Sunday, November 09, 2008

Taking networking to the next level

I've been out of touch for a while. Not sick, called to assist in a political campaign, or anything like that -- the teaching load drastically increased.

My big challenge is coming up with a way to help students who have Facebook mastered for scheduling a party or study session how to transfer (extend) that talent to the world beyond college. The business and professional world is still about networking, right?

I incorporate news items and things I find on the web into my Facebook post, mention them in the face-to-face class, and bring in as many examples (and guests) as I can. Does it all make sense at some point?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The brilliance of "getting it" with YouTube, Twitter and more

I had two experiences recently that have solidified my conviction that doing it "the old way" is a really good way to lose cool points. As someone who thrives on cool points (the father of two teenage boys and a college professor), these revelations benchmark an appropriate place in my learning.

The first experience that I learned from was the 2008 Beijing Olympics, brought to us in the United States by NBC. I believe I watched more of the Olympics (so far, anyway) this time than any other, though I haven't yet figured out why. I realized that something just wasn't right, but I kept coming back for more.

I suspect it had something to do with just coming off a fairly intense productivity push, to be followed after about three weeks (perfect timing) by another. It might have been the "most spectacular opening ceremonies in history" though I did not see them. It's possible that it was the record-setting gold medal quest by Michael Phelps (I was a swimmer as a young boy about the time that Mark Spitz was setting the previous record). I doubt that it's because the gymnastics judges have a clue what they are doing (I won't even get into what I think they were motivated by when they ripped not one, but two Americans off in favor of Chinese gymnasts).

When I saw danah boyd's post on Olympics 2.0, I knew I had identified the problem.

As danah noted, for those who don't want to be stuck on the arbitrary schedule of NBC producers, it would be nice if somewhere we could get real-time feeds (I would settle for just-recorded video) of the events. I think we have figured out that there are some that would still be excited about watching the recorded event for the first time, but for those who are addicted to now, it would have been a great idea to demonstrate the technology capabilities of the 21st Century. And yes, I would accept this option for a fee. Thanks, NBC, for giving us an example of the "old way." Aren't you partnered with Microsoft on many fronts? That explains a lot!

The second experience was much more cutting edge. My son rented (the old-school way, from a bricks-n-mortar Blockbuster store) a copy of the movie Never Back Down. I wasn't too excited about the movie when we started watching it, as I am not a huge advocate of people beating each other up for the sake of seeing who can incur the most mind-numbing, near-fatal injuries, but I agreed to watch the movie. The story line was actually pretty enticing, the language and shown violence were somewhat limited, the subtle message was decent and the acting wasn't the sub-B-rated junk I expected.

But the grasp of powerful marketing strategy was phenomenal!

During each fight, and many other places throughout the movie, you see people with mobile phones shooting pictures and videos. Periodically, you can see an actual video camera in use, but it's relatively small and operated by a teenager so you know it's probably digital. Now, that sparked my interest, but the next logical thought was "what are they doing with those?" There were a few shots where one person stood next to the other and played the video on the device that captured it, but I wanted more!

The movie ended, and we moved naturally into the clips at the end that were cut, re-shot, etc., and I saw it. A montage of YouTube videos and responses that showed exactly what goes on in the world (not the stuff that Directors and Mega-companies think goes on). There was a conversation, in real time, using multi-media, to talk to others about life experiences. Videos on Youtube (and probably others) were portrayed in the air, in no particular order, with text comments in follow up . . . and people were having conversations!

Imagine what NBC could have done with that! What if, in real time, we could watch AND discuss the adventures of Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Rebecca Soni, Dalhausser and Rogers, Walsh and May-Treanor, and of course the U.S. men's basketball team. How much traction could they have gotten if they handed off back and forth between their website and "live" or at least big screen coverage? What if instead of watching a mind-numbing video of the marathon or what seemed like hours on the rowing the announcer slipped over to the comments (screened and filtered, of course) on their blog?

And what if they mentioned the conversations on Twitter(see @olympicnews or @OlympicsBlog, or the list of olympic medals there from @olympicmedals?

What do you think?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Does bigger mean better? (lessons from Chicago)

Another trip -- another message. I'm home for a couple of weeks now.

Does bigger mean better?

I don't think bigger is always better, I think it depends on the context (I know, just like a lawyer/professor -- the answer is it depends).

While in Chicago, I went to the John Hancock Tower with my wife and kids. The tour options included an audio-video ipod-like device that allowed you to punch in a number that corresponded with numbers on the windows to learn more about the view.

One of the messages from the dark-haired male actor on Friends (David Schwimmer) was that the John Hancock Tower, though shorter than the Sears Tower, was better. He supported this position by saying that although the Sears Tower was taller, it was on the outskirts of the downtown area while John Hancock was right in the middle, where all the action was.

I didn't go to check out the Sears Tower, but I have it from three reliable, related sources that he was right.

The pics are shots from John Hancock to Sears and back. More at my Picasa Album here.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grand Canyon-based business (and life) lessons

I just returned from a trip to the Grand Canyon via (not viva) Las Vegas. I liked the Canyon more, perhaps because I am absolutely not attracted to tourist traps nor do I enjoy places that offer you the opportunity to deposit your finances in something that flushes (no, not like the stock market and investments in real estate).

This photo is at the Grand Canyon, though not of the Grand Canyon.

It demonstrates (in my opinion) the key to success at whatever you do. It's the Sunset seen over the Grand Canyon, visible only with the right timing and a refusal to follow the crowd.

There were dozens of people gathered where we were to get a look at the sunset over the Grand Canyon at 30 minutes before sunset. Because there were a few clouds on the horizon, the majority (about 80 percent) left just minutes before this shot was visible. We did not.

