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Outsourcing Fail

Gambling with Jobs

The US Senate recently blocked a measure designed to reduce the outsourcing of US jobs that many corporations pursue in the relentless drive to reduce costs.

Modern Globalization is a system

Globalization must be analyzed like a system. Data, Information, knowledge, Innovation, and wisdom are profoundly related in a system. If you take away one of the components, the others become worthless.  If you destroy one component, the entire structure could fail.

Everyone knows that data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom are related.  If I corrupt the data, then the associated information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom are also corrupted.  Likewise, if I eliminate any of these elements, the system fails.

Focus on Core competency – what core?

The standard argument for outsourcing is that knowledge workers are better allocated in innovation jobs so “we can better focus on our core – and heck, we can all save a little dough in the process”.  But when we outsource our knowledge economy, the innovation economy is choked off.    The knowledge economy is the source of the Innovation Economy.  The Knowledge economy is also the recipient of the information economy which transforms data and information into useful tools, ideas, and products.

Rate Of Change is Innovation

The rate of change of the innovation economy is directly proportional to the INCREASE not the OUTSOURCING of the knowledge economy.  This is the calculus of outsourcing.  If, on the other hand, it is in you best interest to keep a population poor, weak, and unable to organize into powerful collectives, then yes, outsourcing is an effective method.

The Innovation Banker

Future of Banking

When I use the term “Innovation Bank”, people conjure up the image of a cheery place where anticipation reigns as starry eyed depositors arrange their intellectual property in neat cubby boxes, Patents fly like cash register receipts and companies troll the halls looking for a cure for their bottom line blues.

This is not exactly what we have in mind, nor is it too far off either. An innovation Bank is simply a knowledge inventory that contains knowledge assets that exists in the format of a financial instrument and can be deployed for the purposes of increasing productivity.  In the process, it makes 10X more of itself every time it is deployed.  It mints its own money.

The Innovation Banker

This is not much different than a financial bank. In fact, in the financial bank, everyone assumes the borrower has the knowledge to execute the business plan and the bank lends the money. Oh, by the way, the money makes more of itself  10X over (fractional reserve system) every time it is deployed.

With the innovation bank, everyone assumes the entrepreneur has the money to execute the plan, and the seek to borrow the knowledge. Other than that, they can be considered identical. The key is in the scope, depth, and format in which the knowledge assets live in a community as well as the ability to track and preserve the creation of new knowledge in a community.  An innovation banker is a knowledge banker

A Virtuous Circle

Together with the financial banking, these two system engage in the dance of the virtuous circle of innovation enterprise. Apart, they collapse into the swirling cesspool of eternal debt and infinite interest (pun intended).

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Music by Phil Felicia

Death By Résumé

Résumé: A French word for separating the body from the brain

We are entering a renewal in the work force. The global imperative is for the United States to become an innovation economy now. This is an entirely different animal than the Industrial revolution; I have long argued that the résumé system is by far the most archaic knowledge management “currency” of trade in use today.

The entire premise of the résumé is destitute, if not destructive, in the modern world. Words on a computer screen are a very low level ‘media form’ being used to describe a very high ‘media form’; social, creative, and intellectual capital. It’s like using crayons to design an aircraft.

If the key words are so important, why have any other words?

A manager always hires people that remind them of themselves. They estimate the future success of a candidate based on their own limited, and often static, past experiences. The world is moving so fast and has become so complex that no manager can possibly know enough to capitalize the future based on a viable statistical sample of past experiences – we’re all holding on for dear life in a hurricane of change. The problems and opportunities of the future are so huge, so important, and happening so amazingly fast yet the allocation of human resources is worse than random for a candidate pool.

Here are a few comments that I’ve picked off some recent Human Resources Community Blogs:

***

1. And our future goes with it:

“Most recruiting systems I’ve seen screen out innovators. Any résumé that is unique, different or convention-defying gets surreptitiously put in the junk pile.”

2. Start by looking in the junk pile:

“The Innovation Economy requires that the talent that creates the most value for an organization must rise to the top. Innovators are playing an increasing role in creating shareholder value – one might argue that they create the most shareholder value these days – and figuring out how to find and attract this very different breed of talent is one of the most critical initiatives you can launch within your organization.”

3. What part of “share holder value” are we having difficulty with?

“The most innovative people I have ever met don’t follow conventions in their experience or in their résumé. Or, they get bored very quickly when they can’t innovate or are forced to focus on operations, and efficiency. Most might look like (and even be) job hoppers”

4. Here is my favorite comment – I wish I could hug this person:

“I think it takes more than a résumé to screen an Innovator in or out. As blogs, blog posts, social networking, more powerful search tools, personal websites, the emergence of video on the web, talent platforms that offer CRM, etc. etc. etc. continue to become additional tools for an employer to consider in making a hiring decision, is the résumé still a currency for a candidate?”

***

We have an inventory and CAD model of every nut, rivet, and panel that goes on an airplane – why would we try to build anything without one?

So Please, let’s evolve out of the revolutionary times and develop a real community knowledge inventory. It must be computer enabled and based on a taxonomy that everyone knows and understands. It must be read, analyzed, sorted and vetted by social networks and communities of practice. It must integrate with knowledge assets from anywhere in the world.

An Economic Paradigm Breaks Down

Land, labor, and capital are no longer effective proxies for human productivity, creativity and intellect – end of story.  We need to stop talking about social media as if Monetization is some kind of mystery.

An Economic Paradigm Breaks Down

The road to monetization is not paved upon on the roadmap of the industrial revolution. Something new needs to happen, we’ve got to move on:

From Wikipedia:

Innovation economics is a growing economic theory that emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation. Innovation economics is based on two fundamental tenets: that the central goal of economic policy should be to spur higher productivitythrough greater innovation, and that markets relying on input resources and price signals alone will not always be as effective in spurring higher productivity, and thereby economic growth.

This is in contrast to the two other conventional economic doctrines, neoclassical economics and Keynesian economics.

Theory:

Innovation economists believe that what primarily drives economic growth in today’s knowledge-based economy is not capital accumulation, as claimed by neoclassicalism asserts, but innovative capacity spurred by appropriable knowledge and technological externalities. Economics growth in innovation economics is the end-product of knowledge (tacit vs. codified); regimes and policies allowing for entrepreneurship and innovation (i.e., R&D expenditures, permits, licenses); technologicalspillovers and externalities between collaborative firms; and systems of innovation that create innovative environments (i.e., clusters, agglomerations, metropolitan areas).[2][3]

The Definition Of Innovation Must Change

Innovation is currently defined as “A new idea that has a favorable economic outcome”.  The problem is that nobody can solve one equation with two unknowns, i.e., what’s a new idea? and what’s the economic outcome?  By this definition, you can only identify innovation after it has occurred.  So, it’s not very useful – in fact, it is a tragic definition and it must be scrapped immediately.

The trick is to identify the new ideas and direct them to the appropriate economic outcome, not the other way around as many companies and agencies try to do.  Most good ideas can’t find a place to be profitable in a silo, so they are scrapped. This is not the fault of talent or the idea, but invariably both are lost.

The existing definition of innovation is insufficient for use as a way to identify innovation in the present. There is no way to build an innovation economy upon a flawed definition and unpredictable value of innovative activity. This new interpretation will allow innovation to properly behave like a financial instrument.

Social Capitalism and The Culture of Data

Data are the raw material of the next economic paradigm.  Data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom are all related; but it all starts with data.

In order to produce anything valuable in the domain of social capitalism, the creation and formation of data is hypercritical.  The better the data, the better the information, knowledge, innovation, wisdom and culture that will follow.  Each stage of transformation along the chain reaction from “data” to “culture” is an opportunity for both great value creation AND astonishing corruption.

Data is King:

Yet data are often collected and processed with very little vetting.  We all know that information is most easily spun from the data collection process.  We know that bad knowledge comes from bad information, and we know that unsuccessful innovation comes from inappropriate knowledge.  Obviously, to be an unwise leader is to be unimaginative leader.  A failed culture creates failed data…and the circle completes itself.

Data is an asset:

On the other hand, the ability to collect data is often the most tangible intellectual property that an organization can hold.  It is easy to copy a patent but difficult to recreate the system that generates patents.  Excellent data results in excellent technology from the moon landings to the Internet. The trick is that all assets must contain two components; a quantity and a quality.  This means that some rigor is needed in the data collection process. When data are produced, the quantity is the “measurement” but the quality is the certainty or uncertainty that what is being measured is actually what is being observed.

Data Relationships

Phenomena such as art, politics, emotions, capital markets, and spirituality are difficult to measure because the item being observed exists as a function of the observer’s interaction with it.  Still, the quality of the data includes the certainty that all data were measured the same way AND some disclosure of the uncertainty that remains.  This is an area of great omission and where severe problems arise especially where the most people rely on the data to make decisions.  The term “comparing apples to oranges” is  a real problem and it is particularly elusive at very early and highly incremental stages of ideation.

Mouse goes squeak:

Often the people involved with the intensely small or incremental portion of the data design and collection process are the least powerful people in the supply chain.  Often they have the least say in how the data is analyzed and certainly have no visibility of what happens upstream.   It is tragically amusing that the dominant characteristic of most hierarchies is that each level of management “filters” the data from lower levels and delivers it to the next level where actions are authorized.

The Culture of Data

Social media is entering the human culture at an incredible rate.  Social media has also shown us what happens when the good data becomes the important information, which increases knowledge among the most people leading to increasingly effective innovation and changing the conventional wisdom about an increasing diversity of subjects.  Social Capitalism will replace Market Capitalism simply because the culture is superior.

Hint: Culture Produces The Data.

Will Social Capitalism Replace Market Capitalism? (Parts 1&2)

This video describes a set of predictions for 2020 based on an entirely new form of capitalism whose velocity and voracity will take the world completely by surprise. Nothing is sacred and nobody is immune, not Facebook, not Google, not Wall Street, not even Governance itself….

Part 1

Part 2:

Cluster Funk

I recently attended another one of those economic development summits where a bunch of people with long titles gets a chance to speak on a panel touting the mysterious benefits of a mysterious innovation clusters that create mysterious wealth that can only be realized if their mysterious department is funded.

Nearly every speaker concluded with the following paraphrase: “if only government would fund this or that, everything will be fine”, or, “if only corporations would fund this or that, then we’ll all be better off”

Uhmmm…sorry to break the news, it ain’t gunna happen.

