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Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 19:53

In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at we take a look at our IT departments driving (and sometimes unintentionally fighting) innovation, what collaboration really means to driving innovation, and how a Facebook exec is driving to build a more diverse tech workforce from the ground up.

Old vs. New IT: Innovate and Drive Disruption or Face Irrelevance

From Wired:

“Nearly every company has a story about trying to transform its operations as a result of opportunity or crisis. In either case, leadership must admit that the current way of doing things is in danger of irrelevancy or, in its most severe form, disruption.

The old IT operating model focused on sustainable competitive advantages. The new IT operating model employs transient competitive advantages that depend on agility — the ability to jump into a window of opportunity, seize the market and deftly move onto the next opportunity.

Yet indecision, unwillingness or ignorance about changing the old IT operating model could create a crisis of survival.”

Our take: The goals of enterprise IT departments have changed from a model of maintenance, to one that depends on speed, agility, and taking advantage of transient opportunities. But many in IT find they are holding themselves back maintaining legacy processes and technology instead of growth.

Read the full article

Midnight Lunch — Dishing on Collaboration

From InnovationExcellence:

“‘One of the biggest stall points I see in organizations today lies in the lack of true collaboration in innovation teams. Sometimes executives stumble by believing their innovation ‘process’ will emerge triumphant without understanding human connections within the process itself.

Others mistakenly think by lobbing groups of people together for months that they are actually nurturing the kind of collaboration that powers innovation. Because we frequently confuse ‘team effort’ with real collaboration, our innovation failures often lie in the human side of systems charged with bringing new products and services to life.”

Our take: Creating a functioning culture of innovation takes true collaboration between teams and across business divisions. It takes more than a proclamation, more than a process. It takes people being intimately involved in that process. Here we see how Thomas Edison’s “Midnight Lunches” promoted true discovery learning and collaboration, and how this can be applied in today’s business environment.

Read the full article

Tech Has a Diversity Problem. This Facebook Exec Wants to Fix That

From Wired:

“When you question the lack of diversity in the tech world, you often get the same response. It goes something like this: Tech companies are predominantly white and male, not because tech companies are racist or sexist, but because most applicants for tech jobs are white men. These companies, the voices say, are simply hiring the best applicants for the jobs.

According to Maxine Williams, the head of global diversity at Facebook, it’s true. The homogenous talent pool is a prime reason for the race and gender imbalance in tech, she explains, and hiring based on race and gender alone is the wrong way to fix the problem. But there are other ways of fixing it, she says. That is her job.”

Our take: We can’t drive this point home enough: true innovation is driven in large part by diversity. A greater diversity of ideas comes from a truly diverse group of people with varied life experiences, and it’s no secret that this is a big issue in tech. But the solution to the homogeneous nature of tech employees goes way beyond internal hiring practices. The solution lies in grooming a new-found interest in STEM from kindergarten to college. And what better place to start this outreach than from Facebook?

Read the full article

The post Thursday Thought Leadership: IT Needs to Innovate, True Collaboration for Innovation, and Addressing Tech’s Diversity Problem appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Owen Ray" Tags: "Featured, Mindjet, Collaboration, collab..."
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 18:01

You suddenly realize that you have been shopping for shoes or staring at the same Facebook post for about three hours. You have work to do, but you would rather have a dozen elective root canals than make a single productive mouse click. You’re working for the weekend—and it’s 10:30 Monday morning. Yup, your motivation level has gone sub-zero. Is this all your fault? Are you just a distracted, lazy schlub?

Frequently, a lack of motivation can be attributed to the business environment, not the individual. From poor office design to bad bosses, there are many factors that can chip away at your employees’ level of motivation. Check out some of the most common motivation killers and how to address them in this infographic from Entrepreneur.

What kills your motivation? Let us know in the comments section!

