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Posts Tagged ‘Innovation’

Maybe We are Using the Wrong Words to Describe Collaboration

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment

When we attempt to describe something we are often judge based upon the words we use. Choose certain words and we are considered buzzword compliant or worse, SEO compliant. Choose the wrong words and we are considered out of touch, old school or not ‘cool’. On the other side of the coin, if we try to consider new ideas, or think forward a bit we might be considered too academic or a purist without a strong sense to technological or cultural limitations. What then is the right balance? How do we effectively communicate and at the same time be sure to be heard and found?

Specifically, say or write the words “Social Business”, “Enterprise 2.0” or even “collaboration”, “innovation”, “co-creation” or “design thinking” and many people roll their eyes. “Oh, great another buzzword fest”. I suppose we can still possibly save “innovation”, just a hope. But, aside from that, the rest are too often fodder for power point presentations, executive motivational speeches and fancy conference track titles. That said, the core concepts are very important and we should not allow the hype cycle to get in the way of what we need to get done. The question is, when we write or present these topics, who are we talking to, who is the audience? Are we trying to convince the senior executive or the people in the field, boots on the ground?

I am not going to start throwing around generational monikers (X, Y, Z, C) in an attempt to further confuse. If the goal is to be creative and build something new (as in product, service or concept) and we are trying to describe the value of doing that to people of many ages, backgrounds and job roles, maybe we need a new way to communicate the message. Everyone understands the ideas of teamwork, creativity, working together. When we enter the corporate world is it required to change the names and labels? The following may  not work for everyone, but I believe there is a crowd who might just appreciate the effort.

Remix and Mashup

Say the word Remix to most people under 40 (even some older, but not as many) and the mental image – or mental sound bite –  is clear. A remix is a song that has been edited to sound different from the original. The remixed version might have changed the tempo or pitch, made the song shorter or longer. There is more to it than that, but that is the basic idea. A Mashup is similar in concept, but includes more than one song or instrumental from one song overlaying on the vocals from another. In the digital word, a mashup is a combination of different media, pre-existing creative, all put together. The ideas are similar and well understood, add creativity and originality to someone else’s original work.

(One area I am not going to cover is the legal parts. One, because I am not qualified and Two because I am talking specifically to internal collaborative efforts, ie, one company owns the original works, so it is all kosher.)

Now that I just stated that I am going to ignore the legal issues, the example I am going to use and the basis for the use of Remix is HitRecord. This is a public place to do this and illustrated the example very well. Again, for the sake of discussion, all creative are assigned to HitRecord, thus, no legal issues. The whole idea of working with anyone else internally at your company is to meet a business goal. It might be a new product, a project, a problem or something else – all towards a common goal. We could take a manufacturing / assembly line approach; you do your part, taken from someone who did theirs and hand it off to someone else. Yes, but thinking linear will only get you so far.

We need to Help Everyone to be…

Adaptable, resourceful and make it easy to change. In the world where many grew up (parents and grandparents) people went to work for big companies and stayed there 30 or 40 years. Those days are gone, but nor forgotten. The way I believe that Remix and Mashup can fit into the modern work culture is to allow creativity and fresh ideas to permeate the atmosphere of an organization. In the future, a person’s career will involve many employers, as well as periods of self-employment as part of an ecosystem. Of the modern company is going to survive, it will need to become more like an ecosystem. This approach will give people the opportunity to follow their interests, even as they change over time. The person working for you yesterday, with you tomorrow may be your boss tomorrow. You might one day call this a career Remix, or Mashup, I am not sure. You will take what you know, change the speed, tempo, add a new song or two and dance another day.

