Entries in Creativity Central Squarespace (9)


The Myths of Ideas Part 2

One of the more frequent questions in my seminars is “can you have too many ideas?”

The simple answer is yes.  The more complex and provocative answer is yes and no.

The classic story behind my answer comes from Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.  Sutton related a story about Steve Jobs in the Harvard Business Review.

“Yahoo.. had Steve Jobs in to address their top 100 or so bosses. Jobs advised them that killing bad ideas isn’t that hard — lots of companies, even bad companies, are good at that. He insisted that what is really hard — and a hallmark of great companies — is killing good ideas. For any single good idea to succeed, it needs a lot of resources, time, and attention, and so only a few ideas can be developed fully. The challenge is to be tough enough to do the pruning so that the survivors have a chance of being implemented properly and reaching their full potential.”

If you are an idea-driven company like IDEO or Pixar having 1,000+ plus ideas on a problem challenge or project is not only typical, it’s expected. In every seminar I do, I get participants to create 500 ideas in less than 20 minutes.

But for a typical company, this may seem overwhelming and unnecessary because evaluating or bucketing those ideas isn’t a core or developed skill. 

Sutton has a great take on this:  “…when a lot of ideas are whittled down to a precious few — (there) should (be) two major filtering stages: one where you get rid of the bad ideas and then another where you toss the good ideas that aren’t quite good enough to justify a thinner spread of resources, a greater diffusion of focus, and possibly a more complex customer experience.

Here are two good Sutton questions:

So, getting back to the original question.  “Can you have too many ideas?” 

The answer is “it depends.”

It depends on whether your team or company is trained to create, evaluate, ctivate or park multiple ideas.  It depends on a management team or leader that has the ability to kill good ideas because you’ve created a Frankenstein project where ideas compete for attention and actually hinder.  And it depends on whether or not individuals are trained to come up with more than usual quota of ideas.

Do you know how to cluster ideas? Are you familiar with affinity mapping?

Look for Idea Myths, Part 3 coming soon.




The Seven Deadly Sins of Content Marketing Part 1

Let’s begin on the analytical side.  According to my favorite statistician and writer, Craig Smith, there are (as of August) 1.5 billion Facebook users.  That’s equivalent to one in six humans on the planet.

More specifically there are 699 million Facebook users visiting over 50 million Facebook pages.

If we add Twitter to the mix, we have a total of 500 million users sending 400 million tweets per day.

To quote Chris Brogan and Julian Smith about these staggering statistics, “So just being there isn’t enough.  If you build it, they won’t come.”

Like  Mamet's GlenGarry leads, the fans and followers are coveted by all, but all most companies are getting are the steak knives.  How do we reach them? How do we engage with them?

That brings us to the human side.

They come (most willingly) to social media for many of the same reasons they consume other media – for information, for entertainment, for community, and because like Everest, it’s there.

Like most human endeavors, the sins (real or imagined) come with territory and we can apply them to virtually any industry.  Here is the first of what I believe to be the seven sins of social content marketing.

 #1.  Antisocial

One of the most remarkable modern revolutions was the fact that social media platforms were created from the bottom up, not from the top down. 

Microsoft and Apple did not develop Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. 

They came from independent thinkers and doers who just happened to be relatively young.  Companies and brands have always been about command and control.  The revolution meant that they had to give up some control to participate.

A decade ago, an angry letter, to let’s say a big bank, typically got buried somewhere in a file in consumer relations. Today, it is instantly broadcast on social media. 

Companies can’t always control the message. That’s the outcome of the revolution. Period.

To think about social media as merely a forum for talking about your company and not listening is one of the great sins.  It is, in essence, antisocial behavior.  Social gives the company bully pulpit to the public and that's unknown territory.  A few years ago McDonald's invited fans to tell stories.  But the stories weren't all about growing up and the memories that the Golden Arches helped create. But the stories of "problems."

And even the term content “marketing” is problematic, not because marketing is bad, but because it doesn’t fully embrace the true social ethos.  It’s not part of the covenant.  I say content marketing but the sin applies to social media in general.  Ultimately, whatever is pushed or pulled into a digitial conversation is content.

In most cases it doesn’t cost a company a great deal to push social content, but it does cost money to actively listen to fans. You have to invest in listening.  And for many (especially smaller) companies it’s a tremendous budget and time challenge.

I serve up the sin of “antisocial” because it is about mindset.  For some companies, social media is another straw on the camel's back.  They don’t want to participate, but feel compelled to.  They have to stay in the game, even if they don’t like the rules of the game.

Being social is the price of participation and kudos to those companies and individuals who understand and embrace the good, the bad and the terrifying of social media.









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