Innovate

The Rapport 360 Innovate process is a structured approach to business redesign to ensure that it is fit for purpose. The Innovate process looks to match the aims of the business and the aims of its customers, staffs and suppliers to ensure the business has a longer term future. Innovate aims to ensure the structure, [...]

Rehabilitate

The Rapport 360 Rehabilitate process allows business leaders to find quick improvements in their business to combat the current economic downturn and improve their underlying business performance.
The Rehabilitate process delivers a series of actions that fall out of the Audit process.  These actions are intended to drive through short term improvements.
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Assess

The Rapport 360 Audit process is now available to business leaders and analysts looking to gauge the health of the their firm and ways to combat the current economic downturn.
The Audit process delivers a detailed report that identifies where the existing business is performing well and where opportunity for improvement or redesign can be undertaken.
If [...]

Build Communities that Offer Value to Members

Building a vibrant community that encourages the creation of relevant value for consumers is a critical business strategy, unfortunately many firms are failing in their endeavours because they fail to appreciate the own role and that of the members within the community. This article looks at six strategies to improve the viability of business communities.

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Build Communities that Offer Value to Members

As companies try to build a vibrant and healthy online community for their businesses many are seeing their efforts fail to produce less-than-exciting results. The following discusses six reasons why many online communities fail to deliver the value the business was looking for.

1. Money Making from the community is you primary driver

The most effective approach for dooming a community-building effort online is to focus on making a profit from the community before the community has even been engaged. Companies that think this way usually build a pseudo community site or set up a company page on a social networking site and wait for the community to join into their quest to make money.

Let’s look at the normal approach to Facebook followed by many firms. The company creates a Facebook page but does not actively engage with or offers little to no feedback to the visitors of the page. Very quickly at least half of the posts/comments/content created by others reflects anti-company sentiment. People who visit the page can sense what little effort the company is putting into using this page as a way to communicate with customers, and they are react negatively to the page.

Solution: When creating your online community, keep in mind the best interests of the people you are trying to reach. Communities don’t form around the idea of being milked for profit, so make sure that your community-building efforts have a clear utility benefit built in for your visitors and members. Understand that monetization can’t effectively happen until the community exists, and the community won’t exist unless there’s something in it for the people you are trying to reach.

2. No clear value proposition for your community

What value do your community efforts create for members; if you don’t know the answer to this question then you are in trouble. If you aren’t creating value for your members, or you’re offering no advantage for your members to connect with others via your community, then they won’t.

Solution: Ensure that members can easily identify the value that your community offers them. Make sure that the value created is easily communicated to others. Remember not all community value needs to happen online or in static feedback spaces like blogs and twitter. Webinars and other personal interactive forums add strength to the community experience

3. Members needs to be told that your community exists

Having the most wonderful and innovative site full of amazing and valuable content, is a wasted investment in time and money if no-one knows about it. No successful community site is an island, so don’t view your community as being in a silo.

Solution: Make an effort to get the word out about your community site, especially when it’s first launched. Think about the people whom you would like to see on your site, and interact with them, invite them to join your community wherever they now. The key is, to interact with these people in their space, and that will give them an incentive to visit yours. Leave thoughtful comments, interact with them but don’t fill their space up with SPAM; thoughtfully let them know what you are creating, and that will encourage them to check out your efforts.

4. Members must have the ability to share/promote content

As you grow your community, enable people to tell others about your efforts. Many companies don’t put much thought into making their content easy to share from their web sites or blogs.

Solution: Offer members the ability to bookmark your site and quickly and easily share your content on social sites such as Digg and Twitter. Always be thinking about how you can help your members share content on their sites, because it’s a great way to extend the reach of your online community.

5. The evangelists and the people growing your community are important to your business

As your community-building efforts begin to take hold, some people will “buy in” and want to create and will help push your efforts forward. Maybe they will help promote you to others, or maybe they will take a lead in helping organize and share information within the group. A major way to stymie your online community’s growth is to ignore these people. Think about it, they are effectively doing your job for you. They are policing, promoting, and contributing to your online community.

Solution: Thank them. Put the spotlight on the leaders in your online community, and show them that you appreciate their efforts. A simple thank-you email works wonders. Don’t ignore them; treat them as if they were royalty, because as far as your online-community-building efforts are concerned, that’s exactly what they are. Invite others to drive the content of your site, set minimalist rules and let their creative endeavours add value to the community

6. The people you are trying to reach don’t really matter to you

This is self explanatory, but at the end of the day you have to actually care about the people who want “in” to your online community. Do not view these people as “eyeballs” and “hits” to be “monetized,” this is the quickest way to doom the community.

Solution: The community is a reflection on your brand and your business, remember you create this community to improve your engagement, now that you have built the relationship, manage it, evolve it and most importantly engage it.

So we’re in a recession – time to innovate

Innovate In a Recession, YOUR CRAZY! we hear you scream at your computer screen. Recessions are a time for cutting costs and consolidating, not so and we will explain why! If the downturn is damaging your entrepreneurial spirit, we have good news for you: Recessions are historically ripe with opportunity for innovation. Don’t believe us? Read on.

