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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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My Ten Favorite Tweets: Week Ending 040309

From the home office in Detroit, Michigan…

#1: Tim O’Reilly talks about how every appliance has a unique electrical signature. Useful for ID/control. #w2e

#2: Nice shout-out from @jowyang on my move to Spigit http://bit.ly/1aqFO

#3: Writing my own bio for a press release for Spigit. I agree with @tacanderson http://bit.ly/FO7M I find it painful to do these.

#4: Perhaps a note of caution in any Twitter acquisition talks…YouTube may lose $470m this year. http://bit.ly/OxZrx

#5: Gartner predicts that by 2011, enterprise microblogging will be standard in 80% of social software platforms http://bit.ly/4CFdRm

#6: RT @SameerPatel Add Your Twitter Blog to Technorati Directory http://bit.ly/1aEguw by via@labnol

#7: SocialText raises $4.5 mm, lays off six: http://bit.ly/Y3icM In line with the times. Nice fund raise.

#8: Great to meet @thomashawk last night at FriendFeed meet-up. Nice collection of pics of people that were there: http://bit.ly/r1pD

#9: Just finished touring the #w2e floor w/ @mediaphyter Great to meet in person!

#10: Using the word “users” in write-up. Alternative is “employees, customer, partners”, which is wordy. Or “people”, which describes 6 billion.

Strategic Intuition: The Innovation of Flickr and Twitter

At the Defrag conference last November, all attendees received a copy of Strategic Intuition by Columbia professor William Duggan. It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I am really enjoying this book.

So what is strategic intuition? It’s the process that leads to that flash of insight that hits you upside the head. Here’s how Duggan describes that:

It’s an open secret that good ideas come to you as flashes of insight, often when you don’t expect them. It’s probably happened to you – in the shower, or stepping onto a train, or stuck in traffic, falling asleep, swimming, or brushing your teeth in the morning.

Suddenly it hits you. It all comes together in your mind. You connect the dots. It can be one big “Aha!” or a series of smaller ones that together show you the way ahead. The fog clears and you see what to do. It seems so obvious. A moment before you had no idea. Now you do.

Professor Duggan’s work relates to the processes that lead up to that “aha!” moment. Yes, it turns out there’s a lot that happens before we’re struck with such blinding insights. And this research leads to some intriguing ways to think about pursuing innovation.

The book is chock full of perspectives from different fields that relate to his core premise of strategic intuition. If you read the book, you’ll get them all. Two that most interested me were:

  1. European military strategists: von Clausewitz vs. Jomini
  2. Ancient Asian philosophy: Dharma and Karma

I’m not passionate about either of those topics, yet when you read how Duggan relates them to the ways in which people innovate, they become quite compelling.

von Clausewitz vs. Jomini

I’m not going to bore you with details of the military strategy treatises of von Clausewitz and Jomini. Suffice to say that both are influential to this day in terms of their thinking about conducting military campaigns. Duggan distinguishes the two of them this way:

von Clausewitz focuses on considering the conditions at hand, having one’s mind open to new alternatives and pulling together disparate elements from previous experience to address battlefield situations. Jomini argues for establishing the objective clearly, setting a plan of attack and organizing everything centered around the plan of attack.

From Duggan’s perspective, von Clausewitz’s approach is more in-line with creativity and inspired ideas. This is the important part – that the best ideas cannot be willed into existence. Rather, they occur naturally as a result of combining previous experience and knowledge.

von Clausewitz’s work included four principles related to coup d’ oeil, French for a strike of the eye, a glance. Duggan relies heavily on these four principles throughout the book:

  1. Examples from history. The point here is that there is a wealth of relevant information from the past that is useful for the future. Our minds actually access this information subconsciously.
  2. Presence of mind. As Duggan writes, “You clear your mind of all expectations and previous ideas of what you might do or even what your goal is.” This mental state is important for developing new ideas.
  3. The flash of insight itself. This is something you’ll know. You “see” an idea clearly, one that wasn’t there minutes ago. It probably consumes you for a while. It’s a good thing.
  4. Resolution. It’s one thing to have a great idea. It’s another to execute on it. You have to be ready to follow through on what strategic intuition has given you.

Duggan relates these lessons to Napoleon’s success as a military commander. He later relates them to Bill Gates with Microsoft, and Sergei Brin and Larry Page with Google.

Let’s turn to the Asian philosophy.

Dharma and Karma

I’ve never really studied what karma is about. My level of understanding could be tied to a bumper sticker that says “My karma ran over your dogma” and karma points on Plurk.