What do you think?

Monday, June 30, 2008

“Success in the Relationship Economy!”

Nice slideshow by John Bartos, courtesy of Beeshields.

What do you think?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Something about being near planes helps government organizations "get it."

A while back we discovered that the Transportation Safety Administration had started what appeared to be a public relations campaign that included -- believe it or not -- a blog. Evolution of Security has become quite an interactive (and frequently updated) place to get the inside scoop on the TSA and a variety of customer service issues.

It's pretty impressive, and continues to evolve.

Well, this morning we discovered that another government organization appears to understand The Relationship Economy -- the United States Air Force!

In DoD approves new social networking Web site, the Air Force Times reports,

A new social networking Web site has been approved by Pentagon officials to help service members and their families and friends stay in touch. The network is secure, password-protected and requires little bandwidth. Last year, when officials blocked access to some popular social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube on Defense Department computers, they cited the need to guarantee bandwidth availability for mission-critical functions. Family members who qualify for the free sites include parents and siblings of single troops, as well as spouses, kids and other relatives of married members.
OK, well they almost get it . . .

I don't really buy the guarantee of bandwidth availability excuse, I think it's more like guarantee security, but notice the observation that this is for 1) service members, 2) their families, and 3) their friends, but only family signup information is identified. I suspect that's 'cause no one has figured out how to streamline the friend verification process on yet another social networking site unless they are going to allow the upload or import of an address book from somewhere else.

I think that in concept this is a great idea, but the pattern reminds me of the walled garden social networks we already have -- MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn, with lip service paid to simplicity while the reality remains a closed-off destination that serves as little more than a bulletin board with file-sharing.

The site explains that they are accepting applications from Active-duty service men or women interested in a website for their family, and immediate family members of active-duty service men or women who are interested in applying for a website on their behalf, and that they reserve the right to discontinue the hosting of any website determined to be set up by a person who is NOT a member of the Armed Forces. Their mission is to provide safe, interactive websites for deployed military heroes to stay connected with their families, funded by the generous sponsorships of the American public.

Bravo, but I wonder what happens after the service member is no longer deployed, and whether all that cool stuff that took hours to upload and arrange can be exported upon departure from the military.

I think not.

My intention was not to do a review, but since that's essentially what just happened, I'll give it 3.5 stars. I question the logic of limiting communications to family, as the service members that I know have many non-military friends. It's commendable that we are trying to combine security with accessibility, but the limitations are too reminiscent of the visiting room at a state prison.

What do you think?

Friday, June 06, 2008

For Recruiting on the Social Web - add some innovation! (updated)

This post has a twist. It's not so much about advise for recruiters, 'cause I'm not a recruiter. It's about engaging in relationships with others and letting our personal connections (and how we treat them) be the lifeblood of our business. It's crazy, I know . . .

The text below may appear disjointed . . . it's meant to accompany the video that should have popped up when you hit this page (at least for the first few days). If you didn't get it, click here (or scroll down to see it by topic and choose from the menu on the link above). ReadWriteWeb continues to claim
(as do others) that video is the hot media now, and we support those claims!

Note that the video of our talk is in bite-sized chunks, not like your normal video, more like chapters in a book . . . you can watch for a couple minutes, put a bookmark in, and return later to watch the next part. Each of the sections has a title, also, to let you know whether it would be interesting to you. This technology was made possible by It's free, so if you like what you see, find a way to put it to good use (it's worth much more than you pay for it)!

Here's an outline of the videos if you want to view them a la carte:

Part 1
1 How Web 2.0 are you now?
2 Advertising positions and making friends and contacts
3 Placing recruiting ads on the social web (and better ways to spend your time)
4 Connection strategies on LinkedIn and Facebook
Part 2
5 Social networking on the clock (it better be work-related)
6 Using video for recruiting and job seeking
7 Selected recruiting blogs
8 Engaging others on the social web (conversations)
9 Ideas for Using LinkedIn answers for Recruiting
Part 3
10 What about a virtual career fair?
11 What Web 2.0 job seekers use
12 Southwest Airlines 2.0 (social media recruiting) and jobs in pods
13 Krishna De on LinkedIn and Facebook
14 Robert Scoble on PR
15 Wrap-up and reading suggestions

To choose from the above, click here and hit the stop button on the video, then scroll to your choice!

In our previous post entitled How do you find the right people? Recruiting Socialutions, we talked about finding opportunities to improve how we do what we do. We suggested that professional recruiters shouldn't offer people employment, they should just make friends with them.

Before we get too much into that, though . . . here's a couple of preliminary questions:

Do you have a blog (or read blogs regularly)?

Are you on an email list other than one for work?

That's basic social web stuff. Do you have a profile on Facebook? How about MySpace? On LinkedIn?

Perhaps Bebo, Hi5, Orkut, one I am missing?

On Facebook and LinkedIn, there are hundreds of results with a search for "recruiter." I doubt that's the way to go.

Here are some links:

Recruiting Fly is a site dedicated to bringing visitors the best in employment-related content. From news to features to videos and more, Recruiting Fly is your destination for all things recruiting, HR and jobs. They have a virtual jobfair, too.

In the interest of offering more than one option, we are working with a company called Business 3.0 that has established a Virtual Exhibit Hall, where your organization could easily set up their own perpetual job fair and host events as you wish. Check back soon for a preview.

Alltop (the vision of Guy Kawasaki) has a huge collection of links to career-related blogs.

Find a few blogs that interest you, and subscribe to them (or check them regularly). ReadWriteWeb has some great suggestions on how to engage bloggers and their readers in meaningful conversation.

