Do You Build Anything Different With Your Legos? Engagement Commodities Are Ruining Your Company

Paul Hebert Culture, Employee Engagement, employee experience, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, Innovation, Paul Hebert, Talent Strategy

I read an article a while back with the headline: “Information is a Commodity. Your Story is Not.”

The content of that post has nothing to do with this post other than the idea that no matter how well you research best practices and copy them for your organization, you are simply assembling commodities (information) in pretty much the same way as your competition. You’re working hard to be the same.

Think of it like Legos. If I give you, and 100 other companies the exact same bag of Legos, do you build something radically different with those Legos focused on your unique business, your unique “story” (read culture) – or do you look over at your competitor and build basically the same boring cube? Do you eschew the risk of being different for the safety of being “similar?”

I say similar on purpose because someone will make the argument that they are really “different” because they do reviews 4 times a year versus 2 times a year and their survey only has 4 questions and all the others have 15. Different – but similar. Differences without distinctions.

So Much Similarity – So Little Difference

That is the problem with business engagement today. And I’m saying “business engagement” on purpose because I think we’re past the issue of making a distinction between employee engagement, customer engagement, supplier engagement, vendor engagement, or distribution channel engagement. Having world-class engagement with each of those constituencies is required today if you’re going to fulfill your mission and purpose (and… more importantly… enabling you to help all those connected constituencies to fulfill theirs!)

We are in an age of connectedness and symbiosis. We NEED to be engaged with ALL our business partners if we are going to be able to fulfill our missions. And even if you are in HR you need to ensure you enable your employees to be engaged with customers and with vendors. And your strategy and your tactics will be different from your competitors.

We need those “commodities” called “best practices.” Those commodities are the raw material for assembling the most bad-ass organization in the world. But to get there we need to reimagine how the blocks fit together so we can build something new and radically different. And do it with the same tools your competitors are using.

That is the real challenge right?

That is why you exist.


If it was simply about installing best practices – anyone could do that.

But building the Millennium Falcon out of the same pieces your competitor is using to make a tug boat… well that is where you earn your keep.

Remember – you are the person who adds value to the “best practices.” Without you they’re just commodities. They have no value.

Your task this week? Go buy some Legos. Practice building something completely different each day. Get used to being different and thinking different.