As bad as “Not getting” Social Media – getting it WRONG! – All those SM Gurus!

I want to throw up when I hear all these Gurus talking about using SM to be all about ME! I think that most still see it in terms of the old system which is all about who can shout the loudest! Here is a picture of what we have to see to “see” it for real – the new reality that is.

Of course everybody gets 2.0 now don’t they. After all even the Oscars were designed for Social Media. Large organizations are piling in.

But is this true? Certainly everyone is on board with the tools now. God I recall Jevon and I talking to CIBC 6 years ago and they thought we were Martians. Now everyone is on Facebook!

But how many people “get” what is underpinning these tools? Not many and I have little hope for many too.

Why?

Because underneath all the hype, most of us see the world the same way as before. We see what we see with our eyes. Just like most people saw the world 500 years ago. Then, if you used your eyes, the world seemed flat. This perception allowed to you to do a lot of useful things. You also saw that the sun came up every morning and circled the Earth. This did not ruin your day and was also a useful observation. That is of course unless you wanted to sail a long distance. Or calculate a trajectory or build a complex building or in fact do almost anything that we take for granted in the modern world. Imagine Watt explaining the steam engine to the Vatican? Imagine trying to build a suspension bridge? Imagine anyone doing chemistry – see where I am going.

But we are not so stupid today are we? We don’t rely only on our eyes to tell us about reality?

kurakinnew view

Well here is your test. Can you see that all these things are in fact a fractal scaling of the same thing?

Can you see that what appears on the surface to your eyes as being unique, different and discrete are in reality the same and that all co-evolve and affect each other? Do you see them therefore as all obeying the same rules, the rules of networks? Can you see how with this perspective everything becomes actually quite simple to understand? All we need to know is how nature governs networks.

Or do you see them all as Objects that are are different – that interact only directly as objects do? That are therefore so complex that we can only know tiny bits of them. So medicine and science are all about the bits and the direct interactions. That we inhabit a Newtonian world where the geometry of nature’s interactions do not apply?

For is this not the prevailing paradigm?

This is why people seek to have masses of followers – this is a Newtonian idea about mass and gravity. It has nothing to do with co-evolution and true influence.

This is why it’s still ALL ABOUT ME! So long as I am OK it’s OK!

This is why medicine makes no sense and each week a new contradictory idea is floated. This is why science is lost in minutiae. This is why our organizations are so toxic. We have designed them to be Newtonian but we are fractal co-evolving networks. This why our mass education system is such a mess. This is why even how we fight our wars means that we have to lose them. This is why we think that there is a conflict between the planet and our economy.

We have been captured by a simple and wrong idea of us all being objects that bounce off each other like tennis balls whereas we are really magnetized iron filings.

No amount of Facebook Strategies will help you if you don’t get this.

The world is not flat and you and I are not an object.

If you want  to know more about this new paradigm of reality – I have the great honor to introduce you to the work of Alexei Kurakin – a genius – a Galileo of our time.

Sometimes I lose it with people who will not see – Adoption

Many people just cannot let go of their old perception – and sometimes I lose it. 

Most organizations know that the web is important today – even the most dinosauric. But for most, the web is an up and coming “channel” and most still don’t have a clue about social media – they do it because they have to and they do it without much understanding about how it works and how different it is from their old “Normal”.

The final arrival of the Beatles on the web – mainly as we see boosted by social media – shows the new reality. That the web amplified by good use of social media is now the primary way of connecting what you have to the public.

Billboard magazine reports that The Beatles sold more than two million individual songs worldwide and in excess of 450,000 albums in its first week on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. (The Beatles’ catalog was added to iTunes on November 16th.)

According to Experian Hitwise, it was social media — not search — that drove a lot of the online interest and, more importantly, the online traffic surrounding The Beatles addition to iTunes. Consider this stat: On November 16, the first day Beatles songs were available on iTunes, 26% of UK traffic to Apple.com came from social media, about double the amount that came from search.

This nail in the coffin of old marketing is what NPR discovered. When I worked for NPR back in 2005 – attracting a younger audience was thought to be vital. But at the time this meant that somehow the content should be changed. But what they found was that if you changed the medium for connection to Social Media – the young came – they loved the content – they just will not access it in the old way.

In a survey of more than 10,000 respondents, NPR found that its Twitter followers are younger, more connected to the social web, and more likely to access content through digital platforms such as NPR’s website, podcasts, mobile apps and more.

NPR has more than one Twitter account; its survey found that most respondents followed between two and five NPR accounts, including topical account, show-specific accounts and on-air staff accounts.

The data on age is hardly surprising. The median age of an NPR Twitter follower is 35 — around 15 years younger than the average NPR radio listener. This lines up with data we recently found about other traditional news media; the average Facebook user reading and “liking” content on a news website is two decades younger than the average print newspaper subscriber.

Isn’t this what has happened to the Beatles? Good content is good. If you have a product or a service or cintent that is good and is not available on the web via social media – you are punishing your business.

So what does this mean? The jury is no longer out. If you are not using the web and social media well – you are no longer cautious but stupid. You are refusing to see the world as it is. Now I know why you won’t move. Because this is all new and you are not any good at it. It’s like me taking up skiing in my forties. What had held me back was how awkward and stupid I would look and feel. But you know – no one cared about how awkward I was and learning to ski then allowed me to spend 10 winters with my kids having a hell of a time. I am 60. I started blogging back in 2002. I was utterly pathetic at it. But over time, I got ok. You can be too.

The real question is do you want your TV station, store, business to survive? It’s still not too late but it is getting close.

Who can help you? Well there are a lot of shysters out there. “Self proclaimed” Social Media Experts who have been involved for a year or so. So here are a few questions to ask to ensure that you are getting someone who can help for real:

  • Tell us about who you have worked for in the past that you have helped make the shift in mindset? They must have been able to help another make this shift in POV
  • Tell us who your friends and network are? The shysters know shysters, the real folks know others who know their stuff and their network is as valuable as anything that they know.
  • Show us what you have written that moves the cheese! Shysters pound on about Facebook etc, the real deal is part of a larger deeper conversation about what all of this means.
  • Show us how knowing what you do has helped you in your own life? Most Shysters still live in the 1.0 world themselves. The real deal don’t – living this life has changed them radically – they have been made different by this and you will know this when you compare the 2 types. PS relentless self promotion is a give away!

Some advice about process:

  • There is no formula/cookie cutter – it is not about using Facebook next week – it is about changing your own mindset. So start with lots of conversation about what is going on and where you can start – you cannot know where you will end up right now – don’t try and go there.
  • Our mindset is changed not by will but by new habits – try a few smallish experiments and label them as such – look at at others who have done well and see how this may give you a start – Have a look here at how Boingo have used listening or look here about how Kotex have used a deep question. These are powerful places to start to help you be different for in the 1.0 world we don’t listen, we shout. In the 1.0 world we don’t ask tough questions, we live instead in a clean, fun, smooth fantasy world where periods are the best part of the month.
  • Hire one or two great young folks. Andy Carvin – just one person has done more for NPR than an army of consultants. Same with Baochi at Boingo who enjoys the confidence of the CEO.
  • Persevere!!! This is really really hard to execute – the tools are simple – it is the shift in mindset that is so painful. I have found that as much as I and others know the direction the day to day part of the journey is stressful. Think of Christopher Columbus on his first voyage. He “knew” that there would be land if he sailed long enough west. But his crew did not. They also had to deal with storms etc, When they arrived, it was land but not the Indies – the destination was different. People got upset. When you do this – all of the trials of Columbus will come your way – Doubt, fear mutiny, disappointment – the lot. But there is no going back – you just have to push through.
  • Last point – anyone who tells you that this is easy and they can show you a step by step formula is a Shyster

So stand up for our species. Be a Sapiens and not a Sap and good luck to you.

Education – a battleground – Like Media will be won when we can choose

I have no faith that the existing education system can change – no more than the existing media system. In the end it will fall over from its own weight and poor outcomes. But as with media, the new Ed system is visible and will gain strength and will make the old irrelevant.

After many years of thinking and talking, here Sir Ken I think nails the problem and gets the direction for the right new path correct. Helped a lot by the guys at RSA.

So what can we do with this insight?

My experience in public radio and TV – which also is at a crossroads from one culture to another – is that we must not underestimate the power of the entrenched culture. Most people inside pub radio/TV and in education are so invested in the old that they can only fight an alternative.  This is not because they are bad or stupid – it is because they are human and their identity is the system as it is. So to change it means that they have no place. So they cannot go to the new.

