Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ten Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 2)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance … something annoying, but we often dismiss the very skillful show of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies.  In Part One, we reviewed five remarkable characteristics on how an aspiring Enterprise 2.0 could learn from spider silk properties.  Let’s look at five more lessons a discerning observer should be willing to consider:
 
6. Spider Silk combines both tensile strength and ductility (stretchability)
 
Scientists at Arizona State University (ASU) have decoded the secret of spider silk’s strength and what makes the fiber at least five times as tough as piano wire. “Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know of,” said Professor Jeffery Yarger of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The tensile strength of spider silk combined with its ductile i.e. elastic properties (stretching and retracting) is well worth appreciating. For any of us, it would be hard to imagine grabbing a man-made bar of steel and stretching it to an extra forty per cent to its original length. The fact that this exceptional biological polymer (related to collagen) perfectly combines tensile strength and ductility is mind-boggling to say the least.
 
Clipboard Image
Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science
 
How do we set up company structures that are more flexible? Businesses that can “stretch” (such as a spiderweb capturing prey) when customer demand grows, but also businesses that can “retract” when its demand decreases?  How should these businesses embrace structural changes and seamlessly rebound when disruptive trends kick in?  Such theoretical questions are difficult to answer and ratify. An adaptive (stretchable and retractable) enterprise roadmap would be even more complex.
 
7.  The Spiderweb silk has stickiness properties
 
Spiders produce five main categories of silk.  One of them is the capture-spiral silk, used for the capturing lines of the web.  This sort of silk is sticky, extremely stretchy and tough, which should make us wonder how a spider can avoid entangling itself in its own web.  To this day, scientists are still not sure how it is possible for them not to get caught in their own trap.
 
What is the level of cultural stick-to-itiveness that companies have to offer? How does the Human Resource department attract, motivate and retain talent while minimizing personnel turnover?
 
8.  Spiders create exceptional spider web architectures
 
In Science Daily’s column “New Light Shed On the Mysteries of Spider Silk”, Dr. Kristie Koski and her colleagues from the University of Stanford report: “There has never been anything quite like spider silk.  Stretch it.  Bend it.  Soak it.  Dry it out.  Spider silk holds up … it can expand nearly a third greater than its original length and snap right back like new.  Ounce-for-ounce spider silk is even stronger than Kevlar, the human-made fiber used in bulletproof vests.”  Koski goes on to write: “The complete elastic response of spider silk is described by five elastic constants that define how the web reacts to any possible combination of forces –stretching, bending, soaking, pulling or twisting.” 
 
penmai.com.forums.science
Image credit: http://www.redorbit.com
 
How about our business structures? How far can we stretch them, bend them, pull them or even twist them without destroying them?  Have we ever considered the wisdom of a spider web and all its hidden attributes?  Have we ever tried to apply some of those principles to the form-functions of our schools, universities, government and businesses?
 
9.  Spider webs can capture water from the air
 
In the journal Nature, Chinese scientists have reported that silk is not only renowned for its strength, but also outstanding at collecting water from the air: “Sparing the creatures the hunt for a drink”.  We are here witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the most incredible sights God’s engineering hand has ever created.  “A tapestry of bright pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk in the morning after fog” says Lei Jiang, the scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.  He goes on to say: “The spider silk can be several tens of micrometers in diameter, whereas the water drops can be thousands of micrometers wide.  The silk properties change as it contacts water, which causes the bumpy silk fibers to smooth out and drives the water towards the bumpy knots in the spindle, where it gathers into large droplets.” 
 
Image.Credit_BBC.co.uk
Image credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science
 
Do we conceive products with compelling beauty and majesty while promoting safety, health and sustainability?  When considering some of the shoddy architecture I’ve personally seen in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, Beijing, Moscow, Barcelona and New York, I do not think they contribute to the beauty and enhancement of our environment. Do we boost technology by making it sustainable, durable and of compelling beauty such as the pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk? Or does our industry prefer to plan the breakdown of specific parts for purpose of future gain and enrichment?  
 
10. Spider silk has antibacterial properties
 
In their research article: “Evidence for antimicrobial activity associated with common house spider silk”, Simon Wright and Sara Goodacre, from the school of Biology at the University of Nottingham, researched and proved the antimicrobial quality of some spider silk when confronted with micro organisms.  In Heimer, S. (1988). Wunderbare Welt der Spinnen. Urania. p.14, we read that the peasants in the southern Carpathian Mountains used to cut up tubes built by Atypus and cover wounds with the inner lining.  It reportedly facilitated healing, and even connected with the skin.  This is believed to be due to antiseptic properties of spider silk and because the silk is rich in vitamin K, which can be effective in clotting blood.
 
