Friday, February 29, 2008

The CIO versus the CMO - slow and steady (with the right strategy) wins the race!

Once upon a time there was a Fortune 500 CMO who, boasting how he could generate business better and faster than anyone else, was forever teasing the company's CIO for his limited contributions to customer acquisition and retention. Then one day, the irate CIO answered back: "Who do you think you are? There's no denying you're fast, but even you can be beaten with the right strategy!" The CMO squealed with laughter.
"Beaten in a competition? By whom? Not you, surely! I bet there's nobody in the world that can win against me, I'm so good at what I do. Now, why don't you try?"

Annoyed by such bragging, the CIO accepted the challenge. A competition was planned, and the next day at dawn they stood at the starting line. The goal was to generate new business by engaging new or lost customers. The CMO had been honing his craft for several years, and his marketing team was the best in the business. The CIO had only recently begun testing a strategy that included reaching out to customers and potential customers to engage them in communication -- even building relationships . . . It started when he realized that this strategy produced the best crop of employees, and he was interested in testing to see whether it worked for company business, as well.

The CMO yawned sleepily as the CIO trudged slowly off to his office to send a Twitter message to his team. When the CMO saw how painfully slow his rival was moving, he decided, half asleep on his feet, to have a quick nap instead of rallying his top-notch marketers. "Take your time!" he said. "I'll have forty winks and catch up with you in a minute."

The CIO's team got busy, posting on their well-read, cross-linked blogs, updating the internal and external technology wikis, and brainstorming (on Skype, and Free Conference Calls, of course) ways to get the word out. One of the team members had his video camera, so the team shot a quick (amateur) video announcing the challenge, posted it on YouTube, and then posted it on their blogs and their networking profiles.

The CMO woke with a start from a fitful sleep and gazed round, looking for the CIO. But the CIO was only a short distance away, having barely moved at all while blogging for the third time that day on Social Media Today and Always On: The Insider's Network. Breathing a sigh of relief, the CMO decided he might as well have breakfast, and off he went to eat at the new Cinnabon he had noticed across from the mall. But the heavy meal and the decaf latte made his eyelids droop by the time he made it back to the office.

With a careless glance at the CIO, now engaged in a webinar with over 100 new contacts from LinkedIn and another 75 from Facebook, the CMO decided to have another snooze before rallying his team for a winning last-minute marketing push that afternoon. And smiling at the thought of the look on the CIO's face when he realized the CMO's intellectual superiority, he fell fast asleep and was soon snoring happily, with his feet kicked up on his desk.

The sun started to sink below the horizon, and the CIO, who had posting (and linkinng) to related posts in the blogosphere since that morning, was getting up for his last Jolt. At that very point, the CMO woke with his own jolt. He could see the CIO walking toward his office from the break room and off he dashed. He set up an on-the-fly conference call with his team at record speed and gave them all news of the challenge, his tongue dragging, and gasping for breath. Just one strong push and he'd be the winner. He called a handful of his fellow CMOs and asked them to negotiate some quick dual-branding strategies so he could claim a superior follow-on strategy, and typed up a press release in a matter of minutes.

But the CMO's last minute leap was just too late, for the CIO had beaten him with his slow and methodical relationship-building strategy. The CIO's team was just shy of having 500 new relationships that day -- a third of which were with former customers, and over 150 had placed rather large orders. Poor CMO! Tired and in disgrace, he slumped down beside the CIO who was leaning against the wall silently smiling at him.

"Slow and steady (with the right strategy) wins every time!" he said.

This contemporary re-write of The Tortoise and the Hare, one of Aesop's Fables, was designed to provide you with a glimpse into the paradigm shift that business has to make in order to survive The Emergence of The Relationship Economy.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can I have a Coffee Lite Frappucinno and some FREE WiFi? Apparently the answer is YES!

I just got an email from ATT (where I get my home and mobile phone service with DSL Internet) and they announced that I could go get free wireless with a cup of coffee!

I am pumped!

A search of the site (and even which autoforwards) found nothing on a search for starbucks . . . maybe only the marketing department knows . . .

But the STARBUCKS site is touting "free Wi-Fi access for qualifying AT&T customers and any Starbucks Card holder" - Heck, I have both!

I wonder if that's why they had the company-wide store closure the other day? Is this another example of Customer Powered Service?

Earlier I was reading a very indepth article on branding. In it, Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, said Brands are perhaps the most intuitive example of cheap interaction’s atomizing hand. Yesterday, they were a potent source of advantage. Today, the game has changed: investing in traditional brands is yielding fast diminishing returns, and leading more and more players directly into value destruction. That’s why it’s not just revolutionaries like Google, but also mass-market giants like Nike and P&G, who are rethinking orthodox branding.

I'm thinking ATT might be going into the coffee business, so they can compete with McDonalds . . .

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Utopic Neutrality

I really don't think there's a whole lot of long-term support for Net Neutrality, but it sure does make for some interesting dialog. As the Internet forms and transforms, so many people have so many views on what should be and what will be. These often conflicting and usually opposing views seem to miss the reality of what the Internet and Neutrality is all about. Putting the two together appears to form an oxymoron. I propose, as an alternative:
The premise of neutrality is objectivity, or freedom from bias.

The premise of Net Neutrality is the absence of restrictions by those providing access on those for whom the access is provided.

If this sounds like the western expansion in the United States (and other countries before it), or if someone has burdened you with the metaphor of Internet expansion as space exploration, that's because we, as humans, have the need to relate new things to old paradigms. If we are looking for something to really relate this to, it's pretty simple . . . the Internet is like Utopia!

Utopia is that la-la-land dreamworld where everything is perfectly designed, where beta-testing is a thing of the past (sorry Microsoft), and where nothing -- seriously, nothing -- breaks. It's where you have enough and I have enough, and we both know it and are happy about it.

Thomas More, a lawyer, author, and statesman, coined the word "utopia," and described it as an ideal (fictitious) island nation. Here's an overview of More's Utopia (also here):

According to Wikipedia, Net Neutrality refers to a principle that is applied to residential broadband networks, free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, on the modes of communication allowed, that does not restrict content, sites, or platforms and where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams would be considered neutral by most observers.

According to Google, Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The company observes that fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet.

