Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Future Trends Spotlight Track: Motorola

“A Shift to User Centered Design for Innovation: The Competitive Differentiator”
Tuesday, November 3, 3:50-4:35pm
Future Trends Conference
Bruce Claxton, Senior Director, Design Integration, Motorola

Bruce Claxton, shares compelling insights on a shift away from technology based innovation to a more user-centered design process. This combines the rigors of social science, psychology and anthropology, with the art of design. Good products tell good stores. Bruce will talk bout how his team translates user needs and life stores into real concepts by combining iconic design with purpose-built features

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Putting the Id Into Idea

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

"Every man is proud of what he does well; and no man is proud of what he does not do well. With the former, his heart is in his work; and he will do twice as much of it with less fatigue. The latter performs a little imperfectly, looks at it in disgust, turns from it, and imagines himself exceedingly tired. The little he has done, comes to nothing, for want of finishing." — Abraham Lincoln

A few months back in a post entitled “Taking the Id Out of Idea” I suggested we, as innovators, need to take our egos out of the idea development and broader innovation process. We should strive to make our innovation processes and subsequent products and services personal, yet not take what happens during the idea development and innovation process personally. An over developed sense of self importance can get in the way of successful innovation. Check your egos at the door.

This may appear as a 180 degree reversal of this stated position based on the title of this entry, but I actually think we should put a little id into our ideas and development processes.

If you’ve ever taken an introductory high school or college psychology class, you’re already familiar with Freud’s ego, id, and superego. The id in particular as defined by Webster is “the part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, that is the source of instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle.” In his own works, Freud describes the id as “the dark, inaccessible part of our personality...we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations.” It is no doubt filled with energy, and instinctual. It is responsible for our basic drives for food, water, sex, and other impulses.

When I suggest “Putting the Id Into Idea,” I don’t mean to say our ideas and subsequent processes should be chaotic, uncontrolled, unorganized, efforts characterized by lust and other instinctual impulses. Nor am I suggesting we become obsessed like Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein so that our minds are “filled with one thought, conception, one purpose.” In an idea development or broader innovation process, despite one’s intentions, these approaches can be dangerous, if not simply unsuccessful. Somewhere however in the recess of the basic drives characterized by the id lies the foundation of passion. And passion is the necessary component for innovation of which I speak.

Every civilization is, among other things, an arrangement for domesticating the passions and setting them to do useful work." – Aldous Huxley

Creativity Brings Innovation to UK Economy

The Birmingham Post reports that the UK's economy is getting a shot of innovation thanks to creative industry. Writer Toby Barnes writes that in the UK's economy, the creative industries are not a suite of crafts people; but, a financially rewarding sector of our (UK) economy. It is driven by talented individuals, with fresh ideas which are able to drive forward new, financially viable business models where innovation and its philosophy live. Barnes notes that by thinking outside of films, television programs and video games--those in these industries must share their overall processes with the less creative in order to gain a bevy of innovation throughout other sectors. For Barnes' complete discussion, please click on his original article.

Creativity brings innovation to the UK economy

Monday, September 28, 2009

Innovation is a Huge Priority Among Top CEOs from Around the World

This post on BusinessWeek discusses how main theme of a gathering of top CEOs at the Fifth Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting was that innovation is a huge driver of worldwide economic recovery as well as growth. Barack Obama set the stage and tone for the conference by mentioning:

"We need new businesses to unleash new innovations. We need new collaborations to advance prosperity."

What was interesting is that innovation was listed first in all program materials and was the major theme of the panels and networking sessions. It's good to see an innovation initiative first started by ex-president Bill Clinton is still running strong even to this day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stay Updated on the FEI Europe 2010 programme

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Future Trends 2009 Keynote Speaker: Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers
Author
Columnist, MSNBC

Michael Rogers is Futurist-in-Residence for The New York Times and an interactive media pioneer, novelist and journalist. He also writes the popular Practical Futurist column for MSNBC.

For ten years he was vice president of The Washington Post Company's new media division, helping guide both the newspaper and its sister publication Newsweek into the new century, as well as serving as editor and general manager of Newsweek.com. His New York-based consultancy, Practical Futurist® works with both startups and major media companies, and he writes a column of the same name for MSNBC.

Rogers is also a best-selling novelist whose fiction explores the human impact of technology. His five books have been published worldwide, optioned for film and television, and chosen by the Book of the Month Club.

After a decade as a writer for Rolling Stone, Rogers co-founded Outside magazine. He then joined Newsweek to create the magazine's Technology section, covering topics ranging from Chernobyl and genetic engineering to computers and the Internet, earning numerous journalism awards for his work.

In 1993 he produced the world's first CD-ROM newsmagazine for Newsweek, described in the media as a prototype for interactive television, going on to develop interactive areas on Prodigy, America Online and then a series of Internet sites including the award-winning Parents’ Guide to Children’s Software, which also appeared in CD-ROM and book form. In 1999 he received a patent for the bimodal spine, a multimedia storytelling technique, and is listed in Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.

Rogers is a frequent guest on radio and television and regularly addresses audiences worldwide, ranging from venture capitalists and corporate executives to educators, students and the general public. In 1989 he was founding chairperson of the European Technology Roundtable, an annual CEO gathering, which he continues to moderate along with the newer Asian Technology Roundtable.

Rogers studied physics and creative writing at Stanford University with additional training in finance and management at Stanford Business School’s Executive Program. He lives in New York and is at work on his next novel.

Join Michael at this year's Future Trends 2009 where he will be presenting,"The Virtualization of America" at 8:45am on Wednesday, November 4th.

Future Trends 2009: http://bit.ly/P4Rrl
Brochure: http://bit.ly/AeSbt
Registration: http://bit.ly/aUx9E


Biography courtesy of Premiere Speakers

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Essential Ingredient for Selling Innovation

Clear communication is one of the critical skills for working well on an innovation team. It's essential to the innovation process in terms of: a) conveying solutions effectively,
b) diagnosing challenges and opportunities properly, c) ensuring successful implementation, and d) creating brilliant solutions in a team environment.

Yet it's so easy for communication to go awry. Many years ago, when I worked in the advertising field, I would periodically get phone calls from a recruiter, who would always try to hook my attention by asking something like, "How would you like to work on the Nestle business?" or "How would you like to work on Toyota?" What he meant was, would you like a job working for an agency working on the Nestle or Toyota advertising business? I admit, it did capture my attention, especially if I was having a bad day.

