“The value of giving people a voice” / “How to set up a laser autoguidance system with a mallet and a spirit level!”
My Dad left school at the age of 14 to become a tractor mechanic. For over 40 years he met farmers and farm managers in all weathers and in all situations. He became friends with many of them. He knew when things were going well, he knew when times were difficult. He knew what equipment they needed most and what equipment they dreamed of owning and the impact that would make on their business. He helped them out at all times of the day and night. He enabled them to get harvests in on time and jobs done. They trusted him.
Towards the end of his career he had to go to on a training course at the head office/factory of the manufacturer he worked for. The course subject: “Installing laser autoguidance systems on tractors and harvesters”.
On the afternoon of the first day the course leader set up break out groups to establish what experience the mechanics already had of installing said equipment and the issues they had faced.
A spirit level and a mallet
Most spoke of their experiences in vague terms, some complained of not having the right tools to do the job. My Dad, not one to speak up in social situations and twice the age of most of these more academically educated mechanics, remained quiet until the course leader asked him directly if he had experience of installing the equipment and if so which of the many expensive factory supplied tools he had found most useful. His response – “a spirit level and a mallet”. After the laughter died down he explained that he wasn’t joking or being un-co-operative and exactly why and how he had found this worked best in many different conditions.
For the rest of the week the course leader found himself asking my Dad for his insights and knowledge on a range of topics and on the Friday as they were packing up to go home the course leader asked if he would consider helping out on future courses. Over the next few years, up until his retirement, my Dad would go back 4 or 5 times a year to be an assistant course leader. They were some of the most fulfilled moments of his working life.
A trusted advisor and a subject matter expert
The course leader had uncovered in an easily overlooked person and quite by chance, what we from the warmth of our home offices would describe as both a Trusted Advisor and a Subject Matter Expert. I would never have dared describe him as such to his face for fear of a violent and X-rated verbal response!
In any organisation it isn’t always the loudest voices or the heads of departments that hold all the knowledge or can provide the greatest insights. In businesses of every size, giving people a voice and uncovering your real experts is difficult to achieve but when you do, it has massive value in terms of commercial opportunities, knowledge management and personal development. We created oogsta to enable businesses to:
- connect with their subject matter experts
- unlock the knowledge of their networks
- crowdsource insights on client’s pain points
- learn how to better develop new product offerings
- harvest the inspiration and raw materials to enable new and better ways to connect with clients and prospects
Of course, not every response will be as “useful” as “a spirit level and a mallet” so we enable your contributors to peer review all insights gathered. We also enable you to see which contributors receive the most endorsements from their peers. This has real business benefits in terms of identifying which topics and opportunities you can pursue with confidence. Equally important from a knowledge and talent management perspective you can see and celebrate who your subject matter experts truly are, not just in terms of the quantity of contributions but in terms of the quality of their insights.
Authentic and original
My Dad wasn’t articulate, but he was authentic and very original and so were the insights he provided. We know that nearly 60% of C-suite audiences consider the content they currently receive as not being fit for purpose. They don’t believe it, they don’t trust it. By extension they don’t trust the businesses delivering that content. However, if you provide authentic, original content consistently you can engage with C-suite audiences and quickly establish trusted advisor status, driving sustained business growth.
And finally… I used to think that I had not followed in my Dad’s footsteps in any way. However, I co-founded a business that “harvests” insights and inspiration and the very name of our business; oogsta is derived from the Dutch word for harvest – oogst. Ok it’s a tenuous connection but it’s a connection all the same.s