spring by miyukiutada
A Moment of Clarity:
[Via Transparent Office]

I do my best thinking when I’m talking. That may sound funny, but it’s true. When I write, I tend to overthink the issues and get ahead of myself. But when I’m talking to another person, or better yet a group of people, I slow down and spit out what’s really essential. (I’m a solid E on the Myers-Briggs test.)

So it’s not surprising that I had a moment of clarity the other day while talking to a customer. The customer had asked me how you launch a collaborative, wiki-based community. We didn’t have a lot of time–I was late to pick up my kids from school–and I had promised him a 60-second answer. What I said was, “Look, it’s really very simple: Structure, populate, review, invite, and garden.” As soon as the words had passed my lips I thought to myself, hey, that’s pretty clear. Maybe I should write it down. And now I have.

It’s a good, and simple, way to remember how to do it. So I propose “SPRIG” as the acronym for remembering how to launch a collaborative community:
Structure the wiki up-front with stubs and links
Populate it with real content
Review what you’ve done within your core group and refine the structure as needed
Invite a few people who have relevant knowledge and relationships and will be into the idea
Garden the wiki content as things get going.

In my next few blog posts, I’ll elaborate on each of these activities. So stay tuned. And if my tone seems conversational, now you know why.

BTW, “SPRIG” may not be the world’s catchiest acronym. Maybe we could do “SPRING” playing off the first two letters of “Invite”. Any reactions or counter-suggestions?

Acronyms can be very useful. SPRIG is a good one. SocialText uses SPRING, with the N coming from ‘Ncourage.’

Whichever is used, the steps are very important, particularly the last, which is often missed. Not everyone needs to garden but it will not be a useful wiki without a gardener.

UPDATE (6:25 am): No wonder the acronyms from Transprent Office and SocialText are so similar. The author of Transparent Office, Michael Idinopulos, works for SociaText as the VP of Professional Services. I guess I should have clicked the ‘About’ link before I wrote.

It makes no difference. The acronym is as useful as ever.

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Facebook – Evil?

competition by eye of einstein
Facebook and The Future of Competition:
[Via HarvardBusiness.org]

Last week, I discussed Facebook’s relentless evil, how that was a profound strategic error, and why the costs of evil are starting to outweigh the benefits – for everyone, not just Facebook.

Now, that’s a pretty unorthodox argument, and I took a lot of heat for it: what is evil, anyways? Does it really have any relevance to the real world of backslapping, boardrooms, and bonuses?

After all, business exists in a kind of Nietzschean state beyond good and evil – it has to, because it’s only when we ditch the suffocating dictates of morality that we can think in terms of economically meaningful concepts, like utility, efficiency, and productivity.

Right? Wrong. The problem with failing to call evil, well, evil is simple: we can never really do good unless we’re able to judge what’s evil. And doing good is fast becoming a strategic – not just a moral – imperative.

There is a very interesting discussion going on over at Harvard Business online. It is about the very nature of companies, on whether they are good or evil.

While the terms are pejorative, the discussion is about what works best in the Information Age. Industrial Age approaches were all about gaining complete control and zero-sum games. Now, in a networked world, the most successful companies are those that make it easiest for their customers. Otherwise they will move to the one that is easier.

Creating walled sandboxes will not be as successful as open playing fields. At least if the leaders of this discussion are right.

But, truthfully, the importance is to have the conversation. While they may not be exactly right, the dialogs can get them to the right answer sooner. Sometimes being provocative can speed things up.

Here are a few more things he wrote:

It’s that, in fact, yesterday’s lumbering dinosaurs are actually smartening up faster than Facebook. Even textbook cases of pathological evil like Starbucks and Wal-Mart have decided to play the tiresome, zero-sum games of competitive strategy less and less.

What’s really going on here? There’s a massive tectonic shift rocking the economic landscape. All these players are discovering that the boardroom’s first and most important task is simply to try always and everywhere do less evil. In the dismal language of economics: as interaction explodes, the costs of evil are starting to outweigh the benefits.


That’s really what Facebook’s mini case is all about: no amount of competitive strategy can help Facebook gain advantage – because advantage is built on putting good before evil.


As Starbucks and Wal-Mart are discovering, orthodox strategy was built for an industrial world – an equilibrium world of oligopolies, soulless “product”, and zombified “consumers”. But that’s not today’s world. Playing the games of orthodox strategy in a world whose economic fabric is being rewoven isn’t just small: the opportunity cost is never discovering newer, better approaches to strategy.

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