Do our company products and services sustain our livelihood?  Do our business protocols provide our workforce with physical and emotional assets in form of education, personal growth and vision?  Does middle management nourish the strength and potential of its workforce by facilitating information taxonomy and its distribution?  Or do most structures suffer from a command-and-control mentality going back to the enlightenment age and war room strategies?  
 
Much more could be written about spiders, but I hope that we all could gain a better appreciation for the sustainable world which is just around us.  May we strive to contribute and make our work and world a better place where more sustainable values become the drivers of our business endeavors.  In the meanwhile, we continue to deplete our earth from the very resources that sustain our physical lives.  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat, the sleep we need and the love we cherish, none of these components will ever be digitalized.
 
Please follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter or on Google+ at
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
http://bitly.com/BrunoGebarski
 

10 Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 1)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance… something annoying, or we look at them as the irrefutable evidence that we have not done our housekeeping properly. We often forget or dismiss the masterful exhibit of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies. Most likely, the majority of us have no particular knowledge about arachnology (the scientific study of spiders). To tell you the truth, I did not even know the word until I looked it up in Wikipedia: “A spider web, spider’s web, or cobweb is a device created by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets. The spinnerets are the glands spiders use in order to produce silk. Some spiders are capable of manufacturing up to eight different silks during their life time.”
To conceive such an engineering exploit is a technological tour de force. Spider webs are so stunningly complex that their study has become a science. Around the world, arachnologists analyze the physical properties of spider silk. They consider its scientific uniqueness and the technological input it may bring to future man-made woven materials. We can learn a lot from spider webs and spider silk. We can draw many analogies between their properties and the properties our private and professional communities could and ought to display.
 
1. Spider silk is one of the toughest bio-materials yet known
 
The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar. Spider silk starts as a liquid protein, which is too small to see without magnification, then hardens to a solid when exposed to air. Spider silk can be stretched significantly (one fourth of its length) before it breaks. It can withstand temperatures from -40°C to 220°C.
How resistant and resilient can our organizations be? How are our business communities confronting adversity and bouncing back from defeat? How expandable and stretchable are our enterprises, businesses and societies? How far can they “spread” and “stretch” before they finally break or collapse?
 
Spiderweb
 
2. The spider web has the ability to adapt to different levels of stressOne of the remarkable keys to the stability of the spider web is the fact that “a spider web design, and the unique properties of its silk, allows just a single thread to break so the rest of the web remains unharmed.”  Can we say the same about our education systems, our management models and our manufacturing routines?  Someday, could a giant corporation like Apple tumble or “break”?  Could it be the reason that the unpredictable and creative genius of a Steve Jobs is not around anymore?  Could this cause a threat to Apple’s long-haul business strategy?  In “Apple Might Have a Bad 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble Ahead,” eWeek columnist Don Reisinger wrote:  “Apple could be in for trouble, as there are signs that iPhone demand is waning and its mobile market share is starting to slide.” If a corporation is threatened, will it adjust and adapt the same way a spider web can?
 
3. The silk’s molecular structure allows it to stretch
 
When a filament is pulled, the silk’s unique molecular structure unfurls as stress increases, leading to a stretching effect… The durability of the web is not just controlled by how strong silk is, but also how its mechanical properties change as you stretch it” says Dr. Buehler.  Darwin’s bark spider can weave a huge web over flowing rivers, stretching from one bank of the river to the other.  In order to stretch from bank to bank the Darwin spider must weave anchoring lines of up to 25m!  They weave such large tapestries by using one of the toughest, most energy-absorbing silks ever discovered, tougher than any other known biological and most man-made materials.  How tough and resistant do we train our workforce to be?  What sort of company culture and vision do we impart to them?  How far do we allow our workforce to stretch their minds and broaden their outlook?  How do we build bridges between departments and company silos?  How can we overcome isolated competitiveness for the benefit of community success?  When purchasing deliberately keeps a low inventory to earn CFO strides, production is postponed, client delivery is late, client production lines stops.  Does this sound familiar?  Unfortunately, it sure does to me.
 