Motivation killers and how to fix them

The post INFOGRAPHIC: 10 Motivation Killers and How to Fix Them appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Owen Ray" Tags: "Featured, Mindjet, business productivity..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 19:19

Mindjet customers are an enthusiastic bunch, and we are always excited to see how they are using MindManager to get their work done better. Our User Spotlight series has given us incredible insight into Mindjet’s potential, helping us to identify with our customers’ needs, learn what makes our users tick, and figure out how we can continue to provide software solutions that work.

In this user spotlight, we take a look at some of our MindManager customer’s favorite features that help them manage projects more effectively from start to finish.

Some look to MindManager to stoke creativity, organize otherwise complex flows of information, or to communicate more visually with their teams. No matter the reason they use it, they all get more done and get it done better with MindManager. Check out the SlideShare below to see what features these power users love most.

As always, thanks to everyone who’s participated so far. If you’re interested in telling us your Mindjet story, send us a message.

To view this presentation on SlideShare, click here. Or, learn more about the new MindManager 15 by visiting our shop.

The post Spotlight on Project Management: MindManager Users Share Their Stories appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Mindjet"
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 16:28

Today’s customers come to a purchase decision with a lot more knowledge in their hands than they did a decade ago. Before making a purchase or entering into a business relationship, they research thoroughly and, in the process, tap into social circles extensively. In fact, the power of the crowd now shapes many business decisions, as businesses cannot afford to ignore the underlying sentiments from these social interactions. Businesses need to accept this fact and embrace crowdsourcing as a viable research and business practice.

While many businesses know the value of crowdsourcing, they falter because they don’t know how to get started. Here are some tips on how businesses, especially startups, can use crowdsourcing to their advantage.

1. Create a Sharing Environment

At the most basic level, businesses could work together with their “crowd” to develop a forum where they can discuss ideas and share content. This not only helps business gauge the engagement of their larger target audience firsthand, but it also allows them to create a shadow workforce who help in shaping business decisions. Ask questions, provide an environment that makes people feel comfortable to share and make it collaborative.

2. Use Social Media

Startups and established firms can tap into the crowd using social media channels to seek feedback on their offerings and generate ideas for new products or services. In fact, even without actively reaching out to the crowd, listening to what the crowd says about the company and its products on social channels could provide even more insight on how to offer better products, how to serve customers better and how to differentiate themselves from competitors.

3. Foster a Community

A big reason for the success of open-source scripting languages like PHP is the strong community of enthusiasts who are a part of popular forums, contribute to product improvements. and help others troubleshoot. It’s all about the community. There is no reason why businesses cannot emulate this model to develop a strong community of enthusiasts that centers around their products. The key is to be receptive to their ideas and suggestions, and then make them stakeholders in the process. This practice is supported in James Surowiecki’s argument in his book, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” about how the masses are often better problem solvers than the experts.

4. Incentivize Crowdsourcing Efforts

Organizations that tap into crowdsourcing need to understand what motivates people to work together. While it is obvious that the “crowd” does not get paid, the organization needs to offer some kind of incentive. This can assume many forms, from hosting webinars and summits, social media shout-outs and other public recognition, and even good old swag. Just make sure that contributors are recognized so they can clearly see their value.

How have you used crowdsourcing for your organization? Share your stories in the comments below!

The post How to Leverage Crowdsourcing to Drive Business Decisions appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Jenn Lisak" Tags: "Innovation"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 16:26

Change is inevitable in today’s constantly evolving business world, where companies old and new remain hard-pressed to keep pace with new developments in their industries. However, the only changes that truly make sense for businesses are those that further corporate goals or add value for customers—more importantly, companies need to find their own way of creating this value.

Rather than following trends or mimicking the actions of competitors, companies need to focus on internal innovation to propel change in culture, products, and services. Here are four different ways enterprises can leverage innovation to encourage growth.

1. Communication and Dissemination

Incorporate values that further collaboration, problem solving, and innovation within the mission statement and work earnestly to promote these values across the organization.

