Category: Culture change

Change towards a more innovative and collaborative culture

Co-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationInnovative culture

Decorated Street Festival in Gracia, a living example of Tourism 3.0

Since the late years of the 19th century, the Gracia district of Barcelona celebrates every year its Themed Decoration Street Festival during one week in the middle of August. The many different streets of the area compete against each other in decorating the most beautiful, the most original or the most sustainable street. The residents of each street come together to take on the challenge and build a special decoration based on a specific theme, such as Harry Potter, the Silk Road, Japan, emotions or whatever they jointly imagine and decide. As a visitor, it is an immersive, enjoyable experience to see the differently decorated streets.

When this tradition originally started, decorations used to be created using natural elements such as flowers or tree branches, together with more conventional elements such as coloured paper. Little by little, the decorations became more sophisticated, and during these last years, the quality level is in many cases really outstanding.

There are many interesting aspects of this tradition, which closely relate to the principles of Tourism 3.0: culture of collaboration and innovation, co-creation, human spirit-related mission, community involvement, etc.

Every street has an association of neighbours, consisting of residents of that particular street, and this association is responsible for choosing the annual decoration theme to develop. Once the decoration theme is decided through an open participatory process,  all the neighbours participate in accordance with their time availability, and work together over several months to produce the street decorations. It is really a great example of co-creation, cooperation, innovation and community involvement!

Moreover, there two interesting elements related to the human spirit mission and raising awareness about sustainability: most of the materials used to produce the decorations are recycled materials such as plastic bottles, bottle caps, carton boxes, egg boxes, industrial cork, light bulbs, cans, etc., which makes the creativity challenge especially interesting.

In recent years, beyond themes related to films, cultures and imaginary worlds, there has been a growing focus on decorations linked to sustainability issues, such as the protection of biodiversity or the pollution in the oceans, which aim to raise visitors’ awareness on these topics, aligning with human spirit related mission as in the Vision of Tourism 3.0.

You can see some further information and pictures in the following link

Business trendsInnovationInnovative cultureIntelligenceOpen innovation

Attracting creative residents as a key success factor for destinations

The tourism industry is usually perceived – based on true facts – as business based on low-skilled workers. However, many researchers have identified a curious trend: creative workers settle down in touristic areas, due to elements such as the concentration of creative professionals, a community of creative industries and an open-minded atmosphere, or other conventional factors such as affordable housing, high-quality infrastructures and services, a booming job market, and an attractive lifestyle.

According to Francesc Gonzalez, professor and researcher at Open University of Catalonia (UOC), research currently being carried out in many seafront tourist villages in the area of Barcelona points to the following factors attracting creative talent:

  • Closeness to a large urban area and housing availability
  • Positive perception of the urban and social environment, with criteria such as inclusiveness, openness and tolerance to social diversity, a pleasant and efficient urban environment, and life quality.

Other findings show that these villages are experiencing a transformation: previously, they were temporary leisure and vacation destinations for visitors; now, they are becoming complex urban areas which offer an outstanding quality of life which is very appreciated by the demanding segment of creative workers.

The concept of “creative worker” encompasses many types of professionals, generally speaking all those who carry out intellectual, management and creative jobs with an innovative approach.

The importance of this type of residents for the local economy is subject to many different opinions. For example, Richard Florida, the American urban studies theorist, reasons that attracting talented workers is one of the main concerns for businesses, and therefore the existence of communities of creative workers is a key factor to be taken into account when deciding the location of a company headquarters or delegation, as these communities are an essential condition for innovation. Although this statement is subject to controversy within the academic community, it is quite obvious that the capacity to attract creative workers is at least a big plus for the development of the local economies.

In “The Vision of Tourism 3.0” white paper, creative professionals play a key role in the development of the destination, regardless of whether they work in the tourism industry or not. As it will be explained in the coming white paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in destinations”, all professionals living in or near the destination in question are considered stakeholders and potential contributors to the Open Innovation System, and are therefore expected to bring their know-how and creativity to overcome the various challenges of the destination, using an innovative approach.

