The truth about innovation

Innovation is a buzzword. Easy to use. Easy to cite. But it’s difficult to understand the complexities of what it actually takes to do new things, take more risks and think more creatively.

I think in many firms innovation is the triumph of hope over experience.  Innovation is fraught with risk, so few people are willing to dig deeply into what makes innovation work.  Further, because everyone is so busy, it can be hard to find time to innovate, so while many are called, few actually choose to participate.

The appropriate distribution of innovation work

Two links worth reading

Two of the better links from my reader this morning:

Are you Experienced? – At a minimum, everyone using social media and participating in innovation should understand that they are new tools, not completely understood, and often lack participation and involvement by the people most experienced in life. – Jeffrey Phillips

Cooperation vs Collaboration – How can we ensure that collaboration and cooperation coexist without threatening the organic, self organizing nature of connectives? – cloudhead

Online communities need software and people

I’m a firm believer that you can’t teach social behavior. You either participate and are active in that aspect of society or you’re not. Software can provide the tools and break down barriers, but it’s never enough.

I’m amazed at the number of times reporters at media companies use the same sources or cover town meeting the same way they have for years. Being a part of a highly engaged  and active community is a personal choice and requires living, working and playing in different ways with new behaviors.

Every workday is going to end with an hour of learning… reading Kawasaki and Godin and Ries and Trout, talking with invited experts, meeting with members of the community about what worked and what didn’t worked. Everyone who joins the program (and survives for a year) will come out with an almost supernatural ability to take a dead, lifeless site on the internet and make it into the hottest bar in town. That’s a skill worth learning for the 21st century.

Modern community building – Joel Spolsky

Modern community building -Fred Wilson

Launch something new every 30 days

NASA Shuttle Launch Photos

The need for culture change in newsrooms is well documented, including most recently from Doug Fisher citing Earl Wilkinson.

I won’t recite past specifics on why or how it can be achieved. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision where each individual must decide to change.

Here’s an idea I floated a couple of weeks ago to a team at work. I want to launch something new every 30 days. I’ve never done that before. The items in bold listed below seem like good places to focus.

Culture change in the news industry involves a collection of practices that break from the past, some obvious and some not-so-obvious — yet all not generally practiced in our industry even today:

  • Listen to the market.
  • Prioritise expenditures to your USPs.
  • Outsource, link or cut what isn’t your USP.
  • More sales feet on the street.
  • Invest in research.
  • Digital first.
  • Focus relentlessly on your differentiators.
  • Sell market solutions, not space.
  • Dialogue, not monologue.
  • Embrace the crowd.
  • Be willing to fail, but fail fast.
  • Go on the offense for readers and advertisers.
  • Speed over perfection.
  • You can’t be all things to all people.
  • Respect the platform for its unique value.
  • Go where the growth is.
  • Be relevant.
  • Place many small bets.
  • Low-cost innovation.

The last thing I was apart of that went out to the market launched June 13. I guess I better get going.

Why INMA will keep talking about culture change at newspapers

A mobile content strategy in action

Mobile is all about living in the moment, what’s hot and relevant right now in regards to time, place and information. Ever increasingly it is also about context such as personalized search and social engagement.

I’m doing some research today while working on a project request for a new mobile app (mentioned in this post) I’m pitching and came across this example of a mobile content strategy implemented by a hotel:

One major difference is telling multiple stories (web) vs. telling a single, focused story at a given moment (mobile). To make this happen, along with the functionality, the editorial structure had to change significantly. For example, for the mobile site, content that encouraged booking was prioritized, and the language became less marketing, more instructional. – Three things about mobile content

Do you have an example of a mobile content strategy that you’ve implemented?

Every business and brand is a publisher and vice versa

I find the new media discussion on personal branding and whether its ruining journalism to be one big waste of time. But it has been entertaining.

That shift actually occurred about three to four years ago when, in my view, skills like community management, content strategy and content marketing became more well known and part of normal business practices. It’s time to move on.

The one glaring problem that maybe the example between Steve Buttry and Gene Weingarten proves is this: Traditionally, media companies and journalists haven’t viewed content as a business asset, while other industries outside of publishing have embraced it.

Journalism has an ethic of “objectivity” that pushes us to pretend we are objects, not people. And you can’t develop a personal brand without being a person and being seen as one. – Buttry

The truth is every business, person, brand or journalist with a blog, Twitter account or Facebook fan page is a brand and a publisher. So is the guy sitting in his mother’s basement uploading videos on YouTube.

Of course, the problem with the whole argument here is that Weingarten is a brand, and he kind of knows it. He even says as much in his own way.

When I was a hungry young reporter in the 1970s, I thought of myself as a superman, an invincible crusader for truth and justice — even though, looking back at old pictures, I now see that I resembled an emaciated weasel in unattractive clothing. My goals, however, were unambiguous, and heroic: 1) Get great stories that improve the world. 2) Get famous. 3) Get doe-eyed young women to lean in close and whisper, “Take me.” – Weingarten