Social Influence now a priority for execs

I am thrilled to watch and listen to this Video interview between Sandy Carter – IBM’s Social Evangelist and the great Mark Schaefer.

If you know anyone who is not convinced that ‘being social’ is critical for their career then get them to watch this and take it seriously

Nuggets like:

1. Social Influence is having a greater role in our personal and business lives

2. “Those with a Klout Score of under 60 need not apply to our company”

3. Companies now wanting to know at interview stage ‘how well are you networked and how well are you influencing others

4. Companies rewarding their staff for sharing information when they used to reward for ‘hoarding it’

5. Social Value to your employers is becoming a key factor in career advancement

6. IBM now seeing their clients giving a ¢value for proof of social influence

Love it, this is this the shift and now the BIG challenge is capacity building for Social Media Trainers – rock-on Scredible!!!! On the money guys!

Growth through Innovation, Localism and our Born Digital Generation

This week I have had the privilege of speaking at two excellent events:

I thought I would share what I wanted to get across to these audiences in this weeks Blog, I have also embedded a video interview I did with North Herts College and their Goldsmith Centre that serves local businesses with skills and Apprentices.

I listened to a speech by Steve Jobs several years ago on YouTube, it was his Commencement speech to young people joining Stanford in 2005. It now has over 7.5 million views.

In his speech he says something very poignant, and that is the power of creating dots in our lives and eventually getting to a stage in life when we can see the relevance of our experiences and challenge. My belief is that this is true so long as you understand yourself and the internal passions and visions that drive you, so long as you listen. Within our local communities we have many dots being placed on pages every minute of every day yet it is hard to join the dots of individuals together, living separate lives with their own issues and challenges and tough to amplify the results of this mass voice. But what if you could? What if our dots were shared and through random connections and serendipity, created via the socially connected world online, we sped up the joining of dots and the relevance of the conversations and problem solving that so many stakeholders in a community are trying to do, but as individuals or as unconnected companies and institutions are failing to achieve as fast and as ‘joined up’ as we could.

Thirty years of being inside the Information technology world and I finally fell in love with it in 1998 when I started an online community. I observed and in my own way created a place where technology became a humanitarian tool. Serving humanity, not just business profits

Now we see the development of communities online, life has moved on a long way since Ecademy was Founded in 1998. 4 years later LinkedIn was created, 6 years we saw the emergence of FaceBook and 8 years later, Twitter.

People want to work together in order to feel a sense of belonging, despite seeing a growth in self-employment and a growth in start-ups. I see the community of 2.8 million sole traders as a new form of ‘corporate’, however the Individual is now connecting through choice and in their own way creating change- being change-makers. The last 20 years has seen a growth of around 3.5 million companies registered at Company House, clearly this is no coincidence to the growth of Internet access and skills.

So what are the barriers that I see stepping into the local agenda jobs, employment, homes and the spoken desire for innovation?

Working as individuals in an economy requires a mindset of collaboration and a reduction of power-houses and control. I learnt this myself when I became a small business start-up and I witnessed the transformation in people that leave the Institutional world of employment and need to create their own supply chains, reputation and brand. This shift of mindset toward ‘collaboration’ tests the fabric of industrial Britain, the Institutes and the people who seek to control rather than support. This, I believe, is the challenge in our economy and I have evidence from the barriers that I have faced and overcome when seeking to bring a solution to market.

Over the last 20 months I moved into the Education Industry, into the Local Agenda and began to observe the barriers that exist when you work within the culture of ‘fearing risk’, having complicated processes and regulations and having no perceived reason to see the need to innovate to happen fast.

As entrepreneurs, risk is part of our life, in our waking and sleeping moments. We learn, over time, to cope with that emotion and the vulnerability of innovating and being ‘change-makers’ in society. Few have the financial buffer for error, but they are not regulated, controlled and they know that without innovating, they will become extinct pretty quick.

Listening, networking, collaborating and constantly learning and testing has to be the mantra of most entrepreneurs. The engaged small business owner may spend a lot of time online connecting, but in doing so they randomly learn, meet and hear new things and new people that move them forward. To most skilled surfers the listening and sharing is as critical as posting and broadcasting and engaging. Listening allows you to notice your outliers and prepare your business against attack or extinction.

As an entrepreneur you also learn to see the gaps, the lose threads between processes that you can fill. Problem solving is a key skill as an entrepreneur, perhaps sometimes re-inventing the wheel, but the wheel is often very different to the last, it just performs a similar function. It is right and correct that entrepreneurs do these things as they are driven by creating change and making money.

So the 15 years of running a community of business owners taught me a great deal about mindsets. Many business people joined Ecademy very green behind the ears as far as the self-employed world was concerned, Corporate Refugees we used to warmly refer to them as, the community welcomed in new people, shared, cared and became friends with them. The ‘business man’ learned to be a friend not a colleague’ and he learned that his social intention and brand was as critical to his success as his business skills, and this resulted in a breed of modern business people who have a ‘network’ mindset, not an ‘institutional’ one.

