28 February 2006

Invest in Modo Fac Central

I am a great fan of Kerry Santo’s heartbeat. She’s captured the meaning of the new millennium. A couple of years ago, Kerry started an idea movement - Modo Fac Central - that has emerged into a brand, which is attracting participants from all over the world. MFC creates the space for people to come together in common cause and grow from helping one another to get back on track on the human self-sustainability scale.

Kerry believes that the power of purpose in our lives is what makes the difference. Now we can share that not only with one another, but also with those who seem to have lost theirs and just need a spotlight on where to walk again.

If you ever wanted to invest in something that would grow human value through personal development, this is the place! Share your thoughts, your time, your talents, your contacts, your extra money - and help us build a foundation that creates a path for people to contribute what they’re best doing.

Kerry has already created the online space where members share ideas. She even created an alter ego for MFC - Scarybirds - to enslave people in having fun while generating a revenue stream for MFC. She a livewire ful of ideas.

Now, she wants to get the bricks and doors and tables together in a physical space in Edinburgh. Please go to the Modo Fac Central dropbox and make your contribution to this effort. Edinburgh is a wonderful place. When Kerry first showed me the building, I thought "We can just get people to buy each brick, door, table, chair, and put their name on it." Help her bring this location to life.

If you would like to talk to Kerry Santo, please send her an email - kerry.santo@gmail.com - to make an appointment to chat on Skype.

25 February 2006

Got listed on Fortune Magazine's TheInnovationInsider.com

Wow! Got listed on TheInnovationInsider.com on February 21st. They listed my posting about creating an innovation culture in the Netherlands. This was encouragement to keep pursuing our campaign - Exploring Innovation as a Culture - and sharing it. From reading the other postings that were also listed that day, I think we were in good company.

TheInnovationInsider.com was launched in 2005 in conjunction with FORTUNE Magazine's Innovation Forum, which is held each November in New York City.

They showcase "interesting interviews, case studies and commentary on the theme of business innovation. with a focus on those factors that impact innovation - competition, customer experience, intellectual property, and design."

24 February 2006

15 Things that Create Meaning

Steve Diller, Nathan Shedroff, and Darrel Rhea have written a book - "Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences" - that really targets a deep issue in our lives - meaningful customer experience. How we experience our engagements with brands, and the business people delivering those brands, shape much of our daily lives. It can turn our day sour, or make our day smooth. We wish we could have more meaningful experiences when we come in contact with our suppliers and our providers of things we need or use. How often do you have a meaningful customer experience?

The authors have identified 15 Meanings, 15 things that create meaning for us in our roles as consumers. They're listed here in alphabetical order and quoted directly.

Achieving goals and making something of oneself; a sense of satisfaction that can result from productivity, focus, talent, or status. American Express has long benefited from transmitting a hint of this meaning to its card holders by establishing itself as a credit card intended for those who are successful. Nike relies on the essence of this meaning for many in its “Just Do It” campaign.

The appreciation of qualities that give pleasure to the senses or spirit. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thus highly subjective, but our desire for it is ubiquitous. We aspire to beauty in all that surrounds us, from architecture and fine furnishing to clothing and cars. Enormous industries thrive on the promise of beauty stemming from shinier hair, whiter teeth, and clearer skin. Beauty can also be more than mere appearance. For some, it is a sense that something is created “correctly” or efficiently with an elegance of purpose and use. Companies such as Bang & Olufsen audio equipment and Jaguar automobiles distinguish themselves through the beauty of their design.

A sense of unity with others around us and a general connection with other human beings. Religious communities, unions, fraternities, clubs, and sewing circles are all expressions of a desire for belonging. The promise and delivery of community underlies the offerings of several successful organizations including NASCAR with its centralizing focus on car racing and leagues of loyal fans that follow the race circuit, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their Harley Owners Group (HOG), and Jimmy Buffet with his dedicated Parrotheads. These businesses attract and support user communities who embody specific values tied to their products and services.

The sense of having produced something new and original, and in so doing, to have made a lasting contribution. Besides driving our species to propagate, we enjoy this experience through our hobbies, the way we decorate our home, in telling our stories, and in anything else that reflects our personal choices. Creation is what makes “customizable” seem like a desirable attribute, rather than more work for the buyer, for example, making the salad bar a pleasure rather than a chore.

