You know how it is, the context in which you operate influences how you act, or more precisely re-enact stories. So, for example, if you're working in a very process-driven environment, you learn to put process above all else - including the creativity necessary to connect your customers and help them tell their story.
The best kind of connection is of course the unplanned kind.
I was reminded of this when on the telephone with a customer late Friday evening. Everyone had left the office by then; it's the best time to reflect on the week and most importantly open up to new ideas for the coming week. Of all the things we could have talked about, including how satisfied he is with our service, we ended up talking about Italian food.
That's how we learned more about each other, where my family lives, where his came from, how we both learned a new language, and so on. All the way to delicious recipes that by that late time had me look forward to a nice, warm dinner. In that moment, I had one further confirmation that I was sharing in our customer's story.
Which got me thinking about organizational work and its predilection for structured events, rules and regulations. Auren Hoffman says that you should monitor people who like to create rules for others. I rather like that thought, in a biased kind of way.
I break the rules, always have. Not for the sake of it or to spite anyone. I do it because I intend to create value for the ecosystem, and there is a certain organic and meaningful quality to human interaction. The interaction is what makes a story interesting, not the specific parts of "the" story, your story. I learned more about that customer by not planning the conversation or jumping to what's in it for us, than I would have by doing it.
Why is this important?
As organizations hope to add online media to their activities, they tend to apply the same rules and processes they have implemented everywhere else to them. You see it already, from billboards to banners - me, me, me. Using the customer's story as a proof of the importance of "the", its story, not of the customer's.
Organizations need people who can be human, add some color back in the conversation, starting with listening to and playing back a story in the way it was shared.
Online it's easier to see rigid rules fail. Online it's easier to see that the organization and many of the people in them live in a tiny echo chamber of their own making. Online, it's easier to see that you are a story, not "the" story.
Bonus read: check out this new Trendwatching briefing on "Nowism".
[image of GigaTweet, tweets in real time]
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