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Digital Transformation will change how we work and live together

Filed under: Innovation,Knowledge Management — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I was asked in an interview that I hope will appear online soon what I’m excited about that’s coming in the future of social media. Based on some thoughts from Dion Hinchcliffe that I wrote about recently and some historical context from Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson’s new book Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future, here is what I wrote:

In short, I’m excited about how social media is changing the way we work. I’m excited about the coming bounty of real understanding and increased humanity that I expect to be a part of digital transformation. 20 years ago, the digital re-engineering of the enterprise brought new levels of efficiency and freed many people from their most repetitive work. Now our jobs require far more creativity, self-determination, communication, and other fundamentally human skills.

That type of transition is underway again in what we call Digital Transformation. Now it’s new technologies like social networks – both inside and outside of enterprises, new ways of working like the practice called “working out loud,” and new, network-informed ways of thinking about stakeholders, measurement, growth and management. This is an exciting time, this time of the consumerization of the enterprise. Hopefully the enterprise will have a lot to add to the mix as well – and the new capabilities of social media will be leveraged in powerful and positive ways at work.

On a deeper level, below this question about work, I’m excited about the ongoing democratization of communication and self-awareness that social media offers. It continues to face criticism, for example recently from some of the people who helped create it, as “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created [that] are destroying how society works.” But I think that’s just a sign that we as individual participants need to take more responsibility and use social media more effectively. History will be the result of both structural and macroeconomic trends and our individual decisions, together.

Aiming for Goldilocks-level innovation

Filed under: Innovation — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

“We want to reinvent, but we sure … don’t want to reinvent the wheel.” – Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal.

That line really struck me from this Fast Company article “The Future of Retail in the Age of Amazon.”

It reminded me of my friend Hideshi Hamaguchi‘s analysis of innovative products in terms of new and known behavior and value.

Hideshi explained that creating a product that allowed users to capture new value from known behaviors is a great way to make something attractive and comprehensible for the market. Making something that enables users to capture known forms of value using new (hopefully simpler) forms of behavior is good too. But when you’re innovating in terms of both behavior required and the form of value that comes from it – that’s going to be a tough sell.

I made a crude visual representation of that here. Hideshi’s would be much more attractive, I’m sure. In this case Green certainly doesn’t mean “go.” It just means, this is the easiest path to go to market. The yellow quadrants are probably the smartest way to successfully innovate.

This was a big struggle in building Little Bird, before it was acquired by Sprinklr last year. We were in that top right red quadrant. We were asking users to set up workflow systems to regularly check in on and engage with content highlights from high-impact people, on any topic, not filtered by keyword, in order to find key opportunities in a cloud of conversation to co-create value as a part of. That’s pretty awesome, but for most people it’s new behavior to capture new value.

Thankfully, now that we’re part of Sprinklr, the data we surface is much more easily actionable through more familiar behavior and delivers more familiar value.

One of the mistakes I made was building in that top right corner. The company could have been much more commercially compelling on its own if we’d succeeded in moving toward the more-popularly known axis in one direction or another. We knew this, I was just stubborn. )And it’s much easier said than done – we certainly tried.) I’m stubborn in large part because I am motivated more than anything else by awe, and the abundance of opportunities I personally have always been able to create with the behavior and value exactly as we delivered it was (and is) something I’m in awe of. In the future I’ll team up, with greater self-awareness all around, with settlers I can pass the ball to. That would probably be necessary but not sufficient.

Word to the wise!

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