I was recently visiting a company where I was discussing social business with one of their executives. As is often the case, I like to have conversations that help me gauge the company’s culture. Whenever I go to visit a company, I start looking for clues from the moment we drive up to their building. Their signage for their business, their posters or messages being displayed on the monitors in their lobby, and a great source is their literature available for their visitors. I usually find their latest yearly report and look at the themes and executive messages.
Quite often these reports will state how they are “a people oriented company” that “values the individual employee and customer”. When I speak to the executives, I sometimes start the conversation by telling them I am glad they are people focused and I would like to know what they are doing to engage and leverage their employees and customers.
In my recent visit, I asked some of these questions and received the following response. “If our people have a new idea, we have a process for them to submit it.” This one statement told me quite a lot about this person’s perspective if not the perspective of the company.
First, “IF our people have a new idea”…If? really? It should have been “when”. People are creative beings. If I respect that, I will expect them to have ideas – not be surprised when they do.
Second, “we have a PROCESS”. If you want to take the wind out of the sails of a creative person, just introduce a “process”. Processes aren’t bad, but they infer a “one size fits all” approach to any action. They make the idea become part of a transaction.
Which brings me to “for them to SUBMIT it”. Just drop your idea into the process and then wait to see what happens. You submit payments, you submit actions to workflows, you don’t submit ideas. You share ideas.
I appreciate hearing statements like this because it give me a good starting place. It’s better than “We don’t have any way for people to give us feedback.”
I want company executives be able to say “We encourage our employees and customers to share their ideas by providing a social business network that’s available to them anywhere at anytime.” When you commit to a social business culture, your attitude and expectations change. Then you win!