Tag Archives: Social Enterprise Network

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
4. The new Social Business Playbook
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
– Building an internal and external community
– Connecting and empowering thought leaders
– Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
– Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
– Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
– Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
– Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
– Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
– Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
5. The rise of the social employee
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
– Project management
– Innovation
– Collaboration
– Efficiency gains
– Cost saving
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+

Ten Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 2)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance … something annoying, but we often dismiss the very skillful show of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies.  In Part One, we reviewed five remarkable characteristics on how an aspiring Enterprise 2.0 could learn from spider silk properties.  Let’s look at five more lessons a discerning observer should be willing to consider:
6. Spider Silk combines both tensile strength and ductility (stretchability)
Scientists at Arizona State University (ASU) have decoded the secret of spider silk’s strength and what makes the fiber at least five times as tough as piano wire. “Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know of,” said Professor Jeffery Yarger of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The tensile strength of spider silk combined with its ductile i.e. elastic properties (stretching and retracting) is well worth appreciating. For any of us, it would be hard to imagine grabbing a man-made bar of steel and stretching it to an extra forty per cent to its original length. The fact that this exceptional biological polymer (related to collagen) perfectly combines tensile strength and ductility is mind-boggling to say the least.
Clipboard Image
Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science
How do we set up company structures that are more flexible? Businesses that can “stretch” (such as a spiderweb capturing prey) when customer demand grows, but also businesses that can “retract” when its demand decreases?  How should these businesses embrace structural changes and seamlessly rebound when disruptive trends kick in?  Such theoretical questions are difficult to answer and ratify. An adaptive (stretchable and retractable) enterprise roadmap would be even more complex.
7.  The Spiderweb silk has stickiness properties
Spiders produce five main categories of silk.  One of them is the capture-spiral silk, used for the capturing lines of the web.  This sort of silk is sticky, extremely stretchy and tough, which should make us wonder how a spider can avoid entangling itself in its own web.  To this day, scientists are still not sure how it is possible for them not to get caught in their own trap.
What is the level of cultural stick-to-itiveness that companies have to offer? How does the Human Resource department attract, motivate and retain talent while minimizing personnel turnover?
8.  Spiders create exceptional spider web architectures
In Science Daily’s column “New Light Shed On the Mysteries of Spider Silk”, Dr. Kristie Koski and her colleagues from the University of Stanford report: “There has never been anything quite like spider silk.  Stretch it.  Bend it.  Soak it.  Dry it out.  Spider silk holds up … it can expand nearly a third greater than its original length and snap right back like new.  Ounce-for-ounce spider silk is even stronger than Kevlar, the human-made fiber used in bulletproof vests.”  Koski goes on to write: “The complete elastic response of spider silk is described by five elastic constants that define how the web reacts to any possible combination of forces –stretching, bending, soaking, pulling or twisting.” 
Image credit: http://www.redorbit.com
How about our business structures? How far can we stretch them, bend them, pull them or even twist them without destroying them?  Have we ever considered the wisdom of a spider web and all its hidden attributes?  Have we ever tried to apply some of those principles to the form-functions of our schools, universities, government and businesses?
9.  Spider webs can capture water from the air
In the journal Nature, Chinese scientists have reported that silk is not only renowned for its strength, but also outstanding at collecting water from the air: “Sparing the creatures the hunt for a drink”.  We are here witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the most incredible sights God’s engineering hand has ever created.  “A tapestry of bright pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk in the morning after fog” says Lei Jiang, the scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.  He goes on to say: “The spider silk can be several tens of micrometers in diameter, whereas the water drops can be thousands of micrometers wide.  The silk properties change as it contacts water, which causes the bumpy silk fibers to smooth out and drives the water towards the bumpy knots in the spindle, where it gathers into large droplets.” 
Image credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science
Do we conceive products with compelling beauty and majesty while promoting safety, health and sustainability?  When considering some of the shoddy architecture I’ve personally seen in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, Beijing, Moscow, Barcelona and New York, I do not think they contribute to the beauty and enhancement of our environment. Do we boost technology by making it sustainable, durable and of compelling beauty such as the pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk? Or does our industry prefer to plan the breakdown of specific parts for purpose of future gain and enrichment?  
10. Spider silk has antibacterial properties
In their research article: “Evidence for antimicrobial activity associated with common house spider silk”, Simon Wright and Sara Goodacre, from the school of Biology at the University of Nottingham, researched and proved the antimicrobial quality of some spider silk when confronted with micro organisms.  In Heimer, S. (1988). Wunderbare Welt der Spinnen. Urania. p.14, we read that the peasants in the southern Carpathian Mountains used to cut up tubes built by Atypus and cover wounds with the inner lining.  It reportedly facilitated healing, and even connected with the skin.  This is believed to be due to antiseptic properties of spider silk and because the silk is rich in vitamin K, which can be effective in clotting blood.
Do our company products and services sustain our livelihood?  Do our business protocols provide our workforce with physical and emotional assets in form of education, personal growth and vision?  Does middle management nourish the strength and potential of its workforce by facilitating information taxonomy and its distribution?  Or do most structures suffer from a command-and-control mentality going back to the enlightenment age and war room strategies?  
Much more could be written about spiders, but I hope that we all could gain a better appreciation for the sustainable world which is just around us.  May we strive to contribute and make our work and world a better place where more sustainable values become the drivers of our business endeavors.  In the meanwhile, we continue to deplete our earth from the very resources that sustain our physical lives.  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat, the sleep we need and the love we cherish, none of these components will ever be digitalized.
Please follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter or on Google+ at

