system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Ab King Pro...

Shopping direct and BBC News. Both sell a product and spend millions trying to convince me they're right.

The only difference this morning?

Shopping direct seemed considerably more convincing.

After 20 minutes of Ab King Pro infomercial I found myself surprised at never having considered the necessity of rock hard abs – but daring to believe their product could provide me with them. Whereas coverage of the Afghani elections on the BBC seemed so contrived, I felt faintly embarrassed for the pretty girl with the symmetrical face having to read the crap out on air.

How is it that infomercials now seem more entertaining and more convincing than the news?

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Last "c

I've just completed the final installment in a series of articles I was writing about social media for DFF clients

"Our scoot around the boundaries of social media marketing is nearly complete. Our last “C” stands for control. And like any good estate agent or a climate negotiation – we have left the most contentious issue till last….

Digital networks take control out of the hands of the few and hand it over - abet often in a clumsy and contradictory manner - to the many. Social media is part brand therapy, part populist revolution and part return to a norm. The mighty changes taking place in political institutions, the media and the wider economy are in no small part, down to digital networks enabling far more of us than ever before to talk to each other, more easily than we’ve every done in the past.

But control is about more than just the standard horror stories from the web (Untied airlines breaking guitars here (their share price took a 20% hit when the story broke in old media), Habitat exploiting death to sell cheap sofas here or Motrim’s young mother misunderstanding (was there anything really that bad with this viral?) – hit delicious for a complete disaster-paedia).

PR disasters will be with us whichever form of media a brand chooses to use. When we talk about control we’re thinking bigger – and more we like to think - more positively.

5 years ago a blogger called Jeff Jarvis started a thread called “dell hell” in which he berated the company for its lacklustre customer service and after sales support. The blog and its effect form the basis of social media folklore. Discovering that their “share of voice” (how much talk online they actually controlled) was effectively 0 – Dell realised instead of trying to ignore or kill the conversation they had better act more positively. The result was a transformation in Dell’s marketing strategy. Not only did they address the specific issues Jeff Jarvis raised – they began to reengineer their business model to make sure it couldn’t happen again. Years later, 17 people sitting in a room talking to customers on blogs twitter and through other social media channels is Dell’s online marketing strategy. They are said to sell $250,000 worth of linx computers through their Twitter channel every month.

More recently Obama’s presidential campaign pushed the control envelope still further. For the first time (possibly in history) a politician did a u-turn, and havign done so made it clear instead of closing the issue down, he was happy to host the debate about it - on his own time - spending political capital in the process.

As in all good herpay - he understood he needed to “own” the problem to be authentic.

Many people didn’t like u-turn but he was widely credited for the leadership he showed in accepting criticism and over time, with the specifics of the issue long forgotten, what people were left with was a residual feeling of openness and transparency.

The message for other brands is becoming clear. Participating, openly and honestly in the debate that is your brand online (see Cluetrain Manifesto for more details) is the only approach that makes sense in an interconnected world. Brands can no more hope to beat their customers into marketing submission than the Iranian government could hope to stop twitter traffic about the aborted election, or the Chinese government could manage people’s discussion of their response to earth quakes in Xinjiang province. Whilst it is entertaining to watch power and ego in the age of the “mad men” - their reign in the real world appears to be over – for now.

Control then is a brand “state of mind” – not a policy, or strategy. The brands that succeed online are those that, at every levels of their business accept their customers being part of their everyday lives – more than this - actively embrace their involvement as the quickest way to a closer - more mutually beneficial relationship. Whether it is customer service responding quickly to issues that arise in social media channels - or product development launching crowd sourced applications - or marketing nurturing the key people talking about the brand online – the understanding of the balance of power in the relationship with the consumer is critical online.

So there it is. “The 5 C’s” – what we have begun to refer to as the “understanding” section of our new digital planning framework. In total there will be 3 sections:

Understanding – The 5 C’s
Strategy – 10 Questions to a social media strategy
Engage – 15 tactics to action your social media strategy

The 5 C’s then is a start - an aperitif. The main course – the “10 questions” you’ll find as a sketch on our slideshare account here This is where you can take what you’ve learned here and start to make more concrete plans.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Social Media Engagement....

This report has been doing the rounds for a while. I just got to read it. Not convinced about their research approach - and the correlation between social media and RIO seems a little tenuous - but nevertheless the findings are interesting.

In a nutshell - for brands using social media - the more channels you use - the deeper your overall engagement.

