Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: July 2009

Humility R Us

Many companies are flocking to Social Media as the great new tool for pitching products.  The results have been mixed; there are winners and there are losers.  At first, there was no clear path toward certain success but now the differences are becoming increasingly clear. Humility is rewarded and arrogance is punished.

If “Nice guys finish last,” is the mantra of the old world, then “The last will be first,” is the motto of the new.  To understand why humility works in social media, we need to understand what humility is.

Cashing the Reality Check

Humility does not mean looking down on oneself or thinking ill of oneself.  It really means not thinking of oneself very much at all.  The humble are free to forget themselves because they are secure.  So when they mess up, the humble don’t have to cover up.  They have nothing to hide.

All this is simply a way of saying that the humble are in touch with reality.  If the definition of insanity is being out of touch with reality, then in the old world, “nice guys finish last” illusion is clearly insane.

Strength in numbers

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  And since they have nothing to prove, they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  Humility leads to meekness.  And meekness is not weakness.  Rather, it is strength under control, power used to build up rather than tear down.

You can’t buy happiness

Back in the early 90’s, I worked on an ad campaign in Hollywood.  The producer told everyone; “The objective of this commercial was to steal the thing that people love about their self, and sell it back to them for the price of the product”.

The marketing message has been for many years much along those lines.  Make people believe that they need something that they don’t.  Make people believe that they can buy happiness, love, and community.  Make people believe that reality is something that can be escaped.

Rising Tides float all ships

The great brand messages, the successful blogs, and the viral communications in social media all have one thing in common.  They provide true and real value to the most people.  They produce correct and practical insight for the most people. They empower the most people to help their selves.  They amplify the priorities of the most communities. They help the most people to be successful in their clear and present reality.

Soul Searching

Ironically, it will take great introspection in the hearts of many corporate brands that follow the old rules of marketing.  These corporations need to look backwards into their own corporate philosophy and business plan to re-identify what they represent and how they represent it.  This new identity must reach into R&D to define what innovations are developed and what features they provide.  This cannot and will not be easy for most.

Since the humble are secure, they are strong.  Likewise, when Brands are humble, they too are strong and they don’t have to flaunt their strength or use it to dominate others.  The power of social media is to build up rather than tear down.

What is the Current of Currency?

There is not much more ‘federal’ about the “Federal Reserve” than there is about Federal Express. Except, the Fed is a private company for whom the US government is the “Legal Tender”; literally and figuratively.

We could analyze this cozy relationship or we can realize that the value of any currency is a social agreement among people who trade it for goods and services. There is nothing keeping each and every one of us from “legally tending” a currency in communities to exchange for goods and services – as long as there is a social agreement.

The Semantic Web:

The word “currency” has several meanings. It can mean a “medium of exchange” such as “bank currency”; or it can mean a placement in time such as a “current edition”; or it can mean the flow of something such as the “river’s current”.  Money is, in fact, all three; it is exchanged, it changes with time, and it moves things. Therefore, anything that does these three things can be used as currency.

Social Media space has awarded civilization with an extraordinary capacity to create, maintain, and design social agreements. Social agreements are founded on conversations between people.  Conversation is the medium of exchange for the trade of goods and services long before the money is distributed (or not).

The Value of Value:

The value of the dollar is not changing, but the value of the social agreement is. Conversations about Land, Labor, and Capital are transcended by conversations about environment, health care, social justice, human rights, and global freedom. The social agreement that once supported the value of a dollar is now supporting something else. The value that the dollar once contained is being transferred someplace else. The people that once controlled the value of currency are being replaced other people. The social agreement is being replaced by another one.

To understand the new social agreement is to understand the currency of currency. To support the conversations that define the new social agreement is to support the value of social currency. To support the value of social currency is to support the value of money.

Humility: The New Economic Paradigm

In order to intersect the flow of money people need to be trading a conversational currency.  In today’s economy, in order to find value, we need to ask someone else where it is. In order to create value, we need to tell someone else where it is. In order to stay “current” we must engage with others. In order to preserve value, we need to preserve the value in others.

Most importantly, especially for those who want to hold a great deal of money or power or control: in order to hold value, they must give it away. In order to hold power, they must empower others. In order to hold control, they must give up control to others.

Conversely, Humility is the new gold standard and the bad guys will always try to steal it. Does this sound familiar?