The willing application of oneself to a responsibil-
ity. The military in any country counts on the power of this mean-
ing, as do most employers. Duty can also relate to responsibilities
to oneself or family, such as reading the daily paper to stay abreast
of the news. Commercially, anything regarded as “good for you,”
including vitamins, medications, Cross-Your-Heart bras, and cush-
ioned insoles relays some sense of duty and the satisfaction it

Clear understanding through logic or inspiration. This experience is not limited to those who meditate and fast, it is a core expectation of offerings from Fox News, which promises “fair and balanced” reporting, the Wall Street Journal, which many consider the ultimate authority for business news, and the Sierra Club, which provides perspective on environmental threats and conservation.

The sense of living without unwanted constraints. This experience often plays tug-of-war with the desire for security; more of one tends to decrease the other. Nevertheless, freedom is enticing, whether it’s freedom from dictators, or in the case of Google, the freedom to quickly search the Web learning and interacting with millions of people and resources.

The balanced and pleasing relationship of parts to a whole, whether in nature, society, or an individual. When we seek a work/life balance, we are in pursuit of harmony. Likewise, when we shop at Target for a toaster that matches our mixer, we are in pursuit of harmony. Much of the aesthetic appeal of design depends on our personal desire for the visual experience of harmony.

The assurance of equitable and unbiased treatment. This is the sense of fairness and equality that underlies our concept of “everyman” or Average Joe. It helps explain the immense popularity of the Taurus and the Camry, the ranch house, Levi jeans, and white cotton T-shirts—all products with a simple, impartial appeal to a very broad audience.

A sense of unity with everything around us. It is what some seek from the practice of spirituality and what others expect from a good tequila. Although we don’t normally think of them as a company, the Grateful Dead sustained its revenues for decades building an experience that connected with its fans’ desire for oneness. Similarly, organizations that connects their members into nature or a broader sense of the world, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the United Nations, are capable of evoking a meaning of oneness.

Atonement or deliverance from past failure or decline. Though this might seem to stem from negative experiences, the impact of the redemptive experience is highly positive. Like community and enlightenment, redemption has a basis in religion, but it also attracts customers to Weight Watchers, Bliss spas, and the grocery store candy aisle. Any sensation that delivers us from a less desirable condition to a more pleasing another one can be redemptive.

The freedom from worry about loss. This experience has been a cornerstone of civilization but in the U.S. in particular, acquired increased meaning and relevance after 9/11. On the commercial side, the desire for this experience created the insurance business, and it continues to sell a wide range of products from automatic rifles to Depends undergarments to credit cards that offer protection from identity theft.

A commitment to honesty and integrity. This experience plays an important role in most personal relationships, but it also is a key component of companies like Whole Foods, Volkswagen, and Newman’s Own, all of which portray themselves as simple, upright, and candid.

The recognition of oneself as a valued individual worthy of respect. Every externally branded piece of clothing counts on the attraction of this meaningful experience whether it’s Ralph Lauren Polo or Old Navy, as does Mercedes Benz, the Four Seasons hotel chain, and any other brand with status identification as a core value.

Awe in the presence of a creation beyond one’s understanding. While this might sound mystical and unattainable, consider the wonder that Las Vegas hotels create simply through plaster and lights. Disney has been a master of this experience for decades, and technology companies routinely evoke awe as they enable their users to do what seemed impossible the year before."

I wish that every business would use this book as a guideline for its brand behavior, training people and creating channels of communication that actually reach past the call centers and land in the heads of people who will act. We need better brand behavior as we automate our businesses and disconnect the human communication that shares the consumer story.

Invest in this book - "Making Meaning : How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences". It's a gem.

23 February 2006

Quantum computer solves problem, without running

Oh - juicy mind stuff - you've just got to love those little qubits. In an article from PhysicsOrg.com, I've just learned that a quantum computer has solved problem, without actually running a test to try and solve a problem. This is amazing and has a lot of impact on how we move forward with application research as well.

" By combining quantum computation and quantum interrogation, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found an exotic way of determining an answer to an algorithm – without ever running the algorithm."

Now, if the quantum computer can only find a way to help us find out what we don’t know that we need to know. Then we're really on to something – that would be greatest application and probably the most dangerous weapon in the world. The scary bit would be…we wouldn’t even have to do something to make that happen because the quantum computer would already know what to do – by exploring those unchartered spaces in our minds!

