by Anthony J. Bradley | April 4, 2014 | 8 Comments
Hello everyone. This is an alert to some research I have underway. I am looking at several of the leading crowdfunding platforms to assess the “state of crowdfunding” today. I am looking at the following crowdfunding sites:
- Early Shares
- Funders Club
- Lending Club
- Rock the post
I am over half way through and am seeing some interesting trends. I’m conducting a fundamental analysis against these factors:
Geography, Funding Type, Audience, Purpose, Experience, Adoption, Investing Model, Secondary Market, Business Model, and How it works.
I expect to post some results within weeks. So if you feel I am missing an important crowdfunding site or factor then please let me know.
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by Anthony J. Bradley | September 19, 2013 | 2 Comments
This part 4 of an “Email is Anti-social” multipart blog. Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 .
Email is a personal productivity tool and it isn’t effective outside small-scale and simple collaboration. It is meant to serve the needs of individuals versus the needs of a community of participants. Each of us has our own email with our own version of content, with our own folders for organization and our own rules. By design, each of us can only view the contents of our own email. There is no transparency.
When talking about email versus social collaboration I had someone say to me, “Why are you trying to get me to use these new collaboration environments when I have spent the past 15 years honing my email kung fu. It is where I work. Why don’t you come to me rather than make me go somewhere else.”
My response was, “Because it’s not about you. It is about the community.” We talked earlier in Part 1 about the multiple versions and information fragmentation associated with email. Well imagine trying to invite somebody new into that effort how would they possibly be able to absorb all of that fragmentation and be able to productively contribute. It is like each of us is working separately on building the Star Wars interceptor with our own Lego versions, unique ways of categorizing those Legos, and different methods for working on them. And then as an afterthought we try to collaborate.
With social collaboration we not only establish that collaborative product as the center but also enable the whole community to more easily understand and contribute. It is a transparent and shared environment where people can view, contribute, and provide feedback to the entire effort. It is about community productivity .
Email is a fantastic communications tool and it also works just fine for simple collaboration where a few people are working on a basic and short-lived collaborative challenge like establishing an agenda for an upcoming meeting. However, I’m hoping at this point it is obvious that email is not well suited for deeper collaboration. In fact, it can be a significant barrier to more sophisticated, substantial and impactful collaboration. But moving away from email is difficult. For some it is almost an addiction. One they have no intention of abandoning. This is why we have seen some organizations pursuing “No Email” campaigns. It is an attempt to remove the barrier and force change.
Hopefully in this 4 part blog I’ve given you some ammunition in the fight to move all but simple collaboration out of email and into a more suitable environment for mass collaboration.
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by Anthony J. Bradley | September 17, 2013 | Submit a Comment
This part 3 of an “Email is Anti-social” multipart blog. Here is Part 1 and Part 2.
Email is ephemeral. It is a continuous stream of loosely connected messages with a relatively short useful life. The efforts of collectively trying to advance a collaborative product gets lost in a seemingly never ending stream of short-lived messages. This nature of email drives an interrupt and reactive approach to work. Email is a multitasking nightmare with new distractions emerging by the minute.
I’ve gone into email to do something specific and then get caught up in email for 30 or more minutes. Extract myself to attend to something more productive. And then realize that I never actually did what I originally went into email to do. I doubt I am the only one that gets caught in that email multitasking trap.
Imagine that you are trying to contribute to the advancement of our Lego interceptor while constantly getting pelted by Legos from other Lego sets, sets you are not even involved in putting together. Email does not provide an environment where the collaborative product can exist as the focus of the efforts. Instead the effort is entangled in a morass of other efforts many of which you are not a part. With E-mail the participants are central and the purpose, the effort, is subservient.
Substantial work rarely happens in e-mail. It may happen in Word, Powerpoint, a F2F meeting or some other environment and then be distributed via e-mail. But email is the distribution channel not where the work is actually done.
