Posts Tagged ‘network’

Why Employees are the best Salesman

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

The parts of most organization are not only internally disconnected by the trap op the Tower of Babel. The internal dialogue has stopped.

Most organizations are also externally disconnected to their primary source of wealth, the customer. If the organization of the customer is in the same state of confusion the problem seems to be unsolvable.

The solution to this problem is really easy. To solve the problem we have to leave behind the concept of the hierarchical organization.

We have to realize that an organization is a network of human beings and this network is connecting many organizations.

It is proven that every human on earth is connected by a chain that has a maximum of seven steps. When we look at a specialized network the amount of steps is much lower (in general three). Most of the managers don’t realize this.

The consequence of this shift in paradigm is that every employee of every organization is a potential customer and a salesman.

A programmer is selling to programmers, a trainer is selling to trainers, a manager is selling to managers and a CEO is selling to CEO’s. They all tell a different story but the story they tell is understood by their partners in the Network. If we are able to connect all the different stories by organizing a dialogue of understanding, a generic story will be created. Creating a joint story (a myth) takes time but it is not necessary to wait for the perfect story. Every story that resonates is a good story.

It is not wise for a programmer to spend all his time in selling. His main task is to program. The solution to this problem is to combine “working and selling”. When a programmer works in the organization of the customers, doing his job, he is selling. A good performing motivated programmer sells without selling.

A software package is easily sold if the employees of the company use their own tools and are enthusiastic about the use of the tools.

The consequence of this insight is that a software company has to use his own product all the time and focus itself on “doing joint projects”. A combination of employees of the customer and employees of the software company will speed up the dialogue.

A very important point is to create short-term and long-term feedback-mechanisms. We have to close the cycle at every level as soon as possible.

The effect of feed-back is that every action of every employee returns on himself when the cycle is closed. The employee is able to take responsibility, learn from his mistakes and improve his behavior. If this is done on every level, the organization will spiral. It will move up without loosing the whole.

Now we have to find out what connection will be the most effective. It is the area where we have to focus the efforts of the specialists in selling. Again we have to look at the cycle of business. We have to find the generator of business in society. If we find this generator it will propagate the package in every network if the myth of the package runs like a fire.

Everybody knows that the generator in business is the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME). Selling to SME’s is simple when you are able to convince the entrepreneurs. Big companies are also networks of SME’s. The priority of sales has to be given to the entrepreneurs in business. Most of the time they are situated in what is called the Business Unit in a Big Company.

To sell you need to talk the language (tell the story) of the Entrepreneur. The consequence of this Insight is that Sales People have to be former entrepreneurs in Business that are still acting in their network. These people are called charismatic leaders or boundary spanners.

How to Create Cooperative Networks by Playing Complementary Roles

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

People have to cooperate to survive. Children need their parents to nurture and teach them. Parents need the help of their children when they are old. The basic principle behind cooperation is long-term reciprocity. People give something voluntary and sometimes for free to others or help the other trusting they get something of the same value back in the future.

To survive people have to have a long-term perspective. They have to sustain their environment and the supporting infrastructures to make sure that there are enough people and tools to help them when they are old.

The need to survive created the basic level concept of cooperation (the tribe). The tribe transformed into higher and more complex levels of cooperation (town, guild, state, corporation) when human society evolved.

To coordinate the complex structures the mental concept of the many leveled hierarchy was formed. This concept fails when the environment of the organizational structure becomes turbulent.

Hierarchies adapt too slowly to their environment. At this moment, hierarchies are falling apart in cooperating self-sustaining specialized network. The networks are gaining control over many activities that are now taking place at the level of the big corporation and the state.

A specialized network produces activities and products that are consumed by other specialized networks. To realize the output people have to play complementary roles.

When we can distinguish six basic roles:

  • Craftsmen (Senses, Patterns)

A craftsman has acquired experience by practicing. Craftsmen do not like too much change. Change requires new practicing and keeps him from producing.  A craftsman loves to make what he sees. He learns by copying. Examples are carpenters, painters, musicians, technicians and programmers. The craftsmen are the producers in the network. In many cases, programmable machines can replace their activities. Craftsmen use specialized tools. If their processes are standardized a process-model can be used to coordinated their activities.

  • Entrepreneur (Senses, Emotions)

An entrepreneur feels what preferences people have. Examples are retailers and brokers. Entrepreneurs sell the products the network is producing and buy products the network needs. They also are the people that negotiate contracts and make connections to other specialized networks. Entrepreneurs use technologies like relationship-management-tools and procurement-systems.

