Tag : product development

I can work from anywhere. Can you?

Do you let your employees work where they’ll be the most productive?  CEO’s and business owners fall into two camps.

One = I trust my employees. I tell them what I expect and I give them to tools to do their job. Performance is what matters.

Two = I think it’s human nature to try to take advantage of lax supervision so we don’t allow for flexible working conditions.

Hmmm. In the war for talent (do you believe there is one now? if not now, is one coming?) it will require us to change the way we think about work. The winners will be leaders who understand the way work is accomplished today and leverage it.

I have a client, a construction company. Perhaps not the kind of company that you might think is on the leading edge of marketing but these guys are so cool, they totally get it. They think about customers first…both the contractors and the homeowners. They are morphing the way they interact with and help both.

Caterpillar Inc. (yes the folks that make the big yellow earth movers) are also leading the way in marketing. How? By creating communities where customers can discuss equipment, business or regulatory issues. Collaboration among customers is cool. Cat gets to learn a ton about what is on their customers mind with very little effort.

All you office people; you may not think that you can learn something from these folks, but you can. Pay attention, the war for talent is heating  up in every industry.

photo credit : O2.com.uk

Executive Wanted to Watch My Toys

Every parent of a two year old has heard the cries of, “mine.”

Every person who has worked at a large (or perhaps small) company has heard the same thing. None of us want to think of ourselves as uncooperative… but many of us have attitudes about our work, our reputation and our ‘stuff’ that prevent us and our organizations from progressing.

The article, “Do Organizations Need a Chief Collaboration Officer,” struck me as both ridiculous (really another executive position?) and telling. A significant enough topic to be written about in the revered (by some) Harvard Business Review in 2010, the notion that collaboration is so important to business today that we need to give someone the authority to override silos, fiefdoms and ‘it’sallaboutmes’.

The idea here is to have someone at the executive level assuring that technology, people and culture are focused on how the new tools (web 2.0) and attitude (social) are moving the company towards increased sales and improved customer and employee relations.The holistic view of the way the company adopts and adapts to creating community for employees and customers is best seen from 30,000 feet.

Large organizations have had some advantages in technology (Lotus Notes was a revolution in communication in its day.) But now, they are at a real disadvantage as they try to control 1,000’s of employees. Real-time collaboration tools like yammer and dropbox are making it fast and inexpensive (or free!) for small companies to outpace their larger brethren.

Bottom line: the executive best suited for the new responsibility is not selected by title but by who collaborates the best.

If you believe that Web 2.0 and social networking are revolutionizing business from top to bottom, then you get this. If you think that social is for marketing and maybe human resources… then this all seems likes child’s play.


Photo credit: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

CEO Be Nimble & Quick...The Customer is Watching

“Civilizations have clashed in an unexpected way this year, as ordinary people using Facebook and Twitter knocked down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya…”  This is the opening sentence of an article titled, “Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution,”  from Forbes magazine, September 2011.

The “Customer Spring” as it’s being called, is related to the ‘Arab Spring’ referenced above. Customers, like those protesters, are exerting their influence in unprecedented ways.

In the 1980’s Porter’s Five Forces model (see image) became a model “framework for industry analysis and business strategy development.” Porter’s widely-used tool helped businesses think through which competitive forces were the most potent.

The green square (the Bargaining Power of Customers)  appears equal to others,  but in the new social world order, customers (and employees!) have unparalleled leverage. Here’s an example:

Adidas recently found itself under attack when fans of a popular rugby team were outraged to learn that Adidas team jerseys were being sold for significantly more in their country than elsewhere in the world. Fans went online to research comparative prices and then organized fellow fans in protest.  People started returning Adidas clothing to stores in disgust, the New York Times reported.

For those of us who remember the ” Tylenol recall” of 1982, we know that building  trust through transparency may not easy or cheap, but it is worthwhile. The twist is that a similar episode today would ‘hit’ the Internet and be global in seconds. CEO be nimble, CEO be quick – but you better be honest and transparent as well. That green square is growing faster than you can imagine.

Image is Michael Porter, Harvard University, Five Forces Model