Smaller enterprise units that provide technology services and support would do well to learn some lessons from business, politics, and evangelism. These lessons are particularly useful for those in a non-profit or educational environment.
You Are a Monopoly
As a small team of support specialists, whatever your industry, it’s easy to become cloistered and insular. You’re protected inside of a cocoon. There may be competition in the outside world, but for you there’s a virtual monopoly within your enterprise. You’re the only source for support and there’s no other choice. This can be comfortable. Too comfortable. You need to be internally driven to excel.
Expand Your Skill Set
A larger organization has teams that each specialize in a certain aspect of the overall mission. You may be a support unit within a larger business, yet you’re not confronted daily with the customer service, sales, and marketing aspects of a business. Perhaps that’s not your skill set, yet it needs to be your skill set. Think of your unit as an independent business. Your client base is the enterprise that you’re serving.
Learning from Other Disciplines
Here are some brief examples of how we can have greater effectiveness when broadening our outlook and attitude:
- Business. The business mindset drives one to be competitive, creative, and customer focused. If you’re in an environment where there’s little competition, you need to learn to compete with yourself. Compete with possibilities – the hope of something better. Focus on increased quality of service and support. Be driven by a desire to provide more services, better services, more of the time, to more people. Reduce downtime and improve response times. Go above and beyond. Under promise and over deliver.
- Politics. True politics is about responsible and honest service through leadership. In this capacity, one seeks to develop partnerships, promote collaboration, identify allies, unite unlikely alliances, emphasize common ground, and inspire people to achieve their best. Building alliances is often about serving others and becoming valuable to others, not just seeking what they can do for you. Become indispensable as an individual and as a team. In some respects, the business mindset is in conflict with the political mindset. In business, as with sports, we don’t want to share ideas and collaborate, we want to beat the competition and win. However, there’s a higher level of thinking and teamwork we can utilize, where we can all succeed without that success depending on the failure of others.
- Evangelism. The business mindset is about advertising and marketing for the purpose of an immediate, measurable, profitable outcome. However, this isn’t the highest level of thinking. Taken further, we go beyond profits to belief. We actually believe in the product or service we’re selling and are inspired by how it can change lives and improve the planet. Any thought of profits is secondary. The person operating from the traditional mindset stops promoting once they’ve achieved their quarterly sales goal. The evangelical mindset never stops. Profits or no profits, the message continues. If the bottom line is examined, it’s only to determine how the message could be spread more effectively. There is a goal of consciousness equity, and a value in raised public brand awareness. Don’t believe in profits, believe in your product. Raise the level of enthusiasm and excitement of what you do. Continually give away something for free to the masses: a software product, a search engine, email services, information resources, pick something. Almost all successful business have increased the quantity and quality of what they are giving away for free. More free cloud storage than before. More features in the free app or program. This model works. This is the ministry and evangelical aspect of what you do. Forget profits. You believe in your product. Give it away (at least part of it).
Greater effectiveness and impact can be achieved by letting these three mindsets synergistically empower and guide you.
It’s Up to You
You think someone else is going to tend to these things? You’re wrong. It’s up to you. You’re the one who needs to cultivate creativity and transcend the status quo. Change, for good or bad, isn’t just by happenstance. A business unit grows and succeeds not by chance. You and your team could be downsized, outsourced, consolidated, or simply eliminated and deemed a low priority with too little impact to be worth saving. Before that happens… create a newsletter, launch a website, start Tweeting, have monthly giveaways, offer free prizes, promote a Facebook following, build alliances, create a real demand for a genuinely valuable product or service. Become needed before you become obsolete. Don’t just be focused on protecting yourself and your job security, deliver meaningful value so that others will protect you and your job.
1. Consciousness Equity refers to the economic value and energy value of having raised awareness about your product, service, organization, business, company and/or brand. The term was created by Greg Johnson and then placed in the public commons — so it can’t be trademarked by anyone else who wants to prevent its public use or utilize it for their sole profit.