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Greece’s Incumbent Party Leans on Social Media Ahead of Oct 4 Election

Greece holds national elections for its Prime Minister on Sunday October 4. This is a “snap election”, called by the incumbent Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in what is regarded as either a savvy play to get a mandate, or a suicide electoral mission. This election was only called on September 2, giving the political parties only a month to get their candidates air time. ΝΕΑ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ (New Democracy) is the party of the incumbent, Karamanlis. Polls suggest his more conservative party will have a tough fight with the Socialists.

Walking through Athens, I was impressed by the display set up by the ΝΕΑ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ party. It was nighttime, and the ND party station was bright with blazing lights, blaring music and a modern look. Included in the station was this wall:

Greek New Democracy party social media

Check out those social media chops! Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube. The URLs are well-done. They redirect to the actual social media site account for the ND party, while making it easy to remember them.

And these aren’t “ghost town” accounts. The party’s Facebook page has nearly 9,300 supporters, and each entry in its news stream receives dozens of Likes and Comments.

I don’t know if Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will regret his decision to call a snap election this Sunday October 4. But I’m impressed with his party’s use of social media. Perhaps they’re taking a page from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

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The Blog (and I) Take a Two-Week Vacation

Off to Greece: Athens, Santorini, Crete. See you when I get back.

Crete Greece

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 091109

From the home office in Athens, Santorini and Crete…

#1: Salesforce emerging as a competitor to Jive, Socialtext, Atlassian, Telligent? http://bit.ly/71hbn That’ll be tough #e20

#2: What Exactly is a Social Business? http://bit.ly/2g9u82 by @lehawes #e20

#3: 15,000 Thoughts per Day – Why We Need Constraints for Innovation (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/ltaxP #innovation

#4: “Innovation is one of the easiest & least risky areas that can be tapped by organizations” http://bit.ly/uLk6K by @dhinchcliffe

#5: RT @armano “innovation happen in the corners of an organization—they need to be connected” (we call this Ecosystem) #futurebiz

#6: McKinsey has created the “innovation performance score” http://bit.ly/2YWPQ9 It’s, of course, a smart analytical tool #innovation

#7: Love @fredwilson‘s attitude here: The Foursquare “Crush” http://bit.ly/10g4kb Using his blog as valuable feedback for future investments

#8: RT @GraemeThickins Wall Street Journal & New York Times plan San Francisco editions http://bt.io/AwZ (via @thefutureofnews)

#9: RT @skap5 Is it possible to have an economy where everyone is a consultant?

#10: RT @Danny_DeVito I just joined Twitter! I don’t really get this site or how it works. My nuts are on fire.

Noted: Innovation Management races past Enterprise 2.0

I belong to two groups on FriendFeed, Enterprise 2.0 and Innovation Management. These groups track tweets and Delicious bookmarks related to their respective topics. The Enterprise 2.0 Group was set up in June 2008, meaning it’s about 15 months old.  The Innovation Management Group was set up July 24, 2009, meaning it’s  about 1 1/2 months old.

So the Enterprise 2.0 Group has a 13 1/2 month head start in terms of attracting members.

Which makes this all the more remarkable:

Innovation Mgt vs E2.0 - FriendFeed GroupsThe Innovation Management Group tied the Enterprise 2.0 Group in membership last Friday (9/4/09). It now has 607 subscribers vs. 590 in the Enterprise 2.0 Group.

Noted.

Crowdsourced or Elite Unit Innovation?

A classic dilemma for companies is determining the best way to foster innovation. There are many good books with different approaches. Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma has influenced a generation’s thinking about innovation. He focuses management and entrepreneurs’ attention on the Big I: disruptive innovation.

One outcome of the popularity of Christensen’s book is the awareness people have that entrenched business practices can inhibit companies’ ability to recognize and address discontinuous innovations from new market entrants. Motorola, for example, is often held up as an example of this. The company continued to develop only analog cell phones even as the digital phones were getting traction. In clinging to analog, which it dominated, it fell far behind in the mobile phone market.

A key practice espoused by Christensen is for companies to tackle discontinuous innovations by creating separate divisions. These divisions have an R&D profile, meaning they are funded without requiring a financial return. They do not have to prove themselves to sales or other parts of the organization. This gives them the room they need to figure out how to approach the impending market shift.

