User experience is one of the most important and least understood aspects of digital transformation. For this episode, we talk with a leading world expert about user experience and how to engage consumers in the best way possible.

Brian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a Prophet company. He is also an award-winning author, prominent blogger/writer, and keynote speaker. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. His research and his books help executives, and also everyday people, better understand the relationship between the evolution of technology and its impact on business and society and also the role we each play in it. As a result of his work, Solis also helps leading brands, celebrities, and startups develop new digital transformation, culture 2.0, and innovation strategies and that enable businesses to adapt to new connected markets from the inside out.

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User Experience and Digital Transformation with Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter

Michael Krigsman:    

Welcome to episode number 183 of CXOTalk. I'm Michael Krigsman and I’m so thrilled today because we're going to be talking with Brian Solis, who is really one of the most prolific and well-known speakers, authors, analysts talking about user experience and digital transformation so this is an exciting show. Brian how are you today?

Brian Solis:

I’m excited I can’t tell you how long I've waited for this moment to be on the show and and  just thank you.

Michael Krigsman:

Well thank you and it's definitely way overdue so Brian just to establish some context tell us very briefly about your background and things that you do.

Brian Solis:

All right well briefly I am a digital analyst at Altimeter, a profit company. I study disruptive technology and its impact on business and write a lot of research around digital transformation and innovation and also the future of experience. I am also an author. I’ve got a new book out called X the Experience When Business Meets Design and I also am an aspiring digital anthropologist. 

Michael Krigsman:

X is such an interesting book so I wish I had a copy here to hold up and show people it's completely visual but when you talk about X and you talk about experience, tell us what it means for you in this context.

Brian Solis:

Well I just happen to have one and maybe I don't have one, but I actually put one aside just in case. Look there's a great sense of irony in writing a book on experience design in the digital economy. I spent several years actually three and a half years studying basically digital behaviour – this is the digital anthropologist to me and observed how consumer expectations, behavior, values, and aspirations were all changing. And that is a result of technology's impact on society and on us and relationships and communications. And I decided to reimagine what experience designed to look like in this era and applied a lot of those insights to paper as a metaphor for the journey that we all have to go through today as executive, strategist, you name it.

And so the book essentially looks at the very core of what an experience is, how it becomes meaningful and then how to go about designing the types of experiences people want to have and share in every moment of truth throughout the customer lifecycle.

Michael Krigsman:

I want to remind everybody that as we talk with Brian there's a tweet chat going with the hashtag cxotalk, and you can ask Brian your questions and he will answer it’s a rare opportunity to get direct answers from Brian Solis. So Brian's when you're talking about experience and you were writing this very very lengthy book, what were some of the key things that you learned along the way?

Brian Solis:

So much so much Michael I don't even know where to begin. It was a very humbling experience because when you go to the core of what experiences you have to let your guard down. You have to assume that you don't know everything and then build from that. And starting with the re-imagination of what a book could be in 2016, with sentences could be, paragraphs, chapters. I mean you have to almost start from scratch.

This is sort of an exercise in design thinking in many ways Some of the things the book teaches you like human centered design for example. What I learned is that you can take nothing for granted and make no assumptions and that starts with the checklist of what you normally do in your day job. And that I was inspiring and also debilitating at the same time. But I'll never take anything normal for granted again, especially in an era where anything could be reimagined. That was a personal journey for me and I hope that I translated that into a book, so that it's a journey that we go on together. And look, it's just one of those things that it's a beautiful book, but every aspect of that design, the re-imagination of a table of contents for example. The re-fabrication of chapter structures, sentences, visual communication.

Everything about it was a demonstration of “Here's what I went through and here's how it relates to what you're going to go through as well.” And I think every business has to think about how our customers or employees or stakeholders, or shareholders different today than when business was erected  60 years ago or so, the models that we use today and see where we could be innovative not just iterative.  Like where can we really do new things that create new value.

Michael Krigsman:

Why is experienced such an important and talked about topic today? Why does it matter so much?

Brian Solis:

So many answers for you Michael. There are those answers of which I think people rely on a bit too heavily. So let's talk about customer experience, because there are many facets of experience design right, customer experience, user experience, employee experience, brand experience. Every one of them has their own schools of thought. But ironically every one of them also has their own silos for work. And as a result you by default just by the nature of the design of an organization, you inhibit the ability to integrate or deliver a holistic experience in any type of facet that you want.

