Posts filed under ‘Business musings’

Will the real social media please stand up?


Photo courtesy of Leeks on Flickr Some rights reserved

The world is in some weird social spiral.

Social means interacting and engaging with other people. Going to dinner with friends is social. Reading about where my friends went to dinner last night is not. Chatting with a group of people is social. Leaving someone a note is not. Confusing these behaviors is going to create a more disconnected and passive society rather than a more connected and active one.

So called “social” platforms and applications have been sprouting up everywhere over the past decade. But very few improve an individual’s level of social engagement with the rest of the world – which is where the internet becomes really powerful. Twitter does. Facebook does. But Farmville doesn’t (asynchronous seed planting will never be social in my book). And Yelp doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong…services like Yelp are incredible. I just wouldn’t call them social. It’s like sticking post it notes somewhere to broadcast your likes and dislikes. That’s not social engagement.

To harness the power of the internet while we head into Web 3.0 (or whatever it will be called) we need to move away from passive communication. Crowdsourcing my friends and long-lost acquaintances may provide me with more relevant search results, but that’s still not social. Social requires real-time, or at least semi-real-time, interaction. We can use Facebook and Twitter for this purpose, but let’s not do it in a passive way.

To stick with the search example, let’s say there was a search feed in Facebook. I go to [insert your favorite search engine here] and type in “tango lessons san francisco.” This then gets blasted to Twitter, Facebook, and maybe something like a Quora or Hunch. My friends, followers, etc see this and respond with suggestions. You get the idea. This is not the most elegant UX for social search, but this would actually be social search.

The web is a dynamic, interconnected place that can be leveraged to bring the world closer together. It’s not meant to be purely consumed. It’s meant to be fed, engaged, and interacted with.

I’m excited for where the social web could go, but it’s sad to see where it seems to be going.

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February 19, 2011 at 10:38 am 1 comment

Ownership, roles and responsibilities

Ownership over a project or task is important to clarify. Clear roles and responsibilities increase efficiency and effectiveness. More importantly, it creates accountability which means that stuff will actually get done.

When explaining the importance of roles, I typically rely on the OARP framework. I prefer OARP to other models (e.g., RASCI) mostly because I’ve used it more and it’s what I’m used to. But what I really like about OARP is the choice of language: Owner and Participant are explicitly called out. Those are the two most confused roles (though they’re the farthest apart when it comes to responsibility) when it comes to any given project.

OARP framework 1

For meetings, everyone in the room should know who owns the decision, who is there for their expertise, and who is just there to listen so that they’re in the loop (I prefer to leave this last group out of the meeting entirely, and instead sending a summary email as follow up).

In 2008 I performed a 6-month consulting engagement with a Fortune 500 company that had this completely wrong. Everything took forever to do, each deliverable was owned by at least two different teams, and no one had any idea what anyone else really did. It was a mess, and a pain to fix.

We painstakingly went through every deliverable for the department that we were serving and outlined which individuals and/or teams fit into each role. They hated us while we were doing it, but were very grateful for the end result. It simplified all of their lives.

I’ve too often seen ownership and accountability diluted to the point where nothing gets done, and there’s no trail to figure out what went wrong. On your next day at work, ask yourself who on your current project team fits into which role, and share that with the rest of your team. Trust me, it goes a long way.

January 27, 2011 at 7:06 pm Leave a comment

A move from Microsoft’s playbook?

Microsoft’s historic success has come due to many reasons: great CEO in Bill Gates, superior execution, clarity of vision, and financial discipline among others. However, I believe that Netflix is using a different Microsoft play with its recent deals to have remote controls come with a Netflix button.

Netflix remote

As DOS, then Windows, was gaining traction as the winner in the OS market, Microsoft built its software to work on top of Intel’s chip set. Intel’s microprocessor began its industry-leading charge in the mid-1980s and Microsoft rode right along, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years (until recently?). The Netflix move is different, but similar – integrate yourself into/on top of another growing product…in short, piggybacking.

I can see Netflix’ benefits from these deals. Every consumer that uses one of these remotes will have a constant Netflix advertisement staring at them, and it’s name will become (even) more synonymous with internet movie streaming. But what are the electronics companies gaining? Sure consumers will find the button easier, but it’s not like it will be a differentiator – any company that makes an internet connected TV or device will have one. So aside from upfront costs (and the potential for future switching costs) I’m not sure I see it from there side. Why the move?

January 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm 1 comment


About Me

I'm a San Francisco-based strategic thinker who believes that life is only as great as the people you choose to interact with. I love people, and studying business has given me greater insight into how to most effectively develop myself, and my personal relationships. I look forward to discussing people and business with those that find this area as fascinating as I do.

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