The Altimeter Group’s report from earlier this year, The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation, offers the above graphic to exemplify the way social networking develops as the social activities of businesses mature. I tend to feel skeptical about many developmental models in social business simply because markets differ, sometimes in fundamental ways, and businesses organize accordingly. However, since a previous post here summarized the currently dominant Hub and Spoke approach as falling short as a way to organize collaboration in relation to customer experience, I feel elaborating on that point is in order.
Shared experience, not just shared information, is fundamental to the social networks underlying collaboration and innovation. Many, if not most, employees don’t only need to get to know one another through reputation systems, like who people tag as possessing expertise. As Thomas Vander Wal continues to point out, comfort with one another is needed to develop a shared experience that encourages the open sharing of information.
Collaboration means getting to know that other employees possess expertise on this or that topic, but also developing comfort with one another by sharing significant symbols relating to self, family, friends, and social activities, thereby understanding one another as people. Shared experience with co-workers and customers is a key factor in innovative business practices. It is especially important to multichannel collaboration.
Shared experience is so important because, as Karl Weick so deftly noted almost twenty years ago, it provides the basis for mutual understanding or, to put it bluntly, how we understand one another when we do things together. Nancy Dixon recently offered a concise summary of this point which I recommend reading.
Trust between collaborators is an important factor related to collaboration effectiveness. Spending time talking to and learning about the people you work with provides the mechanism for trust to flourish – if they are trustworthy – or diminish – if they are not worthy of your trust…It makes sense that when people experience the same thing together – creating shared history and shared memories – it binds the group together in a much deeper way than merely having the same information.
So, you might say, what does this have to do with organizational silos?
The best way to begin answering the question is to look at an interesting insight offered by Mark Fidelman and Dion Hinchliffe regarding the cross-currents enterprises face in attempts to use social software to increase collaboration. In Rethinking the Customer Journey in a Social World they noted:
…it’s the mindset of the social world, where everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and perhaps even thinking, that may very well be the hardest to adapt to and instill in our corporate culture. It’s a world where those who know how to tap into global knowledge flows in social networks on the “edge” of our businesses will succeed. Thus, we need a new vocabulary for understanding not only our businesses, but how it will deeply affect the entire experience of our customers, from beginning to end. This transformation of thinking and working is required in order to access the significant benefits of truly remaking how we engage with the market.
Their thinking seems torn between insight into where the changes for business are headed and what they think likely to happen in the short-term. Dion in particular recognizes the fact that social business requires organizational transformation when, for instance, he asserts, ” social business is first and foremost a transformation involving people and the organizations they work with.” Yet, if you consider where he thinks the in-roads for social software (including social media) are for business over the next year or so, the contrast in perspective is pretty distinct. Dion says in another post that it is in the vertical space of enterpriseswhere most of the innovation is set to occur for social software.
While general purpose social software platforms can certainly be used in all of these areas, high impact application of social media to the way we work often requires application-specific constraints on conversations and the resultant community activity(my emphasis). This means social customer care benefits from conversations organized around support, social supply chain focused on ERP transactions, and so on, along with software that supports these applied uses.
Key factors, such as the amount of cross-functional interactions and size of community teams [with external or internal focus — my point], are putting a resource strain on community managers, particularly in large organizations.
A key organizational point is worth making here because it relates directly to the burdens the hub-and-spoke model, whether cross-functional or dandelion, places on collaboration between employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders. Indeed, the “Tip” offered by Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter regarding the “dandelion” hub-and spoke model is telling. He noted that,
the lines connecting the multiple hubs may be severed. Tip: provide way for spokes to connect to each other, not just be funneled through a central group.
Just likesocial networks do not respect organizational boundaries, edge cases do not respect vertical (read, silo-oriented) organizational constraints on conversation. This is an important point when you consider that most of the time spent by employees involves dealing with edge cases, i.e. exceptions to core processes. I suggest that at least part of this outcome results from the fact that not enough employees in the enterprise develop shared experiences. If you agree with me, I guess we just need to think about how to make this happen. If not, then you probably need a bit more detail which, hopefully, you can spare the time for.