Conscious computers with "knowingness".

22 February 2006

What does socio-economic development mean?

What does this really mean? And what purpose does social media serve in this development?

Technology and social media enable us to connect with other like-minded individuals, share our ideas, and build communities that act on them. This also gives us the opportunity to lead how we shape the “new” organization. We are beginning to realize that our contribution to an organization is more than a job and a paycheck. It has to create meaning for us – and we have to create meaning for others. How we connect and engage with others with a meaningful purpose, how we grow value through those connections, and how we apply our learning, contributes to a new virtuous value spiral.

Guided by our ideals and social cause, we can synchronize these with these new technologies and social media, recognizing the effect of our human values on how we engage with our work. We can build integrity into our economic structures. This is socio-economic development. And…it may be the future of work.

Each step of the way, we have to again ask ourselves “What is the impact of making our decisions from our roles as consumers versus our roles as citizens?” Perhaps, as we begin to understand the impact of those choices, we change how we engage with our brand organizations. We begin to act on our conscience, knowing that we can also create value with that. We can vote with our conscience and not just our wallets.

That loop of virtuous value starts with learning about what contributes to our personal development. Empowered on a personal level, we engage in new ways with others, building more value-driven relationships that contribute to developing things together, like projects and new ways of doing things. This leads to some kind of transaction or financial reward. We take the learning from this effort and strengthen our personal development and social relationships. And…on it goes…the spiral of a virtuous value stream.

Tags: learning, meaning, virtuous value stream, socio-economic development, purpose, social cause, values

20 February 2006

Exploring Innovation as a Culture

We have recently sent a response proposal – Exploring Innovation as a Culture – to the Dutch Ministry responsible for the Innovation Platform. You can download the document here.

We took the approach of outside looking in, and yet grounded in decades of experience from living in The Netherlands. Many of us come from other countries, and some of us are Dutch and have lived in other countries. With this unique perspective, we can see patterns of behavior that perpetuate an old way of thinking. It’s this old way of thinking that keeps The Netherlands from realizing its innovative potential. They keep addressing the problems in the same way because this kind of participation makes them part of the problem they’re trying to resolve. This isn't new, but it helps if someone points this out in a constructive way.

Our culture here in The Netherlands is risk aversive and not given to excellence in performance – two essential criteria that hold innovative behavior hostage. Innovation requires taking risks and doing things differently – and making mistakes!...so that we can learn from them.

We have proposed that The Netherlands could address these contradictions in their culture by opening up new dialogue and building practices that open a path forward – based on HOW they go about exploring innovation as a culture. A few of the highlights include:
  • >>> starting with the foundation that the Dutch culture could evolve from risk aversion by taking calculated risks with experimental projects – and see the value of constructive failure, rather than punish it with financial rules that kill any thought of risking the effort.

  • >>> creating value streams rather than subsidized projects, which do not encourage a sense of excellence in performance – people need a rewarding and sustainable value circle, not hand-outs, which only perpetuate this entitlement behavior.

  • We’re curious how the Ministry will respond. We would love the opportunity to work together with others in this campaign, Exploring Innovation as a Culture. It benefits all of us.

    19 February 2006

    Forrester's Report on Social Computing

    Last week, Forrester released its report on Social Computing: How Networks Erode Institutional Power, And What to Do About It.

    Since much of the work we do deals with the impact of social media on innovation, this was not news to us. Rather, it was a wonderful confirmation that we are certainly on the right track in how we address the innovation issue in companies.

    The Table of Contents includes:

    Technology Embeds Itself In Social Behavior
    • Technology Brings Power To The Masses
    • Social Trends Fuel Technology's Changing Role
    • Why You Should Care About Social Computing

    The Tenets Of Social Computing
    • Innovation Will Shift From Top-Down To Bottom-Up
    • Value Will Shift From Ownership To Experience
    • Power Will Shift From Institutions To Communities

    The Economic Value Of Social Computing
    • Creating Value Means Relinquishing Control

    This report also includes downloadable figures:
    • Figure 1: Technology And Social Factors Converge To Create Social Computing
    • Figure 2: The Many Forms Of Social Computing
    • Figure 3: An Aging Population Is More Socially Motivated
    • Figure 4: Why You Should Care About Social Computing
    • Figure 5: The Three Tenets Of Social Computing
    • Figure 6: Moving From Top-Down To Bottom-Up Innovation
    • Figure 7: Experiences Span Product And Industry Boundaries
    • Figure 8: The Economic Value Of Social Computing
    • Figure 9: Social Computing Requires A New Marketing Tool Kit

    Sossoon - New Business Networking Platform

    Sossoon is a relatively new networking platform that serves as a hub for closed communities. There has been so much going on in this area regarding online social and business networking platforms.