One day, after a particularly stressful one, he called me just as I had walked into my house (coat and hat still on) and proposed his latest opportunity, "How would you like to work on Mars?"

My response? "How would I manage the commute to another planet?!" I'd heard the offer as one that was literally out of this world!

Once I realized what he really meant, we both laughed (okay, he was annoyed at first, thinking I was joking with him...truly, I didn't get it!). In the meantime, we were both using the same words, but understood it to mean something completely different. Apparently he was thinking I'd live in St. Louis, and I was thinking I'd live in a place with, literally, no atmosphere!

While it is important to choose your words carefully (you must be responsible for that), it's also important to take responsibility for making sure the other person heard you correctly. That's why it's always a good practice to check their understanding by asking them what they heard you say.

When you're engaged in conversations (especially critical ones), it works best if you:

1) Listen. Repeat.

2) Speak in a way that people will be willing to listen.

3) Ask for their questions for clarification

4) Check that they heard what you intended them to say

5) Clarify as necessary.

This is critical for important conversations. And when you don't have a rocket-ship.

Reminder for Today's Free Web Seminar: Enterprise Innovation: A framework for understanding how to create a culture of innovation in your organization

Date: (Today) Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

Innovation is a requirement in an up or down economy. To successfully grow your business, you must find ways to sustain innovation over the long haul. Smart leaders see innovation not just as a new product or service, but as a way of working to find opportunities in every job in their organization. Whether it’s to improve the top-line or bottom-line, implementing new solutions that add value to the organization requires leadership and teams to work together.

This seminar will focus on a framework that provides directions and strategies for improving your organization’s ability to create innovative products, services, people, culture, and processes. If you’re concerned with developing the culture of innovation for your organization, this webinar will offer guidance to ensure that you’re covering as many bases as possible.

You will learn:
• Why some organizations successfully innovate and why others fail.
• You will learn where to focus your efforts, from the individual to the enterprise level
• A framework for building organizational innovation efforts
• Why a focus only on innovative products is a short-term solution

Featured Speakers
Jonathan Vehar, Sr. Partner, New & Improved®, LLC
Bob Eckert, Sr. Partner, New & Improved®, LLC

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/447024128
Mention priority code M2118W4BLOG

This web seminar is brought you by:


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Others Pay Cash

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

I begin today by riffing on the title of the Jean Shepard book that became the basis for the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story”.

In Jon We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.

Jon of course, not God in this instance, is Jon Stewart of the Comedy Central television program The Daily Show - a show which with rare exception I consistently enjoy. This may lead some to question right from the get-go my political leanings. Yet I can assure you that I’m more Libertarian than Liberal. But even so, not that it really matters for today’s discussion, I’ve got to believe there’s plenty of Conservatives out there that enjoy The Daily Show as well. It’s just downright funny and intelligent.

Jon recently came back on the air after a three week hiatus. His return reminded of an online poll conducted a few months back by Time Magazine. Matched up against Brian Williams (NBC), Katie Couric (CBS), and Charlie Gibson (ABC), Jon Stewart topped the survey results to be voted America’s Most Trusted Newscaster.

Say what?!

Even if you factor into the results that the survey in question was conducted online - which arguably skews the results to a younger constituency – and that of the four, not being a network news anchor, Jon is the odd person out, the results are still pretty interesting. I find them almost funny in fact. But they also got me thinking.

Why would Jon Stewart be viewed as America’s Most Trusted Newscaster?

What insight might this lend to innovation?

The best I can figure, Jon topped the survey results because he isn’t pretending to be something he’s not. For as long as I can remember, television news programmers and personalities have vehemently denied that they’re in the business of entertainment. But news isn’t News (with a capital N). News is entertainment. Everyone knows it. Even the networks. There’s a reason why the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS doesn’t garner regular attention.

Yet many “serious” newscasters still try to deny news as entertainment.

I’m not suggesting network (or even cable) news programs are not entertaining. Sometimes they put on a good show. Each and every day, the news programs all have the potential to be fabulously entertaining. I wouldn’t deny this. What I am suggesting is that these programs strive to be entertaining yet they publicly deny their intent to do so. They attempt to capture our attention by creating entertaining news, but steadfastly deny that they’re creating entertaining news to capture our attention.

This bugs me.

How can you inherently trust someone (or a network, or an on-air personality) when he or she attempts to “inform” you through various types of manipulation? (I call it “manipulation” because the perpetrators won’t acknowledge that their doing it.)

Of course there are serious stories to report that would never play well on The Daily Show. Death and destruction are rarely knee-slapping hilarious. But 9/11 and Katrina-like events are not everyday occurrences. And it is perhaps because of this that news programs often border on creating news rather than simply reporting on it. As viewers, we need to be entertained in some fashion or we won’t stay tuned in. It seems however every dramatic event is too easily escalated to “crisis” status and every political scandal becomes another “-gate” investigation. Drama and intrigue. This is the stuff of news. Please don’t deny it.

Gone obviously are the days of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and every other broadcaster that vacated the airwaves long before I began to take notice. Gone too are the days of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather who permeated the news throughout my youth and early adult life. These three, the big three, were the stalwarts of trusted news. They were the personification of trust. At some point though the pedestal on which they stood crumbled.

For me, the “Killian documents” epitomized all that was wrong with network news. You remember the “Killian documents”, referred to at the time ironically as “Memo-gate” and “Rather-gate”. These were the unauthenticated documents critical of George W. Bush’s Air National Guard service record that showed up publicly a couple months before the 2004 election. Reported on by Dan Rather during a 60 Minutes episode, these documents despite on-air assertions by Dan Rather himself, were shown to be bogus. This incident ultimately resulted in the firing and departure of various producers and CBS executives. And for all practical purposes meant the end of Dan Rather’s public credibility.

A fissure in the pedestal of network news cracked open a few years before. This is actually when I more earnestly began to look elsewhere for trusted news coverage. And ironically it was another incident involving Dan Rather that irked me.

