Dark Matter Matters

Test my theory… when it comes to community, are the words “monetize” and “kill” interchangeable?

Published September 10, 2009 community Leave a Comment
Tags: community, sharing, monetize, dating, mojo, kill
I was reading an article online the other day discussing how to “monetize” community. For those of you who don’t speak marketing, monetize means “to convert into money.”

Hey babe! Wanna monetize this community with me?

Am I the only one who gets a creepy feeling when I see the words monetize and community used closely together?

Bringing up the idea of monetizing stuff at the beginning of a conversation about community is akin to a guy going up to a girl he’s never met and asking her to sleep with him straight out.

Nothing kills community mojo like bad intentions. And when you lead with bad intentions in a community setting, best case people will turn their backs on you, worst case they’ll pour a drink on your head or get their boyfriend to beat you up. Metaphorically speaking.

Look, people, I’m not saying it is wrong to make a living off of good community work. Just like it’s not wrong to date in the hope of finding someone to love you forever. There are just some ways of going about it that are gonna work better than others. And if your own happiness/success is your only goal, you will fail. To be successful in creating community you must take pleasure in sharing something.

So here’s my theory. Next time you hear someone in a meeting use the words “monetize” and “community” closely together (or see someone doing it online), think of me. Try substituting the word “kill” for monetize, and see if it fits. Feel free to post your examples here, send them to me via Twitter, whatever.

Here are a couple of examples I found online to get you started:

Continue reading ‘Test my theory… when it comes to community, are the words “monetize” and “kill” interchangeable?’

Tom Sawyer, whitewashing fences, and building communities online

Published September 9, 2009 community 7 Comments
Tags: brand, catalyst, Chris Brogan, community, fences, GE, humility, mission, online communities, open source, Red Hat, Tom Sawyer, Trust Agents, Wikipedia
I spoke on a panel at GE today with Chris Brogan, author of the book Trust Agents (almost finished with it, more comments in a later post…).

Tom Sayer sez everyone’s fence gets whitewashed today, people!
Tom Sawyer sez everyone’s fence gets whitewashed today, people!
After hearing Chris talk about building trust in online communities, it hit me that one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make when trying to build communities online, even in the open source world, is that they think like Tom Sawyer.

Here’s how Wikipedia retells the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence:

After playing hooky from school on Friday and dirtying his clothes in a fight, Tom is made to whitewash the fence as punishment on Saturday. At first, Tom is disappointed by having to forfeit his day off. However, he soon cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work.

When thinking about building communities online, are you thinking like Tom Sawyer? Why are you building a community in the first place? When it comes right down to it, do you really just want people to whitewash your fence for you and give you small treasures in return for the privilege?

If you are looking to ideas like open source or social media as simple means to get what you want for your company, it’s time to rethink your community strategy.

Continue reading ‘Tom Sawyer, whitewashing fences, and building communities online’

Jack Welch on transparency, meritocracy, and the death of hierarchy

Published September 5, 2009 culture Leave a Comment
Tags: 21st century organization, culture, dark matter, Forbes, GE, hierarchy, Jack Welch, Jack: Straight from the Gut, Jeffrey Immelt, meritocracy, open source, people, the open source way, transparency, values, vision
On Tuesday I’m heading up to New York to share an open source perspective with GE marketing executives at the legendary GE leadership center in Crotonville. I wrote a post a few months ago praising GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt’s compelling new vision for corporate America, and I have an enormous amount of respect for GE as an innovation engine. I’m excited about the opportunity to exchange ideas with the smart folks there.

GEIn 2009, Forbes ranked GE as the world’s largest company, so I’ve figured before I went up to Crotonville it’d be a good idea to do some homework and see what elements of what we call the open source way are already in practice within one of the most successful companies in history. I’ve found some interesting stuff in my research.

One piece in particular grabbed me. Sitting on the beach today over the holiday weekend, I finished the 2001 biography of Jack Welch (the legendary predecessor to Immelt as Chairman of GE) entitled Jack: Straight from the Gut. I thought I’d share a Jack Welch prediction (written almost ten years ago) that fits right in with our open source view of what the 21st century organization looks like.

Continue reading ‘Jack Welch on transparency, meritocracy, and the death of hierarchy’

Coming soon…three new design thinking books for your bookshelf

Published August 31, 2009 culture Leave a Comment
Tags: Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek, Change by Design, David Burney, Design Management Institute, design thinking, IDEO, Red Hat, Red Hat Magazine, Roger Martin, The Design of Business, Thomas Lockwood, Tim Brown
At Red Hat, we’ve been using the design thinking methodology as a catalyst for innovation since David Burney introduced us to the concept about five years ago. Here’s an interview with Burney from 2006 on the subject that appeared in Red Hat Magazine.