Darwin_Spiderweb
 
4. The breaking of a single spider silk thread never threatens the entire web structureResearching on the spider web functionality, Dr. Buehler, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology goes on to say: “If a building, a car or an airplane is exposed to large mechanical stress, it typically breaks as a whole and the entire structure becomes dysfunctional.” He continues: “Each individual thread of silk could be ‘sacrificed’ to maintain the overall structure.  How far can our communities stretch before they break?  How much stress can they take?  Why did Kodak file for bankruptcy in January 2012?  Didn’t the management foresee the technological trends and the reality that sooner or later cameras would be digitalized?
 
5. Spider silk becomes spider food
 
Did you know that spiders can nourish themselves from the silk they produce? Spiders produce a large quantity of silk, roughly 59.43 meters (65 yards) a day or 70.81 km (40.44 miles) in their entire lifetime.   We could compare spider silk’s double functionality (web weaving and food) to bamboo which is commonly used for scaffolding in Asia but also consumed as a delicious plant.  Will we ever see the day when a man-made product will be used both as building material and food?  When will shareholders understand that greed destroys our planet?  It’s time to replace polluting manufacturing plants with clean sites and an environmentally biodegradable production output.  How much longer can we pollute, destroy and loot the very planet that sustains us?  Companies, entrepreneurs and leaders should bear in mind that short term greed will soon destroy our children’s right to live abundantly!  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink… none of it will ever be digitalized!

In part two, we will look at five more spider silk properties and the physical and spiritual lessons they discretely continue to teach us, should we want to observe and learn.    

Follow me Bruno Gebarski on Twitter at:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski 
 

11 Ways on How to Generate Twitter RSS Feeds For the Reader of Your Choice

Generating Twitter RSS feeds is for many of us a strategic way to curate relevant content, connect to communities of our choice, and keep up with our favorite tweeps.  RSS Twitter feeds are long gone, but recent changes have made their creation even more awkward. Nonetheless, bypassing those difficulties is still possible.  How can we do it and how do we get the most out of our Twitter curating efforts?  Without any further ado, let’s get right into it:
 
Generating RSS feeds from a Twitter list
 
Just if you have not yet noticed, since October 2012 the following Twitter feed is no longer working:  http://api.twitter.com/1/AUTHOR/lists/TWITTER-LIST/statuses.atom 
Many of us are struggling to find out a non-technical alternative.  As soon as we have a bullet-proof way of replacing this obsolete feed, we will post an update to this blog.  If you have an alternative, please write a comment below and it will get included into the next blog update.  Thanks!
 
1. Generating RSS feeds from a single Twitter account:
 
– Use this feed:  
https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=
 – Simply add the twitter name of your choice after the ‘=’ sign, but without the ‘@’ sign.   
– Copy and paste into your reader and you are done:   
https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=BrunoGebarski
 
You are now automatically receiving all Bruno Gebarski’s tweets in the reader of your choice…good luck!  You  can also use this second feed as well if you prefer: 
https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline/”Twittername”.rss
– Replace “Twittername” with the tweep of your choice and you are good to go.  
Now you can keep up with what Michael Brito is tweeting around the clock: https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline/britopian.rss
 
2. Generating RSS feeds from a single word search:
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=
– Add the word ‘software’ (as an example) to the end of the feed: 
http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=software
– Copy and paste this feed into your reader.  That’s it, you are done.  All the tweets, including the term ‘software’, will automatically line up in the client of your choice. 
 
3. Generating RSS feeds from a combination of words:
 
If you are wondering about encoding, have a quick look at my previous post concerning the proper encoding of text and characters using the convenient Albion Research free web app.
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=
– Enhance your search query by using the Boolean operators of your choice.
– Codify Social Business OR Social Enterprise OR #socbiz with the Albion Research app to: Social%20Business%20OR%20Social%20Enterprise
%20OR%20%23socbiz
– Add the encoded search to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?
q=Social%20Business%20OR%20Social%20Enterprise
%20OR%20%23socbiz
(Make sure to remove “spaces” added here to fit the long feed formatting)
 
Let me try this feed… drum beat…copying the feed into my reader. V oilà! It works perfectly. Now it’s your turn.
If you use Boolean operators, make sure their formatting is correct.  Otherwise, your query won’t be encoded properly, and your feed won’t work.
 
4. Generating RSS feeds combining a tweep and a hashtag
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=
– Encode the following query: @MeghamMBiro OR #socialmedia to:
%40MeghamMBiro%20OR%20%23socialmedia
Add the encoded search to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=%40MeghamMBiro%20OR%20%23socialmediaq
 
This feed will bring up all the results from Meghan M. Biro’s tweets, as well as those containing the ‘#socialmedia’ term.  Alternatively, it is possible to narrow down this search by replacing the ‘OR’ with an ‘AND’.  In this case, the feed will bring up the results from Meghan but only those which include the mention ‘#socialmedia’.  You can also use wild cards such as ‘leader*’.  In this case, the results would bring up all the words starting with ‘leader’ including ‘leaders’ and ‘leadership’. 
 