The problem with that position is that it doesn't fit even the basic business (revenue generating) model. Google has been operating with an advertising revenue model that is changing (not growing) even as you read this post. Google is to the Internet what Wal-Mart is to manufacturing -- they provide none of the Internet but make a whole lot of money using it. To even think that Google has the ability to provide an unbiased view of the topic is to think that American automobile manufacturers naturally support carbon-neutral energy sources.

Here's the more simple analysis. In our neighborhood (yours and mine), we have dirt roads. Suppose there's a campaign started that requires all local, state and federal governments to provide unlimited access to improved roads for all vehicles. Let's call it "Street Neutrality." I ride a bicycle, you drive a sedan, and Joe, the guy down the street, drives a semi truck. Are we all supportive of this campaign? Absolutely! The problem comes with implementation.

The roadways in our city are made of concrete, about two inches thick and ten feet wide. I am the first one to drive on the roadway, and I really enjoy the comfortable drive. The curves are gently sloped, the roads are flawless on the surface, and they are plenty wide for me -- even if I like to swerve back and forth. You are the second to drive on the roads. You, too, enjoy the drive, and though you tend to drive like you are on the Interstate (hopefully I am already off the roads), the slope of the curves allows your tires to grip the road surface just right.

And then along comes Joe. He's got a trailer on the back of his truck, so the width of the road is a problem -- especially around the curves. That trailer has some heavy merchandise in it, so the thickness of the road is a problem. We both notice the problems Joe is having, so we force our city to build wider and thicker roads and build sidewalks for me and my bike.

And then the tax bill comes.

Each of us notice our taxes went up, and we are not especially pleased about it. We get together and walk down to City Hall to see what the problem is. We are told that because of the additional work, the city had to spend more money to improve the roads then they had in the annual budget. They explain that the added costs are needed to install and maintain a roadway infrastructure that will support large semis like Joe's while providing way too much support for your sedan and my bike. You and I glance at each other and almost immediately glare at Joe, vowing to find a way to opt out of supporting this in the future. We return home and immediately start a neighborhood petition. I think you can fill in the rest of the story . . .

So how does this all shake out? Telecom companies (or power companies) will provide Internet access just like we currently get water, electricity, and trash pickup. They used to provide dial-up (dirt roads) but realized that enough of us wanted and were willing to pay for DSL or Cable Internet. A few of us need much more bandwidth, and the rest of us got tired of paying extra (remember, we join social networks and upload pictures and video for free). There will be a basic fee for a up to a certain amount and then there will be added charges for those users who want more than the average customer.

We may not like it, but we wouldn't be able to run our own companies any other way.

This post was provided without adding added burden to the Internet . . .

What do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Customer Powered Service -- the next step in The Relationship Economy!

A while back, Bruno Teuber suggested we use something called Customer Powered Service to define 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. There have been a few instances of the use of this term, but they all seem to focus on the company's reputation, not the customer's needs and desires. Teuber suggested that Customer Powered Service was a new model that empowers customers, not just internal service personnel. It helps customers achieve their goals, and it optimizes service towards making the best use of customers' time.

I think it's time to revisit the use of this term -- not as a buzzword, but as a mantra.

Customer Powered Service should be seen as a return to the mindset of the marketplace. It is the empowering of the customer, but it doesn't stop there. We have to realize (and make sure the companies we are dealing with realize) that they really aren't going to be successful if they don't provide us with what we need (and are asking for). When we speak of Customer Powered Service, it's not just about the customer -- it's also about the service!

Scott Allen recently noted that we have been moving closer and closer to the point that the customer is really the one in charge of the relationship, not the vendor. How does that work? Customer Powered Service!

Mark Kerrigan established a contact within #84 of the United States’ most profitable companies, and they (the founders) weren’t going to let that slip away. How did he do that? Customer Powered Service!

Jay Deragon observed that the best kind of sale comes from existing customers either buying more or referring someone else to your business. What is he talking about? Customer Powered Service!

Doc Searls, at Harvard's Berkman Center, is knee deep in VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management, the reciprocal of CRM or Customer Relationship Management. It provides customers with tools for engaging with vendors in ways that work for both parties. How are they going to build that? Customer Powered Service!

Pete Blackshaw suggested that if customer service and consumer affairs professionals want more budget, more respect, more leeway to nurture meaningful consumer loyalty -- and hence positive word-of-mouth and CGM creation -- they need to make their case, and do so now at a time when the resource-rich marketers are dotting every third word in speeches and memos with the word "conversation." How can they do that? Customer Powered Service!

The March 3 issue of Business Week, in an article entitled “Consumer Vigilantes“, provides us with a look at the creative ways that "we the people" have started using social media to address the issues when we want to avoid dealing with the phone menu (press one if you really want to do something about the problem).

This Thursday, February 28, 2008, join is at the Business Week webcast on The Impact of Social Media on Selling.

It promises to be a glimpse into the future of Customer Powered Service!

What do you think?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Arrrgghhh! All those years studying Political Science were a waste!

It's a shame when you realize that you wasted time doing something. It's even more a shame when you realize you wasted A LOT of time doing something!

No, I'm not talking about the times where we might second-guess ourselves after a failed marriage. I'm not referring to the soul-searching that goes on when one of our adult children does something REALLY stupid and we wonder where they learned that from. I'm not even talking about the feeling we get when we are downsized, rightsized, or even (God forbid) laid off, nor am I talking about what happens when you and your spouse vote for opposing candidates (more on that later).

I'm talking about the time we've wasted studying the variety of ideologies and political maneuverings at the Federal, State and Local levels of government in our fine country. I'm talking about the time we (even now) spend on trying to discern the benefits of voting for one primary candidate over another, or even trying to engage in public dialog to assist others in distinguishing from one potential political candidate over another.

This revelation comes like a cannon ball in the gut (I've never felt it, but I watched enough cartoons as a child to be able to imagine how it feels). Could it be true that it is actually our gut that affects our political persuasion? That's what it looks like . . .

According to James Fowler and Christopher Dawes of the University of California, San Diego, genetic predisposition can account for up to 50 percent of our political ideology. Tom Jacobs observed that political scientists have debated which environmental influences have a bigger impact on a young person’s nascent political ideology: the belief system of one’s family of origin, or the alternative ways of thinking one is exposed to in the outside world (say, at college). “All liberals know conservatives don’t have a heart, and all conservatives know that liberals don’t have a backbone,” joked John Alford, a political scientist at Rice University and one of the first academics to explore genetic influences on ideology. “So the issue has always been biological. “This takes some of the onus off of parents,” he added. “If your kids become liberal and you’re a conservative, they’re usually not doing it to poke a finger in their eye. It wasn’t a choice for them, so it doesn’t reflect a deliberate flaunting of your beliefs.”