These socially connected business people were open, accepted random people and conversations and were supportive to other people, they dropped their closed, selective and controlling mindsets that their ‘institutionalized’ world had taught them, that had been a survival mechanism in the regulated, processed, hierarchical and share-price driven world.

So my biggest shock and our biggest challenge now is to create the attitude of collaboration between stakeholders who share the ‘localism’ agenda. The Housing Bodies, the Colleges, the Business Networks, the Councils, the local businesses and the schools, who all play a part in creating growth in a defined area. I am in awe of the individuals that I meet, but their roles and defined tasks do not allow for a shared approach to community needs.

Take the Digital Youth Academy as a case study, that we have launched to ‘connect the Born Digital Generation’ to business.

This was born from a few words I put on a page in January 2011 through fear that UK plc was not grasping the Digital Skills Agenda, those words became a Manifesto for Digital Business Britain  , supported by Mark Prisk MP, Business Minister at the time, now Housing Minsiter. I wrote 8 pledges for what was needed to leverage the digital opportunity that exists for UKplc. The current contribution toward the GDP for the Digital Industry is reported as between 5 and 8%, depending on which reports you read, with a Government aspiration to rise to 15% by 2015. This cannot happen without digital skills and a digital mindset throughout an organisation. I was thrilled this week when Ed Vaizey, the Communications Minister, announced that the vase investment into superfast broadband is potentially wasted if we don’t have the skills in the UK to leverage the digital opportunities.

To further the cause of my Manifesto I conducted a survey and wrote a White Paper on the Exploitation of Social Media by UK SME’s in the summer of 2011 and set out to bring a sustainable solution to market.

I looked at the local stakeholders who were required to bring this vision to reality, who would gain and included them in my White Paper , I met them and sought to find a way that all the players in the local economy would play their unique part in solving 2 shared problems.

1. The need for greater adoption of digital assets and channels by businesses
2. The need to realize and provide a career pathway for our unemployed and under utilized Born Digital Generation.
➢ Those kids born into the digital world and are so comfortable with it that they didn’t realize you weren’t!

To achieve the above we needed to

1. Create a qualification in social digital media
2. Ensure it was funded so that a Youth could become an Apprentice and get work based experience
3. Find a channel that would find, support and place those youths into local businesses, the Colleges
4. Create the itch and desire for businesses to see the opportunity that lies within the social digital world
5. Create the fear if they don’t adapt and digitally transform their costs and their marketing they would be threatened, we have enough evidence of high street brands that didn’t.
6. Create the desire for these youths to be the business solution to this fear
7. Find the funding of £500,000 required for the first years R&D and trading
8. Ask the business networks in the area to tell their members that they can now recommend a low cost, sustainable solution to the social digital skills gap
9. Work with the local authorities or LEP’s to fund events and get behind the need to Digital Innovate their region
10. Create an e-learning system and bespoke Youth Enterprise Community for all educators and Youths to access.
11. Create a solution to the need for Boards and Business Leaders to learn the subject and create their Board level strategy in order that they know how to use the resource of a Social Digital Apprentice, a Digital Coaching Solution

Quite frankly the need for innovative, open minds, collaboration and shared values and vision was enormous, the number of meetings, encounters, connections and volume of work tested our energy and our tenacity, not all were productive, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your prince, however, many frogs make a Prince in the end!

And… we did it! The Digital Youth Academy now has licensed Colleges in many towns and cities providing Social Digital Apprenticeships to business, our challenge now is to sign up more colleges to achieve National Distribution.

INNOVATION can be done if we all find one vision and cease holding on to the tasks that we live with day in day out and realize that things can be done differently and they can be done together and they don’t threaten the business that takes part, in fact it strengthens, connects and sustains it within the community.

I believe in shared values and shared problem solving in order to innovate. I also believe that our Born Digital Generation can help businesses transform their thinking and their processes. Be less complicated, less processed and less task driven. To be more creative, more engaged, more innovative and more human.

The shift now, due to the connected world is ‘relationships first, tasks second’, how people and organisations engage with others will become increasingly measured and monitored, and maybe this is the shift in the power and leadership in companies, I have witnessed 30 years of business leaders being autocratic, controlling and hierarchical. This is a big shift if I am right.

I love the quote from Little Prince that states

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea

Innovation can only happen with a clear vision, open minds and good relationships based on trust. Many times I have sat in rooms with people that have pre-conceived ideas of what they want the results of a meeting to be, closed in their mindset, controlling in their management, paranoid about sharing and as a result innovation does not take place.

IF you are in danger of standing in the way of innovation as you fear risk, have a closed mind, want to divide up the tasks instead of motivating the troops by a vision and you fear sharing with other stakeholders, then you are in danger of holding back not only yourself, and your business but society.

I would like to leave you with one thought from this Blog….

Hire one, two, three Born Digital Youths into your organizations and give them a problem, allow them to connect through the social media channels and allow them to be a friend to people rather than seek to achieve tasks, watch, learn and see what magic can happen around you and your business.