Meaningful collaboration requires a more proactive focus. Social collaboration provides a dedicated space where the collaborative product is central and where we focus on it. When you go to Wikipedia you go there to create a Wikipedia article. It exists for that sole purpose with no distractions. The purpose, the collaborative product, is central and the participants are subservient.
This moving from the reactive to proactive requires a change in mindset, a more disciplined approach. Many of us have gotten used to, if not addicted to, checking e-mail regularly to see and react to what comes at us. Meaningful collaboration is different. It requires us to set some time aside and go to the collaboration product to contribute. It requires us to break free from the steady stream of interruptions, set priorities, and spend quality time contributing.
This is a change with which many people struggle. I sometimes do. Do you?
Please respond while I go check my e-mail.
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by Anthony J. Bradley | September 3, 2013 | Submit a Comment
This part 2 of an “E-mail is Anti-social” multipart blog. Here is Part 1.
Email is a highly successful communication tool because it is a push centric message distribution mechanism. It is a poor collaboration tool because this distributed characteristic leads to information fragmentation even at small scale.
Let’s extend our lego thought expirament from part 1. Imagine if we try to assemble our Lego interceptor using email. Lets say that one of you distributed a copy of your Lego piece to the group with your ideas on how others could attach their pieces. Then just 20 people in the group picked up that email, took action on it, and then distributed the results of their work out to the rest of the group. Now there are 20 versions of initial attempts at assembling the interceptor. Now let’s say that each of those 20 versions was picked up and augmented by 20 people and they distributed their versions out to the group. Now we have 400 different versions of the evolving intercept.
This amplification is called the network effect. It is critical to realize that the network effect is destructive to collaboration when pursued through a distributed communication paradigm. This fragmentation makes it very difficult for original participants to follow even slightly robust collaborative efforts. And it makes it virtually impossible to add in new participants. You certainly can’t expect people to read through 400 or so versions to get a decent picture of the current state of collaboration.
In the new age of mass collaboration we do not distribute we collect. We collect around the collaborative product. We go to the collaborative product to contribute. We go to Facebook to contribute our profile and our friend connections to create the world’s largest social network. We go to Wikipedia to contribute our knowledge in the form of an article and tie it to other relevant articles. We go to YouTube to post our video and tag it so it becomes part of the larger repository. This is a common characteristic of social collaboration. The collaborative product is central.
In our Lego thought experiments we would all take our piece and go to a single place to contribute to the evolving interceptor. Unlike email distribution, the network effect is productive for collaboration when executed with a collective approach.
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by Anthony J. Bradley | August 29, 2013 | 9 Comments
In many organizations the highly prolific, if not addictive, use of e-mail is considered an impediment to the adoption of social collaboration or other collaboration methods. People are resistant to use anything but e-mail and sometimes get very protective, sometimes hostile, when asked to use something different. How can you drive change and evolve into a more collaborative/social organization when you can’t get people off of e-mail?
At great risk, I am undertaking a multi-part “E-mail is Anti-social” blog effort to give you reasons why e-mail isn’t a good collaboration tool and to offer a few ways to motivate change.
Let’s start by busting the common misconception that communication and collaboration are the same. They are not. Collaboration is a higher form of communication. That is to say that communication is required for collaboration but not all communication is collaboration.
Communication is the exchange of information to achieve a better understanding.
Mass communication by its nature is highly distributed. The message is projected and received widely. The results of the communication is highly fragmented. It resides in the minds of each and every recipient. And absorption of that message can vary greatly including no absorption at all. This makes it very difficult to measure the success of mass communication.
Collaboration is different.
Collaboration is the exchange of information, and things, to advance the state of a collaborative product.
This product, this entity, this result of the collaborative effort is tangible and central. Everyone works to improve the collaborative product. We judge the success of our collaborative efforts by measuring the change of state of the collaborative product. This makes success much easier to measure.