If you long for a better education system – you are also worried about how to breakthrough all these barriers. You don’t know how to change the system. I think that we can look at what is happening in media and find a way.

So where is the change happening in media that we might use to help us in education. As I write them I can see how these factors apply to education – can’t you?

  • The long term effects of the poor economy is pressing the system
    • The school system is under huge funding pressure too
    • In higher ed – the degree also costs too much now and drives loans that canot be repaid
    • Kids will seek out new ways – they have to
    • In the next 10 years the pressure to find a new way for the money will become unbearable – thus creating the same kind of context for change that we see in media
  • There are organizations like Craigslist that are killing the economics of the old and forcing economic pressure – the old way leads to economic starvation and sets a context for change
    • There are new online schools such as the Khan Academy that offer kids a wonderful alternative to school
    • Great Schools like MIT have put a lot of superlative content online
    • Kids are voting with their feet – better content will be available online for next to free as with Craigslist and personals that will ad to the economic pressure
  • The web has a bunch of new tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, Apple TV etc that are empowering new sources and new ways of finding, producing and using content
    • Same for Ed – iTunes, YouTube are already there
    • Why take Math with Miss Jones when you can get the world’s best math teachers on your time at your pace?
    • Parents will buy into this too
  • There are entirely new organizations – Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Politico – Greenfield that go through no transition but start with the new model – they are forcing competitive pressure
  • There are a few old leaders who get it and have enough critical mass inside to go for it now – The Guardian in the UK and NPR – they are forcing change on their system
    • Athabaska and Phoenix come to mind in higher ed – they are moving to the mainstream
    • Soon there will be Grade Schools that have the same features
  • There are  few local small organizations that have the leadership to go for it too and are making enough progress to show the rest – KETC is the one I know the best.

So what to do?

Don’t think about changing the whole system!!!!! It’s too big and powerful.

Instead take advantage of these powerful forces.

If you are a learner – Explore the new world of resources – do not feel trapped in school as it is or feel that you have to wait – enough change is here for you to take full advantage now

If you are a parent – see the whole picture for you child – help line them up into that is now available that is more fitted to them and at a cost you can all afford. Vote with your feet.

If you are a school board – Learn how to make the shift from the old to the new – Do a KETC – pick a school with the right leadership and try the new in ONE place – learn from this – use this test bed to expose others to the new from their peers.

If you are a teacher – Learn how to be the new – participate in the new world – be a citizen teacher – offer content or coaching – learn how to be an entrepreneurial teacher who can hang up their shingle on the web or locally. Be the math coach or the history coach in your place or globally!

If you are a social entrepreneur – Build the new a place together so that you are the convener of the a place where kids can be together and yet be part of the a larger universe of resources that fits them!

It’s coming folks – the forces in play are too great to stop it. BUT you have to be a player now if you want to benefit.

After the jump – the end of text books – Bill Gates and my own view of the university that I would like to see

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Expand your audience by dumbing down or expanding your platform – NPR

The Holy Grail in Pub Media was to get a younger audience. For most this meant finding a way to alter the content mix – the CBC has done this with the result of losing its traditional audience and not gaining the young – who DON’T watch TV or listen to a radio!!!!! NPR is winning this by expanding the platform to include who the young want to get their media.

One of the Holy Grails of the Public Radio system when I worked there back in 2005/6 was to attract a younger audience. At the time – even though the context of my involvement was the web – the CW on the solution was to add more younger programming – Hence Bryant Park. Of course this failed as what station manager was going to give up the BlockBuster Morning Edition to have an alternative that the mainstream would not like. The CBC has gone full on to find a younger audience by changing the POV of its programs. I wonder how they are doing? They have largely driven me away.

But the guys at NPR are smart and they learn. They went full on into the use of Social Media. New data out shows that their drive into social media – Twitter in particular – has given them what they wanted a new and younger and larger “audience” that have been attracted to NPR’s programming – not because of a content shift but because they made it easier for a younger audience to connect to content on their terms! The secret was in the flexibility of the new connection NOT the content.

In a survey of more than 10,000 respondents, NPR found that its Twitter followers are younger, more connected to the social web, and more likely to access content through digital platforms such as NPR’s website, podcasts, mobile apps and more.

NPR has more than one Twitter account; its survey found that most respondents followed between two and five NPR accounts, including topical account, show-specific accounts and on-air staff accounts.

