Going into the World Innovation Forum, Clay Christensen was the only speaker whose work I had read (and I spoke of the language of The Innovator’s Dilemma in a post earlier this year). He covered some familiar stories, but also covered a lot of material that was new to me. For some great coverage of his presentation at the conference, check out posts from fellow bloggers Helen Walters at Business Week, Chris Flanagan of Business Innovation Factory and Don Peppers.
My perspective for this post is looking at how to apply Christensen’s material to social media in a corporate environment (note that Christensen discussed many social issues, but not social media - these are my thoughts based on 2 days of great speakers and some reflection).
While Live-Tweeting the session, I posted:
Reflecting on Clay Christensen’s “unmet needs” - a challenge of social media adoption: creates new value not easily foreseen
Jeff Hurt responded
Social Media is about building & nurturing relationships. If you gain my trust, you gain my attention.
and Chris Flanagan commented
Maybe the better question is what jobs need to be done? Look beyond social dimension to functional & emotional
There has been lots of discussion lately around the ROI of social media and amongst the many challenges here are:
- Do we really understand what “jobs” we are looking to do? Until you get start doing social media, it’s hard to say what will work or won’t work for your company. For marketing, it is very unpredictable what will be successful or what will go viral.
- Relationship or community building translates into goodwill and brand equity which is always difficult to measure quantitatively.
On day 1, a question to Paul Saffo from a young audience member “How will social media make money?” got a large laugh out of the audience, as one of the bloggers noted “if we had the answer, would we be here at the conference?”
Another piece of Christensen’s session talked about the education process. He spoke about how the 8 learning styles (see a good post on this topic from Fleishman Hillard and see the link at the bottom to take a test to learn about your multiple intelligences) that people had are not addressed in the teaching styles and testing styles in school today. Christensen pointed out that while some people love that his books have lots of diagrams (visual learners, including me); some people hate that portion of the book. In software tools, I think that developers rarely think about this difference. The argument is usually about creating a simple GUI. Some people might prefer the command line interface rather than pictures. I think that part of the success of Twitter is that there are so many interfaces to choose from. I like Tweetdeck where I scan past the avatar photos, but some people prefer a denser text environment or find Tweetgrid overwhelming with all of the columns. Developers need to consider that there will be different preferences and your design can be alienating a whole group of people.
Related to learning preferences, take a look at the poll that I posted regarding what people liked best from the conference Twitter experience. Some people wanted the quotes, others wanted to be able to read through additional documentation, others wanted photos and videos, and many wanted all of the above (which I didn’t offer as a choice). The diverse group participating in the Bloggers Hub provided a mix of reporting and commentary as well as engaging in debate in real-time. It was an exhilarating and tiring experience to watch the speaker, take notes, Tweeting and keep an eye on what others were Tweeting. [It made me think that what we needed was Ozymandias, the “smartest man on the planet” from Watchmen who could watch what was going on around the world (see photo of him watching lots of TV screens on the right) and then know what to do - and he didn’t even have Twitter!] Each blogger brought different perspectives and styles of communication. I felt that it was a great proof point of innovation in action; not to be confused with innovation inaction.
Photos courtesy Dov Friedmann
Please post any comments or questions - to quote Clay Christensen, “the only way that I learn is interacting with others”.