Jason Alba, co-author of I'm on LinkedIn, now what?, and I'm on Facenook, now what?, has the JibberJobber site blog. Take a look at his articles and then check out his site to see how some folks are and will be getting to you.

And Jobs in Pods had a recent post on Southwest Airlines 2.0. He answered the question, "So who does recruiting well on the social web?" - see Nuts About Southwest.

Krishna De says LinkedIn is used by people in leadership roles in business and those people actively managing their career as it’s a little more discriminating in terms of connections. She considers her connections on LinkedIn network as people she would happily recommend and refer as she knows their work. She observed that Facebook is far more relaxed and is like a group of eclectic friends with perhaps business or social interests in common. She found people who are world wide experts are really happy to connect on Facebook which is exciting and seems to level the playing field.

In the social web, there are some serious players (they understand it and live in it). One of them, Robert Scoble (former Microsofter), says PR now stands for “Professional Relationships.”
So what's HR stand for?

For more on The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, check out the blog of my partners, Jay Deragon (especially his recent post on the changing rules of the game) , and Scott Allen's The Virtual Handshake Blog, and mine - Kicking and SCREAMING.

What do you think?

Socialutions Broadcast 1 - check this out!

Socialutions Broadcast is a news and commentary program covering trends, events and thought leaders creating the virtual future.Today's broadcast includes conversations with guest commentators discussing Comcast's acquisition of Plaxo.

See the Socialutions station's first post here.

What do you think?

Friday, May 30, 2008

SmallBizAmerica Radio Podcast interview

Smallbiz America is an integrated new-media platform created to help entrepreneurs profit in business and prosper in life.

Ron Sukenick has been called many things, including one of America’s leading authorities on networking and business relationship strategies. He is the author of “Networking Your Way to Success” and the co-author of “The Power is in the Connection: Taking Your Personal and Professional Relationships to the Next Level.”

This is Ron's interview of two of the four authors of The Emergence of the Relationship Economy -- Jay T. Deragon and Carter F Smith -- by Ron Sukenick at SmallBizAmerica.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How do you find the right people? Recruiting Socialutions!

The economy doesn't seem to be improving and housing prices are dropping (though interest rates are, too). Common sense would say there wouldn't be too many folks looking to trade-in their current jobs for one that you are offering. The position is still vacant, and the Director is getting impatient.

So what's a recruiter to do?

Previously, we discussed fit for work. Perhaps the first thing to do is determine whether you are a fit with your present position. Surely you and your employer felt you were when you entered into the employment agreement.

So what has changed?

As we engage The Relationship Economy, we find many opportunities to improve how we do what we do. We also see a lot of opportunities for innovation.
But can we really innovate when we are working at the same place, doing the same thing for the same people over and over again? Can we tolerate innovation from people who want to work at our company when we know that the people we refer to aren't interested in all that newfangled technology? perhaps, but in the meantime, why not just innovate with what's out there and not worry about something with a bunch of bells and whistles?

Imagine this.

You are looking for people who do a certain job. Where do they hang out? Go there. Make friends with them now.

Don't offer them employment, just make friends with them.

Don't hide where you work or what you do, but do everything in your power to avoid selling anyone on anything. You are making friends, not finding applicants! This isn't your traditional socialution, but how's that been working for you?

Make connections with old friends, meet new friends, and simply talk with all of them to find things in common and build relationships with them. They'll find out (they may even ask) what you do. When that happens, tell them, don't sell them.

And for job seekers, how 'bout this (Dan Schawbel addresses the idea here in more detail, but I have a twist to add to the technology Dan addressed) . . . A virtual resume. Yes, it's bells and whistles, but if that's who you are, would you really be happy working somewhere that didn't appreciate your style?

Imagine the cover letter (e-mail) to the employer of your choice . . .

Dear Ms. Jones,

I was excited to learn about the availability of a position with your company that appears to have been designed specifically for me. Here's a link to my e-resume where I can better show you why I got that impression.


Bob Smith

(The technology demo is coming)

What do you think?

Allen, S., Deragon, J. T., Orem, M. G., & Smith, C. F. (2008). The Emergence of The Relationship Economy: The New Order of Things to Come. Cupertino, CA: Happy About

Friday, May 23, 2008

Customers can get Satisfaction - with Sunshine Socialutions

Meetings for government at all levels are covered by sunshine laws, which require opening to public view and access meetings and records regarding those meetings for public officials and organizations in a variety of scenarios.

In a previous post, we identified the term Customer Powered Service as service that is shaped by the customer . . . driven from outside the business to inside and designed to make the customer successful, not just to make support staff more efficient.

We suggested that Customer Powered Service should be seen as a return to the mindset of the marketplace . . . the empowering of the customer. We noted that Customer Powered Service was not just about the customer -- it's also about the service!

Get Satisfaction has been promoted recently in the blogworld as a direct connection between people and companies that fosters problem-solving, promotes sharing, and builds up relationships.

That sounds a whole lot like a Socialution!

Let's take a random look at the 1st and 10th ranked companies on the Fortune 100 - Wal-Mart and ATT.

Wal-Mart on Get Satisfaction had one active topic (7 months old at the time of this post). ATT, on the other hand, had 37 posts on Get Satisfaction, with the newest one 3 days before this post.

So what's that mean?

Is there a better customer service plan for Wal-Mart on the Internet than there is for ATT? Are more of ATT's customers likely to have Internet access? Perhaps Wal-Mart has better customer service, or maybe their customer's don't expect as much as ATT's customers do?

We'll leave those questions in the rhetorical category for now - check out the Get Satisfaction blog for updates. If you want to see what we've been doing, check out the Business Week article entitled “Consumer Vigilantes“, which looks at creative ways "we the people" are using social media to address the issues. Or, check out Jay Deragon's recent post, where he observed that businesses are spending time and money trying to figure out how to engage customers.

