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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, September 5, 2003

Creating a climate for creativity and innovation

Another questionnaire, this time to help assess the creative climate of your organisation [via Fast Company Now]. Nine dimensions  have been identified that fall into these three groups :

Resources :  1. Idea Time    2. Idea Support    3. Challenge and Involvement

Personal Motivation :  1. Trust and Openness     2. Playfulness and Humor    3. Absence of Interpersonal Conflicts

Exploration :  1. Risk-Taking    2. Debates About the Issues    3. Freedom

Charles Prather shares some observations from his nine-point program in the article :

In our work with organizations brave enough to measure their climate for innovation, we have found striking similarities.  The dimensions in greatest need for improvement were
(1) Risk-Taking
(2) Idea Time
(3) Idea Support, and
 (4) Trust and Openness


"In our work with clients we consistently find that the view of the environment is directly related to the organizational level of the rater. That is, the higher up the organization, the better the environment appears to be.  It is a little like flying over New York City at 30,000 ft.  From that height it looks just fine, but at street level you begin to notice the problems, and it is at the street level that work gets done.  As you think about how to improve your climate for innovation, be sure improve the foundation, beginning at the street level."

I remember when i worked with an organisation for 10 years this was always the result of employee surveys, regardless of nature of survey - employee satisfaction, innovation or creativity climates, business-savvy and entrepreneurship inventories - the view from the top was always so rosy.

Especially when the attitude reflected by top management was 'need-based information'.  And this lack of openness and trust i believe are key stiflers of creativity and innovation.

And what i found toughest and most stifling was being somewhere at mid-level, trying to balance the rarified air of the top brass with the 'stench' from the masses. Like the time one of the girls working under me was denied a promotion, despite A+ reviews, and the 'excuse' at the time given to me was i didnot shout loud enough, despite verbal and written recommendations.  #!?@*#*#!???.  The girl was shattered, i was shattered, and the organisation was 'oh its not our fault - but never mind, there's always next year'.

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Blog Panels

Blogs for Innovation Panels?.

 ...... What captures the imagination -- is the idea of giving product managers a 24/7 focus group on steriods. Some of us might say that bloggers already get this.   Renee again:

"In a social network sense, our consumer panelists can serve as connectors between small worlds, with those of us who work with the panel serving as facilitators that make the actual bridge (at least, if we do our part right). We had not really thought of our panelists as lead usersÖbut in a sense, thatís exactly what they are.  Another approach is to mix our consumers with a companyís lead-user customers and/or internal R&D people, so that the product knowledge of the one group plays off the creativity skills of the other."

I think blogs are a good fit.  Here's another example of where a semi-structured community - of panelists will create substantially more valuable information when their thoughts, lives and exchanges get the opportunity to flow.  Panels in a modified Live Journal?  Panelist that can reach out... to RSS feeds and insert new ideas... the ones that are shaping their perspectives easily today.  Now that might make leading edge panels even more fashionable. 

So is anyone out their using blogs in consumer panels?  Anyone willing to experiment? It is also easy to integrate the blog component with a hub with questionnaires ñ online profiles chat etc.  Sharing diariesÖ would also enable a ìlearning experienceî for panelistÖ better diaries and thus insights may emerge.  [Unbound Spiral]

This is exactly one of the things i've been experimenting with in developing a tool to research youth in India.  The benefits are many and i see potential for blogs as a tremendous tool for gaining insight into a community.  The youth is doing it anyways with their LiveJournals and Blurtys and Yahoo groups. 

Bring them together in a space, set up a panel, make them blog about their lives and thoughts and preoccupations - what you get is real-time youth speak, real voices as opposed to posturing that may happen in focus groups or the indifference with which questionnaires are usually responded to.  And much much more - narratives, stories, pictures, audio clips, moblog messaging ........ all elements bringing together the youth idiom in a flow, each feeding the other.

Leading edge innovation circles, youth speak panels, youth tribe and community panels, youth encounters - blog panel where marketers can interact on a subject with his audience ...... many many 'blog panel' opportunities come to mind .... 

1:45:03 PM    comment []  trackback []

Customer Empathy Blog

Another thought on how blogs can be brought into the corporate world.  Chunking it down and simplifying the process of adoption by fitting it into an existing system. Triggered off by the fact that Unilever India has a system where all managers across department and level, spend a few hours a month on the field, with customers.  The intent is to get them to shift from 'see-hear' to 'touch-feel'.  And it is meant for managers across departments - finance, HR, admin, R&D, legal, technical, etc.  - and not just sales, marketing and research to experience this. 

Picture a Customer Empathy Blog (or any other fancy term) in the company, where the manager writes up a short description of his/her key learnings from the visit with the customer.  A blog for pooling of knowledge, insights and observations of customers, where the different perspectives brought in by varying grades of employees with their own areas of expertise can infact broaden and deepen the insights that could be generated.

Easy to post with one click,  won't take too much time - and wow - a shared pool across the company, accessible to all with one click.  Then categories can be built, news feeds subscribed to, threaded discussions encouraged ... and the experience is enriched further.  


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The Future of Advertising

Rob Moss at the Advertising Strategy and Creative Network on Ryze pinged me to join a conversation on the Future of Advertising. Thanks Rob, for sparking off a thought provoking discussion.

Some trends i am seeing in India that may foretell what the future holds for advertising here :

  • media departments and houses 'ruling' over creative - and media innovations are the call of the day. Many advertising ideas today are media-led.
  • yet, no media innovation can correct the effect of lousy creative.  Creative is under tremendous pressure as clients are no longer captive - even long-term accounts are up for grabs. So the eternal dilemma : should we stay with the tried and tested path or then innovate with risk.
  • on the positive side, as O&M Vice chairman Asia Pacific, Ranjan Kapur says : "the consolidation of the media function and its transformation into an independent business entity is very significant. The responsibility no longer rests with the creative agencies. No longer is the creative agency carrying the liability of media - crores of rupees which are stuck in disputesth media agencies coming in as independent entities, creative agencies have the potential to become partners of the clients and not merely media agents. They can concentrate on maintaining standards, optimising resources, enhancing training, developing new techniques for delivery of quality services, build brands and conduct proper account management in the true sense of the term."
  • servicing shifting into planning functions, with domain specialists being more valued than client servivng executives

I do feel there's going to be a new paradigm (i hate this word - but it says what i would otherwise in many paras in one word - so it stays) of communication.  As the world gets networked more and more, as markets revert to being conversations (again borrowing from the Cluetrain philosophy here - seems to be resonating in my mind lately), as sense-making is encouraged as a two-way process, rather than a bombardment of message from seller to buyer, where a playground is fostered that can prototype and spiral creativity and innovation that makes sense to both buyer and seller.

More simply, where the customer has an opportunity to explore and discover the intent or the message by active exploring and sense-making. Or where its more simulative in nature by allowing the viewer to experience the intent themselves. Where the thrust is moving from 'see and hear' to 'touch and feel'.
2 interesting links ... hoping it sparks more discussion ...

I came upon this article recently - some synchronicity here i suspect - its a white paper on the future of advertising - is a little dated - but can spark off some debate on whether the scenario presented there has infact been realised.

This is an entertaining yet insightful scenario around how blogs can change the way advertisers and marketers communicate.  Had linked to it earlier, but worth another look in this context.

Would love to develop more scenarios or hear about them ....

And more on the future of branding later ....

12:01:31 PM    comment []  trackback []