The sure thing here appears to be that politics are not simple to understand -- at least not as simple as business.

Doc Searls, Scott Allen, and Jay Deragon have all posted of late on the effects of the basic factors of The Relationship Economy on politics in the context of the recent debates. Doc reported that Clinton called it “an honor” to be running against Barack Obama, and that “Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.” Scott and Jay observed that in recent debates, Obama was saying that we have to have a relationship in order to effect change, while Clinton was saying that “they” have to change in order for us to have a relationship. In order to keep this framed in one ideological stance or another, let me observe that McCain was deemed newsworthy by the New York Times for claims made eight years ago regarding his relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist . . . oh, wait, that's not we mean by The Relationship Economy . . . Actually, I think Newsweek did a decent job of covering the recent mud-slinging toward the GOP candidate-in-waiting.

The bottom line is that all these politicians need is a crash course on relationships. In the marketplace, the reaction to someone who completely and totally offends your offering of a relationship is the removal of that offering, the commitment to take your business elsewhere, and (if they were really offensive) the commitment to report this offense to everyone you know, everyone they know, and as many people as you can by a variety of broadcast mediums. In government and politics, we have to wait a bit longer -- usually around four years. Nonetheless, we all remember the ways to get involved in politics from our American Government class, right? If you don't like the way you are represented, either jump on the bandwagon of someone you agree (more) with, or build your own bandwagon.

It is sad, but I think the choices in this election season started out in the crapper, and they just keep swirling around and around.

Here's Tango's attempt to combine Politics and Relationships:

See if you can do any better!

What do you think?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Absolutely creative programming

I received this in an email this morning. It's pretty cool, and definately creative.

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam . Now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands . HEMA also has stores in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany . In June of this year, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA's product page. You can't order anything and it's in Dutch but just wait a couple of seconds and watch what happens. Turn on your sound too.

This company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer.

HEMA - online winkelen

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Corporate Online Relevancy in The Relationship Economy

Let's talk about corporate online relevancy.

In a recent article, Lee Gomes observed that, "Back in the '90s if you didn't have a Web site you were irrelevant; the same was true with having an e-commerce site in 2001. That is where social networks are right now." See Talking Tech -

Is that acccurate?

I agree that social networks are important. I understand that it is not in the best interest of many companies to venture into the space by launching their own site and trying to draw customers and potential customers to it. I have seen the mistakes by those who try to use Marketing 1.0 techniques to attract a Web 2.0 customer. But can we be so bold as to suggest that companies without a social network presence TODAY are irrelevent?


Perhaps if they don't realize that they should and are scrambling to do something, anything, to be seen as "in the know." Perhaps if they have hired a consulting firm and thrown tons of cash at every and any idea and wasted countless hours training their employees on the proper way to represent the company in the new online world. Perhaps if they don't pay attention to their teenagers (representing their future employee base) and see that this is where they "hang-out."

Christopher Carfi and Dan Greenfield have asked the question "does 'if you build it, they will come' work for social networks?" My keen eye and memory allowed me to spot the classic movie inspired metaphor right away, and then I got curious. I was blown away when I Googled social network field dreams in the blogosphere.

Here are some of the hits:

Dan Greenfield cautioned that "in launching a social network, it is tempting to create a FaceBook page and declare mission accomplished. Yes you can check off that item on your social media to do list. But having friends on your company page rarely taps a user base looking for a meaningful forum to engage with your brand or company." He then addresses the needs and goals that must be in place in order to make the project measurable, observing that "Critical mass is about relative measurements, not absolutes."

Dan wraps up with "In successfully targeting your audience and reaching critical mass, the problem may not ultimately be whether they will come, but what will you do when they come." That reminds me a little of the ad earlier in this decade (as I recall) where the startup was watching their hit counter roll so fast that they were out of action before they had been open long enough to consider a profit.

Marshall Sponder wrote a follow up to Dan's that "we’re living though all that - figuring it out as we go - which is exciting but also makes me want to pause and figure out if we’re missing something."

I, too, love it that we are all excited about being excited, but what message can we really deliver to those in need, desparate need, of an answer? We can tell them that the tide is coming in and the surf is looking good -- that's about it! Don't get me wrong, I feel strongly (and previously said so) that Corporations should embrace (and more) the activity known as Social Networking. As we previously posted, Networking, especially Social Networking, can be used to leverage time. But every company that wants relevance in The Relationship Economy needs to first understand what it is!

The downside is, there are no cookie-cutter solutions. Each individual and organization has to see 1) where they are, and 2) where they want to go. Then and only then can they map out 3) how they are going to get from 1 to 2.

Chris Brogan lays this out pretty well:

"First, know what the intent of your social media and networks will be. Are you hoping to improve awareness and open communication about your organization? Are you looking to reach new markets and open channels for sales or membership or market adoption? Are you hoping to use these tools as collaboration platforms? Are you making informational products? Are you just virtualizing your water cooler? Knowing your intent drives which path you take."

In addressing the new strategies needed in this space, Jeremiah Owyang observes:

"What’s key? It’s having a plan to kick start your community. Secondly, understanding to consider joining the community before building one. Lastly, marketing (and your community) may not even be on your own website or domain, distributive, amorphous, and ubiquitous."

With all the confusion that this can cause, there will be quite a few well-meaning and not so well-meaning scam artists who will promise solutions they have no possibility of delivering. That's about the only place the rules haven't changed for this new era -- there are still people who will take advantage of someone in need.

Hopefully, the CEOs, CMOs, CIOs and CTOs have read our post about "The CEOs new social network strategy."

What do you think?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Are we teaching open social networking?

Another discussion in the open!

The NY Times recently hosted/posted Is MySpace Good for Society? A Freakonomics Quorum - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog: "Has social networking technology (blog-friendly phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) made us better or worse off as a society, either from an economic, psychological, or sociological perspective?"

A collection of thought leaders (Martin Baily, Danah Boyd, Steve Chazin, Judith Donath, Nicole Ellison, and William Reader) responded with some pretty insightful ideas, and there has been much discussion in follow up.

