Connecting the Stream with Action: Re-connecting Business to People


In times of crisis we see what people are made of because crises test our mettle.

It's time we saw what organizations are made of: and that is people. Yes, the corporation also exists as a legal entity, but it is through its people that it interacts with the world.

My third post on the theme of connecting the stream with action after SxSW 2011 focused on business becoming social. I could have titled the post re-connecting business to people.

The business derives strength through trading its model, it relies on its people to keep its promises.

Keeping promises was severely tested in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, because business continuity plans don't spell out what to do when your people are facing hardship on two fronts: personal and work-related.

In the last week, I've talked to many professionals who used their ingenuity and relied on the kindness of neighbors and friends to keep their businesses up and running even in the absence of power or cell phone coverage at home.

By helping their company keep its promises, these pros at every level of the organization's ladder are contributing to the resilience of the business.

How business becomes social

Three major areas of opportunity for organizations and brands to help business become more social that play into re-connecting business to people are:

1. Situational awareness

This past week, online food-delivery service Seamless managed customer expectations in NYC by proactively reaching out to restaurants to learn about closings, using its experience to build contingencies into delivery times, and shifting the whole company to a customer service center. [hat tip Fast Company]

A robust communication culture also helps people be better customers. Because they are in constant learning mode, organizations with situational awareness encourage employees to run deltas — what they did well, and what can be improved.

2. Ambient concierge

The expression ambient concierge merges two concepts — one relating to the environment or the immediate surroundings of something, the other describes the action of assisting guests with requests and relying on contacts with merchants and service providers to make good on them#.

One good example of providing service to navigate the environment is Google. From the interactive map showing Hurricane Sandy's path to mash ups showing where to find food in locations around NYC.

The NYC business community is helping each other out by providing a list of spaces where people can work and recharge.

3. Adaptive DNA

Successful businesses have a capacity to adjust to situations that demand new behaviors as part of their DNA. This past week, it may have meant working with other organizations in delivering services and products to customers in need.


It is when things are not running as usual that we see the delta between what is and what could be with greater clarity.

Then, we need to start designing action by way of processes with built in transparency for factors that matter to people and systems with built in redundancies to adapt to new and often unexpected contexts.


[image courtesy of Sarah Kathleen Peck


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.