One of the central themes of this conference, and of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative more generally, is that relationships matter: it’s not about just paying lip service to the abstract idea of relationships (something that lots of companies do), but about really investing in long-term, respectful relationships with your customers and business partners. It’s about building and then nurturing collaboration and community in service to delivering exceptional customer experiences. This is perfectly in line with my focus of Return on Relationship and all that goes with making Relationships, interaction, engagement, and emotional connection the central theme of our brand DNA.
I was prepared for IBM to build this theme into its conference, and the general session speeches have all—in one form or another—driven home the idea that truly authentic relationships with your customers are the currency of the realm in the new world of commerce. But then IBM did something unique and unexpected: they announced that we were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s Longest Handshake Chain. Right here, at the conference, all of us working together towards a common goal. The previous record was 600+ establish a few short months ago.
You can imagine the reaction of the attendees. The first response was one of amazed disbelief. “Really?” And then, “Wow, this will be something to always remember as a group!” This is the sort of thing you naturally tell your kids about… and then tweet, and post to Facebook. The energy in the room and the excitement of the crowd were palpable.
Then the genius of the message hit me: IBM was driving home, in a fun, quirky and entirely original fashion, that they’re investing in real relationships with real people. Even in a hyper-digitally connected world, the handshake is still the nearly universal symbol of face-to-face connection… building trust, respect, and relationships. Not only that, but at its heart, the record attempt was about working together: you had to reach across to the person next to you and make a physical connection.
What is really important is that the record attempt was not, at its heart, about actually breaking the record. Breaking the record is the icing on the cake. The real point was to show everyone that by pulling together, creating a common goal, we can achieve something that we didn’t even know was on our agenda thirty minutes before.
Did we break the record?
Yes, we did. I send hearty congratulations to everyone who embraced and participated in IBM’s record breaking handshake, and in their incredibly productive Smarter Commerce Global Summit (#IBMSCGS). Now lets all go out and use this lesson of teamwork, relationship building, and focus, in our business and personal lives. Invest in relationships, connect with the people around you, and witness the results first hand.
Originally posted at IBM Smarter Commerce