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  • feedwordpress 00:19:11 on 2016/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: AARON RENN, , , , , , Collaboration, , , environment, , innovation comes from the edges, james clear, John Carpenter, john hagel, Katy Lynch, metaphors, pearls of wisdom, peter thiel, , Roosevelt University, Scott Kleinberg, Shia Kapos, silicon valley, , stategy, strategy, , texas, the edge of innovation, thiel   

    Dear Chicago: Embrace the Edge 


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    Dear Chicago: Embrace the Edge

    Last week, Peter Thiel casually and brazenly denigrated Chicago, hyping Silicon Valley while speaking at a Roosevelt University Chicago event:

    In Thiel’s own words: “If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley.”

    Chicago has reacted with numerous self-depricating or defensive articles.

    Buck up, Chicago.

    According to the IRS, Five MILLION people have left California in the past decade. The exodus equates to a whopping net loss of $26 billion in annual income for the state. The majority headed to one of five states: Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Washington.

    The reason for the California exodus is no secret: exorbitant housing costs, a housing shortage, the second lowest home ownership rates in the country, high taxes, statewide unemployment higher than the national average, low wages, fiscal instability, systemic gender/race discrimination, increasing business regulation, not to mention a dearth of companies solving *actual* problems, severe droughts, a water shortage, earthquakes, dry lightning, and accelerating ozone pollution levels (also among the highest in the country).

    Peter Thiel paints a rosy picture of Silicon Valley. Meanwhile Silicon Valley’s restaurant industry is literally starving.

    Location is everything. Research has proven that environment has a surprisingly strong influence on success. Unless you fit the Silicon Valley’s very narrow niche “mold for success” (read: white, educated, technology-savvy males under age 40 — age 50 if you are lucky enough to be a VC — with money and family connections), look elsewhere for opportunity. The folks in Silicon Valley are not more talented; they’re merely more insular, provincial, protectionist, and elitist with regard to membership in their private club.

    Remember folks: DIVERSITY DRIVES INNOVATION and INNOVATION COMES FROM THE EDGES. In the words of brainy entrepreneur James Clear: “Life is a game; if you want better results over a sustained period of time, play the game in an environment that favors you.” James also wisely once advised: “worry not — aim for the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.”

    Embrace the edge, Chicago. Don’t kow-tow to Silicon Valley pundits and bullies. You’re better than that.

     
  • feedwordpress 22:43:56 on 2013/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , Collaboration, , , , ,   

    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness 


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    Expert Series: Sperry Van Ness

    RE:INVENTION’s Expert Series presents an interview with a major player at a company that is notable as progressive, transformative and/or innovative within its industry.

    In an industry primarily dominated by traditional approaches to business operations, innovative practices and thinking outside of the box can make all the difference. Sperry Van Ness International Corporation, a transformative commercial real estate brokerage and property management franchisor, was recently awarded as one of the most recognizable brands in commercial real estate in 2013 by the Lipsey Survey.

    This week’s Expert Series features five questions with Diane Danielson, the Chief Platform Officer of Sperry Van Ness.

    ************************************************************************

    RE: First, can you give us a brief background of yourself and of Sperry Van Ness as a company?

    Diane: Sperry Van Ness International Corporation is a franchisor. Our day job is selling franchises to commercial real estate firms. They brought me in as the Chief Platform Officer, which is kind of a weird title, but I like to say it’s a combination of COO, marketing, technology and sales, with a focus on growing the bottom line. We have 175 franchise offices in 38 states across the United States and we’re expanding into Canada and Europe.

    As for me, I have been in and out of commercial real estate for past 20 years. I started out as a real estate attorney but then joined real estate companies and worked as the vice-president of business development and marketing at various large commercial real estate firms in the Boston area. Then I took some time off from the commercial real estate industry and got involved in a career where I built a company called the Downtown Women’s Club, which was a national women’s network that launched the first social network for businesswomen in the United States back in 2005. After that I ended up consulting with companies on technology and how to use technology most efficiently to meet your marketing and business development goals. And that led to Sperry Van Ness calling me and saying they had a perfect job for me, because I had all of the different categories, including commercial real estate and a legal degree, and everything they were looking for on the marketing and technology side.

