save room for the thin mints; it’s girl scout cookie time again. however, it seems strange to me that in all the years since the mid-1990s, it’s not only the box designs that haven’t changed about girl scout cookies but also their business practices.
the mom of some scouts explained to me that part of what cookie sales are supposed to achieve is to get the girls out into the community, teach them how to count change, and how to handle money. it all seems very reasonable, except it begs the question: so what?
i’m not so sure that counting change and handling money will be valuable skills in the next 20 years. there was once a time when balancing a checkbook was a skill, but every online bank already does that for you. what will be valuable skills in the next 20 years? e-commerce and mobile technologies, marketing and sales.
why not teach our girl scouts how to use square for accepting purchases, or develop mobile apps for tracking orders and distribution, or create online storefronts? why not have them develop a marketing approach and manage sales in their neighborhoods? don’t tell me they’re too young; that’s a cheap excuse. they’re modern skills for a modern world.
maybe it’s time we start teaching lessons that matter.
image by scootie, flickr artist
i like trance music. a lot. in fact i’d say that i truly love it. the reasons why are many, but aside from being good music it’s the trance community surrounding it which makes it so special to me.
in a musical genre categorized by well defined characteristics, the level of innovation and collaboration is off the charts. to use such common musical elements and structures as other artists andÂ rearrangeÂ them to form entirely new tracks takes a great deal of creativity. add to your original mix countless mashups and remixes from other artists and your EP is â€” the vast majority of the time â€” largely filled with someone else’s work.
what i love so much about trance is that these artists not only create their music but they actively invite people to take it and make it better â€” to put their own spin on it (sorry for the pun).
the business world could use a little trance influence.
you never see the giants of industry partnering together to create something special. when was the last time you saw facebook and google working hand-in-hand on anything? or microsoft and apple? or sony and samsung? for that matter, sometimes we even have trouble getting our own internal teams to collaborate together â€” like information security and the end users.
we were always taught that competition makes everyone better, and there may be some truth to that. business has no doubt followed in that tradition ever since history can remember. but what if we took the time to collaborate a little more? what if we partnered more between business and charity for instance? what kind of mashups and remixes could we make?
that would be some kind of beautiful music.
image from softsupplier.com
there has been a bit more attention paid to video games since it became a multi-billion dollar industry. and even though sales were down last year, those figures don’t include many of the emerging facets of the industry such as downloadable content (game add-ons and such) or mobile gaming (angry birds alone raked in $12m). with that much money flowing around, it’s hard to ignore it.
but what if we didn’t just analyze video games as a business and instead thought about how business can be more like a video game? jane mcgonigal gave a fantastic talk at TED in 2010 pointing out what gamers are good at, and why they spend so much time playing them. why not try shaping our businesses to engage and leverage these ‘virtuosos’ as jane calls them?
image source: treycopeland.com
i have to say this right up front: malcolm gladwell is my boy. i’ve read his books, i’ve watched his talks, and i’ve read his other pieces in the new yorker (his article on concussions in football is a must-read). so, with that being said, it pains me to say this but i think gladwell was wrong in his assumptions about the inability of twitter and facebook to rally people around an idea to promote social change.
in his recent article for the new yorker, gladwell states: “the revolution will not be tweeted”. i say, if the revolution will not be tweeted, ask gap how their new logo redesign efforts went.
now i know that malcolm gladwell is talking specifically about socialÂ activism more so than he is about anything else.Â he even mentions that social media can be used quite well for other situations that don’t really require people to risk much of themselves in order to do it. but if that alone isn’t a revolution, then i don’t know what is. because if there’s one thing that we’ve seen from gap dumping their logo redesign (and from facebook bending to the will of the user community and making changes to their privacy settings on multiple occasions), it’s that the authority is no longer the authority anymore.
organizations are responsible to more than their boardroom now. they’re responsible to their clients;Â they’re responsible to their people; they’re responsible to just about anyone that owns an internet-connected device. public opinion has always been important, but even more so in such a web-integrated world where one person’s tweet can turn into a meme that instantly spreads across the globe. it’s a lesson that organizations are going to have to learn, and learn quickly, if they’re going to be successful in this new world.
the revolution will not be tweeted? think again, gladwell.
it already has.
image by steve.grosbois, flickr artist
you work for 32 hours from monday through thursday. Â you wake up on friday morning with an extra spring in your step,Â looking forward to the upcoming weekend. Â but today isn’t your ‘normal’ friday; today is different.
instead of working on client deliverables, or manning the grill at a local restaurant, or waiting tables down at the pub, you get 8 hours to do whatever you’d like to do.
what would you do with it?
would you start work on that big idea you’ve always had? Â would you enroll in a culinary course in your area? Â would you learn how to brew your own beer? … or would you play farmville on facebook? Â or sleep in until noon? Â or drink some free cold ones that your friends bring you out back behind the bar?
if you’re an employer, why not give your employees 8 hours a week and see what they do with it? Â trust me, you’ll recognize the ones who are worthwhile and the ones who aren’t very quickly.
then, invest heavily in the ones that are because they’re going to take your organization places. Â they’re natural born world-shakers.
image by flickr artist, Dunechaser
there’s a distinct difference between a solution-based approach and a problem-based approach. Â let me give you an example of what i mean.
i was watching a show on pbs that was talking about battleground mobility â€” from the time of egyptian chariots through to today’s modern, technologically advanced tanks. Â i found the bit about the development of the tank to be quite interesting.
during the first world war, trench warfare had become the status quo. Â miles and miles of fronts in europe and russia covered in 6ft wide trenches. Â it made fighting a conventional land battle extremely deadly, and the allies were finding out just how difficult it would be to take down the german war machine. Â until a technologically curious winston churchill had an idea.
image by unclebumpy, flickr artist
i recently came across a post on wired.com’s science section about american bullfrogs and their leaping ability. Â in short: when in the wild, bullfrogs have a certain expectation of maximum leaping distance which scientists have previously measured at 4.3 meters. however, at a county fair in californiaâ€™s calaveras countyÂ their bullfrogs have been known to leap over 7 meters when involved in their frog jumping competitions. Â that’s quite an improvement!
in business, it seems everyone is focused on collaboration; on finding synergies and maximizing productivity. Â but what if we increasingly looked not towards collaboration on our teams, but towards competition? Â how would the game change then?