Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for "frameworks." I was once 'framework crazy' and believe I have found that 'better-for-you' moderation which leaves me with only those frameworks that really do help us do our jobs (vs. just look good in a new biz pitch).
Frameworks are simplified versions of often complex procedures that we have learned to be valuable. They work. We then try to reduce them to their core components and often represent them in a simple infographic or diagram that makes it easy for us to use to teach or share an understanding of something. We have a Social Media Planning Framework which has since evolved to a "Blueprint" with even more detail (sometimes there is a bit of a see saw effort around reduction of detail and expansion). We have one in the works for Content Activation - how to get the most out of the creation, distribution and optimization of content that drives action and advocacy. You get the picture.
Having a framework to guide the planning and evaluation of innovation would be helpful. Marketers want to try new platforms and techniques for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes its quite simple - a platform gets a lot of word of mouth from the trade (e.g. Google+). Other times an idea has been percolating for a while inside a company and it just seems right (could we do more to build digital eminence via LInkedIn?)
I have seen some interesting innovations lately. One is with Facebook Places. Another is with FourSquare. And still another is with Instagram.
Visit Britain and Facebook Places - "...visitors ‘’check in’’ by mobile device every time they reach a notable British location and write a review of what they find. This information then goes automatically to update the new list of ‘’Top 50 UK Places’’ ...on VisitBritain’s LoveUK (Facebook) site. Dubbed "a global guest book" it is expected to become a hugely influential barometer showing shifts in opinion about our most cherished icons, landscapes and attractions as they happen"
Microsoft and FourSquare in Australia - "A Microsoft Office Mayor Meetup was held in Martin Place (a central CBD location) back in mid June 2010. Organised by Ogilvy's 360 Digital Influence, Microsoft hosted the “world’s first Foursquare Office Mayor Meetup”, for the launch of Microsoft Office 2010. Foursquare office-types were encouraged to check–in at the meetup to receive a copy of Office 2010. The first 110 office mayors to queue up got copies, and 300 Office Mayor Meetup t-shirts were also available. 141 people ended up checking in at the meetup."
GE Uses Instagram to Tell 130 Year History Story - "General Electric is using the app to show the company’s historical past. They capture some of the century old inventions from the original factory, using the filters to convey an aged quality. While its easy to write off GE as an impersonal corporate conglomerate, its Instagram feed portrays an innovative company steeped in a rich history."
The Social Media Innovation Framework
How do programs like these get approved? In one way or another they must happen in an environment that explicitly or implicitly values innovation. Roger Martin from Rotman School of Management talks about validity as the opposite of reliability. The latter is based upon historical information and can drive measurable adjustments to business (make the supply chain 2% more efficient) whereas the former requires you to prove something valid for which there is insufficient evidence. That's how we achieve innovation. He also goes on to describe that while most organizations ought to have a balanced commitment between reliability and validity, most managers and organizations tend to lean towards activities that are reliable. We need to push hard to remain innovative. A defensible framework can help.
The framework below is simple. It is intended as a checklist or a planning tool to help me succeed with innovations. When a client starts with a request like - let's do something with Google+ or with Empire Avenue' - I can unpack that request and turn it into a legitimate and valuable innovation (or determine that it is not the way to go). Don't think of the framework as a 'gating' process although if you cannot answer most of the questions to your own satisfaction, you are likely in trouble.
The big pitfalls I see with innovative projects include:
- losing track of the project as an innovation pilot and evaluating it as if it were your big program
- having no thoughtful evaluation model
- failing to formally select next steps
I want to answer 4 basic questions:
My Business Purpose: Why am I pursuing this innovation?
Pilot Structure: How can I execute it with the least amount of resources and commitments yet still achieve an appreciable, measurable result?
Evaluation Model: What will my KPI's be and how will I evaluate the value delivered from the pilot to my business
Pilot Execution & Next Steps: how can I learn as much as possible while also driving towards business goals?