When did we forget that business is about people?

I was at a branding conference today that had three presenters.

The first talked about how the ways in which companies are organized affects end user brand experiences. He showed lots of enterprise diagrams. He had beautiful slides with iceberg diagrams, to show all that is hidden below the surface. He used lots of jargon and talked about brand experiences. The whole time, I was waiting for him to address: Who makes up all these enterprises, and who has these brand experiences?

The second presentation, from a technical lead at Apple, was about processes. Processes, processes and more processes. Beautiful slides with steps. 1,2, 3 and A, B, C . Who is doing all the stuff outlined in these processes?

Thank goodness the last presenter was Tom Peters. He talked about people, and how that’s basically all that matters is people, and what he calls Radical Humanization.

People are doing all the work. People are having the brand experiences that the work creates. How can we (keepers of brands) make stronger human connections if we abstract the people out of all the conversations and illustrations about the enterprise and the processes?

It makes me want to take a Sharpie to those slides. They were very rational and they looked great. But there was this huge missing piece. An experience isn’t a thing without an experiencer — an actual human. A brand isn’t a thing without a person to perceive it.

So let’s get out our Sharpies, people! Let’s revise those diagrams. Maybe if we make them more real, more human, we will be able to stay more focused and grounded, and get closer to the human (vs. “customer” or “target” or “segment” or “audience”) outcomes we are striving toward.