To illuminate this difference let’s pursue a thought experiment using Legos. Let’s say 748 of us are collectively trying to build a Star Wars interceptor with Legos. Each of us has a Lego piece to this interceptor. If we were to work together to assemble this interceptor we would be collaborating. We would judge our success by measuring the accuracy and speed by which we were able to build this interceptor. The interceptor is the collaborative product we are trying to advance. I will continue to use this Lego thought experiment throughout the remainder of this multi-part blog.
It is ironic that our most ubiquitous collaboration tool, email, isn’t a very good collaboration tool. It is a highly successful communication tool. It has been so successful that it has become the default for IT based human interactions. Regardless of whether or not it is an effective tool for those interactions. In the next blogs I’ll examine a few of the primary characteristics that make it a great communication mechanism but a poor collaboration tool.
Ok, let’s hear your feedback. I’m sure some e-mail zealots out there are already fuming
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by Anthony J. Bradley | April 8, 2013 | 6 Comments
Recently Gartner published a press release in anticipation of my participation in the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit conferences where I will be presenting the following:
Social Collaboration Demands a New Approach to Architecting Human-centric Solutions
Gartner Keynote: Driving New Business Outcomes With the Nexus of Forces
Unfortunately, several press outlets including Computerworld, and CIO Magazine picked up a misinterpretation of the press release stating, in various forms, that the overall success rate with social is 10%. This is neither the intended message of the press release nor the result of Gartner’s research.
The press release states, and our research shows, the “Provide and Pray” approach to social collaboration sees about a 10% success rate. The subtitle of the press release is, "Provide and Pray" Approach Has Just a 10 Percent Success Rate. It goes on to elaborate with the following. ”Without a well-crafted and compelling purpose, most social media initiatives will fail to deliver business value," said Anthony Bradley, group vice president at Gartner. "This provide and pray approach provides access to a social collaboration technology and prays something good comes of it, like a community forming and participants’ interactions naturally delivering business value. As a result, this approach sees a 10 percent success rate, and the underlying reason is usually that the organization did not provide a compelling cause around which a community could form and be motivated to provide their time and knowledge. In other words, purpose was lacking."
The overall message being, “Don’t take a ‘provide and pray’ approach to social collaboration. Instead focus on purpose.”
The methodology and initial data set is explained in the Gartner research report (only available to Gartner clients):
Employing Social Media for Business Impact: Key Collective Behavior Patterns
by Anthony J. Bradley Updated 12 July 2012 ID:G00173838
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by Anthony J. Bradley | January 8, 2013 | 2 Comments
Mass collaboration is the future of competitive advantage in business. See Gartner’s infographic on the evolution of business.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may be all the rage today. But they’re only the beginning of something really big. Their true impact is that they’re spurring a new era of mass collaboration.
Hundreds, thousands, even millions of people can effectively collaborate – like never before – to achieve unprecedented results. Yes, the marquee social web successes like Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook are great examples of mass collaboration in general. But what’s more profound is the impact mass collaboration is beginning to exert on the business world. Just like mass production, mass distribution and mass marketing before it, mass collaboration is the next big evolution in expanding business impact. We now have hundreds of examples of organizations that have substantially magnified their capabilities by tapping into the power of the masses. For example, CEMEX employees as part of their collaborated across organizations and geographies to overcome sales challenges in target regions by collectively identifying successes from other regions where the challenges were similar. Or, consider a health care organization that’s using social and mobile technologies to rally their field workers, government social workers, community volunteers, and local church groups to collaborate in helping low income customers to overcome the basic needs hardships like housing, utilities and transportation that keep them from continuing their healthcare plans. Or, there’s the European auto parts manufacturer that uses a social software platform to quickly bring all of their engineers to bear against critical product performance challenges.
The business potential of mass collaboration is enormous. It can turn your customers into an extension of your sales force. It can bring all of your engineers together on your biggest design challenges. It can rally your managers to formulate and drive critical change. The possibilities are endless.