As note in my comment there, I see a tendency toward focusing on specific social networking sites. This limits the ability to examine and understand the phenomenon. MySpace replaced Friendster as the leader by offering what we the people demanded, and Facebook, LinkedIn, and others are trying to (and succeeding in their efforts to) redefine the space. The collection of people we relate to and incorporation of communication tools are the keys to success in this space, not “the site.”

These sites may not last forever, but we have always been engaged in social networking — now supported by technology. The top 5 SN sites could crash and burn tomorrow and we would still do what we do. It’s a revolution, and it’s here, now. Let’s usher in The Relationship Economy!

In response to the Freakonomics Quorum, Paul Glazowski has a recommendation for parents: teach kids (as well as yourselves) as much as possible about any and all networks. He observes that though a percentage of Web users find them useless, redundant, and banal, tens of millions have found such services to expedite tasks - for work or personal purposes - and essentially streamline their lives significantly. There is, after all, something important to saving time and energy.

I think the presumption is that parents know what networking is all about. I'm not so sure that they do! Today's younger (and many older) networkers often connect just to connect. Where did they learn that from? Is it possible that a parent would sit down and explain why everyone at their office came over last night for a dinner when all that parent does when they come home from work is complain about everyone they work with? Do we really think that kids understand (or care) why their folks stop at some chamber of commerce mixer after work?

I think we have to assume that people connect 'cause they think it's the right thing to do, but many have no idea why.
What do you think?

Friday, February 15, 2008

War of the Worlds - Spoofing Social Networking


No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought ofthem only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable.

The War of the Worldsby H. G. Wells [1898]

A study released yesterday draws a strong connection between websites devoted to "social networking" and the inability of their subscribers to network socially. The survey's results suggest that teenagers who conduct social activities via the internet are likely to end up singularly ill-equipped to conduct social activities.
On the plus side, the report goes on to say, many of them develop impressive skills at making pornographic videos with cellphone cameras.In the Stanford University experiment, 30 teenagers were banned from their computers and forced to engage in face-to-face social interplay for a period of three weeks. For nearly all, this proved challenging.

Among the most difficult adjustments they reported were: 1) eliminating frequent pauses they had learned to introduce into conversation to allow for advertising, 2) getting used to just how few actual human heads are highlighted from behind by customized "wallpaper" and 3) finding the cursor.

The humor is perhaps subtle (reminiscent of War of the Worlds?), but the two-pronged message is clear. First, social networking has arrived. You don't spoof things that are not working. Sometimes folks take their time to write about things that aren't going to make it (like the HD DVD that just admitted defeat by BluRay), but no one takes the time to spoof the nearly dead. Second, there may be a bit of reality in this post. How long have today's youth been called socially unaware, only to be defended by well-meaning parents and psychologists who pointed to intereaction in online social networks.

I think the problem we have here is one of transition. The old-school networking model (mostly face-to-face) required social skills like looking at someone (not their shoes) while speaking to them. It required speaking in complete, understandable sentences, not slurring, speaking in code, and using half-finished sentences. And most of all, it required actually finding some value in the relationship, not just connecting for the sake of connecting.
No matter how social we (or our kids) get, you can't learn that stuff behind a computer screen.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If traditional marketing won't work in The Relationship Economy, what will?

Relationships, that's what!

In Generation MySpace Is Getting Fed Up, Business week reminds us that "Social networking was supposed to be the Next Big Thing on the Internet."

The article covers a variety of noteworthy points:

  • Advertising on social networking sites is growing fast. Last year global ad spending on these sites shot up 155%, to $1.2 billion, expected to jump 75% this year, to $2.1 billion.
  • The forecasts may prove unrealistic. Besides the slowing user growth and declining time spent on these sites, users appear to be growing less responsive to ads, according to several advertisers and online placement firms.
  • Google didn't generate as much revenue from social networking as expected.
  • Many people on social networking sites pay little to no attention to the ads because they're more interested in kibitzing with their friends.
  • Social networks have some of the lowest response rates on the Web, advertisers and ad placement firms say. Marketers say as few as 4 in 10,000 people who see their ads on social networking sites click on them, compared with 20 in 10,000 across the Web.
So what should we be doing to get the attention of the people formerly known as the audience? Perhaps we should treat our markets as conversations . . . perhaps we should engage our customers in dialog, getting to know them before we tell them what we have "just for them." Possibly, we should stop selling, and start listening . . .

In The Relationship Economy, the first step is the relationship. We are sick and tired of the push-marketing model, and are demanding that the pull (our pull) be implemented. The days of build it and they will come are gone. We want you to build, make, and provide stuff that we tell you we want. We'll only tell you in a conversation. The only way you will get it is if you are listening.

That's how relationships work.

Take a look at the new model, brought to you by some of the Cluetrain Manifesto authors.

The updated theses (numbering is not a mistake -- he skipped a few) as posted by Charlene Li - Josh Bernoff at Social Media Today.

1. Advertising as we know it will die.

2. Herding people into walled gardens and guessing about what makes them "social" will seem as absurd as it actually is. (Facebook is his example.)

3. We will realize that the most important producers are what we used to call consumers. (Yup.)

4. The value chain will be replaced by the value constellation. (Many connections.)

5. "What's your business model?" will no longer be asked of everything. (What's the business model for your kids?)

6. We will make money by maximizing "because effects". ("Because effects" are what happen when you make more money because of something than with it.) E.g. search and blogging.

8. We will be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage us. (Agreements between companies and customers shouldn't be skewed in favor of the companies.) At Harvard Law they call this VRM -- vendor relationship management -- which is what Searls is working on (

10. We'll marry the live web to the value constellation. (The Live Web isn't just about stars. Relationships of anybody to anybody.)

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Big Brother -- the future of social networking?

In no less than two articles I reviewed this morning, there was the undercurrent of "Big Brother" watching our every move. That's not the Big Brother you've been watching on television. That's the "Big Brother" that was the character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. I've had enough of these conversations to predict the responses by most of my contacts, but here's another opportunity for discussion.

In Science Daily, the article Wireless Monitoring Of People and Things: Future Of Social Networking?: observs that "Electronic tags promise to create what some call the 'Internet of things,' in which objects and people are connected through a virtual network." Imagine having instant access to your possessions, and being able to set up your system to tell you when you left really important things behind.

