It’s time we reflect on what really matters, as a system of forward-thinking, conscious humanity

By: Bill Van Eron Monday June 1, 2020 0 comments

Van_Eron_header By Bill Van Eron

CEO, Future-Now Workforce Advisor

Headwaters Marketing and Innovation

Van-Eron-graphic-6-1-20 Life offers us so many transferable assets that now prove key to shaping any business or organization to earn high stakeholder significance. By far, the best path to a new breed of success that more share.

Funny, when I first joined HP as a senior designer (no, not prep for old age) I worked with a range of tech and creative writers. We would share ideas and I shaped the visual concepts that helped more people to see greater relevance in new technologies. My concepts won high acclaim while cutting copy in brochures to less than usual. The writers gave me a large bottle filled with their cut text as the “Words Do Not Matter” award. I valued each of them and our union improved. Yet here I am telling you “Words Do Matter” when we interpret them to create better actions versus lip service all see through.

One thing we learn early when we enter the field of design or design thinking with emphasis on the values systems important to humanity is as follows:

  1. When people are ignored or our values are violated, there is often a major backlash. Companies that address this sincerely and creatively, soon find themselves leading their industry & markets.
  2. Our design training seemed unique to most. Those virtues, mindset and skills allow us to synthesize value, values, actions & outcomes most miss. We also became continuous learners, now crucial to all.
  3. Technology innovation has dominated our attention, yet at what cost? I see an abundance of left-brain-dominated organizations, boards, & inherent closed, complex cultures. Counter balance that with creative systems thinkers, invested in others, purpose and values (i.e., Trust & Relevance) and watch those great tech products gain 5X to 25X greater relevance and sales. These numbers were from my 25 years in HP with equal credit to the cross functional teams that all felt catalyzed to be their best.

I will highlight one or more factors about each word above so you have a basis to explore.

      1. Purpose -- Some orgs say they have a purpose, yet the easy scorecard is how well that truly matters internally & externally. More younger gens ask, “What’s your purpose?” as a primary interview question. Most biz have weak answers. We see purposes that can be very compelling, because we gauge what really matters objectively and how tech & a WE-collective can better address it.

      2. Trust -- This is mostly a human connection and most CEOs wonder why their biz soft skills have dropped. As design thinkers, we know what to look for. When the toughest tech editor told me, “Just because you are with HP does not mean we believe all you tell us,” with a major product launch four months away, our great team agreed with my suggestion to invite editors to our focus groups to hear directly from customers what we hear as well as asking their own questions. That trust shaped by PR preconditioned a global market to understand a usability problem and three months later, the next round of global cover stories introduced the world’s easiest to use, agile oscilloscope to lead that market championing values we believed in and that proved true. Kudos to a great team & great editors.

     3. Diversity -- I loved growing up in NYC and its rich diversity. Those learned and experience-based values have always made me a champion for having equivalent representation to the values our diverse nation has. I respect each ethnicity, gender, and all ages. To me, diversity also has to include diverse input on ideas, insights and challenging the status quo, or any obstacles impeding us.

     4. Inclusion -- Or the absence of it, is tied directly to why only 17% of employees feel emotionally attached to work. Change that around to welcome questions, invite challenges, assure a mixed review and watch your employee engagement and value contributions rise dramatically.

  1. Transparency -- Your stakeholders have full transparency with regard to how you keep promises made internally & externally. That represents a major shift from companies & leadership that just “expect” outcomes without investing to stay on it. This pairs with greater accountability & enablement.
  2. Leadership -- Perhaps this group has the biggest challenge of all. Any hint of greed & control breeds a poor reputation. New and current talent who feel enabled by an entrepreneurial culture will shape higher growth. Recently, self-managed teams have exceeded all outcomes prior.
  3. Culture -- Creativity and innovation are the first to lose or gain when they help shape a culture of open-minded enablement. Then the whole biz and its stakeholders’ regard rises higher.
  4. Cross-Functional Attributes -- We all hear about warring silos. Geez, look at government as a worst example. Left-brain-dominated orgs inadvertently become closed cultures & complex versus enabling. Again, having a more open culture, a purpose that bonds teams & markets all helps here. Employees feel trapped by job descriptions and repetitive work. As a design, brand & a deeply experienced value-creation person, I was asked to apply those attributes to help all other functions. I see a path for others to have your attributes recognized and applied so you too can shape an original growth path.
  5. Stakeholder Relevance -- I loved HP enough to do something most designers would frown on initially. Especially when we love our craft and have earned top regard. When I heard I was doing “hero marketing,” meaning tech companies make great products yet struggle to accurately relate to customer insights, thus I was saving that gap by creating value in general. So I left my senior design job to immerse myself into HP’s customer-facing stakeholder system -- sales, channels, events -- for two years. We shaped a great team as I observed and listened to realize constant creative opportunities to help liven up key business actions and relevance. Our sales district & resellers outperformed all others by 3X the quota achieved & our resellers also led the world in tech revenues growth and market relevance. Then I immersed myself for six years in market influencer stakeholders as an HP PR strategist to see how I deliver to my great manager’s insight that a creative, relationship builder would excel. Now that is great leadership as she & a dear friend saw potential in me that I had never thought about prior. Thanks Laura and Val. Your beliefs in me and our teams help gave our startup operation in HP’s smallest Test & Measurement team, a great return to earn 65% of all global HP coverage valued by Carma as worth $350M for each of four years & incredible stakeholder regard.
Bill Van Eron

About the Author: Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron has led a life of continuous learning as fueled by originality, authenticity, trust, and attention to others across any org’s stakeholder ecosystem progressively, since 1976 & optimally from 1990-now, previewing work that matters as a key future-now workforce advantage. His proven ability to synthesize undercurrents of change & shape or revitalize values that rise up as what helps all to matter more, is now the path we all need to explore. Each of the topics above are all career attributes to help any of us add value. Bill evolved Headwaters Marketing & Innovation (www.hw2o.com), to now help us to rebound from this pandemic with honest reflection to what really matters as a forward-thinking plan to shape a better future. Bill’s rare experience and agile methods to integrate proven earned advantages will shape the next round of leaders in any market, industry & even government. We are all abuzz about technology & science innovation, yet attention to our humanity, humility, purpose, vision, trust & more moves all of us to rise above all obstacles (caveats) that stopped us before. All win when we feel listened to and inclusive. Connect with Bill at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-van-eron/