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Superheroes are real. And last Friday, November 15, they descended on San Francisco to help Miles, a 5-year-old leukemia patient, realize his dream of being Batkid. What started as a request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation progressed into a collaborative celebration that touched the hearts of people around the world.  #SFBatkid was trending for most of the day on Twitter as spectators and the media posted update on Miles’ many adventures fighting crime and capturing villains across the city. While a feat of this magnitude likely required a good deal of logistics, the ability to enlist thousands of San Franciscans and millions of online supporters was a phenomenon.

So what did we learn from Batkid’s story? And how does it apply to business?

Who among us wouldn’t want to be a hero?

The Power of Storytelling

Who among us wouldn’t want to be a hero? The wish to battle villains (whether cancer or comic-book characters) and save the day is a story with which we can all relate.

Powerful storytelling moves people. It captures their spirit and connects them to a greater mission beyond themselves. Powerful stories are memorable, distinctive, and motivational. Look closely at your company’s story and ask the following questions:

  • Do your employees see themselves as players in the story … or merely observers on the sideline?
  • What role do your customers play in your story? Are they viewed as the “damsel in distress” or the hero that your employees help empower?

The Power of Community Collaboration

Miles’ wish to be Batkid was powered by community collaboration. It took the cooperation of city officials, actors, business leaders, and the citizens of San Francisco to make this wish come true. The power of Batkid’s story motivated people to act as a cohesive community, focused on a single mission.

Every mission faces challenges. But a determined community, committed to its mission, can overcome hurdles and achieve greatness. Ask yourself the following questions about your company:

  • Are your employees aligned to the mission of your business?
  • Are they empowered to collaborate across teams and geographies or are they hindered by silos?
  • Are employees rewarded for collaboration?

The Power of Networks

Think about it. Before Twitter and Facebook, mobilizing the citizens of San Francisco would have been a challenging task. Thanks to social networks, people received live updates and could participate as local reporters to share Miles’ story in real time. Network-enabled collaboration allowed millions of people across the globe to play a part in celebrating Batkid’s adventures. Even President Obama recorded a Vine video to recognize Batkid’s brave feats.

Collaboration powered by networks makes it possible to enlist thousands (or millions) to contribute towards a common mission. How does your business enable network-powered collaboration? Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Do your employees have visibility across teams and regions to easily find colleagues who they can collaborate with on projects?
  • Is collaboration dependent on e-mail and phone communications? Or is it enabled by a network?
  • How is your company capturing the collective knowledge from these collaborations to make the most of the ideas and solutions conceived by employees?

There’s a superhero in every employee who is waiting to play their part in saving the day. Empower them with networked collaboration.

Follow me on Twitter @DebCM. Like this story? Sign up for the SAP Business Trends newsletter here.

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