10 Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 1)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance… something annoying, or we look at them as the irrefutable evidence that we have not done our housekeeping properly. We often forget or dismiss the masterful exhibit of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies. Most likely, the majority of us have no particular knowledge about arachnology (the scientific study of spiders). To tell you the truth, I did not even know the word until I looked it up in Wikipedia: “A spider web, spider’s web, or cobweb is a device created by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets. The spinnerets are the glands spiders use in order to produce silk. Some spiders are capable of manufacturing up to eight different silks during their life time.”
To conceive such an engineering exploit is a technological tour de force. Spider webs are so stunningly complex that their study has become a science. Around the world, arachnologists analyze the physical properties of spider silk. They consider its scientific uniqueness and the technological input it may bring to future man-made woven materials. We can learn a lot from spider webs and spider silk. We can draw many analogies between their properties and the properties our private and professional communities could and ought to display.
1. Spider silk is one of the toughest bio-materials yet known
The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar. Spider silk starts as a liquid protein, which is too small to see without magnification, then hardens to a solid when exposed to air. Spider silk can be stretched significantly (one fourth of its length) before it breaks. It can withstand temperatures from -40°C to 220°C.
How resistant and resilient can our organizations be? How are our business communities confronting adversity and bouncing back from defeat? How expandable and stretchable are our enterprises, businesses and societies? How far can they “spread” and “stretch” before they finally break or collapse?
2. The spider web has the ability to adapt to different levels of stressOne of the remarkable keys to the stability of the spider web is the fact that “a spider web design, and the unique properties of its silk, allows just a single thread to break so the rest of the web remains unharmed.”  Can we say the same about our education systems, our management models and our manufacturing routines?  Someday, could a giant corporation like Apple tumble or “break”?  Could it be the reason that the unpredictable and creative genius of a Steve Jobs is not around anymore?  Could this cause a threat to Apple’s long-haul business strategy?  In “Apple Might Have a Bad 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble Ahead,” eWeek columnist Don Reisinger wrote:  “Apple could be in for trouble, as there are signs that iPhone demand is waning and its mobile market share is starting to slide.” If a corporation is threatened, will it adjust and adapt the same way a spider web can?
3. The silk’s molecular structure allows it to stretch
When a filament is pulled, the silk’s unique molecular structure unfurls as stress increases, leading to a stretching effect… The durability of the web is not just controlled by how strong silk is, but also how its mechanical properties change as you stretch it” says Dr. Buehler.  Darwin’s bark spider can weave a huge web over flowing rivers, stretching from one bank of the river to the other.  In order to stretch from bank to bank the Darwin spider must weave anchoring lines of up to 25m!  They weave such large tapestries by using one of the toughest, most energy-absorbing silks ever discovered, tougher than any other known biological and most man-made materials.  How tough and resistant do we train our workforce to be?  What sort of company culture and vision do we impart to them?  How far do we allow our workforce to stretch their minds and broaden their outlook?  How do we build bridges between departments and company silos?  How can we overcome isolated competitiveness for the benefit of community success?  When purchasing deliberately keeps a low inventory to earn CFO strides, production is postponed, client delivery is late, client production lines stops.  Does this sound familiar?  Unfortunately, it sure does to me.
4. The breaking of a single spider silk thread never threatens the entire web structureResearching on the spider web functionality, Dr. Buehler, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology goes on to say: “If a building, a car or an airplane is exposed to large mechanical stress, it typically breaks as a whole and the entire structure becomes dysfunctional.” He continues: “Each individual thread of silk could be ‘sacrificed’ to maintain the overall structure.  How far can our communities stretch before they break?  How much stress can they take?  Why did Kodak file for bankruptcy in January 2012?  Didn’t the management foresee the technological trends and the reality that sooner or later cameras would be digitalized?
5. Spider silk becomes spider food
Did you know that spiders can nourish themselves from the silk they produce? Spiders produce a large quantity of silk, roughly 59.43 meters (65 yards) a day or 70.81 km (40.44 miles) in their entire lifetime.   We could compare spider silk’s double functionality (web weaving and food) to bamboo which is commonly used for scaffolding in Asia but also consumed as a delicious plant.  Will we ever see the day when a man-made product will be used both as building material and food?  When will shareholders understand that greed destroys our planet?  It’s time to replace polluting manufacturing plants with clean sites and an environmentally biodegradable production output.  How much longer can we pollute, destroy and loot the very planet that sustains us?  Companies, entrepreneurs and leaders should bear in mind that short term greed will soon destroy our children’s right to live abundantly!  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink… none of it will ever be digitalized!

