The following is an excerpt from my newly released book: Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the Age of Connected Relationships(ASAE, 2012)

Visionary organizations are constantly scanning the horizon of our rap­idly evolving digital world in search of unique approaches that generate value for members, customers, partners, and shareholders. The choicest approach engages a broad base of constituents, better integrates and more effectively manages the value chain, and puts the member or customer at the center of decisions and actions. The resulting loyalty, revenue and margin growth, and agility can uniquely advance an industry, member organizations, and customers’ perceived value.

Visionary organizations are redefining the value chain in the age of con­nected relationships, and visionary leaders are embracing this perspective of the market and capitalizing on these changes to lead differently.

Today’s customers are a new breed, dictating universal terms in the dynamic between buyers and sellers not only for products and services but also for ideas, perspectives, and advocacy, and they are empowering themselves in an explosion of mobile and social interaction.

Technology and transpar­ency are enabling decision-making processes for consumers, members, employees, partners, and shareholders, who expect and often demand to connect with organizations whenever they want and on the device of their choosing. They are wireless, mobile, sensor-equipped, plugged-in, and far more intelligent and empowered than ever before. As customers, they want a consistent experience in all channels—physical, digital, and mobile. They read and believe others’ comments about organizations, products, services, and experiences more than they believe marketing or advertising. They compare notes and instantly share personal experi­ences. They champion a brand or sully a reputation with one click. The intelligence and connections available to customers are forever changing the business of designing, creating, selling, and delivering information, products, and services. Whether as members or customers, consumers have soaring expectations.

The disruptive forces of social-media–savvy consumers are rippling through to organizations and across entire industries, affecting the fun­damental need for credible content and interaction within a community of like-minded individuals working toward a common mission and vision or against an enemy, such as legislation.

So what do you need to know to adapt?

1. At the individual member or customer level, it’s not just about the connected consumers’ driving the “iTunification” of business; the networked workforce is collaborating in new ways both inside and outside organizations. Empowered citizens are digitally engaged and networked, making their voices and votes count on Wall Street, in ballots, with proxies, and on Twitter.

One idea: really focus on empowering the customer-facing part of the organization to exceed at each and every experience!

2. At the organizational level, business and revenue models must evolve to capture value across multiple channels, products, services, members, and customers. Optimized digital operations transform how products and services are created, marketed, sold, delivered, and maintained after initial acquisition. A connected organization must evolve in its operating structure and people dynamics.

One idea: become an expert in all things you customer – their likes, dislikes, preferences, challenges, opportunities, competitive evaluations, why and how they make decisions for or against your brand, people, ideas, products, and services?

3. At the industry level, value is migrating along the value chain, often moving closer to the end consumer of the information, product, or ser­vice. Changing roles and relationships of industry players are redefining value chains, and new industry entrants are disrupting broader systems as they capture significant value with far greater agility than historically dominant players.

One idea: planning is extrapolation of the present; strategy is a vision of the future with a path to get you there. What’s the vision (not the wall-art type) of where you really want to see the organization in the future? Stop doing stale strategic planning sessions with grandiose statements that don’t mean anything. Focus on creative implementation – the path!

Next month, I’ll share why there are no shortcuts! In the interim, join us for the IMPACT webinar series starting on Feb. 24th with my guest, KiKi L’Italien as we’ll discuss “iTunification” of Your Capabilities. The Return on Impact book is available in hard copy through Amazon or ASAE, or via 8 CD Audiobook directly from Nour Group.

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