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« Dealing With Google's Sidewiki Land Grab | Main | See you at the Forrester Consumer Forum, Chicago, October 27 and 28 »

October 01, 2009

Announcing our next book "Harnessing the Groundswell"

by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler

Josh and ted

We've begun work on Forrester's next book about how technology changes business. While "groundswell" is in the title, the new book is not quite a sequel. Instead, it focuses on individuals empowered by technology -- both employees and customers -- and how businesses can efficiently turn them into a force for better performance.Here's a short description:

Harnessing the Groundswell: Drive Your Business With Empowered Employees and Customers

Who are these empowered people? They're employees using simple technologies to solve business problems -- but in ways management hasn't sanctioned. They're customers, armed with a sea of ambient information and friend connections, who redefine your brand. Either way, empowered individuals are a problem for locked-down and unprepared managers stuck on control. "Harnessing the Groundswell" explains how to enable, select, scale, and socialize this energy -- that is, how to embrace empowered individuals and use them to drive your business forward.

Harvard Business Press will publish "Harnessing the Groundswell" in summer, 2010. If you don't know Ted Schadler, he's a long-time, accomplished Forrester Research analyst and vice president in our IT business.

As you read the table of contents below, ask yourself: do I know a company that's doing this well (or poorly?). We're looking for case studies, and not just successes. So if you know a company that embraces its technology problem solvers or its fans, let me (Josh) know and we'll follow up. I look forward to your comments.


PART 1. Why Empowered People Are Driving Your Management Crazy
Individuals will always get the latest and best technology and services first. Why? Because that's the simplest path to market for device makers, publishers, social entrepreneurs, and other individuals. Because many of these technologies are mobile, they get into the enterprise regardless of corporate policies. This changes the dynamics of technology-led innovation forever.

Chapter 1. The forces that created empowered individuals
Chapter 2. How to act empowered (and how to manage people like that)

PART 2. Harnessing Empowered Employees
Individuals in the workforce bring their personal devices and experiences to work. The result? Innovation erupts in a thousand incremental, and sometimes disruptive, ways. With computing power available so cheaply in the Internet "cloud," employees can often create solutions with a budget they can charge on a credit card. Managers can either erect ever-higher walls in a fruitless effort to contain this disruptive energy or identify and harness the power of these improvements.

Chapter 3. A framework for managing empowered employees
Chapter 4. Empowered innovation [Leadership]
Chapter 5. Selecting and scaling solutions [IT]
Chapter 6. Socializing the enabled employees and solutions [Management/Collaboration]
Chapter 7. Hiring and retaining an empowered workforce [HR]

PART 3. Harnessing Empowered Customers
Your customers are using technology to gather any information they want. They have every Web site in the world to draw on, as well as their peers in social environments from Facebook to Twitter to blogs to customer ratings. And it's all coming to the mobile devices they take with them everywhere. A business that depends on the ignorance of its consumers is doomed. And in this environment, any service flaw is magnified and repeated endlessly. As a marketer, your best alternative is to become one of them – provide them with the very tools, information, and peer support they crave – and generate positive word of mouth through this enablement.

Chapter 8. A framework for managing empowered customers.
Chapter 9. Empowering customer service problem solvers [Customer Service]
Chapter 10. Empowering the mobile customer experience
Chapter 11. Selecting and scaling fans
Chapter 12. Socializing empowered customers: collaborating on innovation (10 pages)

PART 4. Leading the Empowered
Empowered people challenge management. The hierarchical management of large companies gets its power from standardization, rewards, and scale. But leadership in this new era does not mean being out of control. It means creating an environment where everyone knows the end goal and feels empowered to contribute, where attempts are lauded along with successes, and where scaling innovation is the true advantage.

Chapter 13. Leadership among the empowered
Chapter 14: The future


I can't wait to read your reaction.


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Can't wait to read it!

Natalie Petouhoff

Josh and Ted!
Looks fantastic!

I know from talking to customer service, customer experience and CRM professionals - that they are struggling with how to be different... They are wondering how to transform the culture in their areas to be authentic, genuine and real- with each other and with customers.

So much of corporate culture boils down to "corporate speak" and results in unauthentic and ungenuine -- and often in customer service interactions- even unhumane conversations.