In part two, we will look at five more spider silk properties and the physical and spiritual lessons they discretely continue to teach us, should we want to observe and learn.    

Follow me Bruno Gebarski on Twitter at:

Five Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous, Divergent and Innovative Power (1/4)

How do we get creative, divergent and provocative?  How do we forsake our day-to-day fire extinguishing duties (and we all have them), and force ourselves to get physically out of our office buildings, companies, towns, states or countries?  How about forsaking our limited human thinking and consider “bigger” things?  How about thinking out of our continent or our planet earth placed in the cul-de-sac of the Milky Way, one of the universe’s billions or trillions of galaxies?  I often ask myself:  Why does the speed of light travel only 300,000 km per hour?  Why not faster?
Stop and meditate on the fact that some studies suggest our universe could have more than 500 billion galaxies, each having 200-300 billion or trillion stars!  How does this equate to our narrow, limited, shallow view of our day-to-day responsibilities?  Don’t you think that the most powerful human computer ever manufactured, pales into insignificance compared to the creation of such a mind boggling space spectacle?  Astronomers in Australia say there are 10 times more stars in the visible universe than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts!  Australian astronomers used some of the world’s most powerful instruments to suggest those figures, and reckon that the figures presented to the International Astronomical Union conference in Sydney, is the kind that really can be called astronomical: 70 sextillions, or seven followed by 22 zeroes!
Let’s redirect ourselves towards planet earth and make a final stop at the magnificent Sombrero Galaxy, part of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies.  The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as M104, spans about 50,000 light years across and lies 28 million light years away.  M104 can be seen with a small telescope in the direction of the constellation Virgo.
Sombrero Galaxy
The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared  Credit: R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs.et al.SSCJPLCaltechNASA
I hope by now we should all feel energized with an extra portion of motivation, wanting to get out of our building, forget our routines and consider new divergent and creative ways of thinking.
How could we do this? 
1. Leave your working premises and environment for an unknown destination or activity.
Inside-the-building thinking is the hallmark of establishments whose structures inhibit innovation.  Forget your office, your secretary, your assistants, your products and your services!  Ignore your self-centered approach and forget your day-to-day business responsibilities for 48 hours!  Get your creative juices flowing!  Go bungee jumping, if you wish, or scuba diving.  Go fishing but please turn off your smartphones, iPads, phablets or whatever electronic devices you carry with you all the time. Breathe, think, meditate and come to a full stop!