The design thinking conversation has been getting more and more mainstream, especially since BusinessWeek editor Bruce Nussbaum became one of it’s greatest advocates. Here’s a starting point for all of the BusinessWeek coverage of the past few years. So it comes as no surprise that the book publishing industry is now on the case, with three design thinking books coming out this fall.

designofbusinessThe one I’m most looking forward to is Roger Martin’s The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, to be published on November 9. Dark Matter Matters has discussed Roger Martin’s work extensively here, here, and here, and I think he is one of the most relevant minds in business today. Can’t wait to see where he is taking this book, here’s what the preview copy says:

To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another-from mystery (something we can’t explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer) to code (when the formula becomes so predictable it can be fully automated). As knowledge advances across the stages, productivity grows and costs drop-creating massive value for companies.

Martin shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.

changebydesignTim Brown, CEO of IDEO (the company often credited with defining design thinking) also has a design thinking book coming out this fall. His book is entitled Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation and is billed this way:

This is not a book by designers for designers; this is a blueprint for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking—an approach for creative problem solving—into all facets of their organizations, products, or services to discover new alternatives for business and society as a whole.

Tim Brown’s book comes out on September 29.

designthinkingFinally, Thomas Lockwood, President of the Design Management Institute has a book called Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value coming out on November 10. It sounds like he is serving as an editor for a bunch of experts writing on the subject. From the preview copy:

Featuring 30 articles, written by industry experts, that show how to build a solid brand foundation, solve problems with simplified thinking, anticipate and capitalize on trends, figure out what consumers want before they do, and align mission, vision, and strategy with a corporate brand, this is a must-have reference for anyone wanting to increase their businesses productivity.

I’ll bring the reviews as soon as the books come out!

Do you have 10,000 hours in yet? The 21st century is waiting…

Published August 30, 2009 community , culture 2 Comments
Tags: open source, Red Hat, Steve Jobs, The Swingin’ Johnsons, New York Times, Free, Malcolm Gladwell, the open source way, limerick, Bill Gates, The Beatles, Tiger Woods, 10000 hours, expert, The Talent Code, Talent is Overrated, Daniel Coyle, Geoff Colvin, Hewlett Packard, online poker, business model, development model, Microsoft
mozart
Baby Mozart sez I got my 10,000 hours of practice in before I was five years old, suckers!
Finally got around to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. I’m late to the game on this one, so I’ll skip the full review and instead point to some good summaries about the book here, here, and here. I have other fun stuff I want to cover today.

For me, this book was his best yet. Gladwell’s gift is he is an amazing storyteller, and in this book he once again takes semi-boring academic research and makes it deeply relevant and interesting by crafting a beautiful story around it.

Here’s a short synopsis of Outliers. I decided to write it in the form of a limerick. I have no idea why.

Some folks become world-class Outliers,

Achieving success we can’t help but admire,

But smarts and ambition,

Aren’t the only pre-conditions,

Great timing and practice are required.

Basically, Gladwell is saying you can be the smartest guy on Earth and achieve nothing worth mentioning. But incredible, world-class success (think Bill Gates, Mozart, the Beatles) is a mashup of being born at the right time in the right place to the right people with the right genetic makeup while having the right things occur to you at exactly the right times in your life.

Oh, and you need to get in 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at your craft.

This last concept really got to me. The idea that in order to become an expert in your field, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice has been covered extensively. In fact there are two other books out describing the research behind this assertion, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

Hearing the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs stories of perfect timing and early practice in Gladwell’s book started me thinking about a few things.

Continue reading ‘Do you have 10,000 hours in yet? The 21st century is waiting…’

Why Does Dark Matter Matter?

Scientists tell us that only about 4% of the energy density in the universe can be seen directly. The other 96% is made up of dark matter and dark energy, which are almost impossible to see, and very hard to measure. Yet it’s the dark matter and dark energy making the stars, planets, and galaxies go ’round.

Brand, Culture, and Community are the dark matter of corporations and organizations. Hard to measure, hard to quantify. This blog is dedicated to the 96%. We’ll leave the rest to experts…

About the Author

Chris Grams is the Senior Director of Brand Communications + Design at Red Hat.