5. Generating RSS feeds containing a specific word or combination of words:
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=
– Encode the following query: Social Business OR Social Enterprise to: Social%20Business%20OR%20Social%20Enterprise%20
– Add the encoded search to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=Social%20Business%20OR%20Social%20Enterprise
– Copy and paste into your reader. Done!
 
6. Generating RSS feeds “from” a specific twitter account
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=
– Encode this query: from:markfidelman to from%3Amarkfidelman
– Add the encoded query to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=from%3Amarkfidelman
Mark Fidelman is now under your radar.  By the way, check out his excellent book: “Socialized”, it is well worth a read.  
 
7. Generating RSS feeds “to” a specific twitter account
 
– Use this feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=
– Encode this query: to:jonhusband to: to%3Ajonhusband
– Add this encoded query to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=to%3Ajonhusband
– Paste the feed into you reader.  From now on you will receive all the tweets which are addressed to Jon Husband.
 
8. Generating RSS feeds ‘referencing’ a Twitter account
 
– Use the feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=
– Encode the following query: @euan to %40Euan
– Add this encoded query to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twtter.com/search.atom?q=%40Euan
You now will get all the references made about (@Euan) Euan Sample.
 
9. Generating RSS feeds from a specific geographical location with a multiple query.
 
This is getting a little more tricky.  But thanks to the Albion Research Ltd encoding tool you will manage just fine.  Follow these steps carefully Albion Research Ltd.  
 
Let’s say we want to locate all the tweeps in Hamburg within a 100km (100mi) radius tweeting about: ’#socbiz OR Social Business OR social business OR #esn OR social enterprise OR #e20’.
– We first need to find out Hamburg’s coordinates:  latitude and longitude.  For doing this we will use Brenz.net, an app that automatically gives us coordinates from any city or address around the globe.  Here are the results for Hamburg Germany:  53.5510846 and 9.9936818.
– Use this feed:  http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?geocode=
– Encode the following query by using Albion Research: 53.5510846,9.9936818,100km,#socbiz OR Social Business OR social business OR #esn OR social to: 53.5510846%2C9.9936818%2C100km%2C%23socbiz%20OR%20Social%20Business%20OR%20social%20business%20OR%20%23esn%20OR%20social%20enterprise%20OR%20%23e20
– Add this encoded query to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?geocode=53.5510846%2C9.9936818%2C100km%2C%23socbiz%20OR%20Social%20Business%20OR%20social%20business%20OR%20%23esn%20OR%20social%20enterprise%20OR%20%23e20
 
Voilà.  It’s not difficult. Albion Research does a flawless job at encoding all this data for us. 
 
10. Generating RSS feeds from a specific geographical location combined with a key word
 
We now want to find out all the people in Chichester (UK), tweeting about health within a radius of 50 miles.
– We first need to find out Chichester’s coordinates thanks to Brenz.net, again to our rescue:  50.7317166,-0.788917.
– Use this feed:  http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?geocode=
– Encode the query: health geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi: health%20geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi
– Add the encoded query to the first part of the feed:
http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=health%20geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi
 
This search will bring you the results for all the tweeps twitting about “health” in Chichester (UK) within a 25 miles radius.  Isn’t this awesome?  I hope you are excited because this is very useful information!
 
11. Generating RSS feeds from a specific geographical location combined with a key
word and Boolean operators (AND / NOT)
 
Let’s say we want to find all the people around Chichester (UK), within a radius of 25 miles, tweeting about health but not about cancer.
– We will retain the following Chichester coordinates:  50.7317166,-0.788917
– Use this feed:  http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?geocode=
– Encode the following query: health -cancer geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi to:
health%20-cancer%20geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi
– Add the encoded query to the first part of the feed: http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=health%20-cancer%20geocode:50.7317166,-0.788917,25mi
 
Voilà! You are now getting all the tweets about health but without cancer within a 25 miles radius of Chichester in the United Kingdom. 
If you have any additional comments or suggestions please let us know so together we can complete and update this post on a continual basis. Thank you for stopping by.
 