So, while the cause-effect relationship between creative professionals living in a place and its development success is not well-defined, mainly due to being too indirect in nature in many cases, in the case of destinations focusing its development on the principles of the Tourism 3.0 approach, this relationship becomes direct and strong, as long as all community residents, and especially the creative professionals, are encouraged and engaged in addressing the local challenges through open innovation. In this way, this type of destinations go one step further in leveraging the creative workers’ potential to foster economic development, while at the same time creating better conditions that attract and result in this creative group settling in the destination in question.

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.

Collaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainability

The ‘Trashtag Challenge’, the new viral challenge that is cleaning beaches all over the world

We have talked many times in this blog about how tourism activity can address the social and environmental challenges of the destinations leveraging the power of storytelling and social media for the greater good. Among all the “Trash contents and challenges” that can be found nowadays in the internet, it is also fair to highlight such a remarkable initiative, also to remind us of the motivational power of good doing and the spiritual fulfillment that it brings.

The hashtag #trashtag intends to shake the environmental consciousness of people all over the planet by challenging them to show a picture of a natural site full of trash followed by a picture of the same site when all the trash has been removed. The challenge has gone viral and so it is possible to see hundreds of examples where it has moved people to take action.

This is a perfect example to showcase how social media can be an excellent platform to connect with the target audiences to engage them in a social or environmental mission, and how it can encourage positive mass behavior by becoming viral in the social networks. The lessons to be learned through this case to create similar challenges are mainly the simplicity of the challenge and the power of the visual impact showing the results achieved. Simplicity helps people taking action without need to think over about the where, when and mostly how to do it. The visual impact is what creates the desire of the audience to take action and the will to see and show the final result. To learn more about mass phenomena, I suggest you to read over the previous articles on the “Tipping Point Theory”, where these are explained in detail.

You can also find further information about the Trashtag challenge in the following link

Culture changeMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (IV)

Beyond the key ideas of the Tipping point’s theory exposed in the previous articles, there are some case studies that showcase how this theory comes into practice in the real world.

The diffusion model is an academic model of looking at how a contagious idea or innovation moves through a population. For instance, when the hybrid seed was launched to the market, the group of farmers who started trying it at first were the Innovators. The slightly larger group who were convinced by them were “the early adopters”. They were the opinion leaders in the community, a group of respected and thoughtful people who watched and analyzed what those Innovators were doing and eventually decided to follow. After them came the Early Majority and the Late Majority, the deliberate and the skeptical mass, who would never try anything until the most respected ones had tried it first. Finally there came the Laggards, the most conservative of all, who see no urgent reason to change. Plotting that progression on a graph, it forms a perfect epidemic curve –starting slowly, tipping just as the Early Adopters start using the seed, then rising sharply as the Majority catches on.

But many times the contagious spread of a new idea is actually quite tricky. There is a substantial difference between the people who originate trends and ideas, and the people in the Majority group who eventually adopt them. These two groups may be next to each other on the word-of-mouth continuum. But they don’t communicate particularly well. The first two groups –the Innovators and Early Adopters- are visionaries. They want revolutionary change, something that sets them apart qualitatively from their competitors. They are the people who buy brand-new technology, before it’s been perfected or even proved, or before the price has gone down. They usually have small companies and are just starting out, willing to take enormous risks.

The Early Majority, instead, are big companies. They have to worry about any change fitting into their complex business structure. If the goal of visionaries is to make a quantum leap forward, the goal of pragmatists is to make a incremental improvement, some measurable and predictable progress. The word risk is negative in their vocabulary.

Innovations don’t just slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a huge gap between them. Actually, all kinds of high-tech products fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because the companies that make them are not always able to scale them to the mainstream market, just because it’s not appealing enough to the Early Majority.

Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen are those who make it possible for innovations to bridge over the gap between both groups. They translate ideas and information from the highly specialized world of the innovators into a mainstream language that everybody can understand. What they do is to highlight the aspects that most matter to the audience, exemplifying through storytelling how the idea could change their lives, dropping the unnecessary information and technical details that could only lead to confusion.

The Innovators fit a different personality type. They feel different. If you ask people what worries them the most, the trendsetters pick up on bigger-picture things, whereas the mainstream people think about being overweight, or how well they are doing at work. They are passionate activists to some extent.