The issue with the popularization of this framework is that it sets up a binary approach to innovation. You’re either addressing disruptive or discontinuous innovations, or you’re executing on yesterday’s business. It’s this dichotomy that obscures the value of innovations that move organizations forward, competing to increase market share and profits.

To that end, let’s examine two ways companies create work structures for innovation.

Integrated or Separate Innovation

The graphic below highlight two very different ways to approach innovation. And that’s a good thing.

Innovation Work Structures

Separate Division: As advised by Clayton Christensen, this approach is best for companies that need to address disruptive innovations. And all companies need to address disruptive innovations.These days, it’s not a matter of if, but when. For fundamental market shifts, too much is invested in the current operations for companies to address changes. Freeing a group of people from these constraints is critical, if the corporate culture is not open to big-bet innovations.

A couple examples of interest here. First, let’s go back to Motorola. Yes, the company muffed it badly on the transition from analog to digital. But there was something that it did right years before. Motorola researcher Jim Mikulski could see in the 1960s that existing cellular technology was insufficient for the emerging uses of the mobile technology. He had a new technology to replace it, and asked the head of Motorola’s communications division, John Mitchell to fund its development. Mitchell said “no”,

Arguing that 400MHz technology offered sufficient capacity and met consumer needs. The Communications Division current product line was the market leader, and a new product, which would likely cannibalize the current system, was deemed to be both unnecessary and potentially harmful to this business line.

So Mikulski found refuge in Motorola’s Corporate Research Laboratory. He worked on the new technology there, receiving funding for its development. When his view of the coming changes proved to be true, Motorola was ready with its new technology.

In other words, he addressed innovation that affected the communications division in a completely separate division.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has programmatically set up a separate division for innovation. The Microsoft Research group works on ideas that may never have commercial appeal. But some of their work has resulted in product features and direction for its new Natal gaming system, its Bing search engine, and an upcoming release of Outlook email.

They have a separate division, but the innovations arguably are of the sustaining variety, not disruptive.

Integrated into Daily Work: In this work structure, everyone is involved in innovation. The company sets expectations, and encourages employees’ to share ideas. Done right, this is in-the-flow stuff. Employees are encountering issues to be addressed daily, and they’re hearing new customer feedback all the time. They are well-positioned to come up with innovative solutions and products, if senior management makes that a priority.

Whirlpool is a good example of this. In 1999, then-CEO David R. Whitwam made the determination that Whirlpool needed to stop competing on price, and make innovation its central strategy. Fast forward to today, and the results have been stellar. Whirlpool has escaped competing as a commodity vendor, with $4 billion in revenue (21% of total sales) generated from its innovation efforts. Are they satisfied? No. CEO Jeff Fettig stated that while participation in innovation from 5,000 employees is good, he’s looking to increase it to 15,000.

That’s integrating innovation into employees’ daily work for sustaining innovation. In this case, sustaining innovation has been the source of growth and profits.

Another company where innovation is part of everyday work is 3M. The company is legendary for its innovation. And clearly, the encouragement of all employees to be part of innovation has taken hold. For instance, there was this story recently in Fast Company:

3M told a great innovation story at the ARF annual conference about a new product that started with a complaint call into customer care. The representative did his own research online, came up with a solution, filmed a video that he put on YouTube and re-contacted the customer to see if that is what he was looking for.

The sheer volume of ideas that employees have to improve companies’ existing businesses puts a premium on crowdsourcing ideas. And inevitably, some of that culture and the ideas emerging from sustaining innovation will relate to discontinuous or disruptive innovations.

Why Not Do Both?

Google is a good example of a company that does both. It’s 20% time for employees to devote to innovation is the stuff of business legend. And according to the company, half of its new products result from this employee time.

But then look at Google Wave. This project was done beyond 20% time. It was actually a completely separate project developed by a 5-person “startup” team in Australia, far from the company’s Mountain View, CA headquarters. Google Wave is transformative, and will likely usher new design principles into a host of software applications.

Google is a good example of an innovation-led company. They mix the elite unit approach to innovation with the everyday encouragement for employees to innovate.

