The future of blockchain isn’t digital — it’s personal

Author: John Souza

Whether you’re in banking or bioscience, you’ve probably heard — and probably believe — that the blockchain is going to disrupt your industry.

The distributed ledger technology underpinning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin has the potential to democratize markets, streamline back-office operations, and usher in an entirely new generation of advancements. And while top on your list of priorities is thinking about how you and your company can get ahead of the curve, one very important element is getting lost in the hubbub.

What are you doing to make sure your employees are ready to make the shift as well?

The Leader’s Role in Market Change

As high-level executives, our job is to anticipate changes in our landscape that require adjustments, offer opportunities, or expose a competitive weakness. We’re charged with getting ahead of these market drivers to position our companies successfully for future events.

We’re trained to look for solutions to keep ahead of the curve. And whenever the ground beneath our company begins to shift, our inclination as leaders can be to look to the market — and the customer — first. We hear about a major driver like blockchain or another emerging technology, and our thoughts immediately go to questions like:

  • How will this affect the demand for our product or service?
  • How can we leverage this movement as an opportunity to better serve our customers?
  • How will this change the way we do business or deliver our products or services?
  • How are our competitors responding? How can we get an edge?

Unfortunately, one of the last groups considered — after clients and customers and competitors — is typically employees. And that’s a mistake.

Ignore at Your Own Risk

I’d like to submit that our employees are actually the first stakeholders we should focus on when considering how to respond to future market shifts. When we set the course like the captain of a ship and tell our employees to simply row where we tell them to row, a few things happen — none of which help the health of our organization.

First, employees feel ignored, like chess pieces moved around a board. When they’re expected to respond to commands and directives with little thought to their personal experiences on the job, they can become resentful and resistant.

That’s when the grumbling starts. You’ll hear undercurrents like, “They want us to do WHAT? They just don’t get it. They have no idea what goes on in the day-to-day business.” And they’re right — you don’t.

Next, by directing instead of connecting, we lose the opportunity to turn them into allies in driving change, rather than just simple reacting to our directives. Major organizational change that is turning your industry on its head requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, not just a few people “in the know” who are setting company policy for the other hundreds or thousands of team members.

The more of your employees who are trained and ready to apply their specific knowledge or expertise to the new challenges facing you, the better able you’ll be to truly transform your organization.

Bringing it Back to Blockchain

With regard to blockchain, this means an interdepartmental, multi-level approach to training. Everyone from the shipping department to R&D to the customer service team needs to be trained in the basics of the technology through executive or specialty education programs.

Then we can start having cross-company conversations where we brainstorm and envision how we can use blockchain to increase internal efficiencies, create new ways of generating customer value, and meet our business objectives.

It’s going to be your procurement manager who will devise a way to use blockchain-enabled smart contracts to lower your invoices.

It’s going to be your HR director who will suggest using Blockcerts or a similar system to verify job applicant credentials to avoid costly bad hires.

It’s going to be your legal team who will create a program for using the blockchain to protect your firm’s intellectual property rights.

The more people who understand blockchain’s implications and potential, the more brain power on your side.

Distributed Network = Distributed Knowledge

One of the key characteristics of blockchain is its distributed network. And to respond to its potential, your company needs a distributed solution.

There’s a powerful quote by Sir Richard Branson that encapsulates this philosophy:

“The client doesn’t come first. Your employees do. Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your clients.”

Instead of thinking of your employees as another cog in the wheel of production or service, remember they are connected organisms, each with unique perspectives, and drivers. Address them as valued members of the team and you’ll be well-positioned to leverage the power of the blockchain on behalf of your customers — and your company.

John Souza is founder and CEO of Kingsland University — School of Blockchain, the world’s first accredited blockchain training program. As the founder of Kingsland University (formerly SMMU), John Souza has set the world-standard in emerging and disruptive technologies education space, successfully delivering global award-winning education programs to some of the world’s most respected companies, universities, government agencies and not-for-profits.