Posted tagged ‘innovation’

Porn, weed and fireworks

29 October 2012

Last weekend I was privileged to contribute to the Human Brochure – a world first initiative by Australian Capital Tourism to promote the nation’s capital city, Canberra.

When I told my friends that I was going down to Canberra for the weekend, they invariably asked: “Why..?”

You see, Canberra has a reputation among Australians as being boring. As the home of yawners such as Parliament and the High Court, Canberra is associated with porky politicians and pompous legal types.

Paradoxically, Canberra is also notorious well-known for its sale of X-rated erotica, its decriminalisation of cannabis, and its availability of pyrotechnics. Yep, our very own Amsterdam.

But like most places where people haven’t actually been, its reputation is about 20 years out of date.

And the Human Brochure set out to prove it.

Human Brochure logo

The idea of the Human Brochure was to invite 250 social media-savvy people to Canberra; feed them; shelter them; and cart them around to several major tourist attractions. In return, we were asked to “spread the word online” about “all the great things” we got up to.

I joined the Arts & Culture stream. We were treated to national treasures such as the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Canberra Glassworks – not to mention lunch at Two Before Ten, dinner at Mezzalira and z’s at the Diamant Hotel.

That may sound excessive (and yes, we were spoiled out of our minds) but it all boils down to how much you value word-of-mouth marketing. The point of the exercise was for us to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences with our followers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Sure, Australian Capital Tourism could have pumped the money into yet another traditional advertising campaign, but we all know how they’ve been tracking. Instead, they tapped into the power of personal influence.

Here are a few of my tweets…

I was mindful not to sound like an over zealous salesman. I endeavoured to present only genuine thoughts and share only real experiences. Luckily that was easy to do because I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything!

I did provide some constructive feedback to the National Museum (it conspicuously omits Parramatta, one of Australia’s most important historical places), and I suggested the NFSA play more of its precious footage to visitors (they have since pointed me to their excellent YouTube channel).

But miniscule gripes aside, I expect the Human Brochure will prove to be a roaring success. Not only was the glory of Canberra amplified throughout the social media metasphere, but the initiative itself was the subject of interstate media attention.

Time will tell whether ROI is achieved. My prediction is that other tourism boards will copy the Human Brochure concept, and that will be the ultimate endorsement.

Regardless, I can say hand on heart, I had a wonderful time in Canberra.

Even without the porn, weed and fireworks.

The power of one

24 September 2012

A lifetime ago I worked in an office that, like most others, had a tacit dress code. A tie was not mandatory unless you were meeting clients; otherwise a collared shirt and sensible slacks (or a nice blouse and a long-enough skirt) sufficed.

One Friday, however, my bohemian colleague rocked up in a tee, jeans, and something the kids these days would call “shoes”.

When someone asked him why he was dressed that way, he shot back a quizzical look and stated matter-of-factly, “It’s Casual Friday”.

After a private chuckle, I didn’t think too much of it until the following Friday when something unexpected happened: other people were wearing casual clothes. Then the next week, more people were in their civvies. And so on every week until eventually everybody was embracing “Casual Friday”.

Now, Casual Friday is an institution at this company. You would look very strange indeed if you turned up in a suit.

Dilbert.com

As I reflected on this little episode, I pondered the teachings of Fred Kofman.

In Conscious Business, Kofman defines the difference between a “victim” and a “player”. A victim blames all of his or her woes on external factors – the bus was late; the traffic was horrendous; my boss is an idiot; our IT sucks; we don’t have a learning culture around here.

In contrast, a player responds to the environmental conditions to his or her advantage – he calls ahead to push back that meeting; she leaves half an hour earlier to beat the traffic; he buys a judiciously chosen book for his boss for Christmas; she experiments with externally hosted social media; he engages the few employees in the organisation who are hungry to learn.

In other words, the player exploits his or her “locus of control”. Of course you’re not the CEO, so you can’t make anything happen just by decreeing it. However, you do have a sphere of influence. Are you using it?

Conscious Business

If Kofman’s work is a bit too self-helpy for you, let me rephrase it in edu-speak:

Sometimes the ones most guilty of the knowing-doing gap are ourselves.

Ironic, eh?

As L&D professionals, we know most learning undertaken in the workplace is informal. We know social learning works. We know our target audience is addicted to their smartphones and tablets.

So what are we doing about it?
Jeans

The moral of the story of my bohemian friend is that we are more powerful than we realise. A single person can make a world of difference, if he or she has passion, courage and persistence.

I’m certainly not goading you into making drastic wholesale changes that are going to bankrupt your company or get you fired. All I’m saying is that sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

If my bohemian friend had asked to wear his jeans that Friday, he would almost certainly have been declined. So he didn’t ask; he just did it. If it backfired, he simply would have fallen back into line the next Friday. (And no doubt try something else!)

So I put to you:

What do you wish would change at your workplace?

Are you a victim or a player?

What can you influence?

What can you sensibly risk asking for forgiveness for rather than for permission?

Do you have the guts to make a difference?

It’s time to wield your power of one.

Foching up social media

18 October 2011

General Ferdinand Foch

Aviation is a good sport, but for the army it is useless.

So declared General Ferdinand Foch in 1911, merely 3 years before the outbreak of World War I.

To be fair, we shouldn’t forget the context in which the statement was uttered. It wasn’t even a decade since Orville Wright managed to keep his engine-powered Wright Flyer in the air for 12 seconds.