Conclusion

When trying to use the Tipping Point theory to craft a strategy to create some kind of social epidemics, like engaging and gaining stakeholder support to the destination business model, is that efforts have to be concentrated in three groups of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen, so long as they are responsible for starting word-of-mouth epidemics.

We then have to prepare a message that sticks, which can actually be a story, no matter how short we make it. The learning outcomes of the storytelling technique from previous articles and Whitepapers are essential to understand how the human psychology works in order to create emotional connections with our target audience and move them to take action in the direction we want.

We finally have to understand the power of context, that regardless of our thinking about ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, we are actually strongly influenced by our social and physical environment, and so all the environment factors matter when preparing for the tipping point to happen.

It’s particularly interesting to take into account the rule of 150 when choosing the target audience, so long as it can be split into blocks in accordance with this parameter, to ensure its receptivity to the message. Working thoughtfully on these points we can shape the course of social epidemics. In the end, Tipping Points are no more than a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (III)

Following with the second article presenting the Tipping point theory, where the “Stickiness factor” was explained, this third article explains the third key success factors to reach a Tipping point: the power of context.

The power of context

Social epidemics are very sensitive to the environment and the circumstances of the times in which they occur. The key idea of the power of context is that people are more than just sensitive to changes in context. And the kinds of contextual changes capable of tipping an epidemic are very different than we might ordinarily suspect.

For instance, Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is an inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will think that no one cares. Soon, more windows are likely to be broken, and the sense of anarchy spreads out from the building to the whole street, and further to the rest of the district, sending a message that anything goes.

The Tipping Point in this epidemic it’s something physical like graffiti. The motivation to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not necessarily coming from a certain kind of person but also from a feature of the environment. The essence of the Power of context is that our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances.

Thinking about “How much influence does immediate environment have on the way people behave?”, Philip Zimbardo –from Stanford University- concluded that there are certain times, places and conditions when our inherent predispositions can be swept away, and that there are circumstances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior just by changing the immediate details of their situation.

What this study suggests is that the convictions of our heart and our thoughts are eventually less important in guiding our actions than the immediate context of our behavior. Environmental Tipping Points are things that can be changed: we can fix broken windows and clean up graffiti and change the signals that first invite to vandalism or other kind of undesirable behavior.

Judith Harris has convincingly argued that peer influence and community influence are more important than family influence in determining how children behave. Their behavior is powerfully shaped by the environment out of their family, and the features of their immediate social and physical world –the streets they walk down, the people they encounter –play a huge role in shaping who they are and how they act.

More specifically, hereby we analyze the critical role that groups play in social epidemics. Psychologists say that when people are asked to make decisions in a group, they come to very different resolutions than when they are asked the same by themselves. When we’re part of a group, we’re all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and other kinds of influence that play a critical role in sweeping us up in the beginnings of an epidemic.

The spread of any new and contagious idea also has a lot to do with the skillful use of group power. It’s easier to remember and appreciate something if you discuss it for two hours with your friends. Then it becomes a social experience and an object of conversation. On the other hand, peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss. People want to live up to what is expected from them. When each person has a group-acknowledged responsibility for particular tasks and facts, greater efficiency is inevitable.

The rule of 150 is an interesting example of the strange and incredible ways in which context affects the course of social epidemics. There is a concept in cognitive psychology called the channel capacity, referring to the amount of space in our brain for specific kinds of information. We have a channel capacity for feelings, and there is also what could be called social channel capacity. So what does correlate with brain size? According British anthropologist Robin Dunbar social group size is what correlates with the size of our brain. If you look at any species of primate the larger their neocortex is, the larger the average size of the groups they live with.

Dunbar’s argument is that brains evolve, they get bigger, in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups. If you belong to a group of five people, then you have to keep track of ten separate relationships: your relationships with the four others in your circle and the six other two-way relationships between the others. That’s what it takes to know everyone in the social circle.

