In the late 70s I was a very young up and coming Analyst/Programmer in the DP Department at Chrysler Australia. Among the 3 systems I had some responsibility for was payroll…. an archaic in house developed system written in COBOL which ran on what was at the time a million dollar computer an IBM Mainframe … a System 360 Model 40.
One day my boss came to me to tell me he had been invited to attend a seminar at John Neller and Associates along with some other big name companies that used IBM Mainframes (inc Bank of NSW (now Westpac), SAGASCO ( now Envestra) ES &A Bank (now defunct)) to look at developing a computerised Payroll packaged system to meet the specific needs of Australia. Continue reading Want to be an Entrepreneur? – First find a customer and make a sale!
Just like the Circus – Every business needs a RingMaster and not just because you have to deal with clowns and wild animals at times.
When I read Malcolm Gladwell‘s “The Tipping Point“ I realised that I am a Connector and a SalesMan when I read his next book “Blink“ I understood why intuition, gut instinct and first impressions result in the best decisions and when I read “Outliers“ I realised how unfortunate I have been in life to be born of December 27th…….. I was treated in school and sport in junior years as being up to a year older than my body…. and maybe got left behind a bit.
I must admit those discoveries have been very valuable over the past 10 years in understanding who I am in a business environment…. and now I want to explain why I think business today needs people like me more than ever…..At last I am indispensable.
When I write a blog I need two things to get started —- A headline and a memorable Image.
The headline here was easy because I am about to change my enovAsia Job Title to Ringmaster and wanted to explain why . So I found a striking impact-full image that would grab interest and one that allowed me to add to my story as well
The wild beast on the leash reminded me of the President and CEOof Dun and Bradstreet Software (CBS) – John Imlay. In the late 80s I worked for McCormack and Dodge – a Dun and Bradstreet Company. In the early 90s we merged with MSA our most bitter rival to form the world’s biggest Business Software Company.
At the first DBS Sales Conference I attended in Atlanta John Imlay came on stage to present with a with a Tiger on a leash. This was his trademark – as a leader he was tough, forthright, feared and respected.
This definitely wasn’t the image I wanted to portray and maybe it wasn’t the real John Imlay. Some months later I was working at head Office in Atlanta and waiting for the lift on the Ground Floor. The lift doors opened and there was John on his way up from the basement carpark. I got into the lift but noticed nobody else did. After a brief and pleasant chat I got out at my floor to be told by my colleagues that nobody got into the lift with John Imlay …that was the rule.
Maybe they forgot to tell John the rule.
So the message for me was Leadership style and actions need to be in sync – Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk.
When I first started eNova I was asked what I did and even before Gladwell told me I was a connector and salesman I answered that I saw myself as the old fashioned Switchboard Operator who made sure people found the right people to talk to and made the connection.
Unfortunately like the SwitchBoard Operator most of the time I was making that connection and dropping out of the conversation.
So clearly as a consultant this was not the metaphor I was looking for….as dropping out of conversations is not good for billing services.
As I said the “Tipping Point” had a real impact on me and gave me an understanding of why connectors and sales people were important within organisations. I don’t necessarily mean the traditional sales man selling their ware to the public – But the sort of internal salesman we all are day in day ….One that can turn Connecting and Selling into leadership. And lets not confuse Leadership with Management or with status ….anyone and everyone can be a leader in the business if they want to.
So enter the RingMaster. The person who knows what the organisation is all about … knows all of the people inside and outside the business and above all knows what the customers want.
At the Circus some want the clowns and others want the big cats while others want the glamour of the trapeze. And the customers range from toddlers to grand parents. It is up to the ring master to make sure everyone gets the experience they paid for.
She aims to get the best out of each individual and at the end of the show bring them together in harmony for one dazzling Grand Parade.
The Ring Master doesn’t care about titles only about talents and above all the customer experience.
And it is this convergence and the breaking down of traditional barriers within a business that highlight the need for the RingMaster in every business.