By the end of the year, however, the Italians were already using aeroplanes for reconnaissance and bombing raids in their war against the Turks in Libya.

First successful flight of the Wright Flyer by the Wright brothers.

Aeroplanes were used extensively for reconnaissance by both sides in the early years of World War I, with opposing pilots even waving to each other in gentlemanly fashion.

Sure enough, this behaviour was soon replaced by the pilots throwing bricks and grenades at each other, then firing handguns, then operating mounted machine guns.

Dawn Dog Fight, Mick Mannock VC by Graeme Lothian

Today, of course, aeroplanes are a critical component of warfare. They are used for close air support, air interdiction, strategic bombing, interception, military escorts, transporting people and cargo, and even distributing propaganda.

Jet Fighter

Of course, I don’t accuse the good general of stupidity. He simply lacked imagination.

Foch struggled to make the mental leap from what contemporary aircraft was being used for, to what it could be used for – particularly in terms of advancing technology.

Are we any more imaginative today?

Unfortunately this kind of thinking has not been lost in annals of history. It’s alive and well in modern corporations, perhaps most conspicuously in relation to social media.

Many executives still don’t “get” social media. They see their daughters dilly dallying on Facebook; they hear their sons laughing at skateboard crashes on YouTube; they read about Charlie Sheen attracting 1 million followers on Twitter in a single day; and they learn about lonely hearts finding true love on Second Life – only to meet in real life and promptly break up.

No wonder they think it’s crap!

But don’t let them off the hook that easily. Help them make the mental leap from what social media is currently being used for (at least in their world) to what it could be used for – particularly in terms of customer service, sales, marketing, public relations, communication, engagement, collaboration and innovation.

It’s an arms race. If your business doesn’t start running, it’s foched.

Everything connects at Amplify

15 June 2011

AmplifyLast week I attended AMP’s biannual innovation and thought leadership festival, Amplify.

As usual, the speaker lineup was first class.

For those who couldn’t make it, I have linked to the recordings of most sessions below. For the sake of convenience I have organised them under three broad categories: Innovation, Social Media and Mobile. These categories are somewhat arbitrary and they blur to varying degrees.

As this year’s tagline states, everything connects!

Light bulb

Innovation

Sanjay Purohit, Vijaya Deepthi and Ananth Krishnan explain how innovation is managed at two massive Indian corporations, Infosys and Tata.

John Katzenbach lists 4 imperatives for promoting an innovative culture.

James Gardner proposes a strategic alternative to breakthrough innovation.

Venessa Miemis foresees the future of money.

Nigel Cameron questions the ethics of radical life extension.

Mike Hawley recognises the emergence of powerful but economically polarised super cities.

Alex Zelinsky predicts Australia’s National Broadband Network will drive innovation beyond the mining boom.

John O’Sullivan highlights the inventions that radio astronomy has brought into the world.

Network

Social media

Jeremiah Owyang walks through the 5 requirements of a corporation to prepare for social media, and the 5 goals that should define its strategy.

Andrew McAfee explains how social technology can help organisations overcome typical barriers to high performance.

Debbie Weil exposes the 5 truths of baby boomers and social media.

Peter Shergold argues that social media reinvigorates civic participation in government.

Richard Binhammer presents a case study on perhaps the most social corporation in the world, Dell.

Group of business people with smartphones

Mobile

Bob Egan reviews the relentless march of mobile connectivity.

Mark Zawacki predicts that everything will be in the cloud and your mobile device will be your thin client.

Barry Vercoe shows how the XO “$100 laptop” is improving digital literacy among children in the world’s remotest areas.

Amplify Festival

Watch even more speakers at the Amplify website, including John Hagel III, Jarod Green, Gunter Pauli, Xavier Rizos, John Smart, Iveta Brigis, Jim Benson, Rod Farmer, Ian Dunlop, Oliver Weidlich, Hugh Mackay, Michael Kordahi, Matt McDougall, Mike Nelson, Paul Cooper and Tony Golsby-Smith.

Who owns the photocopiers?

17 May 2011

Debra Ellis asked recently: Does social media belong in Marketing or Customer Service?

I replied whimsically that the way I see it, asking who in the organisation owns social media is a bit like asking who owns the photocopiers.

Marketing and Customer Service – not to mention others such as Media Relations – each have their own contribution to make for the success of the group. So why wouldn’t they take charge of their respective social media initiatives? (Just like they take care of their own photocopying.)Various pegs in their right holes

Of course they should work together to maximise impact, but the point is:

Marketing should market and Customer Service should serve.

Ignorance is bliss

Time and time again I have seen new ideas (such as leveraging social media) stall in the corporate sector. Some call it analysis paralysis.

No one wants to stick their head out or, alternatively, dig in and do the dirty work. So they sit on the merry-go-round of meetings and proposals and committees and reviews and research and meetings…

Occasionally, someone highly pertinent to the conversation (yet inexplicably left out of the loop) will have the guts to give it a go – all the while blissfully ignoring protocol.

And it’s probably successful because it aligns to purpose.

On purpose

Who owns the photocopiers? Who cares!

They are tools that are used to achieve goals.

If using a photocopier is integral to your role, then use one. And if you don’t have one, then get one.

If you need authority or approval, get it. If you need advice, get it. If you need training, get it.

Do your job!
 


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