The 1.6 Trillion Dollar Waste of Time

Countless blog articles and news reports complain about information overload in our society.  People are so occupied filtering information that they no longer have time to act on what is deemed important.  Every thought, idea, message, and picture that enters the human mind is stored somewhere by the magnificent human brain.  But the onslaught continues in spam, junk mail, billboards, pop-ups, aesthetic pollution, and road signs.

Endless War:

It’s a war that we cannot win so we just resign ourselves to the noise. Adult attention deficit syndrome is on the rise and I personally forget ideas quickly as they are replaced by new data appearing in my field of view.  I am increasingly aware of the huge time expenditure and the tremendous loss of productivity that is induced.

Money is time:

The underlying premise of Innovation Economics is that money represents human productivity and the only way to sustainably increase the quantity of money is to increase human productivity.  The only way to do this is to innovate.  This and other articles from the Ingenesist Project predict the value of innovation economics by the amount of productivity saved through the application of IE principles.

The Ad Spend and who really pays?

In the United States 2% of the Gross Domestic Product is spent on advertisements, not including the production cost of the ad. This is equal to 280 billion dollars per year.

Although direct response professionals usually project a response rate of less than 0.1% which means that 99.9% of the views are irrelevant noise. Time, energy, bandwidth and human productivity are consumed in seeing the ad, determining it is irrelevant and moving on (or sitting through the ad if you are captive such as TV commercials).

Pass Complete Ratio:

On super bowl Sunday, 90 million people will sit through a 30 second commercial that cost the advertiser 3 million dollars to air.  For an irrelevance rate of 99.9% , 375 man-years of productivity are lost.  For an average salary of 50,000 dollars per year; 18.8 Million dollars of productivity is burned by a single commercial.  For an 18.8M dollar productivity loss on a 3 M dollar ad spend, the ratio is about 6:1.

This means that for every ad dollar spent, 6 are lost in unrealized human productivity.  For a 272 Billion dollars spend at 6:1 irrelevance, then 1.6 Trillion dollars worth of human productivity are lost every year.

The most willing viewer is the most worthy viewer

The Ingenesist Project specifies a knowledge inventory system where a person’s knowledge inventory is represented by a packet of computer code.  Since the dissemination of this code is in the power of the owner, money spent on advertising can now be spent on compensating people for their time viewing and responding to an advertisement that they are actually interested in.

Economies of scale for advertisers can be produced by supporting groups that bring communities of people together in social media activity.

Spread the word:

So if media advertising disappears, what will the rest of us do with all of our spare time?  We’ll spend it with our families, friends, communities, and groups talking about what we know best – and the great products that empower us.

Is a social contract legally binding…and who cares?

Trillions of dollars in play:

Trillions upon trillions of dollars worth of value that once coursed through the veins of Market Capitalism is being transferred to social media from the legacy economy now stifled by insurmountable debt.  These numbers are indeed spectacular because they account for the invisible value “lost”, and most importantly, the calculations provides clues on how to “find” it again.

What is a Social Contract worth?

According to Legacy Economics, the term “social contract” describes a broad class of theories that try to explain the ways in which people maintain social order. The notion of the social contract implies that people give up some rights to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order. Otherwise, we would each have unlimited natural freedoms, including the “right to all things” and thus the freedom to harm all who threaten our own self-preservation; there would be an endless “war of all against all”.

Take me to your leader

By contrast, Social Media begs the questions: who or what exactly is that authority?  Isn’t the greatness of the Internet the lack of an all powerful authority? So why aren’t we at a war of all against all?  What keeps social media at peace instead of an endless flame war?  Whatever this alien is, it is capturing and storing trillions upon trillions of dollars of value away from the legacy economy, but where?

Separating facts from fiction

According to the old economy, it is a “fact” that human knowledge is an “intangible asset” of which there are only two types defined:

1. Legal intangibles such as trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and goodwill (brands).

2. Competitive intangibles such as knowledge activities, collaboration activities, leverage activities, and structural activities.

However, when we consider social media;

1.    There is no law governing the phenomenon – so there are no legal intangibles.

2.    Collaboration, leveraging and structural activities are not being conducted in a competitive environment (the context of one “Company” against another).

So, the definition fails to account for knowledge assets in social media. The Ingenesist Project discovers the lost trillions simply by treating the social contract like a legal contract.

Tangible assets are managed by contracts

Technically, any oral agreement between two parties can constitute a binding legal contract. The legacy economy limitation, however, is that only parties to a written agreement have material evidence (the written contract itself) to prove the actual terms uttered at the time the agreement was struck.