    RE: What has been your biggest challenge for you at Sperry Van Ness and how did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

    Diane: One of the biggest challenges we have is an innovative business model in a very traditional industry. Commercial real estate is very resistant to change… and 80% male, with the average age of a commercial real estate broker these days around 57 years old. Trying to change an industry is very tough; but the company I’ve been with has been doing things differently for about 35 years. We actually believe in the open sharing and co-listing of our sales properties; we’ve been doing that for years but it is very in-tune with the direction all industries are going these days. And also, we’re very big on technology. We’ve developed and partnered with software platforms so that our franchisees are not tied to their desks. They can use the cloud platform for all our tools, and they can work anywhere because sales are done on the road a lot of the time.

    RE: How did your team start building a culture of innovation or transformation?

    Diane: Well, it helps to have a CEO and President who is in his early 40s, who’s very visionary. Kevin Maggiacomo is a big believer in not doing business in the same way, because if you do, eventually somebody’s going to put you out of business. So, following his vision, it’s from the top-down. He has brought on people, others and myself, who are rewarded for trying different solutions. With a franchise business model, while some people may think it’s a very old-fashioned model, I find it very innovative, as it’s a way to have a smaller independent team that can use the tools and resources of a large shop. We’re able to be more nimble, because we’re smaller in a sense as a franchisor, and having local franchises allows us to test with them on a small scale. Collaboration is also something that we really stress in the Core Covenants of our company.

    RE: Have you found yourself having to transform your business methodology since you started? How have you done so?

    Diane: We had a series of changes that started before I got there, one of which was back in 2007 when we started moving towards a franchise business model. That was a big change and it helped us survive the economic downturn in 2009, and we actually came through that profitably, which was extremely rare for our industry.

    About two or three years ago, we signed on with Google apps. Taking everything into the cloud was a big transformation because it allowed us to work virtually and our franchisees were able to do the same. Then we helped customize another tool that our brokers use for marketing properties and listings. And since it’s cloud based, they’re able to access that virtually. So they’re able to streamline their overhead costs. The next phase, what we’re doing now and in 2014, is focused on increasing our franchisees’ productivity. It’s not just handing them tools and resources, it’s delivering training and helping them focus on their business so that they can increase productivity. That’s where we’re testing out some innovative tools. We are also bringing out and dusting off old resources that worked in past years and are still applicable today.

    It’s also learning from outside the industry. We are looking at what tech companies are doing, what other B2B businesses are doing and what franchises are doing. We were on the Inc. 5000 list this year so we went down there to learn from other companies that were not in our industry. I even hired somebody to lead our marketing team from the retail industry.

    RE: What do you think is most important for your company to do in order to keep up with the rapid changes in technology?

    Diane: Looking outside the industry. We need to learn from other industries; see what’s working for them and figure out how to apply it to our industry. We can’t just sit here and say nobody else is doing this in commercial real estate so we won’t either; we need to be proactive about thinking of new ways to change the way we do business and keep up with technological changes.

    We also have something called the “SVN Difference”. For me, that’s whenever we put the right people with the right process and the right platform. That together creates a system that allows people to maximize productivity.

    Many thanks to Diane Danielson for sharing insights during this week’s Expert Series. Look for our next Expert in two weeks time, right here on RE:INVENTION’s Everyday Inventive Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:31:17 on 2013/11/25 Permalink
    Tags: , Collaboration, , crowdsourcing, , ideation, , , obama, , voice of customer   

    Be Thankful For: Ideation 


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    Be Thankful For: Ideation

    It’s Thanksgiving week and we all are giving thanks for our families, our health, and of course, football. But what am I thankful for in the new world of business and innovation? I’m thankful for IDEATION.

