The weather appears to be getting a little better. We could really use a soaking rain, at least those of us who have been able to mow our lawns, but it doesn't appear we are going to get one today. Last week we went to see a Dirk Pitt movie, Sahara. One of my goals in my post Apple life is to have more fun which means adding more movies to our lives. I've long been a fan of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt. I used to read his countless paperbacks on my many trips to California. There was never a problem picking the book back up and there wasn't much there to strain your mind. Also you could always count on the good guys winning which is important fact if you are dealing with corporate life. Sometimes you need to retreat to a place where the good guys do win since so often in corporate world's that isn't the case.
Glenda had never read a Dirk Pitt book so she was a little skeptical, but it turned out we both enjoyed and I think the African scenery was stunning and shocking at the same time. If this has been a tough week spend a few hours with Dirk this weekend and imagine that Dirk and Al are hunting down your boss. I used to read Tom Swift books when I was in grade school, so I haven't changed much.
So far it's after one o'clock and the guaranteed delivery of OS X Tiger has yet to show. I love to get it on a machine and doing its indexing before we head out to another movie. My SUSE 9.3 upgrade is also a no show so far, but it is coming by UPS so it may take longer. I did manage to order a replacement vacuum coffee pot, but it ended up being a Bodum Santos that I found on sale at Herrington's. I wasn't even tempted by the recommendations of the expensive coffee machines.
We plan to head down to the Roanoke Farmers Market tomorrow like we do most Saturdays in spring and summer. We don't spend a lot of time there, but it's a great way to start the weekend, not to mention a way to get some of my favorite bread from On the Rise Bakery.
I recently ran across this post, "Brand as an Ecosystem," by Jennifer Rice.
And that is the fundamental problem: focusing on the puzzle pieces and not the puzzle itself. We are artificially creating separation between the company and customers – and between different departments within the same company – when in fact we are all part of the same system. The customer is simply a component of that system; no piece is more or less important. It’s what I call the ecology of business. We need to switch our focus from components to connections. A brand is an ecosystem. The strength of the brand is directly proportional to the number and strength of the connections within the system. Connections, not components, are the brand drivers.
The way I have always put it is that the ideal organization is one which has defined roles but easily functions outside of those roles for the better of the whole organization. You have to good leadership, solid people, and a willingness to let go of some the traditional organization concepts. You have to focus on cooperation not competition. It is really a very empowering idea to let people do what needs to be done in order to further the larger organization goals. Some managers who have to own their turf cannot handle the concept. They think getting help makes them look bad. They're more concerned about how they look to upper management than they are about meeting their organization goals.
Jennifer goes on to explain her concept a little further.
It starts with the ecosystem's foundation: the company and its employees. We need to move beyond a focus on a specific department (silo mentality) to a focus on the interconnections between individuals (system mentality). What are the most critical connections in your company? Why not have VPs over key connections instead of components? What about giving more power and compensation to the individuals who are directly responsible for customer connections? The individuals working your store or call center are the puzzle pieces that connect directly to your customers. They are equally as important as the CEO; perhaps more so.
In every company there are people who can make things work outside of the system. Often these people are the grease that keeps the rusty cogs of our corporations going. I always made a point to send my Area Associates to visit with the order processing organization just so we could have some contacts. Then I got lucky enough to hire someone from that division to work in our organization. We were in Reston, Virginia and the order center was in Austin, Texas. A fortuitous move made the hire possible, and it ended being a wonderful way to create a bridge or to use Jennifer's term a connection between sales and order processing. The potential is there in many companies to make these connections a major enhancement to their business process since mostly they happen without executives knowing about them.
Of course this concept can easily be carried to a technology company's extended family, the developers, VARs, and resellers of products. That is if the company is one that is willing to share the reward and the challenges. For this to be successful, blame has to disappear and you have to focus on creating success and solving problems.
I have been fortunate to be part of a couple of organizations that operated like this, typically they are ephemeral because it takes special people and a lot of rule bending which usually doesn't sit well with the higher ups. It also helps to have flexible compensation so that everyone shares in the rewards.
That's enough serious stuff for today. Companies rarely pay any attention to better ways to do business anyway. That is usually the case until something becomes a fad which usually means that it has become just that, a fad, and little more.
One last thing, BusinessWeek has a new blog and is asking the question, "Who should blog?" I think blolgging is somewhat self selecting but I do think companies need to think about it and come up with sensible policies that encourage useful blogging but get individuals and the company from risk.
Late breaking news- FedEx just delivered my copy of Apple's new Tiger update to OS X. It will be Geek time after the move.