Consistent change demands both consistency and change. (Episode 80)

Consistent change demands both consistency and change. (Episode 80)

Interview with Vanessa Fiol, Marketing Director at Intel for Spanish speaking LATAM.

Today I learned something about innovation from Vanessa Fiol, Marketing Director at Intel for Spanish speaking LATAM.

During the 17 years Vanessa has been with Intel she has held nine different positions. She has never felt the urge to leave the company as Intel is so big (Intel is the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue and has over 120,000 employees around the world) and she has been able to move to new challenges within the company. She has changed titles, departments and even countries, while staying with Intel all along.

A discussion between her and me, that started around the marketing activities of Intel, ended up with an insight into how creativity often needs a balance between consistency and change.

Let’s take marketing for Intel as an example.

The Intel brand is valued at more than $30 Billion dollars and the brand “Intel” is consistently ranked among “The World’s Most Valuable Brands.”

That means that someone like Vanessa, who is doing marketing for one part of the world (in her case LATAM), can just choose to do “whatever she wants.”

There are a lot of brand rules, brand legacy, brand guidelines etc that she needs to honor and respect.

There is value in consistency.

At the same time, Vanessa knows that she needs to be creative and open to change around how she markets the Intel brand in her region, since LATAM is a very different region than, say, the USA.

There is value in creativity and change.

It is this “dance” between consistency and change that makes for valuable creativity.

Never change anything and you die.

Change everything all the time and you will not go very far.

The word “consistency” original meaning is “to stand firm.”

Creativity is “to move forward.”

The same balance between consistency and change that Vanessa applies to the marketing she does for her company, she has also applied to her own career.

She has changed positions, on average, every two to three years to re-energize herself and take on new challenges. I.e. “Change.”

At the same time, she has stayed with the same company all along, which has given her a deep understanding of what Intel is and how the company works. I.e “Consistency.”

In a world that seems set on people changing employers every two to three years could it be true that we are missing out on the advantage that comes from having a deeper understanding of a company’s DNA? Listening to Vanessa I think it might be so.

The way Intel sells and markets itself is very different from other companies in other industries and it does take a while to fully grasp it. Or as Vanessa told me: “For people to understand what we (Intel) do is very complicated and it takes a long time.”

By changing jobs within the company, Vanessa is feeding her urge for creativity while watering her roots of understanding of Intel.

The value of consistency is that it gives you structure, a solid foundation, and a better understanding.

The value of creativity and change is that it gives you movement and momentum.

Embrace them both, and you see that the “sweet spot” is to stand firm while having momentum. It might sound like an oxymoron, but it is not.

While I was discussing this topic with Vanessa she said something that I found quite profound. She said: “The trick is to be able to identify what aspects of what you work on that need to stay firm (not change) and which things that should be challenged (be changed).”

Think of it like a symbolic Jenga game!

Identify the pieces which should stay where they are, and move the pieces that can be moved!

As I listen to Vanessa speak about the balance between change and consistency I am struck by an insight: Perhaps the people who are the most resistant to change are actually not against the change itself, they are just not confident enough about which things should not (!) be changed.

A Jenga player that cannot identify the pieces that should stay will be hesitant to move any pieces…

From that follows that if we really want people to be creative and change we should help them to become better at identifying the things that should not be changed!

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