Power of the People

In today’s environment, the most underused and biggest opportunity for improved performence is the power of the people.

Which people? The people you connect with–employees, customers and influencers.

You have undoubtedly heard all the statistics about how people, not companies, determine what gets heard (not what gets said) about the organization. Through Facebook, Twitter and blogs, people are influencing others about what to do and buy. Businesses have no choice but to wake up and pay attention and get active in their online communications.

However, even MORE important, is how organizations deploy the people they influence the most–their employees. So many companies continue to view their workforce as a “machine” rather than a “system”. A machine means you put something into it (raw materials) and when it comes out the other end you have a predictable product.

In this scenario, it means people have defined jobs, are expected to show up, do what is asked of them, be cheerful while at work, and be accurate in what they do. Not much room for them to re-invent their jobs, offer up new ideas or focus only on what they do well (particularly if their job description is broader). This is the result of our mass production industry that has dominated our culture the last 100 years.

The other option is a “system”, in which parts work together to produce a desired outcome, but not always a predictable one. Usually, a good system meets the criteria of the outcome being more than the sum of its parts. A system might be used to produce a report with a variety of inputs arranged into one report yet the contents of that report may vary widely. A system involves different moving parts but the outcome is left open to be influenced by the things that operate within the system. So a “system” might be fluid work teams that get established and dismantled based on company needs; or internal “wikis” that can allow many people to contribute to one project, for the benefit of speed or diverse thinking.

When I engage with organizations on improving their strategic leadership, we encourage systems to be developed. For example, the leadership group involved in our project almost always forms new ways of working together when the project concludes as they found so much value in that regular time together working on the future of the company. They develop a new system for decision making that is more open and yet objective. Often, they craft new “systems” for dealing with innovation or encouraging idea sharing. In a “system” approach, there is more room for the synergy of your collective braintrust to flourish and produce tangible and significant improvement by changing how you work, what you work on, or how they contribute.

In this era, organizations benefit when they give “Power to the People”.

Please share with us any new “systems” you are familiar with. If you are not clear on how to identify some of these powerful opportunities in your business, please get in touch!

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