Who is a HERO? Not Shahrukh, Aamir, Salman, or Hrithik, but ‘highly empowered and resourceful operative,’ as Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler explain the acronym in ‘Empowered’ (Harvard). They observe that to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve customer problems.
The unleash mandate
“It means your staff are going to be coming up with solutions on their own. The ideas don’t come from management; management’s new job is to support and empower employees,” reads the ‘unleash’ mandate in the book.
“The technology doesn’t come from the information technology (IT) department; IT’s new job is to support and encourage employees.” Such a complete inversion of the top-down way of running companies is the only way to thrive in the age of the empowered customer, note Bernoff and Schadler. And, behind the ‘new groundswell’ they see four technologies putting more power in the hands of both customers and employees, and these are smart mobile devices, pervasive video, cloud computing, and social technology.
Hire energetic and creative people
To bosses who wonder how they can HERO-power their enterprises, the first advice in the book is to hire energetic and creative people. Hire for attitude as well as skills, instruct the authors. “Look for people who can build Web sites or shoot videos, or who have extensive social technology skills, perhaps from college or hobbies. These people are the most likely to be able to come up with customer-facing groundswell ideas.”
Second, encourage people in any way possible, Bernoff and Schadler counsel. Creative use of technology is a spark; fan it into a flame, they add. “Help potential HEROes by identifying them, encouraging their ideas, and recommending positive directions for change. Recognise innovative technology solutions with awards and public attaboys.”
Next comes an important recommendation: Participate yourself. You reached your position because you solve problems and find creative solutions; once in a management position, don’t lose your involvement, the authors urge. “Contribute to the ideas, provide guidance on the kind of ideas you can support, read the comments… even if it hurts.”
Finally, help take concepts from idea to project to completion, the authors exhort. They suggest you can do this by identifying other managers who can contribute, connecting HEROes with others who have similar interests, and running interference with other departments that may have problems. “And if you want your HEROes to keep producing, don’t take credit for their ideas.”
The book wraps up with the message that empowering more people in your organisation is a force for good. “It attracts smart people. It makes creative problem solving everybody’s job. And it makes your company a more upbeat, enjoyable, and creative place to be.”
A book worth gifting to CEOs and CIOs, if not to every manager!