Please follow me on Twitter at
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski
 

How To Create RSS feeds From Your Favorite Twitter Hashtags and Tweeps

It is frustrating to see how Twitter safeguards its own ecosystem and paralyzes non-tech users like us by making it so awkward to create RSS feeds.  Twitter struck again at the end of October last year, by removing the atom feed from their services.  Is there a simple non-technical way around it?  Well it might be connected to a bit of extra work and tweaking, but it’s well worth putting the effort into it.
 
1. Identifying your Twitter #hashtags (keywords)
 
There is a fabulous tool called “What Hashtag” (freely given to us by a Spanish group of programmers) that does a reliable job at researching and selecting the most popular Twitter-hashtags.  Let’s say we are trying to find the proper Twitter-hashtags (and those are very specific) for ‘social business’.  In our ‘social business’ search we shall include the Boolean operator “quote” in order to single out the results for “social business” only:
 
Hashtag
http://whathasthag.circulorojo.es
Frequency
#socbiz
175
#ibm
71
#SocBiz
45
#IBM
35
#socialmedia
35
#business
30
#Social
21
#ibmsocialbiz
15
#social
12
#Business
9
You may notice that each word is hyperlinked to its corresponding Twitter-feed:  very handy indeed.   It is now easier to identify the community connected to the “#socbiz” word or Twitter hashtag.  A word of caution please:  run the search several times and update it on a regular basis because things change fast on the Twittosphere.
 
The second tool is presented to us by Dan Zarrella:  Tweetcharts.com.  Tweetcharts goes one step further by giving us a full array of added information:  
– General statistics about links, retweets, replies, mentions, hashtags
– Top words and most mentioned users
– Other corresponding hashtags, links and media (images and videos)
 
Before we start creating RSS feeds, we need to understand a bit about encoding.  The Albion Research Ltd. application “encodes or decodes a string using URL Encoding.  URL Encoding is used when placing text in a query string to avoid it being confused with the URL itself.  It is normally used when the browser sends form data to a web server.”  So here is an example for us to try: 
Plain Text:
Hey What’s the heck with social media? 
Encoded Text:
Hey%20what’s%20the%20heck%20with%20social%20media%3F
 
Albion Research LTD_01

Copy the following Twitter RSS string search:  “http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=” and add any terms or name of your choice with the Boolean operators to your search:

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=@dpontefract OR @Euan OR @hjarche OR @jonhusband OR @KateNasser OR @rashkenas OR @rhappe OR @rossdawson OR @tdebaillon OR @BrunoGebarski
 
Now paste this string into the Albionresearch.com website to obtain he following encoded feed:

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=%40dpontefract%20OR%20%40Euan%20OR%20%40hjarche %20OR%20%40jonhusband%20OR%20%40KateNasser%20OR %20%40rashkenas%20OR%20%40rhappe%20OR%20 %40rossdawson%20OR%20%40tdebaillon%20OR %20%40BrunoGebarski

Remove unwanted spaces (due to blog formatting) and paste this final RSS feed into your reader, but first do not forget to replace the names, including mine, with the Tweeps of your choice!  Now you have your personalized twitter stream as an RSS feed with all the authors you wish to keep up with.  Easy and simple is not it?
 
Now it’s your turn: How do you keep up with your favorite Tweeps?  Any tools you would recommend?  Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
 
Please follow me on Twitter:
http://Twitter.com/BrunoGebarski

5 Additional Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (3/4)

Some days ago, I started on what will end up being a four-part series on innovative power, one of the fruits of Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business.  You are more than welcome to check part one and part two if you have not yet had the chance to do so.

Most company leaders would agree that a happy customer is more likely to become a returning customer, but how can a company expect a happy customer to become a brand evangelist if the company has not first understood the real value of its own employee experience (EX)?

1. Create employee experience (EX) first and customer experience (CX) will follow.

Some time ago I called Zappos’ Customer Service in Nevada.  I asked the person on the phone if she was happy to work for Zappos.  An enthusiastic and enchanted voice answered:  “… Oh …. thank God I am working here…!”  Let’s stop for a second.  Would your employees say the same thing about your enterprise?  If they were to be asked the same question, would they answer with the same positive attitude and with such a gregarious outburst of enthusiasm?

