originally posted on Concept Hub
In our interconnected world of digital communication, everyone in the organization can reach every one of your clients. Companies have a great opportunity to tap into the enormous talent and passions of the organization to shine in today’s global marketplace.
Who within your organization is already participating in online communities? What benefit can they be providing? How are they connecting with current or future customers?
Many organizations fear the answers to these questions and as a result, have placed harsh restrictions or eliminated access to all social networking activities.
But what if an organization had;
- A shared vision that they each felt they were contributing to?
- A high priority for customer satisfaction and retention?
- Felt as though they were part of a team working toward the same objectives for the good of all?
These are goals that many organizations work diligently to achieve. A spirit of ‘community’ from within. This is often accomplished when visions can be clearly communicated, people feel they each make a significant contribution and are asked to be involved in critical decision-making processes, and everyone is held mutually accountable for the success and the failure of the organization.
Online communities allow for peer networks to connect to solve complex problems. Internally this allows for a cross-pollination of knowledge, talents, and experience. Externally the connection naturally extends the organization’s brand awareness and opens the door for a wide variety of new opportunities.
Are there risks? Of course, there are. However, the risk exists whether an organization chooses to embrace community, ignore it, or restrict it. In fact, the risk goes up if an organization ignores or restricts community. As employees are seeking answers to effectively do their job or advance their career, many are already turning to such online communities or leveraging grassroots efforts to organize such collaboration efforts internally. Organizations who have ignored or restricted access to a community have found later that grassroots efforts to form online communities were happening without any sort of guidelines or management.
Recently the benefits of encouraging employees to interact with their customers online were measured through a survey conducted by Communispace of nearly 2,200 members of 20 communities. The results were presented in a study entitled “What Companies Gain from Listening.”
82% were more likely to recommend the client company’s products
76% said they were more positive about the client company
63% now trusted the company more than they did before joining
59% provided positive feedback to friends and family
52% were more inclined to purchase products from the client company Source
Many organizations limit who should be speaking with their customers to Sales, Marketing, PR Professionals or Executives, without taking into consideration that everyone from Janitors to Engineers have established social networks and knowledge that can be mobilized to provide brand awareness, lead generation, superior customer service, referral business and more.
Organizations have traditionally tried to create cultures where each member of the team would be proud of their workplace and in turn, generate goodwill and positive brand awareness during their day to day interactions.
As each member of the organization proudly represents their organization online, similar to wearing a company logo on their shirt on the weekend, the company extends its reach. Because the awareness is coming from a peer within their selected network it is easier to capture their attention. As members of the team are more aware of the needs and goals of their organization because they are part of that community, they are more adept at making connections that are mutually beneficial between different networks. Similar to when introductions are made at social cocktail parties.
By leveraging such networks online in similar ways as we do offline, an organization can take discrete initiatives into the social media world while discovering untapped talent and resources along the way.
originally posted on Concept Hub
In November 2005 I wrote, “In the Spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci.”
I explored the idea that what made Leonardo Da Vinci such a genius ahead of his time was that he was able to explore a variety of disciplines and discover how they are all connected.
I stated that
Technology has made tapping into the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci possible for anyone who has the desire to do so. Leonardo said that “the desire to know is natural to good men,” and “the knowledge of all things is possible.”
I also questioned why we segment different roles and departments within our corporations.
If the marketing department is not aware of the information that the salespeople are receiving, how do they know how to target their campaign? If salespeople do not get to experience the issues coming through customer service, how do they know what problems to solve? How can PR respond to the public without being in the trenches with the public? How do executives keep fresh and innovative ideas without a constant interaction with the the new hires that are coming in, full of hope, enthusiasm and innovative ideas?
The past few years, we have seen accelerated competition, global competition as well as competition from resourceful entrepreneur’s shaking up the business world as we have known it. We have also seen an acceleration in the competition to find talent. People now have an abundance of opportunities; from innovative companies, to contract/consulting work, to go off on their own. In the late nineties, we witnessed a high demand for talent based on the innovations and opportunities that were being explored on the Internet. That was a decade ago. The Internet has matured and has become a part of our lives as well as a portal to unlimited choices and opportunities for the top talent within the workforce.
For a company to thrive, or even survive, it is vital that they attract, retain, train, motivate, and inspire the right talent for the right job. Companies spend an enormous amount of their profit margin for such efforts. Yet due to an outdated process of segmenting roles and departments and lack of cross-pollination of ideas and open collaboration, many organizations miss the hidden talent that they currently have within. Or worse, they lose that talent when the individual is recruited away or steps out on their own to explore the talents that they were not given the opportunity to express at their current organization.
Many organizations are still operating with policies and procedures that were created for the industrial age. Procedures that give everyone a specific task within the “assembly line” of a hierarchal model.
This month’s Wired Magazine has a very relevant article about another “genius” that we need to look to in order to achieve a competitive advantage. In “The World Needs More Rebels Like Einstein” Walter Isaacson states;
At a time when the US, worried about competition from China, is again emphasizing math and science education, Einstein’s genius reminds us that a society’s competitive advantage comes not from teaching the multiplication or periodic tables but from nurturing rebels. Grinds have their place, but unruly geeks change the world. And, as recent research into Einstein’s personal papers shows, there’s no better glimpse into his offbeat creativity than the way he puzzled out the special theory of relativity.
See, Einstein did not follow the rules and do what he was told, he mapped out his own path, which changed the world.
The book Wikinomics provides numerous examples of how R&D departments are looking to retired Scientists and hobbyists to solve complex problems. Many solutions are actually coming from hobbyists because they have a diverse amount knowledge and skills enabling them to see connections that the scientist who are focused on the problems miss.
So, what changes can an organization make which would enable them to tap into the hidden talent that might exist within their own walls and shift from operating under the industrial model to the digital model?
They can start by allowing employees to feel involved in the decision making and direction of the company. Let them know that their ideas and opinions are being heard and be sure that the organization is capturing that information.
We all learned new ways to communicate in the late 90’s with email, Intranets, and databases. These new forms of communication were an improvement to former ways of communicating (paper memos, meetings that were missed…) However they still have their downfalls of being silos of information, or lost information, or worse, an overload of information that is ignored or inaccurate. Social media has provided the next new wave of communicating and collaborating.
Through RSS feeds, employees are able to “opt-in” to ongoing and evolving information/conversations that they are interested in, whether it is within their department or another area that they choose to explore. Departmental blogs allow for an ongoing conversation that enables different people from different departments to collaborate on ideas and explore opportunities or threats. Wikis enable companies to capture the collective intelligence of the team as it grows and evolves. Social Bookmarking enables team members to share and discover new resources and information. Podcasts and interactive videos from the executive team provides a personal touch and community building from the top.
The shift from a rigid industrial model to a collaborative digital organization reduces the loss of both information and talent. When people feel involved and valued, they experience a sense of pride and ownership and are therefore motivated and inspired to share their untapped talents, innovations, knowledge, and skills. Such an organization will reap the competitive advantage for talent as well as market-share within their industry.