this: “ A market is one of the many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange.” These two citations point out the same thing: the fundamental purpose of a market is to facilitate trade. So the question we’re going to have to ask now is, what needs to be traded, and why, in “the market” — a company’s market — as it exists within the organization?
This makes us identify what part of a market is occupied by the internal organization of a participating company, seen with at least enough clarity to put that on par with other kinds of participants. The usual way to portray this is to talk about the value chain, but conventionally that defines “value” only in terms of an end-point outside of the company. Increasingly, and usually due to competition, that end-point is a moving target challenging the existing logic of how to coordinate the activity of the company with sustained feasibility. Under pressure of remaining feasible, the company must be seen from the outside as “resilient”; and from the inside the company must master rapid real-time adaptation repeatedly, under the expectations or mandate of “agility”.
Well, maybe enough of that is too much. We know that the new default condition of constant change puts the current value of both assets and resources at risk. When reconfiguration is the constant expectation, the level of commitment that generates reliable productivity is less likely to be realized without either execution being only circumstantially sufficient or changes becoming disruptive.
When reconfiguration is the constant expectation, the level of commitment that generates reliable productivity is less likely to be realized without either execution being only circumstantially sufficient or changes becoming disruptive.
From the resource’s point of view, this conflict means that terms of commitment must become terms of agreement— trading one’s availability for something else of enough value to put up with the risk of being devalued as an asset.
The way this ought to work is that the market itself should be a community that is important to support. The resource makes the decision about why the community is important, and that becomes the reason why the resource sees a point to being an asset in that community. The target value point is not outside of the company, but instead inside where the resource can become that asset. As a member of the community, the resource is a stakeholder who wants the community to benefit from a foreseen asset, so the resource both wants to have and be the asset.
In this scenario, for gaining commitment, we get internal marketshare. It becomes obvious that management needs to be able to “sell” the importance of the community to the resource, whether it is a really hard sell or a really easy one. Employees are neither corporate human capital nor corporate human resources. A person is an autonomous natural resource for whom the company is a vehicle to exercise one’ s stake in a community that the company is designed to cultivate. Productivity comes from commitment, in the form of the person nurturing their own stake.
A person is an autonomous natural resource for whom the company is a vehicle to exercise one’ s stake in a community that the company is designed to cultivate.
The final piece of this is that executives don’t have the same responsibility as managers. While managers cultivate the relationship between the resource and the market, and keep the target value points within the internal reach of the resource, executives have the responsibility to ensure that the company remains functional as a vehicle in the landscape of change. This is why both strategy and performance management are executive responsibilities, whereas something we should be able to call operational culture is the responsibility of managers.
Mindshare, then, is highly vulnerable to poor management. But management itself is highly vulnerable to myopic or insecure executives who, not willing to recognize stakeholders as the true shareholders of value, make decisions that are toxic to the culture’s potential for sustainable production.
— Malcolm Ryder / archestra research @ Insights Without Borders