Increasingly, I find myself working on various speaking, training and consulting engagements in Canada. During a recent dialogue with some colleagues and clients there, I asked about the health of their economy. One of the most interesting responses I heard was, “Unlike in the U.S., our media is not trying to drive us into a recession.”

As an organization, to combat this sluggishness, you must focus on the following:

  • Adaptive Innovation – Value creation, as described in my book, Relationship Economics (Wiley 2008), is derived from value chain disruption. Only by continuously and consistently evaluating your personal and professional value creation efforts compared to the changing needs and demands of your market (both external or internal) can you continue to adapt and innovate. More and more of our clients are adapting self-service functionality into their corporate environments. Imagine highly interactive access to your orders in near real time, as well as your order processing function, distribution channels, and inventory dynamics. One example: virtual reality-based training and development of the field technical staff of not just your organization, but that of your resellers, channel partners and distributors.
  • Enhanced Value-Based Choices – If McDonald’s can offer fruits and vegetable options for kids meals as an alternative to French fries, what market trends can you learn from and how can you increase choices in your market?
  • Unique Customization – If I can go to an airline Website and pick my seat, request my meal, buy my ticket, check in, learn everything about my destination, and – through a variety of affiliate relationships – make dinner reservations, buy tickets to world-class plays, and countless other consumer-driven functions, why can’t I do a fraction of the same in our business relationship? “One size fits all” simply will not suffice. You must identify, develop, and build environments where information you have captured about your customers is translated into a high level of personalization and customization for their benefit and use.
  • Exponential Experiences – Engaging, attentive, passionate, employees will create far greater shareholder wealth than any process, checklist or trendy training session. If you believe the notion that we are all products of the advice we take, as a mentor once told me, “Give me willingness and I’ll raise their ability.” Internal and external customer experiences must remain a fundamental differentiator for the organization. Find opportunities to re-ignite the emotional attachments to you, your team, and your organization and elevate the customer experience.
  • Strengthened Personal and Professional Brand Equity – More so than ever in our professional past, various stakeholders (your employees, suppliers, and stockholders) are looking for trust. They develop and nurture that trust with personal and professional brand equity. In many ways, trust can be simply defined as predictability – predictability in what we say and do on a consistent basis. Even during a sluggish economy, individuals and organizations that continue to invest in the development and proliferation of their quality brands are not only more conducive to weathering the storm, but are less likely to suffer when the economic cycle turns. By the way – if you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music. You must continue to build, package and sell your brand.
  • Leveraged Social Networks to Create Dialogue – Traditional media continues to decline. What is your go-to-market plan online? Are you leveraging a consistent Web presence for dialogue? Or, does your internal or external Web presence continue to be great examples of monologue and brochure-ware? Here’s one for you: mystarbucksidea.com

What other innovative ideas are working for you?

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