During an Harvard Business Review twitter chat session this week (#HBRchat by @HBRexchange) I posted a question to find out if anyone had come across good templates for crafting a social media policy or guidelines for their company. I received many great responses, and I thought I’d compile the list of what I found here. Hope you find it helpful.
Resources for Social Media Policies and Guidelines
Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur
I just finished reading Startup Life by Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor and would recommend it highly to anyone involved in starting a business. I was so engrossed in the book that I finished it in several days. It was the first time that I came across entrepreneurs willing to talk so openly and honestly about startup life and startup relationships.
Brad and Amy share stories and advice from their 22 year relationship that has spanned numerous startups. Brad has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987, and Amy is a venture philanthropist. The couple resides in Boulder, Colorado. Brad and Amy, along with many other entrepreneurial couples, share wisdom they’ve gleaned while dealing with the inevitable ups and downs that accompany startup life. The no-holds-barred book tackles relationship issues such as communication, sex and intimacy, mental health, financial stewardship, and family planning in an open and candid way.
This book is such a gift to the startup (and broader business) community. As I read the book I was constantly reminded of my favorite business book, Personal History, Katherine Graham’s autobiography. Although I love reading business books, Personal History was the first book I read by a business leader that dealt with the human and emotional side of leadership. Mrs. Graham talked openly about her insecurities and doubts, she described what leadership feels like, and she expressed vulnerability.
Perhaps it’s because society still holds to the Industrial-era thinking that business life and personal life should be kept separate that books such as these are rare. Most business books fail to deal at all with the personal, the emotional, the human side of business. However, these are the aspects of startup life where we confront real challenges—often alone and without guidance or help. This is beginning to change. And, folks like Brad and Amy, and the others who shared their stories, are helping to make it happen.
It takes real courage to share these type of intimate details and talk about issues facing entrepreneurs and their relationship parters so candidly. Their courage reminded me of this quotation about real strength from Fred Rogers.
“When I was a boy I used to think that strong meant having big muscles, great physical power; but the longer I live, the more I realize that real strength has much more to do with what is not seen. Real strength has to do with helping others.”
“Power is a tool that carries no innate moral value. What matters is the reason behind using that tool.”
“Power becomes destructive when we seek it out for its own sake; when we view power not as a tool but as an end in itself, when we seek power just for power’s sake.”
“The opposite, of course is dedicating power to causes that improve the world: Mohandas Gandhi convinced Great Britain to leave India, Nelson Mandela used power to end apartheid, and Martin Luther King Jr. was powerful enough to “change the rules” and end segregation. Therefore, power is freedom. The more power you have and the more skillfully you use it, the greater impact you can have.”
Krippendorff concludes with three exercises that can help you address and change any negative associations you may make with the term “power.”
1. I associate the word “power” with the following (list any words, emotions, or opinions that come to mind):
2. Create a noble cause (if you had greater power, what positive impact would you want to have?):
3. New associations (what alternative, positive, associations can power have?):
Here are some other places that Fast Company talks about power:
Sometimes it’s nice to think about the current state of things and reflect back on past predictions that actually turned out to come true. Recently, I was thinking of Christopher Locke’s The Cluetrain Manifesto, which helped shape my thinking about marketing and the Internet in a dramatic way and fueled my excitement and enthusiasm for my work when it came out 13 years ago.
Locke, and the other authors of Cluetrain, argued that the real power of the Internet lay not in the technology, but in the profound changes it brings to the way people interact with business. They showed how we humans lost our way by accepting the command and control structure and format of modern business. Businesses had been engaged in a one-way conversation, with companies doing all the talking. The Internet enabled new conversations between businesses, employees and customers in a language that was open, authentic, natural and often funny. And what could be more human than conversations?
People of Earth…
A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.
The markets are conversations. Their members communicate in a language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny, and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.
What’s truly mind-blowing is that The Cluetrain Manifesto wasn’t written in the age of Facebook and Twitter. It was written in 2000. The pace of the changes the authors identified has been accelerating ever since. And social networks mean that markets continue to get smarter faster than most companies.
This sea change continues to shape how companies market to their customers. Technology becomes more and more important each year. And, while the technologies are powerful and often game-changing, it’s never been about the technology itself. Rather it’s the human conversation and experience that the technology enables.
Consumers have taken control of their purchase process. With websites, blogs, Facebook updates, online reviews and more, they use almost twice as many sources of information to make decisions as they did in the past. They know what they want to purchase, when they want to purchase it and resent any attempt to force-feed them messages.
