Tag Archives: Recession

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.”

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.

Eco transport – before the crash

Ah, yes, time for the reviews of the year, and in our specialist area how does transport – general, green, any mode – fare in the analysis, especially in the economic context where eco innovation is:

  1. Our saviour, or
  2. Too expensive

The US transport top ten trends from Inhabitat includes the death of the SUV, green cars saving the industry, high performance sports cars saving the planet , (pedal) bikes are cool, etc. The view from over there suggests some naivety about what we achieve in Europe, however. Conclusions for 09: more mass transit and greener cars – thanks, I could have guessed that. Although for mainstream US of A that may be still too radical.

And imagine my disappointment when the electric  GM Chevrolet Volt concept car of 2007:

became the boring pre production car shown in 2008 (first deliveries in 2010, kids):

I was not the only one to be disappointed

But before I pour self righteous scorn on my brothers across the sea what have we identified as worthy of mention in the UK and Europe? What Car votes a turbo diesel Ford Focus as its green car of 2008 and Toyota for its technology. The Eden Project and the Co-op sponsored the sexy green car show in summer 2008. ..and er, that’s it, apart from a few comments on the “fuel crisis” in the review of the year in mags such as New Scientist.

PS thanks to Oxtran to alerting me to “Traffic Jam”, the review of the last 10 years of sustainable transport  – which ended up on my xmas shopping list (sad but true).

Tom’s wise words – for free

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the heads up on Tom Peters free stuff corner of his website. Amongst the management advice is a “Change This” Manifesto (another favourite site) that I must have missed first time around in 2006  – “111 Ridiculously Obvious Thoughts on Selling” :

13. Lunch with at least one weirdo per month (goal: always on the prowl for interesting new stuff)

30. You can’t do it all – be clear what you are good at, bad at, indifferent at. Hubris sucks. 

47. Know more than the next guy. Homework pays.

76. IT’S ALWAYS YOUR PROBLEM – you sold it to them.

In a recession we also have wise words from Jason Calacanis, who has got a lot of traffic for his take on survival. Interestingly first distributed by mass email on Jasonlist, not via his blog – see the 120% Solution, now finally published on the blog here.

Also from Guy Kawasaki’s blog, discrediting the A list social media meme, but not the “influencers like you and me” idea, talks about the use of  Twitter as a marketing tool:

Forget the “influentials.”You must buy into the theory that products and services reach critical mass because mere mortals spread the word for you. This defies the common wisdom that a handful of “influentials” shape what the rest of us try and what we adopt. In the online world, these influentials include Mike “I can go a week without Twitter” Arrington, Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, and to some extent me.

Reliance on influentials is flawed because the Internet has flattened and democratized information. Influentials don’t have as much special access, special knowledge, and distribution as you might think because of the growth of websites, blogs, and, of course, Twitter.

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.

Buy Nothing Day 08

From the wonderful disassemblers at Adbusters is this year’s Buy Nothing Day campaign – one week to go – on Saturday 29th November say no to the corporate world. The events proposed include the zombie walk through malls and credit card destruction:

Credit card cut up – Volunteers stand in a shopping mall with a pair of scissors and a sign offering a simple service: to put an end to extortionate interest rates and mounting debt with one considerate cut. Be careful though: in some first-world countries, carrying scissors in public can get you arrested as a “terrorist”.

Three weeks before Christmas seems to be perfect timing for this, but apart from a few liberal pockets of the western world (Berkeley, Greenwich Village, Brighton, Totnes, Freiburg perhaps) I can’t imagine anyone is going to notice – maybe in this credit crunch year it will have more resonance? or will the Chancellors exhortations for us all to spend our way out of recession underline the reality gap between consumerism and (non economic) well being?

While you are on the Adbusters site and taking out a subscription to the magazine (well I did) their view on the financial crisis is well worth reading as well…

The UK site for my “fellow activists” is here – it includes a scratchy FOE video (thanks to Polyp) which seems almost a throwback to the sixties – is it suddenly contemporary, ironic or just naive?: