Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Tag: intellectual capital Page 2 of 6

Twitter Me Elmo

Elmo

Dorothy the goldfish is imagining Elmo reading his Twitter stream… and what would it say? Who would he follow? And who would follow Elmo?

Elmo; “Computer, who’s following me on Twitter? Starbucks, Microsoft, and WalMart? Hey wait, Twitter is selling advertising. What’s up with that? Let’s ask Mr. Noodle.”

Mr. Noodle (in mime) “Everyone is promoting something on Twitter otherwise nobody would use it.”

Murray Monster: “Hey, I thought that Twitter was supposed to give everyone an even playing field. Otherwise, nobody would go to school to learn how to actually produce anything. Ovejita!!!

Ovejita (translated from Spanish): “Yeah, everyone spends time and energy building social capital in their community. Now Twitter lets rich guys can come along and just buy access. Why then should the rest of us work so hard?”

Big Bird: “Sponsored Tweets allow Brands to buy a seat at the head of the line. What about my Tweets? Does this build or diminish my social equity?”

Grouch: “Yeah, isn’t that great, Twitter is built on social currency. Now you don’t have to produce social capital, you can just buy in. Watch the social currency devalue!!”

Count Von Count; “ah ah ah, I can count the people leaving Twitter, ah, ah, ah… 50, 40, 30, 20 million,… ah ah ah”

Abby Cadabby; “I’m comfortable with who I am in a pink dress and can just cast a barrage of nasty Tweet spells on those unfair Tweeters”.

Baby Bear: “The only ones who really benefit are National and International Brands – what do they care about what happens here on Sesame Street, let alone in the forest where grandpa bear still lives?”

Grouch: “Quit complaining, the big Twitter moments will be revolutions, airplane crashes, assassinations, natural disasters, celebrity indiscretions, political extremisms, etc. I know that only the most respectable Grouchy brands will jump into any trash can that’s burning with eyeballs….can you say Voyeur?”

Burt and Ernie: “Who said Voyeur?”

Gordon the Shopkeeper: “Then there is the subject of conflict of interest. Can a brand dispel, displace, or disproportion negative Tweets by purchasing out the social media space? Will Mr. Hooper’s store have to buy tweets just to be stay in business?”

Elmo: “Thanks guys. If Twitter makes a little bit of money and goes public, they will eventually want to make more money and more money and more money until people are fighting over the next Christmas Toy Craze. Will this invite a competitor, a disruptive technology, or speculators? Let’s ask a Baby.”

Baby: [confused look]

Elmo: “Thanks baby, What does the future hold? Even Elmo has to worry about profit margins on character marketing. It’s only a matter of time before I will Tweet and my tweets will be followed – but the question becomes; by whom?”

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.

Is Anonymity an Asset or a Liability?

Facebook is delivering incredibly rich data about people, their activities, preferences and knowledge assets right to the doorstep of marketers, employers, and likely, Government.  Is Anonymity an Asset or a Liability?

Uhm…is this what the users had in mind?

“Local Social” is an absolute imperative for monetization of Social Media – every application needs some degree of local integration. Here’s why: Nothing happens until people get together and build something, produce something, or create something together. That is what “an economy” is, that is what “a company” is, that is what “a Market” is, that is what “a conversation” is.

Facebook knows this, but there is a catch; “Local Social” does not need a big platform like Facebook – a small one would do fine. However, Facebook needs the micro platform in order to monetize. In other words, Facebook needs Communities more than Communities need Facebook.

If Facebook is not careful, a huge opportunity awaits a competitor to disrupt the Facebook parade with high value, high segmentation, and high anonymity – and still monetize.

The irony is that Facebook Groups will empower the community to spin off and compete with it.

Here is what will happen:

Facebook must provides consumers with the same information about corporations as they provide to corporations about consumers. Corporations need to be willing to expose themselves to transparency. People will undoubtedly publish the names and addresses of the CEO of the corporations in their communities. Their names, prefered music, groups joined, and Farmville wiggly worms, etc.

If someone goes through extraordinary effort to not be seen, that too will become a data point – distrust.

