how to advance your own movement

Great brands don’t follow – they lead. That’s why they tend to ignore existing trends and advance their own cultural movements instead.advance your own movement

Makes sense, right?!  The power of discovering and advancing your own movement is easy to understand – but much harder to implement.  In my book, What Great Brands Do, I share approaches that great brands use to get out in front of emerging ideas and make them their own.  I recently discovered another useful tool through my colleague, Stephen Denny, author, speaker, and business strategy and marketing consultant.

A couple of years ago, Stephen wrote a fabulous book, Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry.  It introduced a framework for challenging giants – you know, those entrenches companies that dominate market share in their categories — and shared case studies of “Davids” (smaller, challenger companies) that had taken down “Goliaths” successfully.  Last year Stephen published a companion piece to that original book, The Killing Giants Framework: 3 Areas of Excellence That Define How Davids Topple Goliaths.  It’s a shorter e-book that reviews the Goliath-Killer framework, shares new stories, and introduces a new tool, Power of 3.

This new tool caught my eye because it shows how to advance a cultural movement.  The tool – a “thinking tool” as Stephen describes it — involves using three lenses to uncover opportunities and new ideas that may have previously been hiding in plain sight.

Lens #1 – Macro Trends. The first lens is the major forces that are shaping your business environment.  They’re usually far bigger than your industry – such as the democratization of technology, the decline of location, and the shifting nature of “social glue” (meaning, the possibility to now be very connected with unlikely people like the long lost school friend we haven’t seen in decades).

Lens #2 – The Killing Giants Framework.  The second lens is three strategies of the Killing Giants Framework. These are the starting points for out-maneuvering Goliaths.  I recommend you read Stephen’s book to fully understand his framework but in sum the three practices are:

  1. Seize the Narrative – hijack the conversation in the marketplace away from the giant’s strengths and toward a place you can win – e.g., force a comparison, passion over influence
  2. Change the Rules – refuse to play by the established rules and, in doing so, invalidate the giant’s legacy strengths – e.g., do what your competitors fear most, change reward structures
  3. Translate Ideas Into Action – apply philosophies in a way that impacts your business performance – e.g., reduce need to communicate, decisively win somewhere not everywhere

Lens #3 – Your Hot Button Issues. The final lens is the short list of things you worry about that matter to the success of your business.  These are the big business drivers that determine your success or failure.  For one company this might be The War for Talent:  How do I recruit, motivate, and retain the best people possible?  Another might grapple with Differentiation – How do I create meaningful differentiation in a commodity business?

The Power of 3 involves finding the connections between the ideas that you discover when you apply these three lenses.  You connect the dots between the ideas and then label the thread. “Give each thread a name,” Stephen advises.  “Without a name, a movement doesn’t exist.  Labels are important.”  He also suggests that the Power of 3 tool is best used iteratively — combine and re-combine the ideas to identify several movements that you can then choose from.

For one client, Stephen combined “Decline of Location” (a Macro Trend) with “Change the Rules” (a strategy from the Killing Giants Framework) and “War for Talent” (the client’s Hot Button Issue) to identify the “Rise of Digital Nomads” movement.  “Rise of Digital Nomads” is “a future where we can rapidly create – and as quickly disband – temporary alliances with highly skilled professionals anywhere in the world to meet the needs of the business.”  It’s easy to see how the client might have then advanced this movement to completely change and win the talent game in its category.

The Power of 3 isn’t rocket science – it’s simply a systematic way of processing through ideas that already exist to identify movements that don’t.   I’ve already used it a few times to see the forest for the trees and to identify new brand and business growth opportunities.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did.


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  • Glad you found it useful, Denise! Thanks for your very kind words –