2. Bring along outspoken and extroverted co-workers who you mostly disagree with, or might not feel comfortable with.

Overcome your pride, put your ego away and get out of your comfort zone.  Ignore the uneasiness of being with square pegs and strive to make the first step as a leader to break the ice and reach out! Remember, you are the cultural flagship of your enterprise.

3. Do not put yourself under pressure by forcing yourself and your team to expect anything other than letting your thinking wander around and start the creative process.

Putting yourself and your group under the pressure of “delivering” will more than likely destroy any potential creativity you or your group might have!  Remember, creativity kicks in when least expected… walking around, resting, sipping on your favorite coffee specialty, or even day-dreaming.

4. Be humble, personal, vulnerable and real with your  people.

Wirearchy ought to replace antiquated hierarchy and thus establish horizontal points of connection instead of the old vertical leadership lines of authority, which is now completely outdated!  Invite your team to a morning of horse riding lessons and then surprise them with an afternoon of an inter-team polo match.  You will end up laughing your head off as likely most of them may not have ever been on a horse before!  A guaranteed story which will be talked about for days, weeks and years to come.


5. Promote employee trust by opening the doors to communication and disagreement.

Allow people to vent and complain! Allow trivia, irrelevant things, silly and out-of-reach ideas! The more divergent those are, the more your company will benefit from the event; maybe not right away, but eventually an open co-worker culture will gamify work without expensive gamification software acquisition!  Give employees “the right to bitch” as ING Direct CEO did in Canada!

What is your take on outrageous communication? Will you consider a new format for your next meeting or get together? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter at:


3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity

In an insightful TED presentation “Liberate your company”, Isaac Getz highlights  employees’ engagement as one of the most significant attributes a company workforce must display in order for business competitiveness to flourish. Leaders and entrepreneurs should ask themselves and their entourage, “what percentage of our workforce is actually showing up smiling every morning and looking forward to their job environment?”

According to Isaac Getz’s findings, 27% of workers are engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs. 59% are not engaged and basically trading work time for a paycheck. The most dramatic findings are the remaining 14% who actively resist and sabotage the work of the 27% who are engaged. Imagine for a moment a boat with 8 rowers and one of them is literally stroking in the opposite direction! What would you think? As you are reading these lines it is highly possible that in your very own company, right now, “black sheep” are rowing in the opposite direction. “Black sheep” are to be found at all levels of your organization, disengaging, stone walling and criticizing the work of highly motivated employees.  Honestly, I do not care how good these folks are or how much it would cost to fire them, but do your business a huge favor and get rid of them. Make room for great attitude and enthusiasm, trendsetters, visionaries and motivated employees!

1. Liberate your employees by creating a unique culture and working environment

Employee’s engagement will never be implemented by any management program. Personnel engagement is the result of a work force’s attitude and emotional reaction vis-à-vis its working environment, company culture and leadership style. Forget the useless annual surveys. Instead, ask your company employees, on a one-to-one basis, what their specific needs are. Particularly insist on what would motivate them to do a better job and what should be the ideal environment to promote their agility and creativity.

2. Co-create job descriptions with individual custom-tailored goals

After HR has defined and communicated employees’ job descriptions and established regular evaluation feedback, management should revive co-workers’ motivation by promoting team members’ ideas and initiatives.  This should automatically promote a “co-creative” work philosophy, clarify common goals and priorities, and personalize the traditional hierarchical to-do-list approach. Google has a policy that encourages employees to spend 80% of their time on core responsibilities and 20% on activities they are passionate about or interested in. Google positively energizes creativity, new product development and overall company performance. Don’t engaged employees mean healthier work ethics, better culture and bigger profits for company shareholders?

3. Respect your workforce and treat them like gold

Treat employees as the frontline customer force; create a positive work environment and get your workforce excited about coming to work every morning.  Energize them with a well defined company vision, mission and purpose. Give them the recognition they deserve and observe their passion and engagement grow. “Liberate your workforce” says Sophie Peters in her Tribune Hebdo article, and remember your workforce represents the core of your brand’s ambassadors. Give them validation and observe how “employee experience” will automatically pave the way to positive customer service, customer experience (CX) and customer satisfaction.  Did you know that the bulk of Zappos’ business is with repeat customers? 70-75% of purchases come from returning customers. Those returning customers order about 2.5 times more than a new customer. Don’t you think this is a fantastic return on Zappos’ employee investment?

