The Connected Company by Dave Gray with Thomas Vander Wal - Book review

The Connected Company

By: Dave Gray, Thomas Vander Wal

Published: September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN-10: 144931905X
ISBN-13: 978-1449319052
Publisher: O'Reilly Media

"Customers are connecting, forming networked communities that allow them to rapidly share information and self-organize into powerful interest groups. Companies will have to be more responsive to customer needs and demands if they want to survive", write SVP Strategy, Dachis Group management consultant, Dave Gray; and Principal, InfoCloud Solutions, Thomas Vander Wal, in their visionary blueprint for the new business reality oriented book The Connected Company. The authors describe how customers have increased their power over the marketplace, how companies must understand that new power relationship, and share strategies for connecting with customers and thriving in the new wired world.

Dave Gray (photo left) and Thomas Vander Wal recognize that customers are utilizing the disruptive technologies of the internet and mobile, and forming networked information sharing communities faster than companies can cope with the changes. The authors point out that in the service economy, customers and their needs are part of the design process. With the ever increasing complexity of services, and the necessity of close interaction with customers, companies must overcome their tendency to move away from customers. To meet this challenge, companies must create, develop and enrich sustainable connections with their increasingly empowered customer base. The authors provide the solution of making the structural changes that transform an organization into a connected company, and offer the strategy for building an operating this emerging business model.

Thomas Vander Wal (photo left) and Dave Gray understand that their visionary connected company has a purpose. The authors share the important insight that a company cannot act as a machine, but is really a living, learning organism. The connected company learns through seeking and acting upon customer feedback, and with constant experimentation and the trying of new approaches.

The connected company works through what the authors describe as a pod based system they call a holarchy. The complex structure of this connected company formation is semi-autonomous, and able to respond quickly through their close connectedness with customers. At the same time, the pod structured company requires connected support platform systems to provide interaction, feedback, and resources. Through these multifaceted and interconnected platforms and pods, a company is able to learn and grow organically. The authors also describe the challenges and opportunities for leadership within the connected company structure.

The authors divide the book into five overarching sections to ensure that the reader understands the main pillars of the connected company format. The five sections are as follows:

* Why change?
* What is a connected company?
* How does a connected company work?
* How do you lead a connected company?
* How do you get there from here?

For me, the power of the book is how Dave Gray and Thomas Vander Wal combine a strong theoretical framework of the connected company, with the practical strategies for developing and maintaining a vibrant, learning, and growing company. the authors present their case for the integration of a customer focus into the fresh connected company system. The new structure forms an interactive feedback mechanism with the new empowered customer. Instead of being disrupted by the customer, the connected company leverages and utilizes that connected customer community to offer more services that the customer wants.

The authors present a series of strategies and techniques for transforming a company from the previous business model, to the connected company model. They also offer a fresh leadership model for working with this fresh business approach. The authors also describe some of the challenges that face leadership, and how to avoid the potential pitfalls.

I highly recommend the insightful and landmark book The Connected Company by Dave Gray and Thomas Vander Wal, to any business leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs who are seeking a fresh approach to creating a responsive and customer focused company that welcomes feedback and input from the empowered customer base. This book will transform your organization to meet the challenges of the new technological realities.


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