Category: Culture change

Change towards a more innovative and collaborative culture

Culture change

Overcoming resistance to change

Changing the culture of a complex system like a destination model requires a leader’s mindset at least as complex as the system that has to be changed.  In most of the cases, the change entails moving forward towards a more complex system, which not all leaders are ready to tackle. For instance, moving from Patriarchy to Partnership requires that Controlling leaders share power and lose part of the control, which is the scariest thing they could do. Instead, Complying leaders have to take on power and risks, challenging their worst fears.

As it is explained in the section “Four levels of leadership”, every type of leader has its own challenges, and overcoming them requires a great deal of courage, humility and mindfulness, among other attitudes. There are many reasons why cultures are difficult to change, so long as the cultural values are deeply ingrained into the policies and practices of the organization. Therefore, when leaders want to implement change, not only they have to review the organizational goals and behaviors, but also the KPIs, the professional profiles needed and the training procedures.

Barriers to change. Throughout the change process, leaders are likely to come across many barriers that block or deaccelerate the change progress. The main ones are the following:

  • “Not-invented here” syndrome: workers mistrust the new methods that have been developed outside and have not yet proven to be successful in their organization. In this regard, many may feel that “alien know-how” challenges their corporate pride, especially in the top management levels. People believe in what they have seen to work.
  • Feeling threatened: many employees may feel that they are rather likely to be part of the problem than to be part of the solution, and so they feel threatened by change. Their natural reaction may be to resist in group, to make it impossible, believing that the leaders are not likely to replace them all, because it is too costly.
  • Business as usual: many people are so used to operating according to certain procedures that it is really challenging for them to change them. They have serious difficulties adapting to new rules so long as the old ones bring them security and confidence. They are likely to follow the inertia of the old procedures as soon as they hesitate about the new ones.
  • Misunderstandings: lack of communication effectiveness is one of the most current obstacles to implementing culture change. So long as change entails shifting to another operating system and not just some operational changes, complexity always arouses many questions and misalignments that expand the chances for misunderstandings.
  • Different assessments: no matter how brilliant the change leaders can be, it is difficult to prevent the employees thinking by themselves and so they have different assessments and opinions about the problems and the solutions, the advantages and disadvantages. This is likely to arouse discussions and at least, to slow down the change process.

Strategies to manage resistance to change. In accordance with the level of resistance, there are some strategies to tackle it ranged from the least to the most extreme:

  • Education & Communication: employees need to understand the logic of the change effort, the reasons why they have to create change. Education and communication can be an effective practice to convince them to buy into the change and clear misunderstandings.
  • Participation & Involvement: another effective way to engage employees into the change effort is to let them participate in the design of the process, as active players of the challenge, instead of letting them play only a passive and reactive role.
  • Facilitation & Support: beyond the mentioned strategies, manager’s coaching, mentoring and support is likely to be necessary in many cases, to help some employees deal with their fears and insecurities during the process. This may entail dedicating time off work with them.
  • Negotiation and Agreement: when resistance is stronger, this may be tackled with a negotiation including an incentive system to stimulate them to perform according to the change planning. This makes them feel empowered instead of feeling obligated.
  • Neutralizing resistance leaders: most organizations have some informal leaders, with a more or less strong influential capacity on the rest of the group. Neutralizing their negative influence on resisting change may be a solution, by convincing, relocating or firing them.

Beyond the strategies in accordance with the resistance level, it is important that the change instructions are personalized for every type of worker, or even tailored individually in some cases. Individuals’ performance has to be tracked and rewarded according to redesigned metrics to sustain and stimulate the intended behaviors and focus of attention.

This blog post 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.

 

Culture changeMarketing 3.0

Kotter’s model of culture change

John Kotter’s change model is a reference model for all professionals dedicated to culture change. It is structured in 8 steps:

  1. Create a sense of urgency, awareness and desire. Change leader should first open an honest and convincing dialogue about what’s happening in the marketplace and with your competition, to make the audience foresee the threats and opportunities to tackle. When many people start talking about the proposed change, the urgency can build and feed on itself. In that sense, the leader should:
  • Identify potential threats, and develop scenarios showing what could happen in the future.
  • Examine opportunities that should be or could be exploited
  • Start honest talks, and give convincing reasons to get people discussing and thinking.
  • Request support from customers and outside stakeholders to strengthen your arguments.

Kotter states that for a change to be successful, 75% of a firm’s management has to “buy into” the change, which means to spend time and energy creating urgency, before moving on.

  1. Create a powerful coalition. Culture change has not only to be managed, but also has to be led, and so change leaders should be found throughout the organization. To lead change, you need to gather a coalition of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources (job title, status, expertise, and political importance). Once the change coalition is created, it needs to work as a team and continue to build urgency and momentum around the need for change. This could be done by:
  • Identifying the true leaders in the organization and the key stakeholders
  • Asking for an emotional commitment from these influencers
  • Working on team building within your change coalition
  • Ensuring that you have a mix of people from different areas and levels in the organization
  1. Depict a vision for change. The coalition members have probably great ideas, but these should be linked to create an overall vision that people can understand and remember easily. To help them understand the vision and move them to take action, the leaders should:
  • Determine the values that are central to the change
  • Craft a short summary that captures what they see as the future of the organization
  • Design a strategy to execute that vision
  • Ensure that their change coalition can describe the vision in no more than five minutes
  • Practice their “vision speech” often
  1. Communicate the vision. Once you have created your vision your success will be determined by how effectively, frequently and powerfully you communicate it. You should actually try to embed it within everything that you do, like using it daily to make decisions and solve problems. When you keep it fresh on everyone’s minds, they’ll remember it and respond to it. What you do is far more important than what you say. Walk your talk to be credible.

 

Show the behavior you want from others by practicing what you preach. This can be done by:

  • Talking often about your change vision, linking it to all the aspects of operations
  • Listening to the people’s understanding of the vision and concerns, to clear doubts and reformulate the speech if necessary
  • Addressing peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly
  • Leading by example
  1. Remove obstacles. Is there anyone or anything resisting the change? Once the structure for change is put in place, it is necessary to remove obstacles, empowering the needed people to move the change forward in the direction of the vision. This can be done by:
  • Identifying or hiring leaders in charge of delivering the change
  • Ensuring that the organizational structure and incentive systems are in line with the vision.
  • Recognizing and rewarding people for their contribution to make the change happen.
  • Identifying people who are resisting the change, and helping them see what’s needed
  1. Create short-term achievements. It is very convenient to get a taste of victory in the early stages of the process, achieving some visible and relevant results to keep critics and negative thinkers away from the spotlight. To do so, it is necessary to create short term goals as milestones along the whole process, so as to keep the organization members engaged with the change process. This can be done by:
  • Looking for sure-fire projects that you can implement without help from any change critics
  • Not choosing expensive early targets. The project investments should be easy to justify
  • Thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons of every target, to choose attainable goals
  • Rewarding those who help in meeting the goals

  1. Build on the change process. Many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. The change process takes time until it is fully completed and quick successes are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. Each win provides an opportunity to build on what is right and identify what needs to improve. This can be done by:
  • Analyzing what went right and what should have worked better after every success
  • Setting goals to continue building on the momentum that is being achieved
  • Learning about kaizen, the concept of continuous improvement
  • Bringing in new change agents and leaders for the change coalition to keep ideas fresh
  1. Anchor the changes in corporate culture. To make any change stick, the values behind the vision must show in day-to-day work, and so it is necessary to make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of the organization. It’s also important that the organization’s leaders continue to support the change. This can be done by:
  • Talking about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear.
  • Including the change ideals and values when hiring and training new staff
  • Publicly recognizing key members of the original change coalition, and making sure the rest of the staff remember their contributions.
  • Creating plans to replace key leaders as they move on to ensure that their legacy is not lost

This blog post 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.

Culture changeMarketing 3.0

Creating and communicating a vision for culture change (I)

Once the current culture has been diagnosed and culture change inhibitors have been identified, it is necessary to craft a vision depicting the future reality that we want to achieve and the path towards this achievement. The new vision statement has to depict both the new destination model as well as how and why the culture has to be changed. So long as the culture change is an essential step towards achieving this vision statement, communicating why the culture needs to change and the benefits it will bring is the first step to take.

A vision that depicts a feasible path towards a state where the challenges have been overcome is a tremendous motivator and mobilizer. Research indicates that employees respond extremely well in terms of positivity, engagement, and of course productivity, when the company leaders have a clearly articulated and communicated vision that responds to people’s concerns and aspirations, as long as the leaders really walk their talk and results meet expectations along the way.

A well-crafted vision is essential to align the workforce and motivate them to make change happen. To be effective, the future vision has to comply with these six conditions:

  • Imaginable: it conveys a clear picture of what the future will look like upon attainment of the vision statement.
  • Desirable: it appeals to the long-term interest of employees, customers, shareholders and others who have a stake in the enterprise.
  • Feasible: it contains realistic and attainable goals that stakeholders believe can be achieved.
  • Focused: it is clear enough to provide guidance in decision-making and serves as a true north that aligns the actions of others.
  • Flexible: it allows individual initiative and contingency plans in light of changing environment conditions
  • Communicable: it is easy to communicate and to understand by the stakeholder audience.