This sounds a lot like an upgrade of the "As seen on TV" sales of The Clapper that helped us find things when our memory failed us. Technology experts predict that RFID tags will soon be incorporated in consumer devices, such as cell phones, laptops and music players. Each tag, which looks a bit like a thin, flexible credit card, costs about 20 cents to produce. A specialized reader can scan the card through any non-metal barrier and from up to 30 feet away, depending on the type of tag. RFID tags are miniature computer chips that contain far more information than a barcode.

Also, you can write to an RFID tag--meaning the signal could not only identify the item, but what group it belongs to, when it was last seen, and other information. The technology has already proven its use in tracking goods. A manufacturer can identify a cart of hamburger patties and know which plant it came from, when it shipped out and a history of its temperature during transit. UW computer-science staff members have already requested to participate in the study so that they will be able to track their equipment as it is moved through the building.

Another useful tool mentionned by the author was the Friend Finder. This allows you to see where your friends are, and connect with them much easier than expending the effort to call them and say "hey, where are you." There's another article on Friend Finders at AFP where a new social network site, Gypsii, allows you to track your friends like the police track a fugitive. "The real time location-based element of Gypsii adds a new dimension to the social networking phenomenon," said the founder and chief executive of the company, Dan Harple.

Gypsii is compatible with other big social networking sites, allowing the core location-specific functionality to be transferred to a user's Facebook page, showing their friends' and their own location. The tracking is made possible with (as you can imagine) your friend's mobile phone. The location of a mobile phone can be identified in two ways. The first is via a GPS chip, which allows a device to recognise its position based on communication with a constellation of satellites around the planet. The second is by triangulation. A phone sends signals to communication towers located around it and by measuring the speed with which signals travel to these different base stations a position can be determined.

The ease with which phones can be located -- to within 25-50 metres of their position, say experts -- has sparked a wave of innovation in the mobile phone industry. I am very interested in these technological developments, and can't wait to hear the dialog!

So, what do you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

THIS CANNOT BE REAL! TSA - DHS Site has been hacked!

THIS CANNOT BE REAL. There's no way that a bureaucracy-laden government agency gets it . . .

I happened across a New York Times Article that covered what they purported to be a blog that was sponsored by the Transportation Safety Administration. The article claimed that the site has links to independent bloggers and real news reports, including negative ones. Allegedly, the site even allows anonymous posters and publicly-viewable comments.

"A whole lot of our employees are really anxious to engage with the public," Mr. Hawley, the Director of the TSA was "quoted" as saying. The NYT writer reported that after the blog went up on Jan. 30, many reader responses were angry and sarcastic. But later, a greater sense of civil discussion set in.

Here's a look at the alleged blog, in case you are inclined to assist me with my quest to root out the real owner. It's called Evolution of Security, and claims "This blog is sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process."

P-Lease . . . do they expect us to believe this nonsense? Having spent several years working in one government position or another, I can tell you that the last thing any government agency wants is to hear what their "customers" think about their "service." It's not like they need to make anyone happy. What would we do if we didn't lke the "service" we got from the TSA -- go to another airport in another country?

OK, just for the sake of argument, let's pretend that a government employee did ask permission to run with a public blog. The process for approval is so archaic with the government that you literally would rather try to get God and Congress to agree on something. Form after form, approved by no less than five levels of leadership, would have to be completed, reviewed, returned, and resubmitted. The Internet hasn't been around long enough for this to have received approval -- especially in an election year!

And then we're talking the likelihood of accuracy for those posting -- the "meet our bloggers" section shows that none have more than 5 years with the organization. R-i-g-h-t!!!

The URL appears to be spoofed to, but I have friendly hackers who are checking into the validity of this. It is also possible that the DHS site itself has been hacked, but I think there would be a little more craziness posted . . . and wouldn't the media have covered this by now? Slashdot covered an incident like this at LAX TSA about a month ago. I wonder why they haven't done a follow-up! Others in the blogosphere have hit on this, but they appear to be buying into the cover-up.

As a taxpayer, I hope that our federal law enforcement agencies swoop down on the perpetrator of this fraudulent site. As a periodic flier, I would love to believe that the crappy attitudes we find so often on the other end of the x-ray machine might somehow change for the good. As someone who believes in the power of The Relationship Economy, I hope that the corporate world takes a serious look at the hurdles they will need to overcome and uses this as an challenge!

This can't be real . . . can it?

What do you think?

Monday, February 11, 2008

What are the economics of relationships in The Relationship Economy?

In order to grasp the economic value of relationships, let’s take a look from a business perspective.

Kevin Kelly's Customer Control
Kevin Kelly (1998) suggests business owners:
1) Create what the customer wants
2) Remember what the customer wants
3) Anticipate what the customer wants
4) Change what the customer wants.

Before you judge the message, consider it in the context of a hybrid type of business, not a traditional business, and not a business in The Relationship Economy. Kelly’s message indicates that businesses control the relationship – do they? In The Relationship Economy, it will be the consumer that holds the controls, and they will hold the economic power, as long as they demand it.

Go Daddy's Money Spots
In a recent media censorship challenge, Fox Television rejected an advertisement that included references to a slang term for a woman’s “private parts.” The ad, at Go Daddy Hot Spot, was one in a history of risqué ads that seemed to get more “exposure” than they would have had they been aired.

Go Daddy had issues in previous years but apparently isn’t getting the message . . . Or are they?

The company proudly lists the timelines for ad rejection from 2008, 2007 and 2006 on their website, and many bloggers have covered their adventure.
But only one that I found shows data to indicate that this was a bad move:

What do you think?

The Denver Post - Work, connected by social networking

Another company who gets it! A reecent article in The Denver Post - Work, connected by social networking - reports "'Web 2.0 and social networks, blogs, wikis, tags, all shifted the way we can all connect and share with each other,' said John Kembel, co-founder and chief executive of HiveLive. 'Either from a competitive point of view or the effectiveness of doing business with each other, people realize they need to bring different communication tools to the business.'"

This in a services organization . . . what a concept! I am sure that they considered the "wasted" time spent by employees "trading photos and recipes," and realized that community building was far more important than bean-counting.

As one of the team leaders noted, ""It's kind of like walking into someone's office or cubicle, where you can see pictures and other things about them."