Otherwise, please permit me to change the conversation from what has been to what could be.

In the social web we see today, the problem with getting in touch with someone from customer service is inexcusable. There are a variety of ways that we can contact each other -- phone, text message, email, snail mail, fax, and . . . oh yeah . . . meeting in person. But once companies cross that Rubicon, then what?

Here's a novel idea . . .

Customer Service can be provided by joint-venturing with the customers, in real time, out in the open.

Imagine a strategy session broadcast live over the Internet where customers could engage (perhaps in chat, initially, monitored and verbally reported by someone present in the meeting). While the face-to-face discussion is under way, a parallel discussion is going on in the chat, and the C2M (Customer Communications Monitor) stops the live meeting to draw attention to the chat conversation.

The strategizers are intrigued, so they offer the virtual podium to the customers by way of Skyping them in?

Too far-fetched, you say?

That's the Relationship Economy!

What do you think?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Who does Social Networking better -- guys or gals?

According to a recent Rapleaf study, while both sexes still use social networking sites in huge numbers, women are the ones holding down the fort. I have known that the ladies "get" the social part of social networking (and online learning interaction) a heckuva lot better than us guys. Auren Hoffman will help convince you . . .

He suggests we should expect social networks of the future to cater to women and alienate men.

Rapleaf conducted a study of over 30 million people to see how they're using social media. While the trends indicate both sexes are using social media in huge numbers, their findings show that women far outpace the men. They predict that this gender gap on social networks (and increasingly in all of social media) will only widen with the next wave of innovation.

The study included mostly what was referred to as Social Networkers (those with 1-100 friends), about 13 million in all, or 80% of the sample. They found that in this group

  • Women have on average 62 friends.
  • Men have on average 57 friends.
  • Women are more likely to be "Social Networkers."
Do these findings support those of Schler, Koppel, Argamon & Pennebaker - Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging, which found that male bloggers write more about politics, technology and money, while female bloggers discuss their personal lives – and use more personal writing style?

It appears that they do.

As we noted in The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, there is good reason to think that networking comes naturally for women. Traits that are considered feminine in our culture , like cooperating, building relationships, helping, and developing others, are not surprisingly also those necessary in (effective) networking. Traditional male traits like directing and controlling get nowhere in networking, and may get you blacklisted in social networking (Forret and Dougherty, 2001).

For both men and women, success in networking depends on understanding and capitalizing on our individual strengths, and supplementing individual strengths with the strengths of those in our networks. The connectivity afforded by online social networking provides many opportunities for improved relations.

In The Relationship Economy, everyone has the opportunity to win, but maybe the guys will have to ask for help.

What do you think?

Responses here are always welcome (actually requested), and if you have a LinkedIn account, please take a look at the responses of others there.


Forret, M. L. and Dougherty, T. W. (2001). Correlates of networking behavior for managerial and professional employees. Group & Organization Management, 26(3), 283-311.

Hoffman, A. (2008). The Social Media Gender Gap. Business Week, available at

Schler, Koppel, Argamon & Pennebaker (2005). Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging. Available at

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cabling together the Social Web -- that's Plaxtastic

Whenever technology advances to the point of usefulness, it's usually because someone found a great fit between two or more previously independent offerings. In techspeak, this has been referred to as a Mashup (adapted from the music industry).

Well, join me in welcoming the latest Mashup -- between Internet delivery, Telecommunications, Television, Videos, and the social web (and much more, I suspect).

TechCrunch just confirmed the acquisition of Plaxo, a six year old company, by Comcast, a 45 year old company.

Comcast will announce their acquisition of social contact list Plaxo today. Financial terms are not being disclosed, but the rumored purchase price is in the $175 million range.
I'm thinking the next Mashup announcement will be that Open Social (Plaxo is in) will be incorporated into next-generation set-top boxes . . . and we'll be surfing the social web (again -- remember WebTV, it looks to be a Microsoft product now) with a remote (and that's only the beginning).

Imagine yourself in the couch potato position with your remote and in the corner of your wide screen you get a transparent pop up message from one of your Plaxo contacts wishing you happy birthday. You respond with a thank you, and he notes that you recently posted your status indicating you were en route to a celebration dinner.

He confirms the open invite, and while you are on the way, you get a text message on your mobile that indicates the room you had reserved has been upgraded due to an additional twelve guests (pending your approval). You confirm, and hit the record video button on the dash of your car (probably a Ford, using Microsoft Sync and a Live Mesh application) and record a video greeting that your guests see as they arrive.

I honestly didn't expect The Emergence of The Relationship Economy would be this imminent . . . (you can download the e-book for free here)

What do you think!

(added - more here from NYT)

Bring on the Ratings (we already have them here)

In a recent post, Garett Rogers reported:

Some blogger users may have noticed their blog suddenly started showing star ratings — a feature that appears to be in the works, and according to Blogger, was given by accident to some unsuspecting bloggers. The feature hasn’t been released yet, and they have “fixed” the problem.
The Blogspot Known Issues Blog noted this is an experimental feature that was accidentally enabled on some users' blogs. Jmnlman suggests removing them when they do get here.

I disagree, with a caveat.

As we observed, in Anonymous blog ratings should not be used like a digital sniper rifle, ratings are important when we try to wade through the massive amounts of information as we engage the semantic web. These ratings will allow us to see what others thought about a certain author or product, and will likely allow us to filter the ratings by group, allowing us to see what all people, people in our profession, people in our country, and people in our social group thought.

But in the hands of some, anonymous ratings can be misused.

There are some who will act like snipers, usually for personal reasons, crouching on the rooftops of the Internet to pick off bloggers who spend (way too much) time posting their thoughts and ideas.