2. Improve your company reputation and internal set of values 

Ask a few friends to run a quick “popularity check” on your business around town and find out what locals are saying about you.  Pick up some outgoing and outspoken testers.  Let them go to bars and places where the locals meet and find out directly from them what the real deal is.  Who knows, the outcome might surprise you, and such an experiment could be an eye-opening attempt, right?  Employee experience (EX) is serious food for profound business evaluation since customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) will never precede employee experience (EX).  CX and UX will only kick in if an enthusiastic crowd of co-workers and employees are passionately standing behind your company’s products or services.  Remember Martin Luther King?  He did not say: I have a “to do list”, but “I have a dream”, which was his personal call for rallying people’s emotions and passions thus creating a relentless support for his cause.  Do your employees know your company values and dreams?  Can your workforce regularly see the ratified vision of your enterprise?  Is your company vision straightforward and inspiring enough for everyone to see and understand?  Are you moving the passion and emotions of your workforce for your cause the same way Dr. Martin Luther King did?

3. Grant your employees the right to make decisions that are right for your customers

It is often a leitmotiv (repeated theme) here in Europe, to have a shop attendant tell you:  “I am sorry Sir/Madam, but I am not authorized to make such a call!”  Why?  Why on earth isn’t she authorized to make such a decision?  For crying out loud, is she not the one dealing with customers on a day-to-day basis?  Why does it so often fall to the hierarchical manager, sitting behind his desk all day long (and mostly cut off from day-to-day sales reality) to make that particular call?

4. Focus on your employees and their needs

Many businesses focus primarily on Customer Experience/Service and this is absolutely mandatory if companies expect to raise their service level, and positively influence customer satisfaction and customer retention.  However, find out first about the working conditions and environment of your own workforce such as sitting comfort, IT equipment satisfaction, dining facilities and amenities. If you do not know, genuinely ask them in a personal way.

The unsung heroes employees at Disneyland are the folks carrying the brooms!  “Sweepers are actually frontline customer representative with brooms in their hands”.  “Scholar John Boudreau and Peter Ramstad have shown that the sweepers who continually tidy up the park and often answer guest questions are vital to Disney.  The caliber of these workers and their ability to solve problems are crucial to the holistic ‘magic’ Disney aims to create for visitors.”  Is your management striving to transform every single employee into a self-declared brand ambassador and evangelist?  Tony Hsieh and the Zappos folks certainly do.  How about you?

5. Create and build a company culture that inspires and unleashes creative power

Study companies like Zappos and Starbucks.  This will give your management lots of valuable ideas on how to create a culture that is right for your business and workforce.  Pass on your vision to your employees, share with them proper business confidentiality.  Be transparent and give! To expect any kick backs would not be a genuine altruistic way of shaping your business gospel, would it?  Your workforce needs a business dream, the drive and passion to reach for the stars, while management humbly keeps ts feet on the reality grounds of modesty.  Leadership should inspire, motivate and consistently foster initiative, engagement and creativity.  In Jacob Morgan’s wonderful book: The Collaborative Organization, there is a quote from Carl Frappaolo (a leading practitioner of emergent collaborating strategy):  “Culture is the single greatest potential asset or detriment.  A culture conducive to collaboration will compensate to some degree for awkward processes and inadequate technology.  In contrast a culture not conducive to collaboration will ignore or in the worst case sabotage, even the most advanced technology and process approaches to open transparent sharing.”

What are the ways your company fosters creativity and innovation?  How do you define your business culture? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

Please follow me on Twitter at: 
http://Twitter/BrunoGebarski
 
Five Additional Ways Social Business Can unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (2/4)
– Five Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (1/4)
– Three Fundamental Macro Trends Transforming Our Society, the Way We Live and How We Work
– The Evolution of Big Data: From Descriptive via Predictive to Prescriptive Business Intelligence (BI)
 

Three Fundamental Macro Trends Transforming Our Society, the Way we Live and How We Work

We are living in a ubiquitous mobile era and by the way, don’t  we love it?  Could you imagine for a second a world without smartphones or tablets?  Sooner than later we will start out our day by reading our favorite newspaper while shaving in front of the bathroom mirror.  We’ll continue reading while listening to our car audio system driving to work, then on to our Google glasses while walking to the office, finally catching up with the last paragraph either on our tablets, smartphones, laptops or antiquated PCs.

Smartphone statistics 2012 vs 2011

The Guardian reported on February 22:  “Mobile and social are bringing a dramatic cultural shift to the enterprise. The combination of mobile technology and social capabilities creates dynamics that have never before been possible.”

How can we synthesize the major technical trends that have transformed the way we live and the way we work?  In the last 10 years broadband communication has brought upon us three major changes:  mobile, social and cloud.