So just kind of throwing that out there and now let's back up into what the right answer should be the right answer is an experience is not something you start with. An experience is something you start by studying. And it's a very empathetic approach and no offense to people or practitioners out there, but it's empathy is the one thing that's lacking in organizations today because it's simply not designed to really operate that way. And when you start looking at how people experience you that is where you start to see the problems, identify friction, identify gaps and then how people react in those instances teaches you about how people are actually experiencing the experience.

And so when we start looking at it from an empathetic standpoint and also one that's both intellectual and emotional, we're supposed to be inspired to then design experiences and then an infrastructure to deliver those and manage those experiences in ways that are more meaningful. So if you take the customer journey for example that is probably one of the number one areas where customer experiences is taken off for or at least adopting. We tend to look at the customer journey through a facet of touch points and I don’t know, say touch points and devices. But we're not really looking at well how how do you have a relationship with your mobile phone and, how has that changed decision-making? How has that made you a little bit more impatient? How has that changed the questions that you ask? How's that change where you go for information? How's that changed the way you want to see, or view, or experience information?

And when you start looking at things that way you realize that you can improve the customer journey through iteration, and you can also introduce a highly modernized and efficient journey through innovation.

Michael Krigsman:

So when we look at the customer journey through those touch points and those devices as you described it, and we then overlay the importance of listening and empathy as you were just talking about, it seems to me what we realize is that the definition of a customer journey is not the same as creating an experience for that customer.

Brian Solis:

That's well said, well said. That's exactly right and that's what that's what people have a hard time sort of getting into true experience design work right. Don't get me wrong, improving the customer journey is absolutely important but taking an empathetic approach to this, and introducing opportunities for innovation to unlock new experiences requires a lot of work. This is one of the reasons why is an analyst I study digital transformation; how are companies changing from the inside both operationally, process, systems, you name it.

But the biggest challenge Michael is perspective. How to get executives to see the market differently rather than just bring the set of things, your checklist, the way you work, your operational standards, your metrics, how to think differently in these moments to do things differently. And to design experiences that are meaningful to a different generation of customers, a different generation of employees, means that we can't assume that we understand what they want and then try to design what they want.

Michael Krigsman:

Brian, you know you're laying a lot on us here right now and one of the issues that I’m just thinking about is it's I think organization fallback on the design of as you said their their customer journey, but the real piece that's so important, again is that listening and that empathy but in being able to put themselves into the customers shoes. But and that's part of the foundation of digital transformation. But how can an organization, a typical organization institutionalize that enable themselves to do it on a more regular basis. It's easy to define a journey very hard to define how you have empathy for the customer.

Brian Solis:

Yeah well I’ll tell you the research I'm doing on digital transformation right now is less about the digital part of transformation and more about the human side of change. I mean at the end of the day what we're really talking about is change management. But even change management takes out the EQ from the equation right. It’s how do we allow ourselves to be empathetic in a culture that doesn’t necessarily allow for it? And at the end of the day it starts with culture. It starts with people who are willing to take the gloves off and start fighting the good fight inside because they do feel it. And then they have to start changing inside the company of how people appreciate that information. It’s one of the reasons why big data is not necessarily appreciated as it could be. It's not why it's implemented across all of the entire organization. It’s one of the reasons why we have silos today. Business is by design meant to scale, to be efficient so that we could report progress to shareholders and stakeholders and quarterly timelines.

Empathize asking you to go backwards in order to move forward, and that's the hard part. This Michael is one of the reasons why is when I talk about experience design that's one thing. I have to balance that with digital transformation so that if you want to design these great experiences you probably do them in pilots. I can tell you that one of the biggest audiences for this book has been startups, just because they don't have to work through you know all of the the craziness and and legal and risk-averse cultures.

But the digital transformation stuff for example I published a report called The Six Stages Of Digital Transformation and that is also meant to balance this work with telling it exactly how companies are changing for this.

Michael Krigsman:

So what are the components of digital transformation and please weave in this objective of creating the right type of experiences for customers.

Brian Solis:

Well it's a journey in its own right you know. I think there are some things that begin when you look at the hierarchy of priorities. You have to fix basics first and fixing the basics is it sounds commonsensical but it's difficult to get there. But the basics are all the things that you know are broke and that you just can't get to but, lack of budget, lack of resources. But you know we can't go and design great experiences if we can actually manage the experiences that are broken right now. And at the end of the day then if we can't do that then how are we supposed to innovate and move forward.

