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Living our values: Openness [2/7]

Part two of a blogpost series on the InSites Consulting company values.

The economy is flooded with promises and virtues of openness: open collaboration, open sourcing, open innovation, open universities, open government… The driving forces behind the continued uptake of openness are unstoppable: mobile and digital technologies connecting everything and everyone, the new Gen Y and Gen Z digital generations expecting and demanding brands and organizations to be open and authentic, and the current economic climate painfully showing a lack of answers which more traditional, closed models do have.

“A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” Frank Zappa

The impact of openness on business performance, corporate reputation and branding is clearer than ever. Think for example about Chinese fashion giant Shein, that has been accused of shady labor conditions and not providing full supply chain disclosure. A positive example is Procter & Gamble, acting as a pioneer in open innovation, tapping into the collective wisdom of people that are not on its payroll, thereby increasing product innovation rates and reducing innovation costs.

With increased openness shaping the future of businesses, it is important to understand that it requires building and cherishing an open company culture. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams convincingly outlined the underlying principles supporting the power of openness in their book ‘Radical openness’. They make a compelling case for openness as the starting principle for a successful business. The cost of sticking to the old ways of thinking and working is higher than the cost of transforming to an open-mind model. They highlight four key principles behind the concept of openness: collaboration, transparency, sharing, and empowerment. All four dimensions are reflected in the way we describe our openness value at InSites Consulting:

Collaboration

With boundaries becoming more fluid and open, organizations are increasingly driving value from people that are not on their own payroll. Stiven Kerestegian, former Senior Manager Open Innovation at LEGO, put it nicely: “99.99% of the world’s smartest people don’t work for us.” But openness evidently also relates to facilitating intra-company collaboration, having people work together and tapping into the wisdom of the internal crowds. At InSites Consulting, we strongly believe in the power of external collaboration, co-creating the future of marketing research together with clients, academics, competitors, consumers and several other stakeholders. Our Global Community Moderator Network, with more than 150 highly experienced moderators in 50+ countries, provides a natural extension of our consultants team, and helps us connect with consumers all around the world. And our internal collaboration platform SharePoint helps our people collaborate more effectively across 18 different offices.

Transparency

Organizations and brands are becoming increasingly more exposed by the day, either unintentionally with whistle-blowers leaking information that has been kept a secret, or intentionally with values and integrity as an integral part of companies’ business models. I love the way Don Tapscott refers to it: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” We can run, but we cannot hide: the world around us becomes increasingly transparent. One example of the way we stimulate transparency is our ‘Employee Happiness Barometer’ – every week, everyone at InSites Consulting indicates how ‘sunny’ their week was through a kind of weather report, allowing coaches to keeping track of their coachees’ happiness.

Sharing

Owning assets and intellectual property is less and less a necessary ingredient of business performance. We are moving from an owning economy to a sharing economy, with resources being shared among a wider population of users. All too often, it appears that defensive legal actions used to protect current business models have their limits. Just think about the music-label industry that is in danger of collapsing because of music-sharing models such as Spotify. At InSites Consulting, we create and spread new marketing thoughts and research innovations via exclusive bookzines, inspiring client cases, thought-provoking presentations, animating movies and award-winning books. Whatever we learn, we share through people, accelerating content spreading through social media.

Empowerment

Knowledge and intelligence get increasingly distributed and disaggregated, bringing more freedom and empowerment to individuals. Younger generations in particular expect to have the power to make a difference, using digital technology to lower transaction, communication and collaboration costs. By giving our younger team members important responsibilities from an early stage onwards, we build a strong, agile and positive organization. Our partnership structure is also instrumental in supporting empowerment, allowing anyone in the organization to become co-owner at a certain point.

There is no way back. The open world is here to stay and is expected to further accelerate. The future will be less about money, power or size, but more about agility, networking and sharing. Are you ready?

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