Humans socialize in the largest groups of all primates because we are the only animals with brains large enough to handle the complexities of that social arrangement. Keeping things under 150 has proved to be the most efficient and effective way to manage a group of people. When the group gets larger than that, people become strangers to one another. They’re knit together, which is very important if you want to be effective and successful at community life. If you get too large, you don’t have enough things in common, and then you start to become strangers to one another and that close-knit fellowship starts to get lost. Above the 150 Tipping Point, there begin to be structural impediments to the ability of the group to agree and act with one voice.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (II)

Following with the first article where the Tipping point theory was introduced, and the first point “The law of the few” was explained, this second article explains the second key success factor to reach a Tipping point: the stickiness factor.

The stickiness factor

Whereas the law of the few focuses on the nature of the messenger, the stickiness factor puts the focus on the content of the message and its capacity to become compelling, practical and personal. Only then it becomes memorable. As I explained in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, where the secret of successful stories was revealed, crafting a compelling story is an art, attainable only for especially talented individuals. This applies to the messages too, to make them stick.

To figure out how to create sticky messages, we should further deep into the storytelling technique. First of all, why do we like stories? We like them because they provide answers to our lives and a mechanism to shape our identity by connecting with the story characters. We connect emotionally with the story characters as long as they have similar challenges and values, and thus we regard them as a representation of ourselves. Stories not only help us building our identity but also work like social glue, as they help us in connecting with others and building relationships. Stories are the most effective way to create an emotional connection between brands and consumers.

Further, humans process information more efficiently when this is delivered through a story, and therefore this information is more likely to be remembered in the form of a story.

Stories can change our way of thinking and influence our feelings. They can drive an organizational culture change by opening people’s minds and building capacity of mutual understanding to enhance cooperation. They also have the power to make people envision a better future and how to overcome all the obstacles. Stories are pull strategy, as they allow people to decide by themselves, which is a key success factor of effective influence.

The art of persuasion consists on uniting ideas with emotions, and emotions are best conveyed through the form of a compelling story. Arousing the audience’s emotions spurs energy in them and moves them to take action. This is the power of storytelling.

Compelling stories are those that not only move people to share and take action but also engage the audience in a way that they are willing to follow up with the story with more chapters. Such kinds of stories are like the marketing diamond all marketers dream of, because they not only boost conversions, but also virality and customer loyalty.

To sum it up, as Aristoteles said, compelling stories need to have ethical appeal, emotional appeal and logical appeal to connect with the mind, heart and human spirit of the audience. Beyond the story itself, skilled storytellers have the ability to connect with the audience and convey the emotions embedded in the story. How the message is delivered is as much important as the content of the message itself. By telling the story with passion, enthusiasm and expression, the audience is more likely to get engaged. Besides, great storytellers have the ability to turn “me” into a “we”, by telling stories that shine the light on a concern that both the teller and the audience share. This connection creates empathy and opens people’s hearts, hence appealing to their human spirit and enhancing commitment in taking action.

There is no magic formula to reach the Tipping point to trigger the social epidemic, but there are many factors, strategies and tactics that increase the chances to make it happen, according to those who have studied the marketing contents that go viral. The main key success factors are:

Promise of practical value inspires people to share knowledge that may be useful to others. Either it is a matter of generosity or a matter of a will to be perceived as smart and helpful, inherent practical value works as a social currency that fosters relationships among people. For some people, it makes them feel like insiders having privileged information.

Specific topics related to the dreams, aspirations and challenges of specific audience segments, inspiring them and spurring discussion among their community. These may encompass warnings, inspirational stories, advise, special deals and opportunities.

Inspiring strong emotions of laugher, amusement, anger, surprise, inspiring solidarity or uniting people for a common cause are powerful drivers of virality.

According to a survey carried out by The New York Times, the top motivators for sharing were:

  • 75% said that sharing helped them better understand news they were interested in
  • 85% said that the comments they got from sharing provided them more thought
  • 94% considered how helpful a link would be to another user
  • 68% shared as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a sense of who they are
  • 73% said it helped them find people with common interests

Based on these factors and other considerations, there are three strategy recommendations:

Design your content to provoke an emotional reaction. Arousing a sense of amusement, surprise, anger, solidarity or affection is likely to foster sharing among the audience.

Create content that provides real value. As aforementioned, stories may address some of the audience’s needs, challenges or aspirations, providing know how and inspiration for their personal lives.