1. Mobility   

Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide and that by 2015 over 80 percent of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones.  By 2015 media tablet shipments will reach around 50 percent of laptop shipments and Windows 8 will likely be in third place behind Google’s Android and Apple iOS operating systems.”

Our digital world citizens have acquired more than one billion smartphones in 2011 and 2012 combined, with a 10.10% increase from 2011 (495.3 million units) to 2012 (545.2 million units).  By 2015 there will be 4.9 billion global mobile users.  Those figures are staggering and prove the “smart” mobile shift happening right now in our society.  Our mobile trend opens incredible new business models and opportunities such as mobile marketing, mobile payment, near field communication (NFC), indoor navigation systems and finally 25 billion apps, which have been already downloaded (iOS and Android).

2. Our 21st century social network society

Less than 10 years ago (2004) Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook, a social network that would turn the way we communicate upside down.  The membership has passed one billion worldwide and forever changed our notion of privacy.  Less than ten years ago it would have been inconceivable to post pictures on a public domain for just about anyone to see, while Google crawlers constantly index the web to improve the company’s search prowess.  Suddenly people are capable of staying in touch with their friends, while uploading their latest picture hunt they proudly want their communities to see.  Meanwhile, other social tools have popped up:

  • LinkedIn — the 200 million professional network was created in 2002
  • Twitter — the micro-blogging site was started by Mike Dorsey in 2006
  • Caterina Fake’s Flickr image posting tool goes back to 2004
  • YouTube, created by former PayPal employees, was launched in 2005
  • Skype, a proprietary Voice over IP (VoIP), was first released in 2003

and the list goes on and on. Business Insider reports on March 21, 2013: “YouTube hits 1 Billion Monthly Users”, a staggering number of people viewing, uploading and sharing videos from the four corners of our planet.  Mobility is allowing communication in real-time, whenever and wherever it happens!  Traditional structures are being by-passed, new business models are being created.  What is going to happen to our libraries?  Virtual worlds and virtual goods can now be created.  What would happen if one day Facebook decided to create its own currency?  Whatever, wherever, whenever is becoming the new norm of ubiquitous digital communication thanks to broadband technology.  

Sharing information on all sorts of platforms (notebooks, smartphones and tablets) is forcing us to centralize our data storage.  How else would we access our Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook accounts if all the data had to be stored separately and constantly synchronized, as we used to do it between our PCs and Notebooks?

3. Cloud computing to the rescue

Without cloud computing it would be impossible for any of us to own a Google email account, impossible to tweet or to review and update the content of our LinkedIn accounts.  It is estimated there is one exabyte of data stored in the “cloud”.  All our favorite Evernote bits and pieces are stored in the cloud, so are our Facebook pictures, Twitter favorites and Slideshare presentations.  Additionally, many of us are now moving some our personal data (traditionally stored on hard disks) to cloud services such as Box.com, Dropbox and many others.  Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Mountain Lion’s Apple operating system, introducing services such as iCloud, are popping up everywhere.

Consequently, cloud computing has allowed us to centralize the positioning of our personal data and to access it from any “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) of our choice, thanks to broadband technology supporting our relentless nomadic lifestyles.  Cloud is the engine, the door opener, the way, the modern broadband electricity trail seamlessly granting access to our data, whenever and wherever we want it.  In 1917 Sears ran an advertisement advising people to “use electricity for more than light”.   At the beginning of the 21st century cloud computing technology is here but still in its infancy.  Nikola Tesla (Никола Тесла; July 10 1856 – January 7th 1943), a Serbian-American, was the inventor of the modern alternating current electrical supply system.  As much as electricity would prove to be much more than powering light bulbs, cloud computing gives us the feasible prospect of eliminating local data storage!  Do you know of anyone storing their own electricity?  Sounds ludicrous right?  It could very well become the same with cloud computing.  Buckle up, it’s going to be an interesting ride.  Our children and native digital citizens will someday look at us wondering how on earth we lived without cloud storage, smartphones and broadband communication — the new digital highway of our 21st century wireless, “clouded” and crowded world.

Cloud Computing General

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Computing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Additional Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (2/4)

A few days ago, I started a series on innovative power — one of the fruits of Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. How do we get creative, divergent and provocative? How do we forsake our day-to-day fire extinguishing duties (and we all have them) and force ourselves to get physically out of our office buildings, companies, towns, states or countries? Too many companies are routinely stuck in extinguishing the daily fires of their business responsibilities such as:

– Customer claims
– Quality issues
– Product development
– Reporting and having to come up with “news” for the Corporate Office
– Sales & Sales Prospecting

Any one of us could easily yawn while reading those bullet points. But beware, so do our co-workers and employees, if these represent the bulk of their daily to-do-lists!   I absolutely admire the innovative Google spirit of letting employees mix up their worksheet by setting their own “20-Percent Time.”  Customer Experience (CX) can only be achieved if companies first learn to establish Employee Experience (EX), which has long been the case at Google.  Google receives more than two million CV’s every year; the irrefutable evidence that Employee Experience has long been one of the ways Google retains attractive, creative and innovative talents.