Time to change your mind-set: When the economy goes into a tailspin like it did in 2008. You have two options: either stick your head in the ground and hope it passes you by or innovate and emerge stronger than you were when the economy took the hit. Hiding and saving will not start you on your way to greatness but you can innovate your way there. Here are three simple principles that’ll help you focus on rekindling the spirit of innovation.

Take a Reality Check – Relish the recessions. Firstly make sure your core business is strong you must protect your core business because a healthy business gives you the capacity to innovate.

Don’t Go It Alone – Innovation is not the about the crazy genius, alone in their tool shed devising the idea of the century. Innovation is actually much more complex, its the integration of technology, business models and processes, all wrapped together. Successfull innovation is difficult to do alone, find the right partners and work together. Gather a group of diverse thinkers around a table to create a creative storm of ideas.

Play To Your Strengths -A recession is an especially good time for innovators to build great relationships with loyal followers, becauise your competitors even if they are often good at community building, will be distracted during a downturn. However when the economy recovers, it will be open season on those customer but if you already own it, that gives you a tremendous advantage.

Now lets look at the 5 Steps to Innovation that you should adopt.

1. Apply Rigor – According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., 36 percent of top managers say they govern innovation in an ad hoc manner. Throwing people in a room and asking them to brainstorm, is the standard process of innovation. Yes, they’ll generate ideas, but ideas don’t have legs by which to leap off the white board. To be more hit than miss, establish a companywide process to brainstorm, test and implement ideas.

2. Go Where Consumers Go – Get out in the marketplace be that offline or online and see what your customers are experiencing dealing with you, and your competitors, that is good and bad; find out what is not being solved or provided that is critical to them. Now you have a starting point to think about innovation.

3. Learn From Other Industries – If you want to improve your interaction with customers, your after sales service, enhance your delivery processes, go and see how industry leaders are doing it, and use that knowlegde to focus your innovative efforts.

4. Test Your Idea – Take the experts counsel: Long before you fall in love with your idea, show it to consumers to see if they love it too. Markets with money p[ressures don’t suffer bad ideas gladly, a period of decline with its intense selection pressures is a great time to test ideas.

5. Get A Leading Edge - According to Boston Consulting Group, leaders who successfully cultivate innovation have the ability to change, tolerate ambiguity, assess and be comfortable with risk, balance passion and objectivity, and command respect. If you don’t fit that description, appoint someone who does.

Collaborative Business Structures

March 31, 2009 Research, Strategy No Comments

As the connected world continues to evolve and access to information becomes more universally available, we need to look at the way in which we are organising our firms, work flows and communications activity. A number of global factors are either driving a need for a radical change or providing a set of enabling tools that allow us to question the way we operate business.
Lets first at the issues driving the need for radical change:

  • Climate Change
  • Global Financial Crisis
  • World Poverty
  • Regional Trade Agreements

Why are these issues driving us towards a more collaborative mode of working? Let’s examine some of the common themes underpinning these key issues. Firstly, no one person, company or country holds the exclusive answer to the solution for any one or more of these issues. The solutions require the combined intellectual and financial capabilities and resources across a spectrum of individuals, organisations and governments. Secondly, acting individually will only exacerbate the problem, as these problems act like a water bed, when you push down on one problem you run the risk of another area of concern bubbling to the top. The third issue is the ease at which political leaders swing from one “hot” issue to the next, sometimes displaying very schizophrenic behaviour. A process of collaborative problem solving will ensure that a critical mass of focus is maintained on solving the issue. Finally, unless these items are managed in the context of a business opportunity, the necessary financial support required to implement the solutions will be difficult, if not impossible, to accumulate.

The upside is that a number of critical enabling tools are now evolving to enable us to address these issues in a global manner. The evolution of “Web 2.0″ or “the collaborative web” is providing a platform for aglobal response to these issues. The new tools available are radpily shrinking the world, allowing groups of interested parties to come together and create solutions to the global issues challenging the human race today. New economic models built around e commerce and some time soon true mobile commerce allow the rice farmer in Burma and Masai tribe in Kenya to move their product into the market and get rewarded for it. The “Long Tail” by Chris Anderson our recommended reading this week, examines the way in which the web has broken the back of the hit based economy, providing greater choice and accessibility to products for consumers. The second key tool, is the opportunity to rapidly intellectualise and share knowledge across a greater sector of the global community. What’s to stop GM placing all their business data online and asking business consultants to work on finding a solution to their problems, nothing only a fear of collaboration and misguided perception that 1. they can find the answers them selves and 2. their data has some kind of commercial value, if they go broke that value will be zero, and if it is underused or misused then the value will be not much more than zero. GM should open up the door to anyone who has an idea about solving their financial/business difficulties and reward those who provide a valuable contribution towards their reinvention.