Yet Duggan does a masterful job of taking the reader through some basic information about the Asian philosophies of Hindu, Buddhist and Tao. He ultimately settles on the philosophies of Dharma and Karma:

  • Dharma: Your own set of thoughts and actions. These are in your control.
  • Karma: The set of circumstances which you are presented. These are outside your control.

This is where Duggan has a bit of his own flash of insight. He relates the concepts of Dharma and Karma to von Clausewitz’s coup d’ oeil. He references this quote by Napoleon, who was more von Clausewitz than Jomini:

I never truly was my own master but was always ruled by circumstances.

In the Buddhist sense, you “go with the flow” instead of “get what you want”. In both Western and Eastern culture, there is a mysticism or religious aspect to this idea. I don’t think you need to to be particularly spiritual to understand this. We understand that there are circumstances every day that (i) affect us; and (ii)  are outside our control.

Putting This into Practice

In reading this, you can’t help but note the serendipity of the whole thing. There are a set of circumstances that will affect outcomes, and you can’t control them. You will experience flashes of insight, but only based on the prior experiences and knowledge that you happen to have.

It’s here where you really do need to be comfortable with this situation, where Eastern philosophy is useful.  The biggest lesson I take from Duggan’s book is the “presence of mind” principle. The willingness to consider a change in circumstances and see alternatives based on prior ideas that have worked.

The hard part is to drop the well-though out plans you may have for achieving some objective. If you’re seeing success with a plan, then by all means see it through. If you’re not, is it only a problem of poor execution? Or is there something else that should be tried, an idea that emerges from something that is working? Especially in a corporate environment, the ability to just drop a project plan is hard. But empowering employees to follow “what works” relative to a given set of circumstances can be particularly valuable.

Let’s see how this applies to two well-known companies in the sociasl media space, Flickr and Twitter.

Flickr: Leveraging What Works

How many people know that Flickr got its start in a massively multiplayer online game? A company called Ludicorp offered this game, which didn’t really take off in usage. But as a part of that game, a Ludicorp engineer created a tool to upload and share photos on a public page. That particular tool got more response than the game itself did. Ludicorp’s Caterina Fake knew she had something of interest on her hands. She scrapped the online game, and pursued the online photo sharing idea.

Here’s where you really need to consider von Clausewitz vs. Jomini. The Jomini style of strategy would have had Fake continue to push on the multiplayer online game. She had a defined objective, and she had to pursue it come hell or high water.

The von Clausewitz and Dharma/Karma perspectives argue that Fake was being given a great gift. Some small piece in all that Ludicorp work was resonating, it just wasn’t the part they had anticipated. Fake had the presence of mind to recognize this, and to pursue the new idea where it took her.

Twitter: Combining What Works

Interestingly, the roots of Twitter go all the way back to the year 2000. As Steve Parks documents, Jack Dorsey was starting a business at the tail end of the 1990s’ dot com boom. He started a company to dispatch couriers, taxis and emergency services through the web. At the same time, he was an early user of the new LiveJournal blogging service. You can also see that he was aware of AOL’s Instant Messenger application for chatting with friends.

As Dorsey tells it:

One night in July of that year I had an idea to make a more “live” LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road. Akin to updating your AIM status from wherever you are, and sharing it.

He carried this idea around for the next five years, until he had a chance to put it in place as the company for which he worked in 2006, Odeo, was flagging. His idea was coded by Odeo engineers, and Twitter was born.

Professor Duggan places a great emphasis in his book on combining ideas, experience and knowledge from different realms to create something new and compelling. These previous ideas, combined and applied to a new situation, are the fuel for the flash of insight. In von Clausewitz’s approach, these are the “examples from history”.

Look at the influences of Dorsey before he came up with the idea for Twitter in 2000:

  • The need to share statuses easily with multiple people for his dispatch service
  • The self-expression provided by LiveJournal
  • The real-time communication of IM

With these influences, he conceived of Twitter. And look how it came about: “one night in July”. He can remember the specific circumstances and timing when the flash of insight hit him.

What It Means for You and Me

It would be wrong to assume that setting an objective is not relevant in this process. In reading this blog post, it’s possible that one could come away with the thought that you just kind of wait until a flash of insight hits you.

It’s important to distinguish between having an objective, and being unyielding in pursuing the plan to achieve it. It’s another to have an objective, and to have the flexibility to change the plan or even the objective.

I also believe these flashes of insight only come when you’re focused on something. Focus is the catalyst for our minds to piece together different experiences and knowledge, and gives a channel for where insight can emerge.