I recently received an invitation from Mads Soegaard, Editor-in-Chief at Interaction-Design.org to offer those who read this blog an early view of a new chapter on Social Computing in their encyclopedia. I’m a little late on this writing for you to get a pre-publication view of the chapter but I wanted to make sure and point it out for those who take topics like social computing seriously. Thomas Erickson wrote the chapter. To be candid, I didn’t really know much about Thomas until I read it. He seems like a very interesting person. Thomas’ chapter takes seriously the point of an early comment I made in a post here in 2008 on Social Software, Community, and Organization: Where Practice Meets Process, specifically my point that not enough of the influential discussion on the topic took seriously the roots of what it means to do social computing.
The distinctions involved are as old as the study of social interaction in organizations, especially the characteristics of routine work. However, we don’t need to go back to the 1950s when the distinction first emerged in the study of industrial organization to understand the significance of Ross’ point. Indeed, the early 1980s will do. Rob Kling discussed computing as social organization as early as 1982 in Marshall Yovits’ edited series on Advances In Computers. Drawing from the symbolic interactionist tradition, Rob distinguished between a line of work which, he contended, indicates what people actually do in computing work, compared to formal descriptions of that work, or what we might today refer to as business processes. Kling’s work was one precursor to the focus on computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) in studies of group collaboration, most notably developed at Xerox PARC.
The social roots of social computing are important for influentials to keep in mind as they discuss current developments in Web 2.0 technologies, especially their use in the enterprise. The point is not a simple academic exercise of giving credit to what came before. Rather, it is to take note that the distinctions made explicit…regarding practice/process are as old as the modern, hierarchical organization and seem to survive regardless of the way communication technology is applied in it. Those who discuss tensions between social software and Enterprise 2.0, or learning management systems and eLearning 2.0, are pointing to persistent challenges in how organizations work.
Thomas’ chapter provides an excellent overview of the roots, history, and development of the concept of social computing as a concept that promises to stand the test of time regardless of the labels used to describe it, e.g. Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Business, Enterprise 2.0, etc. I recommend anyone involved in current discussions related to compound nouns like social media, social business, social “this” or “that” take a look at Thomas’ chapter as well as the Interaction-Design.org encyclopedia which offers in-depth analysis of such topics.
Back in 2006 Hugh Macleod offered the following point on Gapingvoid: “If people like buying your product, it’s because its story helps fill in the narrative gaps in their own lives.” At the time I thought it conveyed nicely the point made by Gerald Zaltman in How Customers Think that “companies should define customer segments on the basis of similarities in their reasoning or thinking processes” (p. 152) rather than constructs related to demographics. Hugh’s point made a lot of sense when I first read it and the point continues to gain in significance for me.
Narrative gaps in our personal stories are resolved through other stories about our own experience, perhaps with a product or service, that help us make sense of the feelings evoked. Specifically, Hugh noted in a later post that people fill in narrative gaps with meanings they construct from their own stories. It is on this point that the concept of personas becomes relevant to narrative gaps and to a recent conception of how to use social media robots, especially DigiViduals™, in qualitative research. Moreover, in this respect I suggest that the challenges involved are analogous to key ones faced by industrial robotics.
We know that most learning in the workplace is informal. Most observers put it at around 80%. Recently, John Hagel and John Seeley Brown contended that “as much as two-thirds of headcount time in major enterprise functions like marketing, manufacturing and supply chain management is spent on exception handling.” Of course, that fact is a result of the successes of process automation over the past few decades. Yet, still, The Barely Repeatable Process (BRP) persists as an organizational challenge for business.