So, where does this leave us? If you still think businesses is about heirarchy and tightly managed bureaucracy you might be wrong. It is time to re-examine your businesses and find ways in which you can capture the value of collaboration and drive change into your organisation that is forward looking and meaningful. Our Rapport 360 approach has been created to help you examine your business and find ways in which you can modernise your approach to business. Time to engage, and we would like to show you how.

Building a Participation Culture

March 31, 2009 Strategy No Comments

In the past companies dreamed up products,conducted market research and then force feed the outcome into a set of customers whose generic profile looked like the product would make money for the firm. However this model is flawed, particularly when one considers services and high value products. Marketing and product professionals need a new approach to the creation, design and delivery of services that engages the customer in a participative manner.

Participating in active relationships with consumers is a critical component of the journey to rapport 360. Building meaningful and active relationships requires creating experiences for customers that incorporate:

Feel – what are the issues or problems
Think – I think I have a solution
Know – educate the market
Do – Interact with the customer

Feel: Marketers need to engage the community of potential customers to identify what the key issues and problems they are facing today. Asking customers to become engaged means adapting a range of social networking technologies into the process of interaction.

Think: Engage the customers in the creation of the solution to the problem. That means bringing them in and talking to them either virtually or in person. Customer thinking will create a much deeper level of insight into the offer that is acceptable.

Know: What works and what doesn’t, who do the customers listen to for advice – who is leading the way in setting the trends in the market you want to target. When was the last time you took time to go and watch the customer in their environment.

Do: Use customers to help you tell the story and honestly seek to interact with them. Once you start on this part you must be committed to back it up, customers are very good at detecting falseness.

The Rapport 360 approach offers you the opportunity to walk through a participatory experiences where you review the opportunities for enhancing the participatory nature of you customer interactions.

The Old Economic Model is Broken

March 31, 2009 Strategy No Comments

The 2008/2009 financial years will be recalled as the day the capitalist wonder broke down. What lay at the cause of this breakdown will be debated at length by many very smart people, but the one attitude that is certain to be tested is that unrestrained capitalism is a good thing. Unrestrained capitalism creates a significant disconnect between the right to make super normal profits and the rights of the individual to fairly treated. When pure profit and gain become the central process driving decision making inside corporate offices, the relationship with the consumers becomes distorted. Unfortunately this self-centered approach to decision making impacts the entire economy.

Why?

Lets take the banking institutions as a classic example. This is a very simplified approach but it demonstrates my point: Step 1 See consumers as a group of individuals ready to exploit by creating a series of mortgage products that have at their center the creation of a real estate bubble. Step 2 drive the bubble hard to continually grow asset values to support the provision of greater levels of consumer debt. Step 3 Cause consumers to overreach their financial capacity by borrowing 4 to 5 times their incomes. Step 4 Over extend the consumer base through the provision of unfair mortgage terms. Step 5 The bubble bursts, consumers lose, investors lose – CEO’s ride off into the sunset with the cash. Step 6 the global economy slumps..

Greed feeds greed, as greedy bank executives used subliminal greed based messages to lure consumers into their greed trap, consumers become caught up in the grip of personal greed, buying the house that is a high risk investment. A better approach, a Rapport 360 approach, would be for the bank executives to see their role as an adviser and a helper as the consumer makes their way through life. They should see their role as assisting their customers position themselves for long term success. The pure physics behind the dynamics of bubbles means that they will never last a long time. An approach to customer relations built on long term success of the consumer will result in long-term loyal customers are much better than short term high risk consumers.

The new model to business economics needs to say that the relationship is critical then design a product/business process/service to enhance that relationship and build rapport.

Reward CEO’s with big packets based on the long term success they create for their consumers. Amazingly profit will follow the loyalty….

Advent of the Smart Customer

March 31, 2009 Strategy No Comments

Sometime in the 1990’s consumers woke up and discovered a new found intelligence that liberated them and created a new mindset when it came to what and how they purchased. Access to information was an important ingredient in this start of the revolution but it wasn’t the only factor. Yes the internet has driven access to information, but the changes in consumer behaviour have been more profound. Where once the consumer local shopping demands was within an area within 25 kilometers from home, today consumers will scour the globe looking for products to purchase. Initially this global search was about the best price or good bargain, but consumers now are looking for the unique or the interesting. A growing trend towards connoisseurship or the passion for the rare item is driving the consumption needs of the smart consumer. The search for the unique has been driven by a large percentage of consumers in developed nations with access to large amounts of disposable income; however the financial calamity that has impacted the global economy may swing this online behaviour back in favour of the bargain hunter.

With generation Y and the newly defined iGeneration less likely to suffer in the economic downturn than the baby boomer and Gen X parents this trend towards global shopping may become a very important facet for governments and policy makers to consider as they try to turn around the titanic.

Rapport 360

Rapport 360 proves invaluable for businesses undergoing significant change in their marketplace as the recession bites. Transformational change is a necessary part of an evolving business, and Rapport 360 assists business to complete the following transformational activities:

Assess - Understand the current state of play

Rehabilitate - Make quick alterations to implement immediate improvements

Innovate - Create an aligned business paradigm, strategy and operational model

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