Thursday, March 26, 2009

Web 2.0 at the MIT Enterprise Forum

I am not sure the question: “How To Use Web 2.0 to Promote Your Business” got answered at last night’s (March 24th) MIT Enterprise Forum Chicago at K&L Gates (formerly Bell Boyd & Lloyd) Conference Center.

But it didn’t matter. What an entertaining and informative session Bob Brill and his team[1] of volunteers put together! Congrats to all.

Howard Tullman, who runs Flashpoint Academy in the Loop, acted as Moderator. The two panelists couldn’t have been more informed and fun! They were Jason Fried, founder of 37signals.com; and Harper Reed the “amazing CTO for the awesome Threadless.com”.

Whatever Web 2.0 is, they both use it to engage with customers. The teams at both companies constantly watch traffic on the web for key words (like “threadless”) and respond to complaints and compliments alike. At one point during the Q&A they were asked about ‘creating buzz using Web 2.0’. Both Jason and Harper jumped on this. “Web 2.0 isn’t about creating buzz!” they insisted. You focus on doing a great job with your customers, that’s what Web 2.0 is about, it’s real and it works. They came back to this theme over and over again. Pay attention to what they (customers) are telling you.

After the event I buttonholed each of them independently. I asked, “Listening to you guy talk for about an hour, what I got out of it was that Web 2.0 is a set of tools you use to build relationships with customers and employees based on trust, engagement, and empowerment, is that right?” “That’s it exactly.” Said Harper. “But the real key, is trust.” Harper left and I went and found Jason, also about to leave. I asked him the same question. He said “Yes, you could put that way.” He paused. “But it is really about trust, that’s the critical thing, if they trust you, then the engagement and empowerment is easy.”

In my prior blog entry I wrote: “What we at Launchpad Partners have been saying is that if you want to have a great problem solving and innovative company, the leadership must install three key components of culture: Trust, Engagement, and Empowerment (TEE, think golf tee). Trust is king. It includes the passion for truth telling, facing hard problems head on, being honest, and acting with as much openness as the law allows. When a company achieves the full measure of TEE, then it is a problem solving, innovative powerhouse that’s on the path toward taking the leadership role in its industry.

Launchpad Partners help companies through periods of stress. Once the company is through the stress, and once it is eager to become the competitive powerhouse in its industry, we then partner with the CEO and Board to create an environment of Trust, Engagement and Empowerment. We apply certain key tipping points which germinate this environment without disrupting the day to day operation of the humming machinery we’ve just helped install.”

It is interesting that CEO's of small companies get this, while CEO's of large corporations rarely do.





[1] Richard Cross, Tim Courtney, Jack Quill, Avery Cohen, Ted Wallhaus, and Rachel Kaberon

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