But just a conversations that you have when you try to fix what's broken takes I say the practicality, you have to be a cheerleader. You have to be a lawyer. You have to be a politician. And those three things for example, a lawyer gets the data in the evidence. So this is one of the reasons why journey mapping is so important. You can actually not only show it's broken. You can show what it's costing you in terms of opportunity cost, and then to be a politician to have to bring the right people together behind the scenes. The people who don't talk to each other or collaborate with one another and get them to make these cases and expand that scope.

And then a cheerleader is because this is hard this is emotionally daunting. You're stepping outside of your ask right. You're stepping outside of your role, you're putting your neck out. There are people in the organization today who want to sabotage everything you're going to do because they do not want to change. They enjoy comfort or they just don't like change. But at the end of the day if we don't do these things your competitors are or your competition and that no one saw coming will have to have no choice but to introduce new value. Which by the way, this is one of the reasons why I talk about iteration, innovation ,and disruption.

I think a lot of companies that are investing in digital transformation from a technology standpoint. So IE led by IT isn't necessarily solving for the real issues, and so you tend to get iteration, at best which is doing the same things better. Innovation is doing new things that unlock new value. And disruption is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.

Michael Krigsman:

So the issues that you are describing the need to have  a coherent strategy and the budget and getting the people organized, this implies that you need to have a combination of top-down leadership. So leadership has to be behind it and you have to have grassroots support at the same time.

Brian Solis:

Yeah I mean you have to have support and and here's what's interesting is that your validation and your early support is actually going to come from your peers before it comes from executives. Yet in order and ironically in order to get digital transformation to really have legs to accelerate, you have to get executives. So there's this sort of groundswell that's almost like uprising within the organization, but done in a politically correct way to really get executives to see things the way that you do.

And this is also one of the things that I've learned. I have this research report that I've been working on for a good couple years now that there's almost like an art of being a change agent. And one of the things that I hear quite often is speaking the language of the C-suite. So we might see things certainly. We might be passionate about technology. We might feel how technology is changing us.Bbut the end of the day executives don't live the company the way their customers or their customer’s customers do, or the way that their employees do.

This is why you have a television series called Undercover Boss. It's just that there's some point, a disconnect between how executives operate and how people want to be treated and recognized and grow. And when any executive has that you know what I’ll call the undercover boss moment it's essentially a gift of empathy right. They feel it, they say it I forgot what it was like to be an employer. I forgot what it was like to do these things. And then that's when real change can happen, but you have to be able to communicate to them in ways that they don't see. Their audience is stakeholders and shareholders. They make decisions off PowerPoints, graphs, reports. They talked to analysts. They do all the things that you're not doing. You’re on the frontline. You feel, you see, you do and you just have to take all of those insights and communicated to a way that's going to benefit them. You know so bottom line, impact, market share, growth. You know the numbers that they need to see. The way they need to see it helps your case more so than not.

Michael Krigsman:

We have a question from Twitter from Jill Rowley, who asks can Satya Nadella change the culture of Microsoft and how long is that going to take. It’s crystal ball time for you Brian.

Brian Solis:

Let me get my crystal ball. Hold on one second. Here we go.

Michael Krigsman:

And you happen to have one.

Brian Solis:

Well Jill first of all it's wonderful to hear from you. I think for everyone that doesn't know Jill or those who do know Jill you will agree that she's quite a powerhouse, quite amazing. She’s  been blazing the trail in her field for quite some time.

So with that said yeah, I think he will change the culture. I think he's already started to change the culture. If you think back to I don't know, that famous interview with let's just say that Microsoft boss who’s no longer there, when he was interviewed about the potential impact of the iPhone when it first debuted, he said “Ha ha ha, a phone with no buttons? Come on that's never going to work. Full retail price of six hundred dollars ha ha ha.” Yeah I mean literally laughed it off. It’s one of the most obscene interviews I've ever seen from from a Chief Executive and we all know what happened after that.