    Earlier this month, Eric Woerdeman, one of the founders of the Sossoon platform, met with me in my studio. It was refreshing to listen to someone who openly shared his “aha” moment of moving from business transaction thinking into realizing the value of building human and social capital. He experienced this transformation while he and his partner were developing and getting Sossoon up and running.

    Their proposition is to build a platform propagated by closed business groups that require a customized space to share discussions and documents, manage events and projects, and evolve in how they collaborate with one another. They want to be the networking platform that services groups and communities of practice that recognize the value of having such a platform. While doing that they can work closely with people in these groups to create an online space that accommodates the behavior and needs of the group – an intuitive partnership.

    Sossoon's strength will be in their profiling techniques, reaching toward finding the right alignments between people and ideas and projects. They have a VisualSpace that's worth exploring - give it a try.

    This is something new - intuitive and responsive platforms that are open to serving a purpose for their communities, rather than having their communities serve a purpose for them. I see this new kind of citizen-based paltform growing. My bet is on them growing a sustainable and valuable business.

    16 February 2006

    The 10 Most Enduring Ideas

    Art Kleiner is someone we all admire - for his insight, his practice and his grounded innovative way of thinking and communicating. He writes a regular column for Strategy + Business Magazine. When I read something from him, I take notice.

    In their 10th Anniversary issue, they researched the question: Of all the ideas "strategy+business magazine" has covered, which are most likely to endure for at least another 10 years?

    Here are the winners - THE 10 MOST ENDURING IDEAS - voted most likely to affect the way we run our businesses.

    1. EXECUTION (1,911 votes; 49.3 percent of the voters chose this concept). It’s not your strategic choices that drive success, but how well you implement them.

    2. THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION (1,807; 46.6 percent). A learning organization is one that is deliberately designed to encourage everyone in it to keep thinking, innovating, collaborating, talking candidly, improving their capabilities, making personal commitments to their collective future, and thereby increasing the firm’s long-term competitive advantage.

    3. CORPORATE VALUES (1,555; 40.1 percent). Companies that care about ethics, trust, citizenship, and even meaning and spirituality in the workplace (or that simply articulate their values carefully) perform better in the marketplace than companies that care just about “making money.”

    4. CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (1,554; 40.1 percent). The cultivation of long-term relationships with customers, including awareness of their needs, leads to highly focused, capable companies that try to make consumers “part of the family.”

    5. DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY (1,513; 39.0 percent). As Clayton Christensen noted in The Innovator’s Dilemma, technological innovation radically alters markets by undermining incumbent companies — which are vulnerable because their offerings are all tailored to the needs of their existing customers.

    6. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (1,432; 37.0 percent): You don’t have to rely on “putting the right people in place.” You can train all employees to be better choosers, better strategists, better managers, and in the end, better leaders.

    7. ORGANIZATIONAL DNA (1,315; 33.9 percent): Leaders can design an organization’s structures — incentives, decision rights, reporting relationships, and information flows — to induce high performance by aligning them with one another and the strategic goals of the enterprise.

    8. STRATEGY-BASED TRANSFORMATION (1,277; 33.0 percent): Beyond the “blank page” of reengineering, this is the redesign of processes and organizational structures, and the consequent cultural change, to fulfill the strategic goals of the enterprise. In an ideal universe, this would not even be a management concept, because, as one correspondent put it, “All company activities should be aligned to the enterprise strategy.”

    9. COMPLEXITY THEORY (1,187; 30.6 percent): Markets and businesses are complex systems that can’t be controlled mechanistically, but their emergent order can sometimes be anticipated. An understanding of the ways that complex systems evolve can help managers intervene and act more effectively.