Earlier discussions here focused on the importance of exceptions, to business process and formal learning. I examined the implications of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation model to the use of social media in learning experience design, while addressing the challenges facing learning leaders. Leading the Business-Centered Learning Experience noted that evaluating formal learning is as much about organizational learning and change management as it is about individual learning, largely because much of the learning, and performance, that matters today occurs at the group level. Marc Rosenberg recently echoed the point in an article in Learning Solutions Magazine, The Special Sauce of Social Learning. Marc noted that social learning is largely a change management challenge for organizations.
The most basic point to remember is that exceptions to formal business processes require efforts to design a scalable learning architecture that supports content co-creation needed to adapt to emergent challenges and manage the flow of that adaptation through an enterprise’s ecosystem. Whether judging an adaptation successful requires it to result in new formal learning content, i.e. content co-creation, or a new business process, i.e. organizational innovation, or both, remains an open question.
When an exception happens, we have to step away from our PowerPoint, stop typing an email, or exit a meeting in order to take care of it. Routine work stops. And, our modern reliance on technology to find, aggregate, and alert us to these exceptions has made the task of managing them more burdensome than ever before. Systems that manage exceptions provide the enterprise with vast amounts of data points that have become overwhelming for employees to handle. The applications that we rely on for managing exceptions still rely on process owners to make decisions and respond to the issues. The result is a workforce that isn’t dealing with exceptions well at all. (my emphasis)
The importance of social networking to increasing the effective handling of exceptions is a major focus for those interested in social learning.
What do you think the typical manager might say if you told them their employees don’t gossip and engage one another enough in social interaction at work?
Most managers know about the water cooler effect. However, not enough understand the meaning of the concept and how it relates to performance and collaboration. People thinking about how to support collaboration and performance need to keep in mind the simple fact that employees don’t only gather around the water cooler or coffee pot to get a drink. They often use getting a drink of water, or a cup of coffee, as a pretext for taking a break, and information sharing happens incidentally as they interact in that informal process, sometimes playfully, with their peers and, in exceptional organizations, their managers.
A couple of studies released this summer dealing with performance and collaboration in teams merit consideration in this regard. Not so much for what they specifically say about performance and collaboration as much as what they imply about the importance of social relationships to both.
While the RW3 research points to a salient issue in distributed teams, it fails to acknowledge that merely recognizing and talking about the impact of cultural variation on performance and collaboration, whether in informal online meetings or in training, fails to address the main issue. Members of distributed teams perform more effectively when they understand one another as people as well as employees. Specifically,
Collaboration means getting to know that other employees possess expertise on this or that topic, but also developing comfort with one another by sharing significant symbols relating to self, family, friends, and social activities, thereby understanding one another as people.
Merely orchestrating virtual water cooler meetings on a regular basis does not address the issue, especially when management coordinates the meetings. As I observed in a previous post on the importance of empathy and collaboration to social business design,
People who identify with one another are more likely to share information proactively, without waiting for others to ask for it, because they understand how their own work relates to that of other people and see the flow of work from multiple points of view, spanning silos. Too many social computing experts view collaboration from within a command and control prism, assuming people collaborate because coordination and communication are part of their job description.
Effective collaboration really requires proactively sharing information with those it affects, not simply reacting to information requests. It means anticipating the future impact of actions you take on the responsibilities of other employees or business partners, or the needs of customers. People really don’t do this well unless they see other employees, and customers, as people too. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons that social networks increase in importance as collaboration decreases as a face to face activity.
Recent research on collaboration, performance, and job satisfaction in co-located teams provides useful findings to consider in thinking about what social networks add to the mix in distributed teams.
Over the past five years my thinking and work focus is on the strategic importance of dialogue between businesses and customers. The potential of social software, specifically social media and also Social CRM, to extend dialogic opportunities between the wants and needs of customers and the way companies meet those wants and needs with products and services intrigued me from the start. On several occasions I’ve discussed dialogue in relationship to organizational self-orientation, open innovation, brand strategy, and learning.