Embed features that facilitate virality. Incorporating interactive features in the content is likely to foster more engagement, and this leads to virality.

Finally, there are some common mistakes you should avoid if you want to boost engagement and virality: being offensive, asking for likes, talking about yourself and being too obscure.

You may find further information on this topic in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling”, freely downloadable in www.envisioningtourism.com

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (I)

As it has been explained in previous articles as well as in the Whitepapers, the success of destinations 3.0 is based on growing and expanding a network of varied stakeholders who contribute in different ways to the destination’s business model development, as innovators, content creators, brand ambassadors, etc.

Creating and developing such a network is probably the most daunting of all the challenges in the destination 3.0 journey. Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point explains a theory on how social epidemics and trends work, through the power of influence of three types of characters: Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen, disregarding the support of the technological means. This theory may serve as a basis for understanding how this stakeholder network development can be achieved, so long as it is possible to craft a strategy to make it happen.

The theory states that social epidemics take place following three common characteristics: contagiousness, little facts causing big effects, and the existence of a turning point in the expansion of the epidemics, also called “the tipping point”. Besides, it identifies three key rules in spreading social epidemics or trends: the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context.

“The law of the few” says that a group of people with exceptional skills are the ones who create the trend and spread it throughout their community; “the stickiness factor” says that there are some ways to make a message compelling and contagious to create an outstanding impact; and “the power of context” explains how the environment turns to be a key factor to determine human behavior. These three rules can provide us with guidance on how to reach a tipping point in spreading social epidemics.

The law of the few

Understanding why some ideas or messages turn viral and others don’t starts by understanding how people are connected to each other, and findings show that there are different types of people, who connect in different ways and bring different types of value to their community.

Connectors are individuals with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. This type of people is important not only for the number of people they know, but also for the many kinds of people they know. They are gifted with an instinct that helps them relate to the people they meet. Therefore, when looking for a job, new information, or new ideas, acquaintances turn to be more useful than friends, because these acquaintances are more likely to live in a different social or professional environment than yours, hence more likely to know many things that neither you nor your friends know.

The closer you are to a Connector, the more powerful, wealthier or the more opportunities you are likely to get. The closer an idea or a product comes to a Connector, the more chances to succeed it has as well.

The Maven, instead, is someone who accumulates knowledge. In recent years, economists have been studying Mavens, so long as if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information are among the most important to research on. They are who keep the marketplace honest. They are not just information collectors, once they figure out how to get that deal, they want to tell you about it too, initiating discussions with consumers and responding to requests, becoming helpers in the marketplace. Mavens are teachers, but also students. They are information brokers who share knowledge and create the message to be spread out by Connectors.

Finally, the Salesmen are those especially skilled to persuade the community members on to their way of thinking, to adhere to the new idea or trend and join the social epidemic. What sets them apart from average people is the number and the quality of the answers they have to the objections commonly raised to what they preach.  These persuasive skills relate more to the non-verbal than to the verbal communication, and consist of the ability to express emotions and to be emotionally contagious. People with this ability are also called “senders”.

The rest of the Tipping Point theory is to be explained split in three upcoming articles.

Culture changeStrategy

Fostering engagement and high performance

Apart from innovation and collaboration, a third key ingredient to make the organizations thrive is engagement, not only within the employees but also within the whole stakeholder system. Engagement comes naturally from motivation, which has to be sustained by leaders through trust, fair rewards, mission alignment and empowerment to develop new ideas and initiatives. All together creates not only loyalty and commitment, but also engagement, so long as the organization members have or develop a certain passion for what they do. These ingredients combined are the key elements of a high-performance culture. Performance-based cultures unify employees in a way that their relationships overcome hierarchical or geographical distance, making them feel and behave like within a family.

Commitment makes employees behave more like business owners, showing accountability and taking personal responsibility for the overall performance and not just their area. A high-performance culture has to be aligned with strategy. Such cultures usually share two features:

  • Behaviors related to high engagement. Employees are committed to their work and purpose of the organization, focused on ambitious results regardless of the effort needed.
  • Behaviors that align with the organization’s strategy. The way work gets done promotes the organization’s mission, goals and the strategy designed to realize them.

