3 Jobs Where You Can Lead The Boost Revolution

by cv harquail on January 29, 2014

Hankering to lead the Boost Revolution in your own company?  

You can boost other businesses while you build your own no matter what job you hold in your organization. All you need to do is shift to more generative practices for your day to day work.  But if you really want to get out there on the front lines of boosty-ness, there are three jobs where you can have an immediate powerful impact on your own organization and on its stakeholders:

  • Business Development Managers (aka BizDev) 
  • Developer Evangelists, and 
  • Community Managers.

These roles are designed to connect stakeholders with each other and with the organization itself– so they are structured to be “boost ready”.

Business Development

ladyhacksimagesBiz Dev people are the swashbucklers of the digital business world.  They strike out towards unknown destinations, determined to translate their company’s often abstract strategy into partnerships, relationships, and new products.

Biz Dev folks are in charge of finding other businesses with whom they can structure the working relationships that put strategy into practice.  They look for products, goals, and audiences that might become new opportunities, and also they look for places where their company might make a contribution or be useful. Like salespeople, Biz Dev folks establish relationships with business people who represent other companies, but instead of using these relationships to sell their company’s product, Biz Dev people promote the company as a business partner.

As business-to-business relationships form, the Biz Dev people are also responsible for translating the relationship into contract terms. They help to structure the financial relationship and success metrics of the partnership, and they also can build in commitments to create and share other kinds of thick value, such as learning, reputation building, and a sense of shared mission.  It’s the job of Biz Dev folks to partner for opportunity, and create relationships where all the interested parties help each other discover business opportunities that no one thought of before.

Developer Evangelists

Developer evangelists are like the super-supportive help desk employees who don’t want you to hit the reset button until you understand why your screen is frozen- again- and what you might do to avoid the problem in the future. Developer evangelists help users learn to work with their company’s products, and they are the spokespeople, mediators and translators in the three-way relationship between a company, its technical (product) staff, and the outside developers/users who use the product.

In software companies, developer evangelists teach other stakeholders what they product can do, how it can be used, and how they can modify it for their own specific needs.  Developer evangelists by name are common for software businesses, but in non digital businesses we can find people filling that role proactively in plain vanilla customer service departments.  Working right “at the seam” where the product and user interact, the evangelists demonstrate, teach, coach, and listen to the stakeholders. Sometimes they work directly collaboratively with stakeholders to experiment with the product. While they help the users connect with the product, evangelists also look for insight into how the product is effective or difficult, and they listen for concerns, ideas, and feedback to take back to the people in their own company so that they can improve the product.

 Community Managers

hackbrightCommunity managers are the hosts who welcome you to the online party, make sure you get a Diet Coke, and introduce you to the two people you hadn’t even noticed before who love the same obscure emo bands that you do.

Community managers care for the internal dynamics of online groups of stakeholders who organize around a shared interest.  When organizations want to sponsor communities for specific practice areas (e.g., all the manufacturing managers), programs or projects, clusters of employees (e.g., new hires) or to discuss issues (supporting non-traditional tech employees), they turn to community managers to design the participation platforms and to sustain the online conversation.

Community Managers make sure that everyone who wants to speak is able to, and that everyone who needs to be heard is understood.  They ask questions to deepen the conversation, they direct the conversation to issues that might need consideration, they they support individuals who are tying to learn to contribute, and they introduce participants to each other so that they can develop relationships.

Community managers think of the community as an entity that needs to be shaped and nurtured. They work to create a system and online culture that lets others speak, listen and be heard, so that members can understand and learn together.

4 Actions that Make A Job ‘Boosty’

What do these role have in common, that makes them especially boost-y?

  1. They bridge the distance between the company, product, users, and stakeholders, creating the opportunity for connections between them.
  2. Within these connections, they insure that each group retains its distinctive point of view and concerns.
  3. They focus on ‘tuning in’ — listening to, clarifying, and resonating with the interests and needs of each distinct group, and
  4. They create a dialogue between the groups that helps them uncover and generate similarities, support mutual interests, offer unique resources, and fill unique needs.  They ask questions like “How might we….” and “What else?”.

The structure of these jobs make it easy to boost others, but the person in the job has to incorporate these four actions into their practice.

On a daily basis, folks in these roles must look for ideas that could be tossed into the ring, pick these ideas up, hold them out for more consideration, get other people to talk about them, and figure out whether or how the idea can translate into an opportunity for one or more of the people involved. They get to decide whether the organization approaches these situations looking for a win-win-win, or just the same old quid pro quo.  And while the role makes these activities possible, it’s up to the person in the role to activate these goals in their own behavior.

In each of these roles, people perform best — and are the most boost-y– when they ask these questions:

         —  How can we do this so that everyone benefits?

         —  How can we do this to build capacity in ourselves and others, to do more?

 Are you in a boost-y role?

If you happen to hold one of these jobs in your organization or network, you’ve got a terrific opportunity.  To do your job well, you actually need to be boost-y, even if you haven’t thought of it this way before.

If you don’t have one of these jobs in your business, don’t despair. The actions that folks in these jobs perform are actions you can craft into your own role if you want to.  For example, you can think more carefully about who would be a good partner for you to work with (inside or outside your organization), you could listen carefully and inquire thoughtfully about what others need from you, and you can think creatively how to meet these needs to create a three-way win.

The new ideas, improved skills, and alternative approaches that we need to grow our businesses– and to help others grow their business– can be found in the spaces between us and our stakeholders.  

Each of us can take a more generative approach to our work by bridging the distance between people in ways that help them retain their uniqueness, while we listen to who they are and what they need, and ask questions that invite deeper answers. If we take a cue from the swashbucklers, help desk coaches, and welcoming hosts, we can help our companies create relationships that generate possibility.


Image: LadyHackPhilly photo by GloriaBell 

{ 1 comment }

jamie January 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Validating to see that in many circles the idea of system change is being practically advanced. Thanks for sharing this. I will pass it on. j

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