We are all consumers. We buy stuff, and lots of it. Think about the last time you made a large purchase – or for that matter a not-so-large purchase. How did you make your buying decision? For everything from booking a hotel room, to choosing a restaurant, to buying an appliance, car, or pair of shoes, more and more consumers are checking out what others have to say before deciding to buy. Today, technology connects people from all over the world – including remote areas previously thought of as unreachable – in ways we would have never dreamed possible just 20 years ago.
As consumers, our buying habits have changed – or you could say they’ve been disrupted – because of this phenomenon of human connectivity.
Disruption of consumer behavior is just one small piece of how today’s rapidly increasing and far-reaching human connectivity is affecting the world and everything in it.
Consider a phrase by Bryan Kramer that is being bounced around the internet:
These words - There is no more B2B or B2C. It’s H2H: Human to Human — get right to the crux of the impact human connectivity is having (and will continue to have) on the world in which we live.
Even leaders of businesses or government agencies operating in a traditional business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) space need to understand and appreciate the role human connectivity will play in their organization’s future.
As far back as 2009, Toffler Associates explored the question of which factors drive an organization’s capacity for future innovation. The strength of the entity’s communications and research networks was found to be one of three distinct drivers. The other two are (1) the robustness of the economic and national environment and (2) the degree to which the organization is able to create knowledge and technology.
As far as human connectivity, it is no surprise that organizations with stronger and more diverse networks and research capabilities today have greater capacity to capitalize on the increasing global human connectivity of tomorrow. Is your organization equipped for H2H? Are you ready to seize opportunities for innovation made possible by the interconnectedness of people throughout the world?
The real benefit derived from human connectivity is the value of the knowledge being shared when people connect. Unlike other resources, knowledge does not get depleted when it is used or shared. In fact, just the opposite happens: the more knowledge is shared, the more knowledge is created.
With the world’s population of approximately 7.5 billion people becoming more and more connected with one another, more and more knowledge is being created. And this will change the way organizational leaders think, focus, and lead organizations:
Hierarchies in management become less relevant and effective as more people within – and outside of – an organization possess mission-critical knowledge; traditional organizational structure can actually become a hindrance.
Customers’ trust lies more with the opinions of other customers than it does with the organization itself; leaders must be equipped to listen, engage, and even instigate customer conversations so as to minimize disruption and risk.
Just as an organization can be disrupted by rapidly and widely spread knowledge, human connectivity can create opportunities for innovation in areas we’ve never seen before; leaders must be able to recognize and capitalize on these opportunities by looking beyond the status quo and thinking out of the box.
As organizations strive to become more adept at innovating faster than the competition to sustain their competitive edge and long term relevance, human connectivity must be a critical aspect of the organization’s strategy. While human connectivity cannot be coerced, a proactive leader must dedicate the organization to prioritizing, cultivating, and supporting an internal environment that encourages innovation behavior. More than any other single factor, sustained success for an organization hinges on its ability to adapt or alter its course through the connections it makes internally and externally among humans. Human connectivity is the sine qua non of innovation today and in the future.
Deborah Westphal is a passionate humanist who has guided our era’s top minds and leaders to challenge biases, ignite ideas, and build connections and resilience for a secure and sound future. Her career spans more than 30 years, government agencies and Fortune 100 companies, and virtually every continent. In 1999, Alvin Toffler tapped her as one of the founding members of his eponymous consulting firm, Toffler Associates. From 2007 through 2018, she served as the firm’s CEO and has since contributed her experience and knowledge as a member of the board. Through her work, she has guided notable organizations including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Marriott, U.S. Air Force, Baxter International, Bayer, Heinz, Microsoft, Koppers, PPG, DARPA, National Security Agency, Loral Space Systems, NASA, Qwest, Verizon, and Westinghouse. Deborah’s empathetic and thought-provoking style helps readers spot patterns that signify future risks and opportunities. She’s a sought-after speaker and writer who provided the Foreword to After Shock. Deborah is a world traveler who enjoys time with her son and running in the mountains. Find her at deborahwestphal.com.
Toffler Associates is a future-focused strategic advisory firm. Our Future Proof® business consulting approach helps global leaders understand how future shifts impact current decisions so they can take advantage of opportunity, manage risk, and create future value.
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