Because of this dramatic shift, the traditional marketing funnel paradigm is being replaced.
As Forrester recently wrote:
Dear Marketing Funnel,
It’s over. We had a good run together, but let’s face it: we’re just not good for each other anymore. And I’ll be honest, it’s you, not me. You’re just too linear and you don’t prioritize the people that matter to me, or care about the activities that I know will make me more efficient and relevant. After decades of good-enough, I’ve found someone who puts people first and recognizes how important it is to get to know them, putting loyalty over one-time encounters. I’ve found my soul mate of the future and I’m going all in.
I’m sorry, but I’m better than this.
Chief Marketing Officer
The new paradigm for marketing is the customer life cycle that places customer needs, not business needs, at the forefront. The customer life cycle considers the overall experience that a customer has with a brand and how that contributes to loyalty (or not). It also better reflects the ability of each individual to influence the purchase decisions of others to an unparalleled extent.
As more and more of us interact with companies through digital channels, technology becomes an important enabler of effective marketing. The pace of mobile and tablet adoption, social media usage, widespread broadband Internet access, etc. means that digital life influences many more purchase decisions.
Consider these facts:
2.3 billion global Internet users - an 8% increase, driven by emerging markets
29% of US adults own a tablet or e-reader; up from less than 2% three years ago
1.1 billion global mobile 3G subscribers - a 37% increase
Global mobile traffic is growing rapidly to 10% of all Internet traffic
Newspaper ad revenue was surpassed by Internet in 2010
iTunes App Store is driving 46 million downloads per day
The pace of change has accelerated dramatically in recent years. At one point in time, decisions about marketing technology were relatively straightforward. You picked a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You built a website. You selected a Content Management System (CMS). Today, the rise of social media, powerful new marketing technology platforms, customer data and analytics and cloud-based technologies means that the choices are much more complex. And, almost all marketing is driven by software. The choices here are powerful yet complex. And, there is evidence that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are making more and more of the technology decisions related to marketing.
So, where are we headed with all of this?
Customers are increasingly engaging with companies through digital channels.
This changes the nature of their expectations as well as how they interact with companies.
CEOs have higher and higher expectations for digital marketing and quantifiable impacts on sales.
CMOs have greater input into and control over technology decisions.
Marketing technology is evolving at a rapid pace and those technology decisions are complex.
However, while it’s easy to get caught up in the pace of these changes, it’s important to remember the central premise of books like The Cluetrain Manifesto—that markets are really about human conversation and connection. While more and more marketing is driven by technology, perhaps the greatest need today is to humanize the conversations with customers. That’s the most pressing challenge facing marketers today.
A bad system will beat a good person every time. - W. Edwards Deming
With the evolution of Lean thinking—from manufacturing to services to IT and most recently to startups—Lean concepts are now being applied in almost every industry and every size organization. The book The Lean Startup by Eric Reis has taken the technology world by storm and influenced the thinking of many in startups and large organizations.
The Lean Startup approach was created for organizations dedicated to creating something new and of value under conditions of extreme uncertainty. Which is another way of saying that it was created for organizations seeking to innovate and create value from their innovations. The approach applies Lean thinking to leverage both money and human creativity more efficiently in the creation of something new.
The success and popularity of Lean thinking has led many to ask a fundamental question: Are Lean and innovation compatible? Can Lean co-exist with innovation? Or, does the structure and discipline imposed by Lean diminish the creative process?
In this post, I’ll argue that Lean can indeed compliment, and even enhance, the innovation process. Lean makes innovation more predictable in achieving a goal shared by both Lean and innovation: meet customer needs in a cost-effective manner. Lean can reduce uncertainty in the innovation process and produce high-value, high-impact innovation.
So, what is Lean thinking?
Lean thinking centers on a few core concepts:
Creating value for the customer and
Practicing respect for people.
Lean practitioners seek to understand who the customer is and what he or she values. And, armed with that understanding, they create value for the customer in the most efficient manner possible. Lean also seeks to empower people while also promoting coaching and collaboration. People are held accountable to the system and for helping to improve it.
The Evolution of Lean
Lean thinking has its roots in manufacturing. In the early 1900s, Henry Ford was the first to bring greater structure and discipline to manufacturing and fully integrate the manufacturing process. He called this a flow process. In the period after World War II, Kichiro Toyoda, Taiichi Ohna, and others at Toyota introduced a series of innovations that made it more possible to provide both continuity in process flow and a wider variety in product offerings. They called their new process the Toyota Production System (TPS). In the 1960s Toyota introduced lean management techniques that complimented TPS. As Toyota grew as a company and became more successful, more and more people became interested in these techniques.
