Tag Archives: Business

Does anyone still need to be told? Yes

There are plenty of “social media 101” slideshows on the web, this is better than most for the newbie, some good strong images, maybe could have done with pecha kucha discipline to see if the story could be told in 20 slides, but thanks to Marta Kagan of Espresso or putting it together (nearly two years ago!).

One year later Marta gaves us the improved updated version… I really like this one:

Thats all, just thought I would share these with you 🙂

Intellectual Property

One of the most telling moments at Mipim this week was the Innovation seminar. Now seminars at Mipim are never that well attended – theres deals to be done, wine to drink – but even so less than 100 people in a big room reminded me of the industries weaknesses – introversion, conservatism, complacency.

The speaker, Robert Newhart II, an American innovation evangelist, preached a pretty mainstream spin on innovation (and creativity) compared to some of the more edgy stuff we hear in the UK, whether from Nesta or the social marketing sector. Drawing on his “Free Radicals of Innovation”  film, there were examples – the usual suspects – Apple, Sony, Nike – and the theme was the usual “innovate or die”, more innovation when times are tough, etc, with quotes from Darwin, Edison, Einstein as well as video clips with Guy Kawasaki (yep, him again). Not bad as an advert for the Innovation Center.org, but not sure the real estate guys got anything from it.

So what else did I see?  – lots of glass towers optimistically proposed for small towns in eastern Europe, big Russian stands, but fewer Russians, Boris Johnson positive and idiosyncratic as usual, UK public sector led regen strong, a lot less money men and yes just a few people saying there are good schemes coming forward. But as Newhart says too many think its “keep your head down and in two years time you can carry on as before” – no, the old model is not only broke, but gone.

As for the anticipated Twitter #Mipim buzz it didn’t really happen – a few from individuals, the magazines – especially BD &  Estates Gazette, but maybe everyone was too “busy” to report their progress minute by minute. Most were saying “its less busy, but the key players are still here” – perhaps justification for the bosses back home?

Now back to the real world for me too…

Risk & reward

Just a quick redirect to an article by Kevin Kelly (not the guy from Long Now, Wired, etc) in Forbes about risk and innovation, which has been a topic I have spent a lot of time on this week. Apart from the references to our old friend Daniel Kahneman  (see 18 previous posts) Kelly makes some valid but perhaps a bit general points on the balance between risk and innovation – one bank executive’s innovation is another civil engineers risk, as I might have said to Rod earlier this week.

Kelly says “Everyone is taking, if anything, too little risk.” well yes, but lets explore that…while the points he makes about framing and emotion reflect Tversky and Kahneman, its still a stretch in the current economic situation to feel that corporate risk taking will save the day. Or maybe I misread it – if so I blame the last glass of red wine. I did, however, like this bit:

“How can you as a leader instill a culture that makes your employees wisely embrace risk and figure out new ways to build revenues? Here are three suggestions: (1) Ensure employees see unanimity across the senior team about the firm’s priorities; (2) encourage mistakes. “If you fail, try again. Fail again. Fail better,” said the playwright Samuel Beckett (we can learn a lot from the creative process); (3) make collaboration desirable. Complex problems require collaborative solutions. Where leaders fail to persuade their people to collaborate, ambiguity and competitiveness rush to fill the vacuum.”

From air to z

 

Networks

Russell Davies, from his blog “as disappointed as you are”,  quoting  Clay Shirky:

“We’re not going from a world of Business Model A to one of Business Model B, we’re going from Business Model A to Business Models A to Z”.

That was what I was trying to explain to a potential client, our new method doesn’t depose the old method, just massively increases your options.

The Stephen Johnson quotes (he wrote “The Invention of Air” – about Priestley and science, also the excellent “Ghost Map”), picked out by Russell, emphasises the role of groups coming together outside of the traditional frameworks to further science, technology and industry.

This focus on groups of common interests, often very niche and specialist, reflects what we are trying to build in our new behavioural change models (applied to transport this time). Still need to get evidence to convince clients of the multiverse of options, because risk is number one on everyones mind these days – “no one got sacked for buying IBM” as my old boss used to say… (well it was a long time ago)

3:31 minutes to explain it all

I have been looking for a quick way to explain to clients the move from the broadcast model to social marketing – this just may be the answer. Enjoy.

So what is the risk?

From the Digital Life, Design 2009 conference I found this video of a discussion with Daniel Kahneman (2002 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of “Fooled by Randomness” and “The Black Swan”). In “Reflections on a Crisis” they explore how economic behaviours, bias and risk taking got us to where we are in the global recession and how counter-intuitive actions may help us recover.

DLD is not a conference that I was too aware of until recently, but with the benefit of offering all their sessions on video we can all get the benefits without a trip to Munich (although I may be making the case for a ticket to next years event!). Other speakers videos this year well worth watching include Dan Airely (of course!), David Weinberger “Knowledge in the Age of Abundance” , Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook growth and where next and a panel on Internet Politics in the age of the first “Internet President”.