2. Structure and Application

Have a system in place for the workforce to initiate ideas, which can be brought up for discussion. If agreed upon, then execute the desired change. New ideas that drive increased operational efficiency are more likely to come from the workforce more than anywhere else. A discussion with all stakeholders is still important to consider why a process is followed, even if there is an obviously better way of doing it. A pressing need for organizations that want to innovate is an innovation platform that facilitates free flow of information, ideas and discussions.

3. Process and Culture

Have a process in place to gather ideas throughout the entire organization. A big stumbling block for enterprises is often the workplace hierarchy, where higher level employees have more impact on innovation initiatives. While leadership roles are important, enterprises need to devise a way for innovation to be introduced in an unbiased way to the entire company.

4. From Ideation to Execution

Have a mechanism to translate ideas into action. Very often, there are plenty of ideas, but organizations stumble when it comes to turning these ideas into concrete, workable actions that can be effectively implemented. Hire people to be responsible for following through with these ideas, and support them as necessary. For instance, many geographically dispersed companies now have full-time corporate innovation champions, as well as part-time regional assistants, to manage process and facilitate innovation. This is in addition to hiring a dedicated Chief Innovation Officer.

Innovation management platforms that facilitate both idea sharing and collaboration allow people to elevate ideas, and help concepts actually reach the implementation stage. If you’re not harnessing the creative power of your entire network, you’re almost certainly missing out on what could be the next big breakthrough in your industry.

How do you facilitate innovation in your organization? Share your story in the comments below!

The post Using Innovation Platforms to Drive Change appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Jenn Lisak" Tags: "Innovation"
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 18:23

Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to conspire@mindjet.com for consideration.

MobCraft Beer Becomes First to use State’s Crowdfunding Law

From: JS Online
Laws allowing and regulating equity crowdfunding are brewing all over the country. As soon as Wisconsin got its law on the books, it was tapped for the best use humanly possible: BEER.The founders of MobCraft have taken getting friends to chip in on a twelver to the next level. How very deliciously innovative of them.

“Equity crowdfunding got off the ground in Wisconsin Wednesday, as Madison’s MobCraft Beer announced an agreement with a bank to help with the state’s first deal using the new investment vehicle. MobCraft is teaming with Monona State Bank, which will handle money the craft brewer will seek to raise under a recently enacted law that lets private companies sell stock over the Internet to people of modest means.”

Read the full article

Strap an iPad to Your Face with a Virtual-Reality Gadget for iOS

From: CNET
Do you think that Google Glass is just too svelte? Is the Oculus Rift just not Apple-y enough to satisfy your iOS-driven VR desires? No worries, now you can strap an entire iPad straight to your face! Really! No more looking at people, where you’re going, and definitely no more looking cool. Check out the picture in the article and let us know if this is groundbreaking innovation, the end of society as we know it, or just plain goofy.

“Raise your hand if you already have an Oculus Rift. Not many of you, huh? Raise your hand if you already have an iPad Mini or have ordered an iPhone 6 Plus with a Retina Display. That’s a lot. The creators of the AirVR project on Kickstarter did the math and decided the quickest way to get virtual-reality-headset technology to the masses would be through adapting existing iOS devices.

The prototype looks like a weird set of goggles with straps that go over your head. The iPad or iPhone slips into a mount on the front and you look through two lenses at the screen. It works in conjunction with apps that have been optimized to display in two parts so that each eye gets a separate image feed.”

Read the full article

The Oldest Jokes Meet the Crowdsourced Wisdom of the Internet

From: The New Yorker
People have depended on the crowd to evaluate jokes since the first neanderthal comedian stood on a rock in front of her friends and made a grunting noise that sounded like a tiger fart. Now, the power of Internet-sourced crowd has been used to judge the jokes from the world’s oldest known joke book. The reaction is the expected collective groan you would expect from 1,000-year-old jokes, but this makes the study no less interesting.