Innovation clusters are all the rage in regional economic development circles. Actually, they are “industrial clusters” because several companies in similar industries collocate in the same geographical area. The industrial cluster then attracts supporting industry and often causes the migration of educated and motivated people to the prospect of jobs. I suspect the ‘innovation’ moniker comes from the notion that new ideas will somehow result from similarity of ideals and purpose.

Group Think Tanks

There are, however, a few drawbacks to industry clusters; they are vulnerable to stagnation, silos, and external shocks. As companies become organized and technologies mature, patents and trade secrets take hold. As they ‘go public’, SEC regulation effectively places a gag order on everyone and sharing slows while stagnation sets in.

Soon after, dozens of nimble companies consolidate into a single giant to achieve economies of scale. Finally, silos form under the weight of multiple layers of management while jobs are mechanized or outsourced.

Then, something somewhere happens to shock the cluster; the end of the cold war leveled the So Cal aerospace cluster. 9/11 busted the Seattle Aerospace cluster. The dot.com bomb stunted Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Route 128. Hurricanes and environmental disasters hit the petroleum cluster, stem cell and genetic engineering legislation stalled biotechnology, and corruption continues to shock financial institutions. At the end of the cycle, companies divest, people defect and a new planet starts to form someplace else.

Remember “scrubbing bubbles”?

While occasional cleansing, in a Schumpeterian sense, is good for industries, the extreme volatility takes a horrendous toll on that invisible turbine of the economic engine – social fabric. Families, friendships, professional networks are strained or collapse and those who dedicate their life to a career path – the pure innovator themselves – can be left marginalized by obsolescence.

The term “Innovation Clusters” makes for a good soundbite for politicians because it fits on the “Jobs R Us” banner they can stand in front of (thumbs up) for the next election cycle.   The term keeps funds flowing to organizations to publish studies that conclude that more studies are needed. Maybe these summits ought to be renamed to Cluster Funks because that is largely what they actually promote.

WIKiD Tools; A Futures Methodology

The forecasting methods that we are developing at the Ingenesist Project have become sufficiently vetted and organized that I have decided to formalize them for review by others. The “WIKiD Tools” method is fairly simple to describe and demonstrate, but be assured, it is a powerful method for predicting futures outcomes.

WIKiD stands for:

Wisdom > Innovation > Knowledge > Information > Data

All five of these elements are related to each other – in fact, each is derived from the prior element by integrating the tools of that medium.  For example information is derived from data by integrating the tools of the data medium. Knowledge is derived from information by integrating the tools of information medium, innovation is derived from knowledge by integrating the tools of the knowledge medium, etc.

Likewise, if I want to predict innovation, I look for high rates of change of knowledge in it’s medium….and so on for all five elements as needed.

The chart below helps demonstrate the WIKiD Tools methodology.

Slide05

The Hunter-Gatherer

About 50,000 years ago humans sustained themselves in a hunter gather economy. They would wander for food to eat and fuel to stay warm. Eventually they invented tools to trap their game and chop down trees so they no longer needed to expend as much energy and could remain relatively stationary.

The Agrarian

This led to the agrarian economy, the formation of towns, and the division of labor. A leisure class emerged to engage in philosophy and explore nature. New ideas were explored and the “scientific method” of observation and experimentation was invented

The Data Economy

With the invention of interchangeable parts in manufacturing, the industrial revolution became the dominant era of economic activity. The idea of industrialization separated production from assembly of parts. This allowed for greater efficiency and precision.

The Information Economy

The Industrial revolution generated a lot of Data and the invention of the integrated circuit turned these data into information – we now look back at the 60’s and 70s as the information age.

The Knowledge Economy

Widespread use of computers allowed humans to process the information in creative and unique ways – we now call this the knowledge economy.

Since there were many eras prior to this, we can expect that there shall be many eras following this – so we ask the question “what comes after the knowledge economy?

When we apply the WIKiD Tools Methodology:

We can say that each new era was derived from the prior era by integrating the tools developed during the prior era. We have seen the data economy in the industrial revolution, we have seen the information economy with Invention of the Integrated Circuit, We are in the midst of the knowledge economy with the advent of the Internet.

The next economic paradigm:

Now the tools of the Computer, software, and Internet connectivity are integrating around social media. From this we predict that an innovation economy will emerge by integrating the tools of the knowledge economy, specifically social media, mobile devices, software, hardware, and the internet.

The Wisdom Economy

Looking far far into the future, we can predict that the wisdom economy will emerge from an integration of tools developed in the innovation economy. The wisdom economy – with or without the current financial system – will have the greatest likelihood of achieving a sustainable human presence on Earth. Consequently, failure to achieve the wisdom economy presents an equally predictable outcome.

Innovation Suicide

The following question appeared on a Linkedin Forum that I follow:

Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

I have said this in a few blog posts and I’ll say it again here: The current definition for “innovation” may be the single most disastrous eliminator of innovation.

Innovation Suicide:

Yeah, it kills itself. Really, look it up – it’s a horrible cacophony of buzz bits and weasel speak that amount to nothing more than “Ya know it when ya see it”.

Any definition is supposed to give the reader enough information to duplicate, recognize, and identify instances of the subject – Preferably before the event has ended. Think about it – if the definition for Innovation were clear, nobody would be asking this question.

