Posts Tagged ‘spread’

The Intersection of Social Media, Organization Change, and Complexity Science


An interesting intersection exists in organizations between social media technology and practices, knowledge management programs (including communities of practice), learning strategy, change leadership, and organizational philosophy about the use of each.

Social media can be leveraged internally in organizations in the form of collaboration systems, learning management systems, blog and tweet tools and social networking tools (whether they are exclusively behind the firewall or leverage public spaces such as FB, LI, and twitter).  Use of these tools in conjunction with a change initiative can also have reciprocal value in that it can increase utilization / adoption of the social tools and processes as well.

Change initiatives within organizations absolutely should consider the social fabric that currently exists, the technology currently available and used within an organization, and the informal leadership that have significant influence via the social network. These should be considered as part of the overall change plan and included explicitly in the form of communication plan tactics and tactics to help identified stakeholders and stakeholder groups to transition along the change curve.

Change management / leadership consultants (whether internal or external) should become familiar with social / organizational network analysis (SNA / ONA), types of web 2.0/3.0 and social technologies available and used within client organizations, and understand how the world of social networking is a critical element of organizational culture and change behavior.  Conversely, the use of social tools and processes in conjunction with a change initiative should be considered in conjunction with an overall organizational social media strategy.

The social world we now must understand and leverage does add a layer of complexity to our work. Understanding organizations as complex adaptive systems (via complexity science) can be an extremely helpful lens as we (consultants) analyze current state and develop change plans accordingly. In the end, it’s all about creating environments where positive change can emerge and social networks often (maybe even always, now) play a central role.


Video+Story+Connection+Humor+Interesting = Viral Spread

June 14, 2010 1 comment


This article from Fast Company highlights the viral spread of Dorito’s ads as part of a Super Bowl contest.   They are provocative and violent and the company doesn’t have to take responsibility, yet they benefit from the marketing.  One theme of  viral spread may happen when inhibitions are eliminated.  When something seems tasteless, immoral, or even wrong but you aren’t held accountable, are you (the general “you”) more likely to share it?

In this Dorito’s example, you can’t help but ask the question how YouTube and other technologies contribute to the general lowering of inhibition (comfort with exposure) and with the capacity to spread quickly.

There are some more provocative examples embedded in the article.  Here’s one that won a contest and ended up being shown during the  Super Bowl:

This article starts out by highlighting some pretty negative examples (of which, I’m sure, there are too many on YouTube) to count.  It also highlights a really great video that went viral related to a contest by Dorito’s in Canada:

It’s not just the “good” aspect that made it go viral.  There’s some other appeal here. This particular video is produced in the style of those produced by Lee and Sachi LeFever of Common Craft (check-out their cool videos explaining all sorts of social media such as Twitter).  It’s cool, quirky, different, a little funny, and VERY easy to follow.  This “Crazy Cheezy Dream” video is humanistic, yet fun and interesting to watch.  It tells a great story, but just enough detail that we can insert ourselves into that story (too much detail makes it hard to do that) – this is when we CONNECT with it!  Steve Denning talks about this phenomenon in his research and books about storytelling.  It seems so simple, yet makes all the difference in the world!  I would make the argument that this connection element exists in the more provocative examples from a fantasy perspective – something we wish could happen.

Today’s Lesson:  When videos tell a story that we can connect with, but are funny and interesting, too, spread happens.

Meaning of “Catalyst”


What does “Catalyst” mean?

  1. A substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible (Merriam-Webster).
  2. An agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action (Merriam-Webster).
  3. Catalysts work by changing the activation energy for a reaction, i.e., the minimum energy needed for the reaction to occur. This is accomplished by providing a new mechanism or reaction path through which the reaction can proceed. When the new reaction path has a lower activation energy, the reaction rate is increased and the reaction is said to be catalyzed (
  4. Any substance serving as the agent in catalysis (
  5. A person or thing acting as the stimulus in bringing about or hastening a result (

When does something or someone serve as a catalyst?

Based on these definitions, someone or something serves as a catalyst when they/it:

  • Provokes
  • Speeds up, or
  • Stimulates an action, reaction, or change.

How does this understanding impact the spread of ideas?

I just love the 3rd definition that talks about changing the activation energy, the minimum energy needed for the reaction to occur.  Think about any change you would like to see in your home, organization, or community … what do you think is the minimum energy needed for that change to occur?  Isn’t that a fabulous way to think to think about what “catalyst” is required to move an idea forward / to spread?

How does this impact the ability for people, organizations, and communities to change (aka have an impact)?

Some pre-thought about what will be required to insight action / change is required.  You can’t just “will” a change to occur.  You have to take action.  OK, so this isn’t a novel thought, but how much effort gets wasted without having thought about it in advance?  If we are better able to define the minimum energy required, then we can better target our efforts to spread ideas and be a catalyst for change.

Gulf Oil Spill Design Jam 5/25-6/1


  • Are you an innovator?
  • Are you a designer?
  • Are you an ideator with ideas swirling around in your head?
  • Are you an engineer?
  • Are you a creative collaborator?
  • Are you concerned about the short & long-term impact of this oil spill?
  • If you can identify with any one of these statements, then you are cordially invited to participate in a one week Twitter event to invite the collective creative expertise to step in and solve this crisis.  YOU CAN make a difference – participate in this DESIGN JAM …


    Post your initial ideas on Twitter using the hashtag:  #oilspilljam.  Use your blogs as a way to capture more details about your ideas and post the link to Twitter.

    Search the Twitter tag #oilspilljam, glance through ideas, comment, and build upon the ideas of others.  This collective collaboration is a platform that could produce critical solutions to solve the most devastating man-made disaster ever experienced in this part of the world.