What do you think?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Innovation: Corporations Embrace Social Networking

I think we may be making some progress! According to Fox Business, in Innovation: Corporations Embrace Social Networking: "Increasingly, corporations and business professionals are embracing this new way to communicate and network. From established corporate social networking Web site Linkedin, to upstart SkyLounge (which went live last week) to embedded social networking in human resources applications, companies across the country are trying to capitalize on this burgeoning market.

And it's all being driven by executives at the highest levels of corporations."

Hopefully, they have read our post about "The CEOs new social network strategy"

The next big things in wireless | CNET

The social-networking craze has come to the mobile phone, and the topic promises to be a hot one at Mobile World Congress. There's a whole session dedicated to social networking at the show. And there will likely be a lot of announcements.

Let's hope some of them are aimed at making social networking useful for business!

The next big things in wireless CNET

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Is it copying or collaborating?

Copying or collaborating?

In school, it’s called copying, and it’s wrong. In business, it’s called collaborating, and it’s expected and rewarded. When two people work together to submit the same work product, how should it be received? It depends on the 1) assignment, 2) agreement between the parties, and 3) recipient's expectations.

Individuals are moving more and more toward collaboration, especially in the business community. We’ve seen team-building become almost an art form in business, and the focus on forming short-term business teams appears to be a foregone conclusion during negotiations. So where do we draw the line?

If we can’t monetize it and ensure we get our share, we aren’t likely to go for it!

Knowledge in organizations is (rightfully) treated like it has value. But, as with other things of value, the usefulness of knowledge depends on how we process it. There are apparently two perspectives, or schools of thought, on the handling of knowledge in organizations.

One perspective is that knowledge consists of objects that can be created, collected, stored, retrieved and reused. This model suggests that knowledge needs to be codified in order to be effectively managed. This model can be understood using a "conduit" model of communication (Heo & Yoo, 2002).

The second perspective is that knowledge in organizations is socially constructed and collectively held. It is malleable, uncertain, and embedded in work practices and social relationships. This model is more in line with the “communities of practice” model (Heo & Yoo, 2002).

Many organizations are still concerned about getting an immediate return on investment for the knowledge they create, maintain, and share. The Relationship Economy won’t work that way, so now would be a great time for us to learn to get over this antiquated business practice. We may all agree in the importance of fostering a collaborative culture within our organization, but just how do we go about doing so?

Tapscott and Williams, in their book Wikinomics, identified four steps we can take.

•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.

(Tapscott & Williams, 2006).

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? Openness means making your organization’s boundaries porous to external ideas and human capital. It means being open to the talent pool that lies outside your walls and sharing access to corporate performance. Moreover, it means seriously participating in the global knowledge economy (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).

Peering is also important in the establishment of a collaborative culture. Peering results in the creation of a horizontal organization that is often unrivaled by hierarchical organizations in speed of solution deployment. Looking at some examples of peering may give us an indication of how it can be accomplished.

Marketocracy is an organization that uses collective intelligence on virtual stock portfolios. Marketocracy is a research company whose mission is to find the best investors in the world and then track, analyze, and evaluate their trading activity. They claim to have beaten the S&P 500 Index in 8 of the 11 quarters since inception

Wikipedia is a free multi-contributor online encyclopedia. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world. Unlike a paper reference source, Wikipedia is continually updated, with the creation or updating of articles on topical events within seconds, minutes or hours, rather than months or years for printed encyclopedias.

Linux is a Unix-based operating system with shared infrastructure and resources. It was originally created starting in 1991 by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers from around the globe. Linux runs on a wide variety of hardware platforms, from huge mainframes to desktop PCs to cell phones.

Peering succeeds because it leverages self-organization. The natural self-organizing behavior of humans suggests that self-organization should be expected in our society. Self-organization can provide a platform for a decentralized, distributed, self-healing system, protecting the security of the actors in the network by limiting the scope of knowledge of the entire system held by each individual actor (Self-organization, 2008). Usually the growth of such networks is fueled by an ideology or sociological force that is adhered to or shared by all participants in the network.

Radically sharing Expanding markets

As any business model demonstrates, expanding markets create new opportunities. These opportunities are beneficial, and often require insight into the local business culture. They are also likely to require the sharing of duties among people who haven’t worked together before. In order for these relationships to work, there has to be an agreed upon comfort level between the participants.

Technology has brought us a couple of excellent examples of sharing that we (as humans) might try to replicate in our endeavor to “get radical.”

Computing power sharing allows companies to harness the processing power in a multitude of computers and combine that power to accomplish tasks that before required expensive supercomputers (Kessler, 2003). Shared computing also lets companies, or researchers, shift computing power via a network to where it's needed, cutting costs and increasing computing productivity.

Sharing bandwidth (neighbors or neighboring companies) can also keep costs down. Talk to any (honest) telecom sales representative and they’ll tell you it’s rare (like with streaming media) that all the bandwidth is needed all at one time. Those office buildings who treat bandwidth like electricity or water and pick up the tab for their average tenants have the right idea.

Content sharing is becoming more and more useful on the Internet. Many of the once-stagnant websites we mentioned previously are now dynamic because of shared content.

The sharing of scientific and medical knowledge is how both communities got to where they are. The research may go on behind closed doors, but the results are only useful when they are shared with the community. How many other communities do you know that freely share their findings?

Thinking and Acting globally

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.

The International Labor Office provides us with Eight Dimensions of Knowledge Sharing. Contemplate these as you decide whether you are prepared to engage:

  • Create a supportive culture
  • Gather internal experience
  • Access external learning
  • Expand communication systems
  • Use creative mechanisms for drawing conclusions
  • Develop an organizational memory
  • Integrate learning into strategy and policy
  • Apply the learning

(ILO, 2007)

Examine your tradition of knowledge sharing to see how many of these dimensions you use.

Tomorrow’s successful companies will need to find ways to Think and Act globally, even if their budget and management has them stuck with legacy systems and processes. They will need to become true global companies, with no physical or regional boundaries. They will have to learn to treat the world as if it was one company, run by truly global individuals. They will need to see remote as if it were local, and realize that we don’t need to be in the same room to collaborate (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).

Michael Powell, then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said that change is inevitable. He made this statement after using Skype (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).

What do you think?