Engaging people in the change process requires first the establishment of a sense of urgency, according to Kotter 8 step process for leading change. One of the best ways to do so is to craft a powerful case for change. This consists of a story that explains the change process that is coming to the organization. Its objective is to provide a common baseline of awareness and understanding among stakeholders. When facing the audience you should be able to tell the story in 10-15 slides and include visuals and graphics to enhance the story whenever possible.

The major content pieces to incorporate in the Case for Change story are the following:

Context: set the stage by explaining why changes are needed now, mainly referring to the opportunities and threats that make it necessary.

Changes: explain what will change, who will be impacted by the changes and to what extent, stating also what is not going to change.

Process: describe how the changes will be implemented and its expected timing, providing the next steps and introducing the team members who will lead the change.

Benefits: highlight the expected benefits as a result of the changes. Be sure to address all levels of benefits: enterprise-wide, specific divisions, and individual roles.

Consequences of delay: list out the consequences of delaying the changes. These are the counterpoints to those who would say “we can wait until next year to do this”.

Expectations: inform your stakeholders about what is expected from them. Make it clear that everyone has a role to play in successfully implementing the changes.

Commitment: the top leader should present the Case for change first. Then, subordinate leaders should present it to their teams, stating their commitments to make them accountable to their employees.

This blog post 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.

Co-creationCulture changeInnovationInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

The Impact of Social Media on Creativity

GigaOm recently published a great piece on discussing the impact of social media on creativity, citing the John Mayer’s tribulations with Twitter as their prime example:

http://gigaom.com/2011/07/19/does-using-social-media-interfere-with-creativity/

Although I definitely think a discussion around “distraction” is worth a few sentences, I don’t think it’s fair to make blatant statements about social media and creativity. Creativity can be inspired by the most unexpected of things. Perhaps it’s less so for musicians, but as a writer I often find inspiration in the most unlikely of places including tweets and status updates. One could argue that reading is not the same as posting and I would agree but there are many times when posting triggers responses that provide inspiration. I also conjecture that distraction is not necessarily a bad thing for art either.

There are times when focus is needed. I don’t want people talking at me or email dinging or tweets flying when I am head down on a piece. But there are other times when the distraction is welcome, when the creative process has stalled enough that distraction can provide the impetus to new inspiration. What is interesting about GigaOm’s piece is Mayer’s fixation on distraction. It became the primary focus rather than the distraction (perhaps his songwriting and tweeting switched places, and songwriting became the distraction).

Regardless, that is an individual artist’s issue, not necessarily an epidemic for artists as a whole. In fact, one would begin to wonder if John was looking for a way to avoid his art and saw Tweeting and social media as an easy distraction. But social network does embody something very intrinsic to the artist: the need to be at the center of things. Although some artists may not agree, saying they produce art for art’s sake, I argue that’s a rouse. The only point of art is for people to enjoy and appreciate it and, by doing so, the artist. If people are listening to your songs, what’s the point of writing them? This need to be loved, to have the attention of people, is endemic to the artist’s condition, his reason d’etre.

Unfortunately, as I have written before, being an author (or artist) will be tougher as time goes on because getting the attention for one’s art will become more difficult in the constant flow of tweets and status updates. That will require artists to adopt new means of connecting with their fans (i.e., social networking) especially when there will be fewer opportunities for traditional media promotion (i.e., agents). It may be interesting to see the rise of “social networking managers” to help the artist deal with and manage their tweets and other social feeds. This new requirement to connect with fans to promote art is simply another aspect of the “business” of being an artist that needs to be managed accordingly.

Social networking, as a whole, thought is a distraction to life. It interrupts work, it interrupts thoughts, it interrupts conversations and television shows. But it poses no more a threat to creativity than any other form of distraction including all of the other business aspects of being an artist (or at least trying to make a living at it).

www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/12/20/the-impat-of-social-media-on-creativity/

Collaborative cultureCulture changeInnovative cultureMarketing 3.0

Why is it convenient to develop a new culture?

Developing destinations 3.0 entails leveraging stakeholders’ creativity, connections and workforce, as a key competitive advantage over standard destinations. This leveraging can only be achieved through the development of a new culture based on collaboration and innovation. Building a new business model as well as an open innovation system can only be done successfully ingraining new behaviors in the stakeholder system: trust, cooperation, openness to new approaches and search for new ideas are key behaviors to develop.