Productivity tool

Thanks again to Jessica Hagy  & “Indexed” for an image that reflects my last 7 days… luckily my friends and colleagues have been doing the heavy lifting on the blog frontline:

http://silverleigh.wordpress.com/

http://logistical.wordpress.com/

In the words of the Private Eye  “From the Message Boards” parody – “great stuff, guys!”

Standup economist

Avoiding work constructively and so enjoyed some old clips from Yoram Bauman, PHD and the self styled world’s first “standup economist”- although a little theoretical knowledge might help in crossing over the humour barrier for mere mortals (or neo Keynesians).

Recent gigs at Chartered Financial Analyists local meetings… World tour promised, the LSE should book him now.

He was also on PBS today (which why I checked out his YouTube back catalogue, in a long tail sort of way) and in a relatively straight interview, surprise, surprise, he got asked about the recession – almost missed the reference to Black Swans, though.

Social media experts needed?

Well what I need now are some social media marketing businesses to work with on a project in Brighton (lets see if this sentence gets picked up by a potential business partner, by osmosis or Google)…

While doing my research I came across the debate in various blogs on the fate of the self appointed/publicly acclaimed experts as well as the corporate social media specialists and the hired guns (and much speculation whether they will/can survive the recession?)  Examples include Shel Israel’s  post and the highly relevant comments – as Shel says in his open letter to CEOs –

“This is the time to think about the most efficient way to be closest to you customers, to what’s left of your company ecosystem. You need to be among the first to detect the nuances of your market and adjust. You need to think about the most efficient way to keep in the conversation. “

Enough to encourage Hugh MacLeod to produce several (tongue in cheek) Social Media Specialist drawings :

Someone said in one of the blog comments that the only proof of SM expertise is results – agreed, so thats what I am looking for.

Business planning 101

business plan

 

Sunday afternoon working and while we try to avoid Dilbert’s optimism and buzzwords in our Strategic Plan for next year I have also been reading between the lines of the new Transport for London Business Plan. For what its worth my initial thoughts on the business plan are offered, prepared for the South London Partnership .

So whats the big idea?

In the NESTA Connect blog there was some thought given to the recent Business Week top innovators list – all the usual suspects with Apple & Google leading the pack. I think the blog is right:

As always the list is more telling for who it leaves out rather than who it includes – what about companies from sectors such as architecture/construction, financial services, media, brand and PR, financial services and tourism and hospitality?

Agreed – surely the real innovation is found in the archetypical garage or at least small business and with the exception of Google, with its “20% Time” for all employees, innovation usually gets shuffled into an “R&D department”.

With the publication of Innovation Nation by the DIUS (yes, I had to remind myself it stands for the Department of Innovation, Universities & Skills) the topic is back in the news. 

Key to the debate is whether a recession is the best or worst time to develop new products and bring them to market – as an eternal optimist I would say do it now, research resources are inexpensive and necessity, as always, is the mother of invention.

Social Objects & Markers

From Fast Company TV and Shel Israel, a good interview with Hugh MacLeod on “social objects”.

I met Hugh a while back on the Scoble Pissed as Newts tour, had a few beers and discussed microbrands, blogging & markets – hence “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time” – now you know who to blame, although it was Robert that really encouraged me to “just do it”.

Modern business

www.indexed.blogspot.com

Seaside Shuffle

Just back from a few days at MIPIM, the property conference in Cannes. This year attended by a record number of 28,000 delegates, the first question I have been asked since getting back – “is the sub prime financial woes having an impact on the developers in Europe?” (actually usually asked about the consumption of champagne and size of the yachts, but it breaks down to the same thing).

CNBC didnt find any hard evidence and neither did I , although there was just a hint of caution. Certainly there were a lot of developers who wanted to talk to transport planners, so that justified my trip to somewhere sunny in March …

And just in case someone tells you MIPIM is all about the parties congrats to the 140 cyclists who completed the 1500 km Cycle to Cannes event for charity this year.

Under the title “Logistics”…

the BBC Radio 4 Bottomline business programme interviewed Keith Ludeman, CEO of Go-Ahead Group. No great revelations but Keith responds well to Evan Davis’s digs on rail reliability, fares, etc.  Previous week included interview with CEO of Atkins, so maybe our industry is getting a higher profile?

Worth a listen – download the podcast here 

First Great Western

The DfT finally gets the message – as we all knew passengers in the west of England have had enough with the the poor performance of First Great Western. Well the vocal ones , including the blogs “I hate First Great Western” and “More Train, Less Strain” have been pretty good at generating mainstream media interest. A more balanced view from Christian Wolmar at the end of January got my attention, as he sees clearly the DfT role in the chaos, born out of the railway structures …

While other bloggers will go to great lengths to stick the knife in one more time I have thought more about the speed of the Remedial Plan process, which doesn’t generate confidence. This should be the guarantee that if things go wrong then they are put right pretty quick, but in this case the problems are fundamental – lack of rolling stock, demotivated staff and not enough of them, a complex mix of very local and very long distance services. I have a lot of sympathy with FGW on this, but managing the key messages in the public domain has not been their strength.

