Crowdsource Your Business

barry_libert1.jpgWhat in the world does it mean to “crowd-source” business functions? Apple creates collaborative online environments where users can contribute ideas and refine the iPhone, as well as Apple’s support processes. Procter and Gamble applied the same concept to their line of detergents and assembled an interactive forum in which their customers could help shape the quality of the product. And even cooler is Dell’s “Idea Storm” in which customers are provided the platform to share ideas and user experiences wth the company and peers to collectively improve Dell’s products. Essentially its a moderated Wiki and Dell does a fair job of not suppressing critique.

Barry Libert describes this concept and application in his book, We Are Smarter Than Me and of course his web site offers those same cool 2.0 technologies for collaboration and community-building. If you are interested in a primer on the subject, I suggest James Surowieki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. In it, he makes a compelling case for the power of the aggregate insight of crowds and communities over the expertise of individuals, even our most respected experts.

And if you take that bait, you’ll definitely enjoy an open dialogue between Surowieki and Malcolm Gladwell on Slate. Enjoy!

Jeffrey Pfeffer on Creating Performance Culture

jpfeffer1.jpgTalent retention equals customer retention. It’s that simple. To ensure that your customers continue to support the products and services your organization offers, the first thing you need to do as a leader in your organization is to create an atmosphere where talented people can thrive and want to stay. Because when your talent stays, your customers stay. How do you do this? Step one is to create an environment of trust – a workplace where people are engaged, enthused, and collaborative because they understand they are safe – safe from downsize, rightsize games that try to anticipate the market climate. For example, in the wake of 9/11, of the eminent airlines only Southwest Airlines did not dismiss numerous employees out of market fears. As a result, talent there felt safer and more protected than their counterparts at other airlines who were let go.

Once people feel safe, the next step is to invest in them. SAS, SAP, and other marquee organizations know that investing in training and development, and rewarding performance, creates a strong sense of loyalty and engagment in top talent. And finally, remember that if you want to retain talented people, let them make key decisions to drive the success of the organization. As Jeffrey Pfeffer says, “If you intend to tell everyone what to do, hire idiots. They’re cheaper.”