    Ideation is a technique in the early, fuzzy front end part of innovation, the part of the innovation lifecycle where ideas are gathered and curated.  A whole new industry has blossomed around this activity and its tools.  Salesforce had one of the first tools available and was heavily used as part of Obama’s grassroots campaign.  Other big players that have sprouted are Spigit and BrightIdea.

    Why I’m Thankful for Ideation

    1. Ideation was one of the first crowdsourcing concepts taken from the Internet and applied to a business context.  It helped shepherd in a wave of other concepts and tools to shape the way companies generate new revenue and enhance their business through the Innovation Lifecycle.
    2. Ideation holds the promise to generate better ideas with more accuracy and speed, enabling businesses to shorten their product lifecycles.  The wisdom of the crowd can come to as accurate or more accurate a conclusion than any back room analyst can but much quicker.  The process of group think naturally curates and validates the content because of the diversity and breadth of experience that exists within the crowd.  And if the crowd consists of your target audience or your front-line employees who are closest to our customers, then the outcomes of this process should lead to more accurate insight to your customer’s true needs and wants than an analyst validating through his opinion and numbers.
    3. Ideation has amplified the voice of your individual customers and employees giving them a greater sense of influence.  The old suggestion box process was always unsatisfying.  Ideas would disappear into a black hole only to be reviewed by individuals with their own opinions and agendas within a command and control communication process.  It left the contributor feeling as if his opinion had little impact.  But Ideation puts their opinions in front of everyone increasing the transparency of the overall process and one in which your idea can be validated and enhanced as others contribute to it.  When I introduced Ideation to my last company, I can’t tell you how many emails I received from our employees thanking me for giving them a vehicle for their voice to be heard.

    But That’s Only Part of the Process

    Ideation only solved a small part of the overall innovation process.  The good news is that it has only amplified what is missing during the design and execution phases of the lifecycle.  As Ideation raises new ideas transparently in a public forum, it will naturally put pressure on those to implement the ideas otherwise they will lose their audience.  Hopefully, this will pressure businesses to take a more holistic view of the innovation lifecycle and impress upon them the importance to implement the rest of the process.

    Bringing ideas into the open is a necessary but tricky process as it may bring forth ideas that may seem counter-intuitive or potential land mines to touch.  However, it only reflects the true needs or wants of your customers.  Case in point:  the 2008 Obama campaign utilized Salesforce’s new idea platform to poll the voters on what they would like to see in Obama’s campaign platform.  It was a nice tool as it really allowed voters to contribute what they were concerned about and then to build upon those ideas.   Ideas that scored the highest through votes and contribution rose to the top.  Interestingly enough, the number one concern of the public at that time as expressed by voters was legalization of marijuana.  Obama completely ignored the topic even within virtual open houses on the Internet that discussed some of the top ideas.  It was obviously considered a political landmine.  But look at where we are today?  Marijuana legalization has become a top agenda for many in the U.S. with a majority favoring it in some way.

    You Can’t Ignore the Voice of Your Customer

    Ignoring the voice of your customer will only last so long.  They are telling you what they really want.  The best approach is to have a conversation in the open and respect your customer’s voice.  You can have an honest conversation even explaining why you may not be able to address their concerns at the moment, but simply recognizing acknowledging their concerns in an open forum can go a long way to build customer loyalty and trust.  Ignoring it will simply do the opposite.

    At RE:INVENTION, we understand the voice of the individual and the power it has in developing new products and services.  We understand that a truly successful innovation process addresses he complete lifecycle.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy it with your loved ones.

     
  • feedwordpress 17:40:39 on 2013/11/20 Permalink
    Tags: adjacent possible, center for talent innovation, Collaboration, Company culture, , , dissent, diversity, diversity prediction theorem, , , scott page, thanksgiving   

    Be Thankful For: Diversity and Dissent 


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    Be Thankful For: Diversity and Dissent

    “A peaceful, harmonious workplace can be the worst possible thing for a business because it leads to complacency, the biggest predictor of poor company performance.”