I am always amazed at how simple the answers to complex questions – and how complex the answer to simple questions – can often be.

Question: THE ONE: Complete this sentence: The ONE factor that is MOST important to innovation is… and here’s why…

My Answer: The Definition of Innovation

Here is why:

Information, knowledge, and innovation are obviously related to each other.

1. You can’t have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system becomes efficient.

Yet, the definitions of each term do not include the other two. Therefore, the current definition of innovation is insufficient to describe the condition. That is why this is the ONE most important factor.

Let me prescribe the following analogy; distance, velocity, and acceleration are obviously related.

1. You cannot have one without the other two.
2. If you cannot measure one, you cannot measure the other two.
3. where all three are integrated, the system is efficient.

This is because distance is the point between two facts, velocity is the rate at which the distance between two points changes. Acceleration is the rate at which the velocity of travel between two points changes.

Therefore let’s re-define innovation as follows:

Information are facts and data. Knowledge is defined by rate of change of information. Finally, innovation is defined by the rate of change of knowledge in a community.

If we can accept this definition, everything changes. Seriously, everything changes.

Now, that’s Innovation!!!

* note: If you are familiar with differential Calculus you may see how a new economic paradigm may arise from this algorithm.

The Brain-Picking Economy

brainI come across an increasing amount of posts and discussions related to alternate currencies, social currencies, and knowledge as a tangible asset, etc.  It is as if people are grappling with something that they don’t quite understand or can’t quite grasp – but, soon will.  Really, don’t lose heart – they are definitely on to something.

Sandy Jones Kaminski of Bella Domain provideds a well developed argument against letting people pick your brain by proposing the “no brain picking list”.   While somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the article portrays a common frustration felt by specially qualified people who get too many requests for “brain picking” and not enough turkey sandwiches to justify the time-value of the exchange.

[People who ask to pick your brain are either asking you to work for free or they are trying to bypass the very hard work required to build a social network by asking for your referrals]. While not quite a reason to end brain-picking, it certainly indicates a hugely inefficient market.

Taking some clues from the banking industry

A bank seeks to match most worthy money surplus  (rich people who will not pull their deposits abruptly) with most worthy money deficit (employed people with good credit history).  In order to accomplish this, the financial system has 5 essential components: a currency, an accounting system, a vetting mechanism, entrepreneurs, and business plans.

Now suppose we transpose the rules of finance on the rules of brain picking.

Currency

A currency is defined as a vessle that stores and allows for the exchange of value.  So it’s natural to expect that relationships, networks, “contacts”, “followers” and all the other accoutrements of social mediation are means by which we store value.  We invest time in developing our own knowledge assets and we invest those assets in our relationships.

Accounting System

The balance sheet needs to, well, balance.  The first assumption I make is that every single living breathing person on Earth holds value. It’s only a matter of whether they have a surplus in knowledge assets in that which I have a deficit and vice-versa. Since my deficits far exceed my surplus in the vast majority of human knowledge, I am always looking for a fat juicy brain to pick as well.

Vetting Mechanism

If the game isn’t fair, nobody will play.  Social media provides the most critical element of brain-picking economics.  Any time someone asks to pick my brain, I’ll do a Google search or conduct a social media profile on them. What I find will quickly determine what the initial contact will involve a courtesy email or a 3 hour golf game.

Business Plan:

Buy low sell high.  That’s the mantra of capitalism, but it remains “unspoken” in social media.  If a person is very successful at picking brains, there is an inherent quality in that which may be useful to me. I will study them. If other important people have allowed this person to pick their brain, why not me? If I’m getting a lot of pickers from a certain demographic, maybe that represents a business opportunity, seminar market, or speaking engagement.

An entrepreneur is as an entrepreneur does

Entrepreneurs do nothing more than identify assets and elevate them from a low level of productivity to a higher level of productivity.  I ask my brain picker who they have also discussed the matter with. I also ask them places and dates of those interactions.  I ask them about people in their social network, rumors, concerns, projections.  I ask them their goals an objectives in talking with me – exactly as I would do for any client….

…well before you know it, I’m picking their brain.

Engineers Are Money

angry-engineerEngineers are money.

China and India are producing millions of engineers as part of their global economic dominance strategy. Engineers increase productivity and productivity creates wealth. Why? Because money is only a means for storage and exchange of value and engineers create the value.

America has no idea who the engineers are

I heard an interesting comment on a group discussion board recently; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”.

First, I find the reference to “crops” ironic. Second, why should engineers need to fit every nuance of a job description? Engineers tell us the things that we don’t already know – who exactly writes those job descriptions if they know what they don’t know? Or in practical terms, why isn’t an Aerospace Engineer immediately qualified to be an Energy Engineer?

The Ingenesist Project identifies 3 types of knowledge assets: Social Capital refers to one’s ability to organize, perform, and manage themselves in teams of other people. Creative Capital refers to the ability to relate seemingly unrelated concepts, objects, and perceptions into new and innovative ideas. Intellectual capital refers to the ability to deploy book learning, objective reasoning, and tactical experience toward specific objectives.

Everyone has ALL of the above asset categories, however, we each posses them in different proportions. People like Steve Jobs have all of these in very high quantities, but the rest of us are somewhere in the middle. Most have a surplus in one or two at the expense of the remaining asset categories. Engineers typically enjoy a surplus of intellectual and creative capital at the expense of social capital.