As I recently noted,
A dialogue strategy builds on the assumption that companies learn more from customers when customers learn from them, and doing so benefits both. I increasingly think it provides a basic framework to think about, and consider as part of your experience design strategy, when relating to customers. Thought leaders increasingly refer to the challenge as social business design.
The overall premise of this way of thinking rests on the idea that consumers and customers, as well as others with influence in a company’s ecosystem, are gaining increasing power to affect the meaning and value of brand offerings as well as the evaluation of operating assumptions. As a result, strategic efforts of organizational transformation are inevitable for most companies. Dave Evans puts it well,
Social CRM involves multiple elements, linked together, to provide an end-to-end understanding of how your brand, product, or service is received in the marketplace and how your internal processes produce and deliver experiences that drive this reception.
We’ve been talking to customers over the phone for how long? Exactly! So, what’s the difference? Sure, social platforms are more public. But, does the public nature of the channel automatically turn us into bumbling idiots that are going to trash our company’s brands in 140 characters?
Barry seems to make the point that you don’t need to know how much influence a customer exercises in your ecosystem to provide them with services. I certainly agree with him on that point, and I’ll offer a personal account about why later in this post. However, in my view, Barry draws the wrong conclusion from the point. He paraphrases a quote from Frank Eliason at a recent SOCAP conference when someone asked about influencers and influencer analysis. Frank, reportedly said, ” I’m in customer service. I don’t care how influential they are. I need to solve their problem. Do you ask who your customer knows before you answer their question on the phone?”
I suggest that the influence of the customer does matter for the business supported, but not necessarily for delivering customer service alone. Along the same lines, Paul Greenberg notes in his consideration of the concept of Social Relationship Management developed by Brian Solis,
Measuring the whispers gives you some idea of how influential someone can be or how fast a trend can grow or what kind of chatter is spreading about your company — good or bad — and who is spreading it….
…Optimally, using these measures will help you gain some insight into individual customers and their particular influence. If you then provide them with the personalized products, services, experiences and tools they need to sculpt their own relationship with you, because the customer is prone to trusting “someone like me”, it is entirely possible that they will think of your business as a “company like me.”
Influentials matter, especially if they are one of your customers, or even a brand advocate, since they can help you flip the marketing funnel through word of mouth. These opportunities do not reduce to the goals of Public Relations, or marketing, or sales, or operations, or any other specific functional area of a business. The interrelationships are too important for specific functional areas to adopt tailored solutions to their own processes and add the word Social as an adjective, as Mitch Lieberman’s comment on Barry’s post makes clear.
Any strategy needs to support cross-functional goals and objectives which, I think, makes it essential to create or take advantage of new dialogic opportunities, or existing ones, in the business ecosystem. Not doing so, or simply approaching Social CRM as a solution, threatens to fail in an analogous manner as CRM itself did, treating relationships as transactions. Perhaps a cautionary tale about CRM can convey the point. I offer the following anecdote of my own recent experience as a customer of a technology service provider’s CRM system. Note that my experience was a social one, even though the business, XO Communications, doesn’t seem to recognize that social channels exist, nor does it seem capable at managing communication across channels with customers.
Marketing, especially social media marketing, and learning, including organizational learning, are both essential components of a dialogue strategy for customer experience design and management. A dialogue strategy builds on the assumption that companies learn more from customers when customers learn from them, and doing so benefits both. I increasingly think it provides a basic framework to think about, and consider as part of your experience design strategy, when relating to customers. Thought leaders increasingly refer to the challenge as social business design.
Given the maturity and diffusion of social media, a dialogue strategy provides a framework to discuss communication as an ecosystem, whether addressing collaboration, innovation, segmentation, sales, customer service, or brands. The key to the process is understandingcustomers, attractingthem, engagingthem with sales in mind, empowering them to solve your product and service problems, and learningfrom them to improve products and services, thereby strengthening your brand. It is not simply segmenting them, targeting them, driving them through interactions, and transacting with them through sales.