Such has come in in a very humble way to assess and see opportunities, apply some vision of what's possible, and he's got a really roll up your sleeves kind of way of getting people to believe in what he wants to do. Don't get me wrong, Microsoft has a lot of work to do. And I was just there speaking about X to a lot of their employees across different facets of the organization. And they all feel that there's a real need to do this, but they're still there because they believe in the opportunity.  And I think such as something that you could you can rally behind, and they've already made some great progress. It's just you know you have to intentionally want to design a better culture for an organization and he does and he's explicitly sense so.

You know, but Jill and everyone who's listening right now, this is one of the things that I think employee experience is the next big thing. I think that culture design is the next big thing, and I think they're quite explicit intentional and require architecture. The reason I've written a couple of research reports on this over the last years. I have an e-book coming out with gaping void on the subject to in a very jovial way get you to see how what we don't see today in terms of the value of culture.  But it's squishy and it's elusive and we still have to fight the fight around customers, and the fact that they need better experiences. But I really do think this is the next big thing and this is I think a 10-year transformation on it.

Michael Krigsman:

Brian you talk about change agents and we've spoken about culture. When and I talk with Chief Digital Officers especially in large organizations, who are leading the digital transformation effort, virtually unanimously they say that the technology is easy compared with the culture change. Can you talk a little about that and again link in this notion of experience. So how does experience intersect that transformation and the culture change?

Brian Solis:

Well you're right, technology is easier. It's one of the reasons why digital transformation on the early side where I talked about business as usual and just basically some of the early stages in six stages. It’s one of the reasons why technologies that is the place of people start.

And the reason that they start there is because you know IT is a thing. CIOs have a job to do. Information architects have a job to do. There's probably a three to five-year roadmap on where the company needs to go and how technology is going to get them there. Then they have to implement. They have to train and they have to support right.

It's a whole it's a whole thing, so it's easier to do it in that regards because companies do have to modernize how they work. But then where things get philosophically interesting is when we say okay, we have to modernize how we work but what does work mean in 2017?  And what does collaboration and communication look like? How do people want to work? How do people define happiness? How do people just find their aspirations? And you start to realize there's a whole slew of things that don't align at all with that roadmap.

And this is where it gets hard and this is why it's a later stage in terms of maturity, but at some point you recognize that in order to get there you have to take a human centered approach. For example customer experiences, one of those catalysts to do force transformation from a person or a human perspective to then use technology as an enabler to change. It has to have a purpose. Once it has a purpose it comes to life totally differently

Michael Krigsman:

We here along with experience, we hear this term engagement. So we hear about customer experience and we hear about customer engagement, what are the distinctions, how are these the same or different?

Brian Solis:

Well one of my first book was called Engage.

Michael Krigsman:

So you've gone from engaged to experience.

Brian Solis:

Yeah and today I talk about engagement in a different connotation, because like experience when you talk about engagement we tend to as professionals apply our thinking, ourselves first before the person we’re actually trying to reach. The same as with experience. This is why when we talk about experience we don't actually look at well how are people experiencing us today and what's the gap from our brand promise. I call that the experience divide.

The same is true for engagement, I call it an engagement gap. In fact I have a research report on this that you can just google up with my name and engagement gap. It talks about how we think about engagement from a way that we define it. So for example, we are communicating to you Michael, therefore you are engaged. But if I were to ask you, do you feel engaged by your company. No, no I don't know. How do you define engagement? Well I define engagement by the way that people talk to me, the way that I want to grow within the organization and be appreciated within the organization. Oh that's interesting because that's a gap.

And what the research report found was that there was a significant gap. It was a quantitative report that looked at both executives and also employees and it comes down to semantics really. Once you understand that there is a gap and you realize it and the way that you define engagement is not the way that people want to be engaged, you start to solve for it, just like the way you define experience versus the way that people want to have experiences, or the experiences of people value are different.

So it's a shift in perspective. It's essentially a shift from information architecture to experience architecture. It’s a shift from you know making assumptions to empathy. It's a difference between designing based on meetings and listening to the highest paid person in the room and taking a human-centered design approach to design was actually going to be meaningful and valuable. And this is why - there was a famous philosopher novelist who once said, you know we don't see the world the way it is. We see it as we are. And that's what has to change and it starts there.

Michael Krigsman:

Can you systematize the components of an experience? How do we design the right kinds of experiences, and how do we know that we've actually done it? How do we know if we've succeeded?

