Friday, March 27, 2009


How cool is this?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Entrepreneur as Storyteller

Every entrepreneur is really  a storyteller. Or maybe a songwriter. 

What is a successful product if it is not the physical manifestation of the story some one has seen in their mind's eye?

So I believe the entrepreneur has an idea about a product or service. They consider how to make the idea real. Not just to themselves but to others. After all is a story no one ever hears or reads or sees a story? Not even a dream.

So the entrepreneur assembles all the words needed to describe the product or service. She puts these words in the best order. The most enticing phrasing. She makes others see what she sees. She makes them believe it is real. She shows them how to build it or use it.

She tells the story again and again. Making it better by watching others reactions. 

What started as an idea in her head is now an idea in many heads. Then it moves from being an idea of what might be to an expectation of what could be. Finally it is an idea that should be. It is expected and accepted. No longer new. A familiar tale that is comfortable.

Expected and now wanted. It comes to life and as with all stories now has a life of its own. And the entrepreneur may decide to always tell that story. Or she may go off and let that story have its own life while she makes up a new story to tell.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Automated Social Networks

I found this on a post from last Fall at Nick Carr's blog Rough Type.

Do you think this is how we are? Could be. Maybe.

Regardless, it's a hoot.

Royal Opera House - Audience: "chatting and following" from rAndom International on Vimeo.

Notice how they follow as a group. Is our machine overlord laughing at us?

Royal Opera House - Audience: "long shot" from rAndom International on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

3 Years of Growth

John Battelle has an interesting post on Comparing Twitter Growth to Facebook and Google. The summary is based on the first 3 years of the product/service's existence.

The numbers are for unique US users. The date is the date of the three year count.

Google from 1998 to  2001 - 18,000,000
Facebook from 2004 to 2007 - 27,000,000
Twitter from 2006 to 2009 - 8,000,000

And here I was feeling good having sites that have a little over 100,000 unique users.

Oh well, back to the grind.

Mirror Neurons and the NCAA Tournament

You know the feeling you get watching the NCAA tournament when the team you are pulling for makes a great play? Or the other team makes a comeback? Or when your team wins or losses?

That feeling pulls use into the game. It is almost like we are playing. I guess that is what being a fan is partly about. (The rest of being a fan is  - of course - taking a side and enjoying your enemies losing. Ah yes, even if I can't win, neither can you. It's OK - admit it, we all feel this way sometimes.)

Do you find yourself giving a fist pump when your guys make that great play?

Do you wonder what makes all this happen and do you think maybe you could use this to influence others?

According to Martin Lindstrom in his recent book "buy.ology" what is really going on here is our mirror neurons are firing away.

These are the same little devils that make us "taste" ice cream when we see someone else eating ice cream. And then guess what - we want ice cream ourselves. (Personally I always want ice cream so I'm not sure this is such a great example)

These are the physical reasons people imitate other peoples behavior. This is why recommendations from a trusted source are so valuable. It is how fads get started. It is why so often we decide we'll just have what those around us are having.

Assuming that is true - and I do, BTW - this is both powerful and scary. I like it when it works for me. I don't trust it when it works for anyone else. I certainly hope politicians and marketers never figure it out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is the Network Enterprise

Again from my reading The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells I have found two great definitions of types of organizations.

Castells first defines an organization...

"A system of means structured around the purpose of achieving specific goals."

I like it. Then he goes one step further separating bureaucracies and enterprises.

The bureaucracy is an "organization for which the reproduction of their system of means becomes their main organizational goal." In insurance I believe not only ACORD, but also Transformation Station, AMS and Applied Systems fit this. I am sure there are others in every industry.

An enterprise is an "organization in which the goals, and the change of goals, shape and endlessly reshape the structure of the means."

We need to use systems which mirror the enterprise definition to succeed. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Networking and EDI

Electronic Data Interchange - EDI - has been proposed since the 1990's as a way for companies to communicate with customers and suppliers to eliminate paperwork and intermediate transactions. The problem in implementing this approach is the extreme high cost and the rigidity created.

Remember that rigidity is the ultimate enemy of innovation. (See 100 years of Ma Bell fighting any third party as a reference.)

Networking on the general Internet does not require EDI, nor does it seem to want EDI very much.

What is the EDI for Facebook? If you think that is a bogus question then I ask you, has your EDI project connected as many people as well as Facebook? Assuming the answer is "No", I say the network is the solution.

Processes and business models built around the general Internet platform should be the most successful.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Your Corporate Culture

I am reading Manuel Castells three volume work The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. 

He points out that companies making the changes to be competitive in a networked world "...required a change of mentality rather than a change of machinery. The most important obstacle in adapting the vertical corporation to the flexibility requirements of the global economy was the rigidity of traditional corporate cultures."

