A couple of days ago I blogged about two posts by Sean Howard and Piers Fawkes. They seemed to have a common thread of dissatisfaction with business-as-usual (in stakeholder research for Sean and trendspotting for Piers).
This afternoon, I lured them both onto Skype to kick this around a bit more. We had a good chat about the need to more engaging ways of helping companies adapt. The old ways of expert reporting feel increasingly inauthentic and don’t seem to support real change… so what could take it’s place? Social networking is clearly part of the answer!
Here it is as a podcast – and many thanks to Sean and Piers for taking part!
Download the Podcast – 20m – MP3 (7 MB)
Usual boilerplate: timings are approximate and this is my paraphrasing of what was said. Don’t take them it too literally.
0 25 Piers summarises his recent post on the failings of the trendspotting industry. We’re in an era of data-is-free and much of the industry ignores that, packaging up ancient information and selling it for large amounts of money. A lot of trends information is just opinion, and there is a lack of transparency in the business. There’s an arrogance, a sense of “we know the secrets and you know nothing. We know who the cool kids are and you’re in trouble.” We shouldn’t be scaring our clients.
4 25 Sean talks about his post about what’s wrong with the way companies use stakeholder research to support change. Are we just optimising or are we innovating? Too many 400 page reports sitting on shelves. We can point the finger at clients too for their part in this.
5 10 Johnnie picks up on the theme of engagement. The old ways lay claim to secret insight from a black box. But there’s a sense that it’s fake and lacks real spirit. What might be better is a willingness to step into the unknown.
6 05 Sean and Piers talk about innovation: how do you get organisations to actually change in response to insight? Clients want to know: what do we actually do with all this information?
8 05 Sean talks about whether work is just to provide insight or can it inspire and can the way it’s done support greater engagement within the organisation. Can we make the process of discovery more participatory?
8 45 Johnnie has another go at the notion of intermediaries and experts in favour of things like social networks with real world human conversation.
9 30 Piers: We need to move to more participation just because of the speed of change. There’s not enough time for the study to be produced and then react. Need a system to keep organisation more in touch with the marketplace day-by-day. Maybe there’s no more big ideas, but lots of good ideas.
10 10 Sean describes an experiment he’s running for an organisation where people within an organisation use social networks to contribute their intelligence and ideas. They don’t just input, they comment on other people’s input. Allow the organisation to analyse itself.
11 20 Piers likes the sound of that. Johnnie digs for more information. Sean elaborates on the use of video gizmos to let people capture and share experience. Getting beyond text-based. Johnnie asks if this could this be Seesmic-like? I wish, says Sean… but even with 5 or 10% participation, we’re getting triple the engagement we’d get from traditional stakeholder interviews.
13 40 Piers: we have some elements of participation in our work but maybe we can do more to use social networks in delivering ideas/inspiration to clients. Johnnie thinks that’s a good idea, a way of providing more in-the-moment sensing of what’s happening.
15 00 Sean on the gap between inspiration and innovation. Piers: the market still relies too much on the control of data, need to get beyond that.
15 50 We would think this, being bloggers, says Johnnie but data wants to be free; efforts to own/control it are going to suck the life and spirit out of a system.
16 15 Sean likes the bit in Piers’ post about ad agencies being in the game of making ads. Do ad agencies really have their heart in a different approach?
17 00 Sean: ad agencies need to watch out for the design companies like IDEO who really get participatory design.
17 50 Parting thoughts from Piers, Sean and Johnnie.
19 50 Ends