One of the key ingredients to boost engagement and high performance is passion for the work and for the organization. There are many ways to build passion within the organization:

Spotting Passion from the outset. Identifying enthusiastic professionals, right in the recruitment process is a first step to nurture the organization with the necessary passion. These may be spotted through their initiatives in getting a position within the organization, the way they talk about their job and their vision on their future job, the questions they ask, etc.

Leaders inspiring passion. So long as the leaders’ behavior shapes most of the employees’ behaviors, senior executives should be the first ones who convey passion to their younger peers. A good way to help them in creating an emotional connection between the brand and the team members is by telling stories about how the brand promise can be delivered.

Workspace that inspires passion. Despite the need for individual work spaces, it is also convenient to have open spaces that favor collaboration and let employees help each other with brainstorming and getting past problems even if everyone is working on different projects. All rooms should be bright and colorful with natural or ambient lighting.

Passion for the company. The organization can inspire passion in its members mainly through its mission. As in the case of destinations 3.0, triple bottomed business models, focusing not only on financial goals, but also on social and environmental ones are likely to engage and inspire passion in their employees, so long as they address their concerns.

Beyond high performance, one of the key benefits of employee engagement is turning them into brand ambassadors. Strong brands are not only created by marketing departments. They need the cooperation of the organization’s employees to deliver the brand promise effectively, and employees are those who hold the highest public trust, above Public Relations department or company leaders. Therefore, employees are like the first clients to be convinced, and the best way to gain their buy-in is to care about their concerns, right in the mission definition: not only their personal growth, but also the social and environmental challenges of the community.

Transforming employees into brand ambassadors may be achieved through these three steps:

  1. Promote Self Discovery & Personal Branding. When the employees can be the best version of themselves at work, productivity and retention increase. When they realize that the organization cares about their personal growth and well-being, they are likely to regard it like their second family and engage further in the mission. Helping them discover their strengths and integrate them into their work is essential to your team’s success.
  2. Make Brand awareness a priority. Leaders have to educate their teams on the brand values and live the brand by walking their talk, so they can learn from your example. It is convenient to create stories that illustrate how the brand promise is delivered, not only for the clients but also within the organization. Stories are the best conveyors of values, so long as they help the audience identify with the characters that represent the brand values.
  3. Connect the personal and the corporate. Successful firms help employees develop their personal brands, integrating their individual features with the corporate goals. It’s called applied personal branding. When employees know what makes them unique, and understand the corporate brand goals, they can apply their unique skills to achieve these goals. Each individual needs to determine how he can deliver the corporate brand promise. A strong brand requires employee engagement, which is driven by integrating the personal brands of your people.

This blogpost is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation”, freely downloadable in this weblog. You may check the Whitepaper’s references to know the sources used for its elaboration.

Business model innovationCo-creationCulture changeInnovationInnovative culture

Building a culture of innovation: key strategies

Following with the previous article on the key attitudes for building a culture of innovation, this is to explain the strategies that make innovation thrive within the organization. First of all, leaders have to be committed, walk their talk, encourage risk-taking and unconventional thinking, and push people to explore beyond their comfort zone. The leaders’ behavior is the main key success factor in the development of a new culture, as they shape others’ behaviors. Many strategies can contribute in building an innovative culture:

