It’s that time of year when we remember and honor our mothers, so allow me to harken back to a “momism” that was frequently uttered in my childhood home. Marie Michelli was quick to say, “tell me who you run around with and I’ll tell you what you are.”
The upshot of that saying is that the people with whom you associate will define you and that we are all held accountable through our reputation. As I’ve come to learn, my mom’s wisdom is typically as relevant to my personal life as it is to my business dealings…therein comes Barry Torman.
Barry, is a local businessman and a true friend who often inspires me to reach further and do more in support of important social and community issues when I would otherwise be inclined to leave those matters to others. Barry is the kind of person you would want on the “board of directors of your life.” His latest project is a classic example and (in addition to demonstrating activism) it offers two very important lessons for leaders who are attempting to integrate technology solutions to make their businesses more responsive and accountable to those they serve.
Let me first give you a brief overview of the project, Voters Care, in the hope you will take a deeper look and possibly support it. Then I’ll offer the two significant lessons that the project provides all of us in business today.
Not long ago Barry invited me to breakfast to talk about what has now become a website (voterscare.org) and what he hopes will be an emerging bi-partisan movement to leverage mobile technology to solicit the input of the electorate and then to hold politicians accountable for their legislative record.
As Barry explained the concept to me, I intuitively embraced the wisdom and nobleness of the effort. However, I asked questions about the viability of Voters Care and inquired as to “why” he would spend time and money on it.
Seeking to keep it as a non-partisan, non-profit effort and wishing to gain nothing personally from the idea, Barry answered my “why you” question with, “Somebody needs to nudge accountability forward. I’ll put the idea out and if it resonates others can make the idea better and help make it a reality.” As is often the case, when you are around the “right” people, their perspective and initiative is inspiring.
Now on to the lessons we can take away from Barry’s idea. Mobile technology is pervasive. People receive so much of their information at their fingertips. Rapid dissemination of information and solicitation of feedback is also easily accomplished on mobile devices and through the world wide web.
Businesses are held accountable on social media. As such, all of us should be looking for ways to leverage the power of mobile, social, and the internet to gain feedback from our consistence (our team members and customers). Additionally, we should encourage and engage public discussions of our performance. In essence Barry’s idea, which he is applying to the political arena, suggests that solicitation of feedback from consumers (in his case political constituents) benefits the decision-making of those who serve them. Furthermore, transparency on performance, makes businesses (in his case politicians) more accountable and better able to meet the important needs of those who rely upon them. How effectively are you using technology to inquire of your customers and report your performance?
Oh by the way, who are you hanging around with…do they inspire you? Would they say the same about you?