Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

The Olympic Bullies

July 30, 2016

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I felt a strong need to share this blog post from Seth Godin here on my blog. (Not 100% sure that I can, but since I am not a business per se, it is probably OK.) I assure you it is quite short, but still rather insightful: Jumping the Olympic Shark

This post highlights how brands that have lost their way will often become bullies, and seek to close down discussion that the brand is not been paid for. He reminds us that Brand is not a word, but rather a set of expectations. You can’t build a brand by suing those who choose to talk about your brand. Something we would all be well served to remember…

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“There is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven”: How we learn today…

July 20, 2016

So go the lyrics from the Byrd’s classic song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The group was referring to the fact that there is a time and a place for everything. In my mind, this phrase also applies to the options we all have today to learn what we want to or what we need to.

The opportunity to learn today for those who want to is amazing…in addition to the traditional learning venues, there are so many quality options of online material and classes to digest, with many different delivery methodologies and structures. You can learn virtually anything you want to today, from Quantum Mechanics to web coding to how to fix a shower head.

The Byrds

The Byrds

I am a firm believer in the formalized education process, but I also recognize that there are times when the right levels of skills or knowledge mean more than the experience or even the credentialing. There are situations where timing of the need may be a significant factor in the decision. In a professional setting, the modern “corporation-of-one” economy supports this need, as in many fields, the knowledge base changes rather quickly and the need may well be urgent. As indicated in the Byrd’s lyric above, there may be times (seasons) of our life where some choices make more sense than others.

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Start-up Nation and Michael Porter on Clusters

June 23, 2016

 

drone - innovation

 

It was recently recommended to me that I read Start-up Nation (by Dan Senor and Saul Singer), the book on innovation and how it is executed in the State of Israel. Having been involved with start-ups here in the United States at several points in my career here in the US, it was amazing to me that this book had never broached my consciousness. While I can be oblivious at times, in fairness, I was working marathon weeks in an “intrepreneurial” start up at the time. But still…

There are several reasons why Israel has developed this capacity, but one of the factors brought back some thinking that captured my imagination over a decade ago…the idea of economic clusters. I recognized the value of this concept while in the Direct Mail business and growing up in an area that was an economic cluster for the pharmaceutical industry, I think this was a natural inclination.

This became one of the standards on which I judged potential partnerships or mergers when previously working in the consulting field. And it certainly impacted my thinking on interacting with the internal infrastructure when building and nurturing programs/

This was an idea that was formalized by Michael Porter, whose Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy books had formed a great deal of my early career thinking. In his work on clusters, he highlights three points that have impact:

1. Productivity
2. Driving Direction and the Pace of Innovation
3. Stimulate the formation of new businesses

These are all important, but I think the biggest takeaway at the time for me was the first point, productivity. All players in a cluster drive each other to be more productive, a factor that leads to greater innovation and higher business formation. The fact that they are geographically grouped also adds to the productivity. Clusters tend to create an overall environment where the whole ecosystem is greater the sum of the parts.

Clusters are typically intensely competitive, yet this also allows paradoxically for greater cooperation and closer ties to partners within the cluster. This is a reality that is often discounted in the virtual world we live in, however, it is still more comfortable to know that a partner closely tied to your business is an hour away by car as opposed to halfway around the world.

Of course, clusters can have downsides too. Instead of expanding and spawning new businesses, they can attempt to consolidate leading to an actual restriction of trade and innovation. They can fall prey to industry groupthink. This often happens in instances where the cluster turns oligopolistic rather than retaining its innovative roots.

I strongly suggest reading both Start-Up Nation and Michael Porter is you are on the strategy side of innovation.

Photo courtesy of: Pankaj Biswas

Does community always matter?

April 6, 2016

…and additionally, is “community” always the same or does community look differently depending on time, circumstance and context?

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A Cosplay gathering (Image courtesy Pixabay user nile | CC0 Public Domain)

Brain Solis has been quoted as saying: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” The sentiment expressed here seems to be that belonging for the sake of belonging may drive longevity, but it definitely does not drive engagement. At least not in long run. Engaging together as a group in an activity is what makes belonging matter…at least from a community building perspective.

But is that actually so? Do we need to be involved in the sense of “doing something together” to be a community? Does community always equal engagement? Are communal activities always needed to drive community?

It seems to me that sometimes, we just want to be a part of a community, and that there are different levels of commitment, but all may be communities. After all, there are valid arguments that belonging matters more than engagement in the sense of shared activity: it matters to us for visibility…or the size of the group may be what matters… or we may belong because the group inspires trust. In fact, there seem to be times when just belonging for the sake of belonging is what matters. And these “communities” are often vibrant. The real question though may well be: are they long lasting or just a moment in time?

I have listed some references below that speak to various aspects of this thought. I’d like to know yours.

Just belonging matters:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201203/it-is-motivating-belong-group

http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/18/belonging-matters-researchers-halve-racial-gpa-gap-with-brief-exercise/

Visibility matters: http://gradworks.umi.com/36/63/3663476.html

Size matters: http://macdgroup.com/2013/10/15/why-size-matters/

Trust Matters: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00661/full