Get out of your office and get connected

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It’s been said that innovation doesn’t happen in isolation. That’s increasingly true in today’s social marketplace. In this environment, the best ideas often come from outside the walls of your office — from peer and industry groups, even from your customers.

LEGO’s Ideas platform is a great example of connecting with, and learning from, a community of customers. Through this platform, LEGO customers can submit ideas for sets they’d like to see put into commercial production. It gives direct creative influence to core fans — a community of over 1 million users who have helped the company launch massively successful product lines.

Speaking to Fast Company, LEGO New Business Group Senior Consultant Tim Courtney said of the platform, “There might be things that we’ve thought of before, that we’ve killed, or we’ve never tested them outside. But if our fans can tell us there’s demand for them through something like this, then why wouldn’t we consider it? And if we could take something like that and turn it into a runaway success for the business, then that will show the value of listening to our consumers.”

Tapping into the ideas of customers in an important tenet of our social marketplace. And because companies and customers now communicate more directly, CEOs need to be on the front lines of this exchange, listening to customer feedback and both encouraging and rewarding their ideas by putting the best of them into action. This increased visibility could mean being active on social media or speaking at events to share thought leadership or industry perspective.

Another way business leaders can access a broader range of ideas is by joining a peer group. Through peer groups such as Vistage, YPO and industry associations, business leaders can tap into collective experience to generate ideas on how to grow their business while learning in an environment that also builds vital relationships.

The idea of CEOs toiling alone in their office is a thing of the past. Rather than thinking top-down, think center-out. Today’s CEOs should see themselves as the hub of many spokes, connected to a community of ideas that could unlock tremendous growth. ●

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc.

Fred Koury

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