Show pro-active leadership and grant your employees the required space for them to research (Google example) and create. Delegate, learn to trust their judgment and abilities while regularly asking them what their needs are. Allow them room to critique  and remember to remain “S.O.C.I.A.L.”: sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic and likeable.

How does your company promote employee engagement and how far are you on your social business journey? What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing? Let us know and we will include your ideas in upcoming posts.

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:
Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterperise 2.0
Understanding the 4 Fundamentals of a Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 1)
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)   

Why Company Culture is The Foundation To Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0

A social business (Enterprise 2.0) should logically begin its journey with its own people, the backbone/foundation of any enterprise, because here is the potential to transform a workforce into effective “brand evangelists”.  Starbucks did this recently when it invited an effusive group of roughly 10,000 store managers to a 37,000 m² (400,000 square-foot) event in Houston, Texas.  What an experience this must have been to participate in! Starbucks is not known for running internet or television ad-campaigns. What it does do, and what makes this three-day event successful, is to mobilize its employees to become “brand evangelists”, the very sales force assisting caffeine-hungry customers on a daily basis, “the true ambassadors of our brand, the real merchants of romance and theater, and as such the primary catalysts for delighting customers”, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote in his book, “Onward”.  Howard Schultz is literally marinating his team in a € 28 million (US$ 35 million) three-day event, motivating his store managers and baristas to drink in the Starbucks Coffee state of mind while fully impacting them with the company culture.

1. Creating a compelling company culture

I particularly like the evangelization campaign Howard Schultz is putting his personnel through, knowing that a well motivated group of managers will be much more eager to unleash this power and pass on this freshly acquired caffeine culture to their teams, and then to their customers.  One of the important keys to company culture is to convert employees and make them sincerely believe that their mission is a positive and rewarding one; the intrinsic feeling that they are genuinely needed, appreciated, wanted and cared for. Positive company culture unleashes the motivational and creative power of its people while granting them the purpose, the vision and the energy to bring passion and motivation to their daily work.

2. Employee engagement and creativity

In order to promote employee engagement and creativity, Angelo Fernando recommends hiring misfits and troublemakers, people who will purposely avoid doing things the way a company has always done them and who will tend to get “under your skin”.  Professor Robert Sutton adds: “In order to foster creativity we should hire misfits, goad them to fight and pay them to defy convention and undermine the prevailing culture.”  This ought to create healthy confrontations, shake the status-quo and bring in fresh and unconventional ideas to talk about and discuss.


Disruptive technologies give socially-minded enterprises the momentum to challenge the norms and search out cultural disruption and creativity. Those companies become employee-centric and create a company culture their co-workers want to identify with, believe in, but most importantly, represent and evangelize.

3. Turning your work force into brand evangelists

An evangelist is an individual who delivers something; a service-oriented person.  He or she could be, for example, the person delivering a Domino Pizza to your doorstep. Too many companies, however, forget the simple fact that the most likely people to represent a brand and carry out its message (i.e. culture) to the customers, is its own workforce.  If a genuine company culture does not exist, what should its work force then represent? What are the co-workers standing for? What should they believe in? What is their mission, purpose and how do they remain motivated? Doesn’t the Bible teach us about people perishing because of not having a vision?

4. Happy Customers and resulting company profit 

We all have been to Starbucks. They brand our drinks with names their staff have been “smoothly” teaching us over the years as we patiently wait in line for our order. Going to one of their café’s is a bit of a ceremony, a coffee ritual connected to a willing sacrifice, providing us with the drink of our liking within the shortest time possible; a delightful way to start or finish the day depending on our coffee drinking habits!  The results? Howard Schultz’ company profit must be more than acceptable to allow his Group to invest in a 3-days € 28 million (US$ 35 million) event.  Well done Starbucks!  Carry on with the coffee flame and we will keep on sponsoring your services and products!

What are the creative (and possibly disruptive) ways your company incorporates in order to foster creativity, promote company culture and motivate personnel? We are certainly looking forward to your comments.

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierarchy To Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)

“Too many leaders willingly prefer “average” results they themselves achieve on their own or with their “preferred” group of people than to genuinely search and source out talents they might not feel emotionally attracted to! Their own insecurity, fear and grip on authority forbids them to try new ways and involve members and hidden leaders they feel awkward and uneasy dealing with”.