And yet, the vast majority of business leaders don’t understand or recognize mass collaboration as a means to better business performance. Leaders must upgrade their understanding of collaborationwhich is evolving from an amorphous, all-encompassing, but little-understood concept to an “engineered” sets of human behaviors. For example, in researching our book, The Social Organization, we discovered that underneath just about every successful implementation of mass collaboration are four major collaborative behaviors; participant contributions, social feedback, collective judgment, and change propagation. And within each of these four higher-level activities are lower-level and more specific collaborative behavioral patterns. We are now seeing this “engineering” trend embedded in new types of collaborative applications and tools such as Answerhub, Rollstream and Spigit that businesses use to address horizontal challenges such as sales force effectiveness, supply chain management, and idea generation with well designed mass collaborative behaviors. In concert with this trend, we’re seeing more and more companies adopting gamification (the application of game mechanics to non-gaming activities) as a catalyst for collaborative behaviors. For example, Spigit applies sophisticated game mechanics with a virtual currency and idea “exchange” where ideas can be traded like stocks. People gain reputation and placement on leader boards as they accumulating “wealth” by initiating, investing in and supporting successful ideas. This is definitely not old school collaboration.
Organizations are also starting to inject mass collaboration into their business processes, which we call social BPM (business process management). Using social collaboration, the marketing organization of a consumer goods company is empowering their marketing professionals to collectively identify and outright eliminate low value processes to ease the process burden and allow room for more creativity. Another organization is extending their process for identifying and eliminating product counterfeiting to include all employees and customers. And hotel managers of a European chain used social collaboration wiki technology to formulate and propagate a new towel life cycle management process involving a new towel, different detergents and a new laundering protocol that saved the chain almost a million Euros in the first year.
This portends a future where mass collaboration permeates business operations. After all, who’s better at illuminating, optimizing and evolving your most dynamic and critical business processes than the people who are doing it or experiencing it every day? If they own a way to formulate change, then adopting the change becomes a natural progression. And that’s saying something since human resistance is a primary impediment to organizational change. Successful social BPM will help organizations respond and adapt to change more easily.
This is just the dawn of the age of mass collaboration. Leading organizations are driving transformation now, and mass collaboration is on the fast track. Leaders who seek competitive advantage through mass collaboration must actively drive change— and fast, as the window of opportunity for competitive advantage is closing. The next two to three years will be critical, and how you, as business leaders, respond today to the mass collaboration movement may determine, in the not too distant future, whether your business thrives, survives, or disappears.
Are you experiencing the new age of mass collaboration in your company? What are you doing about it?
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by Anthony J. Bradley | April 4, 2012 | 1 Comment
You might think that mass collaboration is ill suited for business process improvement. The chaotic, unpredictable, messy, voluntary, often controversial and sometimes ugly interactions that can characterize social collaboration seems almost the opposite of the clean, calculated, activity centric, deterministic approach that many associate with business process management. Well, the times they are a changin’.
The most strategic, transformational, and beneficial organizational processes just might be found in the chaos of the community. Social collaboration represents a whole new frontier for business process management. I use “frontier” specifically because it will be new exploration, challenging, and fraught with both danger and great opportunity. And exploring a new frontier requires some new approaches. New approaches that can enable, unearth, examine, enhance and support processes from within communities of customers, employees, suppliers, partners, contractors, prospects, etc.
Success in this new frontier demands a few new mindsets including:
- A focus on social processes that enable business processes
- The ability to discover and nurture emergent processes
- Understanding the shift from designing “the right” process to enabling multiple experience opportunities
- And how to effectively employ community protectionism from hostile processes
Consider the CEMEX example from the book The Social Organization where CEMEX employed a social collaboration approach to increasing the use of alternative fuels in their plants. Instead of taking a traditional process improvement approach they employed social processes to enable a community of plant leaders to themselves build the processes for increasing the use of alternative fuels. Yes, it was messy and sporadic and unpredictable as they initially stumbled around trying to find their way. But over time the community got better at it and ended up wildly successful. They accomplished in about 8 weeks what they estimated would have taken about 18 months with traditional process improvement efforts. And CEMEX also believes that the social collaboration approach gave them a much greater rate of adoption. We call this Design by Doing.