There’s not this dichotomy of “all disruptive/discontinuous innovation, or you’re just falling behind”. Rather, it’s a smart blend of the strategies.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter, and I’m a Senior Consultant with HYPE Innovation.

Lego’s Innovation Won’t Stop Children’s Creativity

LEGO logoThe New York Times has a great story about Lego’s resurgence as a profitable, growing toymaker. In Beyond the Blocks, the newspaper asks: “Lego has rebuilt itself, but does it risk losing a sense of wonder?”

Lego is a universal toy for all of us, across generations. As kids, we played with canisters of those multicolored bricks. As parents, we pass along the tradition to our kids. The free form nature of Legos is part of their attraction. Build whatever you want, exercise the creativity muscles and wonder that’s so prevalent in young children.

The company, however, was running into challenges of slow market growth and poor internal operational discipline. To combat the malaise that was setting in, a new CEO came in and made two big changes. He instilled a key performance indicator (KPI) mentality and greatly expanded the product line beyond the free form blocks. It is a story of success and innovating to become a stronger company, as the New York Times notes:

But the story of Lego’s renaissance — and its current expansion into new segments like virtual reality and video games — isn’t just a toy story. It’s also a reminder of how even the best brands can lose their luster but bounce back with a change in strategy and occasionally painful adaptation.

A key point made in the story is that the theme-based Lego toys have a downside. Toy sets based on Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Toy Story rob children of the creative aspects that the traditional plain bricks. With a plain set of Legos, there are no instructions, no pre-set pictures of what the end result will be. It requires that the child think about new possibilities and dream up their own structures. The themed toys, on the other had, are more about following someone else’s directions and creativity. Indeed, here’s what psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Sinowitz says in the New York Times article:

What Lego loses is what makes it so special. When you have a less structured, less themed set, kids have the ability to start from scratch. When you have kids playing out Indiana Jones, they’re playing out Hollywood’s imagination, not their own.

I think it’s a point well-made. But I want to offer a counterpoint. It’s not from any deep research background on childhood creativity. Rather, it’s as a father of a 5 year old boy. Here is my son’s current favorite Lego creation:

Lego flying machine contraption

Lego flying machine contraption

What’s that? Ask my son, and he’ll tell you, “It’s a secret.” What did it used to be? A helicopter. A Lego helicopter that came with specific instructions for how to build it. Which we did together. But soon thereafter, he decided to make it his own thing. He can tell you all about the different parts of his magnificent flying machine. What they do, and where the people climb in and how they operate it.

What this tells me is that creativity is an intrinsic part of all of us. Sure, my son made a helicopter into a variation of something that flies, instead of turning it into a castle or bridge or something. So certainly, the theme of the toy influenced the direction of his creativity. But I actually think that’s a good thing. Give him some direction for his creativity.

Can’t wait to see what he does with the Grand Carousel.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 090409

From the home office in Los Angeles Station fire…

#1: CNN: Hired! I got my job through Twitter http://bit.ly/1L7lT8

#2: Reading: New Approaches for Analyzing Influence on Twitter http://bit.ly/lz6VP Deep, detailed analysis. Focuses on 12 big hitters.

#3: What an interesting concept. Check the social web to see who scores high on key terms. http://test.jobshouts.com/ (via @gyehuda)

#4: Collaboration King picks the top 3-5 vendors in 11 different categories of collaboration software http://bit.ly/j22WW #e20

#5: Enterprise 2.0: If you (just) build it, they won’t come http://bit.ly/XumO9 “Focus on the low-hanging fruit of human behavior”

#6: Delicious blog: Two PhDs are working on a reputation system for Delicious to make finding good content easier http://bit.ly/4sbGyI

#7: Innovation = problem to be solved + ideas/knowledge of others + presence of mind

#8: Jeffrey Phillips of OVO: External Innovation Communities (via Spigit blog): http://bit.ly/13MJC9 #innovation #spigit09

#9: Do Users Want Innovation? http://bit.ly/Zk5Mp by @jkuramot Truly breakthrough? Not initially – only early adopters. #innovation

#10: RT @innovate Cash for Clunkers – 10 out of Top 10 clunkers turned in were American, but only 2 of Top 10 purchases were. #cars #usa #green

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