I have seen this pattern over and over with the various jobs I have held over the decades, including certain personalities that “buttered-up” to the company leader, and were thus rewarded with responsibilities that they were not really competent to handle. And in the end it caused the work that the leader was doing to become less effective, and even less respected by the other co-workers. That factor of not being emotionally attracted to competent and talented people, even if you might not “click” with them, can be a real challenge for any leader to overcome. Those traditional leaders are the hierarchical-types, for the most part in a direct line of authority “above us”; those are the ones who have the final word in what we may or may not do or say.

The great leaders are the ones who humbly inspire us, who compel us to do arduous tasks almost avoiding a direct request. They lead, not with a plan or a to-do list, but with an inner purpose, a conviction and a set of charismatic beliefs written all over their face which are consequently implemented by their actions! These are the women and men who touch our hearts with their inner vision, who help us understand the purpose and conviction behind their beliefs, and who inevitably assist us to build and develop our own set of convictions. They boldly motivate us to tackle impossible tasks while assisting us to deliver above and beyond.

Dr. Martin Luther King did not give a “to-do list”. He did not say “I have a plan” did he? Without emails, letters or pamphlets he managed to rally 250,000 people who travelled at length in order to listen while identifying with Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

The leading companies are those who make some of us get up in the middle of the night and wait until the wee hours of the morning in order to get our hands on those brand new iPods, iPads or iPhones. These are the visionaries and trend setters shaking product status-quo and delivering beyond excellence, backed up by co-workers and products fulfilling our desires, needs and emotionally convincing us to join their cause, to buy their product and sponsor their vision.

A humble leader is the one who allows his team to rock the boat, and challenge the norms and the established expectations. The voices of the company misfits and annoyingly outspoken should be drawn out and listened to in order to search for better, smarter and more efficient ways to do things. An inspiring leader does not handle disagreements as a threat to his authority or as a potential conflict, but as an enriching experience allowing his community to search and aim for higher goals, achievements, results and consequently company profits.

In “Why Hiring People Who Annoy You Helps You Innovate”, Douglas Merrill reminds us that 66% of companies on the Fortune 100 list in 1990 are not on the list some twenty-odd years later! Douglas says hire people who annoy you. As long as you’re ensuring they are smart, the people who annoy you represent the diversity you and your company require”. Too many leaders unfortunately prefer yes-men/yes-women, the “cultural-fit” type of manager because they are so much easier to deal with. Those leaders however do not have the self-confidence and character to deal with the crazy, misfits, rebels and troublemakers; the round pegs in the square holes!

The team members who could become your most loyal co-workers and help you innovate, are not like a leading product development manager engineer I once heard saying: “the development of product-x is herewith finished”! Could you imagine for a moment Apple or Samsung saying this about their iPhone or Galaxy product-line?

The real leader espouses two leadership attributes: “determination to create results and humility. He shifts the focus away from himself and continuously recognizes the contribution of others”. He is also the leader who accepts another respectfully standing up to him.  He promotes a “thinking” mentality among his team members, and respects the intelligence of his co-workers. The “shovel and shut-up” approach to personnel employment will never lead to long-term achievement and innovation; it is not a motivating factor compelling people to enthusiastically rally for a cause and a common purpose!  How many times have you heard people say “well I should say something but why bother, they won’t listen anyway”!

Hearing a leader saying the following words is unfortunately rare: “You are right”! What a shame, because it could transform communication and conversation to a different level and wipe away anxiety! We all know what anxiety is when in the core of our being we believe and know there is a better way but the company, church or association just won’t listen. They blindly leave us on the “imbecility back burner” track, failing to see that others in the team or community also have visions, beliefs, aspirations, hidden talents and ideas worth listening to! They utterly under-estimate the fact that so much creative power, momentum, innovation and motivation is being tread upon, quenched and emotionally “kicked in the chin”! If those leaders would just listen, and at least consider unleashing this power, channeling those ideas, nurturing these dreams, it could very well mean the very survival of an organisation down the line!

In part three we shall look at concrete ways to carry out a humble leadership-style among company leaders but in the meanwhile I wish you a relaxing Sunday.