In 1990, James Womack, Daniel Roos, and Daniel Jones wrote a book called The Machine That Changed the World that popularized TPS, lean manufacturing and lean management. More and more manufacturing firms, across the globe, continued to adopt lean thinking and integrate it into their management culture and manufacturing processes.
The success of Lean within manufacturing led others to wonder whether Lean concepts could benefit other industries. If Lean worked so well in manufacturing, could it also help services businesses improve the value they delivered to their customers? Services business, such as banks, insurance firms, and hospitals, began to find success with Lean. This led to the era of Lean Services, and services firms continue to benefit from lean thinking.
Around the same time, pressures on IT organizations to increase value and reduce costs led many firms to apply Lean thinking to IT. In 2005, Harvard Business Review published an article titled, “The Case for Lean IT.” Many IT groups and IT vendors responded with increased focus on Lean and the term Lean IT was coined.
More recently, Eric Reis popularized the concept of applying Lean to startups in his book The Lean Startup. The Lean Startup approach helps startups use both money and human creativity more efficiently and effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on empirical results that validate learning. This is brought about by rapid experimentation. The approach focuses on learning what customers actually want and measuring actual progress, and it encourages organizations to shift directions with agility.
The figure below depicts the evolution of Lean: from its origins in manufacturing, to its adoption in services and IT, and to its more recent application to startups.
The Foundation of Lean
Who is the Customer and what do they value?
Identifying the customer and understanding what they value is no easy task. Some customer needs are relatively straightforward. They could be solved by obtaining and using a simple service or a few items. However, the majority are much more complex. When considering what customers value, questions arise such as:
What experience does the customer value?
What attributes of the product or service would the customer like?
How does the customer value their time?
When does the customer want to use/consume the product/service?
Anyone involved in a large project has likely experienced the challenge of truly understanding who the customer is and what they value. Indeed this is one of the challenges that typically leads projects to fail outright or fail to deliver the intended return on investment. In fact, this misunderstanding is so common that it led to the popular cartoon below that pokes fun at the different interpretations of what a customer values.
Lean generally considers the customer to be the person paying for the product or service that is being consumed. It addresses the challenge of understanding what customers value by spending more time with actual customers.
Most managers have a difficult time truly understanding customers, their needs, and seeing the path customers walk as they solve their problems. And, many are not aware of the fact that they lack this understanding. They assume that they understand more about their customers than they really do.
Lean practitioners spend a good deal of time observing customers and mapping the path they take as they solve problems. When innovating to solve customer problems that are less well defined, practitioners spend time with customers to listen, observe and develop empathy for the context of a problem.
Once practitioners understand the path customers take as they solve problems, they begin to explore the experience of customers as they walk this path. What steps in the process or features in the product are valued and what is wasted time or waste in the form of an unneeded feature? What is the customer thinking and feeling at each point?
There are many techniques and approaches used to develop this level of customer understanding. However, the common themes are:
Deeper levels of customer intimacy and understanding are absolutely critical to developing value. This is the foundation of Lean thinking.
The best way to develop this understanding is through observing and interacting with actual customers. This process can be enhanced through research and survey data, but the actual observation and interaction is what leads to deeper levels of empathy and understanding.
The Lean Innovation Machine
Today, many organizations are using Lean thinking to optimize the innovation process. The key to this is balancing creativity with the structure provided by Lean—providing just enough structure and discipline in the process without snuffing out the creative process.
Knowledge@Wharton cited this example of how Pixar combines Lean with innovation:
Hollywood animation company Pixar, the maker of blockbuster movies including the “Toy Story” series and “Finding Nemo,” is a good example of how innovation and lean practices can enhance outcomes. Pixar has combined lean and innovation to good effect, according to Kartik Hosanagar, Wharton professor of operations and information management. Working within the movie industry “where lack of predictability is the norm,” Pixar has created a set of processes that emphasizes team-based collaboration and continuous feedback loops to help overcome creative blocks and track deliverables, but without the stress that could go with a regime of control.
Pixar’s record is proof that lean and innovation can coexist. “Pixar hasn’t had a single failure as yet. All its projects have been successful,” Hosanagar says, adding that unlike the rest of the movie industry, it has never bought scripts from outside; it develops all its ideas and scripts in-house. “I discovered that much of what the industry uses is madness; what Pixar uses is a method to the madness,” says Hosanagar, who for the last year has been fascinated by the company while studying it along with Jehoshua Eliashberg, a Wharton professor of marketing, operations and information management.