The data on age is hardly surprising. The median age of an NPR Twitter follower is 35 — around 15 years younger than the average NPR radio listener. This lines up with data we recently found about other traditional news media; the average Facebook user reading and “liking” content on a news website is two decades younger than the average print newspaper subscriber.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the future of news media lies in successful integration of social media to get the attention (and click-throughs) of a younger generation — a generation whose news needs are vastly different than those of the generations that preceded it.(My emphasis)

Of NPR’s Twitter followers, the majority (67%) still do listen to NPR on the radio. But the other ways they access NPR’s content are indicative of a growing trend:

Of survey respondents, 59% said they use NPR.org, 39% listen to NPR’s podcasts, around half use an NPR mobile app and 28% say they access NPR via Facebook. All told, 77% of NPR’s Twitter followers said they get all or most of their news online.

And Twitter followers are more likely to expect breaking news, too, likely because of the real-time nature of the medium.

At KETC we found the same thing when we ran out project to help people find a safer more trustworthy route to help in the Mortgage Crisis. KETC helped many people who never watch our programming and who never will. They got connected to KETC because they found what they needed on the web. It was how we connected that was the key.

When NPR hosted the New Realities Project back in 2006/6 – the intent was to imagine our value in 2009 and beyond. We did this. Most saw that one of the things we had to do was to do a Burger King and offer our content up “Your Way”

Screen shot 2010-09-30 at 4.39.43 PM

The guys even wrote a song – but while some – mainly at NPR really got this – of course as we know today about adoption – most did not and have not and still hope that all of this will go away.

Want a larger and more committed “audience” – let them find you “Their Way” – Integrate the web into what you do fully.

So what then is the leadership story for making the change from machine to network?

I wrote this with a client in mind – sadly he stayed in the valley and left the new alone – it’s hard! Many cannot leave the old even though they know they have to.

Going 2.0 as Lee Bryant says is not about hanging shiny new objects on your old form. It is in truth that hardest of all things to do – changing who we are. As Euan says – it is the hard work of giving up our institutional form and re-becoming human again. So how do you make these changes to the inside of ourselves and our organizations?

I have been forced to reflect on this as one of my projects comes to the very edge of success. Here is the story I told the CEO today.

You are a chief. Your tribe lives in a valley. Over tall mountains is a much larger valley that has a huge lake – larger than Lake Ontario. It is like a vast sea. But you have never been there. You have never seen a lake. You have never fished in a lake or seen a boat. This new valley is beyond what you have ever experienced and so beyond what you can imagine. For your valley is savannah. It is plain full of herd animals and game of all types. It is lush and there are many plants that you use as well. Your tribe has been there a long time hunting and gathering. You are good at this. The Tribe has organized to do this work well.

But over the last few years, there has been a shift in weather. The savannah is drying out – the drought is getting worse. The game is getting scarce. The plants are dying too. Your success over the last 100 years means that you have many mouths to fill too.

So you have heard stories about the lake on the other side of the mountains from traders who go everywhere. So you send out a small reconnaissance party over the mountain to explore this new land. A new land where the skills to get food and the processes are very different. For remember none of you have ever seen a lake, a boat, a weir, a net. None of you have built houses in such surroundings. You don’t know what a pier is. You have no idea what weather can do on a lake. All you know are stories. Stories that might be fables.

The small party does quite well and returns home to tell you what happened. Now the lake and all that is needed to live by a lake is more real to you. At least people that you trust – your own tribesmen have seen it. But you are not going to up sticks and take all your people there just on the evidence of one trip. The risk is too big. You don’t know if enough of your people could adapt. And anyway, maybe the drought will end soon.

The drought gets worse. Now you send a larger party for a longer time. You tell them to really test this new life. Their mission to to see if a move to the new place is feasible. They set up a base camp in the new valley and build some boats and make nets. After much trial and error, they start to learn how to do well in the very new place. They spend a whole year there. They make a of of mistakes. Some die. But they can now see what has to be done. They are not good at any of it but they know the basics. They return home. Everyone is both fascinated and fearful. For if it is possible to live in this new valley, then it will be possible to leave our ancestral home. Everyone hopes that they don’t have to do that. Who wants to give up all they know? Maybe the drought will end.

But the drought gets worse. It is clear that this is a trend. It is clear that if the Tribe does not leave the valley, that in 5 years all will die. So now you send a lead party back over the pass into the new valley. Their job is to set up a new home for the tribe. They are not coming home. They are the beach head.

