Chris Moss – the former CMO of Virgin Atlantic, ex-CEO of 118118, and creator of the Orange brand.
84% of executives say innovation is very or extremely important to their businesses Is it really?
He once sat on the innovation committee in a bank – wood paneled rooms, and the chairman asking “does anyone have any ideas?”
What is innovation? Here’s some words:
Ideas are great, but there are many of them around, and you have to be strong enough to stand up for them each time. You have to keep challenging and making mistakes. It’s collaborative – bring in other people, they add in things, and it becomes a bigger idea than you could have had on your own. Sometimes it is about being dumb. He didn’t know why aircraft couldn’t have ice creams – no deep freeze, of course. But you cam do it with dry ice, like they do in cinemas… Sometimes innovation is just bringing back old ideas – or looking sideways and drawing ideas from other issues. Collaborating with people outside your organisation can bring new ideas – often from customers. Sometimes you need to unlearn what you know. Script – Idea – take away the first two and last letters, and you have a riptide.
At Virgin Atlantic, they brought back Flogging – flight logging. They offered customers the chance to contribute ideas to Virgin, and get responses from Branson. He ended up falling asleep over 1000s of letters… One example was customers pointing out that airlines are obsessed with take-off slots – but its landing times that matter to customers.
Yann Gourvennec – the Global Director Digital and Social Media for Orange Group
James Moffat – the MD of Organic Development
One thing that strikes me is that real innovators don’t talk about innovation – they say “let’s start a new project”, “let’s launch a new venture”. They focus on the practical stuff. A book worth reading: The Myths of Innovation by Scott Birkin.
What matters is what you’re achieving
JM: It’s a needs-driven thing. The need when you start a business is to do something new a different. For example, using social tools for internal communications.
YG: ATOS Origin are planning to do away with e-mail by 2015.
JM: If you’re going to try to be innovative, then you have to be prepared to mess things up and get things wrong.
YG: Don’t ask permission, ask forgiveness. He was told not to launch blogs – and he did. And it worked.
JM: Look up the definition of social business – it’s a business for social good not profit. It has little to do with social media and technology.
YG: So, it’s using social for business, not social business
JM: Just using social tools doesn’t mean that you’re a social business. It’s a lot more to do with what the goals are.
YG: It’s about when the whole of the business using social tools, not just one central department.
JM: But is that relaistically possible? Getting buy in from all the stakeholders – can you do that?
YG: It doesn’t happen like that – only the people who see a need will use it at first, and you grow organically from there. Top-down initiatives rarely work in this context.
JM: So, maybe we should start with a silo?
YG: No, you don’t have to start with silos – just connect with those inside and outside who are interested.
JM: Is social business relaly a new thing?
YG: No – it’s a matter of mentality. It’s not just tools. 15 years ago we had people chatting in IRC – that was social. The internet has always about people stepping out and speaking out, about building websites. It’s always been about social, it’s not new.
JM: Richard Dawkins has suggested that we develop these tools because we can’t evolve quick enough to cope with our social relationships.
YG: I have a lot of questions about this speed of change. My wife is a scientist – she keeps asking what the most innovative century? Probably the 19th century – the pace of change was faster then.
JM: The concepts of Social Business appeared decades ago under the name “Industrial Democracy”. So why are we talking about it all the time?
YG: Maybe because we’ve spent so long talking about it.
JM: Because you can see the conversations happening, it makes it more preceptable.
YG: It’s a matter of scale. Look at what Facebook has – a lot of people. That scale is unprecedented. Social media in CRM? Scale again. But loads of data doesn’t mean good information. Online is becoming part of everything. Large enterprises are starting to recognise that digital is more and more important – but there’s a long way to go.
JM: A lot of people say that focus on the tools hinders adoption – focus on the people.
YG: That’s not entirely true – with many of these tools you only understand them as you use them. Let’s talk about e-mail. The impact of e-mail on productivity is terrible. 40% of managers’ time is spent on e-mail. Productivity isn’t just about doing what you’ve always done, it’s about doing things you haven’t been able to do before.
JM: Yes, but it comes down to improving communication. The tools help you do that, so maybe they are a pre-requisite.
YG: Twitter is progressively locking down its APIs – Loïc Le Meur sold Seesmic because increasingly he couldn’t get access. App.net has risen in response to that. The Whuffie Factor – by Tara Hunt – was the idea of a “currency” based on the social value of an individual. The discussion about that has been list – but it won’t completely disappear. The tools are here, but they will change and evolve, and if they stray from the original vision, things will happen.
JM: But to every new movement, there’s a backlash. I don’t think it will sound the death knell of it.
YG: Too many implementations focus on the tool, and forget to articulate why people should be collaborating. That’s where there’s room for improvement. You need to build a community. There are new webs being built adjacent to the open web. There’s Facebook, for example. People stay within Facebook – it’s a more convenient, user-friendly web. Twitter is starting to do the same thing.
Do you need loud or quiet environments for innovation?
JM: We had our creatives and developers next to each other. It didn’t work. Creatives are all about noise, the developers about quiet. So you need a mix.
YG: A lot of people treat Twitter like a messaging system – have you read all the messages? No! Treat it like ticket tape – just read what’s there now.
What drives people to collaborate?
YG: Passion. A desire to help each other, because you both get benefit. If you set upo a community and there’s no benefit for the people you want to attract – they you won’t attract them. That’s it. Think about what they’re interested in, not what you’re interested in. You build community by seeding, feeding and weeding. You put something in to start with – you can’t start with an empty community. Feeding means that you must keep feeding the system. And lastly weeding – removing the worthless contributions.