New Year’s Eve 1999. Dan Rather is broadcasting the CBS Evening News live from Times Square in New York City. As Dan Rather speaks, in the background are all the iconic lights and billboards you’d expect from such a scene, including a large billboard advertising CBS News. It’s pretty impressive. There’s only one problem. Unbeknownst to viewers during that moment is that the CBS News billboard didn’t actually exist. It was a digital image that only appeared on-screen. CBS had digitally removed the real NBC Astrovision and Budweiser ad and superimposed their own image. Needless to say I thought that was inappropriate. I expect my news coverage to reflect reality, not create a new one.

As for the products and services I consume I expect much the same. I want to know that something designed to make me stronger does so. I want to know that my “safe” automobile with a high mpg rating is in fact all that it’s cracked up to be. At its extreme, I simply don’t want to be lied to. But I’m not really worried about lies. As a consumer, I’m more concerned about being misled.

As marketers and product developers, the foundation for the relationships we develop with customers is trust. In our attempts to be innovative (and thus successful), whether with our products and services themselves, or the messages we create to promote them, we must foster trust. This concept really isn’t all that innovative, yet sometimes it seems the application of it is difficult. We seem very willing at times to roll the dice in the short-term in hopes that the consequences never catch up with us in the long-term. Trust however is a repeated, long-term endeavor.

Just this past week in fact, Dannon settled a false-advertising lawsuit concerning its Activia and DanActive yogurt products and agreed to set up a $35 million fund to reimburse consumers who had purchased the products. Apparently the yogurts don’t really have the “positive effect on your digestive tract’s immune system” that the labeling purports. Bifidus Regularis seems to be something you can literally and figuratively blow out your butt.

Or how about all the recent television ads from GEICO, Progressive, and Allstate that make claims about saving tons of money on car insurance? They can’t all be right. Can they?

Trust.

Although not a pioneer (think instead of HBO’s Not Necessarily The News from the ‘80s), Jon Stewart is innovative – if only because in today’s television environment he’s honest about the business he’s in. We should all strive to be as much.

[In the tradition of contemporary newscasts, I'll throw in this final classic “kicker” story for your entertainment.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama starts off the week with an innovation address

The Associated Press reports today that President Barack Obama will be heading to a New York community college today to give an innovation speech that will hopefully help 'spur innovation and transform the U.S. economy'.

Obama will also be making a late night appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show" as well as many other programs. His goal is to get in front of as many cameras as possible and instill his belief that new ideas produce new jobs. His strategy for innovation includes a bigger investment in education, infrastructure, and research.

Although hugely unpopular with conservatives, his administration officials stress that investing in breakthrough technology was crucial in pulling the economy back and avoiding an economic depression for the US. Obama also stressed that the US must continue to invest in innovation projects to avoid playing catchup with global competitors.

Organizations can learn a lot from his innovation address and relate this to business settings. Continued innovation projects and ideas spur creativity and push businesses to tap its hidden potential.

Friday, September 18, 2009

State Level Healthcare Policy Innovation Works Over Federal Intervention

I came across some interesting commentary from Grace Marie Turner on the Forbes blog this morning in which she highlights a recent program launched by the State of Utah that lets employees to shop for health plans that best suits their families' needs and purchase these policies at affordable rates.

The Utah Health Insurance Exchange provides a space where employees combine contributions from their employers with pre-tax dollars to purchase policies that also substantially cuts down the cost of health care coverage for employers since there is no administrative burden for them. In just a few short weeks the Exchange has encountered huge success in driving prices down. There are a total of 72 plans offered by 5 different private insurance companies. It is also expected that prices will go down even further when more plans are added to the Exchange.

One of the reasons why this plan has worked so well is because Utah lawmakers were able to create and shape a market-based program that was tailored to the unique needs of Utah residents. Is is time for Washington to scrap out a federal based reform and instead enforce state lawmakers to create similar innovative programs like the one Utah created?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The difference between good solutions and GREAT solutions

Airplane rides around an airport and an old armored truck called "The Armadillo” don’t sound very elegant, but in fact, they are.

Whenever a team works on finding solutions, typically there are a range of options that are narrowed down to a final short list. One of the built-in criteria that is useful for evaluating a solution is whether or not it is elegant.

Creativity researcher Susan Besemer talks about elegance as an important subset of criteria for determining if a solution is really creative. She defines elegance this way in her article, How do you know it’s creative?

Elegance…contrary to its use in common parlance,…is not intended to mean, in this context, the opulence of velvets and pearls. A product may have been more complicated in an earlier stage, but if it is an elegant product, it has been polished and refined until only the most important essences remain. Charles Mingus, the famous jazz musician, has said that making a simple idea complicated is commonplace. Mingus stated, ‘Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

I once read about a designer for the Patagonia line of clothing who said that their approach was to design an item and then strip it down to only the basics, so that it has everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t. That’s another approach to elegance.

Truly elegant solutions seem brilliant. Think of the difference between all of the other MP3 music players and the iPod. They all perform the same basic functions, but Apple made the iPod an elegant device and an elegant solution. It looks right. It feels right. It works right. And it doesn’t make more work for you.


Here are a few examples of solutions that are inelegant and should be avoided:
  • Any process that requires a new form.
  • Anything that can’t be drawn on the back of a cocktail napkin (thanks Blair).
  • Anything that has a user’s manual AND a separate “quick-start guide.”
  • Any item with “just one additional button.”
  • Policies that require enforcement rather than voluntary cooperation.
  • Items that require lots of resources.
  • That’s not to say that inelegant solutions aren’t sometimes necessary, but they should not be accepted until all other alternatives have been exhausted. Investing in finding elegant solutions may take longer, but it’s an investment in results that work and save resources.
A few examples of elegant solutions crossed my desk recently.

The police department in Peoria, IL, was tasked with reducing crime that had increased during the current economic situation. After brainstorming, they tried the simple solution of parking an empty retired police car in front of trouble spots (e.g. a drug dealer’s house). The next day found the car severely vandalized. The Chief then noticed an old armored Brinks truck the department had obtained for $1. They converted it with tires that couldn’t be slashed, and covers for the head- and tail-lights, installed some cameras, and put large decals on it that say, “Peoria Police Nuisance Property Surveillance Vehicle.” It’s so rugged and ugly that it’s called, “The Armadillo,” and according to the Wall Street Journal, “Police give it credit for restoring quiet to formerly rowdy streets. Neighbors’ calls for help have dropped sharply. About half of the truck’s targets have fled the neighborhood." It’s not an undercover operation to arrest people. It’s a high profile object to deter or stop crime. Simple. Elegant. Effective. Even if it is ugly.

From Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology, by James R. Chiles, “In the early days of airmail flying, the mail pilots came to believe that their crash rate was unacceptable, even for people accustomed to danger. Finally, a group of them convinced the U.S. Air Mail Service that postal supervisors at the airports were ordering them aloft in bad storms and poor visibility. The solution? Not a new [government] regulation spelling out [exactly] what weather was safe and unsafe, but rather this simple order: if an outgoing pilot desired, his supervisor had to join him in the cockpit to fly a circuit around the airport before the pilot went off on his mail run. Quickly the supervisors’ tolerance for bad weather dropped.” As did the fatality rate.


What are some of your favorite examples of elegant solutions?

You and Your Career - Are You Innovating Yourself?


Strategy - Down from the Clouds

By Dan Keldsen - Co-founder and Principal at Information Architected

I recently had the good fortune to spend an hour talking with Bestselling author Dan Pink on his last book, Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need - and had a chance to pick his brain in the overlapping areas of interest we have, and the intersections of innovation, continuous learning, teamwork, and various forms or flavors of psychology at work in the business world.

Take a listen to the resulting podcast interview, and I'd be willing to bet there are some takeways that each one of us can run with after listening. Feel free to comment, and don't forget to reach out to both Dan Pink (@danielpink) and myself (@dankeldsen) on Twitter, to keep the conversation going.

Listen to the podcast with Daniel Pink, hosted on Information Architected.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FEI Europe Keynote Speaker: Scott Anthony on Innovation

After Lehman: How Innovation Thrives In a Crisis

By Scott Anthony

The economic shocks that reverberated through the economy a year ago could easily have marked the end of the nascent "Innovation Movement." After all, how could companies prioritize developing innovation programs in the face of very real questions of fundamental survival?

A year later, it is clear that innovation has never been more important. And, in a strange way, the scarcity forced on many companies has been a hidden accelerator of efforts to systematize innovation.

Certainly companies like General Motors faced such critical operational issues that innovation efforts had to be de-prioritized, if not shut down. Arguably the struggles of these companies highlighted how very important it is for companies to get ahead of the innovation game by investing in innovation before they need to invest in innovation.

More and more executives have come to terms with the fact that the "new normal" of constant change necessitates developing deep competencies around innovation.

The increasing pace of change is not really new. Long-term research by Innosight Board member Dick Foster shows how the pace of "Creative Destruction" has been accelerating for some time.

One simple way to demonstrate this increase is to look at the turnover in Standard & Poor's index of leading U.S. companies.

The S&P index goes back to 1923. Foster's research found that in the 1920s (when the list contained 90 companies), when a company got on that list, it would stay on for about seventy years. That meant that people who joined an S&P company might be joining the same company their parents worked for and might expect their children to work there as well.

In the 1960s, a company that entered the S&P index could expect to stay on it for about 40 years -- long enough for one career at least.

Today, a company that enters the S&P 500 index will stay on it for less than 20 years. That means if you join an S&P 500 company today, it most likely won't be an S&P 500 company by the end of your career because it will have failed, shrunk, or been acquired.

Increasingly, companies that buck the trend and last 30 or more years will do so only by mastering the ability to perpetually transform themselves. As Foster notes, "It's an entirely different world where the balance between continuity and change has moved to change."

Companies that continued to focus on innovation in the midst of the downturn, such as Amazon.com, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, are very well positioned to create substantial distance between themselves and their competitors. Their success will provide further fuel to arguments that innovation isn't a nicety, it is a necessity.

For the rest of Scott's article, please click here.


Please join us for the
2010 FEI Europe
February 8-10, 2010
Amsterdam Hilton, Netherlands

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Holy Tweet!

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

“Follow the tweets of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophesy.” 1 Tweeters 14:1

I’ve gotten a few questions and requests recently to elaborate on a post from a couple weeks back. Thus I’m returning to my blasphemous ways to comment further on the thoughts and ideas introduced in “If God Used Twitter.”

Essentially I had postulated Twitter specifically, and social media in general, is most often used commercially for informational and promotional purposes. Information such as sports scores, news headlines, etc. And promotion such as press release announcements, event appearances, concert information, etc. Throw in entertainment – which is really just a derivation of information and promotion - like jokes or other humorous musings, or celebrity efforts to gain professional exposure by tweeting about mundane personal happenings, and you’ve got the current state of commercial Twitter use.

To thrive and be sustained as a commercial tool however, Twitter and our conception of it will need to evolve beyond informational and promotional. If God used Twitter I imagine he’d utilize it for inspirational and spiritual purposes. And to do this most effectively in my estimation, tweets must become personal, situational, and directional.

Before I go further I want to take a conceptual step back. When evaluating the potential value of tools like Twitter for marketing purposes, we most often ask ourselves “how can I use this tool to help market my products and services?” Essentially we’re asking, “what can this tool do for me and my company?” This is perhaps semantics, and many (if anybody is actually reading this) might not see the nuance. But we should ask ourselves, as JFK might have done, not “what can the tool do for me and my company, but rather how can the tool be used to help our customers?” Commercial social media activity cannot simply be self-serving or it will ultimately be ignored and die.

With that said…

Even in its relative infancy, Twitter has evolved substantially. Third-party apps have been created to do a variety of things - the most valuable of which I think is the ability to filter tweets in various ways. Ideally such apps would be made more user-friendly and be incorporated directly into the Twitter interface rather than being a third-party option. Theoretically tweeters should be able to tag tweets so “followers” could filter the noise and be guaranteed only beneficial or applicable communications find their way through the electronic ether. “I rejoice in following your statutes, as one rejoices in great riches” (Psalm 119:14). For those of us following multiple tweeters, there might be more rejoicing if we weren’t forced to receive the universe of tweets.

