Apr 01, 2008

Why the Web is my Queen Mary! This next week I am going over to New York to speak at BlogHer and also attend the Blogger Social. Today I was thinking of Dad, who told me how he saved up his money when he first started in business and went to the USA on the Queen Mary. This was a huge investment for someone from a poor background and who was trying to build a business with no financial resources. I asked him why he risked his money and he told me "Anna, if you want to innovate you have to look beyond your own reality, your own world. You have to look for inspiration from places that you may believe have no connection. The art of innovation lay not in thinking but in connecting different ideas" We are so used to having the web that I think as leaders we can be guilty of complacency. Do you use the web like maybe Dad would have done to... Virtually travel into different topics and look for ideas? Invest your time in developing not only the depth of your thinking but also the breadth of your thinking? Virtually travel into different cultures, different parts of the world and look for global trends. Virtually travel into different market sectors in the search of connecting ideas Dad came back from the USA with a groundbreaking idea that saw him recognized as a pioneer in his area....he got his idea - that was translated into the farming world - from seeing how retailers were packaging their goods. Would he have thought of it at home...probably not. We are lucky we do not have to invest our life savings into trips on the Queen Mary...we "just" have to invest our time, truly surfing the diversity of the web.
Be G.O.B.B.Y!.... Dear Leader I was reminded of my first role as a Managing Director yesterday, which came quickly in my mid twenties. As always Dad took me aside and said..."Anna, it is not how you lead...it is how they follow. Stay close to the pulse of the business..internally and externally" I decided early doors to know what was happening Inside the business..I needed to speak to the employees. Outside the business..I needed to speak to the customers/supply chain. So no board meetings where people reported back to me.....I reported back to my reports on what I had found out by listening...I listened through Informal sessions with groups of people in the coffee room. Walked round 2 shifts each day (when in office)...night shift once a month. Phoned our top ten customers each month (if not visited and others on random basis) Asked a supplier a month to showcase not what they were doing then...but there innovation in the pipeline...then asked what can we do to ensure we are the first to get this? Seems weird to everyone at first, my role of reporting back on a monthly basis...however, this approach led us to be focused on what we needed to do, not what had already happened....it also gave the truth of the state of business rather than what I supposedly "wanted" to hear. I think leaders can hide behind layers, meetings etc....I think that is wrong...respect the direct reporting lines, of course - never undermine your direct reports by listening rather than commenting on what you are hearing. But as Dad said "Get GOBBY which stood for Get off butt, be yourself" With social media the chance to connect is now even greater....in person and now even via the web...there really are no excuses not to engage.

Anna Farmery

Social Marketing Architect, Speaker, Author and in spare time completing PhD on the future of the social business model

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