Monday, June 11, 2012

What is Business Intimacy?

For this post we will be examining the concept of the business intimacy.

So what is business intimacy? At its heart business intimacy is a relationship in which the identity of the community at large is fused with that of the organization. The organization not only defines itself by the bottom line but includes factors structured around providing a better life for the community it serves.

The challenge faced by an  organization is that it must take into account the needs of many stakeholders and not only their shareholders. Business intimacy focuses on being beneficial to the community and in turn organizational success quite often relies heavily on the success of the community. Needless to say this concept of a business being a part of the community instead of being segmented from it is not a new concept. Prior to 1850 the concept of humans as consumers did not exist. The concept of "Market Economy" undid this long standing relationship.

So what is the importance of business intimacy. The is a bit more challenging to answer and many organizations may not embrace the shift from only seeing the community at large as consumers. Although this paradigm shift is not generally misaligned with the goals of the organization. The key benefit to this model of business intimacy is that it provides organizations loyalty at the consumer level. If people perceive that an organization is a member of the community they are more likely to become loyal customers and even spend more to support this community. This paradigm will also require a realignment of the consumers themselves and is a long and drawn out process with the goal being to build trust in local communities.

The key here is to think globally in your organization but to act locally. By building trust at the community level organizations are able to build local relationships, support local entrepreneurs, and improve life at the community level. In the end this creates a very strong sense of trust and respect. Organizations that move in the direction of business intimacy can over time create a strong competitive advantage that revolves around the community feeling that they have a stake in the success of the organization.

MIT Sloan Management Review 2009
Innovation from the Inside Out
Erik Simanis and Stuart Hart


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