Heo, D. & Yoo, Y. (2002). Knowledge Sharing in Post Merger Integration. Case Western Reserve University

ILO (International Labour Office), (2007). Results-based management. Available at

Kessler, M. (2003, January 8). High tech's latest bright idea: Shared computing. USA TODAY. Available at

Self-organization. (2008, February 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:43, February 5, 2008, from

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

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Knowledge Sharing in The (networked) Relationship Economy.

The way we share information has changed. We have transitioned from what was never called Web 1.0 to what is now called Web 2.0. We have partially transitioned from a reliance on printed material to the (at least partial) use of digital publication. Our organizations have transitioned from the industrial age use of Quality Circles to the Information age use of Communities of Practice. Many of these concepts are becoming keys to success in the knowledge-based economy (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).

But there’s a problem. With the ready availability of information comes the incentive to use the information for your own benefit without compensating the creator. We’ve seen the initiation of digital rights management in one form or another to assist those in the audio and video business in collecting royalties. Colleges and Universities have seen a variety of software tools that comb the Internet to check originality of material. All this leads us to ask the question, “How does knowledge sharing work in The Relationship Economy?"

What edition of the web are we on?

The previous era was never called Web 1.0 because no one realized there were going to be so many drastic changes that would so dramatically alter the engagement paradigm. In a relatively short period, we transitioned from the “surfing” of websites to get information to the practice of immersion in a collection of interlinked computing platforms that serve us in a way not dissimilar to software on our local machines.

The Web 1.0 period ranged from about 1994 to 2004. Websites were characterized by the requirement for designers (webmasters) to provide all the updates. Guestbooks that worked a lot like a physical bulletin board, were about as close as these static sites got to interactive. These sites were a place where we could go to get stored information.

Web 2.0 came up on the radar screen about the time the phrase was coined by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media to describe “the web as a platform.” Webmasters now have shared content update responsibility with their readers and users. Instead of static pages, these pages have dynamically generated content, and provide a place where people can meet and interact. This space is typified by social-networking sites with interactive posting areas, wikis, and blogs. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information.

Traditional knowledge sharing medium

For many years, we have shared knowledge using the written word. This is often seen as a reliable method, and is usually preferred to passing on information verbally. In recent years there has been a transition (in some areas) from printed media to digital. Though preferences for one or the other are as unique as the individual, there are some clear benefits in both cases.

The Print publication era is still with us, though it has undergone many transitions since the invention of the printing press. It is characterized by places where information is gathered, sorted and disseminated -- libraries and other information warehouses. The process of searching for printed material is a rather cumbersome and slow process. In many cases, it requires more physical action than actually accessing the material. We have to plan for time to read, and we are inclined to uni-task – just read, with very little else going on.

The Digital publication era provides a much different experience. Whether on the public Internet or in a local database, the process of searching, retrieving, and accessing material is limited only by the speed of our connection. Digital publication has redefined what we used to call bookstores and libraries. We are able to read whenever and wherever there is time and opportunity

Quality assistance

Groups of people have always collaborated to assist each other. In recent years, we have seen a transition of this practice from physical meetings to assist the organization to virtual meetings to further the profession. Quality circles and communities of practice epitomize these different approaches.

Quality Circles are a group of workers who meet to discuss improvements and make suggestions to management. The intent often focuses on the quality of output, in the content of organizational performance. Quality circles are known to motivate and enrich the work lives of employees (Quality circle, 2008). These groups are usually limited to a specific organization, and rarely focus on extra-organizational issues.

Communities of practice describe the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations (Community of practice, 2008). Communities of practice are usually formed within a single discipline in order to focus efforts in sharing knowledge, solving problems, or innovative ventures, but multidisciplinary participation provides an advantage in these efforts because of the expanded focus and even holistic goal that can be achieved (Community of practice, 2008). These groups often look to challenges common to many organizations.

Quality vs. Quantity

As we have mentioned previously, there are limits to the number of people we can effectively manage and communicate with. When building networks for knowledge sharing, we will see more of a communities of practice design, where a larger group of people converse with the group. It is important to keep the intent for building in focus, and to share the intent with those we invite to join us.

Though little research has been done in this area, surely there is a limit on how big we can build and still have a useful network. Robin Dunbar, an Oxford anthropologist, is often sited by those who are concerned about network building effectiveness. His most noteworthy work (in 1993) is often used to support the notion that we cannot have a functional network above 150 connections. It should be noted that Dunbar’s limit was derived from a study of social groups in nonhuman primates. Dunbar, who reportedly does not engage in social networking himself, says that social network sites could "in principle" allow users to push past the limit (Bialik, 2007). "It's perfectly possible that the technology will increase your memory capacity," he says (Bialik, 2007).

But there’s likely a cap on the effectiveness of our networks when we add people just because we can. At some point, people feel used (as just a “number”), and word gets out in your community. Nonetheless, if done right (and for the right reasons), it is possible to build a functional network of hundreds of people. The key is on learning the basics of networking, where very encounter is an opportunity to:

•Add connections

•Strengthen existing connections

•Connect your connections

That said, we should make a habit of regularly auditing our connections

•As they affect the individual

•As they affect the larger organization

•As they align with objectives

These audits may result in additional connections, or they may result in a form of “culling” of our network. In any event, we should build our networks as a place where knowledge is freely distributed and treated with the respect it is due.

What do you think?


Bialik, C. (2007, November 16). The Numbers Gut: Sorry, You May Have Gone Over Your Limit Of Network Friends. Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition), p. B.1

Community of practice. (2008, February 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:18, February 4, 2008, from

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

Quality circle. (2008, February 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:19, February 4, 2008, from

Monday, February 04, 2008

Share and Share Alike in The Relationship Economy

Sharing Knowledge can and does occur in our social networks. We’ll cover these more later, but for now let’s look at how the two can intersect.

•Knowledge is central to economic development with new technology.

•The development of new technology doesn’t just happen, it depends on initiatives.

•Development begins with the recognition of a need, and it results in change

  • Change to the way we do things.
  • Needs are often recognized when a few people get together and discuss their wants and desires.
  • This happens often when people network.

•Self-organizing networked social systems generate shared knowledge

•This shared knowledge can benefit many of the network members. The only thing that limits knowledge dissemination is the method used to transfer the information and the limitations or restrictions placed on it by those who hold the knowledge.

•The Internet circumvents imbalanced relationships by removing restrictions for those who seek information.

•How many industries have we seen opening up since the Internet became an integral part in so many people’s lives?

