Thinking about Flipboard

Full confession – I am a big fan of Zite, a news curation platform that not too long ago was sold to its competitor Flipboard.

It was just a few years ago that the idea of a mobile device news curation service was revolutionary. The idea that I could access a flow of content from many different sources on any topic that I wanted beat the hell out of only being able to access what one content provider could generate.

How could this go wrong? Well, it is going wrong. As time has gone by, other big players in the mobile game have realized that they can stream  news content as well. And while Flipboard is not going out of business, it is no longer the darling of the mobile content provider world.

There is a broader issue here. As a daily user of Zite (essentially the same thing as Flipboard) I see it. The problem is that while I can ask for articles on a given topic – let’s say London or Paris or cooking – that ask does not generate precisely what I am looking for at that moment. Instead, it generates a lot of crap with a few interesting things. In other words, the curation does not “level up”. And because it does not level up, it can be copied.

The question — and it is a question that no one really has figured out yet — is how to do that leveling up. How do you empower content users to get precisely the content they need in order to learn.

Stay tuned!

Marketing Genius

So you want to be a marketing genius? Easy. Tony Robbins says that there are just five keys to success. They are

  1. Be available
  2. Respond Quickly and With meaning
  3. Understand (client) goals Help them make informed decisions
  4. Collaborate with Customers to create value
  5. Add a personal touch

That is it. But how do you do these things for ALL of your clients? And How do you help your potential clients see that they would get this treatment from you?

The simple answer is that you cannot — if you deal with clients one a ta  time. You can only do this if they do at least part of the work for you.

So you do you get your clients to do this work? They will only do it if it benefits them. So doing it must fit into their routines. It must lift up their perception of self-worth. It must provide them with feedback that what they are doing is paying off.

All very interesting. But have you got the point so far? None of this will happen without a digital interface that has an omnichannel capacity.

What Was Wrong with 20th Century thinking?

At the end of the 19th century, there were quite a few voices speaking up about what was wrong with it. We are going through a similar shake out now and the story line is simple — the 20th century drive to ultimate efficiency levels made institutions too rigid and unable to adapt to changing circumstances.

If you are interested in the longer version of this story, check out Greg Satell’s post for Forbes. He tells the story well.

But if the 20th century was too inflexible, how do we get more flexible? We do this by empowering individuals to see more clearly what changes or adaptions are needed and how to bring them about. This is why “empowerment” is such an important word these days.

But there is a hitch. You cannot just willy nilly empower everyone to do whatever they want to. That is called chaos. The empowerment has to be around a shared vision. Gen McChrystal’s efforts in Iraq were based on this idea (see link for the story or buy hi sbook)

It was that shared sense of purpose that enabled (McChrystal) to empower his forces on the ground.  But as the General stresses, the order is important.  As he writes, “an organization should empower its people, but only after it has done the heavy lifting of creating shared consciousness.”  That’s how he transformed his command into a “team of teams” and prevailed.

Right! So how do you developed a “shared consciousness”? There are two elements to this. The first is creating the consciousness to be shared. The second is persuading folks to take it over (to help them see it).

So, after me clas

  1. create consciousness
  2. sell consciousness so that is shared
  3. empower folks to act on the shared ocnsicousness

Got that? Great! Have a great 21st century!

Selling Routine Building

It is pretty much old news by now that one gets more creative by being more active. That is, creativity flows from activity – not the other way around. So I fyou want to be more creative, you need to become more active. Pretty simple.

Well, not quite that simple. Being more active is more difficult than it appears. Don’t believe me? Just for fun, keep track of your activity levels during th day and evening.  That includes tracking when you were focused and doing something and when you were resting. What do you see?  Most of us tend to zone out for at least part of the day. And most of us do not create a healthy balance between engaging in work and resting.

This is normal. And we can do better than normal by building routines. Those routines help us to structure periods of the day where we need to be active. Are there any tools that can help us? Sure. Here is a link to one that I am trying out.

One routine worth thinking about — work in ten minute spurts. Don’t allow yourself to go beyond that limit. Set a goal for what you will achieve in ten minutes and stop. Every ten minutes stop and rest.

Disruption by Fred

From today’s AVC Fred writes

Albert brought up a famous Harvard Business Review article from 1990 by Michael Hammer titled Don’t Automate, Obliterate. In this article Hammer argues that reengineering industries using technology is much preferable to automating them. You can read the whole thing on the link above. It was written 25 years ago, but it seems as fresh and relevant today as it was when it came out.

It is an interesting point about change dynamics. Established entities will generally try to make incremental changes (automate) rather than re-think what they are doing.