    10. LEAN THINKING (1,183; 30.5 percent): This type of process and management innovation is exemplified by the Toyota production system. Employees use a heightened awareness of work flow and demand to cut waste, eliminate cost, boost quality, and customize mass production. Said one anonymous correspondent, “It combines with complexity theory, emergent behavior, wisdom of crowds, disruption, and agile thinking to extend into areas like R&D to redefine innovation practices. Management thinking will need to change to address these fertile intersections.”


    I just love the work I do. The methodologies deliver every time. Phew!

    15 February 2006

    Branding 2.0 – The Role of the Brand

    Building on the Branding 2.0 series - which began with my posting from February about the branding landscape - I'd like to address the role of the brand in this posting. The role of the brand is to give strategic purpose and meaning to value creation.

    Identifying the role of the brand in an organization can depend on who’s responsible for the strategic development of the business. I use the brand as the instrument or tool for value creation by using it to organize the relationships in the business into value networks. I also use the brand as a tool for engaging people in the business of building strategy, so that people take paternity for the creation and development of that strategy. This is a proprietary methodology - Applied Connective Dynamics - that delivers the content for a branded identity network formula.
    The brand represents the culture of the organization – the spirit in which people engage with one another and create value. This may not always be reflected in the brand’s business organization. Communities outside of the brand’s business may use the brand in another way to serve their own purpose. In this way, the brand plays a different role for that particular community. This can benefit the business of the brand. It can also be detrimental. Case in point: European Neo-Nazi youth picked up the Lonsdale brand as their clothing uniform, and others stopped by buying it. The brand had taken on a life of its own outside the business before anyone inside the business made a strategic.

    Social media has created new worlds and organizational networks around brands that exist outside the business network. In order to capture the value of the brand – and track how other communities use the brand – the business organization has to find new ways of capturing the value created in these worlds where their brand plays a role.

    Social media can also play an integral role here for the business – if the people managing the brand’s value network identify this as a strategic path. It’s a different way of thinking about the brand and working with it - tracking its behavior through search engines and building a value network visualized by mapping technology and kept up to date using RSS. The brand has a life of its own – what are the possibilities!

    Next time, I’m going to explain the difference between the brand, its operational system and its business model.

    Here are some previous blogs that support this series on branding:
    Give the brand a job to do
    The Spirit of the Business
    Conscious Brand - The Nature of Brands
    The Conscious Brand - The Physics of Branding
    Part 2. The Conscious Brand - The Physics of Branding
    The Birth of a Business School Alumni Brand

    How Do You Evaluate the Value Fitness of a Project?

    How many of us invest the time to develop a list of criteria that we can use to evaluate the potential of projects that could create value for us? I’m performance driven so I need to understand what creates value for me or for our teams.

    So many offers come my way, many seductive. My participation could change their course – and this could mean generating new value streams for me. And, many projects come my way that require an investment of time and deliver lots of value to others but very little in return for me. I see my contribution copied in their websites. I listen to them using my concepts to grow value for themselves, but they do not generate a value stream back in my direction, not even credit. After doing this regularly for the past year, I decided to stop with the start of 2006.

    I also needed a way to explain why I am saying “no” and why I am no longer contributing. I needed this as much for myself as I did for the others.

    Recently, I’ve started using a list of 12 basic criteria that a project must have for it to deliver enough value for me to engage with it. I’ve constructed a purposeful list based on 3 elements relevant to each of the 4 value generators: human capital (personal development), social capital (relationships), conceptual capital (creative, knowledge, intellectual), and transactional (financial, assets).

    I ran an experiment with existing projects to see how they stood up. My intuition has been pretty spot on – experience probably. What I’ve noticed is that so many of my friends or associates ask me to do stuff for free – or I volunteer to help them. If I have time, I generally do not mind if they’re close friends. This comes from old habits of developing staff into being all they can be. This is no longer my responsibility since I’m working in virtual organizations now. I am no longer responsible for how a person’s personal development impacts the bottom line – difficult to let go of this habit.

    I ran several of these “friends” projects through my new Project Value Fitness (PVF) evaluation – and discovered that they actually generate very little value for me, even on the relationship level. Worse, I discovered that they actually distract me from time I would have had to develop value for myself. When I started saying no to some of these people, I noticed that they immediately fell off the radar. A little follow-up research revealed that they are a particular behavior profile that I need to learn to recognize and say no to...nice, full of ideas, need experience and guidance, and have no sense of how to ground their work.

