The challenges of operating in a changing world
The ‘old school’ as some would say with regards to being in business, has a lot to do with hierarchy. Domination of a sector ensures success and how much money you have enables that to happen even faster. Business owners sell most of their business to investors in order to bring life to their dreams, politicians kowtow to backers losing their morals and their concern for citizens in the process, and people sell their future earnings to companies for the privilege of taking care of their basic needs from day-to-day. As I was watching Les Miserables last night I thought of how people in the future would look to our current situation in disbelief and grief in the same way I viewed Jean Valjean. How could that possibly be ok that someone went to prison for stealing the bread to eat? Can easily turn into today’s predicament → How could someone not have a place to live when there are empty houses? Or → How could the government let that happen?
The top down, classist, socially integrated behaviors have given way to what seems to be a current ‘traditional’ thought that that is how things should be done. While this is not entirely the case since more people are employed by cooperatives worldwide than are employed by corporations, it is a generally held belief in the United States that I feel sickens the population’s instinct to hope for a solution. But then why wouldn’t it be that way when schools are designed to churn out factory workers and not creative solutionaries.
The current trend has moved into a place where a networking event comprises of a lot of people handing out cards as quickly as possible and making little to no human connection, because, you see, one thought is that the more enigmatic you are the more business you will get which alienates the ‘shy’ people (shy being a term used to described those who don’t feel comfortable being themselves in a space in which they are not meant to feel comfortable.) And yet the paradigm is shifting, perhaps back to where it was before, perhaps to something completely new.
But let’s ask ourselves, has any of this ever really worked? Are people all taken care of? Are their basic needs met? Have these structures provided happiness or at least contentedness for the masses? Since the answer is no let’s look at where things are going and where they feel right for me.
I enjoy going to events that are run by several organizations. It is an opportunity to see more, do more, hear more in a shorter span of time. Connecting in person during community social events (not networking) seems to yield more solid relationships and those chance encounters that are fruitful. These things do not have specific times attached to them. It is an investment in the relationship that turns into the ROI of contacts and understanding of a project. Developing relationships and helping organizations and people through times of transition gives them the support they need to make it through thereby allowing them the opportunity to return the favor. It sounds like I’m describing a community and not a business, doesn’t it?
When creating a plan look at it from the perspective of how it fits in with what works and look to change it if it is aligned with what you know hasn’t been working. While your idea may be revolutionary, often we are trying to make it happen in a way that is proven to fail. A recipe for success, once launched, can only be successful if launched.
Some outreach that works:
- Going to see your contact during a naturally occurring work day break (lunch) and talk to them then.
- Getting involved in other local or affinity groups and developing relationships leads to more support. While this might not directly target your customer these groups are often stakeholders in the process.
- Having an office or community space for people to gather. Partially transparency, partially providing a community environment either case you are drawing people in to interact.
- Creating sustainable change comes from within a community. Keep this in mind and avoid trying to make cookie cutter solutions and trying to plunk them down in places that did not ask for them.
- Connect with partners and endorsement. No great business has come from one person and there is a reason that grant making organizations lean toward non-profits with partners and collaborators.
- Diversity matters. There needs to be a wide variety of participants from across all walks of life in order to make something work.
- The technology and social media that is supposed to serve us is currently creating more noise than it is helping find clarity. But the noise will die down otherwise these systems will die out. Either way it seems to be the way of things that you should be engaging your audience through social media.