My first major change initiative in the mid-90s was built on the back of assembling the best with measured regularity. We pulled together large and small groups with even periodicity. As a result we generated significant progress over and again. Using these steady, regular gatherings we systematically increased value while making it possible for others to identify and locate us. I term these powerful assemblies, customer value pulses.
Customer value pulses are targeted waves that result in steady, rhythmic increases in market growth and value production.
Market growth and value production can each happen independently, but then you experience them as propped up by your effort, leaning heavy on the work you must continue just to keep them alive.
Better to bring the two together and let them support each other, even create synergies together.
When market growth and value production are mutually beneficial a sweet spot emerges in which they play off of each other, grow each other, and create an expanding center of activity that is beneficial to those who participate.
Just as every living person has a pulse, so does every group. Regularity breeds rhythm which enables others to join in, some to excel, identity to form… and most of all, it makes it possible for elements that would otherwise be discordant and isolated to assemble and create something that is greater than the parts.
Two weeks ago I helped orchestrate a major gathering for a client, the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). HRCI provides certification to HR professionals on a global scale, ensuring that people are well prepared for the challenges of human capital management in the 21st century.
HRCI sought to invigorate a conversation on the topic of strategic HR and partnered with The McCormick Group here in Washington, DC, to bring people together to think as a group, highlight and examine the crtical issues when it comes to using HR to succeed in the market, and provide a forum for acknowledged leaders in the field to talk about their journeys and reflect on them.
The event culminated after six months worth of work. During that half-year we generated a series of gatherings, large and small, each creating its own pulse. Lunches, informal talk sessions, working groups, meetings, a webinar and blog interactions. All of these generated momentum, created a buzz.
The regularity bred emergence of real substance, topics that could be identified and developed, interest from participants. Then came our climax gathering at the Newseum, September 16, where HR leaders from three major organizations including the Pew Charitable Trusts, GTSI Corp, and Deltek shared their stories of leadership, organizational transformation, and success in the marketplace.
At every stage of the path, through the pulses, more and more people learned about what we were doing. Each individual pulse was minor in relation to the overall constellation that shone bright, reaching across the Washington, DC, region, and bringing in business leaders, CEOs, and other VPs of HR. This is the customer value pulse at work.
Customer value pulses can be used with customers just as easily as members. Every time a pulse goes through the marketplace it calls attention to itself while it does its work. A good series of these pulses can rouse interest in a brand, introduce new products and services, create a community of buyers, and build the base for additional offerings.
Eight Ingredients to Generate Customer Value Pulses
1. Go for the best
Bring together people who have something to contribute, who are experts with real experience to share.
2. Build a social network
Reach out through like-minded people and pull in others who share the interest. Work organically through relationships.
3. Identify topics as they emerge
If you are working with real experts who care deeply about their work, there will be new and vibrant issues that matter today. Notice them when they arise and make them a centerpiece of the work.
4. Meet with regularity
This creates the pulse and makes it possible for others to easily find you as well as generate regular, steady progress. It does not have to be face-to-face, though experience shows that at least one face-to-face event per year increases magnitude of impact significantly.
5. Bring in an expert to bring it all together
Have someone who really understands the challenges and opportunities of the target group to bring the whole thing together. Find someone who can create events (virtual and face-to-face) that stand on the merit of their content and marry it to seasoned vets with passion.
6. Provide professional support to package ideas
Deliver ideas in compelling and attractive ways using graphic design and providing a professional tone.
7. Use experienced marketers to advance content in the marketplace
Creating traction is a critical skill for success. Work with people who know how to generate interest from key players.
8. Pay attention to uptake
Market initiatives are nothing if not successful. Traction, engagement, and participation are a pre-requisite to succeeding in commerce. Discover what is providing traction and build that capacity.
Seth Kahan is a Change Leadership specialist. He has consulted with CEOs and executives in over 50 world-class organizations that include Shell, World Bank, Marriott, Prudential, Project Management Institute, and NASA. His book, Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out, is a Washington Post bestseller. Visit GettingChangeRight.com for a free excerpt.