    What would happen if I replaced these with other opportunities that I could develop? So, the first question that I now ask myself is: What purpose will this project serve to generate value for me? Then I start by putting it through the PVF evaluation.

    The second question is: How can I still help my associates and yet generate value for myself? Perhaps, I need to engage them in a coaching role – where they can call me and ask for input, knowledge, contacts, access, whatever – and they pay by the minute, if they consider my contribution valuable. Another opportunity might be…trade or barter for something of similar value that they have to offer.

    What’s interesting is the value streams only work if they build on each capital level and ultimately lead to transactional value if each capital value level serves a purpose for the individual or client involved. It works on the client level, which is why I’m going to invest the time to see how to make it work on the individual level.

    Has anyone else played with this idea?

    Tags: value creation, project fitness, evaluation criteria

    13 February 2006

    Quote from Jimmy Wales on Social Software

    I just loved this quote from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. While clearing out some old bookmarks, I ran across the original posting from Ross Mayfield on the Many2Many blog back in November 2005. We're facing a moment in time when many of the heads of IT are standing in the way of how people really want to connect and put the technology to work for themselves.

    “I think, partly because of the personality types who become programmers… I don’t know what it is exactly... a lot of programmers, seem to me to think that the whole point of social software is to replace the social with the software. Which is not really what you want to do, right? Social Software should exist to empower us to be human… to interact… in all the normal ways that humans do.”

    8 February 2006

    My Dangerous Idea Got a Mention!

    Wow! Open Source, a radio program in the USA, picked up on my dangerous idea in their Blogger Round-up. I'm completely chuffed.

    iPod Etiquette

    In the MacObserver, I read Vern Seward's column on iPod etiquette. Seward made a point about the growing culture of isolationism caused by our addiction to that little infectious thing we call the iPod. Are we choosing solitude over socialization?

    As I rode in the train the other day, I looked around. Nearly everyone was either on their mobile phones (talking much too loud - why do we think we need to shout?) or sitting there lost in trance, listening to whatever was flowing through their earphones from their favorite little device (...and sometimes we're also forced to listen because they've got the volume so pumped up).

    Do we need iPod etiquette? I think we need to establish some kind of etiquette because when we're tuned in to our devices, we are tuned out of the rest of the world. Accidents can happen, and we can miss something valuable. Is there a time and place for our precious little devices?

    2 February 2006

    Cartoons Instigate Jihad against Western Newspapers

    This morning while waiting for a meeting, I sat down and read the International Herald Trib. What immediately grabbed my attention was the article from Dan Bilefsky reporting from Paris about the furor caused by a series of 12 cartoons - depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in different contexts - that the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, had published at the end of October.

    In the IHT article, they quote the cultural editor of Jylland-Posten, Flemming Rose:
    ”This is a far bigger story than just the question of 12 cartoons in a small Danish newspaper. This is a question of integration and how compatible is the religion of Islam with a modern secular society. How much does an immigrant have to give up, and how much does the receiving culture have to compromise?”

    The article also said that other European media also published the cartoons and brought the story to their public. They quoted the French newspaper, France Noir, as saying that they had also published the cartoons ”…because they constitute the subject of controversy on a global scale, which has done nothing to maintain balance and mutual limits in democracy, respect of religious beliefs, and freedom of expression. No religious dogma can impose its view on a democratic and secular society”

    This triggered my curiosity about value conflicts, so when I returned to the studio, I began an investigation to see if I could follow what had happened.

    First, I found the cartoons in the Brussels Journal from 22 January 2006. Apparently, according to Islam religion, it is blasphemous for Muslims to make images of their prophet Muhammad. Because of this, Muslim fundamentalists threatened to bomb the Danish newspaper’s offices and kill the cartoonists.

    In an editorial published 30 January 2006 by Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten wrote:
    “In our opinion the 12 cartoons were moderate and not intended to be insulting. They did not go against Danish laws, but have evidently offended many Muslims, for which we apologize. Meanwhile a couple of offending cartoons have circulated in the Muslim world which were never published in Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published if they had been offered to us. We would have dismissed them on the grounds that they breached our ethical limits.”

