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Power to the People

Just as other digital immigrants, I’ve witnessed the dizzying growth of information technology and access over, especially, the past two decades. In many ways, I see this revolution as akin to a perpetual motion machine, whereby technology breeds curiosity and innovation, which breeds new curiosity and further innovation, which breeds even more innovation, and on, and on and ...

We’ve never before seen such transformative adoption of new technology in the business sector. And, now, with so much proven and established software and service infrastructure, it’s only natural that organizations of all sort exploit the digital native’s embrace of social software and expectation of communication and service. After all, history (as well as archaeology) has long shown that humans use new tools to build expanding communities. And make no mistake, we have the tools—both societal and technological—to unleash individual and group creativity and power.

But how, exactly, can all organizations best serve all their constituencies—customers and employees alike—to enrich the experience of the entire value chain? Where can managers discover how to support the creative employees who will ultimately transform the organization?

Enter Empowered, the new book by Forrester VPs and principal researchers Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) and Ted Schadler. Through some 25 case studies from every industry and meticulous research, the authors have identified a new category of knowledge worker: the “HERO” (highly empowered and resourceful operative). Granted, the acronym may sound a bit stilted, maybe even contrived, but it’s an apt description of the sort of creative problem solver required in today’s organizations. It is the rare company, indeed, that can’t benefit from embracing new toolsets to keep up with the demands of their employees and customers.

Empowered is far more than lofty language. The authors have created tangible mechanisms to sustain a HERO-powered business.

Among them are:the effort-value evaluation, which helps managers and HEROes assess the value of a project and whether or not it’s worth pursuing;

  • a process turning customer service into a marketing mechanism;
  • how to fashion an agreement between HEROes, management and IT that defines each group’s roles and how they will work together;
  • a method for determining an organization’s readiness to support HEROes;
  • strategies and systems for managing HEROes, supporting their innovation; and
  • ways the IT department can become a trusted partner for a company’s employee- and business-led technology.

What has been described so far merely scratches the surface of the potential Bernoff and Schadler deliver in Empowered. The authors sum it up nicely with the following: “The shift toward empowered consumers affects every business now, whether banking or entertainment, electronics, business services or washing machines. You can build a strategy around empowering employees to solve customers’ problems—set policy, train them and harness their creativity as a strategic force to power your company. In today’s environment, it can make or break you.” 
 
     

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