I will be delivering a keynote presentation entitled “Driving Organizational Success by Combining Social Media and Business Process Transformation” at the
Gartner Business Process Management Summit on 25 – 27 April 2012 in Baltimore, MD. I’ll be discussing this exciting topic. Yes, I did say exciting!
I’d love to hear from you on any thoughts and experiences you have around “crowd processes.”
I co-authored a book "The Social Organization" on Amazon.com . Check it out!
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by Anthony J. Bradley | March 6, 2012 | 7 Comments
I had an interesting call with a US retailer a few days ago. And by interesting I don’t mean good. They are not a Gartner client and it became clear pretty quickly that they wanted me to prove how Gartner could possibly help them since they are on the leading edge of social media.
They talked about the special relationship they have with Facebook and the Facebook functionality and related technologies they are using. They also talked a good bit about Twitter. It was Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Twitter (with some mobile technology this and that thrown in) and apparently they have little interest in LinkedIn, Pinterest and some other social Web environments.
So I started talking to them about social media strategy best practices and they stopped me cold. They said they had the strategy down and wanted to get into the weeds. I carefully remarked that, we can talk about the weeds, but they may not have the strategy down as much as they think. This is where it got a bit contentious (which is very unusual BTW) as they really did not like that I was questioning their leading edge status. After all, they have a special relationship with Facebook!
So let me go on the record here in stating that:
If you are talking primarily about social media channels and technologies then the chances are very high that you are not leading edge.
Leading edge organizations talk about the community collaboration they facilitate and the business value resulting from meaningful participant interactions.
And, from my research, the vast majority of organizations that are building high value customer communities are not doing it on Facebook or Twitter (or LinkedIn and Pinterest for that matter). Not that there is anything wrong with them (obscure Seinfeld reference).
Having a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account, no matter how robust, is no longer good enough to be leading edge (and it hasn’t been for quite a while). So I then went to this organization’s web site and Facebook page and didn’t really see any community collaboration facilitation going on. Though they did have a few hundred thousand Facebook “Likes.” So they’ve got that going for them (obscure Caddyshack reference).
Opposing positions welcome. I guess supporting ones are welcome also.
I co-authored a book "The Social Organization." Check it out!
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by Anthony J. Bradley | March 1, 2012 | 1 Comment
I recently returned from a two week tour of northern Europe where I met with over 20 organizations to discuss their social business strategy efforts. I started in Copenhagen, then to Amsterdam, Edinburgh, London and finally Helsinki. I’m happy to say that it seems the book, “The Social Organization: How to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Employees and Customers” is gaining a good deal of traction in Europe. Last fall at Symposium in Barcelona I was impressed with the social business mentality I witnessed. It seems to be continuing. I have two more extended trips to Europe planned for this year and will keep you posted on what I experience. Here are some of my observations from my past travels in Europe.
- Just about every organization was experiencing the less than successful practice of “Provide and Pray” approach and not gaining significant engagement. One organization spent considerable effort to develop a social collaboration strategy that was primarily technology platform based only to have it rejected by the executive board who basically said, “We don’t see the business value.”
- I was happy that the vast majority of my meetings were being led by business leaders and not IT. IT leadership was often present as an important partner in social efforts but business (or mission) leadership was in the drivers seat.
- I’m seeing growing social business\social collaboration strategy efforts in the financial industry and government (even local government) within these European countries
- Some of the most innovative ideas and plans I’ve seen for employing mass collaboration for “game changing” business or mission value is in Europe.
- The European organizations with whom I met seemed less consumed with marketing communications and the social Web (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and more focused on creating highly collaborative organizations (internally and externally).
Now, these are general observations from my recent travels and inquiry so it represents interactions with, in total, maybe 60 organizations so it isn’t necessarily statistically representative of all of Europe. But I still think they have value as observations.
Any observations from you on the state of social business in Europe?
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