All innovation comes from pissed-off people wrote Tom Peters in the foreword to Re-Imagine! It was 5 years ago and many of the things he wrote - and has been talking about - have by and large still not been implemented.
Let's try it out to see if that's true, especially as it relates to customer conversation, that new business means:
New context - this requires agility, making temporary alliances - did you see how Frank from Comcast was more helpful to Jeff Jarvis, than his own cable company recently? Maybe lots of cable, and little vision or visibility into the importance of fixing problems.
New technology - are we taking the tools at hand to be helpful, to be of service, to turn the experience upside down, to make it worth having? Right there, right now in each interaction, no matter where it happens.
In the same thread referenced above, there is an interesting suggestion that the tools at hand can be used not just to respond to customers faster, but to streamline issues to have ready answers for them when they call and before they become widespread affecting hundreds.
New value - excellent quality and timely service that creates enterprise transformation. I'm thinking so far we're scratching the surface on this one. Are we still fixing issues and bugs with products and services or are we truly dedicated to customers' success? Let's try a test - do people in your organization say, it's not in my goals? How frequently do they say that? Does your management team notice loyalty to solutions?
New brand - integrated marketing is everything that happens inside and outside and organization in the creation, delivery, and support of a product or service. The customer experience is also your brand. Organizations can design experience in the same way they design products, and it works one interaction at a time. It's personal, and it can make a big difference.
New markets - Peters talked about women and the aging population as new markets. I'm still not seeing enough companies that have read that chapter. In the car market alone, women either make decisions or influence decisions for 90% of purchases. Yet, most of the marketing and service of cars is still geared towards men. This is an opportunity for companies that can move with agility, and use blogs to fill that vacuum. Guess where I would go for advice if I were shopping around for a new car?
New work - does everyone want to change the world today? Probably not. But people want to do work that matters. The ability to act on issues is the most liberating factor in customer-facing positions. A business leader is one who doesn't shrink from or delegate a problem - they welcome it, they move towards it as an opportunity to make a difference.
New people - the more you think like an entrepreneur, the better you'll fare. This means learning to thrive in ambiguity, always be closing (dealing with an issue and a problem especially), nurturing your network - inside and outside the organization - and cultivating passion for renewal. This means working on optimism, creating your own work, articulating your value, and integrating your passions. Can you look at your job as a business? What would you change if you did?
New mandate - burn the box, writer Peters. There is no box. Of all of the ideas, this is the one we're still the least prepared for. He closes this chapter and the book with and interesting dichotomy that goes from planning to acting, analyzing to building alliances with the customer in a networked, intangible (data), virtual, faster, loosely-tied, "I don't know" kind of environment. While some of the conditions may indicate we're there, I'm seeing command-and-control cultures win, still.
Are you disappointed? Maybe a little? Or maybe you're as mad as hell, as Tom would say. Could our lack of achievement be because we haven't given ourselves a deadline?
Today at Fast Company Expert blog we talk about how to give your company service deadlines.
[image of Grandfather Clock Face by stevendepolo]