JM: Collaboration is not an end goal. What is it you are trying to achieve If you can achieve that better through collaboration – great. Maybe this tool or platform will make that better.
Why is it more difficult to create a blog for a big business than a small one?
YG: It is and it is not more difficult. There are a lot of people in any large organisation who are buerocratic. For that same reason, you have loads of talents. But you have so many to chose from to write a good blog.
JM: Budgets can be a problem with collaboration – because people want to hold their budgets within their old teams. We’ve had to restructure reporting and performance monitoring as a result. How do individuals innovate?
YG: Just do it. Don’t ask permission. If you ask permission, they’ll say no. If you want to implement from the bottom up, start with something small and easy. There’s nothing peculiar to social media in this – it’s standard change management. Launch a blog, and when it gets noticed outside, people will notice inside.
JM: We work with advocates within an organisation – find the ones already blogging and bring them into a program.
YG: We’re allowing everyone in Orange to use social media. Champions are not experts – they’re just five minutes ahead of everyone else. We acknowledge that people are champions. We give them packs, and stickers, and fact sheets. We encourage them to set up meetings. There’s fear that when they switch on social network, the internal network will crumble. It won’t. Most people won’t use it at first – but it will grow organically. Leave the nervous or naysaying people out. Work with the change agents, don’t waste time on the nayseyers.
JM: We take a different approach – we work with these people. We help people step outside of a very tight idea of what their job role is, but showing them the benefit to them, as well as the whole organisation.
How do you balance controlling the message with letting everyone talk?
YG: There’s a tool for that: advertising. On social media it doesn’t work.
JM: Advertising is a one-directional, crafted message. In social media, you get immediate feedback.
YG: That’s always been there – but now you have to deal with it. we’ve always had word of mouth, but now there’s scale.
JM: There are risks, but you have to take risks – and be prepared to fail. The size of the opportunity is bigger than the risk.
What about people who are regulated by the FSA? Should they ignore the rules?
JM: Absolutely not! You have to accept the reality of working within a context. The advice to not ask for permission is for indivduals.
YG: I said “don’t ask permission” not “do something illegal”! Too many companies don’t do anything because they’re afraid of saying something wrong. The policies are known – insider trading on Twitter is as illegal is it is anywhere else.
Does every business need social business?
YG: In two cases, no. If you sell plastic tarpaulins, you’ll probably never bother setting up a blog. However, B2B is often a good place for social media – better than B2C. If you are a small business struggling to cope with your existing customers – then, no. Focus on those customers. B2B marketing is not about ad budget, it’s about how good you are at what you do. You can’t say you are the best – you have to prove it. Blogs are a great way off showing off your skills and talents. The guys on the ground are rarely the ones talking to journalists – but they know their stuff and can communicate it without marketing speak. These are niche, small communities, but very passionate. B2C is more about entertainment and keeping people happy. Compare Facebook and LinkedIn. People want entertainment on Facebook and something useful on LinkedIn.
- Act swiftly. You have three months to change the world. You have to go fast, and along the path of least resistance.
- You’re wasting your time with naysayers.
- In times of trouble, people stop working. Step in when things are changing – that’s your time.
- Build a business case, not a social one
- Provide training to give people confidence
- Give them space to experiment
- Start small
- Accept failure
Paul Sloane – Founder of Destination Innovation
We’re all in the creative industry. We’re all in sales. We’re all communication professionals. Communication is something we all do. We’re going to share ways of communicating better with each other today. And sometimes communicating differently is better – but not always.
The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred - George Bernard Shaw.
He plays some linguistic games with us, exploring how grammar and sentence structure shape meaning – and miscommunication. How we can be deceived by visual illusions…
- the other party or audience
- The message
- The medium
- And how are you getting feedback?
If you innovate – you’re changing one or more of those four. Challenge each of them – who else could you talk to? What other message? What other medium? What other results might I want?
Can you change the audience? Parker Pens hired a new marketing director, and asked how to sell more pens. That’s the wrong question, she said, we should be asking what business we’re in. People don’t buy our products to write with – they buy them as gifts. We should change our audience to present buyers. We’re gift manufacturers. That’s an example of changing the audience to be more successful.
Seven Jacuzzi brothers went from Italy to the US last century. They invented hydrotherapy jet baths – and sold them to arthritis sufferers – and it flopped. Too expensive. So they targeted the wealthy, and claimed it would improve their social life. And it worked!
The scope for changing your message is enormous - but most of is stick with the idea of “have I got a great deal for you”. In Australia they had a huge problem with young, male drivers and road accidents and deaths. No campaign they did worked – until one recent one. They changed the message. It worked.
Sometimes being annoying works. Selling Compare the Market was incredibly lateral. Take something that sounds like it – and tell people not to go there.
Changing the medium? Xerox wanted to change itself from a product company to a services one. How did they communicate this? By getting a journalist to write a story about the company as their vision indicated it would go. They had it printed up as a mock-up magazine cover, and spread it around the building. That told the story. If you want to reach someone – route around their gatekeepers. Surprise a film studio head with a tape “trailer” for your series left with security, rather than posting him yet another spec script…
Now, how do you change your feedback methods. Greg Dyke went around every BBC location in the country – and asked what’s the one thing he could to make things better for them? And the same question again about the audience… Eric Schmidt has said that Google is run on questions not answers.
These four questions were explored by all the attendees in their own small groups. You can’t liveblog that… you should have been here.