Brian Solis:

 Somewhere in this book, this is the the revised table of contents. It's meant to sort of mimic the apps of how you have them organized on your phone. Somewhere in here is a framework for exactly what you're asking. It's a very complex but there is a systematic approach to designing experiences, starting with understanding the evolution of expectations, behaviour, and preferences and values of your core communities, your markets. It’s not just who you reach but also who you could reach. And because there's a lot there you're right,  if you get big data purpose as well there's a lot that you could learn and there's a lot that you can interpret. And then there's a lot that you can start to pilot and make the case as you go along the way.

But it's also Michael very complex, it's very political and though there is a process for it and it starts with - and in in my inspiration, by the way designing this framework was very difficult because there wasn't one. I really thought I was just going to be able to borrow from some of the the the existing stuff out there. So I borrowed from some from all sorts of human centered approaches from like user experience for example, how ideas work or red associates work in anthropology. To put together a framework that was going to allow you to borrow from great disciplines to apply it into your work. And I don't want to say simple, but a very pragmatic way to not do everything overnight, but with every step you take you're actually building this supporting infrastructure, gaining momentum, gaining support along the way.

Now as much as I want you to buy the book,  there's also a research report called The Opposite Framework so you can just google that in and the word opposite and my name, and you'll find that you can download for free. It is based on about four years of research looking at how companies were changing around the modern customer experience or the DCX it was called. And the opposite framework stands for the eight best practices that companies do in order to spark change to take a user-centered or a customer-centric approach to customer experience, which is ironic that you have to take a customer centered approach to it and then what to do next but it's all based on their best practices.

Michael Krigsman:

What is the complex part? You say it’s political and it's complex why?

Brian Solis:

All right so it's everything like for example, the number one challenge in 2014 when I studied the state of digital transformation was the company culture just did not encourage me to start learning new things are doing new things. In 2016 I have a report coming out in a month about it's just an update on that report. The number one thing is really trying to understand the new customer or the new employee. Culture comes in of course but just because there's just a lack of appreciation, or a lack of infrastructure for that appreciation to really understand what's different what to do about it. And so when I published the six stages, the six pillars that were based on a lot of these challenges were governance and the lack of leadership right. So things like risk aversion, things like legal led decision making, compliance regulation, you name it.

People in operations, so politics, egos, self-destruction, fear, the lack of customer experience, so not understanding people, The lack of infrastructure supporting data analytics across the enterprise. The slowness of technology integration, and relevant technology integration, and then the lack of digital literacy.

So there is a great misunderstanding of all of these tools and how they work in society and business, and why they work in society and business. And so in 2014 I also wrote a research report that had a great infographic that showed on one side all of the challenges facing change agents and digital transformation, and on the other side all of the catalysts driving it, so that you can see the counterbalance. And all of these things by the way are tools that you can download for free.

But they're all written from -  well with the intention of documenting what is, but also what could be. I’m a very optimistic person and so I often don't see what I hope to see in a lot of my research, and write about those possibilities and there's people there, who then take those ideas and bring them to life and then I come back and study their progress like Richard Dolan or Adam over at at Starbucks, you know who's who's Starbucks first Chief Digital Officer. These are people that in turn inspire me to then push the research forward so that we all create a rising tide.

Michael Krigsman:

So with all of these different pieces and the difficulty associated with digital transformation, when you talk about organizations like Starbucks or any other that's doing it well, what are the characteristics or the lessons that we can learn from them?

Brian Solis:

You know Adam Brotman for example once said that our digital transformation has just begun. And they've in many ways I want to say they're like, it's a word I used to use. It's now a buzz word which is intrapreneurs, but it's almost like they're hackers in a sense, that they want to get something done. They're so passionate about getting it done, but they hacked their way to get it done. And a lot of times Michael, that's what causes the political issues, you know, people gun for them when they start doing that.

Luckily for Bridget and Adam for example they had cultures that supported that. But in many cases change agents complain about the minute they start doing those things. They put a target on their back and the question is, could they move faster than that arrow or the arrows that are coming at them. So it becomes a really interesting thing. But they are really building infrastructures around the pilots, and the learnings, and the insights that they get to continually test and learn.

So for example, the company will be nameless but I've heard this on several occasions on very progressive B2Cand B2B companies that  they're creating new models that involve marketing IT and data for example in its own silo, since it can't necessarily span all of these other groups, they'll start working as an internal skunkworks just to get things done. And they go make the case and have to plead that you know, listen, we're not going get anywhere if we have in fighting, but we're going to get everywhere if we at least try.