"there are no atheists in foxholes and no ideologues in financial crises."

Under the stress of an imminent violent death, we are told soldiers actively adopt an ideology.

Bankers, on the other hand, who have already subscribed to one, abandon it in the face of extreme psychological distress.

The quote is contradictory and illogical. When the chips are down, do we abandon faith or adopt it?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A 20,000 year old bubble...

Bubbles are not the preserve of financial markets. One of excess cognitive capacity, unique to our species, has been growing for the last 20,000 years.

For millennia as we evolved, base emotions - fight, kill, f**k - drove our development. The result was perfect adaption to our evolutionary niche. Our small, but elegant brains became brilliant at constantly weighing up the options of fight or flight - sifting the odds, assessing the dangers.

Incessant thought and cognitive capacity expanded proportionally.

What this balanced system couldn't have predicted (or adapted us quickly enough for) was an era of plenty, and the exponential speed at which our brains developed as primitive farming practices, collaboration and culture took hold. This virtuous circle of improved nutrition leading to improved IQ, took our already impressive brain capacity, in evolutionary terms, from 0 to 60 in record time – too fast. Like so many species before us - we began to outgrow our evolutionary niche.

What do I mean by this?

We as a species, are programmed to think incessantly. This capacity was critical to our survival in a world of scarce resources. Now, in a world of plenty (at least for those of us who live in the developed world) instead of switching incessant thinking off, we mistakenly use it to obsess over the trivial - and in the process unconsciously create situations where it appears to be useful. This vestigial capacity - the mental equivalent of the coccyx - leaves the wheels of our minds spinning. Dysfunctional behaviour ensues.

But this isn’t the whole story.....

Incessant thought bore a second, altogether more trans formative fruit. As man’s intelligence reached a tipping point, from boredom and the increased awareness of the monotony and toil of a pre-industrial existence certain individuals - Jesus, Mohammed and the many history has chosen not to record – began to question the certainty of pagan dogma, their place within their group and the parameters of world they knew.

Those early outriders of independent, individualistic thought, sooner or later arrived at existentialism – the realisation of the ultimate meaninglessness of life. As the crisis of this questioning took hold (and at an individual level the panic of lonely despair set in, something we now call a mid-life crisis), a few leapt a chasm of understanding, and instead of despair, discovered peace – or “god” as some of them called, this new way of being. They discovered their ability to turn off their minds.

Penicillin, gravity the bomb – none of these come close to the significance of this discovery.

On the uncovering of such a monumental truth, a flourishing of healthy, rational, mental well-being might be expecteded to have taken hold. Having learned of this psychological escape hatch, civilisation should have evolved along these participatory, free thinking, humanitarian lines. The generosity of spirit, which this thinking prizes, should have been the foundation of a modern world order.

Instead, seeing the power of the discovery at first hand, and its ability to erode central authority, elites stepped in. There was a reason why most Christians were killed, hanging upside down. The message was pretty clear – don’t go anywhere near this way of thinking.

Out of this short term crisis was borne organised religion. The idea of "god" was co-opted and the real discovery of peace of mind - a holy grail or sorts - was buried.

This way of being. This joy of living. This is the real grail scripture talks about. This is what is unhelpful to a consumptive society, and ultimately, an elite which rules it.

The warped, half breed of the truth that was disseminated, contained enough of the original thinking to still be attractive to the human mind, and because of this it has created carnage. Unable to tame their rabid minds, man created rules, institutions and assumptions he considered “normal” and "moral" - which when viewed through a clearer lens of a calm, nonthreatening mind, appear ludicrous. You don’t have to go far into any aspect of culture or society - our foreign policy, our attitude to money, the IMF or “Western Democracy” to find bizarre contradictions at every turn. As a species we have internalised dysfunctional behaviour to such a degree the lunatics now rule the asylum.

So although we have an antidote - we ignore it for the poison that is modern living.

And yet, and yet.....this crazed movement bears the seeds of its own ultimate demise. Desperately, unconsciously, inadvertently, we are clawing our way back to the niche we fit. Collectively our conscious mind is destroying itself. Darwin’s laws remains in force.

By dowsing our world in toxic chemicals, destroying the very habitat that supports us and vilifying groups of people who could help us – we are recreating a world in which our incessant thoughts are useful. The 20,000 bubble of heightened consciousness is bursting.


This on BB which seemed interesting here

and this

and this