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December 02, 2009


by Josh Bernoff

For several months now we've been researching "Harnessing the GroundswellGroundswell HEROes", the followup book to Groundswell. The focus is on both empowered customers (think "United Breaks Guitars") and empowered employees. In both cases, the empowerment comes from the pervasive social, mobile, video-enabled, cloud-propelled technology available to them.

A funny thing happened during the research, though. We found that all the employee examples were in marketing, sales, and customer support. Why? Because those customer-facing departments have both the budgets and the desire to connect with customers using the new technologies. And they are moving forward, in most cases without much involvement from their own IT departments.

In fact, it's the urgency created by empowered customers that's driving the employees to build their own solutions. So we came to this principle:

If you want to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve their problems.

Whether it's Zappos, Best Buy, or Intuit, staff are building solutions to help their customers, and not just in customer service. THAT is what the new book is about. (It's a relief to have figured this out, believe me.)

Based on this, here's a revised table of contents. Look for the book next year from Harvard Business Press.

HARNESSING THE GROUNDSWELL: Empower your employees to solve customer problems

GROUNDSWELL HEROES: Harnessing the Power Shift in your Workplace and Marketplace

by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler


Chapter 1. Empowered people and what to do about them. How customers got so much power. Four forces: mobile, video, cloud, social. Empowering staff to solve customer problems.


Chapter 2. Customer heroes. A new metric on the value of your customers. Customer word of mouth and media.

Chapter 3. Reimagining customer service. Customer voice. Service is now marketing. Social CRM.

Chapter 4. The mobile imperative. Pervasive information empowers customers. Using mobile information to create loyalty.

Chapter 5. Mobilizing fans. Amplifying promoters and blunting detractors. Efficient ways to enable fan voices.


Chapter 6. Employee heroes. What empowered staff can do. Technology projects -- matching effort to results.

Chapter 7. Is your organization ready? Measuring employee empowerment. Do your staff feel they have permission? Are they ready to solve customer problems?

Chapter 8. Helping people work together. Collaboration and innovation tools. Social technology for the enterprise.

Chapter 9. Leadership for constant innovation. What management can do to encourage innovation and empower employees.


Chapter 10. How IT can empower your people. How to say yes. Select, scale, and socialize.

Chapter 11. Empowering people safely. When to say no. Empowering people while managing risk.


Chapter 12. The future of the groundswell.


Now all we have to do is write it. Look for case studies and lots of data in the coming posts.

Note (12/21): We changed the title around the concept of HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives).


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Deirdre Walsh

Great!! I look forward to reading the next book. This line especially resonated: Service is now marketing.

Susan Main

Thanks for the preview of your TOC. I'll be looking forward to it. I'm a freelance writer / blogger working with a corporate editor and we've had quite a few meetings - both of us with our copies of Groundswell. We are creating a new blog - very exciting - and I have a lot of freedom, even though it's sponsored by my client.

Martin Lindeskog

I look forward to read this new book. Groundswell is one of my favorite books on social media.


Hey Josh, do you remember our talk in Milano? Now you have to write very fast, but i'am sure you don't have problems with this, like you said. :)

Dana Elliott MD

We have a similar discussion in our organisation.


Everyone can be a hero in his own way.

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