Tagged: innovation

Challenging Creatures of Habit

originally posted on Concept Hub

We are at an interesting point in history right now.

Throughout the ages, there have been many times where people had a right to say that it was the most interesting time to be alive. We can look at just the past 100 years and see how much has changed in our quality of lives, role expectations, and deeper understanding, awareness,  and acceptance of people that have different world views than ourselves.

Throughout the ages, what has always accelerated these evolutionary changes have been innovations that connect people from around the world. Changes that enable ongoing communication through various channels that are able to reach various people.

Each innovation has been more awe-inspiring and earth moving than the past. From the ability to travel across vast distances of land to the ability to cross the oceans, to the ability to communicate in real time around the world and the ability to broadcast to the world.

But, we are at an interesting point in history right now.

At no point in history have we been able to develop and distribute new technologies as fast and easy as we do today. At no point in history have we had so many different communication channels to choose from. At no point in history have we been so challenged by the ease to communicate and the dispersion of the relevant conversations.

A couple of weeks ago I sat in a room with a gentleman older than me and a woman younger than me. The gentleman held onto his blackberry constantly. He would be your typical audience for mobile communications. I still have a phone that looks like a child’s toy, I have not yet gone mobile. The woman younger than me was trying to grasp the ideas of social media. She wanted to be able to receive all updates in her email. With the exception of direct communication, all other emails I receive are often ignored. In this room with three people, there were three dominant modes of communication. I am best reached through social media channels such as articles posted by friends and links I find in Wikipedia or in Delicious and reviews I read. The older gentleman is best reached through mobile alerts he has subscribed to and the younger woman is still best reached through email and even print mail.

This is the new challenge we face as communicators. We can no longer look at demographics such as age, gender, race, or income to decide how to best structure our communication channels. We need to focus on communicating through the various communication channels to reach the most relevant audience based on behavior.

This past week I was in a room with a well-known radio personality. He was discussing the challenges faced by the media industry today and had some very valid points that the cause of the current problems was tied to the big corporations controlling all the stations. He pointed out that this massive control did not empower stations to be tailored to their community. At the same time, when asked about people turning toward more tailored content on the web through social media channels, he seemed to not feel that social media was a threat to radio.

A couple of days prior to that meeting I heard some advice from a very intelligent and successful man who suggested that to assume people are stupid just because they do not see things the way you see them is like putting a nail in your own coffin. I retorted that it is not about thinking they are stupid, it is about getting them out of their comfort zones. This gentleman’s comfort zone, in fact, his entire life, revolved around the radio. His lack of experience with social media did not make him stupid, nor did it make him irrelevant, it just confined him to one communication channel that had a limited reach.

Currently, I am reading groundswell. It is a good book, one I would recommend. Howe, er there is one section that I am at variance with, which is their social technographics profile. In the past three years that I have been in business, I have seen people go from asking what a blog is to being an expert in social media. I have recently connected with a 70-year-old relative on Facebook. In a recent Market Intelligence Report, I developed about the blogosphere in GA, I have noticed a tremendous shift in the quantity, quality, and topics of blogs being maintained.

We are at an interesting point in history right now.

People are no longer easily categorized by their age, gender, race, or income, but by their habits. We are all creatures of habits. Some people have habits of staying in their comfort zones, others have habits of embracing the latest trend and technology.

Every organization is trying to learn how to get a handle on the most effective communications for this new day and age.

In the past, we turned to the experts on demographic statistics and trends. These statistics and trends were the basis of the road maps that led us to reach our target audience. As creatures of habits, we expect these “demographic” roadmaps to lead us to our destination. But who uses road maps anymore? In fact, road maps may lead you wrong in a world where the roads are always changing.

We are at an interesting point in history right now.

We can no longer use the same insights of demographics to create the right road maps. Today we have to have perspectives that are open enough to recognize the opportunities in a rapidly changing world and a strategy that is agile enough to respond to these ongoing changes.

Can an Organization Survive Without Innovation in this Evolving World?

Last month Business Week listed the World’s Most Innovative Companies.

The subtitle;

Smart ideas for tough times: The 50 companies that make up our annual ranking nurture cultures that value creative people in good times and bad

According to the article, one of the first budget cuts in what seems to be an impending recession is going to be in R&D and Innovation. Will companies take the stance that they should stick with the “status quo” during these times? Will they cut cost by cutting services and personnel that seem to be too cutting edge to manage?