People are not dumb, entrepreneurs will find a way to make the game fair. Facebook will find itself regulated by its own community. Only then can we expect the level of opportunity and accountability that is required to support a fully convertible universal social currency.

It’s up to Facebook now – I hope they know what they are doing.

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.

Criminals Steal Social Agreements

At the end of the day, everyone is arguing over money. How are we going to heal the poor? How are we going to police the world? How are we going to bail everyone out? How are we going to preserve the environment? The answer is always the same…it takes money to solve all of these problems.

What people do not realize is that currency is a social agreement, not a disagreement. Money is whatever people agree to use as a storage container for the value of their time, labor, intellect, or other resources. A criminal can steal your time, labor, intellect and possessions, or they can just steal your social agreements and replace them with a social disagreements.

It is easier to steal from the poor than the rich

Stealing money is not as difficult as some may think. Whenever people are held below a certain economic level, they fail to organize in communities that would otherwise protect them from outside influences. These people are often too busy holding a job, paying off debt, or traveling in search of work, or worse, a place to live – they become easy targets.

Blind leading the blind

Currency, by fiat or black market, is just a way that everyone agrees to store and exchange value. So, when people are at each other’s throats over a system of beliefs, they are effectively blinded to their true opponent – their inability to make a social agreement regarding the storage and exchange of value.

The current political strains pulling at this country are dangerous. The real problem is not your colleague or neighbor who is in favor of universal healthcare. The problem is not your old classmate on facebook calling Obama a liar. It’s OK to oppose the government – it’s our right. It’s OK to oppose bankers, they are accountable to a social charter.

The problem is that people are opposing each other.

There is no way to pay off a 50 Trillion dollar debt. All politicians know this. You would need to harvest every fish in the ocean, pump every remaining barrel of oil, and cut down every tree to extract this amount of “value” from what is left of the Earth. To whom exactly would this value be delivered and how? It simply cannot and it simply will not be repaid without some magnificent productivity gains on the order of nuclear fusion or superconductivity.

I will not speculate exactly how the currency fails. There are plenty of examples in history. Instead, I will speculate on what will replace the failed currency in the age of social media.

Social media is taking on some very fortunate characteristics, especially in the area of organizing people and communities around a common goal. Too often that common goal is to oppose another force of social media. This will change, it must change. When the dollar fails, people are going walk out their front door, look at their neighbors, and introduce themselves.

So, There you have it – that’s where all the money went. It is stored and exchanged in our social agreements.

Reality is Simple: Money is Time

daylight-saving-time-costs-billionsWhoever said “Time Is Money” got it backwards. Anyone who still believes this is now moving backwards in economic time.

Reality is simple: Money is time.

We pay to extend our live, we pay to have a good time, we wonder what time it is, we share time, we exchange time, we invest time. Everybody has a limited amount of time on Earth and everybody is competing for a slice of someone else’s time. Money is just the scorecard in a game of time.

Time is limited for everyone on Earth.

Sure, we often trade our time for money, but we also trade our time for many things; our children, families, travels, experiences, sleep, and consuming products and services. There is no other factor to which our behavior is more determined than time. Everyone does whatever they know to make the best use of their time.

How on Earth can the Whole Wide World go bankrupt?

Easy. The interest on money increases with time. When the total amount of money in existence is less than the sum of the principal plus the interest due, the World is bankrupt. We have long passed this point so what happens next is anyone’s guess, but be assured, something will happen.

Here is my guess, Money and Time will swap places. “Time is Money”, becomes “Money is Time”.  The principal will inflate away while the “interest” will continue to changes with time – but it will be pegged to “people” who also change with time.  As such, People and their knowledge become the medium of storage, exchange, and trade.  Knowledge is contained between their ears as social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital.

Social Media Happens

Social Media saves time and people’s interaction with each other on social media is affecting the nature of money.

Google saves time, Wikipedia saves time, Amazon.com saves time, Facebook saves time, Linkedin save time. Foursquare and Gowalla increase the value of social time because going local saves time. Mashable and Tech Crunch save people time. Bloggers, educators, entertainers, and recreation increases the quality of time related to the intentions of the consumer. Trust, engagement, reputation, conversation, relationships, and tribes save time. Social Innovation saves time.

