by: John Caddell

OK, so you've read my prior two posts on the subject of corporate change, and recognized your need to greatly enhance the information you get from the outside world. Now what?

You'll need to embrace a few basic principles (it won't be easy!):

Enable employees:
  1. Reward curiosity and information sharing
  2. Make time and space for employees to engage with the outside world--wall-to-wall meetings are a no-no
  3. Tap existing conduits to the outside (sales force, retail clerks, customer service reps, marketing, investor relations)
  4. Ensure your information systems and policies don't get in the way

Listen hard:

  1. Don't tune out bad news
  2. Try to assemble information from many constituencies (customers, competitors, employees)
  3. Embrace raw/inarticulate/emotional input
  4. Honor dissent

Create systems and methods to gather and utilize information:

  1. Deploy information "commons" where information can be posted, commented on, and passed across and up to aid in decisionmaking
  2. Systematically gather information relevant to your business and add it to the commons
  3. Regularly gather and sensemake commons-generated information
  4. Use the information to inform strategy, planning, organization, etc.
  5. Demonstrate to the employees that the information is used, to encourage ongoing contributions

Most companies are not ready for this. Some are. Those that aren't: start getting ready. If you think implementing the above is a lot of work, think how hard it is to navigate out of a crisis--an avoidable crisis, if only you paid attention to and utilized what was going on all around you.

In the next few posts, we'll dig into some specific high-value areas of bringing the outside in.

Prior posts in this series:
Part 1
Part 2

Reading List:
Gary Hamel, "The Future of Management"
John Kotter, "A Sense of Urgency"

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