Authenticity

It was a long day yesterday: up at five thirty, then after delivering the workshop we went for a drink, and i finally got home from London about nine. I have to say that i was exhausted, which drove my decision to get a pizza and crash out. Now, i could have ordered Dominos, but it’s pricy. There’s a little pizza place five minutes away that does a great pizza and very cheap. So i went there. Not classy, but it did the job. So, as i sat there, eating my pizza, the chap that had taken my order and made it came over. He was Turkish, didn’t speak much English, but he asked how it was. Then he looked at the pizza, sat in it’s box in front of me, and took it away. Because it wasn’t good enough.

Now, there’s a funny thing. The pizza was’t bad, it just was a bit burnt on one side, but i hadn’t complained. He’d spotted this himself and decided to correct it. I have no idea why: perhaps he was embarrassed, perhaps he thought i was unhappy, perhaps he was just proud in his job and realised he’d missed a trick this time. I don’t know, but his actions were authentic, genuine, something that reminded me of some key learning in the workshop. He certainly wasn’t paid to deliver better service than his competitors, than a restaurant, but i’ve had plenty of poor meals out and never had someone proactively correct a bad one before.

We’d spent the day talking about social learning: about some of the bedrocks in terms of behaviours to survive and thrive in these spaces. Trust. Integrity. Relevance. Nigel had added ‘authenticity‘. We need to speak in honest voices, to be genuine. We don’t need to pretend we care: we need to have conversations that we care about.

Organisations often slip into formal voices: for learning, to describe change, to advertise, to share. They are well meaning, but inauthentic. They become victims of branding, they tell inward facing stories, they talk in tones that are relevant to themselves, but not to others. And we are, of course, supremely adapted to blocking out those tones of voice: i do it every time the adverts come on on the radio or in the middle of a film. I am a discerning listener and i’m not alone.

In the Social Age, we deal with organisations, but we speak to people. We expect a human voice, which is why one man with a pizza created a more authentic experience than a global chain. He was clearly driven to deliver an authentic experience: he cared about what he did.

I’ve had plenty of good Dominos pizzas of course: i really enjoy them, but i couldn’t single out a single instance to tell you about. I can’t remember a single time it stood out from the crowd. How much do you have to pay to get that?

We need to act with integrity, in our learning and communication, we need to be relevant, to be timely, to be authentic. If we do, people will engage, because we like to know that someone cares.

Today’s blog post is my personal narrative from the workshop yesterday. Personal narratives don’t have to cover everything, they can just let you describe a key personal takeaway and, for me, authenticity was that thing.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Attention to Detail, Blogging, Communication, Craft, Culture, Engagement, Experience, Integrity, Learning, Mediocrity, Narrative, Personal Learning Network, Responsibility, Social Learning and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Authenticity

  1. Leanne says:

    I write this with a smile, authentic is the very buzzword that stood out for me in Julian’s workshop: the people, the environment and the tone of voice.

    When I was sat on the tube on my way home I reflected on the day – I asked myself…is authentic learning, really social learning? I believe it is… So what makes learning authentic to me?

    Relationships with other people, both formal and informal
    Creation and development through certain activities
    Sharing with others, my colleagues at work and my personal learning networks

    With all this said, I really want a pizza and here is a authentic quote…

    “Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You…Be Free…Share.” Steve Maraboli, life, the truth and being free

    Thanks for a great day…

    • julianstodd says:

      Thanks for making a long journey to join us and for helping build the shared narrative: authenticity is also about saying the things we believe, creating spaces to try out new ideas together 🙂

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