    - Harvard Business Review (“How to Pick a Good Fight,” December 2009).

    While the Thanksgiving holiday is riddled with myths — a fairytale of friendly pilgrims dining with Indians — it’s a perfect time to reflect on diversity.

    Diversity and dissent drive innovation. Successful companies embrace diverse perspectives and promote a systematic process of constructive criticism.

    According to a September 2013 Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) study:

    • Companies that demonstrate leadership diversity are 70 percent more likely to capture a new market and 45 percent more likely to improve market share.
    • When companies encourage/reward diversity and dissent, employees are 3.5 times more likely (67 percent versus 16 percent) to contribute their full innovative potential.
    • Ideation teams are most successful when they mine a talent pool of people whose non-mainstream backgrounds lead to new interpretations and points of view.

    Diversity and dissent light a fire to innovation because they increase perspective, improve problem-solving abilities, and boost potential for better solutions and big breakthroughs. They expand your set of the “adjacent possible” — what is possible next given existing conditions and knowledge. The GREATER the diversity the better, according to the Diversity Prediction Theorem.

    For this reason, RE:INVENTION’s team is comprised of former Fortune 100 company execs, leading technologists, lean entrepreneurs, MBAs, engineers, and design thinkers. When we conduct Innovation Incubation Labs for our Clients, our team’s diversity propels fresh thinking. And our team conducts feats of strength (ala George’s family on Seinfeld) during the holidays to facilitate tension.

    Ok. So we don’t really do that last bit. Joe, our Business Intelligence and Technology Practice Leader, would win every time if we did (he competes in Iron Man competitions).

    Want to create a company culture of diversity and dissent? Deloitte’s 2013 “Diversity Report” recommends: hiring with debate in mind, giving employees permission to disagree, sponsoring reverse mentorship programs, shifting to team-based evaluation, and rewarding successes that are a result of diversity.

    Do you agree or disagree?

    If you are interested in diversity training, consider this online course from noted University of Michigan professor Scott Page. For the record, I really like today’s blog image featuring two sparring turkeys. What did one turkey say to the other? Nothing. Because turkeys can’t talk.

     
  • feedwordpress 23:38:31 on 2013/11/15 Permalink
    Tags: , chatter, Collaboration, collective intelligence, consumer goods, , , forbes, jive, , , , retail, seth godin, social collaboration, Social Intelligence, , social media innovation, social movements, social power, social technologies, , sun tsu, , yammer   

    5×5: Implications of Social Intelligence 


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    5×5: Implications of Social Intelligence

    It’s Friday, and that means RE:INVENTION’s Leadership team is discussing another hot topic in our weekly blog feature, 5×5. New to our blog? Every Friday our team reviews and debates a controversial news article or research report.

    UP THIS WEEK: Have Social Intelligence Tools Sparked a Revolution?

    Social media and new digital technologies have empowered individuals — making them more capable than ever to organize themselves, bypass authority figures, and rise up against the status quo. An angry crowd can organize, escalate, and go viral faster than ever before. People can start social movements and protests on Facebook. Will big businesses lose some or all of their authority as consumers gain power through collaborative social intelligent forces? In this week’s 5×5, RE:INVENTION team analyzes the implications of social intelligence on governments and big corporations.

    This Week’s Reference Articles:

    • ”Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution“, Forbes
    • ”From Phoenecia to Hayek to the Cloud“, a Wall Street Journal op-ed from Matt Ridley

    THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

    What are the corporate and political implications of the rising potential for consumers’ ‘viral consensuses’ through the use of digital social intelligence tools and communication?