But social media, email, and blog posts, etc., all constitute vast “written” agreements and material evidence as far as most people are concerned.   So what is missing?  Are we waiting for permission from government, Wall Street, corporations, attorneys, or the Federal Reserve to say it is OK for people to stop competing with each other or to renegotiate the terms of the social contract (and currency of exchange)?

The mystery is no mystery

Guess what, there is nothing there. Absolutely nothing except philosophical barriers carried over from legacy economics built upon political division. The mystery is that there is no mystery except using social media to unite people.  After all, the biggest Brand in the world is a Community Organizer.  Such calculation provides clues on how to “find” value again.

The Value of Social Currency

How big is this opportunity?

Roughly 10% of the US gross Domestic Product can be attributed directly to the process of evaluating or examining transactions.  This represents a 1.4 Trillion Dollar of value in a system that may be better organized, captured, and preserved through social networks and the conversations that they produce.

Social vetting on a scale that would allow social networks to monetize would require that communities organize their knowledge assets specifically for deployment to a market.  All that an entrepreneur needs to do is fill this need.

What happens if they don’t?

The true cost of vetting may be calculated by what happens in the absence of oversight, transparency, and disclosure. When the vetting process fails, so too does the industry.  The continuing financial crisis of 2008 was fueled by a failure to regulate mortgage backed securities.  The financial Crisis of 2002 arose from a failed accounting (CPA) profession.

The losses due to the absence of vetting mechanism exceeds by many times the cost of having a system in place.  The financial crises of 2002 and 2008 have together wiped out nearly 20 Trillion dollars of value and incurred high volatility to financial systems due to failed vetting mechanisms.   The people who held the knowledge about the impending doom had no effective medium to share.

Who vets KNOWLEDGE assets?

The flow of money lives and dies by the vetting mechanism.  CarFax, Experian, Ebay, Google owe their existence to the ability to vet information – However, they do not vet knowledge.  The ability to deliver the right knowledge asset to the right place, at the right time for the right price is tantamount to being able to “manufacturing innovation”, that is, to print money.  Inversely, the ability to foresee the result of specific knowledge assets deployed to specific business conditions is the Holy Grail of entrepreneurs.

Social networks can carry out this very important function of the Innovation economy; organize, locate, and develop knowledge assets in a form which can emulate a financial instrument.

How are things changing?

Emerging ideas such as conversational currency, relationship economics, innovation economics,. nd new ways to value intangibles are appearing in research blogs across the web.  Disruptions to Global finance, environmental policy, and the emergence of global currencies are setting the stage for a huge transformation in how society organizes itself.  Traditional industries such as print media, advertising, and banking are failing. Nothing is sacred except change.

Where are these communities, and what do they want?

Many communities exist today in a variety of forms and functions such as communities of practice, fellowships, service organizations, professional societies, trades groups, affinity groups, etc.  Increasingly they are moving to Social Media such as Facebook groups, Linkedin groups, Affinity groups, aggregation groups, and political action groups.  Communities are using social media technology to engage the knowledge domain contained within them.

As such, they will soon have ability to foresee the result of specific knowledge assets deployed to specific business conditions.  This is the Holy Grail of modern civilization.

The Vicarious Search Engine

The search engine wars continue as both Google and Bing develop more exotic ways of arriving at the wrong answer.  Both commit the same error as all declining industries in social media space; assuming that they can predict what people want without engaging them in a conversation.

The first development is the predictive search notably pioneered by Amazon.com for predicting future purchases based on past purchases.  While predictive search is an improvement, the next step is the “vicarious” search, that is, when the search engine sees the world through your eyes – or someone Else’s – for your benefit.

The Web is Flat

The Ingenesist Project specifies a standard knowledge inventory that may be represented as a packet of code.  If someone wanted to see the web through the eyes of another person, they could buy a packet of their knowledge inventory.  Likewise, a web article would be tagged with the representative knowledge inventory code of the author.  Each comment or re post to a blog article would contain the knowledge inventory of its aggregated vetters.

The search can be done in reverse as well.  If I find an idea on the web and want to know who can execute it locally, I can simulate the knowledge inventory in one or more local people.  This is not trivial.  It literally allows an entrepreneur to manage knowledge assets that they did not know exists and predict content that does not yet exist.

Been there, done that?