The Time Paradigm and the next generation of social applications

The next economic paradigm will be time based (as the scarce resource) and will probably look very similar to the one we know and understand today. The difference is that everyone will interact with the clock instead of the dollar.

In the next generation of social media applications we see that value will be derived from time saved or punished for time squandered. People will behave in a manner dependent on how much their time is worth.

The new business models will compete against time, rather than price. Quality will be measurable by anyone.  Precision and accuracy will be rewarded and manipulation will be punished. At the end of the day, Money is Time and the quality of time is the quality of money.

The Future of Money is the future of Time:

It’s hard to imagine any product or service that wastes people’s time surviving past the next decade.  It is hard to image any future innovation that does not save time over whatever it replaces.  It is hard to imagine the basis of any currency without a time value.

Image Source

They Should Pass A Social Currency Option

cubscout-mainMy new favorite rebuttal to any argument from economic ailment to political controversy is: “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

It is really convenient to have the same position on all issues; Health Care, Terrorism, abortion, financial meltdown, education reform, and political scandal – my response is the same. “I’d like to see a social currency thrown into the mix”.

What the heck am I talking about?

Several recent blogs articles (and here, and here, and here) have converged around the idea that social currency is something that people earn from being active in a community, network, or social organization. Social Currency in lauded upon the recipient in many forms such as Google juice, respect, engagement, trust, re-tweets, reputation, merit badges, check-ins, tokens, Whuffie, wiggly worms, etc…

Regardless of what you call it, all social currencies have a very unique characteristic that differentiates them from a financial currency. Social currencies reward high integrity and punish low integrity.

Social Currency can be earned or converted:

Organizing a community around a common goal is serving a need that government and corporations do not have to fulfill in their “Social Charter”. So it has value.

  • Helping a neighbor find a job supplants the work of the government funded unemployment office.
  • Helping an elderly neighbor with their shopping supplements the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Adopting a child alleviates expenditures in the foster care system, abortion, and possibly the courts and prisons.
  • Helping local vendors stay afloat by organizing a community of group buying or groupons reduces the demands on bankruptcy courts and social services.

Social Currency can also be eliminated:

  • Public servants and politicians who squander the trust of their constituents through acts of corruption and impropriety
  • Corporations who decimate local priorities in favor of Wall Street priorities.
  • Breaking the law, endangering others, neglect, fraud, breech of social contract .
  • Consumption far in excess of social contribution.

Take any issue and apply social currency

The health care debate is an excellent example. First, let’s apply a social currency to all of the people voting on the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing against the bill. Next, let’s apply a social currency to everyone arguing in favor of the bill. Let that count establish the burden of proof of the argument.

Next, let’s pay for Health Care Reform in social currency, not financial currency. That means people with a surplus of social currency receive health care at a certain rate. People with a deficit of social currency receive health care at a different rate.

Finally, compensation to health care providers would also be biased by a social currency. Providers with a surplus of social currency are paid at a different rate than providers with a deficit of social currency.

What about cheaters?, who pays these subsidies? how do you count it?, It’s a job killer, corporations will go bankrupt, losers still lose, Holy cow, this messes everything up!!!!

Actually, it’s not much different than how we allocate money on a credit scoring basis. It’s not any more difficult to count than the blood-money coursing through the veins of an unvetted financial / insurance system. Most importantly, constraining a Financial Currency with a Social Currency sets up a whole new landscape of benchmarks and incentives that accelerate innovation, in effect, printing new currency.

That’s what I mean when I say; “I’d Like to see some Social Currency in the Mix”


Gowalla and Foursquare: Money is as Money Does

manhattanMoney happens because people happen, not the other way around.

Wall Street has no idea what’s knocking at their door with the emergence of a new class of Social Media Applications that incorporate geolocation strategy.

Money is as money does.

Hanging out in bars and buying silly tokens does not define a sustainable economy any more than borrowing money from yourself with interest in order to keep it sufficiently “scarce”. However, the strategic combination of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital does define a sustainable economy.

Social Productivity can be loosely defined as “what you make with your time”. All of us have a limited number of hours on Earth.  “Don’t waste my time” is the new Tax on Tea. The Last Mile of Social Media is a critical step that will complete the Internet as a system of social organization, and as a result, financial reorganization.