Social Capital

Should we, as a society, expect engineers to meet meet the same social standards as say, Baristas? The job market favors the young, socially adept, and politically wired people. But engineers are a different – we all need them to be exactly the way they are in order for the rest of us to be who we are. If engineers were “marketers” they would either cease to be engineers or marketing would cease to be manipulative.

Who’s your money maker?

Engineers are responsible for nearly every penny of value stored and exchanged in a modern economy. Roads, infrastructure, medical devices, food production, software, hardware, housing, transportation – anything worth anything is in some way touched by God and an engineer. Engineers are responsible for creating the tangible value we enjoy so dearly but is also so easily corrupted by others.

Who is squandering whom?

So when I hear comments like; “there are so many engineers on the streets that employers have their pick of the crop”. I ask myself, “how exactly did that employer become an employer without engineers”? How does any employer expect to remain an employer without the direct, strategic, and honorable deployment of engineering assets? How does a country expect to arise from financial crisis and insurmountable debt obligation without elevating their engineers to “First-Responder” status?

I heard a story that Haiti is so poor, they would chop down a fruit tree for charcoal. Squandering engineers is like killing the golden goose. Every single engineer in America should be cherished. Every single engineer should have their pick of most qualified employers, not the other way around. Every single engineer should have a job waiting for them as soon as the prior one is finished. Engineers should be paid money, real money – not some “proxy” for money.

Does School Interfere With Education?

I guess that is could be considered sacrilege for a college professor to suggest that higher education is inadequate in some way.  My position is that the college degree must go away in favor of strategic combinations of high resolution knowledge assets.  The irony is that those who really “get it” understand “school” better than the schools.

The price of college education compared to the value of college education in society is skewing toward obsolescence. The news reports are filled with stories of unemployed MBAs and Engineers.  Over qualified, out of date, over generalized, specialized into obsolescence are all risk conditions that can make college a liability, not an asset.

There are many articles in these archives that outline my opinions on the subject. So here is what the kids say….

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Culture: When Engagement Is Not Optional

pLASMA bALLToday we see Social Media duplicating many of the functions of earlier society by storing community wisdom, applying social vetting, and deploying social currencies.

It takes a Community

Here is an article is about a a person who learned through social media profiling that her fiance was active in hobbies that conflicted with her moral constitution – before the wedding instead of after.  In the old days, the community would also profile each individual based on the social record of their behavior.

Social Capitalism

Here is a video article that discusses how social media is  duplicating many functions of the corporation outside the construct of the corporation. Factors of production increasingly enter the org chart as a social media application.  We now question whether the corporation itself is the sole vehicle of wealth creation.

Social Currency

We see social media duplicating many of the functions of the financial system where currency, credit scores, banks, land, labor, and capital are being replaced by social currency, social vetting, social capital, creative capital, and social entrepreneurs.

Macro vs. Micro

We see divisions of scale from the long-winded one-sided content of the static web presence to the micro blogging applications that more closely resemble a conversation.  Time factors are accelerated to the point where real-time is not fast enough.

Local vs. Global

We see an emerging segmentation between Local Social and Global Social. At first global leverage was the awarded the small entrepreneur with something to offer to the world.  Now ‘Local Social’ enjoys substantial leverage over global corporations by reorganizing the way people prioritize and experience each other and their community.

Everyone is a node

Taking an analogy from the physics of electricity, the term “potential” means the difference in energy between two nodes.  The greater the difference, the bigger the spark and the greater the impact.   The local energy at each node influences the direction and size of sparks between nodes.  As people accumulate ‘Social Current’, their position relative to those around them changes. Likewise, their potential also changes relative to the ‘Social Current’ of others. Everyone has some potential relative to every other node.

Integration has arrived

Much like the knowledge economy integrated, but did not replace, the agrarian economy, Social Media will not replace the corporation, the financial system, dissertation, conversations, localization or globalization.  Rather, everyone becomes a corporation, everyone prints their own social currency, everyone publishes their intentions, everyone has local and global leverage.  That’s what Integration is all about.

A ‘culture of one’ is moot.

It is not surprising then that our culture itself is now being defined in terms of social media with effective aggregation of  social norms, storage of social wisdom, and medium of exchange for community ideals.  The true test of “culture status” is when engagement is no longer an optional.  Without engagement, there is no culture.


Foursquare Economics

foursquareThe Next Economic Paradigm is arriving and the first entries include Foursquare.  Few people understand the significance of this new class of social media applications. Foursquare contains many (but not yet all) of the components of the Innovation Economy that we have been discussing for several years at Ingenesist.com, Conversationalcurreny.com, and Relationship-economy.com.

Here is what Foursquare does have:

Geolocation: Sure, social media has been great sport for chatting with your buddies across the world, but nothing really happens until the rubber meets the road.  people need to be in the same location in order to “build something” together.  We call this The Last Mile of Social Media

Mayor of Popcorn: As silly as this may sound, badging it is a highly sophisticated feature that we have called the “knowledge Inventory“.  In order to build anything, there must be an inventory of parts. “Knowledge” is not the exception as the crude and archaic resume system would have people believe.

Knowledge is an asset and it will perform as an asset if it is characterized in the form of a quantity and a quality.  “Mayor of Popcorn”, believe it or not, is in the correct form.

