Friday, April 13, 2007

The Power to Change

I had lunch the other day with my old friend Shel Israel, who embodies one of the traits I admire most in people and companies: The power to change. Shel has made a number of major transitions throughout his career, recently discovering the implications of Blogs before most people knew what they were and now recognizing the’s happening in Global Neighborhoods because of the world wide web.

A few other people I have met also embody this wonderful trait. The one I have noticed the most and for years is Bob Metcalfe, whom I am sure you know because he defined "Metcalfe's Law" before moving on to several more very interesting careers.

What's the lesson to be learned here for companies: pay attention and learn and then evolve with the forces in the market. I like to say "we make our own luck". Every bit of feedback a company receives, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn and figure out how to evolve with the market. We work with a company, PolyFuel, today the leader in membranes for portable fuel cells. Way back at the beginning of the company's life, it made a decision not to go into the fuel cell systems business, but to become the key enabler for the new generation of fuel cells. This takes courage and tenacity. And our client Canesta, which has this fabulous, low-cost technology that enable machines to "see" by following objects in three-dimensions in real time, started out focusing on one market and today is the leading provider of its technology for the automotive industry.

It turns out that in all of the examples I have cited here (both people and companies), it is eminently possible to draw a thread through all of their transitions. That's what we try to do in helping companies define and evolve their communications strategies: to have a robust enough foundation that as the natural viscisitudes of the market happen, evolution can be systematic and coherent. That's what really gives you the Power to Change.

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