John Bernard, Business at the Speed of Now, Podcast Episode 2: Thriving in the Now
TM: Welcome to the Now Inside podcast, where we uncover why leaders are moving from conventional management approaches to the Now Management System so they can compete in the Now.
I’m your host Tom Moore and we’re joined by John Bernard, chairman and founder of Mass Ingenuity and author of the book titled “Business At The Speed Of Now: Fire Up Your People, Thrill Your Customers, And Crush Your Competitors.” John’s book recently became an Inc Magazine best seller and we get Now Inside access to him – starting now.
Welcome to the second podcast of Now Inside. I’m your host Tom Moore and I’m here with John Bernard who authored “Business At The Speed Of Now.” Hi John.
JB: Hi Tom. How are you?
TM: Pretty well, how about yourself?
JB: I’m doing well. Let’s go for it.
TM: Alright. Well audience, in our last podcast John shared some insights on why he wrote the book and what he hoped his readers and listeners would take away from it. Today I have a few questions from John after I read his first chapter which he entitled “Thriving In The Now.”
My first question is, John, what does “thriving in the now” mean?
JB: Well Tom, we’re living in a mass customization economy and what that means is as consumers we want what we want and we want it now. The reality is with the internet we have infinite choice and we can get it. For an organization to thrive in the now it has got to be able to respond quickly and adapt to whatever a customer needs and it needs to do it in an instant. That’s a big shift from the traditional ways organizations have had to grade value in the marketplace. It presents quite a number of challenges for us as we try to manage complex enterprises.
TM: What do you think are some of the major game changers that make the challenge today different than, let’s say, 10 years ago?
JB: Well certainly the internet and social media are playing huge roles. A lot of people –particularly executives– are turned off by social media. But in a way that’s like being turned off by snow, it still comes and we need to get used to it and deal with it. Social media in its simplest form is the conversations that once were going on behind our backs, they’re just out in the public now and we can see what our customers are thinking about us, we can see how our employees view our management style, we can see virtually anything if we’re willing to go look and listen to what’s being said.
The other driving force really is this “millennial mindset” – and I call it that in the book as opposed to “millenials” because I think the mindset is what’s prevalent. A simple example is the demand for social good and social responsibility. This generation, I think their values are very similar to my generation’s values but they have little tolerance for compromise and so they really believe that we need to be accountable and if something is being done that is incorrect they call us on it and they expect it to be corrected now.
I think that social media and the millennial mindset are two huge forces that are making this economy we’re in much more “now” centric.
TM: Do you have any stories from a customer’s point of view or as a leader where you’ve really seen this come into play?
JB: Well I think in social media in particular one of the coolest things to watch is when a leader is up in front of a group of employees and on the screen or projection behind him are the comments that they employees are making on Twitter or other forms. If you want a little reality therapy and you want to know what your employees are really thinking, make a hashtag and invite them to Tweet about what you’re saying.
It’s funny, people find that intimidating –and it is– but then you’re dealing with reality instead of dealing with smoke and mirrors and pretending that something is going well whether it is or isn’t. You don’t know. But with the social media, you know.
TM: You can’t hide I guess.
JB: You can’t hide.
TM: Later in the chapter you go on to talk about “yesability”, can you describe that a bit?
JB: Yeah. That phrase came up in a conversation with a group of folks we were doing some work with. It’s really how “yes-able” are people and we kind of meshed together and ended up with the word “yesability”. In a spectrum, the question is “to what degree can people say ‘yes’?”
If you look ultimately to the highest level of yesability, it’s when employees truly own their problems and they’re able to solve those problems in the now. That’s what yesability really is – the ability to say “Yes, I can solve that problem. Yes, here is a solution. Yes, I have the authority to do this.”
TM: So what as a leader should I be doing to help bring that concept of yesability to life?
JB: Well I think ultimately what we have to do is start to recognize that the people who work for us are full-blown adults. They’re naturally accountable and they want to do a good job but they work in a system where they don’t have the knowledge or access to information or the perspective of where the business is going. I think what you have to do as a leader is make sure that the elements that are missing for them to be able to take action, they actually have.
The simple way to look at it is your job as a leader today is to make sure your employees have everything they need to be able to act on every opportunity they see every time. That’s a sizable job for management and it’s a new job.
TM: I’ve been in areas where that concept hasn’t been in motions. As organizations begin to adopt this, what are some of the challenges and opportunities you see for them and the employees that are in those areas?
JB: It’s not like flipping a switch. I was talking with a client about the contradictions, we say we’re doing this then we actually do this other thing.
As you read the book, what you’ll discover in it is that there are a lot of things to put into place to create an organization that is able to thrive in the now. It takes time, it takes learning new behaviors, learning new models, learning new cause and effect elements that are in the system of management then actually making it so that the employee has the full authority to take action but they also have all the other things they need to take the right action.
TM: If there was one thing to focus on this week to move into the yesability mode with my team, give me an idea of what I would start working on right now.
JB: Read the book Tom. It’s a good question. I think what you have to do is start to understand how well they know the business and where it’s going, what its goals are, what its visions are. Leadership has its aspirations.
That’s step one. That’s not nearly enough but you need to know how much they understand about the business and where it’s headed.
TM: Well thank you John. I appreciate you being here today.
JB: You’re welcome Tom.
Also, like myself, you’re going to be out buying the book this week. I invite you to do that. It’s on Amazon.com.
Look for the next podcast where we’ll continue pursuing how leaders can thrive in the Now.
Thank you for listening and see you next time.