Marni: Hi this is Marni Edelhart, Director of Content and Experience at Momentum Events for the Pivot Conference and I’m here with Andy Jankowski. Andy is the Founder and Managing Director of Enterprise Strategies, a consultancy committed to delivering the future of work through practical digital strategies and adoption programs. Recent Enterprise Strategies’ clients include AIG, Aon, Marsh Inc., Allianz Global Assistance, XL Group, The Laclede Group, Indianapolis Power & Light and The Student Success Network, among others. He has written for, and been written about in, Forbes and The Huffington Post. He is a PIVOT Advisory Board Member and a charter member of the Future of Work Community. Andy is a frequent keynote speaker and an avid road cyclist. He enjoys connecting people and dots. Hi, Andy.
Andy: Hi Marni. Thank you very much for your time today.
Marni: Well, thank you so much. We’re so glad to have you on the call and participating with Pivot. My first question is: Enterprise Strategies is a consultancy “Delivering the Future of Work”; what inspired you to found Enterprise and what do you mean by “the Future of Work?”
Andy: Well, there were actually several inspirations for starting Enterprise Strategies. During the first part of my career, I was employed in a very large corporation and, on its good days, it was painful! Little things, you know: finding people, finding information, getting approvals done, getting decisions made in that large corporate environment. The systems and the processes used to complete these simple tasks were there and they weren’t working – they were often inefficient – there was just a better way. And so one of the impetuses for starting Enterprise Strategies was to find that better way. Now, the “Future of Work” for us is the belief that life in a corporation can be better, and we do that by creating collaborative and empathetic cultures in organizations enabling employees with the processes and tools they need to reach their full potential. You know, if we can do that, we can create a better, mutually beneficial, work environment. As Kare Anderson once put it (who spoke at Pivot, I believe, last year and 2 years ago), we can achieve more better together – we truly believe that. You know, our commitment at Enterprise Strategies to delivering the Future of Work, it’s really both the tip of the hat to thought leaders out there who are envisioning and evangelizing this new Future of Work as a way of working. But it’s also a recognition that it takes more than thought leadership to change the way people and organizations work. Organizations are messy – you know, many have been around for hundreds of years, some of them; they have legacy cultures, legacy systems and a lot of business complexities through regulatory environment, geographic complexity, the list goes on and on. So, to affect change in these organizations, it requires more than just thought leadership; it also requires management consultants that are capable of understanding these items, and rolling up their sleeves, and getting into the details and solving these complex problems. And that’s why Enterprise Strategies exists.
Marni: Wow – “on its best days it was painful” – that’s says it all (laughs).
Andy: I mean – no disrespect to all the great corporations out there (laughs) but I think many people have experienced that same thing.
Marni: Yes – me too at one point. So, you founded Enterprise Strategies in 2009. How have you seen the needs of your clients shift over the past 6 years and how do you anticipate those needs changing in the years to come?
Andy: The main shift has been from experimentation to full-scale commitment and transformation. Let me explain what I mean by that. In 2009, social was a big buzzword and a lot of companies dipped their toe in the water and said: “hey, maybe we should try a social internet, maybe we should try an internal social network. We’ve traditionally wanted better bi-directional communication between employee and managers, but we’re not sure how that’s going to work. We wish we had a more collaborative culture and we could enable that collaboration among employees, but again, we’re not sure people will pick up on it and if we’re ready for full scale investment.” And from then till now what we’ve seen is these experiments for the most part prove positive. And now companies, especially senior leaders, are stepping back and they’re saying: “ok, we’ve experimented; we’ve proven the business model, we’ve proven the business case but, in order for this to have the impact we want it to have, we’ve got to approach this on a full scale culture, systems and process transformation — essentially taking our company from where it is today to the company of the future”. And that’s been a big change and it’s a very, very exciting change – and a very exciting time to be in this area. The thing we’re seeing (and I think it’s equally important) is that the supporting technology has evolved to the point where this has become more seamless, more economical, and the integration ability of these technologies, which is paramount for this transformation, is finally where it needs to be.