I talk about digital Darwinism over the years, which is your technology and society evolved it's just a fact. But operations and perspective and processes and decision making it hasn't kept up with that. And so these guys that are these these folks that are fighting for this and even increments, you know digital transformation favors those that at least try right. I mean this is - you have to start somewhere. But look, I know this is a long-winded answer to the question. But I think at the end of the day, leadership, or let me just put it this way. Change doesn't come from leadership initially right. If you're waiting to be told what to do you're on the wrong side of innovation.

A lot of times it starts with these individuals. Adam Brotman did not start off as Chief Digital Officer. He earned that role and Bridget Dolan didn't just lead the Head of Analysis before in the Innovation Center in South San Francisco. She didn't just become the innovation person. She earned that by pushing boundaries and pushing possibilities for it it’s hard.

And then this change agent report I have coming out, people will tell you that they all have this thing, this drive, this desire to do the right thing and they’ve recognized that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, that the same politics and fear and risk aversion exist in many many many businesses. And so sometimes it's just better to push forward and gain alliances to create alignment in the process.

Michael Krigsman:

But it seems like the successful change agents as you're describing also have the ability not just to hack their way through the weeds but to push forward in a way that is not pushing too hard, because if they push too hard the organizational anti innovation antibodies will push them out. So how do you balance that, what is the balance?

Brian Solis:

Such a good visual, should be a cartoon actually. What's the balance? It comes back to the politician thing that we talked about earlier with cheerleaders, lawyers, and politicians. There is greater - I don't want to greater, everybody does things for other way. But there's a common pattern of creating allegiances or alliances with people outside of your department or your organization to find ways, because there are people who want to change the company all across the company. Finding them, befriending them, collaborating with them outside of just the stuff you have to do. To then gain an audience for an executive sponsor to show that you're working together that these are the things that you are able to discover. These are the things that you feel that together you can accomplish. Here are some of the initial areas where that could be applied. Those are the types of things that get people bought in.

I'll share a little preview from that research, which they all say the same things. They are all very very wise individuals. They figured out that your greatest ally is at first among your greatest enemies. This is a work, this is politics, probably war, anything and everything that sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen to the people who don't want what you're trying to work for. So that you can then translate what you're trying to do to their benefit, right, because it's not going to help anybody if the company fails.

And sometimes just listening or being heard is a good place to start. Feeling usurped or gone around, that's where you start getting in-fighting in politics and what have you. But look, it's not as easy as that right, because sometimes people will tell you, but then they'll go back behind your back and try to completely derail what it is you're working on.

But I think the more alignment you have, the more people you listen to, the more people who start to get bought in start to realize exactly what's happening. And by the way a culture I tend to try to take in some some regards very very vivid definitions of things like culture for example, or it’s not just defined by your promise and your aspirations as an organization. It's also defined by the bullshit that you put up within the company and that you don't you don't contend with.

And a lot of times the people who derail progress or potential for innovation are part of the problem of the organization itself. It’s part of those antibodies and the best thing you can do is cut that out. But that's rare and far between. So change agents who are great politicians, cheerleaders, and lawyers are the ones who bring everybody to the table and work with them as equals.

Michael Krigsman:

 I love what you just said,  listen to the people who don't want what you're selling. What incredible advice that is.

 Brian Solis:

Thanks Michael, it's hard as a digital analyst studying digital transformation to talk about the things that the people factor, I mean it's just every single time I go into an organization this is the case, except for more progressive companies. And then you know people want to gun for amazon people. Want to gun for Starbucks people, gun for Tesla and you know or Samsung for example gunning after Apple. I mean yes, it's part like cool phones and it's cool televisions, but at the end of the day there's just a different respect, or perspective, or interpretation, or appreciation of human beings in some of these more successful companies, both inside and outside of the organization. And that’s why I think cultures the next big thing.

You cannot - everything that technology is teaching us today I call us accidental narcissists, that it is teaching us that we're at the center of the universe. It’s problematic but it's also part opportunity but we have to recognize that. We tend to judge it first and we tend to sort of disregarded or be skeptical about it. And in reality the more you understand the human nature of it you can lead it right. But you're not going to lead it if you react to it, or if you push back against it. It’s just difficult Michael, so this is why I'm trying to publish and push as much as I can to help provide air support for the people who really really need it.