Helping means communicating in a language that is understandable, in and on channels where everyone is comfortable – or least willing to learn to adapt. Give permission to others to take your ideas and run with them – Remix them and add their own creativity. When someone helps someone else to learn something or to see it from a new perspective, this may be referred to as mentoring. Mentoring is age independent, anyone can teach, anyone can learn (ie, there is no such thing as ‘reverse’ mentoring). The goal, as a mentor, teacher, friend, peer, co-worker is to help others and help help yourself –

Enjoy the Remix

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Some Thoughts on Cloud(s)

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

When business people discuss ‘Cloud’ they think Salesforce and maybe Citrix or Microsoft, while technologists think Amazon, Google and Rackspace. Business owners want and believe that they can swipe the credit card, and ‘the system’ is ready tomorrow. To technologists, it is a bit more complex than that, but they too want simplicity. To the IT organization if there are no physical goods, servers, tapes, power supplies, then it is not real. To the line of business, they are tired or asking IT for permission, giving IT the upper hand in business application decision making. Therefore, what it really comes down to is this: To the business it is about gaining control, the IT department it is about losing control. Do not underestimate the emotional elements that go into the decision making process surrounding ‘Cloud’. I did not bring up the most important person, the CFO who has read the first half of the Op Ex v Cap Ex article talking about how Cloud is cheaper (the second half is not quite written yet, but it will say that depending upon the application the cost lines cross at between 4 and 6 years).

Everything is Perspective

Cloud is an overused term, all started when we were too lazy to draw lots of servers and explain what was outside of our firewall – we drew a picture of a cloud. Which, back in the day, was meant to represent the ‘Internet’ – Yes, the whole thing. Lots of people, including myself at a point in time, used the electricity model to describe cloud. To the uninitiated, this works just fine. To others, the metaphor begins to break down and then everyone starts picking it apart. To those folks, I simply say “relax” it is, after all, a metaphor. The detailed oriented among us start to go on the attack and say “well, no security is required for electrons”. Yes, that is true, you win. The simple idea is that companies need a way to innovate, adapt, move and grow at a much faster pace. Having one less thing to worry about, to many people is a good thing. There are those among us who would suggest that Cloud is one MORE thing to worry about. Then don’t…

You – the CIO or IT department will be (or have been) asked to do more with less, optimize your computing power, deal with more data, have five 9s uptime, spend less on electricity and drive innovation. You are asked to think about things you never considered to be your job, like cooling systems, how much weight the floor can support, the electric bill and so much more. It is starting to feel a lot like a data center. So, there might just be a cloud and/or data center inside your firewall (physically or logically). In the end, it is as simple as balancing resources, time and money and enabling your organization to sell, support, collaborate and innovate. Do you need cloud in order to do that? An unconditional – It depends.

I am looking forward to exploring these topics as well as a few others next week at the CIO Cloud Summit. Maybe I will see you there?

Categories: SocialCRM Data Tags: , ,

The Space Between

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Graphic credit to the excellent designers at DRI

In reviewing the Gartner Magic Quadrant a few weeks ago (A review I would not call ‘positive’), I started thinking about the ‘hard to articulate’ components of Social CRM. In techno-speak, we would call this integration, but, integration of what exactly? Many of you might know that I am a bit of an academic, so I dug a bit deeper to see how I might make some sense of where the CRM space is going. What I am getting at is that the hard part, the part in need of evaluation and work is the people and process part. Tell someone to “engage” and what exactly do you mean? It is the part of the process that happens in between the technology, the decision to engage and the conversation. In the real world, we have all spoken first and did the thinking second. With technology, we can do the same, only faster and more efficiently.

Every good space must be filled

As humans, we hate to think of a void, or a vacuum, there must be something there, right? When there is silence, we must talk (anyone with kids understands this!!). Artists absolutely know the value of white space, most of the rest of us do not. In technology, the cool thing about ‘the space between’ is that this is where innovation happens.  We do not consider a process to be cumbersome until it takes a lot of energy and effort to get it done. It does not take a lot of energy and effort to get it done until there are lots of steps and manual processes. Techies then try to create an application or a process to make the manual steps easier, automation, efficiency and process control. The problem is that certain things still take a human to do.