Here's a suggestion for Google on the Blogger site: Make commenting mandatory for ratings! If you don't like the post, say so! If it contains things you don't agree with, say so! If you haven't the intestinal fortitude to openly post your opinion . . .

What do you think?


Collaborative Socialutions . . . Where Does Collaboration Fit In?

The social web seems to attract a lot of definitional redefining, whether by adding numbers after a term like Collaboration 2.0, Business 3.0, or Office 4.0, or by combining two previously independent words into one as we have with Socialutions. These attempts at redefining can be useful, but they have a tendency to confuse.

Collaboration intuitively has a place in Socialutions, but where exactly does it fit?

Socialutions, which is not yet listed in, is defined as people, communities and organizations leveraging technology to interact with people for the purpose of solving problems; the act of working together with others to create new solutions to old paradigms of communications and interaction without boundaries and with limitless reach.

Collaboration, which does appear in, is defined as the act or process of working, one with another; cooperating, colluding, joining, assisting, or abetting.

Collaboration then, fits with Socialutions in the implementation – when we are working together with others to create new solutions, we are collaborating!

Tapscott and Williams, in their book Wikinomics, identified four steps to developing a collaborative culture.

• Encourage and reward openness in networking for all members of the organization.

• Create peering environments that foster self-organizing human connections for collaboration and innovation.

• Allow radical sharing to expand markets and create new opportunities.

• Think and Act globally as an individual, team and organization.

To achieve Openness means ensuring a culture of candor, flexibility, transparency and access. How many of today’s workplaces can accurately be described by these words?

Peering is also important in the establishment of a collaborative culture. Peering succeeds because it leverages self-organization.

As any business model demonstrates, expanding markets create new opportunities. These opportunities are beneficial, and often require insight into the local business culture.

Thomas Friedman was right - The World Is Flat. The only way that today’s companies will be able to maintain a healthy balance sheet tomorrow is if they focus on staying globally competitive. That means they need to devote time to monitoring international developments. They will have to begin (or continue) tapping the global talent pool. They will have to get to know the world.

In Collaboration 2.0, Coleman & Levine (2008) identified 10 Principles of Resolutionary (note, they are not saying Revolutionary, though it is) Thinking (p. 176):

1. Abundance

2. Efficiently Creating and Sustaining Collaborations

3. Creativity

4. Fostering Resolution

5. Becoming Open

6. Long-Term Collaboration

7. Honoring Logic, Feelings & Intuition

8. Disclosing Information & Feelings

9. Learning

10. Becoming Response Able

Note that each of these fits with the Socialutions paradigm, in the furtherance of our engagement of The Relationship Economy. Each of these contributes to a collaborate culture – even if the principles are implemented in pockets of the organization. And each of these principles can be learned, as long as the intended result is a positive change in the corporate culture.

In order to implement Socialutions, collaboration is essential. Today’s individuals and organizations are ready for a change. The time is right.

Ready, set . . . collaborate!

What do you think?


Coleman, D. & Levine, S. (2008). Collaboration 2.0: Technology and Best Practices for Successful Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World. Cupertino, CA: Happy About.

Tapscott, D. & Williams, A. D. (2006). Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything. New York: Portfolio

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Socialutions Implementation Strategy: Taking your company from zero to hero on the social web

Many of today’s companies recognize the urgency of converting to a customer-centric, social web-based, operation. The excuses and faulty logic brought on by global prosperity have been replaced by an honest examination of internal operations and external market share. As the various departments search for collaborative ways to maintain profitability in uncertain economic times, we will see more and more arrive at the duh! moment of realization that the customer comes first.

We haven’t exactly reached the Utopia that Adriana Lukas describes:

Imagine having your customers share with you what they like, want and think of you. . . Interaction with them is modular, intuitive and user-driven freeing much of your resources spent on marketing and transaction cost.

. . . nor have we seen more than a few examples of big, giant companies who give more than lip service to the process Doc Searls detailed almost five years ago (and Eve Maler recently simplified for those who love simple graphics).

But there are some unpredicted catalysts on the horizon, and in the spirit of making right decisions, we see that adoption of a Socialutions paradigm is going mainstream.

Our proposal for Socialutions involves problem solving and finding innovative solutions through social exchanges. We are suggesting that organizations can capitalize on the relationships and relationship connections of the people connected to them in some way, whether these connections come from employees, vendors, customers, or wherever. But we maintain that the customer comes first. Not to the point of turning major strategic decisions over to crowdsourcing perhaps, but first nonetheless.

Tom Peters has a rather unique (not a shock if you know Tom Peters) perspective on where to put the customer. He says, “to put the marketplace customer first, I must put the person serving the customer "more first.”Peters (admittedly selfishly) proclaims:

To give a high-impact, well-regarded, occasionally life-changing speech "to customers" I first & second & third have to focus all my restless energy on "satisfying" ... myself. I must be ... physically & emotionally & intellectually agitated & excited & desperate beyond measure ... to communicate & connect & compel & grab by the collar & say my piece about a small number of things, often contentious and not "crowd-pleasers," that, at the moment, are literally a matter of personal ... life and death.

As Jay Deragon noted previously, the drive of tomorrow's successful organizations will be a new method and philosophy proclaiming "We the Peoples are all aimed at Socialutions" that creates perpetual value. We the people are aimed in that direction, but do the companies who serve us (even if we are after their employees) get it yet?

Here are some Socialution suggestions for getting from where you are to where you need to be in a hurry:

1) Make the cluetrain manifesto (especially the 95 Theses) mandatory reading for all your employees

2) Have your company intranet feature a link to Cluetrain @ 10 (a revisiting and revising after ten years) and recent posts on the Clueship.