Below are key points Ray Velez and Bob Lord make in the book are applicable to every business. As they suggest this can be a roadmap to the future…… And I believe you need to find your RingMaster to keep you focussed on the most important element …. The Customer
• Organise your company around the consumer by busting silos and applying the principles of agile development across your business
• Leverage the power of the cloud for inexpensive easy-to-use solutions to marketing challenges
• Inspire cross-disciplinary thinking and collaborative action
• Create a religion around convergence, explaining how to tell the story, throughout the organization
• Adapt processes to keep up with and takeadvantage of rapid technological change
• Engage customers by creating your own media instead of interrupting them in someone else’s
• Bridge traditional and digital media interactions to offer customers real-time shopping experiences
Every Business needs a RingMaster …. find yours now.
Whilst still trying to learn what I need to leverage my use of Twitter I am amazed at its now epidemic like growth. I am sure it is well beyond the Tipping Point and may well be providing enough material for a new book by Malcolm Gladwell.
It seems to me that there are two key factors in this rate of growth
1. The adoption of Twitter as a medium for Celebrities as a medium to communicate directly with fans. Lance Armstrong is one of many examples. Cycling affecianados have followed his return to Cycling via his regular Twitter updates.
When he came to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under he added thousands to his fan base including SA Premier Mike Rann and Tourism Minister Jane Lomax Smith. His tweeting about the delights of his time in South Australia now has the Premier and Minister using Twitter.
There are now more than 200,000 following him (he follows only 43 thought) most of whom he has introduced to Twitter I suspect.
When his Time Trail bike was stolen recently his first action was putting out an APB to the Twitterati see below…
The list of celebrities using Twitter to stay in touch is growing rapidly across a diverse range of ages and now includes – Britney Spears, Stephen Fry, Shaquille O’Neill, Al Gore, John Cleese, MC Hammer, William Shatner – all have more than 100,000 followers.
2. The use of Twitter by companies large, medium and small to connect and rapidly respond to consumers needs/issues/recommendations and toi promote special offers etc .
Some of the big brands to embrace Twitter include
Whole Foods Market asks what their clients like to read and watch, recommends new food podcasts and invites them to the company upcoming events.
HRBlock runs ask-and-answer sessions with their customers.
Starbucks posts new offers and also participates in threaded discussions of these offers with their Twitter-followers.
Dell has created a number of Twitter profiles, each meant for different types of deals (e.g. DellOutlet posts recent refurbished Dell computer offers).
So why has Twitter grown so rapidly? It has been introduced to millions by brands/people they trust and has provided them with value.
So once again its a trusted brand combined with value adding to build consumer demand and support.
“Network Science will be the foundation of the 21st Century” so says Albert Laszlo Barabasi – Professor of Physics at Notre Dame Uni in a new Australian produced documentary which screened last weekend on Discovery Channel in the US.
While Aussie Duncan Watts – Sociology Professor at Columbia tells us “Nothing is more practical than a good theory.”
Having watched the doco “Connected: the real matrix”, which is avail in 4 parts on You Tube I must agree. The promo I have added to this blog will give you enough to evoke your interest I am sure.
The timing for me was interested as I have had a series of events over the past few weeks that have lead me to form similar opinions…
My Daughter is reading Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – a favourite of mine, I am working on a project which has scientists in Aust collaborating on a break thorough based on info published on the net from scientists in the UK and Russia and then the Bush fires in Victoria.
All made me think through the how and why of Networks … The Tipping Point with mavens, salesmen, Connectors etc is really about Networks and how they start fashion trends and epidemics. The collaboration work would not be possible for the scientists without some form of powerful network…. and how they all met … another case of 6 degrees of separation.
But what have the Bushfires got to do with all this . Well they result in an incredible network being formed to deal with the fire and the outcomes … from the CFA and Police to the RSPCA and the Army not to mention the local builder, truck driver etc … there are a variety of disparate resources that need to work in harmony.
The doco contrasts Bandar Aceh and Cyclone Katrina as examples of successful and not so successful networks coming together, I wonder where the Victorian Bushfires will rate in terms of networking … the resources are there but are the politics in place.
So after considering all of this I agree that in our business we need to understand the science of networks rather than just practice the art of harnessing their power.