Markets are conversations… so what? Part II

Following my last post a few folk asked me to expand on how to enable two-way comms.

To cut a long story short, if you’re a big company with loads of people wanting to talk, the only way to get scale is to empower your staff to talk to customers. Companies who’ve been around for a long time often can’t see a way to make this happen – or it’s already happening in pockets under the radar and they don’t know how to control it. The important point to remember is the same mentality and methods that’ll lead to success on the outside are those you need to apply internally first. The rest will follow.

Begin by asking yourself whether your staff are able to connect with one-another really easily. Can they find and converse with colleagues in different countries, offices, departments, at all levels? Or is communication and messaging top-down and one-way? Top-down one-way communications are distinctly unreliable. One weak link in the chain and the message gets lost; and no feedback means no improvement.

Multi-directional networked communications, on the other hand – enabled via enterprise social networking platforms, forums, wikis or other collaboration tools – equip you with armies of influencers to spread the word on your behalf.

If you fail to empower your internal advocates, you’re making life very hard and expensive for yourself.

What’s more, there are so many brains in big organisations that the knowledge, ideas and answers are always in there somewhere. The challenge is joining them up – making connections and finding ways to bring more transparency – so inspiration, participation and new behaviours spread all the way through, with newfound velocity.

As well as repairing weak, unproductive cultures and removing barriers to forward motion, the key reason it’s vital to harness collective intelligence nowadays is the quickening pace of change in the outside world. Big bureaucratic structures make sense when no radical change is taking place, but it stands to reason that a fast-changing environment calls for greater agility. Likewise, hierarchy becomes inefficient when we need more info, more interaction, quicker decision-making and rapid action.

So help your teams talk to one-another in all directions. That’s it. Those who understand the ‘markets are conversations’ mantra and how to leverage networked communications will be in there somewhere and they’ll spread their understanding like wildfire.

Universal, embedded understanding renders (expensive) control measures (and blind panic) completely unnecessary.

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