Compensation is going to be complex to payout fairly (and takes much needed cash away from the system) and discounting tickets may benefit off peak travellers who haven’t taken the commuting chaos. Better communication technology is fine, but if it isn’t used because your staff don’t know or can’t say the real reasons for delays/cancellations, then the money is wasted.

Still lets see how it all looks in 6 months time, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

Useful CRM – not an oxymoron?

On my geek pilgrimage to understanding social networking in the context of travel behaviour change I keep ending up at CRM (Client Relationship Management) sites – generally flogging a process and software, but as Jay Deragon reports on his Relationship Economy blog:

Our friend and colleague Doc Searls writes: I just learned by the Ajatus Manifesto that sixty-five percent of all CRM systems fail. Ajatus blames companies rushing to implement CRM. I’m sure that’s true. But I also think it’s possible that CRM itself is flawed by the closed and silo’d nature of the “relationships” involved. As a customer I can only relate to company CRM systems on the companies’ terms. Not on ones that I provide as well — for the good of us both. In other words, the base problem is that the lack of customer independence as a base condition for the relationship in the first place.

The answer (apparently) is VRM, or Vendor Relationship Management – which I am still trying to get my head around – is it still emperor’s new clothes or a genuine breakthrough?

As we develop our CRM I want confidence that the crash and burn of existing CRM systems is noted – you see, that’s why people think I am an optimist.

(Jay’s previous post on Conversational Rivers is pretty good – and anyone who is a mate of Doc Searles is OK with me 🙂 )

I take my R&D role seriously…

dilbert27334280080121.gif

Corporate voices

Theres a bit of an internal (and external) debate about the value of “corporate blogs”.  To be honest if its just bland press releases no one will ever read it twice.  Hopefully this blog offers to links to interesting stories, random thoughts, news etc.

There’s very few senior people blogging in our sector (land development, transport) but one I have followed is the New Swindon Company blog, written by Peter James, Chief Executive.  All the rules are followed reasonably frequent updates, personal, honest about successes and disappointments. Other honourable mentions on the development and transport blogging front include…

Disclosure: We are working for AMEC on one of the development sites in Swindon

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the workers

20071223b-400.jpg

From Hugh’s Gaping Void blog, 23rd December

No comment

low cost cars – the global challenge

I found this interesting Business Week article on the development of really cheap cars by chance, but it raises some fundamental questions, albeit from an American perspective:

Link

Some further thoughts:

  • the comparison with no frill airlines and cheap clothes retailers (H&M, etc) is right in this context – if the western consumers can go low cost the emerging markets can start at low cost and the global market for very cheap products increases
  • Imagine a $2,500 (£1,250) car’s impact on developing countries traffic levels, when India and China’s emerging middle and upper working class can join in (or as the article suggests we are already seeing a $7,000 car impacting on poorer populations in eastern Europe and increasingly on the west…like the Dacia/Renaut Logan)
  • You can hear the complaint from the emerging nations – “why shouldn’t we have personal individual mobility like you have had for the last 100 years, to cover for your guilt about environmental damage and climate change” (Thanks, Gottfried Daimler, btw)
  • From my personal perspective I muse – what does this do to the motorcycle and scooter market – will Japanese, Korean, even the Chinese and Indian manufacturers who are currently growing, go the way of Triumph, BSA, Ariel – all world dominating businesses when a motorcycle was the first step on the mobility ladder. Better go for plan b, Honda… and dont even start to think about what China’s bicycle manufacturers will turn to next (the usual reference point in discussions about developing countries and cars)
  • I recall a similar article in Car magazine some 15 years ago and its predictions certainly came true – your European car is likely to be assembled anywhere labour is cheap (uh…Derby, Sunderland, Swindon? OK, but point taken) out of bits from Brazil, Indonesia and for all I know Chad, and finally discounted to get the metal out of the the fields near the ports and onto your drive
  • can a developing world cheap car achieve the same role in society again as the original VW, Fiat Cinquecento, Citroen 2CV or even Mini – and will these new ugly boxes on wheels become anti-fashion statements – they may become the first teenage car of choice for cash strapped parents, but I can’t see the Chery, Geely, Great Wall Motor, Nanjing, Hafei, Zhongxing, or Brilliance China (all rising Chinese brands) capturing the Fiesta, Saxo or Corsa market.

Private parking (again)

Logo

Another website offering private parking spaces , called Peasy.com? The key difference from the site I posted about before, Parkatmyhouse, is the use of google maps – hardly a mashup but makes it user friendly. Also if you don’t like the price you can click on the negotiate button – to establish the true economic value of parking spaces (hmm, a possible resource for transport planners). 

Not many spaces offered yet, this is either a dotboom fad or just possibly a niche business – big companies will soon exploit it if critical mass is reached (Ebaypark.com, anyone?).

Action Item

Action Item

http://www.fatalexception.org/action_item.html

Shame this is the one and only episode of a Super Hero we can all hope to emulate!