Vetting Mechanism: Vendors are an equal part of the social network and will soon provide their coupons, specials, and other economic incentives on Foursquare because advertising any other way is dead meat.  Vendors will live in a system that is in their best interest to practice high integrity rather than low integrity while favoring mom and pop operations that live in the community.  We call this “Social Vetting” as it lives beyond law and government – let the market be the judge.

Here is what they do not have (yet): Currency

The attraction of foursquare is the promise of fun and fancy crowd play.  The incentive is to be seen as connected, mobile, and plugged-in.  As such, people will be implicitly attracted to you like bees to a flower. In actuality, this game takes Social Media right to the edge of becoming a new financial system that can compete with, and challenge, the almighty dollar. No kidding.

Remember that currency is a social agreement.  History shows that people will trade seashells, tulip bulbs, paper notes, and little copper disks as a device to store and exchange value. All value is expressed in terms of human incentives of some kind.  Well here we have it.  Now let the entrepreneurs play.

That is a huge, huge, huge matter.

The dollar represents productivity….well, so does Foursquare.  What will entrepreneurs do in this environment?  How will entrepreneurs organize communities around “things-o-do” – or even – “things-that-must-be done”?

Here is the hint.  The idea that innovation is the exclusive domain of corporations, academia, or government is now as obsolete as Twitter.  Innovation is now related to knowledge as knowledge is related to information.  Anything that increases the rate of change of knowledge in a community can now be defined as innovation in Foursquare.

Debt and innovation represent the exact same thing.

Innovation is a promise of future productivity. Debt is also a promise of future productivity.   It is only a matter of time that all of the activity in this new generation of social media applications will resolve to, and aggregate around, a new form of currency that will compete with the dollar itself.  Mark these words.

The Social Caterpillar Award Goes To Home Depot

Home-depot-4Corporations may be getting social “online” but how are they doing offline?  Anti-social behavior on the ground is the genesis of our not-so-coveted Social Caterpillar Award.

The Social Caterpillar Award goes to companies that have what it takes to become great social leaders and transformational community assets but who somehow fall short due to some management cocoon.

Blockbuster Goes Bust

Last week, I wrote about Blockbuster signing their own obituary.  Today on the news, I hear they are filing for bankruptcy and blaming everyone but themselves – hmmm, maybe there is a correlation?  As such, Blockbuster was the first recipient of the Ingenesist Project Social Caterpillar Award. Who’s next?

Home Depot: Living under a rock?

It would seem that Home Depot gets it with 30,000 Facebook Fans, 20,000 twitter followers, and 4000 Youtube members as well as some pretty slick instructional videos.  The slogan “I Bleed Orange” is quite the graphic branding opportunity – I sort of wonder what exactly does such blood-letting involve.

But a company with almost 2200 stores, 210,000 employees and 100 Billion dollars in annual sales – this social media presence is hardly a blip.  Even the employees don’t show up.

The Last Mile of Social Media

I went to Home Depot recently buy something for a project.  I parked in the most reasonable spot and walked to the nearest of at least 5 sets of doors spaced across the entire building.   The first door stated in fairly crude language “This is and Exit, Use Entrance North of here”.  OK, so I did not bring my compass, and I proceed to the next door.  The same sign appeared.  So I went to the next – it was blocked for forklift activity.  So I returned to the prior door and found that the door on the other side of a partition was actually an entrance with a tiny sign partially covered with something orange… etc.  I think you can see where I’m trying to go with this.

Entering the store was no better.

I was corralled around a set of barriers past the full length of shopping carts and dumped on the side of the store that I did not want to go to.   I asked a manager why they insisted on tormenting customers like rats in a maze and the response was to control shoplifting.  I wondered how much plywood I could fit in my pocket.  I certainly did not feel welcomed.

In other words, the customer is subsidizing the failures of the enterprise to control shoplifting – if that is the real problem.  Like the age old tactic of government, blanket legislation makes all people suffer for the shortcomings of a few because management is too lazy to devise a method for actually solving problems.

So they plod along.

No competition from China, no Internet based Plywood stores, no power tool kiosks at the mall, all the small shops are driven out of business, and the economics of planned obsolescence driving product quality.  Is this a recipe for obsolescence?  Does this invite an innovation disruption?  Will a competitor arise who can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?

And Now, The Social caterpillar Award Goes Tooooo…..

In Honor of Home Depot lack of imagination in solving their own problems with social media at the expense of their community, we proudly issue our Social Caterpillar award to Home Depot.

It’s About Asking The Right Questions

bontisMy new favorite speaker is Dr. Nick Bontis. He is smart, funny, dynamic and he has the intellectual horsepower to back it up. I found his work while trolling academic journals for intellectual capital.

Among his dozens of academic papers, I am particularly interested in one that rationalizes that allocation of knowledge assets. It’s brilliant for the reason that it employs much of the same methodology that we predict will be needed to build the innovation economy – not in the hallowed hall of industry, academia, or government –  rather, on a platform of social media.

Here’s the Twist.

The following video was filmed about 10 years ago where Dr. Bontis is making predictions for 10 years into the future, the year 2010.  His predictions do not explicitly include the phenomenon of Social Media.  Instead, he extrapolates to a somewhat more “intellectual” outcome.