    According to one of our local Amsterdam newspapers, De Volkskrant, Dutch cartoonists admitted last week that they do not dare to depict Muhammad out of fear for violent retaliations. Considering the escalating violence in our country right now and the percentage of active and radicalized Islamic extremists here, I can imagine that this self-imposed censorship is simply protective behavior. After all, The Netherlands runs on risk aversion.

    Even so, there is a Muhammad Image Archive and even a comic book online and available for anyone to access.

    What bothers me about this story is how can we resolve conflicts at the core cultural value level? In our westernized society, we believe so strongly in freedom of expression with equal treatment for all without regard to sex, religion or race. In the Islamic religion, they seem to believe in exactly the opposite. But, is this true? Nothing is that black and white – or is it? Is a cultural conflict so deep and core really an opportunity to open a new kind of dialogue where we begin with a discussion about how these core values drive our societies’ behaviors? Human beings have to stop trying to conquer one another. We must find a different path to discover how to live respectfully alongside each other. Otherwise, we will find ourselves continually at war.

    If you want to follow this story, The Brussels Journal online is tracking updates to this story from other media. If you read through the comments at the bottom of the page, you can begin to get a sense of the opinions being shared.

    n.b. Please understand that I have not posted any controversial images on this blog to avoid insulting anyone or addding more fuel to the fire.

    1 February 2006

    Branding2.0 – The Landscape 2006

    Since most of my work deals with branding and value creation, people keep asking for explanations and engaging in conversations about different aspects of branding. I am going to start a series of postings about branding. I would like people to have a place to access content and contribute their own demonstrated expertise or questions in this arena.

    Social media has brought branding and identity to the forefront because of their role in value creation. Branding is the process of organizing and identifying the vision, values, and integral behavior of the people involved in delivering the value net created by their exchange. This not only includes people in the brand’s working organization, but people who engage with the brand outside that organization. This is why social media has made such an impact on this process. People rally together and may use the brand as an accessory of their own – to either support what they’re doing or to connect with others. If the brand’s working organization has not identified them in their value network, they cannot capture the value that these people create with the brand. This may not be transactional value, but may be value creating human, social or conceptual capital.

    This is why meaning plays such an important role. Social media is all about people and their content in different contexts. People take different aspects of a brand and remix it into their content. Since this is not necessary a transaction, the working organization does not count it as a transaction, nor do they follow what other value gets created with their brand. Elements of our brands are weaving their way through different communities and creating new ways, new ideas, and innovative opportunities for the working organization – if they were aware. Old accounting methodologies and old ways of thinking are keeping many brands from capturing the innovative value of their brands.
    give brand job to do
    The insurance sector is a great example of this. People working for insurance companies are stressed out, de-motivated by quotas that are continually being pushed higher and higher, and facing customers that are unhappy with the premiums they pay and the lack of service they receive. What’s happening here? Insurance companies are only concerned with transactional capital. They continually miss many opportunities to grow their human capital, social capital and conceptual (knowledge) capital. Actually, they lose on these 3 levels of value creation because they lose the value that gets created by their people developing themselves and making new kinds of contributions to the organization, whether through the creation of social capital or conceptual capital, by developing new intellectual property with other people inside the working organization or with existing or potential clients.

    Everything is connected now. The brand organization’s value net is only limited by the people responsible for its development. We have the tools. We have the knowledge. We have the processes. What we are missing is a presence or consciousness at the management level to recognize opportunities. This is what innovation is all about – creating the space to experiment and recognizing opportunites.

    Traditionally, management spends most of its time clearing the path of everything that gets in the way of the devices that generate transactional value. The business model is set up to support these operational systems and their related organizational behavior. Change costs time, effort and money – and isn’t worth the investment from their perspective.

    This kind of thinking and behavior And…it is very quickly becoming very old world. Branding has the processes to recognize and capture value on many levels. Commerce has only one thing in mind – devices that generate money.

    The sooner we take the opportunities to learn how to put social media to work for us, the sooner we can start a value trail that leads from personal development into human capital, and that leads to better social networks growing social capital, and that creates knowledge sharing and development of ideas into conceptual capital. Once that value trail gains momentum, it grows into a value stream that generates transactional value.

    We need to give the brand a job to do - create value at every contact point on all levels.