Personally, I won’t stop establishing objectives and planning for them. But this book has been influential to me in having “presence of mind” in pursuit of these objectives.

*****

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Atlassian’s Confluence Wiki Gets Social: Embed Your Favorite Social Media

Zoli Erdos has a nice write-up of enterprise software company Atlassian, titled Business Models and Right-brained Geeks. In it, he notes the culture of Atlassian is different from many enterprise software companies:

Atlassian is a “different” company in so many ways… no wonder they are still hiring while the rest of the world is busy downsizing.  But one thing I’ve not realized until now is they have a backup business plan. They could quit Technology tomorrow and become a Creative Agency overnight.smile_wink Need proof?

We use Atlassian’s Confluence wiki in our office, and I’ll bet a lot of you do as well. It’s easy to use, and I’ve become a big fan of it versus using Microsoft Word.

So it’s no surprise that the latest release, Confluence 2.10 has a really cool feature: the Widget Connector. Uh…come again?

The Widget Connector. It is a lightweight way to embed content from 16 different social media sites:

atlassian-confluence-connector-widget-supported-sites

I have to say, that’s pretty cool. The ability to embed media created elsewhere is a wonderful feature for any site. I’ve embedded my recent SlideShare on the About Page for this blog. And the ability to embed Vimeo videos was great for a recent post where I talked with MADtv’s Chris Kula.

LinkedIn recently started doing this as well. You can add content and applications from 10 different sites to your profile. It’s a smart play for companies. By letting you bring content from elsewhere, these sites become valuable platforms for getting business done.

Considering the Widget Connector in a Business Context

The interesting thing here is that these sites are indeed social. So the content that will be included is likely to be that which is OK for public viewing. Which means some sensitive internal content won’t be found on these sites. I know many of these sites allow private, restricted access content. It’s unclear whether restricted access content can be embedded though.

But a lot of what businesses do is perfectly fine for public consumption. Well, make sure you embed it in the wiki! Conference presentations, product demos, marketing media, product pictures, etc. In fact, the bias should be to have this content public and findable unless there is a real concern about loss of confidential information. Being a presence in the industry means getting out there with information and ideas that you share. Of course, not everything should be accessible. For instance, a webinar should be public, while a customer presentation will stay internal.

The reality is that companies are expanding their presence on social media sites, even if it is happening in a halting fashion. Turns out consumers are starting to expect it. As use of these various social media sites expands, having a central place to view and track the content on them makes a lot of sense.

Another use I see for this is collecting information from various services and users to build out research on:

  • New product or service initiatives
  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Regulatory and standards development

Consider Atlassian’s release of Confluence 2.10 another step forward in expanding the use and value of social media for business purposes.

*****

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Would Twitter Have Emerged If Current Pessimistic Attitudes Were Around Last Year?

Although well-used by many and even relied upon by some, Twitter has yet to turn on a revenue model. It’s not like the company would lose users, if it set up a minor advertising strategy as a test; people want to see the company make some money. Please, Twitter, turn on the revenue before it’s too late.

Rafe Needleman, 11 troubled Web companies: The next Kozmos?

We’re all watching, rather helplessly, what is happening to the global economy right now. It appears we’re in for a chilly period economically. Click here for a Twitter search on recession.

And there’s no shortage of advice on how to handle the upcoming winter. The most talked-about advice came from legendary venture capital firm Sequoia, who put their thoughts into a presentation. This slide describes their advice to their portfolio start-ups:

The above slide is the equivalent of a cold splash of water in the face. The general theme seems to be: cut back on experimentation and things that take a while to mature.

Later on slide 53, Sequoia includes this advice, which I have seen in many other pieces:

Become cash flow positive as soon as possible

Cash flow positive, cash flow positive…always good advice. And here are the two levers affecting cash flow position:

  1. Increase revenues
  2. Cut costs

But that advice seems to be for companies that have a specific profile. I think the approach for entrepreneurs is a little more nuanced.

What a Start-up Needs to Do Depends on Its Maturity

The graph below graphs the two levels affecting cash flow, and considers the distance between a company’s revenues and its costs.

I put this graph together because I think it’s too simplistic to say, “cut costs”. Cutting costs is advice that applies to companies along all levels of maturity in down economic times. But for many companies, that’s not enough. If the distance between sales and costs is too great, there’s no way to cut costs to preserve the company. The focus of the entrepreneurs needs to be on raising equity, not doing more with less. If there’s a good base of revenues and a decent post-financial crisis pipeline, the focus is on closing deals, not cutting costs. “Deals” meaning partner deals in a consumer web app, client deals for an enterprise app.

