Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Work – play, play – work, even for CEOs

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Tom Glocer is a CEO who’ll make it to the round. :)

Over the past several years, some in the British media have suggested that I should have better things to do than spend my time on Facebook or other social networking or web services. …I believe it is a very worthy investment of my “free” time to explore the latest interactions of media and technology, or indeed to write this blog when I feel I have something worthwhile to say.

Innovation is non-linear – perhaps that is why all that networked stuff works rather well. What doesn’t work is the traditional command and control but that’s another conversation. Lateral thinking is rewarded in this day and age (actually, I believe it always has been) and a good way to get cracking when thinking about new business models. So, Amazon’s ‘unique proposition’ is reader book reviews, although it makes money on selling books, eBay ’sells’ reputation, makes money on auctions, Google’s offering is reach, though it makes money on text ads. Behind every new-ish business model is lateral monetisation struggling to get out.

Growth requires innovation, and, unfortunately, innovation is not a linear process. When Columbus “discovered” the New World, he had actually set out to find a new route to India. The much admired Google similarly did not set out to invent the dominant ad monetization engine. Too much idle experimentation in the executive suite leads to a failure to execute on any plan; however, the total absence of imagination leads to plans that lead nowhere.

And now for the personal touch. Tom Glocer is spot on about the nature of expertise. Recently I noticed how people in business are starting to approach learning about social media second-hand, listening to the self-proclaimed experts* rather than jumping straight in themselves.

I believe that unless one interacts with and plays with the leading technology of the age, it is impossible to dream the big dreams, and difficult to create an environment in which creative individuals will feel at home. This does not mean that the ceo needs to program a third-party app on Facebook, but I believe it is ultimately more useful in understanding business concepts like viral marketing, crowd-sourcing or federated development to use a live example rather than wait for the Harvard Business Review article to appear in three years time.

We should all feel comfortable to follow our own paths. What counts is the results, not living-up to some outdated view of what “work” looks like in the 21st century.

Indeed. This is an area of exploration that no CEO or other executive should leave to others. If part of the job of a business leader is to see the big picture, well, there is no more distinct big picture out there than what is happening at the crossroads of the web, technology, media and human interactions within networks and outside traditional organisations and institutions.

*For the record, rather than consider myself an expert on social media or Web 2.0 or [fill in the web buzzword du jour], I’d prefer to be an ‘expert’ at shifting people’s mindset and helping them understand what is the web and what’s possible on the web.

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