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Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business Hardcover – September 14, 2010
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" is a well-written, useful guide to how companies can empower their employees." - Ad Age
"If the future sounds scary, Empowered describes it in reasonable, even methodical terms. The book Empowered is a milestone for where things are headed, both for the business manager and the IT manager." - InformationWeek
" this book is a practical explanation of how social influence marketing, which is having your customers create customers for youworks! Loaded with lots of easy to understand cases, this is an information packed book demonstrating that social technology has become universal." Chief Executive
About the Author
JOSH BERNOFF is the coauthor of the Business Week bestseller Groundswell, the “best book ever written on marketing and media” (Advertising Age). He is senior vice president, idea development, at Forrester Research.
TED SCHADLER is a vice president and principal analyst in Forrester’s IT Research Group. His work over thirteen years at Forrester has focused on disruptive technologies and how senior decision-makers should harness them.
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Large companies with established processes and departmental boundaries move too slowly for management to be able to solve all customer problems quickly. Management's new job is to support and empower employees. The book tells the stories of how Best Buy have set up a Twitter Help Force, how Black & Decker have empowered their staff to submit user-generated video that has become a useful training and feedback resource, and how many other organisations have benefited when their employees have taken the initiative to use new technology tools.
As I was reading the book, I found myself wondering whether empowering employees with new technology brings successful outcomes as a matter of course, or whether the book describes the success stories in order to make its case while omitting the stories about the damage caused to companies by employee-initiated uses of technology with less happy outcomes. I am not entirely convinced that the rules for adoption and use of technology have changed. It does not really matter whether the idea for using a new technology comes from an employee or from management; what matters is that the new technology must be useful and have benefits which outweigh the disadvantages and risks.
Empowered has given the world a lot more than that. My title is unfair perhaps, because I liked this book, and the further I read the more I liked it. You cannot read a business book these days that doesn't introduce a new acronym, and I have come to see it as a proxy for strong knowledge or good writing. Fortunately Bernoff and Schadler are both knowledgeable and good writers, so I wish they wouldn't resort to gimmicks.
The best part of the book is the specific examples of real companies doing real projects, mostly Forrester customers. Empowered ties together many trends that, although I was aware of them individually, was not seeing them so closely interlinked. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), mobile computing, project management, information security, and the traditional roles of customer service are among the topics that are addressed. The hero of the story is, of course, the HERO, or highly empowered resourceful operatives who are dragging companies, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.
HERO means more than it seems. Imagine a 2-dimensional matrix forming a quadrant--yes this quadrant is in the book, but not until chapter 8. On the X-axis (from left to right) is empowerment. On the Y-axis (from bottom to top) is resourcefulness. At the bottom left of the quadrant are disenfranchised employees who are neither empowered nor resourceful, making approximately one-third of most companies. The next one-third of employees are those who are locked-down--empowered but not resourceful. The smallest percent, maybe one-eighth, are those who are the rogues who are resourceful but not empowered. The rest are HEROs. The goal of organizations, then is not to expand that quadrant as big as possible, but to get the best people into the HERO roles and to get the organization behind them. Easier said than done, but there is a lot of substance in Empowered to help on the journey.
The book is divided roughly in half. Part one discusses HEROs and HERO projects in detail, including how they have saved organizations and how the lack of a HERO has led to substandard responses and embarrassing situations. Prominent here are the realities of social media and mobile technologies. Part two discusses actions organizations can take to enable the HERO. Similar themes run through the book, and this is not a collection of random blog posts.
Part one did turn me off in many places. The author seemed to target me, an IT professional and my colleagues as the chief disablers of HERO behaviors. I hope that we can be forgiven. We understand as well as anyone the complexity behind modern businesses, and how frail it really is under the hood. We are the individuals whose heads get beat whenever a server crashes or data is compromised, regardless of whether we had anything to do with the initial implementation. We've been SOX'ed, mandated, legislated, and audited to death. A little more respect would be nice.
Fortunately, the book delivers some more of that in part two. It recognizes some of the issues faced by IT and provides some guidance for IT professionals. It spends time on a couple IT leaders who have reached out to other business units to build creative and innovative solutions. Ultimately this is not about IT, but about the business leaders understanding the borders of the organization are no longer around its physical premise and its high-walled data centers. The borders around the organization are around its people. Employees and customers are using Twitter and YouTube, and the conduits for leakage is unfathomable. Employees have to exercise common sense and be professional. The emphasis of the Information Security office has to migrate from applying technical band-aids to engaging leaders and employees. It will happen, and I predict IT will be leaders in this process, not inhibitors.
However, traditionally, IT departments and Management, have wanted to keep all technology "locked down" for a variety of reasons such as "security" and "brand stewardship". Yet, in today's transparent online world, our HEROs need to be able to use Groundswell technologies and practices to be able to reachout to the exact people that can serve as our "Brand Evangelists"...the communication with these people needs to be genuine, not always high polished, canned, robo generated engagement.
Therefore, the authors, have developed the "HEROs Compact"; a set of understandings that the HERO, their managers and the IT departments can agree to, thereby creating a more open, "Empowered" environment for which our firms can operate.
Also, the authors provide a free, online tool to evaluate projects that HEROs uncover, called an "Effort Value Analysis" which helps score projects to help managers come to go/no-go decisions much quicker... [...]
Bernoff and Schadler hit on a topic that is very relevant in organizations today...Use this book for Learning and Development for sure.
Most recent customer reviews
`Empowered' and `Social Media' - do they mean anything? Bernoff & Schadler avoid faddishness with a book grounded in real-world complexities...Read more