Naked, naked, naked… if you follow my blog or if you are reading HBR, Huffington Post and the like, you are taking notice of our nude new world. “Don’t confuse transparency with a lack of privacy” embrace it as “a new form of power”, words to live by from Macrowikinomics authors Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams.
In a recent article Thriving in an Age of Hyper-Transparency, Don and Anthony say “Transparency should refer to the release or exposure of pertinent information — information that can help stakeholders if they have it or harm them if they do not. Employees should not violate confidentially agreements or the law…” In other words, your intent with transparency matters. Transparency with the intent of harm is powerless, in fact it is risky business both morally and legally. What we are advocating is transparency that empowers.
“Rather than something to be feared, transparency is becoming central to business success. Every company needs a transparency strategy. It has to rethink what new information should be made available to employees, customers, business partners and shareholders. Corporations that are open perform better. Transparency is a new form of power, which pays off when harnessed.” I urge corporations to take this sound advice literally. To survive and thrive in our nude new world it is not enough to be more open, you will need a transparency strategy that reinvents accessibility to information. This is guaranteed to expose you to new complexities but trust that the rewards far exceed the efforts.
For my readers that share my passion for customer experience, bring out the champagne, this nude new world breeds trust and trust breeds loyalty. Transparency is a key component to the 8th habit of Highly Effective Customer Experience Leaders.
Much of the published discussions I have encountered thus far have focused on corporations and government, this is a result of numerous scandals exposed in recent years. Yet the need for transparency in social responsibility is just as crucial. It is an essential missing component that is enabling our giving to exponentially exceed what is being received by those in need. In my recent post Mass Responsibility, I explain that “we need to rebuild philanthropy on a trusted and transparent foundation that is fiscally responsible and value driven.”
Bottom line is that transparency fosters end to end responsibility and empowers your economic destiny.
My love for HBR resurfaced today when I received the September 2010 issue in the mail. My frustration in having to wait so long after it is available online to receive it by mail was overshadowed by my delight in the content that never seems to disappoint.
The HBR cover teaser to this issue’s spotlight entices us with “Why the world needs audacious business solutions”. I could not turn to the pages fast enough in anticipation, I was pondering if it was a coincidence that “audaciousness” was the theme in the Motivated magazine I recently discovered? The issue of Motivated inspired a post that was deeply meaningful to me on many levels. The first article that I read in the HBR spotlight was A New Alliance for Global Change. Authors Bill Drayton and Valeria Budinich share how corporations and social entrepreneurs can work together to reshape industries and solve the world’s toughest problems. “By forming ‘hybrid value chains’ (HVCs) the for-profit and citizen sectors can together remake global economies and create long lasting social change”. They explore the possibility that “if you’re not thinking about HVC collaboration, you’ll soon be guilty of strategy malpractice.” I often write about strategies to maximize your potentiality, HVCs are a win-win proposition that can expand your potentiality exponentially. Earlier in the summer I said It’s Time for Social Innovation, and HVC is social innovation at it’s best. Bottom line: The time has come for for-profit companies to explore social innovative strategies and for not-for-profit companies to apply their good intentions to sound for-profit business models.
So it is a coincidence that this HBR spotlight was about the beauty of audaciousness within social innovation? No, not at all, coincidence is accidental, this is a leap forward in meaningful solutions.
I recently read Ralph-Christian Ohr’s great guest post The Power of Meaning. In this post Ralph-Christian explores bringing “meaning” into innovation, recognizing the profound role of emotions in business. He refers to another post by Tim Leberecht, A New Era of Meaning, a brilliant discussion about the historic opportunity leaders have today to transform the way they do business and provide customers with more value-rich, sustainable, and meaningful products and services.
After exploring numerous provocative perspectives Tim sums it up with the following synopsis:
“Reading all these recent publications, it appears that the term “meaning” (obviously highly elusive anyway) is consistently used in two different ways: one focuses on sensemaking, the social and emotional relevance of products and services (that’s the designer’s perspective represented by Verganti, Vossoughi, and others). The other one is more concerned with meaningful actions, the social impact of brands and their contract with society at large (Haque and others). It is important to establish a clear nomenclature and distinguish these two dimensions of “meaning” in the current debate. Neither dimension is particularly new: The idea of design-driven innovation has been around for a while, and so has the idea of corporate social responsibility. What’s new and interesting, however, is that these two dimensions increasingly converge. You can see more design-for-social-impact-type initiatives emerge and more design-driven innovation that takes social responsibility very seriously. The social media/social marketing/social impact cascade is gaining traction, and product innovation concepts striving for customer-focused meaning are moving to the macro-economic level, providing a template for, that’s right, a new meaning of business.”
Smart companies will embrace the new era of meaning, it won’t be easy but it will be more than worth it. Ensuring you have a healthy corporate environment is your first essential step in making this transformation.
Tim also presented a powerful quote from John Hagel, which is now my favourite quote “The job of leadership today is not just to make money. It’s to make meaning.”
I really enjoyed Lloyd Nimetz’s post this morning on the Standard Social Innovation Review. “The largest pool of untapped resources in the world today is humans’ good intentions that don’t translate into action.” I could not agree more with this statement and I think his suggested strategies are not only attainable but also simplistically brilliant.
We also need to evolve from our distinction of for-profit versus not-for-profit business models, this distinction breeds Lloyd’s quote above. Smart for-profit companies will start to recognize the benefits of innovative social strategies and they will be rewarded in both profits and karma. Not to mention living a more meaningful and purposeful life.
There are a number of social entrepreneurs leading this charge, building a hybrid business model that is has characteristics of both models. One such example is Better World Books which is a for-profit online bookseller that has donated over $5 million to literacy programs. Yet shamefully they have been criticized for misrepresenting themselves to attain free books. Imagine if Amazon donated the same percentage of their profits to literacy programs! We should not judge socially innovative companies for profiting, that is a win win!
I recently blogged about another great example of social innovation patientlikeme.com.
The time has come for for-profit companies to explore social innovative strategies and for not-for-profit companies to apply their good intentions to sound for-profit business models. Exciting stuff!