WANTED: Authenticity

“We don’t know what we don’t know”. I have heard this statement made many times in initial conversations with new or prospective clients. Though this may be a truth about life in general, there is a single asset an organization (regardless of size) has in battling this ailment. It is found in the word, “authenticity”.

A lot of organizations say that they are authentic, but miss the target when it comes to the cold-hard truths. The worst offenders are those organizations that genuinely believe that being authentic is only about creating financial profitability. If an organization was ONLY about making a profit, then this would be true. However, most organizations got their start as initially being about providing a product, service or experience. Large profits, however are simply a byproduct of being true to that fore-mentioned “about”. Chasing profitability forgets about the source of authenticity.

This is because authenticity begins with the people who produce the product or service. It is what takes a group of people, and turns them into an organization. It literally defines that group, and why it exists. Harnessing this communal, authentic power determines both the strengths and weaknesses of an organization – later outlining what opportunities and threats exist. For start-ups, tapping into this evolving organizational personality early is paramount in building anything as an organization grows…stray to far from that authenticity, and an organization’s competitive advantage is lost.

Longer-story-short, authenticity is a such a strong aspect of your business that it will tell you: what the “right way” to do something is, how to write an effective process (HR or otherwise), what decisions to make, and even what kind of person to hire next. If an organization is being authentic to it’s guiding principles, odds are that it can never go “wrong” – only people can.

The telling part here is, can your organization honestly answer this question – what makes it authentic? Does the definition include all of the mistakes, learning curves, foibles, and all? If it does, then your organization can say that they are being authentic. If it does, then it also knows more about what it supposedly “doesn’t know” than originally believed.

Basic fact – authentic organizations are able to be remarkable.

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