3) On your company-wide strategy wiki (get one if you don’t have one), start a “top ten clues” list and allow anonymous voting.

4) Allow time off (5% of the workday would be a good start) for your people (all of them, not just sales and HR) to Twitter, blog, Facebook and MySpace for the company.

5) Run from traditional (old school) marketing as a source of “what works.” If it really worked, you would not have taken the time to read this.

And finally, if you click on this link, you can contribute to our efforts to get Socialutions into

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Anonymous blog ratings should not be used like a digital sniper rifle


There's something to the feeling of anonymity we get by connecting to the Internet to engage in some form of dialog. I've seen it empower a lot of students, teachers, bloggers, and others who feel better about taking often unlimited time to process their thoughts before responding to a question.

And ratings are important when we try to wade through the massive amounts of information generated by writers (like me) who would never have considered being so prolific if technology had not made publication so simple. As we engage the semantic web, ratings (like those found for sellers at eBay and books at Amazon) will be invaluable. These ratings will allow us to see what others thought about a certain author or product, and will likely allow us to filter the ratings by group, allowing us to see what all people, people in our profession, people in our country, and people in our social group thought.

But ratings that are completely anonymous add a troubling degree of uncertainty to the mix.

Anonymous ratings are good for a group of students who rate a professor. They have a place in the rating of supervisors by their subordinates. But they have no place in an open community of thinkers who allegedly form for the purpose of discussion and collaboration.

Anonymous ratings should not take the place of comments in response to a blog. Comments are there to provide an open forum for discussion -- whether in agreement or disagreement -- about a posted topic. They provide the reader with a place to ask questions. They provide the writer with a place to answer and clarify. And they provide both with an opportunity to agree to disagree. They serve well in this role . . . unless, of course, the reader/commenter conceals their real identity . . .

But in the hands of some, anonymous ratings can be misused. If we read a post that we don't agree with, what could possibly cause us to rate it negatively without exploring the intent of the author? How do we justify the hit-and-run activity by those who act as ratings snipers without challenging the thought process of the author? Why do we tolerate this cowardly activity?

I'm not talking about the kind of disruption caused by a disgruntled employee who writes an anonymous blog. I'm not talking about Net Neutrality, the premise of which is the absence of restrictions by those providing access on those for whom the access is provided.

I'm talking about the people who choose to unfavorably rate the post someone took the time to write with the intent to engage others in dialog.

If you don't like the post, say so! If it contains things you don't agree with, say so! If you aren't interested in the post, do like most do at the grocery store, sitting at the television, or reading the newspaper . . . move along.

What do you think?

Collaborating with co-workers and customers: Socialutions as a management strategy

We are, of course, social creatures, and many marketers understand that. Telecom companies have long encouraged us to connect with our friends & family (or Unity), call our network for free, and purchase family plans. Starbucks has built a business around a unique mixture of offline connections accessing online content “together.” Many email newsletters have the “forward to a friend feature.” And, a growing number of communities are using a mixed-use design that allows us to work, live and shop in one area.

We are naturally drawn to places where people we know congregate. As social networking sites have demonstrated, we go where our friends are, and we connect to people with whom we have something in common. So it’s pretty natural to think that managing an organization would include understanding the relationship dynamics of those who contribute in some way to the bottom line, right?

Not necessarily.

Many large organizations operate with a directed-association model. Departments are set up in hierarchical fashion, and we learn to work with or for people with whom we may never have come in contact but for our employment. Some enterprising organizations make attempts to capitalize on our personality styles, but how many try to capitalize on our networking styles? Do we examine the “fit” that new members to the team demonstrate in relation to those already established?

Not very often.

Caldwell, et. al., in studies of perceptions of “fit” found that as organizational change becomes the norm, adaptations by individuals is expected, though the ready embrace of change often eludes the observer. The change itself may be the variable, and many organizations are finding that change strategies should include possible reactions to change. So, if people initially deemed “a good fit” for the organization are suddenly experiencing major challenges, was the hiring process faulty?

Tomorrow’s employees are engaging in the social space now, and they are bringing this tradition to the workplace. They may adapt to the directed-association model, but they may also rebel. These are not members of the complacent generation(s) that took what they got and kept silent. These are the “kids” who have been asking why and what’s in it for me since they could talk.
So how do we incorporate them into our management strategies?

A recent example of the technology-enhanced ability to have everyone manage processes was described by Denis Pombriant in his look at Right90, which captures and tracks changes to the business forecast (all the things that can and should be forecasted in addition to revenue, so that a company can keep its supply chain informed of coming changes) in real time. With Right90, if a salesperson reports that a customer is doubling an order for 32-inch HDTVs, managers in sales and operations get alerted, and the full implications of the change in the forecast get thoroughly reviewed.

Pombriant observed that this kind of attention to detail gives every relevant person and department a seat at the table, and makes them accountable for bringing in the forecasted revenue in the forecasted product lines. Imagine this strategy being implemented in your organization!

Many small businesses have the idea of this kind of collaboration built in to their initial organizational cultures. Have you ever been to a diner where one person tells the other, “I’m going to the freezer, do you need anything?” The ensuing dialog is likely to result in an informal report of the number of a certain product remaining in stock, followed by a quickly calculated mental note by the person who orders these things. As the business grows, however, each position becomes more intense and focused, and it becomes decreasingly natural to see the operation as a system.

And that’s where the problem lies.

When all the participants in a system fail to see it as a system, each facet of the operation becomes disjointed. If not integrally connected, much additional effort is needed to catch up to at least temporarily unify the thought process for actions such as logistics, personnel, finance, and the like.