This is interesting because it provides us with an experiment that can exclude a huge variable called ‘social media’ and allow us to study intellectual capital as a distinction from Social capital. Dr. Bontis provides some remarkable insights about where we would be headed in 2010 (thus, compared to where we are), free from our social media bias. Cool, huh?

One statement struck my interest when he was framing a definition for “intellectual Capital”.  He said:

“[All the data will eventually combine.  We will then need to ask the right questions]”.

This is an evolutionary change in the way people will need to think. Instead of regurgitating hearsay (a social media staple), people are challenged to provide some modicum of analysis to sets of data that they encounter lest they remain useless (both people and data).  This is expressed in the form of asking the right questions.  The opportunity, therefore, is to bring people into contact with data in their communities and allow them to ask the right questions. We’ve coined this the “Last Mile of Social Media”.

Next he points out, with a very entertaining story, that 30 years ago a school assignment consisted of 95% search and 5% analysis (hence regurgitation) whereas in 2000, he estimated that 50% search and 50% analysis was allocated to the average academic assignment.  In the future (year 2010), 5% of the time allocation would go to search and 95% would be allocated to analysis. Humans would become endowed with higher order learning and thinking skills, the ability to derive new interpretations that will accelerate  innovation.  So kids, how’s that workin’ out?

Of course, he did not anticipate Twitter.  His portrayal of “Nancy the Supercomputer” is replaced by a Facebook the super social network…but even that sets up an even more interesting and important dialog for tomorrow.  Bravo Nick!

Please take a few moments and enjoy this video from Dr. Nick Bontis

The Invisible Surplus

invisible man griffin jared hindmanKnowledge is THE Asset. Deal with it.

I don’t care what the “definitions” by the Experts, the Patent System, Production Systems, Money, corporate bonds, marketing, advertising, or all the rest of that stuff. In the next economic paradigm, knowledge is an asset, knowledge is the only asset that matters because the transformation of knowledge into solutions will become the next currency.  If not human knowledge, then what else?

You can’t hold it in your hand because you hold it between your Ears

Yet, if you listen to mainstream media, our education system, politicians, and even college textbooks, everything else is the “asset” and human knowledge is treated like some expendable line item that is unworthy of economic development – or economic equality for that mattter.

Knowledge is invisible because there is no inventory. Why are we unable to see things like this? This is the most stunning cognitive deficit imaginable for the World’s most developed country. Why is this such an impossible philosophical chasm that we cannot seem to cross with our modern accounting system?

Now, what would happen if we did? Perhaps we would find find a cognitive surplus.

Image Credit

Everyone, Inc.

In the state of Washington, it costs 200 dollars to establish a Limited Liability Corporation. All the documents are online and there is no shortage of tutorials on the process. It’s a whole lot easier to get a job because it’s real easy for one corporation to hire (and fire) another corporation. Taxes are simple.

Everyone’s liability is limited and transactions are conducted under a uniform commercial code. And there are no incentives for people doing what they are not good at and every incentive for people to do what they enjoy most.

A corporation is fictitious.

A corporation exists in the form of a bits and bytes simulating a folder of papers in a virtual file cabinet. A corporation gets to deduct all of their expenses from their taxes. A corporation has a credit score, it can borrow money, and even have a bankruptcy just like a person. A corporation can donate unlimited amounts of money to a political candidate. Corporation garner social respect. Laws favor corporation. In fact, the cards are stacked in favor of the corporation over the employee; unless, of course, you are both.

It’s all in the Management….of knowledge assets.

All of the business theories are written to apply within the construct of the corporation. Corporate accounting provides a host of clever ways to manage assets. You can depreciate assets, you can inflate or deflate “intangibles” as needed for whatever valuation purpose. You don’t need to show anyone your accounting either (unless you are a public corporation). American corporations don’t even need to hire American employees, or any employees for that matter. Outsourcing goes to other corporations.

Land, Labor, and Capital

Corporations allocate Land Labor and Capital – well, that’s the theory anyway. Land is underwater in a real estate bubble. Labor is tragically unemployable or under employed or outsourced to the political slave markets. Capital is being consumed by the “interest” monster conjured into existence from the debt. Uuhhmmm….So how’s that workin’ for ya’ll??

So why not become a corporation??

Social Media is able to perform almost all of the functions that a corporation would normally do internally. The “Last Mile of Social Media” is when local communities organize themselves on, say, Facebook. High integrity is rewarded and low integrity is punished. Now you can reliably find other corporations to do your accounting, Human Resources, Marketing, and content design and distribution.

If you need to actually produce something “solid”, well there will always be a corporation willing to do that too. All of these things are only a keystroke away. So why isn’t everyone a corporation?

No, seriously……

We teach our kids to be good employees, not to become good corporations.  How do we expect social priorities to compete with Wall Street Priorities?

Factor of Production #2; Creative Capital

Land_Labor_capitalThe financial system that we live in today is allocated to us all through combining chunks of Land, Labor, and Capital. It should be fairly obvious that there are some issues with land (real estate bubble), Labor (high unemployment/out sourcing), and Capital (financial system meltdown).

As Dr. Phil would say: “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

There has been a flash of conversation centered around the idea of Social Capital as a form of currency in these two blog posts by Brian Solis and Venessa Miemis. I would like to use this post to expand those ideas to one of at least two more “Factors of Production”: Creative Capital, and Intellectual capital, in future blog posts.