Creating this new culture will require a previous diagnosis on which cultural inhibitors are rooted in their mindsets, to open their minds and change their attitudes towards a new approach. Then, the success in building a culture of collaboration and innovation will need the appropriate leadership and a supporting system that rewards contributors according to the new cultural values.

Other key success factors in the culture change are the enthusiasm and trust in the vision and mission statements as a result of the community members’ participation and effective communication, as well as the local culture itself, considering its level of trust, cooperation and openness to new ideas. On this point, it is interesting to remark that mission driven purposes are those that naturally motivate the most contribution and cooperation among humankind.

Before going ahead, it is convenient to define what culture is. Among the many definitions, there are two which define it quite accurately:

  • Group norms of behavior and underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.
  • Values and characteristic set of behaviors that define how things get done in an organization.

It is also necessary to be aware that, beyond our efforts in building a better culture according to our mission, there are many reasons or forces that can make it degrade over time as a result of major restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and frequent changes in leadership at the corporate level. The most typical cases are the three following:

1) Growth dilutes the initial culture. As the business experiences growth and so the organization expands, the culture that made the business begin successfully and grow faces the risk of being diluted by the new hires, especially those who work away from the leadership team, for instance in far-away geographical locations. That said it is also possible that the new executives bring in a positive change and innovative ideas, but in any case it is convenient to take measures to preserve the corporate culture core essence that allowed the business to succeed up to the present stage.

2) Continuous growth & transformation burns people out. Non-stop growth and the tension derived from it are a serious threat to employees’ sustained engagement and commitment, and therefore put their performance at risk. To avoid burning out the workforce it is necessary to understand business growth as a marathon run instead of a sprint. That means that there have to be rest cycles in between the periods of fastest growth in order to recharge energy, celebrate the achieved successes and consolidate the new achievements to ensure that they are to be long-lasting.

3) Complacency. This is one of the most dangerous enemies of culture. As a result of achieving good results and the desired level of well-being, it is usual for many people to relax and over-rely on their capacities and chances for sustained success. So long as the business environment keeps on changing over time, the business has to keep on adapting to these changes and therefore has little or no time to relax on the competition. Only those businesses that continue to adapt to evolutionary changes in their environment will thrive.

Beyond the causes of culture degradation, it is convenient to know how to identify the need for organizational culture change. There are five key questions that may orient us in this regard:

  • Is there a growing sentiment that your culture is an obstacle for achieving your goals?
  • Has there been a change in strategy? Is your current culture aligned with your strategy?
  • Are you considering or involved in a merger? Are the two organisational cultures aligned?
  • Are you engaged in a transformation? Are the behaviors required to deliver results in place?
  • Are you struggling to drive higher levels of productivity?

Organizations are quite unlikely to sustain a good performance without the right culture according to the strategy that is being implemented, and the right culture does not develop unless the context or system encourages the desired behaviors that define this culture. Culture change is a necessary and key factor for business success in the aforementioned cases.

In the case of Destinations 3.0 the need for a leap forward in increasing competitiveness inevitably demands a shift towards a culture collaboration and innovation, which eventually should deliver many payoffs. First, this is what nurtures the model’s competitive advantage, its capacity to continually reinvent itself, and develop life-changing experiences and compelling stories that engage stakeholders to pursue the mission. Empowering and stimulating participation from different kinds of stakeholders brings new insights to obtain a holistic vision of the model ecosystem which makes it possible to revamp the model with less iterations, hence shortening the change periods and smoothing the innovation process.

Secondly, the values-driven culture itself attracts like-minded and talented stakeholders, who ultimately are the greatest asset of the destination model, as long as they engage with the mission and become active innovators and brand ambassadors. Models defending their values and their mission over the short term profits gain admiration from these like-minded stakeholders, managing to engage them with full commitment. Such engagement is what makes them deliver authentic experiences according to the brand stories.

Finally, as a consequence of the first two, such culture leads –at least in the long term- the model to outperform its competitors who have not developed such powerful culture. So long as human spirit driven motivations spur most of everyone’s creativity and engagement, this is what ultimately maximizes the outcome in terms of mission accomplishment and value provided to the tourists.

Among the stakeholders, the model should pay special attention to its employees, by building a values-driven culture that guides them to live up to the brand mission, providing them with the same value-driven experience they are to provide to the final customers, turning them into brand ambassadors and life-transforming agents to the customers, delivering value in accordance with the stories. This requires the maximum integrity and good leadership from the platform’s executives, demonstrating these values through everyday behavior.