The 5 components of a financial system

A financial system must have 5 components acting in a system in order to sustain itself:  1. a means to store and exchange value (currency). 2. inventory 3. vetting  4. entrepreneurs, 5. A business model.  If any of these components is missing or becomes corrupted, the whole system fails.  Where all of these components are intact, however primitive, an economy will flourish.

1. Currency is a social agreement and the Dollar is no exception.  The “social agreement” is the presumption that the currency is scarce and therefore valuable.  In reality, time is scarce.  Geolocation is important because traveling is a quantity and guessing is a quality that are both time consuming.

2. The knowledge inventory is emerging where people establish themselves as experts through blogging, community organization, and development of creative content.  The new class of social media applications like Gowalla, Foursquare (and those not yet created) will eventually evolve to highly organized and finely granulated knowledge inventories in and about communities.

3. The vetting mechanism will form as people with common knowledge assets aggregate around cooperative activity rather than competitive activity.  High integrity will be rewarded and low integrity will be punished. Gowalla and Foursquare are still easy to cheat, but that will get worked out.

4. Entrepreneurs. As information becomes infinite, time becomes more scarce, thereby forming the basis of this new economy. Entrepreneurs will identify knowledge assets and elevate them from low levels of productivity to higher levels of productivity. Gowalla and Foursquare provide visibility to some rudimentary knowledge assets – it will only get better.

The New Class of entrepreneurs will begin by aggregating strategic combinations of vendors.  Then they will aggregate strategic combinations of knowledge assets and match them to strategic vendors in infinite combinations. They will manufacture “time”.

5. The business plan is simple: A. transform data to information, B. transform information to knowledge, C. transform knowledge to innovation, D. transform innovation to data.  Each transformation produces “time”.

In fact, this is all that Gowalla and Foursquare accomplish.   Each transforms data into information and people transform information into knowledge.  People are drawn to the possibility of  increasing the value of their time in their community.

If people can make their own currency more efficiently than a corporation or government can do it for them, they will. Don’t worry, a currency will find a way to represent them – after all, money is as money does.

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.

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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.

image credit

Social Media: Power By The Hour

Making human knowledge and intentions tangible in a market place opens up the possibility of a whole new class of business plans. We call this Social Power by the Hour.

A Social Trifecta

1. Obviously, Social Media is powerful.

2. Fractional ownership or rental of assets is an emerging trend in our environmentally, geographically, and monetarily constrained economy.

3.Vendor Relationship Management (Doc Searles) promises to change the shape of traditional advertising in the future.

What if we combined all three?

ZipCar is an excellent example of the fractional membership for automobile transportation. There are many advantages but also huge drawbacks. $7.00 per hour is a lot to add to a casual lunch at a sidewalk café or any social experience. Then there are all the lost options like the one-way-trip, guaranteed availability, all those rules and regulations. So, it’s pay now or pay later.

Social memberships

What if your friends in the social network also had ZipCar memberships and the scheduling were interchangeable? Suppose you could find a ZipCar anywhere and park one anywhere?

Now, enter the Vendor of goods and service. What if the Vendor were to subsidize the cost of the ZipCar to bring 4 people into the restaurant, club, or event? What if amusement parks, zoos and art exhibitions helped pay for full car-loads of friends to drive themselves to events?

The Vetting Mechanism:

What if the real social value of the ZipCar could be compared to car ownership for each intended trip? How would this influence your decision to drive, plan, or combine events into your user experience? What if Vendors could influence that cost to drive incentives?

Power By The Hour Game

The Above schematic is What I’ll Call the Social Media Power by the Hour Game. Everyone is part of the same social network and can talk to each other. Each Box represents a player that can influence the cost of the power by the hour. The True Value Calculator keeps score by comparing each transaction value to the equivalent car-ownership or public transportation value.

Set your filters and wait for the proposition…

Instead of scheduling, everyone (including passengers, vendors, social network) start by setting a bunch of filters that represent their approximate intentions. The system compares the intentions with ZipCar locations and compares it to the True Value Calculator. When a suitable transaction is in play, all the players are notified.

