We are living in a drastically different macroeconomic era. In the 1970s it was all about selling products and Traditionalists ruled the boardroom. In the 90s the focus shifted more to products and services and Baby-Boomers channeled our buying behavior. In the 2000s businesses and blogs all touted customer centricity and Gen X started leading the charge. Today, we talk about the relationship and experience-centric economy: the need to re-connect and build relationships while simultaneously experiencing a visceral reaction to the products and services that provide value to us in the moment. As in this very second. And Millennials are gearing up to take over the helm.
Are your leaders part of the problem or part of the solution?!
Shift is not new – it’s normal, and every shift brings new solutions and new challenges. In the last 16 years over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies that dominated in the 1950s disappeared through mergers, contractions or downright dismal returns which caused their demise. It’s safe to assume that in our hyper-competitive economy within thirty years the same will be true of today’s Fortune 500. It’s part of our faster-paced evolution, and as consumers, we really appreciate this speed of change but we expect more. Lots more. We desire immediate fulfillment, anywhere, anytime so that we receive value in personalized moments, and we want it served up in a way that forces our senses to explode. If customers are actually going to look up from their phones, or whoa, set ‘em down, what you’re offering better be damn good.
To profitably participate in a relationship and experience-centric economy today’s companies MUST have leaders who can deliver brilliant processes, teams, and innovations. These leaders must possess the skills to streamline operational efficiencies, facilitate cross-functional problem-solving and know which ideas are the right ideas to invest in and take to market – fast. Which means today’s leaders must be extraordinary communicators and collaborators. The days of the silos are gone if you wish to stay afloat.
One of the best ways to litmus-test your leaders is to evaluate their ability to harness and implement Associational Thinking throughout the organization. Do they pull the right constituents together to best utilize their domain expertise to integrate patterns, see contextual relationships and connect seemingly unrelated elements? Only when leaders can think strategically and innovatively enough to weave Associational Thinking into the very fibers of a company can the company solve complex problems, find opportunities within changing conditions, design new products, and services and create the future.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of partnering with senior leaders from around the globe in a three-day Executive Thought Leader Summit in Costa Rica. This Summit was carefully crafted by Kent Cisewski, president of FUSION Performance Group, and his team. Cisewski invited executives from companies such as AIG, Cardiovascular Systems Inc., Mass Fidelity, HD Supply White Cap, AmeriLife Group and more to viscerally participate in mind-blowing experiences, develop relationships and connect with brilliant leaders. The goal? Help one another respond more innovatively and profitably to unique industry shifts. Not only did it wow – it worked. These leaders participated in life-changing experiences that expanded their perspective, challenged their beliefs and forced them to confront, evaluate and refine their own thinking, their own leadership styles, and their own stories. Through a sophisticated and highly coordinated sequence-of-events, attendees collaborated in Associational Thinking and supported one another in tackling the real-world, real-time obstacles they are facing in their businesses.
One of Cisewski’s missions is to help companies maximize and measure meeting and incentive Return On Investment (ROI) in today’s relationship and experience centric economy. According to Meeting Professionals International, about $280 billion dollars is spent annually on meetings and events in the United States. Cisewski knows that companies who simply see this spending as an operating expense are missing out on an incredibly profitable opportunity to extend their relevancy and their company’s life expectancy. According to Cisewski, “… most companies compare the amount spent on an incentive travel program to the growth in sales during the incentive period. It’s a far more nuanced formula than this way of looking at it. The leaders who get this new economy and choose to shift the way they invest their incentive dollars can exponentially increase their ROI…and measure it.”
FUSION’s revolutionary and proprietary model takes meeting incentive programs a step further in two distinct ways:
- They provide content and experiences that are intimately aligned with a company’s objectives/needs/attitudes to ensure participants are more successful in actually changing behavior to drive better results.
- Who is selected to participate in the incentive program is not limited to just the far-right of the bell curve. In other words, they re-structure participation and incentives to encourage a higher percentage of producers to meet and exceed their goals.
FUSION’s model has modernized the way companies benefit from incentive programs in today’s new economy. By assimilating real-life needs with reward and recognition for a larger percentage of a company’s team members, organizations are experiencing unprecedented results.
Case in point, one of the Summit attendees, Monique Rochard-Marine, who produces five corporate meetings each year for Cardiovascular Systems Inc. (CSI) integrated FUSION’s formula into her annual sales meeting and it more than delivered. Not only is CSI’s sales team more engaged and productive – she shared that they are more aligned with the company’s objectives and brand and they have stronger relationships with customers. Rochard-Marine jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Costa Rica Thought Leader Summit because she sees the shift happening and knows it’s a new economy she can benefit from both personally and professionally.
In Costa Rica, the shared unique, mind-blowing experiences of staring into the face of a venomous Eyelash Viper, rappelling a 120-foot waterfall, tubing down river rapids and touring one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable ranches brought leaders together to partner and problem-solve with a fresh perspective. From the frustrations of mergers and acquisitions and shrinking market share to discerning how best to adapt to emerging markets and changing technologies, each leader brought solutions and challenges to a three-day robust dialogue that is continuing long after the last plane returned home.
If you want to stay relevant, competitive and profitable your leaders must know how to think strategically, innovatively and associationally.
Shift happens. Are you ready?