To involve all stakeholders, it is necessary to make them feel empowered, supported and eventually rewarded to take the lead in any initiative aligned with the mission. In the first stage, the local stakeholders have to be empowered to participate in the mission definition. This is critical to get them engaged. Then, the collaborative platform is likely to attract many other stakeholders identified with the mission who are also willing to show their capacity to make a difference, joining efforts to move the business towards the mission accomplishment.

This blog post 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 trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Why Do We Need Public–Private Partnerships in Sustainable Tourism?

What is a Public Private Partnership and Why Is It Important?

In sustainable tourism development projects, there are inherently multiple goals in which an array of parties maintains interest. From tour operators to local governments and communities, these stakeholders all have expected outcomes for tourism development. In order to properly represent these interests and create mutually beneficial outcomes, public–private partnerships are essential to a great tourism strategy. The most important piece of this puzzle is maintaining strong relationships and a clear understanding of divergent yet symbiotic objectives.

It is convenient to maintain strong relationships with a wide range of actors in the tourism sector, which is vital to the negotiation of these partnerships. These partnerships leverage financial and technical expertise and promotional benefits from private and government partners in exchange for improvement in stakeholder relations, marketing, and improved product and service delivery. Increased sales revenue and jobs, improved visitor experiences, alternative incomes for local communities, decreased levels of conservation threats in areas of high biodiversity, diversified production and increased production for small farms, and overall improvement of sustainability of destinations have all been marked results of these arrangements.

Public–Private Partnerships in Geotourism Programs

At the onset of each program, a destination Geotourism Stewardship Council is organized, made up of a variety of stakeholders, including communities, non profits, businesses, and governments representing the interests of the natural, cultural, scenic, and historic features of the destination. This group then works with the consultants to develop the regional tourism strategy, defining the vision, goals, timeline, and objectives of the project. The Stewardship Council also plays a key role in implementing the strategy by meeting regularly to generate local nominations, review the information and materials created, and utilize the products established to sustain and promote the destination.

Public–Private Partnerships in Conservation

Another area of tourism that benefits from strategic public–private partnerships is conservation. In areas of high and rare biodiversity, there can be built partnerships between a number of public and private stakeholders, including protected area authorities, government bodies, conservation NGOs, the local tourism private sector, and communities living around the area. Generally categorized as Protected Area Alliances, these groups, similar to the Geotourism Stewardship Councils, play a key role in the development of the tourism strategy as well as its implementation. The alliances continue after the initial implementation of the program, allowing the community to continue supporting and sustaining the protected area. Through these partnerships, multiple goals and interests can be achieved, such as increased protection for the environment, increased revenue for the tourism sector, and increased economic opportunities for the local governments and communities.

Public–private partnerships are essential to sustainable tourism development, as they allow stakeholders across the globe to participate in the development of tourism strategy, communicate and achieve their goals and interests, and successfully implement tourism programs, all while collaborating to achieve a common goal.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How to Involve Locals in Destination Management & Marketing

In today’s tourism marketing world, all buzz is around discovering a destination like a local. If you search for “travel like a local,” you will find countless articles and websites trying to help travelers discover destinations through a different perspective. As an avid traveler that loves to escape tourist traps, I appreciate destination marketing organizations trying to help me connect with recommendations from people who live in the destinations I want to visit.

I think this is why Airbnb.com and the sharing economy are taking off, not just because it provides a different type of accommodation, but because it connects visitors with locals. One of the benefits of staying at an Airbnb.com property is the ability to meet a local to give you recommendations for what to do, where to eat, and how to experience the destination away from the hop-on, hop-off tour buses. Who doesn’t want this type of local knowledge when planning a trip to an unknown destination?

The challenge for destination marketing organizations is how do you get locals involved and willing to share their recommendations with visitors? Destinations like Philadelphia, are launching programs called “Philly like a local” – Experience Philadelphia as its residents know and love it,” which recruits locals to take over the DMO’s social media accounts. But taking that approach to scale and getting hundreds or thousands of locals involved in a program to answer the question “What is so special about my place?” is not an easy task……unless you have the National Geographic Society on your side.

We have been very fortunate to work alongside National Geographic for the last 7 years helping destinations apply an approach to sustainable tourism development called Geotourism. A concept created by Jonathan Tourtellot, geotourism encourages destinations to develop and market tourism products that sustain and enhance the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, geology, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

The Geotourism approach is unique among tourism development solutions due to its focus on the establishment and empowerment of a private-public partnership that serves as a forum for dialogue, collaboration, and planning among local businesses, non-profit organizations, residents and tourism authorities. The goal is to better manage challenges through cooperation while also identifying, sustaining, enhancing, and promoting the destination’s unique assets.

