Are you a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” person? That overused cliché is most likely irritating to some of you. Reality is this idiomatic expression is a useful litmus test to understand optimism vs. pessimism. How a person views the world and his/her experiences most certainly drives his/her response to them.
The events of the past 12 months have been astonishing. Without question our world has endured a recession of epic proportions and the pain of it has been felt everywhere. I have personally witnessed friends, family and business colleagues lose their jobs, homes and possessions. I also have made some unexpected changes, for the well-being of myself and my family. I am sure at some level you have too!
I am an optimist and firmly believe whenever something negative or challenging occurs there is always an opportunity to learn from that experience. Learning is what makes us better, stronger and smarter. Ultimately it leads to innovation.
While we have all been nursing our wounds from this recession something else has been transpiring … almost subliminally. The business world has been transforming, shifting, adjusting to a healthier, more realistic focus. Emerging from this economic turmoil, is a leaner, more intelligent community. Organizations can no longer afford the excesses of the past. Instead they must find more efficient ways to do business while delivering greater value than ever before to their customers.
For as much as the tough economy has awakened the need for greater prudence in business practices, the expanded influence of Social Media has opened the door to building a broader sense of community It has made the world a much smaller place!
The converging influences of economic stress, technology and a demand for collaboration have propelled us into a “new normal” for doing business. The impact on the events business is extraordinary, and very exciting. So what’s changed?
- Web 2.0 Technology — Live webcasts, webinars, Hybrid events, virtual chats, virtual worlds, Blogs, social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have all opened up new and more affordable channels for delivering meeting content to both new and existing customers.
- Lateral vs. Top-down Business Models — “Controlling” management models of the past are evolving to more collaborative, open source communities, where customers play a co-creation role in product and service development. Authoritative, sometimes manipulative management practices will slowly give way to a more communal “crowdsourced” environment.
- Disruptive Innovation — the use of the above-mentioned web 2.0 technology to deliver educational and informational content at a low or no-cost price point to users is knocking the wind out of conventional event pricing models. Recently my friend and colleague, Jeff Hurt, in his “Midcourse Corrections” Blog wrote the following:
“Associations and conference organizers have depended upon bi-directional, pay for consumption of their content or their conference experience for years. Dissatisfied attendees have started creating their own Unconferences with no or low fees. Suppliers and vendors have started giving away free content through webinars and programs instead of through the association or annual conference.”
Organizations must accept that business will not return to the “status quo” it was before the recession. In fact they must prepare for more change and become fully engaged in the process. Businesses stubbornly holding onto the past will either close their doors, or see a major decline in their market share in the coming months. Those thoughtful enough to embrace and incorporate the “new normal” of doing business will thrive.
So what are my recommendations to you … Consider the following:
- Use social media tools as a communications channel for both existing and potential customers. Also use them to monitor customer satisfaction.
- Get to know your customers deeply — understand their business completely and invite them to participate in brainstorming regarding development of new or re-developed products and services.
- Embrace and leverage the network around you. Whether it is suppliers, customers or peers, tap into their opinions and perceptions. Doing so will likely improve the quality of your business offerings and strengthen your own understanding of your brand position in the marketplace. Remember, your network knows more than you do!
- Don’t be afraid to try new things — don’t let fear of failure prevent you or your organization from testing a new idea. If you fail, learn from the experience and get back on the horse!
So is your glass half empty or half full? Are you embracing the changes happening around you? Most importantly are you taking the lead in guiding your organization forward? Are you testing out some of those new ideas emerging from your team? Finally.. Are you paying strong attention to your customers and listening carefully to their feedback?