Obviously there are privacy, security, and ethics issues related to others seeing the world through your eyes.  But what if every American was told 20 years ago that their identifier number for an insolvent social security program would be attached to their personal, medical, financial, and civil records then spun through Wall Street algorithms, sold worldwide to advertisers, politicians, banks, insurance companies, demographers, and ultimately hacked?  The cities would have burned.

So why can’t social mediators monetize?

The difference today is that if packaged correctly, we can own and control our knowledge inventory.  We can allow or decline access and we can revoke access – it happens all day long on Face Book, Linkedin, Twitter, and My Space.   On-line communities represent collections of knowledge assets.  The 400 Billion dollar per year advertising budget is on the table – up for grabs.  The 100 Billion dollar “head hunting” budget is up for grabs. The multi-billion dollar election budgets are all up for grabs. What are we thinking?

The likelihood of Innovation

The innovation economy will depend on business intelligence related to society’s knowledge inventory to match most worthy knowledge surplus to the most worthy knowledge deficit.   Entrepreneurs must know supply and demand for knowledge assets as well as where to find them at what cost.  Entrepreneurs need to predict competition, disruption, risks, and volatility in knowledge assets.  They need to conduct scenario tests before expending money.  They need to predict the likelihood of innovation and all of the options that they have in the future related to those innovations.

The Securitization of Knowledge Assets

Entrepreneurs need to securitize knowledge assets in order to finance innovation on the scale that will be required to offset our massive debt. This is how the innovation economy must play out.  We cannot depend on corporations or governments to do this for us.  People must control, regulate, anonymize, and manage  their own knowledge inventory.   If only they could see their world through the entrepreneur’s eyes – perhaps they need a vicarious search engine more than anyone.

Social Media Staffing: $3 Trillion Opportunity

As the World Churns:

The cost of placing an employee approaches 30% of that employee’s salary.  In fact, most head hunters charge roughly 30% of the employee’s salary to find the right person to fill the job opening for a client company.  Sometimes the employee is recruited from a competitor causing a net productivity loss in a market due to disruption or “churning”.

The company also has a choice of hiring with the internal HR department.  In this case, they are paying HR personnel to place ads, review resumes, check references, and conduct interviews.  These costs can also run into a substantial percentage of the new employee’s salary.  From previous articles, The Ingenesist Project suggests that these methods may not even result in the best employee selection:

The Unnecessary Market Friction

Text only Résumé is no longer adequate in our complex business environment due to subjectivity, semantic inconsistency, and the time and resources required for fully interpreting the content. The cost of delivering a résumé has been decreased by computers and the Internet while the cost of reviewing the résumé has remained constant.  Keyword search programs often eliminate excellent and creative candidates based on criteria not related to the candidate.   Managers tend to hire what reminds them of themselves – from world that no longer exists.

Estimated wasted productivity:

Suppose that 50 Million professionals; doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, administrators, managers, and directors are employed in the United States.  Suppose that the average salary is 70,000 per year.  Suppose that they change jobs 3 times in their career and that the cost of placement is 30% of salary, or $21,000 dollars per placement.

The total cost is $ 1 Trillion dollars multiplied by 3 placements in a career equals nearly 3 Trillion Dollars.  Now, divide this by 30 years in a career and we can see that 100 Billion dollars worth of human productivity are spent every year not necessarily matching the most worthy employee to the most worthy employer.  This does not include moving expenses, salary increases, disruption costs, or inflation.

The probabilistic electronic résumé system

The Ingenesist Project specifies a vetted knowledge inventory that resides in Social Media. The knowledge inventory, probabilistic electronic résumé system, and innovation bank together would make the paper and language Résumé obsolete.  The percentile search engine would scan the knowledge inventory of the corporation and scan the knowledge inventory of the labor market and seek matches with high probability of increasing net productivity – not unlike Amazon.com predicts what book you would like to read next.

Options, options, give the market its options

election criteria can be adapted to reflect social priority such as reduced traffic congestion or to reflect strategic objectives such as incremental or blue sky innovation requirements.  Trades across companies and industries can occur opportunistically not unlike interdepartmental transfers or even like trades in professional sports are conducted today.

Companies can manage peaks and valleys in employment by trading across diverse industries. avoiding layoffs all together.  Employees that can stay productive in diverse industries transfer new ideas and discover transferrable efficiencies.  Experience gained would be added to the knowledge inventory to enhance the probabilistic résumé inventory available for continuous improvement and tangential applications of innovation enterprise.

A virtuous circle? … A 3 Trillion Dollar opportunity nonetheless.

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