•Automobile sales were one of the first to experience the infiltration of informed customers, thanks to Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book

•The insurance industry has likewise been affected

•Mortgages and other loans, stocks and other investments, even simple banking transactions can occur with an institution we never physically visit.

•The medical field is experiencing an increase in informed patients with companies like WebMD

•And there are many more, and more to come.

So what’s in it for me?

In The Relationship Economy, the sharing of knowledge (like the sharing of many other factors) will produce revenue. Another way of saying that is by sharing knowledge you are engaging in economic development. Let’s examine economic development from a two different perspectives.

Personal economic development benefits the individual, who must acquire and implement the knowledge, and their family, who benefits from contributions by all of its members. We are all part of an organization of some kind, so let's look at it from a wider perspective. Organizational economic development benefits the smaller groups, like one’s team or section, which also benefits the individual (and their families). Economically benefited individuals and groups ultimately benefit the whole organization. And from an even broader perspective . . .

Community economic development starts at the local level, where projects including workforce education and development are launched and nurtured so they can raise the income of those (individuals) in need. At the state level, economic development includes a variety of cooperative projects and strategic expansion initiatives. Sometimes there are regional developments that engage in economic stimulation – often these are cooperative operations with private and public organizations. When economic development occurs on a national scale, there are multitudes of players involved. Projects at this level take a significant amount of planning

But we don’t like to change!

It’s difficult to get people to change – even if it is in their best interests. It can be even more difficult to get groups of people to change. Ultimately, in order to provide an environment for change there must be an identified need.

Some examples of needs (or wants) resulting in change include:

Open Source software

Open source is a software development method that uses distributed peer review and transparency of process. The need that brought about the The Open Source Initiative (OSI) was better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

The OSI is a non-profit corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to link different open-source community constituencies.

Creative Commons licensing

•Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. Individuals can use private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses.

•Creative Commons can clearly identify copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

Voice over Internet Protocol

•Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some VoIP services are proprietary, others allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number, and some services allow you to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter.

Video creating and sharing

•A variety of new technologies, websites, and social network domains like Facebook and MySpace, has motivated large numbers of individuals to create videos and post them on the Internet. This trend crosses the individual and corporate space, and is expected to continue to grow. Current examples include YouTube, MySpace, and Google Videos.


A blog (web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

Network Power

The power of a network is related to the amount of knowledge held by the individual members, how much they share with others (and re-use from others), the number of others with whom they share and the capability of the network to generate new knowledge.

For an organization, the network power equation requires.

•Hire and retain people who have a high level of expertise (and therefore a large amount of knowledge).

•Hire and retain people who are natural sharers.

•Hire a diverse population of people so that the knowledge they have is varied; i.e., there is enough similarity so that they can understand each other, but not so much that they all know the same things.

•Put in place a work environment that encourages and enables knowledge sharing.

The bottom line is power is knowledge shared. Through knowledge management, you can increase the power of your organization exponentially to solve problems, to invent new methods, and to overcome physical distance.

(Smith, 2001)

Technology-Enhanced Synergy

Synergy happens when a group of diverse individuals gets together and collaborates. When forming a strategic team, it is important to find a variety of personality styles, backgrounds, and experiences. Only by interacting with a heterogeneous group can we experience the real power of collaboration. The results of these collaborations often contribute to the overall knowledge base. Previously established networks can also be used to disseminate this collective knowledge.

There have been many recent examples of technology-enhanced synergy. Though many of these exist in the software world, their application in similar models in the “real world” can be easily accomplished.

Wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. Wiki is from a Hawaiian word for "fast." A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Wiki technology and style has been used to create





Quotes Listings

Search Tools

Learning Resources

(Wiki, 2008)

Open Courseware is a free and open digital publication of “high quality” educational materials, organized as courses. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations using a shared model. The consortium includes:

Defense Acquisition University

Harvard Law

Johns Hopkins


Michigan State

UMass Boston

UC Irvine

Notre Dame

. . . and many others

Topics come from a variety of academic subjects, including Philosophy, Biology, Calculus, International Relations, Adolescent Health, and Statistical Reasoning are offered – completely free. (

So where do we start?

What do we need to do to create a Knowledge Sharing Culture? We need to start with making knowledge sharing the norm in our life and the life of our organization (Gurteen, 1999). We need to regularly encourage people to work together more effectively, to collaborate and to share. This will help instill the habit in the lives of others in the organization, and will go a long way toward making organizational knowledge more productive

But remember:

  • We are talking about sharing knowledge and information – not just information.
  • We share knowledge to help the organization meet its objectives. We are not doing it for its own sake.
  • Making knowledge productive is as important as sharing knowledge.
  • Changing a culture is tough. It means seeing the world in a different way, and revealing hidden paradigms like the tacit acceptance that “knowledge is power”.

It starts with you!

  • Knowledge sharing begins with the individual. Each of us has his or her job, objectives, and sphere of influence.
  • Sharing is about being more open in your way of work and in your relationships with other people.

(Gurteen, 1999)

We can get there from here!

The most effective way to create a knowledge sharing culture is to start at our level. The higher up we go in the organization the more effective we will be in changing the knowledge sharing culture, but we have to start where we are. We must implement knowledge sharing and show others the results.

An organization’s knowledge assets include explicit knowledge (concepts, procedures, and routines) and tacit knowledge (experience, relationships, and know-how) (Chun, Williams, & Granados, 2007). An organization’s knowledge assets develop over time, and can be difficult to manage. Quite often the knowledge needed to solve a given problem already exists within an organization, but locating the person, document, or server holding the knowledge is challenging. Many of us have our own methods for knowledge management. Is your desk covered with sticky-notes? How do you retain knowledge that you know you will need some day? Hopefully some of the ideas you have seen here will help you in your quest for knowledge sharing!

What do you think?


Chun, M., Williams, M., & Granados, N. (2007). Managing Organizational Knowledge: Insights offered from the Southern California aerospace industry for managing knowledge assets. Available at

Gurteen, D. (1999) Creating a Knowledge Sharing Culture. Available at

Smith, R. (2001, May 9) Knowledge Management – The Road Ahead. Presented at "Unleashing the Power of Partnerships", the 2nd Conference & Expo of the Staff Exchange Program of The World Bank Group, Washington, D.C.. Available at

Wiki. (2008, January 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:38, February 1, 2008, from