By implementing Socialutions as a management strategy, organizations can capitalize on the relationships and relationship connections of the people connected to them in some way. This naturally includes the employees and the organization’s leadership, and should include customers, clients, vendors, and others served by and serving the organization. These people all represent the company in some way, so why not acknowledge and try to affect the way they represent? As we engage The Relationship Economy, we need to find new ways to leverage technology to interact with people to solve real problems. Only those people, communities, and organizations who use this type of collaborative problem-solving model will emerge successfully. Those who choose to go it alone and use long-antiquated systems and applications will look back and wonder why they didn’t.

If these suggestions look familiar, perhaps you are seeing a similarity to team-building, which the social web appears to be well suited for. Team building in Asia has been part of the culture since long before W. Edwards Deming traveled to Japan to implement Quality (and plan-do-check-act) in the post-war rebuilding effort. Global team building has enjoyed mostly steady growth as organizations expand an a variety of travel opportunities contract. Socialutions as a management strategy requires using a group (team) of people (stakeholders) to be accountable for the process.

What do you think?

Caldwell, S.D., Herold, D.M. and Fedor, D. B. (2004). Toward an Understanding of the Relationships Among Organizational Change, Individual Differences, and Changes in Person-Environment Fit: A Cross-Level Study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 868. Available at

Pombriant, D. (2008, May 7). The Dawn of Social Networking 2.0., ECT News Network – Tech News World. Available at

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cultural Socialutions – Oxymoron or Logical Thought Process?

The marketplace is buzzing with the new way of solving problems.

Though is hasn’t been posted at or (yet) “Socialutionsis defined as people, communities and organizations leveraging technology to interact with people for the purpose of solving problems; the act of working together with others to create new solutions to old paradigms of communications and interaction without boundaries and with limitless reach.

The irony of starting with a definition lies in our use of contemporary tools. In order to provide an easy way to use their product for more searches, Google has a relatively simple code that allows us to type in “define: the word you want to define.” So I typed in “define: socialutions.” Though this may change by the time you read this, here’s what I got.

Note that Google, as they often do, tries to be helpful when they find nothing based on your typing . . . and they relate socialutions with associations!

So how is Associations defined? has a head start on this one, where they have the definition as: An organized body of people who have an interest, activity, or purpose in common. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what it will take to implement solutions . . . an organized body who have interests and purposes in common.

Does that define today’s organizations?

In the proposed definition, we identify the need for organizations working together with others to create new solutions. What could possibly stop this from happening?

Personal agendas, political grievances, a lack of agreement . . . all wrapped up in the culture of the organization, that’s what!

Why is the culture a problem when it comes to implementing socialutions? Inherent in the suggestion that a solution is in order is the implication that there is a problem. Most of us, organizational leadership included, want to hear anything but that. The existence of a problem rarely means that everything has been done well. It often means someone has missed something, and that someone may be us or someone who works for us. Usually, problems mean added costs, and that can’t be good.

But socialutions doesn’t need to indicate the existence of a problem. It can be used to define a paradigm. The suggested paradigm is one of problem solving and finding innovative solutions through social exchanges. Many leaders understand the problem solving part, it’s the innovation part there’s difficulty with. As has been noted already, the paradigm means: Engaging the organization’s employees, customers and suppliers for innovation, problem solving and breakthrough ideas, changing the marketing focus, removing barriers, and leveraging technology and social media to increase response time by listening and learning. The end result can only be a changed paradigm, with a cultural transformation where everyone is engaged.

So, look around your organization . . . envision a Corporate Socialution!

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Amber Alerts using the Social Web . . . at least somewhat

It's been my experience that government and quasi-government agencies are always the last ones to figure out the technology that helps them accomplish their mission. For the most part, my impression has not changed, though more and more I am seeing a glimmer of hope.

There are police officers , emergency management personnel, homeland security employees, and firefighters on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and several of the other social networks, and more and more poised to enter The Relationship Economy.

From my time in the criminal justice field (and discipline), I have developed an outside the walls network of thousands of these folks (they are "connected" to me in the address book on my computer, and frequently post on my old-school wall known as an inbox while CCing others). I have seen a select few (and growing) number of folks over the past 15 or so years adopt (and adapt to) the various iterations (is that spelled right?) of communications technology and I am often impressed by their progress. In fact, the friend I mentioned in 4score and . . . how would Lincoln do on Twitter?, where I observed that the combination of my time working for the government and my legal training and my current focus on education was not a good breeding ground for brevity, works in this very field.

In the recent past, though, I have seen a more useful (my opinion) adaptation and implementation, and have noted police and fire departments using Twitter, the microblogging service that feels a lot like a mashup of instant messaging, chat rooms, and 2-way radios. I first noted that three police departments were on Facebook (update: there are now five) and two (there's now a third, but no posts yet, though they have 5 followers) are on Twitter. I made some suggestions in our recent book that police departments could find innovative ways to communicate with the communities, and I have been impressed with those who are (and I am waiting patiently for the tens of thousands who are not). I delved a little deeper into a hypothetical scenario in the post on Social Network Commerce.

I have noted also that a fire department is Twittering (update: Now there's a second). The @LAFD has a very active presence in the Twitterverse, and they add followers by the day (you can follow them, too) though they are only following one. And I just realized that there are nine (yes, 9) Fire Departments on Facebook -- wow!

And today (Wednesday, April 30, 2008), while Twittering with Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan), I learned from @wscottw3 (yeah, the Comcast guy) that Amber Alerts are on Twitter, too - see @amberalerts. I knew that Jason, with Herban Media has had an Amber Alert application on Facebook for a while, and our local (Nashville) media does a decent job of putting the alerts out, but Twitter seems to be the perfect place for them (especially since they just received another infusion of funding).