But as the new team settle in the new valley, they go home all the time in their minds. For the only home they really know is the old valley. Even though the new is feeding them. Even though they are gradually getting the new skills. They long for what they know. They are torn. They are in the new valley but they still are organized as if they were back in the old.

Still part of the tribe is left in the old valley. This left behind part of the tribe feel bad too. They know that they have been left behind. They know that the future is in the next valley. Both sides feel separated. One from the old, the other from the new. But this separation had to stand until the Chief knew that his people could make it in the new.

You could not wait however until he was completely sure because you could feel that the disconnect between the two groups was starting to threaten the whole tribe. So you moved the rest of the tribe over the pass into the new place as well. Because they were in a new place that needed new skills and new ways of working, you also had to realign who did what and for whom. You had to ensure that the tribe was organized to live in the new way. Fortunately because of the tension of the separation, most were relieved to have their doubts settled and quickly settled down to the new. Also because they all knew that they could not go back, that longing for “home” faded. After a while the new home became “Home” for all.

As I told this story, I started to see what had in fact happened. I had missed it all even myself. What we had done only became clear today.

The institutional world is dying. But it is the only world we know. Our place in it is home. We cannot just jump to the new. We have to explore it.  This exploration needs to be organized as history tells us successful explorations are conducted – using larger and longer staying expeditions. At some point some people have to stay in the new world.

Even then history tells us that we at first long for the old. We even organize based on the old even when we live in the new. This tension is debilitating.

This is the story of America itself. Many expeditions lead in the end to the early colonies. The War of Independence is the re-org. This then opens up the west and the new culture and millions cross the sea for the dream.

Yes the tools are important, but it is the change in world view that is the key.

Soon I will have the data to prove this.

What do you think? Where are you on this journey?

Boingo – Using the Network to aid Sales and Marketing

So how do you apply the network to a conventional business? Here is how Boingo has done this.

What would it be like if your business had a sales, marketing and support force that was 1.3 million strong that you did not have to pay for? What if you could source this leverage with a tiny central force? Sounds impossible? Do you have any idea of how this could work?

Now that everyone is using Social Media – what I am seeing mainly are people who using the new tool in the old way – trying to shout above the noise – “Look at ME!” “Aren’t I cool!” “Aren’t we good!”. I am seeing a Dilbert approach – “Let’s have a Facebook site” “Let’s get on Twitter”.

Most do what most do when a new technology arrives – they apply it in the old way and so get nothing in response.

So what then is the power and leverage that you can harness by using social media well?

Boingo are on their way to finding out how to do this. Oh yes and I am one of the people that are part of this and oh yes I am not being paid and nor do I in any way work for them. I am living the theory.

So how might this work and so how might you do this too?

Boingo have a class of people that are deeply committed to the enterprise that Baochicalls her “Super fans”. They and why they are connected to Boingo and each other is the core of the leverage potential. We will meet 4 of them in this post who agreed enthusiastically to be interviewed by me. As you will see, these Super Fans are attracted first of all to Boingo by the obvious:

  • The service – easy one stop access to Wifi in Airports and Hotels – is now no longer a nice to have for travellers but an essential
  • The support for the service is outstanding – got a problem – you get instant personal help

But a great product is not enough. Nor is good service. What is the differentiator for Boingo is the human nature of the relationship that Boingo has with its customers. Most organizations do not allow their people to be human. Service people are often ciphers working from a script. Boingo have set up an environment where their key point of contact is a real person who is allowed to be herself.

She has a name and a face and we are all in awe and a bit in love with her. We all feel her presence watching over us. It is way more than getting her help when we can’t sign on. She watches out for us. Have a problem – A quick tweet. In minutes she is there. She is like the guy who runs the old corner store who holds your keys when you go away, keeps an eye on your kids in the street, helps you find a new roommate.

As Nuno Montegro, a customer in Portugal says – It is not what she says but how she says things that is the difference.

Nuno is like me, a customer who actively refers others to the service.

Most of Social media is all about Weak Ties – They are very useful but Weak Ties don’t get people to do much – or risk much – or commit much – that is why they are Weak – they are easy.

If you want to do something – Civil Rights in the US – you need Strong Ties. (Nice new piece by Malcolm Gladwell that explores Weak and Strong Ties in depth)

The key to attracting Strong Ties is being human. It is NOT PIMPING your product. It is instead to show that you really do care about ME. It is instead to show that you can indeed be trusted.

