Using Social Networks for Innovation Activities

Read the latest column to get answers to the following questions: How can you use social networks for your innovation activities? Why is a best-selling author giving about his management audiobook for free? Why don’t executives understand innovation? Why is the 24h rule so important in the early stages of innovation? And by the way – what does ‘innovation’ really mean?

This week, I really hope I have the attention of some people in the telecom and online media business. They might find today’s column extra interesting since clear trends in the blogosphere on innovation were social media, internet content business models and location based business models. There were also a couple of interesting posts on the usual suspects: disruption, innovation inhibitors and various aspects of managing innovation capabilities. In addition, some good news is that it seems R&D is again at the top of the corporate agenda after the recent crisis, at least according to this recent McKinsey survey. That notion is in turn reinforced by this contemporary survey by the Boston Consulting Group (blog summary here).

Are you in the online media business? Then you’re not alone if you are struggling to make a convincing argument for how to monetize your proprietary content. Take a look at this blog post offering some free advice on charging for content. Here are some examples of successful implementations of paywalls at smaller papers. And here is Google’s secret plan to save newspapers. And as usual there is always someone offering their latest speculations on the role of the iPad.

Perhaps most useful of all the links in today’s post is the fact that Chris Anderson is distributing his management book Free for free online, most accessibly as an audiobook. I can personally recommend that book as well as Anderson’s previous best-seller The Long Tail, which profoundly changed the way I view the economic impact of the Internet.

Where will the next disruptive innovation emerge and what are the rules for spotting them early? Here are two blog posts by Scott Anthony (HBR) on the topic, and, in particular, here is an interesting speculation about the health sector.

Turning to social networks. Here are some posts with implications for innovation and strategic management: Linking Customer Loyalty With Social Networking (NYT). 21 Tips for Using Twitter and Facebook for Business(Brian Solis). Does Leadership Change in a Web 2.0 World? (HBR). Boeing’s Social-Media Lesson (NYT). Why Social Sharing Is Bigger Than Facebook and Twitter (HBR). Twitter’s most radical idea yet: advertising that adds value (BBH Labs). The Businesses of B2B Social Media (Brian Solis). Innovation Perspectives: 30 Ideas for Using Social Networks to Help You Be More Innovative; Social Media is the Glue of Innovation;Harnessing Your “Social Teens”; Collaborating with Stakeholders; Social Media and Global Innovation; Social Media Return Dilemma; (Blogging Innovation). On Twitter, Followers Don’t Equal Influence (HBR). Here are 15 ideas to make your DIY social media more successful. And here are some comments on How to win in a network economy.  And finally a McKinsey quarterly report: The Impact of Word-of-mouth Marketing (Blog summary).

An issue related to innovation and social networks is the wisdom of the crowds. For example, how can your firm use an online competition to help it perform highly qualified development and design work in a cost effective way (for certain kinds of problems!). Here is a compelling example: 48 Hour Magazine: Creating a Crowdsourced Print Publication in Two Days.

Let’s turn to the issue of location-based online business models, an exciting new concept that has recently gone from vision to reality. Here are a couple of interesting comments I found online: SocialMedia’s New Mantra: Location, Location, Location (BusinessWeek). Early proof that geolocation marketing will succeed (Business insider). Location services used by two thirds of iphone users (ReadWriteWeb). 5 Real-Time Location Trends to Watch (Mashable). 4 Ways One Non-Profit Uses Location to Increase Engagement (Mashable). Foursquare Launches An Obvious, Brilliant Business Model (Business Insider). Foursquare versus Facebook (AllThingsD, Business insider). Everyone expects Facebook to go into location-based services (NYT). But Google seems to be extremely well positioned to play the game as well (TechCrunch). So, considering all this, what’s Keeping Location-Based Ads from Taking Off? (ReadWriteWeb).

Turning to the management of innovation in general, there were a handful of posts worth mentioning. For example, 11 Ways You Can Make Your Space as Collaborative as the Stanford (FastCompany). Here are some rules of thumbs for evaluating innovation ideas (Blogging Innovation). A free book chapter: Why Top Executives Do Not Get Innovation, Much Less Open Innovation – and What to Do About It. Some advice on how to DRIVE innovation in large and inertia laden corporations. A successful consultant tells about his experience that if top executives do not invest at least 24 hours of their own time in the early stages of an innovation project – it is doomed, no matter how good it is. As we all know there are many other organizational and cognitive failure points that can stop innovation from succeeding. Here are five such potential inhibitors and what to do about them.

Talking about innovation, one can convincingly argue that it makes sense to spend some effort on defining the concept carefully in any group of people attempting to achieve it. Yet I know from experience that people tend to have many different ideas of what innovation really means, even within small groups. Myself, I tend to think of it as a phenomenon at the intersection of observed novelty, value creation and realization (in the case of an offer, realization here basically refers to diffusion). But then again – I am a researcher and my definition may not be suitable many other circumstances. Here is a blog post that offers another ten or so definitions of innovation. Thus you can choose one that suits your needs the best!

As per usual, I will end this column with some practical advice applicable in your day-to-day work with innovation. This time it is about communication. I present you with a choice of four useful modes of communication to get some practical hints about: Powerpoint, The art of the email pitch & The art of the Twitter pitch and finally how How An Introvert Turned Himself Into A Selling Machine.

Marcus’ favorite:
Marcus’ favorite post this week for actionable knowledge and inspiration is the audiobook Free by best-selling author Chris Anderson.

About Marcus Linder

Marcus LinderMarcus Linder researches environmental innovation among industrial firms at Chalmers University of Technology. Focus areas include strategic rationale and the practical how-to of including environmental aspects in the innovation process. An important starting point is that profitable environmental innovation often requires more than just “quick-fixing” a firm’s existing offers. Theoretically, Marcus is grounded in the problem-solving perspective on management, a subset of the knowledge-based view of the firm. In terms of applied innovation management, his main passion lies in business model design. He is currently employed as a PhD student at Center for Business Innovation at Chalmers University of Technology. Before starting his PhD studies, Marcus successfully performed a business innovation project at CBI culminating in a new product concept now planned for market introduction by Göteborg Energi.

  • Front End of Innovation

    Great article! And thanks for linking back to James Surowiecki’s session summary!