The companies encouraged as many “meets” as possible (read the term “meets” in the sense of “assemble” or “convene”). Team meets, Brand meets, Company meets, Distributor meets and Customer meets. It would look like the companies were inventing a reason to make everyone meet. While some companies considered these meetings a waste of time and money, the companies which got sold on this way of work encouraged these meetings by all means and spent quite a budget to make it happen.
The beauty of such meetings is people who are participants of these meets made the meetings happen and shared a lot of work and strived to create more value from their side. Everyone tried to excel with their contribution and tried to show-off by adding value.
Let me tell you a simple example of a team meeting. It involved a hotel conference room, good food, timely snacks and coffee during intervals, drinking water during the meeting, projectors and mikes, stationery, paper work, logistics of personnel and a great deal of communication. Each activity was done by a participant by volunteering or by assignment. Since if something went wrong it would be seen as inefficiency of that person for the assigned(mostly volunteered) task, everybody did it well to prove and also get praised. Each individual contributions used to look manageable and small but viewed in the context of the meeting, it would have simply made the meeting wonderful. The meetings involved each individual presenting on his markets and the rest of team questioning/commenting on it to exchange ideas and adding value.
Take another example of customer meets. Company will sketch out the objectives and framework to operate. Employees will add the variations for the meets depending on the area. The distributors will localize it and also involve top customers. The whole team of company executives, employees, distributors and customers will make the meet a grand success and look like a festival for the brand. Visibility, more customers and growth are the results achieved.
When people got transferred from one team to another, they carried those practices and learnt new ones and over time, people followed the best practices everywhere in the organization. We had many instances of small teams bringing in major changes within the company.
Not only team meetings with company employees, all above said “meets” happened the same way including business partners(distributors) and even customers. We had witnessed many occasions where customers used to participate as if they owned the brand and were involved as if its their own function at home. As a result, both their value and the value of the company they represented grew.
Such a way of work was possible because the company believed everyone could contribute. Such a open networking way of work taught people good lessons and improved average productivity, efficiency and learning. It also promoted competitiveness and leaders emerged from such situations. These companies were market leaders and had strong brands, ever increasing market shares, low attrition rates, ever expanding markets and never had to look out for leaders of future outside of their companies. They promoted from within.
While some companies were struggling to understand such ways of work and had highly restrictive practices, practising companies used to wonder “how-else can you function?”. This looks amazingly easy or extremely tough. It depends on the understanding and practicing of the basic fundamentals of how business happens and creating a culture to nurture the same. The companies I worked did everything to nurture such a healthy system.
The beauty of this is the fact it works amazingly and produces the best results possible from employees, partners and customers. These companies made Business a way of life for everyone involved.
Cut to Present….
Today the available tools and technologies can make such an ecosystem not only work better but also the scale at which this can be done are enormous.
If you are open, encourage participation for value creation with employees, business partners and customers to achieve your business objectives with today’s tools and technologies in a massive scale, you have a new name: Social Business Company.