Over time, people buy things they need from you rather than someone else because they want what you offer, and because they feel an empathic connection, i.e. that you understand them. From my reading, Wim Rampen’s contention that we need to use segmentation the customer’s way gets to the heart of the point. The challenge of learning how to make an empathic connection increases to the extent that CRM (customer relationship management) aims to align customer engagement directly with business transactions.
Those looking for a direct, sustained connection between customer engagement and sales from Social CRM are expecting too much in my opinion. The key question is whether you know that Jane Smith who called for support tonight also chatted with one of your people earlier, or posted (or tweeted) something positive or negative about you on her blog, or posted something about your product/service to a how-to community forum. Knowing any of those things about Jane’s activities and experiences with your brand increases the potential for empathic connection between your people and Jane, meaning your understanding of what Jane needs from your products/services increases.
It would be nice if a monitoring platform could listen for you and, just automatically, determine how influential Jane Smith really is in the scheme of things. It might be nice to have a social media management system that just took care of everything, gauged the influence of anyone commenting about you online, ranked their value relative to your brand, and prioritized the level of response needed. However, in the near term, regardless of how much we want that panacea, your employees, or outsource partners, are going to need to engage with your customers as though their problems are your own.
Nestle’ can speak to that issue recently. It is important to note that the Nestle’ example is not the first time a company’s supply chain management, rather than a product or service per se, came under organized criticism. Nike and Shell, among others, found their own supply chain relationships under fire over the past decade. Indeed, Shell’s early experiment in 1998 with a blog called Tell Shell came under such negative commentary from the public that the company shut it down. Nike, on the other hand, engaged the debate and incorporated the criticisms into its business model, I’ll leave it to you to decide which brand strategy makes the most sense for customer relationships.
As I noted in a post on Peter Morville’s Findability several years ago,
“Interfaces are not what they used to be. The computer-human interface is both more and less than it was a few years ago. Interfaces are not only, or even primarily, a screen anymore. Yet, screens remain important to most design efforts, even though interfaces are increasingly part of the environment itself. As John Thackara and Malcolm McCullough both recently pointed out, entire cities are developing into user interfaces as ubiquitous computing environments expand.”
Caleb, over at MobileBehavior, recently observed that mobile phones do not yet provide users with a graphic language for touch interactions. Caleb’s post points to an early visualization of a standard graphic language offered by Timo Arnall of the Touch project, which researches near field communication. Caleb makes his point by talking about the confusion that consumers experience when faced with a visual tag (v-Tag), or 2D Barcode, and does so with the following Weather Channel forecast that offers viewers an opportunity to interact with a visual tag using their mobile phones (wait until about 45 seconds into the video). The forecast fails to indicate to viewers what the v-tag does.
The user experience team that developed the v-tag for that particular forecast must have assumed viewers would know it represented an invitation to interact. A search on the Weather Channel website fails to return any information on the use of v-tags in their media programming though.
In a previous discussion of Dan Saffer’s book, Designing Gestural Interfaces, I made a similar point about mundane gestural interfaces in public bathrooms, a setting with fairly established graphic language conventions. Yet, even such mundane gestural interfaces can pose difficulty for users. As I noted,
I remember the first time, a few years ago, when I tried to get water flowing through a faucet in a public restroom that used sensor detection. Initially, it was not obvious to me how the faucet worked, and I suspect others continue to experience the same problem based on the photo I took during a recent visit to a physician’s office.
Among other observations, it is important here to note that these examples provide clear instruction for why experience design encompasses user experience. Specifically, people only experience a user interaction if the interactive capability of an artifact is intelligible, if they recognize the artifact as an instance of that kind of thing, i.e. an invitation to interact with media or machinery. Who knows how many people noticed the Adidas logo embedded in a v-Tag on their running shorts, or shoes, and failed to see it as an invitation to a user experience?