Twitter also recently added GPS latitude and longitude information to its tweets. There may be some limited potential in this for followers. I think it would be more useful though to have the latitude and longitude of the follower themselves. This would actually enable the partial realization of situational and personal communication via Twitter. Imagine for a moment receiving mobile coupon tweets based on your location, or traffic updates based on your location, or emergency tweets based on your location, etc. Or imagine as a parent, receiving a tweet based on your child’s location. Hmmm. This would be interesting. There are lots of factors and technological considerations needed to make all these things possible. But theoretically they should be possible. But of course privacy concerns might curtail acceptance. But that’s beside the point.

Early in my career I remember being on the phone with my then boss, the General Manager of our division, reviewing quarter-end shipment information. We were dealing with large commercial equipment in a relatively small division. Each and every deal seemed to matter tremendously. I happened to be in the office. My boss was by himself on the road. As I explained over the phone what had and was transpiring in those final days leading up to the financial close, I sensed my boss was getting more and more agitated and increasingly upset. The quarter wasn’t shaping up great because of what seemed like some stupid mishaps. I took comfort in the fact that he wasn’t getting upset at me. I just happened to be the messenger.

To ensure sound decision-making in that moment, and to strategize effectively, I knew our heads needed to be clear from the tension of the moment. Knowing his blood pressure was likely getting way out of hand on the other end of the phone, I simply asked at some point in a nonchalant tone “Do you happen to have your nitro tablets on you?” (as in nitroglycerin tablets used to thwart off heart attacks). There was a moment of silence. I think he was momentarily shocked to hear this twenty-something kid ask such a thing in that (or any) situation. But it worked. He bust out laughing and we got down to some productive discussion.

Do you think a tool like Twitter might someday be able to ask such a question? Or at least send a note to inform you of your immediate health status? Could a personalized note be sent via Twitter that simply encourages you to take a deep breath and calm down? Might I receive a personalized note some day that directs me to enter the convenience store on the upcoming corner because my body is dangerously dehydrated?

Maybe my perspective is way off base. Maybe these personalized tweets I speak of are simply biometric-GPS-filtered “alerts” in disguise and shouldn’t be talked about as tweets at all.

In any case, it seems Twitter is all about the Tweeters, not the Followers. If Twitter is to be an effective, sustainable marketing tool though, I think this needs to change. Our perspective needs to change. Ask not what Twitter can do for me and my company, but rather what can Twitter do for my customers.

In the name of the personal, situational, directional, inspirational, and spiritual.

Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Revamped Front End of Innovation Europe Website is Now Live!


Jen Finer, event producer for the 4th Annual Front End of Innovation Europe, has finished piecing together the event which will take place in February 8-10, 2010 in Amsterdam. That's why we are excited about the new website launch and would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the program. On the site you will find many of the confirmed 2010 keynote speakers including Scott Anthony, Author of The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times and Adrian van Hooydonk: Director of BMW Group Design who will reveal a never seen before BMW concept car at the event!

We are also particularly excited about the addition of a collaborative session called Vision 2050 Explore which is brand new for 2010. Take a couple of minutes to take a look at our FEI Europe website walk-through below. Enjoy!

Event Details

Visit the FEI Europe Homepage

View the FEI Europe 2010 Speaker List

View the Preliminary Brochure

Opt-in for Future Updates

Visit the Front End of Innovation Resource Page

Become a Sponsor

Become a Media Partner


Save €500 if you register by 25 September. Use priority code: FEIBLOGPresale

Register

The Triple Bottom Line of Eco-Innovation Speaker Profile: Bill Olsen, Motorola

Bill Olsen
Director, Office of Sustainability & Stewardship
Motorola

Dr. Bill Olson wants the world to know that Motorola is a good global corporate citizen. Bill first joined Motorola’s automotive group, where he implemented the first VOC-free conformal coating for engine controls. He also drove a variety of cost reduction teams for the engine auto body/control businesses.

Then nine years ago he joined Corporate Research, where he now heads two teams working in International and Environmental Research. Bill’s team in Europe conducts testing on hundreds of Motorola products to insure they meet environmental regulatory requirements of the EU (WEEE/RoHS), American and Asian markets. His lab in Tianjin China works closely with manufacturing engineering and the supply chain to achieve improvements in factory productivity, yield and product reliability.

Now more than ever, creating sustainable products is important to the world. Bill is leading a key corporate initiative called ECOMOTO, which focuses on the realization of environmentally sound, seamless ECOMOTO mobile products. ECOMOTO seeks to deliver sustained business impact and brand advantage through green materials and innovative ecodesign practices. The REAL test lab in Europe helps insure that Motorola products comply with current local, state and national environmental regulations. His team provides global RoHS test standard leadership through international standards bodies.

Bio courtesy of Motorola

Don’t miss Bill's session Introducing the World’s First-Ever Carbon-Free, Post-Consumer Recycled Content Phone at Eco-Innovation this October 19 – 21 at La Jolla, CA!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Encourgaging Collaboration and Innovation in your Organization

Let's face it not all companies have mastered the art of enterprise collaboration within their organization. However, 3M, the Post-it company, is a shining example that when organizational systems and culture needed to encourage and support collaboration are created, greatness happens.

This article in Business Week highlights some of 3M's projects which could not have succeeded if employees were not encouraged and expected to collaborate with teams. Filtek Supreme Plus, which is a strong, polishable dental material and the first to include nanoparticles would not have come to life if Sumita Mitra, a corporate scientist in the research lab of 3M ESPE and a scientist working in one of the company's four corporate labs hadn't worked together. 3M's automotive aftermarket division also collaborated with their corporate research lab to better develop a system for applying putty used to repair dents.

Their business model revolves around information sharing and this is why the company has innovated time after time. Here's what businesses can learn from 3M's approach to collaboration as detailed by Business Week.

Support networks. Build social networks to help employees that have problems find those who can provide a solution to it.

Build collaboration into your employee evaluation system. Be able to reward employees not only for developing and processing an innovative idea or technology but for spreading it as well.

Encourage curiosity. Allow employees some time to spend on personal projects. It will give them ample time to develop new ideas outside of their work focus.

Create innovation funds. Create an alternative source in which employees can go to for funding of innovation projects.

