Change, insight, inclusion & relevance mirror the qualities of an ocean. Bolder actions follow conscious relevance
Tuesday April 6, 2021
By Bill Van Eron
Brand & Stakeholder Relevance Strategist
Headwaters Marketing & Innovation
We largely realize how easily an ocean can shift from being a primary force of destruction, to also one of greater enablement. This provides a timely & meaningful metaphor for all business and organizations increasingly assessed by how well they develop and maintain higher stakeholder relevance, or not. I saw, applied & advanced how more conscious leadership is pertinent to making our new horizon compelling. I see a new breed of employee, functions, culture & conscious insight. All, as the next tide shaping higher success as a collective force of higher earned stakeholder regard behind you. That earned support champions your path through adversity per bolder insights & actions that our collective diversity can best navigate so we rise above all forms of superficiality.
Whether you like rough seas or calm ones, has less to do with progressive thinking or risk aversion. We respect others that can surf, ski or navigate a craft through rough sea’s successfully and reliably. That part of this metaphor does not mean we all want that responsibility, while it should mean we regard that skill highly knowing both rough and calm seas are in our future, thus these relevance creation skills are key to our ability to adapt to thrive and all organizations need them now.
Back in the earlier days of technology innovation, Apple stood out because they saw how relevant design and usability would be to earned relevance. I enjoyed every time I met with leaders on the edge of something special. Steve Jobs and I had a mutually enlightening 90 minute discussion on why human observation reveals greater insights to value than analytical technologies, though we both used them to confirm our findings. We both saw how most technology firms struggle when their products hit the market, when they failed to recognize and invest in the skills advanced designers add to shape higher relevance. We both saw how brands that fail to get beyond their technology expertise, to better reflect values of key stakeholders, now need to also respect the skills that shape higher relevance as an integrated system across internal & external stakeholders & key influencer groups. My work lifted the HP brand as a reflection of greater attention to others, values, purpose and attitude. My path to enlightenment was less about me, and all about a better we.
Doing the right thing has long been limited to charitable actions. Decades of bottom line thinking clearly avoided that, labeling such as intangibles. I offer first hand progressive insights and experience applying the principles that most in management still take for granted, as clear & present evidence that attention to others (key stakeholders), purpose, diversity, inclusion, trust, and rising above most or all norms not only rises you above the standard, you set a new high bar for effectiveness, relevance and genuine word of mouth support. When my job in HP’s Stakeholder Ecosystem included convincing HP Resellers to market HP products, I rose up when two resellers said “We don’t have time for marketing, we are too busy trying to sell”. I infused life and high touch relevance in both their brands, without charging either a dime. Both immediately saw a huge spike in sales and soon led the world in revenues growth in the early 1990’s. That greatly increased HP’s relevance and word of mouth recognition as a company that cares to help above the standard.
Expanding on that, when HP’s largest & most prominent LaserJet business recruited me to increase reseller participation in the HP Reseller Co-op Program, as in 1991 less than 0.2% participated, my human insights as a design & systems thinker & value creation pioneer, enabled me to gain 97% participation my first year and 100% plus new signups my second year. Knowing the challenges most resellers face, as well as most customers led me to shape high touch brands with greater attention to our humanity, purpose, and relevance. Sales hit over $100B a few years later, using my approach. This approach paid off over & over again without fail. Special thanks to all the cross functional & global teams that felt inspired to do their best, as a true people-powered biz.
A few key references on the opening visual:
• A Force to Value When Behind or Before US – In business and for all organizations, if we fail to live up to or exceed internal & external stakeholder value requirements, we lose all relevance as stakeholders have 100% transparency. Also what you stand for is more important than what you make. If leadership fails to embrace their stakeholder’s values in evidence, by recognizing & empowering employees diverse attributes as key to champion these values & stay current, most employees soon feel emotionally detached from work, as Gallup confirms at 76% the last 4 years.
Flip this wave of self-destruction to the most powerful wave of credibility any organization can have behind them to surf through adversity on a path to higher shared relevance. There are no exceptions, as all organizations, especially government will thrive. Empowered global teams, a purpose all feel inclusive to, higher trust, recognition and by my approximate count 50X to 300X higher revenues every time over my 25 years at HP, Agilent, Keysight and HP Enterprise.
• Conscious Insight – Like others, I also use AI to help with my research and quantitative fact finding. I applaud technology that automates repetitive work, except where it tries to replace a valued human interface. Technology certainly has dominated internal businesses attention. Yet, where design thinking and a value-compass advance to tune purpose & value to market variances, our collective value-creation skills prove vital to the highest brand, functional, leadership and global regard. Once you see it in action, you will wonder why it took so long to realize. I opted to immerse myself two years immerse into every key stakeholder group, which greatly helped to shape higher work & market relevance scenarios. Once you know what to look for, the process becomes a vital system versus a personal sacrifice, as I opted to do. As AI eliminates time-pressured redundancy in work, more of us will value work geared to our attributes as now key to shape relevance across leadership, champions, HR, PR, sales, marketing and more, as without this, all go into now rapid decline. As I look at how AI can replace thousands of work categories now or soon, a more conscious system would train people to rise above redundant work to shape a higher value, as I did when I focused on our humanity as a system. The opportunity is highly significant, timely and vital to success fueled by the highest relevance. I have spent as little as a day immersing myself into C-Suite Teams, Boards, & core functions as one who instinctively knows what to look for, as immediately enabling greater success. I use AI to challenge, verify or add to my assumptions and value-creation actions as a collaborative action. Likewise, most leaders or functional VP’s do their assumptions and strategic thinking justice when they invite employees and objective sources to give input. Doing so, employees see where they can improve as well as feeling inclusive as key to a more effective organization.
• Conscious Relevance – Imagine how much greater life and work would be if leaders earned our trust, while we earned their confidence in a variety of actions that challenge the status quo, motivate others, rise up to a higher bar, and in turn we get recognized, rewarded as catalysts to engage stakeholder in ways that earns their highest trust, and in turn, your collective relevance.
I see and gain far more interest when I connect with international innovators, leaders and potential victims or beneficiaries of shaping a more consciously compelling organization. When I left NYC to come to Colorado in 1976, so many of my peers reacted as surprised I would leave the most demanding market to live and work in the sticks, inferring a less demanding geography. Yes, I wish more of us in Fort Collins, and Denver could model the future inclusively, versus stuck in the past. But as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Nor do I wish to see a place we called home for 45 years fail to see & embrace the biggest positive shift of our lifetimes while under our noses & as enabling to a world long denied its full value.