Once the game starts and enough people play, statistically, there should be ZipCars distributed proportionally around the city and all vendors will be managing their marketing campaign with 100% ROI on their impressions. The system will become a self optimizing money game.

A fully convertible currency

At first, this may seem like an application to sell ZipCar memberships, but actually, it is selling odds and entrepreneurs are placing bets. The ZipCar is simply a mechanical device that converts social currency into money.

A few Scenarios:

Scenario 1: When a vendor notices a group of friends going to the mall, they can pay for part of the ZipCar with a lunch coupon.

Scenario 2: Amusement park or event promoter can see when a family has no plans and can offer a free ZipCar to them

Scenario 3: The bigger your social network, the cheaper it becomes for you to drive a car

Scenario 4: Vendors can bid for the ZipCar audience with Packages of discounts, coupons and also earn impressions and trust.

Scenario 5: Friends can see what other friends are doing and can jump in the same ZipCar

Scenario 6: ZipCars can be parked densely at events since you will not necessarily leave in the same car that you came in.

Scenario 7: As soon as you park, the zip car becomes available for someone else. As soon as you need one, there is a high probability one is parked close by.

Scenario 6: ZipCar options can be traded like currency to buy things on, say, Craigslist

And many many many more……..

End result: The bigger your social network, the cheaper your Power By the Hour. The bigger the social network, the more effective WOM marketing becomes. The bigger the social network, the more options are available to users. The greater the social network, the more SOCIAL VALUE a ZipCar membership will have in comparison to independent car ownership. The bigger the social network, the more social currency can trade hands as the Dollar fails.

Building Better Problems

The solution to any problem is entirely dependent on how the problem is defined. Likewise, redefining the problem, exposes huge opportunities for new solutions.

In Fact, a great deal of innovation arises not from a clever solution, but from a clever new definition of a problem.

For example, “build a better mouse trap” has entirely different outcome when one simply changes the definition of the word “trap”.

Manufacturing Problems.

Commercial Air Transportation, for example, was once lauded as a “Time Machine” because airplanes could carry a person into “a future” that was otherwise impossible to emerge in, or to a “past” that would never have been witnessed by any other means.

However, solving this problem created many more problems such as runways, infrastructure, car parking, noise, oxygen, crashing, etc. Diligently, we went about solving those problems as well. Unfortunately, solving each of those problems created a host of new problems. Today we’re down to solving the 3.0 ounce of toothpaste rule and the flammable underwear problem.

At some point we need to ask if we are manufacturing problems with every new solution. At what point is innovation taking us backwards? How prevalent is this human trait and does it have anything to do with the financial deficit?

Redefine the Problem

One of the greatest opportunities of Social Media (which is rarely cited by the experts) is the opportunity to redefine problems in the context of social media. Using our airline example, we know that commercial aviation arose from WWII as a response for bringing troops to static battle fields with such dynamic machines as the DC3. This worked great after the war too!

Today we still treat people as static and airplanes as dynamic. Suppose we were to redefine the problem so that people are dynamic and the airplane is static?

Think about it, people go about their life with work, family, and friends. Then they hop into a long aluminum tube, tie themselves down and sit there doing nothing. After a few hours, they emerge from the tube to go about their life, work, family, and friends. The aluminum tube is static, not dynamic – it’s a time machine, remember?

The opportunity, therefore, is for people to self-aggregate using social media around locations, schedules, and events related to life, work, family, and friends. The market could then supply the correct size aluminum tube to meet the need of the community. After all, wouldn’t it be easier to move one airplane to meet the ‘market of many’ rather than trying to move the ‘market of many’ to meet one airplane?

This may sound trivial now, but don’t underestimate the creativity of social entrepreneurs to build a better problem to solve.

Should Educators Command an Equity Position in Students?

The idea that a mentor may take an equity position in a protege is not new – it happens in families and extended families as elders are fully aware that the children will provide for the family in the future. The connection is not to hard to grasp that it’s in everyone’s best interest to help the kids – all of the kids. This is the social contract.

Somehow that connection gets lost when everyone is competing for the same set of limited jobs and everyone is responding to the pressures of insurmountable debt to banking institutions.