“As Professor Mary Beard informed us last week, the world’s oldest joke book, the Philogelos, has been around for thousands of years. And it’s even been online for a few years. But not until last week was it possible to bring the power of Internet crowdsourcing to evaluate those jokes. Even the best of these oldsters never crested a rating of 3, which signified only “somewhat funny.” The low ratings are not all that surprising, simply because having to rate humor rather than experience it makes it less funny.  “

Read the full article

The post Fun Friday Links: Crowdfunded Beer, iPad Goggles, and Crowdsourced Humor appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Mindjet, fun friday, fun frida..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 23:23

In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at we take a look at the effects of the meteoric rise of ad-free social startup Ello, CMOs driving transformation in their companies, and putting the “cult” in startup culture.

The Hard Truths About the Fast Rise of Ello

From Entrepreneur:

“It seems as if every story or headline about upstart social network Ello has some sort of declaration that it’s a Facebook killer or people are ‘leaving Facebook for Ello.’

Nothing could be farther from reality.

The Internet and content-marketing lemmings have popped off dozens of posts already discussing how Ello is relevant for your business, how it’s the new Facebook and perhaps the “next big thing.” Even I got nauseous reading through some of them, and I generally just skim. But there’s relevance to the platform and thus, we need a gut-check on Ello and what you need to know about it.”

Our take: It’s like you don’t even care about us, Facebook. I’m tired of your ads. I’m sick of you collecting and trading my information like baseball cards. BUT I JUST CAN’T QUIT YOU. Not even for Ello, the sexy ad-free new guy on the block. No, Ello won’t be the next Facebook. Not just because people won’t leave their established social media investment, or that Ello isn’t even trying to be Facebook. Could it be that people don’t hate the marketing as much as they to say they do?

Read the full article

Can CMOs Lead Transformation Within Their Companies?

From Forbes:

“‘Transformation’ is an oft-used and perhaps over-used word these days.  However, it just happens to aptly describe the process of rapid change happening within the marketing practice and ,more specifically, for the role of the Chief Marketing Officer.

So, many of the world’s top companies are hurtling head-long into a journey of changing their business models, but not sure how to get there or where they’ll wind-up when they arrive.  What role can or should the CMO take in leading this process?”

Our take: When you think of innovation, marketing might not be the first department that comes to mind. When you think of marketing, you think of crazy people drunk on taglines, campaigns, and content. And whiskey. But more and more often, CMOs spearhead business model transformations and customer experience, and Forbes has some conferences coming up to espouse this view. Being a marketing person, I am going to go ahead and back them up on this one.

Read the full article

You Should Run Your Startup Like a Cult. Here’s How

From Wired:

“No company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside.

Why work with a group of people who don’t even like each other? Taking a merely professional view of the workplace, in which free agents check in and out on a transactional basis, is worse than cold: It’s not even rational. Since time is your most valuable asset, it’s odd to spend it working with people who don’t envision any long-term future together.

The best startups might be considered slightly less extreme kinds of cults. The biggest difference is that cults tend to be fanatically wrong about something important. People at a successful startup are fanatically right about something those outside it have missed.”

Our take: This is much less about tricking people to abandon their lives to live forever and ever under the ping-pong table, and more about establishing the kind of startup culture that makes people believe in a company and what they are doing to move it forward. When your people are truly indispensable, irreplaceable even, they’ll hardly complain that they haven’t been home in a week. 

Read the full article

The post Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: Ello Won’t Replace Facebook, CMOs Lead Transformation, and the Cult of the Startup appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Innovation"
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 17:06

It’s no secret that businesses operating in today’s competitive landscape have to differentiate themselves from their competitors to survive, and offer distinct value to their customers to increase retention. One of the best ways to do this is through institutionalized innovation, and successful innovators need to have a streamlined innovation process in place to keep the momentum, motivation, and creativity of the company going.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. The innovation process, however, should start with your employees and partners, who, in the midst of operations or client-facing duties, develop the best perspective on how to improve products, services, and overall customer experience.

Gathering ideas from employees has become a standard activity in most innovation-centric development initiatives. However, driving innovation requires much more than collecting ideas from employees, and selecting the winners. The program needs to be part of a wider innovation management solution that propels an overall culture of innovation.

Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when driving innovation initiatives.

  • Many “innovation engines” are actually project management tools that organize ideas. A true innovation management platform goes beyond the suggestion box. At the very least, it should facilitate the development and dissemination of ideas through social channels, allow discussions through conversations and threads, and encourage users to rate posted ideas.
  • Innovation works best in a creative and idea-motivated culture. This culture manifests in different ways, including teams helping each other push ideas through, stakeholders critically evaluate ideas without fear of offense, and open discussion between counterparts.
  • Innovation is an exercise in creativity, but the drivers of innovation tend to ignore the numbers. In a highly competitive business environment, it is imperative that the innovation platform quantifies the benefits of the program by measuring and reporting ROI based on the ideas produced or implemented.
  • Any innovation-based initiative has to be sustainable. Although one-off innovation events may benefit the organization in the short term, practices that bring recurring benefits and become ingrained as part of the culture offer maximum returns for the time and effort invested in the process.

When thinking about innovation initiatives, look for a platform that offers scalability and the ability to engage the crowd. It should simplify the idea management process so that you can focus on generating great ideas instead of expending energy on sifting through them.

What kind of innovation initiatives have you created in your organization? Share your experiences in the comments below!

 

The post Key Considerations for Propelling Innovation Initiatives appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Jenn Lisak" Tags: "Innovation"
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 12:01

Last quarter, we turned to the crowd for inspiration and asked you to share how you define innovation. We received a ton of great new perspectives on what innovation means, and that got us thinking about what motivates people to innovate for the October issue of INQ Magazine: Innovation for the Enterprise.

The Contest

We want to know what motivates our customers, readers, and followers to drive innovation. Is there something that your company does that really fires up your creative mode? Answer this month’s question and let us know:

In 140 characters or less, how can company leaders creatively empower individual innovation?

Be sure to tweet us your reply @Mindjet by Friday, October 26, 2014, and use the hashtag #INQmag. The top 10 entries chosen by the INQ staff will be featured in our fourth issue of INQ Magazine, publishing on October 29, 2014. Of those 10 selected tweets, one lucky winner will be awarded the grand prize, a $100 AMEX Gift Card. No purchase is necessary to enter or win, and will not affect your chances in any way.

The Rules

For complete details, requirements, and restrictions, as well as information on claiming the Grand Prize if you are chosen as our Winner, read the Official Rules here.

 

The post INQ Twitter Contest: What Motivates Individual Innovation? Win a $100 AMEX Gift Card! appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Owen Ray" Tags: "Featured, Mindjet, #INQmag, enterprise i..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 15:00

Choosing the right tools for your company can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky. There are hundreds of solutions available for every imaginable need, and it’s often unclear if the software can deliver on its promises to meet the needs of your organization.

To help you wrap your mind (and resources) around software selection, we’ve taken the liberty of creating a Buyer’s Guide to innovation management software. We also did this Q&A with Software Advice— which researches project management software—to see what it has discovered about successful software selection.

Recently, you released a report covering the best software selection tactics for small businesses. Can you give us an overview of the key findings, and how the research was conducted?

We found that SMBs should be checking vendor references and having their attorney review all agreements. These two tactics had a positive impact on both the outcome of a software selection project and buyer satisfaction. With the advent of sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and the like, buyers have become accustomed to using customer opinions to help make important purchasing decisions. Our research confirms that this is just as true among SMBs evaluating software.

Our research also showed that the majority of buyers are involving end-users in their selection process—a tactic we found to be ineffective. Buyers who involve end-users are more likely to report high levels of dissatisfaction in their software selection search. I’d attribute this outcome to companies being a victim of having too many cooks in the kitchen. While it’s necessary to understand how the software will be used day-to-day, involving end-users could take the project in the wrong direction. End users won’t have the context of knowing the whole scope of the project; for example, they are unlikely to weigh important factors such as integration and project budget.