People can’t use an interface if it is not recognizable as such or, as the Palcom team coined it, palpable to their use. Otherwise, the invitation to experience, what Dan Saffer calls the attraction affordance, fails. Consider the more telling example of the symbol at the top of this post. It represents an RFID signal environment for devices using the Near Field Communication (NFC) standard. Indeed, Timo Arnall and Jack Schulze’s recent work for the Touch project demonstrates the spatial qualities of an RFID device’s signal, the shape of its readable volume.
Dan Saffer, in Designing Gestural Interfaces, touches on the fact that we are currently missing common symbols for indicating when an interactive system “is present in a space when it would otherwise be invisible,” or when we just wouldn’t recognize it as such. Adam Greenfield’s Everyware made a similar point a half decade ago.
You know social networking is going mainstream when service companies like Roto-Rooter start using it. My sewer line backed up yesterday and I called Roto-Rooter to clean it. The guy came out like always, did the job, and I paid him. As he handed me the receipt he also gave me a flyer that asked me to go to either Google, Yahoo, Citysearch, or superpages.com and write a review of the service. Once a week Roto-Rooter selects a name from the reviews submitted on any of these search engines and refunds the cost of the service. It doesn’t say whether the selection process is random or related to the sentiment of the review.
I was a little surprised that such an old-world service like plumbing would encourage customers to review their work. I guess that impression comes from a recent review I wrote on Yelp about another plumbing companyin St. Louis. My review was far from flattering. Anyway, I thought Roto-Rooter’s engagement of social networking interesting enough to check out their activity. Sure enough, they have a blog that Paul Abrams, the Public Relations Manager, updates regularly, and Roto-Rooter maintains a presence on a range of social network channels. From their blog,
People who discuss the importance of social media, and actually social computing in general (Enterprise 2.0 included), continue to insist that the innovations involved will become as much a part of the tacit knowledge and expertise of ordinary people as email. I think that assessment is in fact correct. However, I want to add an insight that no one yet, to my knowledge, has offered.
Social media is not a noun (media) accompanied by an adjective (social). In fact, as long as we think of it that way social media can only fail to achieve what the thought leaders who advocate its use believe it capable of doing. Social media is, in fact, a compound noun, a noun made up of two or more words. Neither term is sufficient to describe what is done by those using it unless we consider it as part of the other.
My first corporate position carried the title Methods Analyst,working for a large billing center serving a telephone company.One of my main tasks in that role involved learning how other employees performed their work and documenting it. On each project I typically spent several hours observing people work (what some today call rapid ethnographyor guerilla ethnography) and then did in-depth interviews of the people I observed. Usually, at the end of my observation, I took responsibility for doing the work for a brief time under their watchful eye. In some sense you could say my work required me to continuously cross trainin other people’s work, analyze the process, and write it up in a technical document. The main insight I took away from that experience was an appreciation for the importance played by empathy in effective collaboration.
First off, collaboration isn’t just about people sharing information to achieve common goals. Collaboration is about people working with other people to achieve common goals and create value. Advocates of Enterprise 2.0 sometimes make the fundamental mistake of arguing that collaboration is really only about achieving business goals, leaving the implication that incorporating social software into the work flow of organizations is sufficient. Even though goal-orientation is a big part of collaborating, collaboration requires more to achieve goals effectively. It requires shared experience. As Dev Patnaik and Evan Rosen recently noted, empathy and collaboration go hand in hand.
Does your organization approach using social media in its business as something to fear or as something to evangelize? Several recent observers note that incorporating social media into business involves changing the culture underlying communication patterns and decision-making in many large organizations.