As a tourism development and marketing professional working in the field for more than a decade, I can tell you that bringing stakeholders together to participate in a tourism development and marketing program is hard work. Every one of our projects involves some type of stakeholder engagement process to plan and implement destination and marketing programs, but getting government, businesses, and residents to come together for a meeting or complete a task is extremely difficult.

This all changes when National Geographic is part of the program. The power of that yellow logo is incredible. People all over the world admire the brand immensely and jump at the opportunity to collaborate with such an respected organization. With the mission of inspiring people to care about the planet, they are extremely effective at getting locals engaged in caring for their destinations.

James Dion leader of the Geotourism program, kicks off every project with a public launch announcing the program. This brings together businesses, politicians, residents, and media to learn about the program and how they can be involved. After the public launch event, local residents are encouraged to visit a National Geographic co-branded website to nominate a business, place, attraction, or event that is an authentically local experience. This event and program generates incredible media attention at a local level, helping further distribute the call for participation from locals.

We are currently in production of a U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program supported by national, state, and local partners to raise awareness of the unique cultural and environmental experiences in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the panhandle of Florida. We are working to rebuild the area’s allure following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill that caused a devastating economic impact on the region.

Through local events and media outreach led by our local consultants, the program is generating incredible media coverage, which in turn has inspired over 1,000 nominations (and counting!) from locals for the Geotourism MapGuide. Once the nomination period closes, National Geographic’s team of cartographers, editors, fact checkers, and designers will work with the local public-private partnerships created at the beginning of the program to finalize the MapGuide and prepare for a public roll-out.

In summary, getting locals involved in destination marketing and management is not only a wise approach to ensuring a destination maintains it’s sense of place, but it also is a great way to help visitors discover the hidden gems of your destination. Here is some of the most recent media attention generated from the U.S. Gulf States Geotourism program. It’s just one great example of how the program effectively brings people together and generates immediate excitement.

Alabama to be part of National Geographic geotourism project – Your Town Alabama

Residents encouraged to nominate areas for geotourism – The Selma Times-Journal

What’s special about Columbus? Nominate your pick for National Geographic map – The Dispatch

National Geographic launching locally built travel guides in BP oil spill states – The Time Picayune

Louisiana selected as part of National Geographic’s Geotourism interactive map – WAFB News

Let National Geographic help you – Natchez Democrat

Your authentic Florida location belongs in Nat Geo’s geotourism guide – Visit Florida

Alabama Gulf Coast site nominations sought for Geotourism MapGuide – AL.com

Massive geotourism project underway in U.S. Gulf Coast States – Destination Stewardship Center

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management?start=10

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

For Smart Cities, to collaborate is the smartest thing to do

According to a United Nations report, 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities by 2050. This is why overcoming many of today’s humankind challenges in areas such energy, water, food, climate change, health, etc.  will depend mainly on the success of the so called Smart Cities strategies. But as urgent we consider the implementation of smarter cities, making it really happen still remains a challenge several years after the concept was first coined.

As in many other cases, we think too collaboration should be a key factor implementing a truly transformative Smart City strategy. Considering the broad and diverse kind of stakeholders, expertise, knowledge, technologies, etc. needed for an average Smart City project, it is difficult to imagine any that does not require the commitment and dedication of a collective team.

The idea of a Smart City promises to improve municipal operations and the health and safety of citizens. New models of cooperation and engagement will make a tangible difference for this promise to move to a reality. These are just few of the many possible…

Organizational changes in local administrations

City managers are main actors on the potential gains of properly implementing Smart City initiatives. But many of the challenges they confront in order to achieve efficient outcomes of such initiatives still lie on the way city government is structured. As it happens in many other organizations, many departments and units in city councils are operated in isolation without any or little consideration of other departments. Add to that, an extra layer of red tape and special sensibility about the immutability of roles and positions that sadly are still typical of public government organizations.

But despite these cultural and organizational barriers, when projects need to address such variety of issues as, for instance, transportation systems, law enforcement, community services, water supply networks or waste management, some Smart City projects have become the driver for cultural changes and shifting attitudes that seemed impossible so far.

Sharing experiences and knowledge

“Lessons learned” are an important asset in competitive markets in which proprietary Know How can be easily turned into a competitive advantage. But it does not make much sense for cities to compete with other cities to be smarter, especially in the case of cities at the same continent and in projects funded by the same supranational organization.

Knowledge exchange and transfer is a crucial element of many of the projects funded by the European Union. The GrowSmarter project is one of the most important bets of the European Commission for the smart development of urban areas, and represents one of the only three projects that the Commission has financed under the umbrella of the “Lighthouse”. GrowSmarter brings together cities and industry to integrate and demonstrate ‘12 smart city solutions’ in energy, infrastructure and transport.