  • Politicians (Emotions, Patterns)

A politician structures collective emotions by creating consensus. He feels the opinions of the collective, has the gift to influence opinions, and gets people into collaborative action.   A politician looks after the social cohesion in the network. He uses opinion polls and media.

  • Creators (Imagination, Patterns)

A creator visualizes the whole of a structure. A creator can balance variety (his imagination) and predictability (the patterns). Examples are composers, architects and designers. A creator designs the machines and the products the network is producing.

  • Motivator (Emotions, Imagination)

A motivator visualizes what makes people move forward. Motivators develop concepts.  Many of them operate in the media (actors, writers, poets and movie-directors). Motivators cannot live without variety. Other examples are coaches and psychiatrist. A motivator looks after the long-term perspective of the network by creating and implementing a shared vision.

  • Inventors (Senses, Imagination)

An inventor makes sense of his imagination. Inventors generate ideas and create prototypes (R&D). They use brainstorming tools and analyze trends.

The roles are not evenly distributed in the network. The majority of the people play the role of the producer, the craftsman.

In the current situation, the basic roles are concentrated in specialized corporations (e.g. media, retail, production-plants) or   staff-department of big corporations. Many high talented people are already leaving the big corporations and take part of specialized networks. The amount of one-person-companies is increasing.

People can cooperate with persons that share with them one of their basic cognitive components. An entrepreneur can convince a craftsman what products people he has to sell. They are both practical people (the senses). A creator (e.g. an architect) can show a craftsman what to make. They share a focus on structure (patterns).

When complementary roles are working in a cooperative environment, they join their forces in an open dialogue. This dialogue has many stages ranging from brainstorming (inventors take the lead) to realizing material structures (craftsman work together with creators).

Politicians, entrepreneurs and motivators can only perform if they are able to observe and express emotions (visual expressions, gestures). To ensure a successful cooperation they have to meet. New technologies like video-conferencing make it possible to cooperate anytime, any-place and anywhere. 

To collaborate people have to communicate face to face. In a competition patents (legal actions) and secrecy (rules and walls) shield ideas to prevent the competitor to take the lead.  In cooperation, ideas are shared to sustain the network.

The most used model in communication is the sender/receiver-model.  People send and receive content (e.g. email, documents, pictures, plans, designs) Specialized networks need advanced content-management systems to support this model of communication.

The sender/receiver-model supposes that the brain converts ideas directly into words and that another person can easily draw out the meaning of the ideas from the words. It assumes little effort to understand or interpret what is being conveyed.

The sender/receiver-model only works if there is a high level of common conceptual understanding (a shared model) between all the people involved in the communication process.

In reality, this is mostly not the case especially when experts (inventors, craftsman and creators) are communicating with laymen (entrepreneurs, motivators and politicians).

The dialogue between an expert and a layman is often a monologue. The expert confuses the layman with all his knowledge and the layman is not capable of asking the right questions. In the end, the layman stops asking questions and accepts the situation. 

The sender/receiver-model reduces a specialized network to a production-process. The model lowers the social cohesion (politicians), reduces the external cooperation (entrepreneurs) and removes the long-term perspective of the network (motivators).

People have to invest time to understand (ask unsophisticated questions) and explain their ideas (inventions) in many ways. It also takes time to generate trust. Ideas of others have to be tried out (in the imagination or in the real world) to understand them.

People have to have the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes. Sometimes they generate personal inventions that can be given back to the others to create reciprocity.

Eventually ideas create new personal patterns that can be shown and praised by others.  Collaboration does not take place instantly but evolves in a cycle where the pleasure of finding things out is the motivator.

When people are pessimistic and afraid the other becomes the enemy. They shield themselves from the outside world by creating fixed boundaries (walls).

To make sure that they get something in return they use a threat (e.g. physical force, the legal system). Before they start, they have to spend time to prevent a possible conflict (making contracts, detailed specifications). When people trust each other, they cannot wait to start.

The fear of losing something (possessions, status, existence) changes a collaborative relationship into a battle.

In a competition, the focus is on winning and selfishness. Fear has a negative impact on the senses (tunnel view), the emotions (stress) and the imagination (creativity block).

In a competition, priority is given to stay in front and to prohibited possible actions of the enemies. To win one has to predict and control by defining strict rules and make sure that people obey the rules. Internal and external competition finally kills a cooperative relationship.

To prevent the move from cooperation to competition people have to sustain a free and open communicate-process.