Don't underestimate the value of physical proximity. Make it easier for employees in different departments to visit each other. If this means having a free shuttle service then so be it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Innovation Immersion Speaker Profile - Brian Hart, Founder, CEO, Black-i Robotics

Brian Hart
Founder, CEO
Black-i Robotics


Brian Hart, alongside Richard Hard and Arthur Berube started the company Black-i Robotics after Brian’s son, PFC John Daniel Hart, was killed in Iraq at the age of 20. The founders were alarmed at the slow rate of fielding robust and cost effective robotic platforms which save lives of soldiers and innocent civilians. Men shouldn’t be asked to do a machine’s job. With recent advances in robotics, unmanned ground vehicles are capable of taking on many of the dirty and dangerous jobs soldiers and first responders had to risk their lives doing a few years before.

Black-i has researched and developed a series of six-wheeled Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV robots) that are strong, fast and affordable.

Black-i's UGVs are built with commercial off the shelf components (COTS) where possible along with custom build or designed parts where needed. This allows the UGV to be affordable and repairable using standard tools and inexpensive replacement parts. Thus, Black-i's UGVs maintains a low MTBR and MTTR. By design, Black-i's UGVs keep total life cycle costs under control for end-users.

The company is rolling out a series of mission modules that will allow the UGV to perform multiple functions in these markets.

Brian Hart has been featured in several magazines and articles including Popular Science, MSNBC, and Robotics Trends.

Don’t miss Brian Hart speak on When Saving Lives is your Innovation Inspiration at the Innovation Immersion Conference this October!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Australia focusing on food innovation

According to Australian Food News, the industry will be receiving $6.4 million to begin innovating within the food industry. With this money, the federal government is hoping to stimulate local jobs as well as increase the amount of technology and technology improvements.

Some of the projects the company is working on includes:
installing laser-guided cutting ‘robots’ to maximise yield and efficiency in a slaughter room and adopting innovative chestnut-peeling equipment, to bring offshore processing back to Australia.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fmr. Google VP Launches Innovation Works

According to Reuters, former Google Vice President, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee is embarking on a new platform for China's innovation sector. Named, Innovation Works, the business creation platform will focus on establishing the next wave of Chinese high-technology companies This announcement follows news of Dr. Lee`s resignation as Google Vice President and President of Google Greater China and introduces a new business paradigm into the Chinese start-up environment.

Led by Dr. Lee, Innovation Works will concentrate on Internet, mobile Internet,
and cloud computing technology advancements targeted at the Greater China
market, and build "dream teams" to collect, analyze, prioritize and execute on
the most promising ideas. Innovation Works will accelerate an entrepreneur`s
ability to prove ideas, obtain additional external funding, and then spin-off
into an independent company.

What do you think of Dr. Lee's endeavor? Will this platform help spur the Chinese innovation movement?

First Daze of School

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

“At every level in any company, workers need to understand that in the Experience Economy every business is a stage, and therefore work is theatre.” – from The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore

The new school year officially began this morning for my family. Fortunately my older kids had no problem catching the bus.

For retailers the Back-to-School ritual actually began months ago. Shortly after taking receipt of back-to-school supplies, retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and others, put the goods on their floors for consumption hoping parents and kids would choose their store over other options. To be honest, I wasn’t paying that much attention at the time, but I’m fairly certain the pencils, paper, erasers, and folders reared their heads just after the July 4th holiday. Maybe even before.

At the end of the last elementary school year, as in years past, our family like others at our kids’ elementary school, were given the option to “pre-order” school supplies for the next year. No hassles. No waiting. Place the order. Pay your money. Then pick up the supplies in their neatly packaged box at the pre-Labor Day school open house.

Despite the obvious appeal, like every other year, we decided to forego this option. For some reason, I feel compelled to go shopping.

In a society that’s become highly automated and driven more and more it seems by convenience, I’m still a sucker for a good experience that defies these elements. Although I buy an occasional book online for instance, especially for something hard to find, I still drop significant coin at brick and mortars like Barnes & Noble, Borders, and some local shops. Just this past weekend in fact, my daughter and I bought seven books at a local Half Price Books, and even stopped in at Barnes & Noble just yesterday to pick something up. The tactile experience of browsing physical shelves and buying a book live-and-in-person is much more appealing to me than a few clicks on a keyboard. I genuinely love walking into bookstores.

[All this book talk reminds me of one of my favorite bookstores by the way. I’m from Minneapolis, but if you’re ever in Denver, stop in at Tattered Cover Bookstore.]

Back-to-School shopping is for reasons not entirely clear an annual ritual that I can’t help be drawn to. To some extent this is driven by my kids’ desire to dive head first into the experience. My daughter in particular loves the annual ritual. Back-to-School shopping is however for me a more appealing thought, than an actual quality experience. I’m sure I’ll look back in fondness, with a touch of sentimentality, when my kids are grown and gone and I’m no longer afforded the opportunity to push a cart loaded with supplies with them in tow. Right now though, when I stop to think about it, the real-life experience of buying school supplies actually sort of sucks.

I recognize part of this is my own fault. I’m usually a bit tired and often thinking I have other things to do. And sometimes the kids are tired too and can’t seem to stop pestering each other. And then of course there’s the added element of keeping an eye on (or rather chasing around) my not yet school aged son while simultaneously helping my other kids pick out supplies. There’s also the fact that I look for functional supplies while my kids want cool. It’s a constant struggle. And invariably we forget something and therefore must return to a store. Or need to visit a different store (or multiple stores) for one reason or another. Needless to say I emerge from the experience, like a good Richard Linklater film, a little dazed and confused. It’s what memories are made of though I guess.

I’m not willing however to take all the blame for the deficiencies of the overall Back-to-School shopping experience.

It doesn’t seem anything could be more bland and uninspiring than walking into a store these days to buy school supplies. Maybe my expectations are too high. But shouldn’t the in-store experience be as fun and exciting as the Back-to-School ads on television? Instead the supplies are usually strategically crammed into the back corner of the store so you’re forced to walk by everything else. (I understand retailers are hoping you see other items to purchase while you’re headed for the school necessities. I feel a bit manipulated. Then again, perhaps I should view this walk as simply part of the overall experience and enjoy the journey.) This placement also makes it utterly annoying when you’ve forgotten something and have to trounce back to no-man’s land for a single item or two.

For something for which retailers have substantial time to prepare, I guess I expect the Back-to-School shopping experience to be at least slightly more inspiring. There’s room for innovation.