I don't know that the @amberalerts on Twitter are from an official site, but the program is a Department of Justice Initiative, and before now, I had only seen the Transportation Safety Administration getting involved (other than covertly) in the social web. The only problem with this demonstration is that @amberalerts hasn't seen a Twitterpost since three months ago. I suspect that's not reflective of the most recent Amber Alert . . . but it's the thought that counts, right? I did find that the @Amber_Alert Twitter Feed is directly from the national website DM, so make sure you follow the right one!

What do you think?

BTW - I promise to make my next post on something unrelated to Twitter . . ..

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The COMcast ic forecast -- chance of storms

. . . with possible improvement if COMmunication improves

post Can Comcast Reverse the Storm
suggests that Comcast has the opportunity to be a leading brand that leverages the tools of the web for improvement of service and innovation of propositions to their customer base, both personal and business. He suggests that they could be customer service trend-setters and thought leaders, which would be a great improvement over their current ranking by a 2007 J.D.Power survey, that ranked Comcast second-to-last only to Charter in customer service for cable and satellite TX providers. Bob Fernandez, in article in The Seattle Times that Jay quotes, discussed this survey, and noted that in the February issue of Consumer Reports, Comcast ranked ninth of 10 big telecom companies. It was sandwiched between Time Warner Cable, at No. 8, and last-place Charter Communications.

I first got engaged with Comcastic customer service with a post by a (local to me) Nashvillian, named Mark Kerrigan, in a fabulous demonstration of the use of webtime by corporations. Mark was frustrated by the local office's attempts at customer service, so he went to the best distribution channel he had available -- his blog. Mark had a follow-up appointment (after a three day wait) scheduled from 8-11 AM. He wrote, the breakdown in communication became apparent when someone from Comcast called at 9:28 on the day of service to “remind” us that we were scheduled to have a service tech come out between the hours of 12 and three! I read that post and thought, "good for him, he's demonstrating the communication style needed in The Relationship Economy -- talking out in the open." And the next day, Mark blogged again, and it blew my mind (not that he's not that frequent, but what he was writing :-). Mark reported a phone call from Frank Eliason,with Comcast Corporate. Mark explained how it felt to know he was speaking with someone who could actually do something about the service (or lack of service) provided.

Shortly before this, I had been working with Mike Orshan to start a series of initiatives called The Conversation On . . ., on Facebook, and we had posted the first 50 or so companies from the Fortune 100 (and begun a website, too) to try to organize "the good, the bad, the new, the old, the newsworthy and the hopes regarding the United States number 84 company in revenue." Seeing an opportunity for traction and momentum, we pushed the Comcast group to the front of the line for development. Check out the Facebook Group for more -- if you join, you could be member number 440!

But webtime wasn't over yet with the Facebook group addition . . . the Comcastic Twitter initiative had just launched. Two Comcastians, known as @wscottw3 and @ComcastCares (Scott Westerman and Frank Eliason) started responding to Twitterposts by Comcustomers (who were "venting" about Comcast) like they were personal account managers. I saw a variety of high and low-profile technology folks being helped, and even saw some Twittered follow up posts. Take a peek at how messages are passed on Twitter by @mjlambie, @chrisbrogan, @bloggersblog, and @jowyang. if you aren't familiar with this technology. You can see more at The Comcast Tweet Scan. Scott and Frank are doing so well in addressing the issues that they are getting referrals for both customer service and strategy!

So yes, Jay, I think Comcast can reverse the storm.

They were #84 on Fortune's list (they are #79 now)and they have one heckuvan Internet presence, too! Site Stats for show has a traffic rank of: 123 (wow - they were 223 on March 20), and they have been online Since: 25-Sep-1997. But it would take a transition, no, a company-wide transformation, to relationship-based customer serving. As we noted in a previous post, relationship building for businesses seems almost counterintuitive. Back in the day, Customer Relationship Management was the practice of leaving the house, stopping for a cup of coffee at the local diner on the way to work, taking a break to visit with your neighbors who happened to be long-time customers, and generally engaging others in conversations about anything and everything. And that, in webtime, is what it will take to divert this storm.

So how do you engage your customers in webtime? You can use simple tools, like this mini-mashup I got from Steve Rubel to check customer service posts for Comcast (or the company of your choice). You can also search the blogosphere . . . Technorati has 541 blogs listed in a search for Comcast in their aggregated blogs, alone. Now, many of them could be spammer sites, but they all tagged their main blog with Comcast, and at the time this was written, there were individually 2,864 posts tagged with Comcast on Technorati (this should make it # 2,866 if Jay tags his).

But searching these sites, whether manually or automatically, is not the solution. There must be something better!

Imagine a public access portal set up strictly for Comcast communications. In that portal is a live blog collector and a live Twitter stream (among other cool tools). The posts are searchable, sortable by keywords, and threadable. A potentially disgruntled Comcustomer finds the portal (shouldn't be too hard with the search tool of choice) and searches for their specific issue (no service, delay in responding, blocked file transfer, late technician, etc.). They locate an ongoing thread, and see that others, perhaps others in their area, are experiencing the same problem. In this example, the threads will serve as a FAQ section that is updated in real time. Instead of making a new call or sending another email, the Comcustomer can say "me too" by tagging the post or thread with their location or adding a simple comment.

If you really want to kick your imagination into high gear, envision a webcam of the technician speeding to your location . . . That's the webtime way!

What do you think?

Disclaimer: The author is not a subscriber to any cable or satellite TV provider, and has not been one since 1990. Though this may indicate that he does not know much about these providers, it does not indicate that he's unable to know a storm when he sees one. And this, my friends, is a storm!