Small Moves, Smartly Made
For the record, I’m not currently in Japan.
For longtime readers of this blog, of course, the joke being that I’ve been caught in three separate earthquakes while traveling on business, including in one in downtown Tokyo in 2005.
The 8.9 magnitude quake that hit near Sendai overnight in Japan was, of course, no joke. Reports of damage from both the quake itself and the tsunamis have been devastating, and of course the waves are still traveling across the Pacific towards the U.S. West Coast and South America.
If you’d like to learn more and make a donation, the Red Cross put out this disaster alert overnight.
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan, including my IBM colleagues in Tokyo and the surrounding area. Feel free to respond to this blog post and let us know how you’re doing!
Social Business Summit Debrief
Back here in Austin, we’re preparing for up to 14,000 visitors in town for the start of SXSW Interactive. I’m still trying to make my way through the insane schedule, but already began some serious networking yesterday at the Dachis Corp. “Social Business Summit.”
There was a wide range of speakers and topics, and Dachis’ Peter Kim served as the emcee du jour. Salesforce.com chief scientist JP Rangaswami (and Cluetrain contributor) set the day up by asking the question, “Why do we even need a social business summit?”
His answer: To discover what we’ve lost — that is, being social while doing business. His thesis: That in the mass broadcast market model, relationships got lost in all that hierarchy, and the 1-1 relationship opportunity was subsumed by the “mass.”
The network allows those relationships to scale between businesses, consumers, and other participants in the market, and that “the new generation won’t tolerate business the way we have.”
JP went on to discuss how the concept of work has gone through many iterations, and explained that “there is no such thing as failure,” that such a thing is simply evidence we can store for future proofing.
Tell that to my boss, JP.
Forrester’s Josh Bernoff: Put Down The Credit Card!
Josh Bernoff from Forrester appeared later in the day, always ready and armed with some excellent case studies. Josh explained how he recently reached out to BestBuy’s Twelpforce to find a cell phone adapter, and after being told precisely the store he needed to buy the item had it in stock, proceeded to walk out with $1,100 worth of merchandise, including a new BlueRay player.
Josh, please, put your credit card away before you allow the Mercedes-Benz folks to steer you to their nearest dealership.
Josh did leave us with some takeaways: 1) Encourage your staff to use new tech 2) Encourage experimentation 3) Commit to collaboration systems 4) Use councils to spread best practices.
Good advice…we’ve followed all of those inside Big Blue, and it’s served us well.
Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion
Renowned business author John Hagel III was up next, and gave what I thought was one of the more relevant talks to the subject of social business.
Hagel explained to the Austin digitelligentsia that we are now living in a world of diminishing returns, and yet the more participants, the more rapid the returns.
We’re moving from a world of “stocks” to a world of “flows,” and that though business in the past was built around proprietary knowledge that companies prevented access to and extracted value from, the world of social business is a whole different animal.
If you want to create value in this world, you have to refresh your knowledge base to replenish your stock. That’s where social software can play a key role, because those “flows” depend increasingly on technology platforms.
But Hagel had a word of caution to orgs wishing to dive into the social business realm (and strangely, it mimicked what IBM first said about e-business in 1997: “Start simple, grow fast.”). Hagel explained that “going slow at first may help us go faster at the end of the day.”
Hagel went on to explain that “we must change every aspect of how we do business” to take full advantage of the opportunity social business presents, and that it will require “massive organizational change.” Hagel, importantly, I think, also explained that what’s missing today in these transitions and projects is a systematic link to metrics that matter most: Strategic metrics at the top of the org, operational metrics in the middle, and day-to-day metrics at the bottom.
Our jobs as social change agents are to bolster the champions and neutralize the opponents.
Cool! Can I have a super duper social business laser gun to take the momentum-dragging —rds out!?
Jesse Thomas from JESS3 built on Hagel’s meme by stating that the goal is transformation, not just putting lipstick on a pig. Social business strategy and infrastructure create the conditions for businesses to evolve, and they allow for the scaling of distributed leadership, while social networks allow for intimacy and presence at scale.
And, collectively, this presents a unique opportunity for harnessing the power of open data to evolve and learn (social analytics, acting on insight, etc.)
But ultimately, leadership still matters, even in the social organization. Leaders are the people best placed to “join the dots,” as it is they who have the helicopter view of the city.
It was a thought-provoking day, and at the end of it, my head hurt…and I’m sure that had nothing to do with the margaritas.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find my way to the Austin Convention Center for day 1 of SXSW 2011. Let’s hope my head doesn’t explode before SouthBy’s end.