Introducing the subject of Creative capital (more later, no doubt), here is a video from TED about the league of extraordinary dancers. Watch them move but also listen to how they talk about what they are doing. Skip through the 17 minutes if you must (you probably can’t!), just see how different they see the world.

If we expect to deliver an alternate social currency backed by innovation, we need to reflect deeply upon this specific factor of production.  We need to think, observe, and interpret with the flexibility that “Creatives” have – if not, we need the humility to let them help us.   Only then can we start connecting the dots.

They’re Finally Saying Something New About Social Media

Calculus-fullYes, we know that social media is humongous. Yeah, we’ve all heard the 10 amazing ways to “fill-in-the-blank”. Nope, you are still not allowed to shove your products down the consumer’s throat until you have earned their trust.

Now, all of a sudden, a new idea is emerging…it’s barely an audible chirp, but it will become a tectonic rumble before long:

Social Media is beginning to take on the characteristics of a Financial Instrument.

This is a stunning development with vast implications. Allow me to interpret this excellent article by the respected visionary, Brian Solis, as a basis for my argument.

One thing that everyone can agree on is that “information”, “knowledge”, and “innovation” are related somehow. The problem is that nobody can agree about exactly how they are related. None of the definitions for these terms include the adjacent terms and no algorithm exists which performs the conversions, until now.

Now comes the interesting observation:

They say that Google ranking represents a proxy for knowledge in a knowledge economy. What they mean to say is that the rate of change of information with respect to time can be used as a proxy for real-time knowledge. This is a valid idea because Google organizes the World’s information based on time rates of change of the Information.

Yet “knowledge” can only exist between the ears of breathing, thinking, creating, and acting human beings – one important component for which Brian expands the term “Social Capital”. If we carry his observation one step upstream, we should be able to also say that the rate of change of Social Capital (a component of “knowledge”) with respect to time is a proxy for real-time innovation.

Now this idea should be pegging seismographs and flooding the Valley with the ensuing tidal wave of glee. The implication is that we can now identify and organize innovation by simply measuring the rate of change of knowledge with respect to time that an enterprise induces among social networks in a market. Alas, we can now see the direct Integration of Social Media into the business plan.

Calculus is the science of change.

Definitions are fluid, they must change. Brian Solis has, in fact, introduced the construction of what scientists call a “differential equation”. Much like “distance, velocity, and acceleration” are all defined as a rate change of their adjacent term, so too will “information, knowledge and innovation” become defined.

Economics is the science of incentives

It should not go unnoticed that Bankers are scientists too and “money, interest rate, and market capitalization” are also related by the same calculus. This makes possible the miracles of capitalization, securitization, insurance, diversification of risk, options, hedge funds, etc… For better or for worse, Wall Street lives and dies by this algorithm and so do we.

Let me repeat; social media is taking on the characteristics of financial instruments.

Please, I hope that I am not alone in celebrating this historic moment. Few people may recognize this now, but mankind has just experienced an evolutionary leap in it’s understanding of it’s own nature. Bravo Brian, Bravo.

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When Social Media Becomes a Science

UncertaintyCartoonJay Deragon posted a series of articles recently on his Relationship Economy blog which I found especially exciting. As usual, Jay is bringing forward some very important ideas related to social media components and outcomes, but what really sets this new mindset apart is the fact that Jay is asking the same questions that have been plaguing scientists for 100 years.

In Jay’s posting “The Social Moment is Gone” He describes how organizational decisions are driven by metrics that no longer exist.

In another post: ”Measuring Social Moments”, Jay suggests that if things are in a dynamic state then measuring, a moment becomes irrelevant to what is happening the next moment.

In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision. That is, the more precisely one property is known, the less precisely the other can be known.

Scientists figured out that in order to study a sub-atomic particle, they had to stop it from moving. As soon as they did that, the nature of the particle changed. Scientists could only study their interaction with the particle, not the particle itself.

Jay is saying something similar: “How can you measure social media if it is responding as a function of your interaction with it? All you are doing is looking at yourself in a mirror – so stop it”. He‘s right.

Status Quanta

Keep in mind that this comes in a time when the chorus of social media gurus are still trumpeting the C-Suite Concerto called “ROI or Die”. Maybe someone should remind them that the value of the Corporation that they so fungibly defend is in fact an approximation based on things that cannot be measured. Let me explain:

It is not surprising, therefore, that Wall Street hires Quantum physicists (affectionately known as Quants) to manage money and investments in markets and to “Innovate” new financial instruments.

The Calculus of Social Media…on Wall Street?

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle lead to the development of a new branch of probabilistic mathematics for approximating both the position and the momentum of subatomic particles. In fact, the science of Quantum physics is entirely contained in probabilities that events will or have occurred and not necessarily based on direct observation – and so are the Wall Street Valuations.

Wall Street uses the same calculus to estimate the probabilities that financial particles will have a specific location and momentum without having to actually witness them. The result is a host of exotic financial instruments that make, bet, hedge, and securitize such approximations for the benefit of stockholders…..

Getting Back to Jay

Markets are conversations. People make products, invent things, design stuff, hold stock, buy, sell and trade everything. Those Quantum Physicists on Wall Street are estimating the position and momentum of people.

All Jay is saying is that now you can do it too.

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