Marni: That is really interesting. What do you think are going to be the primary changes in the next few years? What are you anticipating?
Andy: Well, there’s going to be a couple of things. One – you are going to start to see even more of a digital divide. You can always sort of look to our personal relationships with technology and extrapolate what’s going to happen in the corporation. In fact, we’ve done this a lot — the analysis of what we use in our personal lives that could be effective in the large corporate environment. And one thing that we have seen – for better or for worse – in our personal lives is that there tends to be a digital divide at the moment: people who have adopted and use social; people that are becoming very proficient in digital; and those that are not. And those that are not are missing out. Well, in corporations that digital divide is growing at a breakneck pace right now. There are, I will be very honest and very real and say: there are some industries, some companies that do not need to rush into full-scale digital transformation: they’ve made money for several decades and they’ll continue to do so. But in many industries and many companies, especially those that deal with the consumer directly, those businesses and businesses that have a technology component, if these companies do not transform, we will continue to see a couple of things: 1 – employees not as willing to work for them, and new talent not as willing to go there. 2 – more inefficiencies than their competitors have. The technology enablement and the adopting of this new way of working is really a more efficient, more effective process – it’s business transformation at its best. Not going down that path, you’re allowing yourself to be passed up. So, I think we’ll see that divide grow – that digital divide will grow. I also think we’ll see continued investment into this area and, as it gets toward the tipping point where a lot of companies have embraced this new cultural way and mindset of working (and also the supporting tools and processes) we’re going to go back to the previous stage, which is experimentation – because there will be something new; technology continues to evolve, we as individuals will continue to do new things and more exciting things in our personal lives and those will continue to be translated into the business environment; we’ll experiment, we’ll get adoption, we’ll prove the concept and then we’ll go forward again. It’s a great upward spiral.
Marni: Yes, it sounds like a cycle of experiment /adopt/experiment/adopt/disseminate – it’s really interesting. So you and I have spoken recently about another challenge employers face in adopting their employees’ own personal brands with the desire for each employee to be an ambassador for the company. How do you advise your clients when they’re addressing this challenge?
Andy: This is really a legacy problem – meaning companies currently in existence that have legacy systems, legacy processes, legacy policies, legacy procedures; the first way to address this problem is to admit that those legacy systems, processes, policies and procedures are no longer optimal – and the reason they’re no longer optimal is because of this changing dynamic – this changing relationship between employee and employer. And part of that relationship is being driven again by the tools and technologies and way of living that we have available in our personal life. People have their own brands, and those brands are nothing new, but what is new is the ability to promote and get value from those brands online. Corporations have their own brands – again nothing new – but the digital channel, the online channel is a way of really expanding those brands and getting deeper penetration. So, in order to get a mutually beneficial relationship between employee and employer, we’ve got to first recognize that both brands exist. We’ve then got to recognize that the old way of working, the old way of doing things, is no longer appropriate and that we have to actually invest and make changes as companies, we need to change those legacy systems, those legacy polices that prohibit employees from having their own life outside of work – their own brand and their own online presence outside of work – and enable them to share what they’re doing inside the company, outside the company. And in a way that is compliant with the legal and regulatory concerns with intellectual property. There’s a way to do this – there’s not a “sound-bite answer” – but if you can step back and you can look at your company from the perspective of an employee and you can look at the impact that the systems, processes and policies that you have in place – how they impact that employee, and you can think through the business objectives you want to accomplish using employee-advocates, and also inside and outside your company in creating a more engaging brand experience – there’s a way forward. What we recommend doing is exactly that: stepping back, laying out the business objectives, creating your strategy, and then being bold in changing those systems and processes that both enable employees and allow for a safe, systematic way for you to employ brand advocates to build your brand and build better engagement with your customer.
Marni: Got it. I hope we’ll see more companies moving in that direction in the years to come.
Andy: I think you will.
Marni: How do you establish trust with your clients in order to get an honest assessment of their status and help them progress to a more functional Social business model?