    Besides participating in the jam, you can spread the word.  We have the memorial holiday weekend coming up in the US this weekend, but time is not our friend with this crisis. It’s a simple three-step process:

    1. POST your thoughts on Twitter via #oilspilljam
    2. COLLABORATE by reviewing others’ posts and building upon those ideas
    3. SPREAD the word via whatever networks you have: Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, FaceBook, email, etc…


    It’s like a bunch of musicians coming together in a jam session – each one being inspired by the other to collectively create something new that the individuals could never have created.  This concept was inspired by the “innovation jam” events hosted within the IBM corporation  (giving credit where credit is due).


    Let’s see if we can generate enough ideas and enough buzz to capture the attention of BP, the US Government, and key decision makers.  With your participation and by helping to spread the word, we CAN make a statement and we CAN have an impact!  What are you going to do?

    How Ideas Spread – Insight from ROWE Movement

    April 29, 2010 1 comment


    Results-Only Work EnvironmentI’ve been following the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) movement for a couple of years.  This workplace philosophy is based on holding associates accountable to results, not to how they achieve those results.  It’s not about creating a virtual work team, but about no longer equating the amount of time a person is at their desk with the actual results they produce.

    • Some people are more productive in a home office
    • Others get the most done at 6 AM in the office when things are quiet
    • Still others wake in the middle of the night with brilliant thoughts they can move forward with

    I wouldn’t characterize the spread of ROWE as viral (see original post).  Still, I thought it would be interesting to see how it has been successful in breaking through organizational barriers.  Most recently, ROWE has grabbed governmental attention with a ROWE implementation to take place in the U.S. Office of Personnel Mgmt – creating an opportunity to shape national policy in the future.

    Michael Barata - ROWE Zealot

    I was fortunate to meet Michael Barata who is a “ROWE Zealot” now getting paid to spread this movement – a dream come true since as he believes it to be the future of work.  I spent a dynamic hour on the phone with Michael laughing and enjoying exploring the characteristics of this movement together.  Following are the key findings from this inspiring conversation about what helps and hinders the spread of  ROWE.

    Facilitates Spread:

    • Everyday people are passionate about ROWE – staff level are most common followers.
    • It affects their very lives and livelihood.
    • Spread happens when leaders become interested in something other than the status quo.
    • Adoption of  is not limited to a common set of organizations (mid to small, non-profit, Best Buy, Government, technology).
    • It’s optional.
      • “If you start forcing [ROWE] upon people it can be just as toxic as the current status quo – it just becomes the new status quo.” – Mike Barata
    • Social media (access to information, people, and stories) helps build courage in people who want to make change happen.
    • People find out about it from other followers (in addition to the founders and leaders of the movement) – see How to Start a Movement….
    • Success stories are a powerful way to spread the movement (especially when coupled with social media).

    Barriers to Spread:

    • Organizational policies (& even labor laws) do pose a significant barrier that must be broken down.
      • “Many of the beliefs people carry aren’t really their own, it’s what they’ve come to believe by others.” – Mike Barata
    • Opponents who are as loud or louder than supporters (regardless of how logical or illogical the argument)
    • Key stakeholders who don’t buy-in.
    • Some people never really realize that just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
      • Classic change management principle.
    • When people aren’t willing to stick-it-out through the challenges … there WILL be challenges.
    • The more people & processes required to change in order to spread the idea, the more barriers there likely will be.
      • It’s much simpler to spread ideas that only require individuals to do something (ex: reusable grocery bags).

    Find out More about ROWE:

    Categories: Idea Spread Tags: , , ,

    How to Start a Movement, in less than 3 minutes!

    April 2, 2010 2 comments


    Following is an outline of what Derek Sivers shows in a video during his TEDTalk explaining How to Start a Movement in less than three minutes:

    1.  A leader needs the guts to stand out from the crowd and be ridiculed

    • Leadership in a movement is actually over-glorified

    2.  It must be about the followers

    • A leader must embrace and nurture the first followers as an equal
    • The first follower is what transforms a known nut into a leader
    • If you see a lone leader doing something great, have the guts to stand beside and follow!

    3.  A movement must be public.

    • Three is a crowd and a crowd is news!
    • If you really want to start a movement, have the courage to be a follower!

    4.  Must show the followers, not just the leader.

    • New followers emulate the followers, not the leader.
    • If you really want to start a movement, have the courage to teach others how to follow!

    5.  Momentum of followers – now we have a movement!

    • The tipping point
    • The more people that join in, the less risky it is
    • They won’t stand out, they won’t be ridiculed, but they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry

    6.  The movement becomes the crowd.

    • Once enough people have joined, the movement becomes the crowd
    • To NOT participate is to risk being ridiculed
    Categories: Idea Spread Tags: , ,

    Further pursuit of Virus metaphor


    Further exploration of Virus metaphor:

    • What actually spreads, is it the original idea, or a mutation of the idea?
    • What condition(s) exist when the virus begins to spread?
    • What immunities DO NOT exist / what vulnerabilities DO exist to enable spread of the virus?

    This virus metaphor will be a great way to provide a cognitive image or something conceptual.  Some people will appreciate this imagery.  Others won’t be able to get it, so straight exploration questions need to be explored as well as simple implications / applications of the learnings.

    Additional exploration questions:

    • How does culture impact spread?
    • How does public policy impact culture / impact perception / impact innovation / impact idea spread?

    [Great conversation with Lola Wilcox yesterday (thanks for Ideation session!)]

    Categories: Idea Spread Tags: , ,