How do we stay up with the immediacy of customer demands?
The answer is in Business at the Speed of Now by John M. Bernard.
Modern businesses are grappling with a changing environment and changing marketplace. Customers are demanding more and more customized products and failure to deliver can result in immediate and widespread reputation damage inflicted by social media tweets, shares, and evaluations. How do we make sense of it all and how should we respond?
John Bernard is well equipped to answer this question. John, though his company Mass Ingenuity, has helped his clients — which have included major companies and most of the state governments in the Pacific Northwest — sort through this problem. Now, he has distilled his method with his book, Business at the Speed of Now.
The “big shift” is characterized as a transition from mass production to mass customization. This big shift is being powered by three strong trends: rise of social media, shift toward cloud computing, and coming of age of millennials. The result is a demand for significantly shorter sense-act cycles for business and the ability for companies to treat each customer with a customized solution and personal touch. Companies that can achieve this shift will thrive, those that don’t will die.
John describes the end result as a “system of management” and in the book describes their approach from assessment, determination of fundamentals, and discovery of breakthroughs. The book illustrates these steps with stories from his consulting experiences.
One of the stories I liked in particular told how a company front line manager took a customer’s complaint but couldn’t act on it. The employee had to pass the complaint “up the chain” for approval of the company’s response. Although this arrived several days later, the damage to the company’s reputation for this customer was already done. In other words, don’t push the information to a decision maker, push the decision authority to the employees on the front line that already have the information.
Here’s how to make sense of today’s business environment.