The Winning Formula of the Agents of Change |
Jan201220

As the corporate landscape continually changes and evolves with time, it becomes absolutely necessary to exceed the adoption of best practices, creating a new set of standards for the latest innovative implementations which are thereby executed within the course of business. Whether they have 10 employees or 10,000, the companies that are open to embracing pioneering practices and technologies in order to grow their business are what I call Agents of Change. These agents of change are the trailblazers who display to the world that success absolutely can be systematically realized via creative systems that are not yet widely accepted. In the words of Apple Inc., they are the crazy ones who introduce these new and visionary ideas not only in theory but in practice, implementing ground-breaking methods that support the future of prosperity for the company. Some areas where companies cannot afford (especially in this day and time) to resist the embrace of innovative changes are:

  • · Fostering of a culture that encourages creativity and expansion
  • · Top executive interaction with and motivation of their workforce
  • · Embracing new channels of marketing content and distribution

CULTURE

Each year Fortune Magazine’s Best 100 Companies to Work For comprises a list of more or less the same 100 companies in different placements. Google, Zappos, SAS Institute – these are the companies that have taken strides in developing and maintaining healthy, creative environments. Zappos, a company that has experienced 70% job growth in the past year, relies heavily upon its core values driven culture to inspire its workforce. The purpose of its core values program is to drive change, create fun and weirdness, be adventurous and open-minded, and pursue growth and learning in the workplace. The consistent encouragement of these values within the corporate culture at Zappos has assisted in catapulting this 13 year-old business to a billion dollar company with an employee retention rate of 70%. Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh, in his book Delivering Happiness, also credits the core values of passion and positivity to the success of the company’s relationship with their employees and subsequently their customers.

Zappos adoption of a unique and thriving corporate culture is a great case study in how to deliver happiness to your workforce. When employees are comfortable in an environment in which their superiors are accepting of ideas, their department heads are genuine about creating cutting-edge solutions, their peers are equally as enthusiastic about their brand, then the opportunity is open for the generation of impassioned concepts, processes, and designs.

EXECUTIVE INTERACTION

Though the year has just begun, Shutterfly’s President and CEO Jeff Housenbold has already been recognized as “Visionary of the Year”, as a new media visionary in the e-commerce industry. Housenbold’s tenure at Shutterfly has solidified his reputation as an enterprising company director with a strength in talent acquisition and corporate culture preservation. When bringing new talent on, Housenbold and his team are pragmatic in their assessment of potential candidates. As a guest speaker at Stanford University, one of Housenbold’s points is that it is more significant to identify a candidate’s strengths and identify ways to exploit them rather than to draw attention to his/her weaknesses. Moreover, candidates that do think outside of the box and possess an intellectual curiosity are more well-rounded and better cultural fits than lone star “heroes and cowboys”.

Senior management involvement and motivation are immensely important, and Housenbold’s tenets are straightforward:

- Be the boss you always wanted/Be the employee you always wanted

- Treat people fairly and with consistency

- Don’t just tell people “no”, explain the thought process, discuss what makes sense

- Actually listen to employee feedback and take it into consideration

- Teamwork is key, be motivated to accomplish more as a collective rather than less as an individual

EMBRACING NEW MARKETING PLATFORMS

Multi-channel digital marketing continues to generate more and more business as innovative approaches for driving revenue streams continue to be created. Only 10 years ago, traditional marketing was part of the solution to everything big business. However, now new media and content marketing are key to the success of each and every venture, small start-ups and large corporations alike. It simply is not a smart move to overlook the integration of new media and content marketing into one’s overall marketing strategy. Companies who continue to underestimate the impact of new media, who fail to recognize its value as a necessary tool, are the ones who will undoubtedly continue to struggle and gasp for air amidst their forward thinking competition.

One such example of a company who adapted their service and messaging in a changing environment is American Express. American Express financial services launched Openforum.com, a content driven online forum available to its active card members who are looking for a community of small business owners and entrepreneurial information. The forum is operated in such a way that it provides fresh and new content that is relevant to entrepreneurial minded cardholders, all the while allowing them to interact and contribute their personal views and experiences via comments and guest blogging opportunities. This platform provides the tools for participants to connect and network via its specialized features such as Connectodex and Idea Hub, creating opportunities for members to intelligently match their businesses with similar needs, goals, and interests. Using content as its core appeal, Amex’s Open Forum has assisted small to medium sized business owners in connecting to their most vital resources: information, guidance, and to each other. Amex established its brand as an informational leader in financial services, telling the story of its brand and the success stories of their customers through creative branded content that its members find is readily available, useful and beneficial. With this channel as a marketing tool Amex is able to capitalize on its open accessibility while maintaining relationships with their customers, all the while keeping a finger on the pulse of their customers’ current trends, concerns, and needs.

Whether you nurture these competencies internally or engage outside experts, it is critical to embrace the changing business practices that these agents of change have proven to be effective for long-term success and longevity.