Super Ordinate goals – make the biggest, bestest use of them

Last week I came across a great example of the use of what are called ‘Super Ordinate goals’ in, of all places the middle of Wales.

I was speaking at a conference organised by Powys County Council sharing my insights and help to get people to think more flexibly to help them face the challenges of maintaining or improving services in an era of budget cutbacks.

I came across the organisation’s new strap line and instantly loved it: ‘the green heart of Wales

 It has simplicity, a ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ quality, it is rooted in a reality, it’s memorable, and above all, it is super ordinate. Why is it important to be Super Ordinate?

You may have heard of ‘Powys’, or, as I suspect like many, you probably think you may have heard of it, and would guess it is somewhere in Wales.

The county of Powys actually contains the historic counties of Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, most of Brecknockshire as well as a small part of Denbighshire. For the uninitiated it is the big bit right in the very middle of Wales away from the coast. Hence, why I like the strap-line ‘the green heart of Wales’.

Just by using the phrase ‘the green heart of Wales’ you have a clearer of idea of not just where it is, but what it’s like and what it stands for. It’s such a good phrase it makes you more likely to want to go there.

I can imagine there may be a number of local people who still emotionally attach themselves to the old historic counties. That’s fine by me, as I’m a believer your identity works on a number of different levels and facets; so you can be a proud Radnorshire person and still have that pride and not compromise by looking forward and celebrating your Powys identity.

The strapline is not just a neat little sales line, a catchy phrase to momentarily make yourself sound better, but captures the essence of your brand narrative, your story of what you tell the world about yourself, what makes you proud, different, and ultimately you.

Super ordinate goals are well  understood in psychology. They are goals achieved by people working together, who may otherwise actually oppose each other.

There is a famous study by social psychologist Muzafer Sherif who created an experiment at a boys camp in the 1950’s where one gang. the ‘Eagles’ were in a zero sum game with the ‘Rattlers’ (if one team gained the others lost and vice versa). This created strong negatives and resentments between the factions.

Sherif however, successfully brought the two groups together by using superordinate goals – an overriding, over-arching appeal – such as solving the problems of the breakdown of a food delivery truck or disruptions to their water supply.

Recognising and coming together over their common interests created common bonds, new friendships across group boundaries – where they even elected to go home together on the same bus.

I do hope ‘the green heart of Wales’ works for Powys – and that they stick with it and don’t just treat it as this year’s ad line, but instead use it with clarity, consistency and with character to build up a compelling, extensive and engaging brand narrative around the theme.

The theme provides a Super Ordinate tool to bring everyone together to work to a better future for Powys, whether you are seeking to change your Cosmic life balance or just need people to rally around your next local campaign, the green heart of Wales works.

This example does raise the beautiful question for your situation, wherever you are in the world and whatever you are doing: ‘What Super Ordinate goals are you creating for those around you?’

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