As the corporate poet David Whyte says, "When we come to work, we leave 60% of our real selves in the car, the bus, the train... and then wonder why we all feel so disconnected and frustrated."

One of the best things about social media is it is the catalyst for what needs to change for the better -- and with the interactivity in a public forum of web 2.0 - the cat is out of the bag... the elephant- big and pink - is out on the table...

You all are giving companies a way to harness productive part of the cat and the elephant - this desire we all have to make a difference, to make meaning of work, to treat each other in ways we are proud of... To be the changes we want to see in the world!

Senior Analyst
Customer Service, Customer Experience and Social Media
Follow me @drnatalie on Twitter

David Deans

Josh, the "empowerment" that you speak of clearly doesn't sit well with those companies that still prefer to practice the legacy command and control mindset of a bygone era.

However, because company culture is at the root of the early-adopter's success, the leaders of this transformation span from the smallest business to the largest enterprise.

IMHO, Cisco is an example of a big company that has embraced employee empowerment -- both enacted and encouraged from the top down, and practiced daily from the bottom up.

Furthermore, the fact that we can now easily deploy just-in-time social media experiments on any of the multitude of free web-based platforms clearly accelerates this open collaboration and innovation phenomenon.

Firecat Sue

I've recommended Forrester's Groundswell book so many times I've lost count. It remains one of my best tools to help change the corporate mindset.

What made the original book so useful was its focus on specific examples. It sounds like many more are on the way.

We'll be looking forward to release. Put me on the reviewers list!

Josh Bernoff

@Firecat Sue My rule for case studies in Groundswell was (1) must talk to the principals directly, (2) must have proof of business value, (3) include actual consumer activity whenever possible. That's what made it valuable.

We'll be doing that again.

Tom Rau

Can't wait to hold it in my hands and start reading it. I loved your last book.

Bert DuMars

Josh - I am a big fan of your first book and recommended all of our eMarketing, eBusiness and Brand Marketing teams read it. It was a major influence on how we moved forward with our social networking/social web ecosystem marketing efforts.

Your next book looks great. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Bert DuMars
VP E-Business & Interactive Marketing
Newell Rubbermaid
blog - http://socialmediaecosystem.com


I share your passion for the use of collaborative technology to support communities-of-interest (and communities-of-practice). I wrote a thesis on the topic in 1996 - at a time when most available applications were "closed" (e.g., Lotus Notes) and before the exponential growth in the use of the innovative tools you continue to discover and share. I very much look forward to the publication of your new book.

Oh, and perhaps my favorite exemplary company in the use of collaborative technology to support customer-led innovation would be Buckman http://www.buckman.com/ - though I'm sure you are aware of them. I'm certainly eager to contribute to your efforts.

All the best!

Rebecca Dias

Ted, how do I get an autographed copy?


I'd like to see more government-oriented examples. While there are many issues of security and privacy, there are still a number of government agencies who are starting to embrace the Groundswell, some on their intranet, some on the Internet: NASA, TSA, EPA, and the intelligence community, to name a few!

You can find the conversation about government Groundswell on Twitter by searching on the hashtag #gov20, or just check out http://www.govloop.com

Technology PR

I look forward to this! Meanwhile, will be in touch to recommend two recent case studies and executive interviews for potential inclusion.


Josh, it was such an honor to receive a special copy of your earlier book. This one's going to be equally special :)

Looking forward !

Promotional Products

Sounds like you have some good topics ready to go. I'm interested to read about this topic from the individuals POV. I'm looking forward to it next summer.

Mason Carpenter

I'm reading your first book (Groundswell, HBS 2008) and really like the case studies -- that is a big plus beyond the other valuable and interesting dimensions of the book. One company that might provide a relevant case for your new book (Harnessing the Groundswell) is publisher Flat World Knowledge, or FWK (http://www.flatworldknowledge.com/) -- FWK's story is essentially "Free Textbooks. Online. Anytime. Anywhere." Chris Armstrong profiles FWK on p. 160 of his book "Free."

As one of FWK's authors, I know I am biased toward the FWK model (though I also publish a strategy textbook with Pearson/Prentice Hall). FWK is an intriguing, industry-disruptive experiment - so far the experiment is proving successful! Hope you have a chance to check them out.

Cheers, mc
Mason Carpenter, Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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