There are promising companies that do not yet have the topline revenue nailed down right now. Per the Sequoia note, these companies need to cut back on experimentation. Yet, we hear this sort of thing a lot:

The Great Tech Bust of Ought Two gave us 37Signals, Flickr, and del.icio.us

But…aren’t those examples of experimentation? For instance, Flickr didn’t start out life as a social photo sharing service. It was an experimental feature for an online gaming service called Game Neverending by Ludicorp. The “feature” of photo sharing didn’t have a revenue model, and I’m going to guess it wasn’t the core strategy discussed at Ludicorp board meetings.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of mixed messages out there: “Cut back and focus on what’s core!” “Great innovation emerges from economic downturns!”

Would We Have Twitter If the Economic Slowdown Was in 2007?

I put together a two graphs of Twitter’s traffic, as tracked by Google Trends. The top graph is Twitter’s traffic during 2007. The bottom graph is Twitter’s traffic overall from 2007 until today.

Assume today’s chilled economic outlook was in effect at this time last year. If a VC was making decisions about companies in its portfolio, how would Twitter fare? The 2007 numbers show a service without a real growth trend. And Twitter still doesn’t have a revenue model.

Using Sequoia’s advice…Twitter would be dead.

But look at Twitter’s numbers starting in April 2008. The network effects have kicked in, Twitter is getting press everywhere, CNN is even using it. Per Rafe’s post cited at the top, an ad revenue model certainly seems doable and promising based on its metrics.

However, I’m not convinced Twitter would survive under today’s dire outlook for start-ups. It’d be a  victim of the “throw the baby out with the bath water” mentality we’re seeing right now. And wouldn’t that have been a mistake.

Let’s hope some sense of proportionality and a longer term view kicks in soon.

*****

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Using Social Media In Hollywood – An Interview with MADtv’s Chris Kula

Chris Kula is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He currently writes for MADtv, seen Saturday nights on the Fox Network. I learned about Chris through an unusual connection – a link on my blog.

A few months back I wrote How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-Workers. The post ranks pretty high in the search engines, and is a consistent traffic source. It includes a link to a parody farewell email blog post by Chris, and I’ve noticed each week that many people click on that link. I was curious about who Chris is, so I reached out to him. He’s social media savvy, and I wanted to find out what’s happening in Hollywood these days with regard to social media.

First, some background.

Chris Is a Funny Dude

On Chris’s site, you’ll find a number of creative videos he’s put together, hosted on Vimeo. Check them out when you get a chance, they’re very good and are terrific displays of his comedic talents. These videos are Chris’s work done on his own time, not because he was being paid. Here’s one of Chris’s creations,”This Is Budweiser”:

more about “Chris Kula – This Is Budweiser“, posted with vodpod

Chris started Flickr Punch on blogspot. Flickr Punch is a site where Chris applies punch lines to pictures he and others find on Flickr. He includes several of these “punchlined” Flickr pix on the home page of his personal site.  Here’s one for Storm Trooper fans:

Finally, Chris has also written for the Onion News Network. Perhaps his best known creation for The Onion is Child Bankrupts Make-A-Wish Foundation With Wish For Unlimited Wishes. This spoof is so realistic, concerned citizens contacted the charity about the news. The Make-a-Wish Foundation issued a press release saying that the charity was indeed OK. Chris’s creation even earned its own Snopes page.

He’s Got Social Media Chops

Chris clearly knows his way around Web 2.0 and social media. Above I’ve noted his work with Vimeo, Flickr and Blogspot (Blogger).  He finds humor in Wikipedia entries in a couple of his videos. He maintains a Tumblr blog about food he eats. He has his own blog, and includes links to his Facebook and MySpace profiles.

I was curious about the role of social media in the entertainment industry. Most coverage of entertainment focuses on industry efforts to clamp down on copying music, TV shows and movies. But what about people that work in the industry? How do they use social media in their personal and professional lives?

I’m particularly interested because Facebook has attracted a solid user base, and now faces the work of penetrating parts of the market that are less likely to try social media. Twitter hit a growth inflection point in March 2008, and continues to move forward into the consciousness of the mainstream. So how is social media playing outside the technology geek hot house?

I asked Chris eight questions, which he answers below. Obviously, these are just Chris’s experiences, but they do shine a light on what’s happening in Hollywood.