Amber Naslund, for instance, tells us that adopting social media means changing the mindset on how to do business. In particular, she says using social media in business means “giving your customers a visible, valuable say in how you do things, and having the faith that doing that is just good business.” On the other hand, Caroline Dangson, of IDC contends enterprises aren’t yet sold on social media and that “there are executives still fearful of the transparency that comes with the social media spotlight.” Specifically, Caroline says that,
Corporate culture has everything to do with adoption of social media. I believe the number one factor preventing full adoption of social media is the lack of executive trust in employees. This culture is about control and creates a workplace of silos. This type of workplace is not set up to be social and the silos are barriers to worker productivity.
So, here social media sits, between fear and faith. Needless to say, the truth about social media’s implications for business design lies somewhere in the middle. The fact of the matter, as Todd Defren tells us, is that we need to begin seriously discussing “how Social Media Thinking will impact the greater whole of the company.”
As noted in an earlier post, keeping in mind the distinctions between formal, process-oriented organization and informal, practice-based organization is crucial in thinking through the collaborative challenges posed by social software for enterprises and designing for the experiences supported. We can learn a bit about the complexity of the challenges involved by considering a recent framework offered on social business design by the Dachis Corporation team and discussing the way it relates to a recent report on an experiment in enterprise social media at the Social Computing Lab of HP Laboratories.
As noted in a previous post, the promises made by brands are increasingly judged on whether they converge with the customer experience across channels of service in organizations. The challenge is a longstanding one for all organizations. However, the increasing adoption of social media makes the challenge more pressing as word of mouth (WOM) from customers, suppliers, competitors, or others amplifies their ability to communicate their experience with your brand to others. Word of mouth communities and networks using social software are increasingly spread over regional, national, and international borders, making them much more important to those who market branded products and services, online and off.
Speaking the language of customer-centricity is not good enough. Companies must talk-the talk and walk-the-walk for brand strategy. Brand strategies are most effective when based in the design and delivery of business services themselves. Listening to the conversations people engage online about a topic (such as your brand), and eliciting the participation of those people in the development and refinement of products and services, are two key parts of an experience design strategy. Even though you may think this is a “Duh!” insight, consider recent findings on the engagement gap.
…believe that data about their customers (94%), brand (91%) and employees (88%) are important or critical to long-term decision-making. However, strikingly low percentages of CEOs say they have comprehensive information in these and other critical areas that contribute to organisational agility. Just 21% have comprehensive information about the needs and references of customers and clients. Less than one third feel they have all the information they need about reputation (31%) and the views and needs of employees (30%).
Not surprisingly, the ability to anticipate customer needs is the widest gap between the information CEOs report they need to make decisions about the long-term success of their businesses, and what they currently possess. This post explores the Cynefin (pronounced cunevin) Framework as a helpful approach for thinking about the importance of dialogue with customers in efforts to bridge insight and action.
As part of an overall critique of self-oriented approaches to innovation, Skilful Minds first considered open innovation at Procter and Gamble back in 2006. The latter post is one of the most visited here.
Given my recent focus on transformation as a fundamental concern for those interested in design and innovation, the recent publicity about P&G’s Social Media Lab instantly drew me to take a look.
Without going into links to specific posts, I’ve noticed a trend among many blogs I try to keep up with over the past couple of years. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen prominent bloggers post publicly about having to pare down the list of RSS feeds they read, or tweets they respond to. Since Peter Kim’s blog is the most recent instance of the trend I’ll use one of his recent posts as an example of what I mean. Peter noted that he increasingly hears an echo chamber across social media blogs in which the same content, case studies, anecdotes, etc. gets repeatedly posted and commented on. More cynical observers might contend that the complaints about information overload from influentials is a little like strutting in front of a crowd. Nevertheless, it is difficult to dispute the point that attention is a scarce resource on the Web. So is engagement.
Ross Mayfield recently pointed to a study published by researchers at the Social Computing Lab of HP Laboratories that addresses the point succinctly by pointing to constraints on friendship in directed social networks such as Twitter. A directed social network is characterized by an absence of explicit reciprocity constraints, fifty people can follow one person without that person necessarily following any of them. First Monday’s most recent issue includes an article, Social Networks that Matter: Twitter under a Microscope, that reports on a study of Twitter users by Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero, and Fang Wu of HP Laboratories.
