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Creativity & Innovation

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What next for Social Business? Patchwork Elephant Event Report

As part of London's Social Media Week we put on an event called Social Business – The Patchwork Elephant Revisited asking "What next for Social Business?".  We were kindly sponsored by our friends here at and we introduced the event and the speakers in an earlier post.  The idea was to get 8 different perspectives on where we are at, and where we go next, with using social and collaboration tools "inside" the business to add value and work more effectively.  Why is the "Social" word seen with such suspicion by some executives in the C-suite?  With the explosion of social media use in marketing or customer support reaching out of the organisation, why aren't more companies using it all over their organisations?  We believe change is happening, but why aren't we further forward with "Social Business"?

A few weeks after our event, Chris Heuer did a guest post on Brian Solis' blog that moved in to the same territory we covered asking Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next! and highlighted the problem with:
"While the ideas behind the moniker are invaluable in defining the future of work, most large companies simply . ...

Beyond Cloud - a series of interviews

A few weeks ago I was invited by Daniel Steeves to kick off his "Beyond Cloud" series of around 15 documentary interviews.  It went live on and Vimeo yesterday. Daniel is putting these sessions together with IntelligentHQ and Groupe INSEEC London (the French business school).  Daniel's idea is to have a series of video interviews based around the same set of 4 questions to cover the trends, issues and realities of the Cloud landscape from the many different perspectives of the players involved.  I was providing the consultant's perspective, but he will be covering the viewpoint from the very large Cloud provider, the traditional vendor, the SME provider, the Cloud orchestrator, the network provider, the data centre, the Cloud broker, middle-ware provider, orchestrator, security expert, some different styles of SaaS provider, the industry analyst, the business user, the micro business DIY user and the Cloud lawyer.  He's hoping to get some heretics, detractors and realists along with the evangelists and enthusiasts.   At the end of the sequence Daniel is bringing me back so I can interview him with the same 4 questions to wrap up the ...

Inspiration from British Cycling at London 2012

Dave Brailsford on BBC at London 2012We're gripped with Olympic fever here in the UK during London 2012 as you might expect.  Today has been a particularly special day (4 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze so far) for Team GB taking us to our best result in over a century, but one of the highlights was a brilliant interview on BBC Breakfast TV this morning with Dave Brailsford, the Performance Director who has revolutionised British Cycling, the team that's leading our medal charge.  It has some great messages for any business that I wanted to share, so I transcribed his words with some help from my new iPhone's voice recognition.

Dave masterminded the Cycling team's amazing success in Beijing,  and put together a plan to win the Tour de France in 5 years, but actually did it in 2 and a half, when Bradley Wiggins won in such emphatic style just days before these games started.  Even though the rules were changed, seemingly to make it more difficult to win as many medals, in this Olympics  on road the British team has won 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze, and on track 7 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze.  An amazing performance.  On the BBC News this morning Sally Nugent asked Dave - how do you ...

The Cloud's 5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO

Back on 26 April I was asked to present "5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO and How to Beat Them!" at a Ciklum seminar for ISVs that intended to deliver a hype-free conversation among CTOs, Chief Technical Architects and other key executives grappling with the journey to the cloud.  My slides for the session (see below) are already on Slideshare, but they are mostly visual, so I decided to do this  comprehensive (that means long right? - Ed)  blog write up following the slide sequence as a companion piece.  I was in good company, because the other speakers were Jimmy Gasteen of Precursive, Liam Hogan of OpenText and Melissa di Donato of  My pitch was intended to do three things:
  • Give my perspective on the current state of the Cloud landscape
  • Offer my 5 key challenges for the ISV CTO in moving to the Cloud
  • Leave the audience with some practical ideas to take action straight away
The current IT landscape is pretty cloudy.  IT providers are branding whatever product they have that happens to run in a datacentre somewhe as "Cloud" ...

Social Learning In A Dialogic Way

Earlier this week I joined a discussion group improvising on a theme around Richard Sennett's book Together and his recent RSA talk.  I understand the book explores the nature of cooperation, the evolution of cooperative rituals through history and the politics of the tribe versus the complexity of modern society.  Haven't read it - it's now on the long list.  The Everything Unplugged: Learning Conversation group meets in London every Wednesday at 10:00 at the RFH Level 5 to discuss wide ranging topics from creativity to the learning process.  This week's discussion on Sennett was titled "In a Dialogic Way" echoing Miles Davis.  I was intrigued on three counts:
  • I miss the kind of wide ranging conversations we used to have several years back at London's CreativeCoffee Club (which I founded with Toby Moores) or when the London Social Media Cafe/Tuttle Club was in its energetic heyday at the Coach and Horses or the ICA.
  • The topic of cooperation is vital to the the collaboration solutions I work with and I wanted to learn more about Sennett's take.
  • I don't often have philosophical discussions about dialectic argument versus the dialogic ...