Without any further ado here are five more points on how to foster creativity:

1.  Schedule, sponsor and organize FUN or CRAZINESS within your business premises.

“When fun is a regular part of work, employees get to know each other as real people,” Paul Spiegelman, CEO of Beryl Companies, told Inc.  To that end, Spiegelman created a ‘Department of Great People and Fun’ and instituted ‘Pajama’ day and ‘Dress like the 70s’ day. “While these ideas are not practical for every work environment, the key is to do something fun, no matter how small, on a regular basis,”  The key here is to break  company silos and barriers!  A bit like in Germany, when neighbors, who traditionally rarely talk to each other suddenly get together for a pint of beer or more during the famous Cologne Carnival Festivities and this … until the wee hours of the night!  Eric Ryan, founder of Method, a soap and cleaning products company in San Francisco, thinks adding some “weirdness” to your corporate culture inspires employees to accomplish a lot. In the past, Ryan hasn’t hesitated to dress up as a chipmunk, blast Eye of the Tiger in the elevator, or host flash mob dance parties at his offices. “It reminds everybody that, ‘Yeah, I’m working somewhere really special’.”

2. Create “nap rooms” and grant your employees some rest.

I was once asked during an interview how would I proceed after an intercontinental flight, if I would directly come back to my office and work?  My answer was: “I’d rather sleep in a bed than in my office: it is much more comfortable and at least I am getting something done properly”!  Google is again a trendsetter when it comes to employee dedication and engagement making sure that their workers can “power nap” whenever they feel like an urgent need to close their eyes: and we all know that power nap can help relieving stress and thus unleash creative power.  “Zephrin Lasker, CEO of a Pontiflex, a 60-person mobile app ad shop in Brooklyn, converted a room of computer servers into a napping retreat. ‘I’m a huge believer in napping,’ Lasker tells Inc.com. ‘It helps people recharge, and personally, it helps me think more creatively’.”

3. Openly encourage and promote diversity rather than conformity.

At Zappos not only is weirdness encouraged, but it is also integral part of its company core values: “Create Fun And A Little Weirdness”.   At first, employees will be careful and suspicious particularly if a traditional hierarchical structure suddenly endeavors to humanize its practices, but management and leaders have to first break the ice and lead the way!  Culture is the fundamental catalyst that will open the doors to employee reciprocity.   Corporate Culture will most likely generate employee engagement and employee initiative, which in turn will trigger creativity and innovation.   Remember to be a little crazy and weird “À La Zappos” so to say!  It will automatically break down some communication barriers, encourage creative thinking, unleash motivation and most probably reduce employee turnover.

4. Find out what your employees are passionate about.

On one of his websites, trainer and guru Ken Blanchard suggests twelve different areas for employee work passion. Organization factors such as collaboration, performance expectations, growth, procedural justice (fairness) and distributive justice (rewards) are fundamental values to a Social Business Culture if future employee passion is being hoped for.  Does your company truly know what your workforce is passionate about?  Have you ever asked them? Genuinely found out?  Maybe it is time for HR to revisit and reconsider, don’t you think?  Let’s make no mistake about it, passionate employees will be much more inclined to bear additional work hours than a disengaged or passive crowd of workers.

5. Create writable walls and workforce sharing spaces  

Food and drinks always bring people together.  Like any local bar, it is a place for venting, sharing or listening while drinking a pint of your favorite Weiss Beer or Lager!  How about coming up with a company bar where workers could get together after work?  Would not it be great to enjoy a drink, casually chat while exchanging ideas with CXOs?

“Says tvsdesign’s Don Ricker, ‘Our most successful office designs feature writable walls in large open spaces where multiple people from diverse teams gather to exchange ideas and feedback. This fosters genuine collaboration along with a sense of play and fun, which in turn, opens the floodgates of creativity while serving as a potent morale booster.’”

How are you fostering company creativity and employee divergent thinking?  How are you systematically destroying the silos of traditional communication and replacing them with a flat, open cultu.re?  Looking forward to your comments.