We collected 321 responses for this survey in 2013. We asked buyers 14 “yes” or “no” questions to determine what tactics they used during their software selection process. We then asked respondents to rate their level of satisfaction with their software purchase on a scale of one to 10, 10 being “extremely satisfied,” one being “extremely dissatisfied.

Businesses of all sizes face challenges when choosing software. Are any of the approaches listed in the report applicable to larger organizations? If so, how can they be made scalable?

One thing that came out as having a low correlation in our survey—that I think is still important for enterprise—is having an IT person involved in the software selection process. In our survey it had a low correlation due in part to many small businesses not always having an IT person. Enterprise operations nearly always have IT support, and that team is often the tech liaison that works with the users and decision makers. And it’s really IT that should be the driver of a software selection project to keep it moving forward. For smaller businesses, it is often the business owner making the software decisions.

There are many types of software that businesses can choose to leverage, but some are more straightforward than others. What are some recommendations for small business leaders who are looking for lesser-known tools, like project management or innovation software?

I would recommend that small businesses leaders start with the problems they want to solve. Sit down and make a list of all the pain points your team is experiencing to determine what you need before you go out and say “I want project management software.” That’s something we hear a lot from buyers who think they need one kind of software but after talking to our advisers find that they need a very different tool based on their needs.

Give us some insight into the Software Selection Success Quadrant. How would this apply to choosing innovation or project management software, both of which are heavily reliant on widespread adoption?

The quadrant summarizes what tactics are important to ensuring a successful software selection project (checking vendors references, for example, was the top tactic). With innovation and project management software, it’s helpful to get a variety of perspectives on what it’s like to use the software. That’s because unlike a single-user system (like a content management system (CMS) where the web editor might be the sole user), large projects involve many users. So where can you get these perspectives on innovation and project management software? Software reviews are a really great place to see firsthand user experience with the functionality of the software and they’re a great way to connect people on your team with others who’ve already used the software. You can also read the vendor’s blog, talk to a 3rd party integrator or speak with one of our advisers.

What are the three biggest mistakes businesses make when selecting and implementing software? What challenges do leaders face as a result of those mistakes?

I think the biggest mistake businesses make is starting the process without first taking a good hard look at the problems they want to solve with software. Very often buyers zero in on the cost of the software without first defining their objectives. I recommend that they make a list of the pain points that they think software could solve in their business and talk to the vendor about the specific KPIs that can realistically be improved. Of course, price is a big determining factor, but what if the software actually causes inefficiencies because it’s not effective? That creates a cost that didn’t exist before and can negatively impact ROI.

What are the most critical success factors that developers need to consider when designing software, in order to be more appealing to SMB users?

The thing that buyers talk to us most about is ease-of-use. Buyers want software to have an intuitive user interface. Today, a lot of people research software by looking at demos and screenshots. Developers should keep in mind that if those images don’t have a sleek, modern look that conveys ease-of-use, chances are buyers won’t even contact the software companies, who could be losing more sales than they realize.

Click here to download the original report. To learn more about Mindjet’s innovation management and mind mapping software offerings, visit Mindjet.com.

 

The post 6 Tips for Choosing Enterprise Innovation Software appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Innovation, Agile Business, bu..."
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 15:00

People are the lifeblood of any enterprise, especially when it comes to initiating change or implementing a new innovation process. Changes will fall flat without the wholehearted support and acceptance of those who are supposed to bring in the new order. However, the role of technology is equally important when it comes to innovation. Without a seamless IT system and infrastructure to support an innovation platform that complements the people, innovation will falter.

Not only do organizations need to invest in a smart innovation platform, they also need to use it in the right way. These are five ways enterprises can leverage technology to drive innovation.

1. Embrace Equal Opportunity

It is important to collect and consider every idea from the smallest suggestions to the most elaborate plans. The ways ideas are gathered have considerable influence on the quality and schedule of a project. A good innovation platform ensures that all voices are given equal prominence and due consideration. It also facilitates seeking out ideas proactively on specific topics, such as identifying areas for improvement to drive efficiency.

