People are holding to their viewpoints more tightly than ever. Following a polarizing election cycle, it’s easy to find ourselves looking for support among our communities, regardless of which side we find ourselves on.
While highly visible events like an election may make this type of behavior more evident, we tend to surround ourselves, professionally and personally, with people who share our worldview. And, although we’ve said before that you should build a team of people who are smarter than you, that’s often easier said than done. After all, we have to be smart enough to know that we’re outsmarted!
Integrators find themselves to be a relatively small blip on the business radar. I’ve heard comparisons like “We’re 1/11 the size of the potato chip industry.” No matter how big our businesses may feel, however, we’re part of a much bigger ecosystem, one that provides invaluable products and services to businesses, allowing them to connect, communicate and collaborate more effectively. (That’s pretty important to any business, if you ask me…but I digress.)
As we prepare for this year’s Business & Leadership Conference, I find myself thinking more about what’s valuable for our customers, members and those in the industry who want to thrive during highly dynamic times. I’ve come to the conclusion that, as integrators, we need to expand our worldview.
This starts with folks like myself, who often spend so much time talking to the industry and receiving feedback that we lose sight of what’s happening in the world beyond. Perhaps you’ve been told in jest that “you need to get out more.” That’s exactly what I think the industry needs to do if it wants to become more successful in a business environment where change is the only certainty.
Beyond the obvious reasons, we tend to feel that others who empathize with our work can also give us the best advice. An integrator may ask another integrator, “What are you doing that works?” There are certainly industry-specific insights that can be gained. But outside of the commonalities we have in the industry, many business best practices go far beyond our industry.
Over the years, we’ve received tremendous input at NSCA events from people who know nothing about our industry. But they’ve helped us completely rethink how we do business. A few years back, we brought author Daniel Pink to the Business & Leadership Conference, and he talked about information parity (more easily explained as the flipped buyer’s journey, where buyers now have as much, if not more, information about the products and services they want to consume as those who sell them). Sure, perhaps a few people in the room had been thinking about this, but I bet this paradigm meant that most of us needed to rethink our sales processes a bit. Was our “trusted advisor” tag in jeopardy? What could we do to overcome?
Our industry hasn’t been the first to see this happen. The high-tech industry has gone through this for several years. The security and telephony space has also seen it happen. It was only due to our specialized integration skills that we hadn’t seen more of our work being shipped to the internet or completed by IT VARs while installing Category 5 cabling for a new office building.
By opening up our worldview and holding more conversations with folks outside of our immediate industry and community, we may find that we’re exposed to new ideas to help us innovate or see things differently. This new perspective can mean the difference between growth and stagnation.
The world can appear very differently, depending on where you stand. At this year’s Business & Leadership Conference, we’re focusing on expanding our members’ perspectives. In a room full of folks who share an industry, I have no doubt that there will be plenty of time for “in-the-industry” dialogs. But what excites me the most is being able to open the eyes of our members and challenge them to consider new ideas and ways of doing things that may lead to wonderful accomplishments in the future.
Haven’t signed up for the 19th annual Business & Leadership Conference yet? Visit www.nsca.org/blc and reserve your spot before it’s too late! We’re also unveiling a new Business & Leadership Conference app, which can be downloaded on the site, as well. We’ll see you March 2-4, 2017, in Chandler AZ.