Michael Krigsman:

Again I love that phrase “accidental narcissus”, it's so evocative. We just have about five minutes left. This time is going by very quickly and can we change gears for a moment. You are an “influencer” and everybody is interested in that concept, and so can you give us some insights on advice on approaching ,working with influencers such as yourself and others.

Brian Solis:

Well you're an influencer as well and I think you know you tell me if you agree with this. I define influencer again I kind of have these very vivid definitions in the same way the dictionary defines the word influence, and that is the ability to cause affect or change behavior. And then I would look at influencers catalysts to one of those or both of those things.

And so I don't look at myself as an influence or however, I look at myself as a student. It’s the only way I learned. I both learn and also the biggest and hardest thing I learned over the years was how to unlearn on certain things and I think that's true advice for anybody. But for companies that want to learn how to work with with influencers, I think it starts with sort of appreciating their work, the relationships they have with their communities. How they got to be an influencer. Why their communities value them, and then find ways to align that with the value that anybody else wants to put into that machine or that human machine if you will.

I could tell you that most companies do not do anything close to that regard they just want you and me because of the audience's we have but I think if they if they want the secret tip that's how to do it.

Michael Krigsman:

And in our last couple of minutes please summarize your accumulated thoughts and advice for people who are wanting to help drive change inside their organization and are finding it tough, really hard to do. So what's your advice for these folks?

Brian Solis:

Look, in the few minutes we have its honestly not enough time. But I am writing a dedicated report to that very question because I hear it all the time and I promise it's coming very soon. We’re at the tail end of those interviews. But I will tell you this. Many of us grew up in a time where we were told to follow the rules, to not ask questions follow the processes. To not stand out otherwise we'd be whacked like a mole right back into place. And therefore we were ingrained and conditioned not just to challenge anything. Not challenge the status quo to be part of the status quo to be measured. Your successful career was going to be defined by how well you operate within the status quo. But now that's all getting obliterated it's just happening for many reasons.

And I'll just leave you with this. I didn't start to gain momentum in my career until I started to do just that, challenge the status quo. But not just challenge it, find ways to help others succeed in it, to bring people along with you that we’re being held back and just too afraid to do something. But it's hard, it's scary. It's not the comfort zone but I promise you that that comfort zone that we’re so comfortable in right now is eroding and we need people to be influencers not be influenced right now. We need we need more people trying new things.

Michael Krigsman:

I think you just said the magic word for success of change agents which is, challenge the status quo but help make sure other succeed.

Brian Solis:

 We’ve  got to do this together.

Michael Krigsman:

That seems like it's the magic combination right there. You have to challenge but at the same time if you're not doing it with the goal of helping others succeed, then you become that “accidental narcissist” that you spoke about earlier and nobody will listen.

Brian Solis:

That's right, in fact that's I'll just leave it there that's perfectly said Michael.

Michael Krigsman:

We've been talking with Brian Solace, the author of the book X which is really a great book. The first time I saw it I was in an office, and it was sitting there on a coffee table is quite just when it was released and I was browsing through and it's this big thick book that's completely visual and I thought to myself wow, just the amount of work that must have taken to put it together it's incredible. And so Brian Solis thank you so much for being our guest today on CXOTalk.

Brian Solis:

Thank you Michael for having me on to thank everybody for listening if you need anything reach out it at Brian solace probably on every platform and and I hope you take a look at the book it would mean a lot.

Michael Krigsman:

You have been watching episode number 182of CXOTalk. This coming Friday we are speaking with Stuart Sackman, who is the combined Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer of ADP which is one of our largest one of the largest companies anywhere. So I hope you'll join us on Friday and thanks so much and thank you too Brian Solace for joining us today. Bye-bye everybody

 

Companies mentioned on today’s show:

Amazon           www.amazn.com

Apple               www.Apple.com

Microsoft        www.microsoft.com

Samsung          www.Samsung.com

Starbuck's        www.starbucks.com

Tesla                www.tesla.com

Twitter             www.twitter.com

 

Brian Solis:

Twitter             https://twitter.com/briansolis

LinkedIn           www.linkedin.com/in/briansolis

Website           www.briansolis.com

Books               www.amazon.com/Brian-Solis/e/B001KD2V1C/