Monthly Archives: May 2009

"Doing Well by Doing Good"

"Doing Well by Doing Good" is a phrase used in a slightly derisive manner to describe the actions of someone who benefits his or herself while doing something for a charitable cause. In a more positive light, you could refer to this practice by another well known phrase, a "Win-Win Situation".

I found a really good example on the soapmaking supply retailer From Nature With Love’s Soap Donations page. Customers of From Nature With Love are invited to donate some of their handmade soaps to two domestic violence shelters and one homeless shelter. In return, they get a listing with a link on a donor’s thank you page and the right to display a banner on their site that links back to the thank you page on From Nature With Love’s site.

This is a very smart marketing program for several reasons. Web-savvy soap makers get a link from a high profile site to their own sites, which helps them greatly in the search engines. They also help build a good image with their own web site visitors by advertising their charitable act. From Nature With Love gets a boost in the search engines by having participants in the program link back to them, and the keywords contained in the donor listings are good for their search engine presence as well. And people who are down and out, perhaps at the lowest points of their lives, get to enjoy a handmade luxury personal care product, a small thing but speaking as someone who enjoys handmade personal care products myself, a potentially significant morale-booster that is good for physical and mental health. Not just a "Win-Win-Situation", but a "Win-Win-Win Situation"!

Webinar Resources is on Facebook

A few days ago, Mark and I were discussing ways to try to interact with a company that we would like to do business with. The company’s web site sported chicklets for Twitter, Facebook and You Tube, letting us know that they were accessible via these social media services. More and more companies are adding social media applications to their communications toolkit, because it makes sense to have a presence in multiple channels so that a prospect can communicate with you via the channel of his or her choice. Many of us here at Webinar Resources have had individual Facebook accounts for awhile. We decided it was time to have a company profile on Facebook, so I started one. I’m sure we will think of ways to use it as we go, but one of our very first acts was to use it to invite visitors to register for an upcoming webinar presented by one of our clients. Come visit us on Facebook by clicking here: Webinar Resources Facebook Page

Nurture Your Most Important Asset: Knowledge

Some time ago, I was given a stack of books by two former teachers of mine who were getting ready to move to another state and trying to lighten the load. One of the titles was "Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation" by Don Tapscott. Written in 1998, at the height of the Internet boom and also the year I started working in the industry professionally, it reflects the heady optimism of those times and the feeling I remember having every day as I went to work that we were participating in a revolution that would have as great an effect on people’s lives as the Industrial Revolution did. The book’s primary focus is on the generation just younger than my own Generation X, Generation Y, which the author proposes renaming the Net Generation or N-Gen because growing up with the digital media and the Internet is their defining characteristic. How will the N-Gen change the way we learn, play, work, shop, and live as a result of having developed with
this technology?

The author argues that one of the things that is changing is that knowledge is becoming capital. The competitive  advantages that once went to the companies with the most money or equipment will in the future go to companies with the most knowledge. "There is no sustainable competitive advantage today other than organizational learning. That is, companies can compete only if they can learn faster than their competitors."

If this is true, how can businesses make sure that they are fostering a healthy environment in which learning can take place?

Technology is certainly a big help. At Webinar Resources, we use software such as Xerox Docushare, Google Spreadsheets, and Content Circles to organize documents and make them available to all the employees who need them. We use technology such as Brainshark Presentations and ExactTarget emails to help our clients distribute and archive their important knowledge.

At least as important as technology in my opinion is the organizational attitude toward learning and collaboration. At Webinar Resources we have a culture that allows knowledge to flourish. Knowledge flows from the top of the hierarchy down, from bottom to top, and from peer to peer. Employees are encouraged to write up instructions for whatever new techniques we’ve learned and upload them to our online knowledge base. All employees are allowed to contribute to the shared knowledge of the organization and enjoy doing it (I do anyway). Employees are expected to teach each other, and are given tools and resources for self-directed learning as well.

Contrast this kind of culture with a workplace that you may have been unfortunate to experience, where employees are given incomplete or deliberately misleading information, and employees who refuse to share with each other are tolerated, even to the detriment of customer service. Sometimes this kind of toxic environment results when there are fears that employees will leave the company with important information. Yet the kinds of employees with a lot of knowledge to share are probably the ones who enjoy learning the most. What kind of environment do you think will keep them happier and healthier? Where are they more likely to stay?

In "Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation", the author believes that the influence of digital technology leads to the development of workers who thrive in a collaborative learning environment. That may be true, but whatever generation they are from, I believe that it’s in your best interest to help all of your employees to reach their full potential by providing a fertile and healthy environment for learning in your organization.