Authenticity: More Feedback

By Angelina Russo

Thanks for this post Lydia. While I didn't get a chance to be there [#AAM09], I wonder whether anyone was talking about Pine and Gilmore's recent book: Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want.

  Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore co-founded Strategic Horizons LLP to help executives see the world differently. They scan contemporary culture and the changing economic landscape to provide insights about the Here-and-Now. They are not futurists (nor are they futurists’ sons); they are observers of the passing parade, with proven ability to detect the underlying structural shifts in the fabric of the economy.

Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore co-founded Strategic Horizons LLP to help executives see the world differently.

One of the points Pine and Gilmore make is that while audiences crave authentic experiences, in our contemporary times, we cannot assume they will equate them to the cultural sector.

They suggest that we need to re-imagine our audiences and ask ourselves 'why' they would want to connect with us and indeed, what it is that we offer that is valuable in this age of instant access. As contentious as some of their ideas may
be, I think it is incredibly valuable to genuinely ask ourselves what someone who isn't in the cultural sector might get from connecting with us.

Pine and Gilmore suggest that in re-imagining our audiences, we need to explore new partnerships and relationships with and through them.

I would add that it is broader than social media. While this gives us the tools to connect, the value of participation and the expectations of new associations are deeper and more serious concerns. I consider this to be an exciting time to be in the sector - a time when transformations in governance and guardianship have the potential to establish notions of authenticity for future, not just past or existing audiences.




Thanks for this Dr. Russo. Great to be able to draw attention to this important work.

Sorry the "comments" thing didn't seem to be working last night. Pleased we could make this a "post" instead. Worth it.

Yes! Thanks for joining in the discussion and pointing us to this resource. Great ideas!

I struggle with Gilmore and Pines' work regarding one aspect - organizational authenticity. Here in the US, we rarely (if ever) consider an organization or institution a responsible agent. It's an odd, but deeply ingrained cultural reality. That puts organizations in a very odd place. They must create their image of authenticity (branding?), but they are never empowered by all that effort. It is strange.

Shanto Iyengar at the Frameworks Institute may be finding ways for organizations to change this (although I have to say, his "strategic frame analysis" seems a little gimmick-y to me). But it's worth a look.
(thanks to @MichelleNMoon for passing along this resource in a different context)

Hello Lidja
Thanks for your response. I must admit that I always thought US institutions were possibly more accountable than our Australian institutions, simply because of the funding models. As we are, for the most part, government funded, our institutions are rarely ultimately responsible, wheras with the NFP model, I would have thought there was great impetus to ensure the institutions delivered on all levels!! I'd be interested to hear more!

Regardless, you raise a very interesting point as creating an image of authenticity is indeed a great deal of work! Maintaining over time is even greater effort!

I am not familar with Shanto Iyengar's work but will have a look at it!

Thanks again. You've given me something to think about over the weekend!!

There is a specificity of language -- "responsible agent," for instance -- that makes me hesitant to make the following comment, because I have not read the referenced work by Gilmore and Pines (I'll get on it), but I think the concept of trust ebbs and flows here in the U.S. I think we love our brands. GE makes me feel good. In fact, "it brings good things to life."

And I am not sure I have ever stopped to wonder how or why so much toxified, carbonated caramel water can't be anything but refreshing and good. And why I can sometimes have two Diet Cokes with lunch.

It is for me why Warhol is so magical - that he tapped into a dreaming state where logos fly and edges are laid bare, where sex and newscasts coexist...celebrities, as extentions of corporations are like our siblings, even the rich are our friends.

authentic? no. empowered? yes. I want my MTV.

One of the passages from an Iyengar whitepaper sums it up nicely, I think: "...American culture predisposes one to hold individuals responsible. The importance of individualism in this society cannot be understated – simply by virtue of growing up in America, we learn to
hold individuals responsible." []

I'm not sure we Americans even know **how** to hold an organization responsible for anything. We desperately try to put a face on the faceless: "Stick it to the Man" and "Watch out for Big Brother" are examples that spring to mind...but those are basically admissions that we don't know how to cope when there isn't an individual to target.

As James points out, we know how to "bask in the brand," but that is not authenticity. That is branding - and it is like a house of cards that can, on a moment's notice, blow to the wind and vanish completely - sometimes leaving a responsible individual standing alone with a shocked look on his/her face. Shocked because the branding had seemed so formidable (and authentic?) just moments ago... (Kenneth Lay, Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart are some pessimistic examples - Oprah may be a good example of someone who has transcended a brand and continues to seem very authentic...?)

There are tons of examples of screw-ups made by large organizations that we have boiled down to set at the feet of a handful of individuals we think bear the responsibility. There's no doubt that this need to find responsible individuals feeds a proclivity towards scapegoating, but we seem less concerned about that than about making someone (anyone!) accountable.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Just want to see if you are a robot.