One of the techniques used by teams at Pixar is daily meetings where team members share what they are working on, provide feedback, and help each other remove any obstacles or impediments. The point isn’t tracking or controlling people. Team-based collaboration is critical to the creative process, and people need to discuss work that is in process and not yet complete. The openness and transparency provided by this interaction fosters real-time collaboration and speeds the innovation process.
Another aspect of Lean combined with innovation is the use of Lean to focus the innovation process on creating maximum value for customers. To do this, teams use the deep understanding of the customer needs they developed earlier to define a few simple metrics used to measure success from the customer’s point of view. These measures of success are powerful enablers. They focus the team on what matters most and provide a way to evaluate design ideas.
Some teams use a process called impact estimation to consider different design ideas and how those ideas are likely to impact customer success metrics. This is more often art rather than science, but it provides the discussion framework for considering customer impact. Teams also estimate the resources required for each design, thus producing a ratio of anticipated benefits to anticipated costs. The process is illustrated in the example below.
Another aspect of Lean combined with innovation is the emphasis Lean places on empirical results and validated learning. The team’s goal is to put something in front of customers as soon as possible in order to get their feedback. Rapid iterations and feedback loops allow teams to test their earlier hypotheses of customer value. Customers provide feedback and teams observe and gather data around customer behavior, usage, and experience. The knowledge gained through this process allows teams to adjust and pivot in order to maximize customer value.
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. ~Peter F. Drucker
The illustration below depicts this process and feedback loop. The goal for the team is to move through this cycle as quickly as possible.
Lean combined with innovation marries the structure that lean brings with the freedom and collaboration that creative professionals crave. The approach also meets the needs of business executives who want to invest in innovation but eliminate, as early as possible, design ideas and projects that are doomed to fail. The process drives innovation that customers value while being as efficient as possible with resources.
This post presents the concepts of Lean innovation. However, in reality, the Lean innovation practices of teams varies significantly. The key is to discover what works best in your organization.
If your organization doesn’t have an innovation process (or one that it is happy with) it’s worth considering Lean thinking. If you are combining Lean and innovation, let us know what practices and techniques you are using. Please share what is working best in your organization.
A corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation. - Andrew Grove
By now, much has been written about the impact of social media on business. Most of this has focused on opportunities to leverage social media from a marketing or customer service viewpoint. Much less, however, has been written about how social media changes more fundamental aspects of business. How will social media change the way we approach strategy? Will it impact the structure of firms? How will it change how people work together as well as corporate culture? And, how will social media help unlock more of the talent that exists within each individual?
In her book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra, Nilofer Merchant addresses these topics, exploring emerging themes and raising new questions for us to consider. She begins with an obituary for “Traditional Strategy”, the ascendant approaches to strategy used in most large organizations since the 1970s and those that many of us were taught in business school (think Schumpeter, Taylor, PowerPoint, Command and Control, Value Chain, etc.).
“In lieu of flowers, you are asked to consider what the Social Era means to you, your organization, and the economy at large.”
And what, you ask, has led to the demise of poor “Traditional Strategy” which we’ve relied on for the intellectual foundation of our organizations for so many years? Nilofer prompts readers to consider the impact of the Social Era on all aspects of business. The goal isn’t to provide the answers (there aren’t many “answers” at this point). Instead, she puts forth 11 rules and asks us to join the thinking, the conversation, the exploration of changes that are occurring now and will continue to disrupt traditional models.
Of Nilofer’s rules, a few certainly stood out:
The Social Era is about connecting things, people and ideas. These connections have value.
Collaboration outweighs control. We need agile, flexible models that allow good ideas to come from anywhere. We need strategies that are understood and embraced by the many rather than the few.
Celebrate each individual. Nilofer coins a great new term-onlyness. Onlyness is what only that one person can bring to a situation. It includes the skills, passions, and purpose of each human.
Innovation and change become constants. Adaptability is key to how organizations thrive in the Social Era. Tolerance for failure, and the ability to learn from it, is essential.
Purpose is a better motivator than money. Money, while necessary, motivates neither the best people nor the best in people. Purpose does.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of the book, is that there are no easy answers. The key to is learn how to create value and discover what works in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment.
To adapt to changing times, each of us must first be open to exploring the change itself.
If you’re interested in exploring what the Social Era means to your organization, we’d love to talk. Our doors are always open to innovative leaders, their challenges and their good ideas. Bring your opportunities and insights. We’ll add ours. And, together we’ll explore.