Eight Questions for Chris Kula

1. You’ve got some great stuff on social video site Vimeo, and your Flickr Punch site is great. What made you create those?

When I was working crappy day jobs in New York, I was really proactive about creating my own online content – be it videos or photo caption stuff (like FlickrPunch) or writing on my blog. At the same time I was doing improv and sketch at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, but that was more an ensemble type thing; making web videos and producing blog content was my way of establishing my individual voice as a writer. I got my first comedy writing job (at the now-defunct Time Inc. website Office Pirates.com) based largely on the content I’d been producing on my own.

2. Looks like you stopped updating on Vimeo and FlickrPunch a couple years ago. Did your social media stuff tail off after getting a job with Onion News Network and MADtv?

Yeah, I started producing less of my own stuff once I started getting paid to write. So now I don’t get as much chance to do my own thang as I used to, but on the other hand, I’m able to pay my rent and, you know, eat. It’s a fair trade. (But, given the very fickle nature of TV writing jobs, it’s really only a matter of time ’till I am once again updating my blog with sparkling new content just for the pro bono joy of it.)

3. A couple years ago, The New York Times ran a piece about United Talent Agency sourcing new talent via social media. Have you seen an increase in studios/talent agencies’ use of social media to source talent in Hollywood? Are the next generation of people trying to break into Hollywood using social media a lot more, with link to examples of their work instead of portfolios?

Absolutely. I think that’s the number one thing you can do as a writer/performer type today: have an online presence. The potential audience you can reach online is just so great, be it on YouTube or something more comedy-specific like Funny or Die. And yes, that audience includes the suits – I know a lot of sketch groups whose online body of work has earned them agents, managers, pilot deals, magic beans, etc. There are still the “conventional” routes to getting representation – writing a spec script, or putting up a live sketch show – but now you should absolutely be posting your own videos *in addition* to working on that stuff.

4. What’s your favorite social network these days? Why?

I really should make Facebook the Home page on my Firefox, as it’s basically always my first click. I like that I can keep up with what my friends “are doing right now” in an entirely passive fashion. Highly useful: event invitations for plugging shows, photo/video tagging. Highly ignorable: invitations to become werewolves, vampires, zombies and/or slayers of these creatures. (My second favorite social network is Tumblr, and these days I check my Myspace only about once a fortnight.)

5. You and your friends ever tweet?

Twitter has yet to infiltrate my friends. How I’ve managed to survive this long without knowledge of Julia Allison’s every waking activity, I do not know.

6. I checked out your Tumblr blog, Kula Foods. It’s cool. You really like food, don’t you?

My food blog is quite literally an exercise in self-indulgence. Delicious, savory self-indulgence. I post all the photos and text directly from my Blackberry Pearl. I’ll keep updating it as long as my metabolism allows.

7. What do you think of Ashton Kutcher’s Blah Girls?

re: Blah Girls – As a celeb-obsessed teen girl, I’m so loving it! Annnd… now I’m so over it. LOL

8. You’re a big Michigan fan. Are they going to make a bowl this year?

As a proud-bordering-on-elitist Michigan alum and fan, I used to complain about how other major conference teams can win, like, six games and still end up in a bowl game. Cut to: present day – Michigan football is the shakiest it’s been in, oh, three generations and I’m praying that FIVE wins might get us into the prestigious Carquest Motor City Bowl. Go Blue?

Thanks Chris.

You can see Chris’s work on his blog, and on MADtv Saturday nights.

*****

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How Enterprise 2.0 Fosters Innovation: Stop Groupthink

I’ve had a chance to read some interesting research about innovation. In this case, whether more quality ideas emerge…

  • When people are in group sessions; or
  • Thinking independently

The background of this research ties into a well-known corporate activity: group meetings. I imagine most of us go through the ritual team meetings. Team meetings are good for a lot of things, but innovation may not be their highest and best use.

Turns out, research says that companies would be better off if employees had a way of coming up with ideas on their own, not in group meetings.

Here are three separate findings:

Via Marc Andreessen’s blog, the findings of researchers as related by Frans Johansson in The Medici Effect:

Via MSNBC, the findings as reported in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Via MIT Sloan Management Review, research published by INSEAD Business School

These observations about brainstorming ring true to me. I’ve been in enough meetings to know that strong personalities and prior relationships can hold sway over a group. The quote above by the Indiana University associate professor describes a dynamic I’ve seen time and again. An idea suggested early in the session gets traction, and becomes the focal point of the brainstorming. At some point, groupthink takes over. Maybe it’s exhaustion, maybe it’s an inability to focus on the other ideas anymore.