Then, to my surprise, he makes the point that simply bringing in technology without having already made the change to corporate mentality "aggravated the problems of bureaucratization and rigidity. Computerized controls are even more paralyzing than traditional face to face chains of command in which there was still place for some form of implicit bargaining." " America, more often than not, new technology was viewed as a labor saving device and as an opportunity to take control of labor, not as an instrument of organizational change."

My personal experience with hundreds of corporate IT departments certainly feels familiar with this line of thinking. How many of us have not been able to do the things we wanted or needed because IT had built an empire and could not get to things in any sort of timely basis?

When I was a college student working a summer job as a dishwasher, my co-workers and I decided the Hobart dishwashing machine could be a time machine if we were able to wash all the dishes before the diners had finished eating. We decided the entire purpose of the business we worked at was to provide dirty dishes for us to wash in our attempt to go forward in time.

I have seen many IT departments and third party vendors who act as though this same logic applies to the basic reason the businesses they are employed by exist. But the truth is businesses do not exist to provide IT staff jobs. The businesses which get this and act on this will succeed far beyond those which do not. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Fundamentals of Business

On March 3rd, as I lay in bed with the ear bud in trying to be bored to sleep by the BBC I caught Peter Day's  BBC World Business Report. It was a wonderful interview with John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. My only complaint was it kept me awake and I really depend on the tone and cadence of the BBC after midnight to get me to sleep.

Several quotes stuck with me enough that the next morning I went online and listened to the interview again. Here they are...

"Now, and only now is the power of the network and computing changing the fundamentals of business. Before it was an enabler, now it is what business is about."

Before it "replicated things that were already going on - word processing, just faster" etc.

Peter Day from an interview with Peter Drucker over a decade ago "Drucker did not think the computer had begun to affect the way companies were managed."

John Chambers again...

"The network is the way all computing will be done. All communications will be done. That will allow you to change the nature of work. Sales won't go away, but the way you sell will change. Support won't go away, but the way you provide support will change.

"Operational excellence always trumps innovation."

"During economic downturns the statistics are 50% to 60% of the leaders who go into a downturn aren't a leader at the end of it. They hunker down. They forget about innovation and operations excellence. They just try to survive. And while they are trying to survive their peers move right by them."

Lots to stay awake about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Changes to Search

Yesterday I mentioned real time search. It is going to get more thought here very soon.

Think about that. Being found on the web is moving from search to social. Mr. Yard says it well "You are much more likely to click on a link that your friend recommends than you are to trust the arbitrary data that Google churns out in response to your search."

So for those of you who have just started trying to move your business online - and there are many of you - mastering search engine optimization, keywords and meta data is not all you have to do. In fact it may not be something you have to do at all. That is if you have mastered Facebook, Twitter, blogging, MySpace, etc.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Twitter Search

Interesting reading on John Battelle's Searchblog article titled The World is turning into Twitter Search.

Here is the kicker for me...

"You put a question out to the global mind, and it comes back,. Millions of people are contributing to the knowledge base. The engine is alive. You get feedback in real time from people, not just from documents."

If you haven't tried this yet go to and see how it already works.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Very Good Response from

Since most readers do not read comments, I wanted to be certain this did not get buried.

Look at the 3rd comment down to see a very good response from

It does not mean my service was not interrupted. It does not mean I am pleased with the response time.

It does mean I am pleased to have SiteSell as a vendor and will continue to recommend them as I speak to groups across the country just as I have recommended them for the past years.

Digital Identity

Wide vs. Deep

I think of digital identity as the sum total of your digital information. Normally when I use this term I am limiting this to information which is available online.

In a social network like Facebook I see your digital identity as being your profile at a minimum. Then it starts to get wider. After you use Facebook for a while you might have added photos, videos or updates. These broaden you digital identity.

You might also have a Flickr account, a YouTube account, a Twitter account, etc.

In each of these accounts you would have a profile and other shared content.

You digital identity is getting much wider.

Since all this information is either available to everyone or everyone in a group I think of this as your top level of digital identity. Like the Missouri River it can be a mile wide and a foot deep.

I think depth in digital is the level below this. Depth is defined to me by your ability to own and control your digital identity's privacy and security levels.

With most current social networks you can only share on a secure level with other individuals if you set up unique closed accounts with just the two of you or unique groups with just the two of you.

Depth will be available to your digital identity when you can share anything with any selected other digital identity from within a single online account. This will become very important for business and commercial relationships.

I may have said this before, but it is on my mind today again - so, current social web platforms are like going to a party. It is great to share with everyone. But there are many times when you need to leave the party, go into the library say and close the door to have a private conversation. This is depth.

The first tools that enable depth will be less interactive than you may wish. They will provide the ability to share privately and securely static documents and media. They will not allow those documents and media to share data with other applications.

The goal of data portability will be to grow over time to allow you to release selected digital identity pieces to not just other people, but to other applications. As this grows we will begin to see the promise of networks blossom.

Have any of you found services doing this yet? I would love to learn about them.