  • Embracing innovation at the leadership level. Assume that innovation is a key driver of the corporate strategy that needs to be fostered throughout the organization. Reflect on attitudes to promote or to change for the leaders to engage management levels.
  • Identifying new potential leaders. Look for individuals who already act, to some extent, as network brokers and improve their coaching and leadership skills so they can further improve the performance of other people involved in innovation tasks. Give them recognition and further empowerment to lead innovation projects to set an example for the rest.
  • Creating opportunities for quick success. Especially at the beginning, it is good to have some innovation projects which are likely to be successful in the short term, so as to make people see positive results and boost engagement. A first positive experience is critical to get them involved in an innovative culture.
  • Providing a sense of empowerment. Everybody needs to know that it is encouraged to question current practices and to bring in fresh new ideas, for which they are to be rewarded. Ultimately, listening to a wider range of insights than you normally hear is the key to promoting original thinking. Everybody’s contribution should be welcome.
  • Defining the innovation goals and strategy. Choose the innovation that drives growth and helps meet strategic objectives, communicating clearly the expected outcomes. When senior executives ask for innovation in the gathering of consumer insights, the delivery of services, or the consumer experience, they tell employees the type of innovation they expect.
  • Setting innovation performance metrics. Performance indicators should encompass mainly financial and behavioral metrics. They can also set metrics to foster outsourcing ideas, like requiring a minimum of ideas from outer sources or other innovation friendly behaviors.
  • Designing innovation networks. Since new ideas spur more new ideas, networks generate a cycle of innovation. By focusing on getting the most from innovation networks, leaders can therefore capture more value from existing resources. Decentralizing networks enhances collaboration and performance for the innovation challenges.
  • Creating a culture of originality. Many people are capable of creating new ideas, although they need the right environment to do so. By giving employees opportunities and incentives to generate new ideas and setting a meritocratic system, considering the top performers’ opinion for the evaluation of new ideas, organizations boost their innovation performance.
  • Cultivating cohesion and dissent. Make dissent one of your organization’s core values. Create an environment where people can openly share critical opinions and are respected for doing so. Despite sounding contradictory, a combination of the two is what brings novel ideas to the table while keeping enough harmony in the organization to facilitate cooperation.
  • Prioritizing organizational values. Give people a framework for choosing between conflicting opinions and allowing the best ideas to win out. Values need to be rank-ordered so that when employees face choices between competing options, they know what goes first.
  • Leveraging incoming talent. Empower and encourage new hires to challenge “the company way”, so as to bring a new perspective. Their experience may bring in new ideas and approaches, and also contribute to broaden other employees’ mind. It is interesting to hire talent coming not only from competitors but also from other innovative industries.
  • Mentoring participants to broaden their mind. Innovative thinking requires open mindset to start. This is not only necessary for the innovators themselves, but also for the rest of the organization, to prevent them from becoming innovation anti-champions and sabotage innovation efforts. This mentoring is to make them consider innovation positive for them too.
  • Educating in the tolerance to failure. Embracing failure is an unavoidable step to succeed in any venture, and so it is for the innovation efforts. Many cultures regard failure as a shameful fact in the performance track record, but organizations focused on and successful with their innovation efforts embrace failure as a natural part of the process.
  • Creating an incentive system. This is a key strategy to creating trust and engagement. It should not only reward all participants according to their contribution, but also create a framework to build contributors’ reputation, which is eventually taken into account when choosing the appropriate team members for certain projects or to decide upon promotions.
  • Manage innovation inhibitors. Fear of failure, vertical hierarchy, mistrust and fearful environment, rewarding short-term performance over long-term oriented plans, closeness to new approaches are –among others- cultural attributes that prevent innovation from thriving. Incentive systems oriented towards these behaviors are usually one of the main inhibitors.

Beyond the strategies to create a culture of innovation, leaders need to bear in mind that the key mindsets to build such culture are trust and engagement. As Steven Covey noted, “trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create –much faster than you probably think possible”. Developing and nurturing trust within your organization is likely to lead to more efficiency, improved teamwork and a better work environment. There are many courses of action that may contribute to building trust among the members of the organization:

  • Demonstrate trust through employee empowerment. Articulating the corporate values is necessary, but consistently living those values by walking your talk is what actually builds trust. Empowering employees is an actionable and impactful way to show your trust in them.
  • Commit to transparency and communication. Honest and open communication also helps in building trust. Be sure that your organization has an effective way to share information with employees and be transparent with them as well when they demand it.
  • Create systems for failure. You want your employees to be active and take initiative. So long as failures are unavoidable at some point, it is important that those who take initiative do not fear it, but rather take the opportunity to learn from every failure to leap forward.

Apart from trust, engagement is another key mindset to develop in order to reach high performance, both in terms of innovation outcomes and in the overall results.

This article is from the Whitepaper “Building a culture of collaboration and innovation” written by Jordi Pera, Founder and CEO at Envisioning Tourism 3.0 Ltd. You may download for free the full Whitepaper at www.envisioningtourism.com/whitepapers