"Creativity is an operational idea."

Some of you may know that Sir Ken Robinson is a hero of mine.  His 2006 TED talk on education, that I've blogged about before, is inspirational.  Track down and read his book Out of Our Minds.  Until doing some research on another topic I had missed completely this October 2009 Toronto, Canada event at which he spoke - Artscape's third Creative Places + Spaces: The Collaborative City conference.

Sir Ken talks about collaboration in the 21st century and creativity as an operational idea, which you can plan for and make happen systematically.

 Here are some quotes from his talk:
"Creativity is an operational idea.  You can plan for it and make it happen systematically"
"We need to make innovation a habit"
"Politician's say the trouble is you can't define creativity, and I say the trouble is YOU can't!  That's the problem"
"We need to teach creativity in education just like numeracy and literacy"
"It's a key operating principle for the next phase of development in the 21st century"
"Creativity Is a step on from imagination"
"it's applied imagination"
"Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value"

Inspiration to get "social media" things Done

Back at the end of February I was struggling to complete a post about Social Media Week London, and I put a plea out to Twitter for some motivation (or to be shamed in to finishing it).  @iamcreative aka Helen Harrop used her art as an incentive and promised me one of her doodle's if I published that day. I did, and the Doodle dooley arrived and appropriately it was about something called the Do Lectures, which had somehow passed me by completely.  On investigation I discovered what initially looked like a kind of TED with a Welsh accent.

A little more investigation showed that this was a gathering of speakers and people who can make change happen, sponsored in 2008 by Cardigan Bay clothing company howies out of their Earth Tax - they pledge to give 1% of their turnover or 10% of pre-tax profits (whichever is greater) to grass-root environmental and social projects.   2009 and 2010 have been funded by Wales.  Attendees camp at fforest farm and the lectures have run in 2008,  2009 and 2010.  The schedule for September 2011 just happens to be published today at 17:00.  Their website tells me they were started from a conversation between David . ...

Don't Panic! - it's the era of the Big C

The last week or so has confirmed my belief in, to quote Douglas Adams' great character Dirk Gently"the fundamental interconnectedness of all things".  Don't panic!  Let me explain a series of events that all tie together with connections and communication and a lot of other Cs that say something about the amazing period of history and business environment we are living in.  

We've just started working on a new website and community project for Anne Marie McEwan's "The Smart Work Company".  I've been a huge fan of Anne Marie's approach since we first met at Tuttle and then participated in one of the sessions at the inaugural November 2008 Amplified event at NESTA.  It was "#22 From conscripts to followers - new forms of leadership and organization" triggered by these posts from Euan Semple and I about the effect of social media tools on the traditional business hierarchy, decision making and culture.  That passionate discussion falls in to the heart of what Anne Marie's company is all about - challenging the status quo, breaking down silos and finding new ways to work.  It's a joy to be working on the design and messaging of a site ...

Zen in the Art of the Elevator Pitch

A touch of Zen?
What has an elevator pitch got to do with Zen?  Well good presentation is all about learning to let go of your inhibitions and achieving absolute focus on the objective by keeping things simple, eliminating all the distracting detail along with the bad communication habits you might have.  So take the Zen approach to pitching.   Penny Jackson and I put together some communication exercises and questions for entrepreneurs, start ups and mobile developers to workshop the "pitch" topic at Over The Air 10 some 4 months ago.  We did the workshop version back on September 11 (see handout below).  Here's our blog version.

What is an elevator pitch?
Well, the Wikipedia definition says:

"An elevator pitch or elevator speech is an overview of a product, service, person, group or organization, or project and is often a part of a fundraising, marketing communications, brand, or public relations program.  The name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver an elevator pitch in ...


Twitter is 4 today

A few months back on the 19th of November 2009 NESTA, as part of their Silicon Valley comes to the UK  sequence of events, televised a discussion called "Social Media: A Force for Good?".  The panel was  our very own national treasure, actor, QI master and twitterphile  Stephen Fry, Biz Stone the Founder and Chief Executive of Twitter, and Reid Hoffman the Founder and Chief Executive of LinkedIn (you can see what they said below).  The proceedings were moderated by NESTA's own Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum,  and in his introduction he said:
"It feels like there was never a world before Twitter"
Well 4 years ago today, this was the first ever tweet from Jack Dorsey (via Mashable):

As Biz Stone alludes to in the NESTA session, the idea of using some form of SMS messaging between groups came out of a brainstorming session while they were all working on something else that was going so well for ODEO.  At first they dropped the vowels from the name in common with a trend  for web 2.0 services started by Flickr.   Today four years ago was when they started testing....