When Great isn’t Good Enough and a Debt of Gratitude to our HUG Members

By Rob Wenger posted Apr 15, 2010 09:18 AM

I will admit that is hard for me to hold back writing about the wonders of the iPad in my next blog, but I am going to switch gears this month and delve into a topic I read about a couple of months back. I am not one to necessarily “retweet”( to borrow a social networking term) a published piece of work, but I was really inspired by a particular column entitled “Why it’s no longer enough for a business to be ‘great’” written by Joe McKendrick and Heather Clancy at SmartPlanet.

The basic premise is that back in early 2000’s, there was a study conducted by management guru Jim Collins who published Good to Great, which challenged the way managers and executives view value creation. In that work, Collins revealed a study of more than 1,400 organizations that found that “greatness” — the capability to achieve stunning results — is thoroughly encapsulated into organizational culture and “pockets” of greatness among employees. That certainly seems reasonable and obvious. However, McKendrick and Clancy question this mantra and given the constructs of the changing economy and the effects of Web 2.0, their call is to reverse this organizational behavior from “Good to Great “ to “Great to Good”. The bottom line according to McKendrick and Clancy, it isn’t enough to do a great job producing and selling such products and services; organizations need to advance products and services and approaches that bring “durable, tangible benefits to people, communities, and society.”

This idea had a profound effect on me as Higher Logic and our Connected Community product was built with the basic ideology of allowing communities to form in order to collaborate, share best practices and to connect in ways never before available. I have seen the magic of collaborative communities over and over again especially within our Higher Logic User Group (HUG) community where members selflessly help one another out by answering questions and sharing best practices. I am amazed at the many innovative ideas our client base comes up with and then shares within the HUG community. I have seen members encourage others who are worried about failure and assure them that initial efforts were simply early attempts at success. If this paradigm of collaboration is not reflective of exemplifying the greater good and advancement of communities, then I am not sure what is.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think that just because an organization embraces social networking that all of a sudden it will elicit all the good out of humanity. We have seen all too well how the freedom of expression can also be used to hurt or give people a platform to criticize behind a face of anonymity. However, I feel particularly proud to be a part this non-profit industry which is defined by groups, members and organizations that exist to give back to society by growing knowledge and awareness; it is indeed a special place to be. McKendrick and Clancy further explain that the Great to Good organizations use technology and capital not only to increase efficiency, but allow programs that promote transparency, openness and accountability.

Unfortunately, sometimes organizations especially in the for-profit world lose sight of what really matters to employees, clients or members. They strive to be what they perceive as a “great” company through spending lots of capital and time on promoting an image, making you think they are something they are not. It does not matter how many doormats, flat screen tvs or banners your image is on, if there is no “good” behind that self-perceived “great” image, your people, clients and members will figure it out soon enough. That is why I owe a huge debt of gratitude to our HUG members. Day in and day out, our HUG members constantly remind us what it means to be a “good” company.



Jun 01, 2010 02:37 PM

New book on COLLABORATION (not social media specific) by Bob Nelson, as mentioned in ASAE. Thought I'd slide it in here w/ Rob's book recommendations:
Ubuntu!: An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Collaboration
ASAE blurb on the author:

Apr 15, 2010 11:52 AM

Hi Rob,
I couldn't agree more with your sentiments.
But I think your group needs to be acknowledged and complimented as well.
One of the key elements that makes HUG work is the fact that as a company, you are open to suggestions, feedback and the occasional criticism. I think this openness is what is so essential to signaling to HUG members that this is truly a community working to get things done.
Keep it up!
Brett Wangman