Key for the project is the concept of “Lighthouse Cities”, as the 12 smart solutions are being rolled out in designated sites in three cities: Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona – including industrial areas, suburban and downtown districts, ensuring a sample base representative of many European cities. The idea is for these three “Lighthouses Cities” to show how ‘smart’ can work in practice documenting their journey with regular news updates. This way, the project specifically aims to provide other cities with valuable insights on how the smart solutions work in practice and the opportunities for replication, creating a butterfly effect.

GrowSmarter even considers the existence of five “follower cities” (Cork, Graz, Malta, Porto and Suceava) which role is to work closely with those “Lighthouses Cities” to learn from their experiences.  The three Lighthouse Cities will each host a number of study visits and European workshops, providing opportunities to see first-hand technological application of the smart solutions.

Sharing Standards

The performance of a city is intimately linked to its physical and communications infrastructures and the delivery of resources through these infrastructures. At present, the delivery of city services tend to operate in isolation from each other, in silos of activities, governance and information. But new digital infrastructures offer the potential of increased service integration that could ultimately result in services provision cost reduction, natural resource savings and efficiency gains for cities and their inhabitants.

Standards are required in order to accommodate such integration of data. But smart city implementations tend to focus on specific cities or services rather than multiple locations and services. This individual focus in the main cause of the lack of standards across the market. Many organizations and analyst, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), advocate the development and generalization of international standards for smart cities.

In UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop a standards strategy for Smart Cities in the county. The strategy identifies the role of standards in accelerating the implementation of Smart Cities. As part of this strategy the Cities Standards Institute is a joint initiative of the British Standards Institution and the Future Cities Catapult bringing together cities and key industry leaders and innovators to work together in identifying the challenges facing cities, providing solutions to common problems and defining the future of smart city standards.

By developing a coherent set of standards that addresses key market barriers, smart city products and services become easier to be widely accepted. Promoters of the consortium consider than an easier acceptance of these products and services ultimately accelerates the growth of the future cities market, first in the UK and then globally. The Cities Standards Institute is also leading a set of programs to help cities, companies and SMEs to implement standards-based solutions and strategies, and to ensure the uptake of smart city standards regionally and internationally.

This blog post is from www.co-society.com

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

It Takes a Culture of Collaboration to Deliver a Place Brand

We recently conducted a Tourism Assessment Review for a small city that discovered that its tourism performance was declining. This was an attractive small city with an historic downtown that had successfully established a state-wide reputation as a destination for antique shoppers. However, our research soon revealed that in addition to facing increased competition from online antique stores, the city’s antique stores were falling short of the “antiques capital” reputation.

It didn’t take long to realize that antique store owners were disconnected and totally focused on their own businesses, making little or no effort for cooperation and collaboration with other businesses or civic organizations. In fact, most store owners did not speak to each other and simply regarded the others as competitors. It seems that over time stores were sold and new owners came in and rested on their laurels in the belief that the city’s reputation as a favored antiques destination would sustain itself without any effort on their behalf. They didn’t realize that the reputation was created by the totality of antiques-related experiences in downtown.

This assignment carried several lessons for the city’s tourism performance. Firstly, the Internet can be a positive and a negative force for some destinations.  Secondly, sustaining a city’s brand identity, whether it has been formalized in a documented strategy or not, requires a concerted effort to collaborate, innovate and manage the promised visitor experience by everyone associated with the downtown.

Even though a downtown may have attractive architecture and well stocked stores, it’s the attitudes of residents and business owners that determine whether a place has a special sense of place and can elicit a sense of loyalty from visitors.  And once the culture of collaboration is successfully established, there must be a conscious effort to “pass the baton” to the next generation of merchants. As for being competitors, the merchants need look no further than a food court or freeway interchange to see fierce competitors working together to create a bigger “pie” so that they can all get larger slices.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/

Collaborative cultureCulture changeMarketing 3.0

Making collaboration efficient when face to face is not possible

Started as a simple experiment in social media, in 2010 composer and conductor Eric Whitacre called out to his online fans to record themselves singing “Sleep” by the British choir Polyphony and upload the result. Impressed by the result, he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque’, then asking fans to sing along to that. This way, the first Virtual Choir was created. The results of that experiment quickly became viral. Now with more than fifteen million views, the Virtual Choir phenomenon has reached all corners of the world, inspiring more and more singers to join each year.