Andy: We establish trust by: 1. Showing credentials – we’ve been in this space for 6 years now; we’ve been very fortunate to have some very large brands and companies as clients (you were kind enough to read those out earlier) and we’ve taken a very “real-world” approach to this. We know that we’re at a point in history where it’s right to change to this new social construct way of doing business. We’re also management consultants by trade – we know that that’s not easy – we know there are business realities, business constraints, and that different companies need to move at different speeds. So we’re pretty pragmatic in our approach of establishing an internal or external digital strategy – and also making sure that we’ve got the right approach and the right strategy for a company based on their culture, their business objectives and their business constraints. We’re also very transparent in our methods and our motives. You know, trust in business is no different than trust in a person. It really transcends every aspect, so you need to make sure that you present yourself, your project, your objective in a way that everyone can see what’s happening – that’s a bit of a change from consulting 20 years back – 20 years back consulting operated in a different method where things were kept back until the right way was decreed and then implemented. We operate much more transparently than that. The other part is that we drink our own champagne, so to speak. I mean, the same things that we’re recommending for organizations, we do with our own organization. We work this way – we work out loud – we share information – we’re dynamic in that information both inside our company and outside our company. We too have regulatory constraints and also legal concerns around intellectual property. And we’ve designed systems and processes to allow ourselves to work this way. So I think it’s really those two things: being transparent, being honest, being “real-world” and recognizing that this is not an easy shift for a company – no two companies are alike and the fact that we ourselves are doing it, all help us establish trust and allow these large corporations to move forward confidently.
Marni: Well, that really gets me to my next question – the idea of drinking your own champagne because, as you mentioned, you’re a founder and the managing director of your own business. What are the strategies that you have thought are the most important to put in place at Enterprise to have a successful communication network and engage the employee force in your business the way you’ve been helping others to do?
Andy: The No 1 thing for us is to make sure that in everything we do, the focus is on results, and realize that there are many different ways of getting to those results. I, first and foremost, have to create a culture where everyone understands that I don’t know everything and I don’t always have the right answer. But it’s my responsibility to lay out some clear guidelines for the company and also clear guidelines for our clients, for the expectation of engagement with those clients and different protocols, and also information sharing, intellectual property and our approach to projects and our approach to marketing. With those guidelines set, what we need to do is be flexible and allow people to come to the results in their own way. We have employees whose best time of day for them to work is literally from 10pm to 3am in the morning – that’s when they are at their brightest, that’s when their creativity is flowing, that’s when they get things done. For me to command those people to be in an office environment from 8am to 5pm would be horrible – we’d be missing out on their top talent. Alternatively, we don’t believe that you have to be in our office to work; you can do as we say and work from anywhere. What’s important in working from anywhere is that you’ve enabled employees with the right technology so that it’s seamless, and 2, that you have the culture and understanding that people don’t have to show up in the office to be actually working. The third part is just really a constant feedback model – one of my frustrations, and one of the frustrations I’ve heard voiced by several organizations, is that of the process of the annual evaluation – I can work for 11 months and 30 days, and on that 31st day, you’re going to tell me that what I’ve been doing was wrong and it didn’t achieve the results you intended, and that’s the basis of my salary, my review and my trajectory throughout the company. And that’s not right – that’s not the world we work in – it’s a disservice to the employee because you’ve taken from them the opportunity to adapt and learn and make progress, and it’s a disservice to the company because you’ve sat on a problem for 11 months and 30 days and that’s not acceptable in this dynamic environment. So, we work at all levels to provide constant feedback, which at first can be a little alarming, but what we’ve found is that people basically take the feedback in a good nature if it’s appropriately presented and we’re all able to learn from each other, learn together and evolve Enterprise Strategies into what it will be in the future which, quite honestly, won’t be determined by me, it will be determined by our advisers, by our consultants, our research team and all the great people who make up this company.
Marni: Wow. These are really helpful answers. And it just makes me even more excited to hear more from you at Pivot on October 29 in NYC. So, Andy, thank you so much for joining us in this interview. It’s really nice to speak to you as always.
Andy: Marni, thank you. I’ve been nothing but impressed with the Pivot organization and I’m looking forward to another great event this year and look forward to continuing our relationship with PIVOT.