I can certainly understand the logic behind such choices. As someone who has been advocating change within my client’s organizations, I have found that change and innovation is a lot of work. It takes a commitment from the leadership, committed advocates throughout the organization, organizational changes in ideology, the technical ability to collaborate across functions, and an acceptance to learn how to do things differently.

As the article points out, there seem to be two camps;

“One is saying times are tough, so it’s the most important time for us to innovate,” says Scott Anthony, president of Innosight, a consultancy founded by Harvard Business School professor and innovation guru Clayton M. Christensen. “The other is saying ‘we simply don’t have the ability to think about innovation right now.’ There’s a real separation between the innovation haves and have-nots.”

The article also points out that “Low-cost methods for creating new products are easier than ever as emerging markets provide both cheap labor and booming pockets for growth.”

Your competition, both direct and indirect, including the 16-year-old playing on the computer right now, will identify opportunities that you may miss.

This is the time when information about the emerging landscape becomes critical for the survival of the fittest in hard economic times. This is where knowing how to change and where to change needs to be real-time information.

The changes in the world of business and commerce have continued to accelerate over the years. The main changes we have seen is the ability for those who are creative, driven, and a bit of a risk taker to find themselves standing at the top amongst the rubble of outdated companies.

There is a saying I have heard numerous times in competitive sales environments, “do not rest on laurels.” Meaning, do not remain so satisfied with your achievements that you make no effort to improve.

Resting on your laurels seems like a silly thing to do when economic times get tough and the competition will start to get more resourceful. It seems to me, as tough as change might be, it is needed most during times like these.

As we move through the tough times and the innovative ways companies will find to get through, we will also see the large Dinosaurs of the business world divided into piles of fossils and the corporate Dodo birds falling prey to the changing landscape.

Those who will survive and thrive will be those who can most quickly adapt to the changes in their environment by staying in-tuned with the changes that are occurring, continuously listening to their troops, and leading an organization through the dense forest and rapid waters that are ahead.

Will You Be a “Best in Class” Company?

originally posted on Concept Hub

More and more I am reading reports that are making the connection that what has been happening on the World Wide Web is and will continue to impact more than how organizations communicate with their audience. It will impact how organizations do business.

Not only are consumers now explicitly expressing their wants and needs, but they are finding very niche channels to get those needs met. The inside information that used to be passed over the fence is now being broadcast to entire networks.

Competition for attention has always been fierce, but now it seems that companies are competing with more than just those directly in their industry, they are competing with their consumers.

Several organizations have already started looking for response strategies. At the basic level, they have established a monitoring system to seek out conversations that might have devastating consequences on their reputation. Many have launched campaigns to build communities around their products or services or to engage in conversations within other communities. However, will that be enough to maintain a competitive edge?

Sure consumers appreciate that companies are “listening” and engaging them in conversations – but they will want more. They will want to be served! They will want to be treated as individuals! and if they do not get their way, their voice will be heard!

Social media is changing more than strategies within the Marketing and PR departments – it is changing R&D, Product Development, Customers Service, Sales and so forth. The result is that the “Best In Class” companies will have to adjust their internal organizational structures to be able to respond to the market at a compatible pace.

Aberdeen Group released a report highlighting Benchmarks for the Best In Class. In their Competitive Maturity Assessment within the Executive Summary they show;

65% of the Best in Class companies have a formalized process in place for monitoring consumer generated content

52% of Best in Class have dedicated personnel, such as a director of digital communications or director of social media monitoring

42% of Best in Class companies have a formalized process for detecting potential threats to the brand (i.e. early warning system)

More importantly, the report states that to achieve Best in Class performance, companies must:

Secure buy-in at the C suite level because, more than technology, social media monitoring and analysis involves business processes and organizational changes, including the hiring of dedicated personnel.

What return would a company get from all this effort? Well it depends on what they do with all the information they are able to gather. As stated later in the report;

social media monitoring and analysis can generate actionable insights that result in smarter business decisions across multiple parts of the organization.

Social Media will affect every aspect of an organization – therefore every department of an organization needs to be involved in the organization’s social media strategy.

Are you prepared to be a Best in Class company?



Hi Sherry,

Great post summarizing the impact social media is having not only on the PR department but on the organization in general. Also, as a sponsor of the Aberdeen report you mention it’s great to see that you got some insights from it. Listening is definitely the place to start for any organization. In fact it’s because I listen to the social media monitoring space with our Radian6 solution that I found your blog.

Looking forward to other posts in the space.


David Alston