    OUR TEAM’S RESPONSES

    Kirsten Osolind (“President and COO”)

    Revolution or evolution? You can trace the origins of “collective intelligence” to ancient religious texts and military maneuvers. Byzantine emperor Justinian I deployed monks to China in the 6th century to learn the art of making silk. Chinese General Sun Tsu’s scrolls (circa 500 BC) heralded the value of collaboration and competitive intel. An angry mob organized and stormed the Bastille, sparking the French Revolution.

    Social media may have leveled the playing field, giving us the richest source of data in the world’s history. What’s often missing these days is actual intelligence. Digging deeper…translating data and knowledge into actionable insights and better business decisions. While many corporations use social media to monitor chatter and broadcast brand messages, few are using social media effectively for customer service. And the vast majority are not cultivating social intelligence to detect emerging opportunities, set strategy, and drive disruptive innovation.

    Regardless of your industry — from consumer goods and retail to financial services and medical devices — you can use digital social intelligence tools and the collective wisdom of the crowd to curate and refine ideas faster and more effectively than ever before.

    …to track changing market trends, customer sentiments, and unmet market needs
    …to stay twelve steps ahead of your competition
    …to identify consumer points of market entry and paths to purchase
    …to develop, test and tailor new products or services
    …to address customer service issues in real time
    …to expedite regulatory approval
    …to help with market expansion
    …to minimize the risk of an investment decision being wrong
    …to drive change and create the future, rather than being reactive

    There are literally hundreds of social intelligence software apps to choose from like Spigit, Brightidea, Chatter, Yammer, Jive, along with public platforms like Facebook and Twitter. CRM systems, help desks, customer service platforms, online message boards, even employee social intranets can also be used creatively to mine data to improve business performance.

    Social intelligence can help your company make better decisions and quicker, more agile moves. If Sun Tsu were alive today, he’d be busy crowdsourcing his next book, planning a watershed digital moment to spark the next Chinese civil revolution, and plotting a creative way to collaborate with Seth Godin online.

    On a final note, it is rarely in the best interest of a corporation (or government) to crush dissent. Research suggests that dissent drives innovation.

    Joe Barrus (“The Technologist”)

    As the second article points out, social collaboration became a natural behavior that improved modern humans’ ability to survive and thrive.  So, for modern humans, social collaboration is a natural behavior.  However, as populations grew, the ability to command order began to degrade at scale and so new forms of authoritarian control emerged that impeded upon our ability to govern ourselves through social collaboration.  We only have to look at the failure of pure democracies to see the evidence of that.

    As usual, technology has evolved to solve scaling issues that has re-enabled the natural order of things to operate at scale.  This is a key enabler to innovation and disruption.  Technology solves the scaling problem and allows natural human behaviors to drive change at scale.  It is this dynamic that drove changes in the music industry for consumers to buy songs individually rather than as a collection tapping into the natural way humans engage with music.  Rather than seeing the death of the industry, we are seeing a resurgence as growth has finally started moving positively since its disruption.  The demand for individual songs was still there (just like it was when we bought 45’s long ago) only the ability to recapture the commercial market was missing.  That took some time to overcome since the change was driven from the bottom through a revolution but ultimately they figured it out.

    This raises a significant point.  What if you can tap into that same dynamic to design and drive change from the top rather than react to a revolution?  What if you can keep the consumer loyalty and trust as you transform your market rather than trying to re-earn that after disenfranchising them?  Absolutely companies must be able to react quickly.  Netflix is a great case study of a company that made a mistake and received a huge consumer backlash but who was able to respond to that with different models quickly so that they were able to retain that loyalty and trust for many of their customers.  The key here is speed to enact change.

    Companies can’t be reactive, they need to find ways to tap into that consumer base and allow consumers to be part of not just defining direction for change but also to be part of designing and implementing the change through crowdsourcing techniques.  What better way to retain and build trust and loyalty with your customers than to allow them to share in a sense of ownership and pride in the solution?  These days you don’t have a choice.  If you don’t keep your customers engaged end-to-end, you not only run a higher risk of no longer meeting your customer’s needs but you also run a higher risk of customer backlash that can be devastating!