Not sure what you think, but I think it is really cool that Google is trying to figure out how to automate driving a car. I would like to see that in New York City, maybe a Yellow Cab, yeah, right, not so fast (I will choose to skip the early adoption phase for that one). OK, how about something simpler, like responding to a person who has a question? A couple weeks ago I went through the help system for a major service provider and I could just tell when the chat responses were canned, it was really annoying. They were not bad responses, nor wrong either, they just felt awkward. In the end, my problem was solved and I did not spend a lot of time on hold. I suppose I should be happy, but I am writing about the awkwardness of the experience, so the jury is still out.

OK, what is the point?

Customer experience is the space between the process you designed and the use of the product or the interactions with the system. Internally, the space between is the efficiency, coordination, collaboration; interactions within the system. Externally, the space between is hard, near impossible to control. It can be guided, lead, but not controlled. The space between is an area of uncertainty, doubt and likely internal arguments. When you begin to measure it, to try to understand it, then it is no longer the space between, it is the end-point, an interaction and something is lost. To understand more about what I am doing these days, please check out DRI.

(No need to cue the Dave Mathews Band)

Twitter Lists, good or bad?

October 18, 2009 3 comments

I was lucky enough (or random enough) to be given access to a new Beta feature within Twitter called Lists. The Lists feature is similar to a compilation of features available by other means – create a list of interesting people to follow. For some details, and an interesting discussion, Robert Scoble shared some thoughts on Posterous.  What is novel, is that Lists can be shared publicly. The public part can also be done by some other third party sites, like Tweepml.org – but the user still follows people at the individual person level.

By creating and controlling Lists at the source, the equation has changed.

Sharing publicly, also means that if I use your list, I relinquish some amount of control to you. There is a ripple effect to this subtle change in control. Suppose I get a little lazy and decide to follow a list for local tweeps (near Burlington, Vermont, where I live). Someone spends the time to make the list, and I do not want to repeat the effort. Did I just give up control? I will now follow the Burlington Tweeps that that person decides (they can add and remove people).  Currently, I keep my own eye out for new folks, using a variety of hashtags – will I still add them to my list? Think about the impact to you and who you follow?

Will Twitter be creating a pseudo class system?

After reading the post, there are a number of interesting comments, but one caught my eye, by Andrew Mueller:

Lists make the utility of twitter much greater for the casual user who can identify a few highly curated lists and simply follow the list stream rather than the people. Once Tweetdeck, Seesmic and others integrate lists into their apps this could be done in columns in single streams. In this scenario it make sense that follower growth rates will decline. This may have broad implications for the twitter ecosystem. After all why should I curate a list of “Web Innovators” when Robert Scoble has done it for me!

…it will limit the discovery of new people to follow and could result in two classes of twitter citizens – those who are on list that are followed and those are not.

What are the implications of this change, for new users, and brands? I think that Brands will have a much tougher time, especially new entrants, as they will have a tougher time engaging. Andrew and I had an interesting interaction on Twitter based in this, which lead me to this post. The core problem is that for power users, who are creating the lists now (or when Twitter releases the function publicly) will represent a snapshot in time. Robert’s list of great programmers may grow, or possibly remain static. Hashtags offer a similar function, but they are not exclusive, they allow for new entrants.

It is not all bad

  • There are some interesting uses for lists as well. For conferences and events, the coordinator can create a list for people to follow. They could publish the List name far ahead of the conference and add potential twitters to the list.  No hashtag to worry about, and up to 5 more characters to use.
  • Brands and Companies will be able to share lists within an organization without everyone having to know who to follow. Marketing sends out a message “Hey, just follow http://twitter.com/mjayliebs/scrm” Big benefit to Social Service Communities.
  • Follow Friday and follow counts may go away, or be reduced in importance. With lists, you may not have follow counts that have the same meaning. You may have a lot more people following you than you know (blocked people will still not be able to see your tweet stream).

This will play itself out, for sure. But, the impact is bigger than it first appears. I know some of the people I interact with might not use lists, or might not use them extensively. Innovation and collaboration with NEW people will take a hit. New people will start with lists and might be less inclined to interact one on one.

What are your thoughts? What are the impacts to transparency (you can add to list without a follow)?