So now the dust has settled on the referendum result and the nation can comprehend the impact, recover from the shock, or the immediate jubilation; what lessons can we learn from the process:
1) Don’t expect to move hearts by rolling out the experts – the Remain campaign played heavily on the financial arguments, put forward by numerous economists. These were drowned out. The one piece of ‘evidence’ that did seem to stick throughout the campaign was the claim of the weekly payment (and potential redirection) of £350m, which was factually incorrect.
2) Don’t bank on predictable rationality – the referendum was a vote about one thing, whether to remain, or cease being a member of the European Union. However, as the voting patterns (and distinct splits) across the country were established, one could argue that people voted on the basis of a range of other things, rather than the specific question they were being asked.
3) The law of unintended consequences – the referendum was set up to address one area of our economic, political and social life – our allegiance with our wider European Union. Underpinning this, was a long running argument within the ruling Conservative party about Europe. The vote was an attempt to settle this internal division once and for all. It may have settled the internal disagreement, but it also launched a range of wider uncertainties.
4) Change is not linear – following the vote, we had a leader step down, another leader challenged, a political coup, a leadership contest which is ongoing, falling currency and property markets, drawn out uncertainty about the negotiating position for Brexit and time period. The one decision detonated a range of wider shocks to the establishment and ways of working, which were more random than linear in pattern.
Such predictable irrationality and its management in change, brand identity and leadership requirements is the focus of the The Irrational Project, a strategic partnership between Plum Consulting, a cultural change practice and Brand Ethos, a brand consultancy. Have a look at our site http://www.brandethoslondon.com/irrational2/ for more information about how our work and approach can help your business.