    The idea behind social collaboration as a method to discover consumer demand and design consumer solutions is that by tapping into the aggregate knowledge of the crowd and letting them collaborate to come to a conclusion is that the conclusions reached by the crowd are often just as accurate or more accurate than any group of analysts can achieve in isolation in a back room.  And they can reach those conclusions much faster!  So, in a new world where the technological rate of change is accelerating and windows of opportunities are getting shorter, the survivors will be those who can successfully engage their customers through social collaboration techniques end-to-end throughout the product development lifecycle.

    From ideation solutions that drive and develop new ideas to social product development sites that have consumers help design and implement new products to highly interactive social sites where corporate representatives are open, transparent and highly engaged in conversations to receive feedback from consumers as products are released will become the norm for successful companies of the future.

    This is not to say that this will be easy.  Any social site needs to address the impact of Echo Chambers  that can drive out dissent; an essential ingredient to successful socially driven outcomes.  Solutions to address this are not easy to achieve but companies can easily become mis-directed if they end up following direction coming out of an echo chamber regardless of whether that feedback is negative or positive.  So there are some risks to this changing dynamic as we move forward to avoid allowing ourselves to change direction based on a few loud voices rather than from true aggregate knowledge and sentiment of the crowd that is meaningful to us.

    Dennis Jarvis (“The Marketeer”)

    The use of social intelligence to rally a call to action has been the norm across the ages.  Just consider the American Revolution and the famous ride of Paul Revere after seeing the message from the tower of the Old North Church in Boston  — “one if by two land, two if by sea” – as he then alerted the patriots that the British were on their way, resulting in the shot heard round the world.  To me, this is aligned with the very principle that David Kirkpatrick reviews in his recent Forbes article, Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution, in which he provides and excellent treatise on the impact of social intelligence tools on society and business.  Dilbert also provides us with a more light-hearted view of the new transparency.

    I believe human nature is more active than passive.  Social intelligence simply arms us with the tools that feed this tendency on a 24/7 basis.  The growth of mobile devices and tablets has driven this in geometric proportions.  One area specifically of personal interest is the impact of digital intelligence on the medical and health sectors, where consumers are increasingly empowered — in spite of the challenges and bad press that has come with Affordable Healthcare.  There are now more than 40 thousand health-related apps now available.  In 2012 there an estimated 44 million health-related apps downloaded and projected to be 142 million in 2016 (Source: Juniper Research).  Consumers freely and willingly share information on treatments – both in terms of efficacy, side effects and the practitioner performing.  In the end, I believe that consumers, armed with digital social intelligence, will drive the re-invention of health care.

    Jorge Barba (“The Culture Guy”)

    The ability that social technologies give us to bypass the traditional structure of decision-making will only become stronger as more corporations embrace them. But even so, the element of human nature is pervasive. So, I anticipate that a lot of corporations will still want to have a control of how decisions are made, even though the next generation of workers operate by different set of values, motivations and standards.

    Businesses that are founded by the next generation of entrepreneurs will set the new standard on how decision making is made. I would like to know how management innovators like W.L. Gore are adapting to social technologies, for they are the epitome of a leaderless organization, and one that is worthy of being modeled.

    I think that is something to watch out for, how and if companies will transition to new ways of working…

    Kane (“K-9 Intern”)

    In today’s business world, collective intelligen… SQUIRREL!

    THE FINAL WORD

    Knowledge-sharing is accelerating at a faster rate than ever due to the rapid spread and growing accessibility of social intelligence. It is causing companies to rethink and reinvent their business practices; those that embrace crowd-based wisdom will flourish, while those that reject it will fail.

    Curious about how RE:INVENTION can help YOUR company leverage social intelligence to improve business decisions and performance? CLICK HERE to learn more about RE:INVENTION’s Services. And follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

     
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