Innovation leadership model

I am working on recommendations for a client on innovation leadership models. I have been thinking about this for a couple weeks and have developed the following guides:

  • The model has to be dirt simple to understand.
  • The model is for people and about people so the model actions must take that into account.
  • Like all models, it will not be perfect. The more resolution (detail) the model must have the harder it will be to change and adapt.
  • The model should have no more than seven items. Why? Seven is a magic number in human cognition. The ability to recall and process information seems to be bound by a limit of 7 (+- 2).
With those parameters in mind here is my draft leadership model (7 (+1)):
  1. Be positive, smile, and have fun. Smile, its infectious. See Social Experiment.
  2. Build and share ideas. Get ideas out to people, have conversations about them, refine and adjust. Fail faster. Try and learn, try and learn, try and learn. If you are going to be innovative, you are going to fail. Then share and celebrate those failures. Repeat.
  3. Become more visible. Get on the ground with the people doing the work and developing ideas.
  4. Recognize and reward peoples' actions and behavior.
  5. Learn about and practice innovation.
  6. Look. Listen. Learn. Observe your customers (Don't survey them. Don't watch your competitors. Don't focus group them.). Tap your employees (People that work with you have ideas and ability to act; engage them). Ask questions.
  7. Be Firm, Fair, and Consistent (used to be "Be steady, consistent, and methodical"). There is no magic bullet, no quick fix, no magic moment so don't create a 'crisis', an 'event', or a 'program'.
While this is at 7 items, some of the items have multiple concepts within them. Can this model be simple (simple=short, easy to consume, not complex) yet not be formulaic? Just doing these seven things, by themselves, will not make innovation happen. There are some complex people stuff in several items.

Here are some research papers and white papers that provide (deeper) thoughts on leadership and innovation.

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Kindergarteners and complexity

Kindergarteners and complexity? Huh? what are you talking about?

Today I went on a picnic with my son's kindergarten class; great day out for it! After eating we played freeze tag. Imagine: 30 5+ year olds with 5 adults as "it", trying to tag all the kids. And the kids, not quite freezing, running to unfreeze other kids.

Scatter is a working model of complexity theory and social science in action! The digital version of this is at the NetLogo model library. Scatter is not quite freeze tag, but it gets the point across. Turning model into freeze tag is your home work:)

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Social networking technology gone wrong?

Facebook rejects me!

Quick note.

While at PodCamp NYC (Yes, I learned a lot at this podcamp:) I attended a session titled "Social Media Strategies: Ideas and success stories".

Here is what I took away:
  • The technology will not by itself solve your networking needs.
  • There is no magic bullet
  • One approach for a project may not even work for a similar project.
As I listened I heard the panel talk about their use of "social media". Why I went was to learn about the failures and what people learned from those failures. But the panel only talked about the successes.

One gentleman said "We used 9 or 10 different tactics and here are a couple that worked"... When I asked "Can you tell us about those that did not work?" he was reluctant to. Actually, he was either reluctant to or he had no good info to really share. Either way all we really got was anecdotal info on what did work and an admittance that those things that did work might not ever work on a similar project.

Another thing I learned is that people are looking to use technology to solve the hard problem of building a social network. The comment I made during the session is that building a social network really means a personal interaction created a link between two people. To build that social network with technology will only take you so far. I do not have a social interaction with companies, I have a social interaction with people.

What made me write this is my attempt to join facebook.... Simple registration process, they only ask for full name, what I am, email, password, birth date, and that I agree with terms.... I can't seem to register because my full name is not


Social experimentation

While at PodCampNYC, Chris Brogan shared his social experiment idea he created while reading Social Intelligence.

"Your are the first to hear of this. So you're one of the few. When you hear the word 'Hey!', smile your biggest stage smile. Make it big.... And, only tell a few people."

Chris read that smiling releases certain chemicals that make you feel better and that that smile also effects those around you, making them feel better (See some researchy stuff at PubMed: Communicating With Patients: What Happens in Practice? or even better PubMed:Interpersonal consequences of social anxiety).

What is also interesting in this experiment is how it is set up. Chris made me fee special by letting me in on a secret. I have no idea if I was the first to hear the idea but his approach made me want to hear the idea and then to share it with others. I told about 10 other people that night.

This is a simple example of using a social network to spread an idea (Idea Virus as Seth Godin calls them). The virus was the smile combined with the wrapper of exclusivity and the subtle "only tell a few people".

Now my real questions is: was the real social experiment about getting people to smile on command or (the meta experiment) was it about observing the behavior of people being told of the smile idea and trying to spread it? Only Chris knows....

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Quick note from PodCamp NYC

I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday at PodCampNYC. An interesting group to hang with and learn from. Cool people to be aware of:
Chris Penn put out an interesting mixer box to get people talking. Chris Brogan introduced me to Heath Row from Double Click, from whom I learned a bit about the world of advertising.

The podcasting world is sneaking up on big media ... Or, big media knows podcasting is coming and is trying to latch on...

More PodCampNYC pics at my Flickr site.

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