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Something that is authentic is of undisputed origin, genuine, true, trustworthy, truthful, honest, faithful, credible. In the realm of existentialist philosophy, authenticity relates to a mode of human life, one that is emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible.

Pine & Gilmore on Authenticity -- (Sources: Joe Pine - Various presentations and discussions and (Gilmore & Pine, 2007)) --

Authentic offerings --
Customers value authentic offerings over fake offerings. Business creates the perception of authenticity by rendering the offerings authentic, whether they are fake or real. Offerings are authentic if they are deemed authentic by the customer. An offering that is inherently real, which customers perceive to be fake, is valued as a fake.

Authenticity principles --
Polonius advises his son Laertes, ""This above all, -- to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man."" - Shakespeare, Hamlet.

  • Principle no. 1 -- Be True to Yourself. What governs the relationship between a person an one's own self. Self-directed traits makes one authentic -- earnest, consistent, etc.
  • Principle no. 2 -- Be What You Say You Are. What governs the relationship between that person others. Other-focused qualities keep one authentic - trustworthy, honest, etc.

Axioms of Authenticity --

  • If you are authentic, you don't have to say you're authentic.
  • If you say you're authentic, you better be authentic.
  • It is easier to be authentic, if you don't say you're authentic.

Rendering Authenticity & Fake Offerings --
All economic offerings are inherently fake, thus authenticity must be rendered. Authenticity is more easily understood by noting what it is commonly viewed as not being --

  • Something is authentic if it is not of man - if it is not done under the rules of society.
  • ...authentic if it is not of machine - e.g. mass production is the height of inauthenticity.
  • ...authentic if it is not of money - i.e. as in ""selling out"", doing something for money, or just for the money.

Yet all economic offerings come from man, machine, and are sold for money. Therefore, ontologically, every offering is fake, but phenomenologically, an offering can be rendered authentic. Making a buck is a measure of how well you do in achieving your purpose. Profits are the oxygen every business needs to survive.

Authenticity is conformance to self-image - it is personal. Two people may have completely opposite perceptions of an offering or business authenticity. The following 2X2 matrix defines the authentic aspects of an offering. Value can be produced in every quadrant, thus this is a classification of offering types for assessment of the nature of an offering.

  • Real-Fake -- IS what it says it is and IS NOT true to itself. E.g. Universal City Walk in LA. A downtown you can stroll about in is definitely not true to LA.
  • Fake-Fake -- IS NOT what it says it is and IS NOT true to itself. E.g. Metrodome baseball. First it is a football stadium. Second, the hit balls bounce over the fielders' heads. If you don't like something that is fake you call it 'fake', otherwise it is 'faux'.
  • Fake-Real -- IS NOT what it says it is and IS true to itself. E.g. Disney World is a fake fantasy world. This is being very true to the heritage of Disney.
  • Real-Real -- IS what it says it is and IS true to itself. What you say matches who you are. E.g. Baseball in Camden yards in Baltimore.

Phony, or inauthentic --
To be seen as phony: 1) move away from your heritage, 2) be untrue to yourself, and 3) say you are something other than what you are.

Elements of Authenticity --
Identity -- Authenticity begins with being true to Self. Self is identity - your body of values, substance of purpose (reason for being), effects of heritage, kinds of offerings, and nature of entity. This identity can be discovered, not created. Once discovered, it can be represented.

Representing identity -- Representation of identity comes from assigned names of the company and its products, expressed statements, established places of your offering, declared motivations, and displayed appearances.

Offering types and genre of authenticity --
Following are ways to appeal to authentic sensibilities by type of offering.

  • Transformation -- Authenticity is associated with influence... calling us to a higher purpose.
  • Experiences -- Authenticity is referential ... it refers to something that is authentic. E.g. Venice, Italy or the Venetian in Las Vegas.
  • Services -- Authenticity is associated with the exceptional ...doing better than you can do it yourself. E.g. Ritz Carlton.
  • Goods -- Authenticity is associated with originality... original in design, not a copy. E.g. Apple, Levis, Coke, Harley Davidson, Tide, Disney.
  • Commodities -- Authenticity is associated with natural ... organic foods, natural cosmetics.

Ogilvy - Existentialism, authenticity, and strategy -- (Ogilvy, 2003) --
James Ogilvy addresses what authentic strategy is based on existentialist philosophy. This provides insight from yet another perspective which aligns nicely with the philosophies of Drucker, Collins, Hamel, Prahalad and other strategists. Existential philosophy stresses the importance and robustness of individual choice. Following are characteristics of existential philosophy, their related strategy principles, and the manifestation of these principles in the strategy formation process.

  • Freedom to pursue your passion -- Speaks to caring, pursuing what you truly care about. This aspect is pursued in the discovery of mission and passion in defining the core ideology of the vision.
  • Freedom to find your up-side possibilities -- Speaks to one's throwness or bent, innate skills and abilities from one's experience and DNA - finding out what it is and using it. This aspect is pursued in identifying and defining one's distinctive competency as one of the key three elements of strategic focus.
  • Freedom to decide -- Speaks to one's finitude. All people and organizations have bounds - you cannot do everything. If you don't decide (from Latin decidere-""cut off""), you won't flourish and likely die. This aspect emphasizes the need to focus -- to pursue a passion, build a distinctive competency in pursuit of that passion, and exploit that competency to produce a superior value proposition. The strategic focus sets the bounds of the business organization at a point in time.
  • Freedom to explore -- Speaks to being-toward-death, recognizing the possibility of death and generating the motivation that results in survival. From exercises in strategic assessment, scenario planning, imagineering, risk assessment, etc. - the exploration of possibilities builds strategic thinking skills and business savvy.
  • Being authentic -- Being true to one's passion, freedom, bent, and personal responsibility. Authenticity is being true to yourself, having fidelity with one's past and openness to future possibilities. Strategy is about recognizing one's path dependence while addressing the need to evolve, exploring possibilities for future survival and opportunities to thrive. See evolutionary algorithm.