As Social currencies begin to replace the decaying monetary currency, a new set of social instruments will arise. The scope and range of new social contracts is unlimited and should be expected to increase substantially. These social contracts will become tangible in a communities and may he used in a system of trade that stores and transfers knowledge efficiently in a community.

If a father can teach a son how to become successful in the family business, why can’t a community of fathers teach a community of sons to be successful in a community of businesses? This may need to happen whether we like it or not.

The Interesting Thing About Interest Rates

Money represents human productivity, but the interest on money represents risk. This means that the lender collects interest because that represents the risk that they assume in departing from their money. Meanwhile productivity fluctuates naturally and can be affected by a many external forces.

The problem is that risk can never be negative, therefore interest rates can never be negative – that is called “breaking he buck”. Risk is a measure of volatility, or, “deviations from what is considered normal”. While there is certainly good deviations and bad deviations, there can never be a “negative” deviation from normal – it is a mathematical impossibility, a glitch.

The result is that productivity must always be driven up and up and up – sometimes in unnatural ways, such as forcing consumption. Constant production is unacceptable – it must always increase. Vacations, free time, family time, and leisure are not acceptable. What if we had a currency that could accommodate a negative interest rate?

What is the Secret Sauce of Innovation?

Most studies on Innovation study the to 99th percentile human in the hope of discovering the “secret sauce” of wealth creation. One such study identifies 5 discovery skills and conclude that the top innovators are also in the top percentile for all these skills. What a surprise that the top university would conclude that they – and people like them – were the secret sauce of all wealth creation.

But what about the rest of the world? What about the individuals and teams of people who actually carry out the plans of those great people? Are they relegated to the footnotes or is there a way for two or more people to simulate the attributes of a 99th percentile person?

This video argues that a 6th discovery skill is the ability to recognize one’s weaknesses AND the strengths of another person. This takes humility and an knowledge inventory of one’s community. Given the ubiquitousness of the persistent economic crisis, ostensibly managed by those paragons of intellect, the masters of the 5 discovery skills – we may need a new way of building so-called “consensus” about what innovation is and who the innovators are.

(I did fail to point out in this discussion that the ability to network with similar people is a distinctly different than the ability to network with dissimilar people. As such, the 5th discovery skill and the 6th are distinct)

Social Currency And The Innovation Bank

'Innovation and Growth, Chasing a New Frontier' book launch(2)The real estate market is trashed, money markets are unstable, commodities are in the tank, the banking system is corrupted to the core, inflation is looming around every corner, and the politicians are engorging themselves in a game of Cerebral Gridlock.

Literally, there is no safe place to put your money. Instead, people are investing their productivity in social media – social media is simply a storage device for knowledge assets. Soon it will become a stock exchange for knowledge assets. Investors should not take this lightly – the best place to store your money is in the real productivity of real people.

People are trading knowledge assets in social media. This exchange is denominated by a conversational currency. If we consider the structure of conversations and compare that to both the structure of social networks AND the structure of our financial system, we see a huge opportunity to develop an alternate financial system that can capitalize and securitize knowledge assets in social media.

Ingenesist.com

Music by Phil Felicia

A Community of Knowledge Assets

A Community of Knowledge AssetsOur culture organizes itself around winners and losers. Corporations reflect this competitive nature to the core of their Capitalist doctrine. Sports analogies abound across the enterprise straight through to the HR department always on the lookout for the most amount of superstar for the least amount of money.

Social media has every industry trying to understand the concept of community. Among the most difficult ideas to grasp is that knowledge assets in a community live on a bell curve, not in winner and loser columns. Everyone is an expert at something and nobody is an expert at everything. Someone who is not performing adequately is simply a misallocated asset, not flotsam subject to jettison at the next layoff or outsource “opportunity”.

A Community of Knowledge Assets

Like most assets, there is a perfectly legitimate market for everyone in a community – nobody need be excluded, marginalized or laid off. Social Media is turning the tables on the hierarchy and old winners who don’t play by the new rules quickly become the new losers. Maybe we ought to run our economy like a community instead of losing so badly at trying to be a winner.

A Community of Knowledge Assets

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