Yes, good ideas can emerge. But often, the whole exercise feels forced, and in my personal experience, employees don’t expect much from these meetings. Particularly if they’re run by outside consultants.

It Turns Out Group Brainstorming Does Have Its Attractions

The INSEAD paper referenced above does have some good news about group meetings. The paper studied two types of brainstorming groups:

  1. The traditional model, assembling a group of people.
  2. The other group took a “hybrid” approach, working on ideas by themselves before coming together to share their thinking.

The quote I selected above is from the research. But the study also has this to say about the two types of brainstorming:

Which technique yielded the best ideas? Strictly speaking, the traditional brainstorming groups consistently came up with the very best idea — and the very worst one, too. In other words, the quality of their results varied much more than those that came out of the hybrid groups that combined individual and group idea generation. However, the hybrid groups produced more ideas that were, on average, of higher quality. Nonetheless “for the very best idea, you need to have a pure brainstorming group,” notes Girotra. “Random interactions are likely to produce better-quality ideas.”

A few thoughts from that quote. One, the best idea can emerge from the group brainstorming, but I suspect it takes a truly motivated group. People need to come to meetings energized, ready to participate in a rapid-fire exchange of ideas and counter-arguments. In my experience, most meetings aren’t like that.

Also, how does that research that both the best and worst ideas emerge from group brainstorming play out there? Who doesn’t want the best ideas to emerge, but are you ready to put up with the worst ones too? Is there an argument for maintaining a larger number of ideas that are consistently above average?

Why can’t we get the best of both worlds? I want a higher quantity of good ideas, and I want the best ideas to emerge. While avoiding the worst ideas, if possible.

Enterprise 2.0: Hybrid Between Individualism and Group Dynamics

The graphic below describes the way Enterprise 2.0 captures the advantages of both brainstorming styles, group and hybrid:

Source Ideas: In the model above, the bottom level speaks to the core driver of Web 2.0: user-generated content. In this case, employee-generated ideas. Applying the familiar design and functionality of the consumer web (e.g. Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, WordPress, etc.) allows the easy creation of ideas.

Filter Ideas: Something I’ve learned by participating in social media is that your peers are amazing filters. Find a group of people with common interests – but with different opinions – and you’d be amazed at how the most useful stuff floats to the top. Happens in blogging, photos, videos, tweets etc.

Execute Ideas: After all this idea creation and filtering is done, the ideas need to be executed. Here’s where the group dynamic becomes a huge plus. Most ideas in a corporate setting will touch a number of areas, and the group makes it happen.

The key to getting the best of both worlds – more ideas of better quality, identification of the top ideas – is to create a culture where ideas are rapidly created and evaluated, while also letting advocates gestate their ideas to fix areas of weakness.

The ‘Source Ideas’ part of the model speaks to the best of brainstorming as researchers have found, in the above quotes. In my own experience, it’s hard to find those channels for new ideas, either fully baked or based on a hunch. You’d typically have to email someone, or call a meeting with several folks. Coming up with new ideas is challenging enough…you then have to go through workplace Olympics to see an idea get discussed and considered.

‘Filter Ideas’ gets to the heart of what makes group brainstorming powerful, when it works. The rapid creation and analysis of ideas helps everyone. Different points of view, people seeing unique opportunities with an idea or recognizing weaknesses…all are vital to the corporate innovation process. Currently, this can only happen in a group setting, but the group brainstorming dynamics have to be “right”.

Enterprise 2.0 has this figured out. Ideas are easily created and shared. Proponents and opponents can develop analyses of ideas. Simple commenting is very powerful, while longer form blogging can lay down foundational elements. Proposed ideas and discussions live longer than the one hour everyone is together in a conference room.

I know this, because I see it everyday in places like FriendFeed, blogs and Twitter. The diverse opinions, knowledge, creativity and world views result in some really good ideas and perspectives.

I’m not prescribing the particular technology to capture the best of individual and group brainstorming. There are different ways to approach that. What matters is letting the employees try this out for themselves.

Groupthink has its place. A unified group taking on the challenges of the market is vital. But groupthink should kick in after the innovation processes have occurred. First, a healthy scrum of ideas, ultimately filtered to the ones that a company will execute. Then everyone working together with a common sense of purpose.

A utopian vision? Perhaps. But like all stretch goals…if you get halfway to them, you’ve accomplished a lot.

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If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, Del.icio.us and SlideShare. To see this room, click here: http://friendfeed.com/rooms/enterprise-2-0

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