I’m no merchandising expert, but how about:
1) Footprint decals (or animal tracks, or treasure seeking dotted-lines culminating with a big “X” to mark the spot, or at least something) on the floor to help guide shoppers in the right direction. I’m not suggesting people actually need such guidance. But wouldn’t this make the journey to the back of the store a bit more fun, at least for the little ones in particular?
2) A map (could be as simple as a photo-copied piece of paper) of the store that indicates where specialty items – like scientific calculators, gym locks, fall sports items, hand sanitizer, etc. - might be found.
3) Refreshments in the school supply area. Give the kids some Kool-aid. Mmmm. Maybe even a snack. Mmmm, Mmmm. Might make them linger longer and even remind them they’ve got some grocery shopping to do. And better yet, give the parents some coffee. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of adults that could use a cup.
4) Point of purchase displays at checkout that simply ask “Did you forget anything?” and then lists a bunch of items that maybe weren’t readily available in the school supply area – facial tissue, lunch and snack supplies, rain boots, swimsuit for gym class, etc. Maybe even remind parents of the importance of a healthy breakfast before school and suggest some items from your grocery department. Get creative.

At the very least, do something different. Inspire us. Strive to get families to visit and stay in your store because they want to, not because they have to. Help us adults make some good memories for our kids.

A Halloween store opened near my house a couple weeks ago. The big chain retailers will likely put their wares out too now that school has started. I wonder what kind of experience this will be. Could be scary. I hope so anyway.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Where does innovation come from?

In a recent article at Miller-McCune, they have an article discussing innovation and where it comes from. Many companies really have no deep understanding about innovation and where it comes from, and instead, they just follow the latest idea. But how are companies suppose to overcome this?

The article looks at how many companies with great innovations are finding new ways to use old technologies, and these are the greatest innovations. They give example of fire, which became a building block for the next technologies to be innovated. Read the full article here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Innovation Immersion Speaker Profile - Scott Anthony, Author of The Innovator's Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work


Scott Anthony
Author
The Innovator’s Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work


Scott is President of Innosight. Scott has worked with Fortune 500 and start-up companies in industries such as media (print and broadcast), consumer products, investment banking, transportation and logistics, healthcare, medical devices, software, petrochemicals, and communications equipment. In 2005-2006 he spearheaded a year-long project to help the newspaper industry grapple with industry transformation (Newspaper Next), and in 2003-2004 led a multi-month project to help the government of Singapore understand how to create an environment that fosters entrepreneurialism and innovation.

Scott is a featured speaker on topics of growth and innovation. He is a judge in the Wall Street Journal's 2009 Innovation Awards. He is a faculty member of the Leadership, Innovation, and Growth Program at GE Crotonville. Scott is also a member of the Board of Directors of Media General.

Scott has written three books on innovation: Seeing What’s Next with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business Press, 2004), The Innovator’s Guide to Growth with Mark Johnson, Joe Sinfield, and Elizabeth Altman (Harvard Business Press, 2008), and The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times (Harvard Business Press, June 2009). He has written articles in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Sloan Management Review, Advertising Age, Marketing Management and Chief Executive, is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Online and serves as the editorial director of Strategy & Innovation.

Prior to joining Innosight, Scott was a senior researcher with Clayton Christensen, managing a group that worked to further Christensen’s research on innovation. Previously, he worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., a strategic planner for Aspen Technology ,and a product manager for WorldSpace Corporation. While at McKinsey, he co-authored a publicly released report on the United Kingdom's economic prospects.

Scott received a BA in economics summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

Pic and bio courtesy of Innosight



Don’t miss Scott speak on Leading Innovation in the Great Disruption: Keeping Organizations Moving in a Downturn at the Innovation Immersion Conference this October!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

10 Drivers of Organizational Innovation

If you boiled down what really makes innovation happen, it would be very hot and gooey. Boiling does that.

But seriously folks...

As an attendee/co-chair/emcee at the Innovation Immersion over the past 10 years, I've seen a lot of presentations that offer up suggestions for "how to drive innovation." And I've enjoyed and learned from all of them, and revelled in the debates that ensued (my two favorites, "Stage-gate doesn't work," (George Land) vs. "Stage-gate is the only way!" (Deloitte & Touche) and "Brainstorming doesn't work" (Larry Keeley, Doblin) vs. "We use brainstorming all the time for our outstanding results" (Tom Kelley, IDEO) . And I believe the presenters who advocate that their suggestions really work: systems, processes, procedures, tools, business models, alliances, arrangements, and so forth. Especially in their organizations, with their challenges, in their context.

Yet the common thread among all of those items is that they are systems designed to bypass defects. In other words, all of these approaches are designed to work around the fact that the main obstacle to innovation is the human being. Yes, it all boils down to people. The inability of people to see things in new ways and to do things differently. All of the innovation methods are basically ways to get people to work.

Once we understand this as the challenge, then we can see that the most common driver of innovation is people, which brings us to our list.

10 things that really drive innovation:

1) The individual. You can ask "an organization" all day long to do something, but the basic building block of getting things done is an individual. Organizations, departments, divisions, groups, teams, etc. are all things that anthropologists describe. And they're all units made from multiple people. Focus on the building block to start moving the needle on innovation.

2) The team. Individuals make things happen, but in most cases, they can't do it all by themselves. Innovation requires multiple skillsets, whether it's invention, development, funding, marketing, patenting, operations, etc., those skillsets almost never exist in one person, so it requires multiple people to move it forward.

3) The enterprise. Work-teams start to become inefficient at a certain quantity. Individuals and teams can only do so much. So the enterprise is created in order get people working towards a common goal/purpose in order to create revenue and growth to sustain all of the people involved.

These three levels are important to think about across the following additional drivers:

4) Processes: Consider the processes and how they are different at the individual level (e.g. using TRIZ to discover some inherent contradictions in a challenge), the group process (e.g. using a structured "brainstorming" or "ideation" system to generate ideas from a team), and the enterprise level (e.g. the organizational system for idea management).

5) Offerings: There are many ways to look at what is "an innovation," or the artifact of the innovation process. To only see innovation as "a product" is to overlook services, business models, alliances, processes, channels, and more. Expanding your scope to see that the BIG innovations were more than just a simple "product," can change the way you see the world. The iPod would be nothing but a cool-looking gizmo if we couldn't easily purchase and load music into it.