How do you show this? Nuno makes the point that every service and product fails at times. The key is to offer the best possible response to the inevitability of a problem. The best possible response is to know from experience that if there is a problem, you can reach a real person quickly and that they will go the distance to help you get it fixed. “I felt as if I was the only customer in the entire world when she was helping me” Nuno told me. I had the same experience.

Attracting Strong Ties is all about “Giving”.

Aaron Strout is the CMO at social media agency, Powered Inc. and is also Super Fan. “Boingo is proactive and they don’t expect a direct return – they are not selling all day – so if they want an inch, I go the mile back. It’s Karmic! I know if I have a problem that they will look after me. If people are good and do good, then good comes back. Not necessarily directly but good gets attracted back. We talk about a wide range of things that affect me not just the product – which is great too – have to have that – they listen.”

What Aaron is talking about here is a very old model for an economy that was the centre of all tribal economies – the Gift Economy. In the Gift Economy, the Big Guy is not the man who has the most stuff but the person who gives the most.

This is the power in networks – this is how Open Source Works too.

Cliff Bremmer is a programmer who works for a company called Carley Corporation that bids on government contracts to develop instructional CD base/computer based training for the US military.  ”In my spare time I help companies understand and navigate the social media spectrum in a professional yet interactive way.  The company I’m currently helping is the one my father works for called the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel“.

The Gift?

Not only is he a fan but in interacting with Boingo he has learned a lot about how to use SM media well. “If there is anything I’m proud of lately it’s that I helped the Pegasus Hotel promote their brand with the help and support of @Boingo and other companies to become one of the most popular brands in Jamaica.” Boingo is  not only helping him with his travel and Wifi but is talking with him and helping him help his dad in his business with advice and Tweet Up prizes such as free access and bag tags. The Gift in action!

He can see the flaws of how most use SM – “They are stuck in self promotion versus communication. I can see through it all – it’s all about them.”

In the Gift Economy that drives Trust and so Strong Ties, the starting point is YOU. In the non network economy the starting point is ME. No small difference!

Shelby Rogers is a flight attendant, a serving soldier (in the active reserve) and the wife of a serving soldier. Travel is her life. When she is not working, she travels. Access to Wifi has made her travel better – “I now know more than the Gate Agent does about my flights!” and it has taken away much of the loneliness that travel brings with it. Who has not been alone eating room service and watching TV in our room? “I can stay in touch with my husband on Skype and every city seems to have a friend in it.”

For Shelby, Boingo is a service that truly meets her needs. But it is how Boingo is connected to her that has transformed a pleased customer into a Super fan.

How often has your service provider taken you out to dinner? “We have even had dinner recently. I am now a walking billboard for Boingo with winking bag tags!”

So what does this mean? What are the lesson for both Boingo and for you?

  • Baochi is no accident – the Boingo senior leadership have created the role and given it the space to enable someone who is naturally humane to be herself inside it. This new way of using Strong Ties to be the centre of a network is all about culture. In most cases senior leadership is too scared to let go. But if you do let go and create this safe place then the power of the network effect can be yours
  • A really powerful network has to have an inner core bound by Strong Ties. This is where the leverage is. One staff person like Baochi can without too much trouble have close ties with 34 people. That gives her an outer network of 1.3 million. If she can handle the Dunbar limit of 144 that creates an opportunity of 400 million! You can see that with the right person, you can have a vast reach – provided you realize that your goal is not to have thousands of relationships but a few Strong Ones
  • The secret is the math of social leverage. Many of you know about the “Dunbar Number”. Some of you know about “Magic numbers – the hierarchy of trust in human groups. If you don’t here is a quick primer.

So what now?

I think that the next stage would be this:

  • At the moment all the Super Fans have a strong relationship with Baochi – I think that the best next step might be to find a way to connect them to each other
  • At the  moment most of the dialogue is still about the obvious and excellent service that Boingo provides – I think that some of the work that the Super Fans could do might be to deepen the conversation – Shelby touched on this in her interview with me – What is it that being easily connected while travelling does? In her case it helped her deal with isolation and loneliness – it helped her do her job better – it kept her in touch with her husband – these are deep issues that I think connect all of us who travel a lot

As I think about networks, I think about the laws of physics. All systems have order and attractors. Some force is needed to keep systems coherent.