The authors analyzed data from 309,740 people using Twitter. They compared the network of interactions people actually engage in while using social computing technologies such as Twitter to the network of connections with whom one shares a social relationship. Networks of actual interaction are considered networks that matter by the authors.
By networks that matter we mean those networks that are made out of the pattern of interactions that people have with their friends or acquaintances, rather than constructed from a list of all the contacts they may decide to declare.
In other words, the research focused on reciprocity as well as connection in studying the social network of Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently attended a meeting of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) to listen to a presentation on the Kirkpatrick model of training assessment, offered by Jim Kirkpatrick, the son of the model’s creator — Don Kirkpatrick. Jim’s major point was that most training departments fail to measure learning outcomes at Levels 3 and 4 of the model. Without detailing the Kirkpatrick model’s four levels of analysis, the following are Jim’s definitions:
Reaction: involves what training participants thought of the training
Learning: the knowledge, skills, and attitudes gained through the training
Behavior: the degree participants apply what they learned on the job
Results: the business results gained
Suffice it to say that the model provides a unique framework on how to assess the learning outcomes of training. However, practitioners are prone to overlook a key issue in measuring learning. I previously noted the following about the Kirkpatrick model.
It is not a stretch to contend that Level 4 measurement is as much about organizational learning and change management as it is about individual learning. In the e-Learning Guild survey on measurement practices, Roy Pollock characterizes this situation as the “Catch-22” for training and development. He notes that, “assessment of on-the-job application and results is as much or more an assessment of the transfer climate…as it is of the quality of the instruction” (p. 167).
Based on what I heard from Jim Kirkpatrick as well as Nick Denardo, a presenter from Edward Jones’ strategic learning services group, the point about organizational learning also applies to Level 3 measurement, to the extent that existing organizational practices either facilitate or impede application of competencies and sharing of knowledge learned from formal training, whether on-the-job, or just informally.
So far, the spirit of experimentation has provided a sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card with respect to having to demonstrate the value of digital and social media programs and initiatives. It looks like 2009 will change all that due primarily to three factors:
– the widespread awareness of social media use in a business context
– the economy
– the economy
In a similar tone, Peter Kim recently took up the issue of return on investment (ROI) of social media. His thoughts on the topic were a response to a post by Lewis Green. Lewis offers a distinction between focusing on ROI and focusing on business Value as two different, though complementary, ways of addressing the importance of social media to business.
At least since publication of the Cluetrain Manifesto, with its meme that markets are conversations, observers noted the importance of what customers say about a brand, online and off — but especially those online. However, a somewhat subtler point from Cluetrain is increasingly relevant to brands and social media. The point was made in the book’s Thesis 39: “The community of discourse is the market.” In fact, the thesis actually consists of several ancillary ones: Read the rest of this entry »
The image on the left was used by Paul Dunay over at Marketing 2.0 in a recent post on digital signage. Paul notes that a recent Razorfish survey ranked digital signage (32 percent) as only second to mobile (51 percent) in importance as an emerging media channel. He also takes note of examples of new media channels that combine the two, mobile and digital signage.
Skilful Minds reminded readers about place-based story experiences like [murmur] recently after I visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MoBot) to see the Niki exhibit. The Niki exhibit showed forty mosaic sculptures done by Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). Each concept used cell phones to either allow visitors to places to share stories about the place, as in [murmur], or allow visitors to listen to stories about specific exhibit items, as in the Niki exhibit.
Yanko Design showcased a design recently called touched echo developed by Markus Kison. Touched echo makes a place-based story experience available to visitors without the use of devices like cell phones. Although the technology was anticipated in an early experiment by Laurie Anderson called the Handphone Table, applying it to place-based stories is a new and innovative experience design. The design works by using bone conduction for hearing rather than transmitting audio waves through the air.