6) Psychological climate. What are the stories that the individual is telling him/herself about what's working? What's not working? What's acceptable? What's our industry? What's their scope? Does this make a difference to innovation? Absolutely, because how one defines the world will shape the newness that they create and enable.

7) Physical environment. Are people able to get together to communicate and work together? Are they able to escape and think in peace and quiet? Can they find a space to spread out and dig into prototypes/results/data? Think about the physical space in which people work such that it enables innovation (Hint: everyone has a different concept of the ideal environment).

8) Organizational culture. What are the stories that people tell in the organization about success? What are the ways that people discover and share about how things really get done? Any process and procedure that is set up usually has a workaround. What organizational leaders say are often drowned out by what people know is really going on.

9) Economic climate/market conditions. Want to see innovation dry up and fade away? Announce a layoff/cutback/restructuring. Want to see people start to play it safe and stop putting things at risk? Let people know that sales are down, or that the economy is in the tank. Fortunately, we know nothing about that currently. Right. Similarly, when people know that things are good, and that jobs are safe, they can really stretch out. Or, they may risk new things when it's the last gasp, last chance for survival.

10) Geopolitical culture. Where you were born, where you live, where you work, and the culture of those elements all make a difference. We all know that different cultures communicate differently, see the world differently, perceived different threats, and find value in different things. Internet services are viewed differently if you have an always-on, high bandwidth connection, verus if you're not sure if you'll have electric power in five minutes.

Boil all 10 of these drivers down, and it all amounts to people or the output of people. Yes, to paraphrase the famous line from the movie Soylent Green, "Innovation is people!" And that's the secret to innovation.

Free Web Seminar: Enterprise Innovation: A framework for understanding how to create a culture of innovation in your organization

Date: Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

Innovation is a requirement in an up or down economy. To successfully grow your business, you must find ways to sustain innovation over the long haul. Smart leaders see innovation not just as a new product or service, but as a way of working to find opportunities in every job in their organization. Whether it’s to improve the top-line or bottom-line, implementing new solutions that add value to the organization requires leadership and teams to work together.

This seminar will focus on a framework that provides directions and strategies for improving your organization’s ability to create innovative products, services, people, culture, and processes. If you’re concerned with developing the culture of innovation for your organization, this webinar will offer guidance to ensure that you’re covering as many bases as possible.

You will learn:
• Why some organizations successfully innovate and why others fail.
• You will learn where to focus your efforts, from the individual to the enterprise level
• A framework for building organizational innovation efforts
• Why a focus only on innovative products is a short-term solution

Featured Speakers
Jonathan Vehar, Sr. Partner, New & Improved®, LLC
Bob Eckert, Sr. Partner, New & Improved®, LLC

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/447024128
Mention priority code M2118W4BLOG

This web seminar is brought you by:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If God Used Twitter

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

“For God so loved the online world that he used his nimble thumbs, that whoever receives tweets from him shall not be lost but have a second life.” Twitter 3:16

You won’t find it on my official resume for it doesn’t really match my other professional endeavors, but there was a time not that long ago when I was the Director of Youth at my church. I was in the midst of starting Big E Toys and stepped into the role when the current Director of Youth unexpectedly announced he’d be leaving. I held the position on an interim, part-time basis for about 18 months until a full-time replacement was hired. The experience was very rewarding and allowed me to explore different ideas and develop skills that in more traditional realms might not otherwise have been possible.

I have throughout my career been involved in the development of various new ideas, products, and businesses. Much of my work has had a technological slant, and more specifically online elements. Even while I was a Director of Youth I looked for ways to incorporate technology, and more specifically online elements, into the ministry.

The commercial and individual use of social media has definitely exploded over the last 12 to 18 months. Even non-profits, including churches and other religious organizations, are dabbling in this space. As I sit here contemplating this phenomenon, the Director of Youth in me can’t help wonder how God himself might utilize an application like Twitter.

I figure, you’d not likely see God using Twitter in its most basic form to simply let others in on his location. I mean really, how useful or meaningful would this be? Just imagine.

“God here. Currently I’m everywhere.”

“If you thought I wasn’t there, you’re wrong. I’m everywhere.”

“You guessed it, I’m still everywhere.”

I may be mistaken, but I’m also fairly confident the 140 character limit on Twitter just might not be long enough to capture all that God does at any given moment in time. You thus might not get updates on what God is doing. He might not want to tell you anyway. Might destroy the aura of the Holy Ghost.

And how many times would God have to tweet “I’m not dead” to dispel the rumor begun by Nietzsche and convince people he’s still around? Not many I’d hope. This would get real old, real fast.

Can’t imagine he’d send around notes for meet-ups either. Wouldn’t a tweet to Moses saying “Meet me at the burning bush in ten minutes” completely ruin the effect and miraculous nature of such a moment?

How then might God actually use Twitter?

However absurd or in some people’s eyes blasphemous this facetious God-using-Twitter scenario might sound, there’s actually a lesson of sorts in this extreme portrait. Not a lesson in the biblical sense, nor a lesson simply for religious-minded people or organizations. But rather a lesson for anyone looking to innovate using Twitter and other social media tools.

There may be exceptions, but for the most part, Twitter and other social media applications are currently used by businesses for two primary purposes. They are either used to provide information, such as sports scores, weather updates, etc. Or they’re used to promote products, services, events, and the like. Facebook and MySpace provide opportunities beyond these basic characteristics, but at their core for commercial use they’re fundamentally informational and promotional.

If God were using Twitter, I’d think we’d expect more than just information and promotion. We’d not be content to simply receive stats on the number of souls saved each day, or a two-for-one coupon to the Sunday potluck, or updates on time changes to Sunday morning services. We’d want and expect more.

Thou shall not worship any other God, but why don’t we expect more from businesses when it comes to social media?

To realize the true innovative potential of social media, at some point we’ll need to transcend the current informational and promotional state. We have to reach beyond convention. Seek ye first not just promotional and informational, but also inspirational, motivational, directional, situational, and personal. Tweets should guide, enlighten, and inspire. Commercial social media activity cannot simply be self-serving or it will ultimately be ignored and die. To remain relevant and sustainable, reach further.

May the Holy Ghost in the machine be with you.

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