Beyond its beauty and emotional impact, Virtual Choir also fascinated because its implications regarding the potential new uses for new communication technologies and as one of the first virtual experiences turned into something real. The Virtual Choir can also be considered as an important remainder for how businesses might overcome the challenges of virtuality to benefit from innovative and more efficient business processes, customer relationships or forms of production, from co-innovation and co-production to crowdsourcing, crowdfunding or open source.

Not even leaving the limits of a corporation or a company, working remotely can offer operational flexibility, happier employees and lower costs, but to team up virtually with colleagues and coworkers can also pose important challenges. As we know, truly efficient collaboration presents no few difficulties. Virtual collaboration raises even more added complications that require even more care. But as the concept of the extended enterprise becomes more common and most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere, the more critical becomes to get virtual teams right. But how?

Getting right four pillars for virtual collaboration

The answer is not easy. Different studies carried out during the last decade seem to conclude that most of virtual groups fail to satisfy the expectations of companies and their clients. In another study conducted by Deloitte some years ago most of CEO’s and other managers interviewed still considered face-to-face interaction much more productive that virtual communication, and nearly half of them admitted ignorance and confusion about collaboration technologies and their potential.

But some other experts consider is all about how these teams are managed. An Aon Consulting report found that dispersed teams, when run accordingly to this condition, could outperform those sharing the same office space (recording up to 43% higher efficiency). A study of 80 global software teams conducted by BCG and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management concluded that virtual teams can improve employee productivity when they are properly managed.

But, what do they mean by “properly managed” or “run accordingly to its virtual condition”? According to Keith Ferrazzi and based on his research and experience helping all sort of organizations as customers of his consulting firm, there are four critical elements to get right: right teams, right leadership, right technology and right touchpoints.

Size is important (the smaller, the better)

We have recently wrote in this blog about how important is to consider people mindset and attitude for working collaboratively beyond their professional knowledge and other skills. Ferrazzi agrees people should first of all be specially suited to work in virtual teams, backing for instance profiles with good communication skills or high emotional intelligence. But it is also equally important to put them into groups of the right size and implementing and clearly establishing and communicating the right roles for each one.

As we know, smaller groups facilitate collaboration. In the case of virtual teams, size should be even smaller than when face to face interaction is the norm (some studies suggest teams of 5-6 people and no more than 10 in any case).Team members reduce effort when they feel less responsible for output, but this fact can equally be applied to non-virtual teams. Collaboration between people not sharing a physical space should pay special attention to ensure inclusive communication, a quality harder to achieve the bigger the virtual group is.

Good leadership amplified

Managers can maximize the productivity of virtual teams also by developing the right leadership. Again, this is a quality to apply to every teamwork, no matter if virtual or not. But right leadership must be amplified in virtual ones. A study of different engineering groups concluded that the virtual teams that performed best were those with managers with previous experience in leading such work groups.

Encouraging open dialogue, for instance, is particularly important in these cases. Leaders of dispersed groups in particular must push members to be frank with one another as the problems associated with lack of affinity are more common and severe for virtual teams. For similar reasons, virtual collaboration requires an extra effort fostering trust among co-workers. Ferrazzi mentions the case of a fully virtual organization that encourage new hires to offer video tours of their workspaces, allowing colleagues to mentally picturing their surroundings in later communications. Managers also push their team members to share personal news as a way to compensate the lack of the common chat about their lives that usually takes place sooner or later when a physical office is shared.

Special care is also recommended about clarifying goals and guidelines and establishing a common purpose or vision (explaining and repeating often the reason of working together and the benefits that will result of that). Particularly vital in the case of virtual teams are guidelines about interaction between members. For instance, multitasking on conference calls should be banned, as full attention is needed when using communication technologies that are not able to fully replace the subtle signals of personal interaction beyond a voice.

Not leaving it all to virtuality

Fostering touchpoints is also critical. Virtual teams should come together as often as possible. To do so, some specific stages of the working process are more important than others. Kickoff should be one of these for sure, using a first face to face meeting to star working in some of the key points mentioned (clarifying team goals or encouraging trust, for instance). If any proper project management stablishes milestones, when dealing with virtual team leaders can leverage them to get people together for celebrating achievement of short-term goals or cracking problems.

And last but not least, efficient virtual collaboration also depends on using the right technology. According to Ferrazzi, even top-notch virtual teams can fail due to poor technology. In this case, recommendations are not so much about detailed features as about fulfilling general needs especially critical in the case virtual interactions. For instance, facilitating automatic transcriptions or records with a simple click, making easy to search for this content in a database or, while using the right tool for each mission, favor technologies that better help to reproduce face to face interaction (videoconferencing instead of a phone call, for example).

This post is from http://www.co-society.com/making-collaboration-efficient-face-face-possible/