Think of the Sun in our own local system. It has mass that provides a gravity that holds all the planets and asteroids and stuff in a pattern. It has energy that creates life in the system. I think that any healthy human social system has to have gravity and light.

At the very centre is the “Right Space” a Trusted Space created by the leadership. In this Space, the Right Person – Right being a person who as part of her natural persona truly cares about others. Connected to her is the fuel and the mass that makes up the Sun – the Super Fans. The closer they are to the centre and the closer they are to each other – the more mass and the more energy. The more mass and energy, the larger and more healthy the network of Weak Ties that form up around the Sun.

What gets in the way is our fear about losing control.

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At Disney the surface of the Brand Icon never changes but inside the mask is a person who changes all the time and so is never allowed to speak.

But in the new world we have to take off the costume and let the person inside have conversations with the public – HARD to do.

So then how did Boingo organize to do this internally?

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So what is the new organization – the network!

The Ford model is the machine – but we are humans – we are not identical parts but diverse aware living beings. So how can we best organize – as all living beings organize in a network. Many of my posts show parts of this new reality that is here already!

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Picture from Delta7.com

Did you laugh when you saw this? I did. I laughed because the picture tells the truth that we dare not speak about. That the only thing that keeps the formal organization going are the informal, unseen, human, social networks that both inhabit it and cross its boundaries.

What really lives and works today are social networks. But all the rules that are used in the traditional organization are based on the central metaphor that it is a machine and that people are merely components.

This is the disconnect that Jon and I wish to talk about in this new series on HR and IT.

There are many reasons why the old model is not a good one any more. The disconnect between the machine model and our humanity makes us ill.

CHD Whitehall

This slide is taken for Marmot’s historic study of the UK Civil Service. (The Whitehall Study) What it shows is that our hierarchies kill us. The issue is control. Those in the lowest levels are 5 times more likely to die of Heart Disease than those on the far left, the Senior Leadership. High demands and low control cause our immune system to be compromised. The traditional organization is all about control. CHD is not the only outcome. At my old employer, a major bank, more than 60% of the women staff used anti depressants. We were typical.

We are miserable inside these kinds of organizations – if a better alternative arrives we will go there. Many of my kids age group, about 30, will not work in such places. They just can’t cope with the control.

These organizations cannot cope with change. And Change is all there is right now. We also know how unresponsive these organizations are to change. I was stunned to know this week that most governments in North America still use Word Perfect! This of course is tiny when compared to facing the challenges that confront us all.

There are new organizations based on natural models that are now at scale and making a difference in the world. They are now ready as a model, to be applied everywhere. You think I exaggerate? Let’s look at these numbers.

Skype has 500 million customers/users and only 600 staff. How many people work for your Telco?

Mozilla has about 350 million and so does Wikipedia. Mozilla has 375 staff and Wikipedia 30.

Back in 2007, Craigslist had the 7th highest number of page views of any web company. It had 23 on the payroll. Yahoo, the # 1 had 10,000. Time Warner #2 had 90,000. No wonder the newspapers lost the personals and the locals and could never get them back.

Here is one I bet you never thought of. It is the grandfather of the natural model – the first Chaord or as Jon might the first Wirearchic Organization.

Back in the 1990’s Visa International had 355 million users, 23,000 partners and operated in more than 200 countries but had only 3,000 employees. The NatWest at that time had 81,000 and B of A 91,000 and a fraction of the scale. Here is more current information

All these organizations are designed as natural networks. They use Group Forming as their value proposition.

In the next few weeks, we will talk about what is it about these natural network models that make them so effective? What are the new rules? Why does social media make so much sense in the network model? Why is it so hard to install any of this in the traditional model?

How can a traditional organization stand up to this? After all an artisan weaver could not stand up to the big mill. So once again, a better model will trump the lesser. The industrialization of the world took less than 50 years to be dominant. How long will it take for the natural model to supplant the mechanical?

Is this something that you should know about?

There will be a lot of pain along the way. Especially for those that get caught by the transition. But there is good news. I think that we are about to return to a world where mankind is no longer separated by his tools and processes from nature but is in fact ironically taken home by his new tool set. The plow took us to a cold inhuman and unnatural machine world – the internet and the metaphor that it embodies will return us home. Home to a world where we live again inside the metaphor and rules  of nature herself.