I talked with Andy Kanefield today. Andy is CEO of Dialect, Inc., a cool company in Missouri with corporate clients most everywhere. Andy's work dovetails well with what we do here at Wf360. Our Brandversation business focuses on helping companies figure out just what conversation should be initiated among their customers--and employees--that will turn those individuals into evangelists for the company's brand and products and services.
Andy's work is focused on helping companies figure out what business they are really in in the first place (sometimes not the same business as the one they think they're in!) and once that's determined, helping them create a framework for moving ahead and ensuring that all elements of the business--including its people--are tied together and aligned with that clearly understood framework.
We talked today about how conversations occur within organizations and how, in this tough economic environment, many of the usual avenues of communication have simply shut down. Companies have downsized, have shifted their focus, have retooled the way they work. And they are often in no mood to entertain what they consider "frivolous, tangential" stuff when they're trying to conserve their energy for survival.
We agreed that there has never been a time more appropriate for the kind of work we each do than right now. It's never been more important for companies to have all elements of their operation aligned around the same goal; no business can afford mis-direction and wasted effort. And it's never been more important for the conversation to be aligned throughout the corporation. People in every company need to be engaged in stimulating conversation. Perhaps we should call it the stimulus conversation.
I've notice some companies appear to be paying close attention to this. At Starbucks, for example, it appears they've ratcheted up the importance of paying attention to each customer and ensuring he/she feels they've gotten special treatment. Local restaurants in New York form the basis of an interesting case study. At certain restaurants, it is business as usual, with little attention paid to the patrons (and by the way, there are generally not too many of them sitting down to dinner). At others, they could not be more gracious and accommodating and make you feel truly welcome. Those restaurants appear to be run by managers who have sat down with their wait staff and teed up the conversation that's important in this economic climate. Every patron at a restaurant is important these days, and they want each one to have a stellar experience so they'll come back.
What about your company? Do people clearly understand what direction the company is moving in? Do their conversations reflect that understanding?
What do you suppose they're talking about right now at GM? Think they need to align the conversation?