2. Avoid Common Mistakes

Presumptions and assumptions are the biggest enemies of innovation, and all ideas are potential game-changers. However, innovation teams can get swamped with ideas, making it impossible to consider each for its individual merit. This is where a good innovation platform pays for itself. An effective platform filters all ideas through an automated idea graduation threshold, and then selects ideas that fit into what the innovation team is trying to accomplish. The innovation team is then able to review five to ten ideas for implementation every week, depending on its capacity and workload.

3. Employ Innovation Inception

Innovation doesn’t always have to be the end-goal in and of itself. Innovation within innovation—such as more effective ways to spread the message and initiate discussions—helps. A good innovation platform facilitates rolling out flexible methods that elicit wider and more effective participation from the team. Some recent examples of this kind of internal innovation include a multimedia approach to disseminating ideas, an innovation update newsletter that showcases hot ideas, two-minute videos that deliver information very quickly, and regular, structured online meetings to keep tabs on new ideas.

4. Open the Gates

Even as the implementation team propels innovation, it is important to be clear on the role of the innovation team as a unit. Teams that get carried away and become the sole arbitrators of ideas and processes do a disservice to themselves and the organization. They need to act as facilitators, not gatekeepers—and wise enterprises should make clever use of the innovation platform to ensure that it stays that way.

5. Be Customer-Centric, Always

No innovation would succeed without putting customers as the number one focus. It is possible to use innovation platforms to offer a reality check. By reconciling ideas and suggestions with customer experiences and expectations, it’s possible to inspire innovation within the confines of organizational objectives.

How do you use technology within your organization to drive innovation? Share your stories in the comments below!

The post Want to Drive Innovation? Technology is Critical appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Jenn Lisak" Tags: "Innovation, Agile Business, business col..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 22:08

Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to conspire@mindjet.com for consideration.

Try These 3 Neuromarketing Tips (You’ll Be Amazed By the Results)

As if cookie trackers — those magical internet fairies that cause ads based on your web activity to pop up no matter what site you try to hide in — weren’t creepy enough, science is potentially giving marketers a far more intimate tool for figuring out what you might buy: your own brain. From Inc.:

“The stronger the sensory experience of a website, the greater the overall impact on the visitor. If you engage the user’s sense of sight, that’s good. But if you require the use of his/her eyes (sense of sight) and ears (sense of hearing), that’s even better. Better still, if you can engage the sense of touch or smell along with the others.

For example, restaurateurs have found that scent strongly affects human behavior. If you look at a cinnamon roll, that might be enough to compel you to purchase it. But if you look at it, and smell the fresh dough, cinnamon, and brown sugar, you’re even more likely to make a purchase. That’s precisely why Cinnabon, a bakery chain, structures their entire store layout to place the ovens at the entrance where people can smell the cooking cinnamon rolls.

Why is this the case? Your senses trigger powerful reactions in your brain. Recent research shows that the right scent can open people’s wallets, project a sense of comfort and home (think hotels), shorten the time you believe you’re waiting (think banking) or even improve your sense of performance (think gym).”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

Parting with Paper: Five Tips to Become a Paperless (and Productive) Professional

Digitally-dependent as we might be these days, the global population still has a rather large and nostalgic soft spot for good ol’ fashioned paper. And though it’s doubtful that the arguments for and against a full shift to electronic wordsmithing will resolve themselves in the near future, there are some fairly convincing arguments to go totally-tech when it comes to reading, writing, and working. From Wired Insights:

“When I tell people that I’m in cloud technology, many envision my life as something from a world’s fair attraction about the future. That is, I must work in an office that resembles something ultra-modern – sleek, white and free of clutter. While this is certainly a perception I enjoy, it’s not always the case. When I first entered the tech industry, the offices I worked in had as much paper as any other industry – and I always marveled at how unprofessional stacks of documents looked. You can be the highest ranking executive in your company or a young professional – it doesn’t matter – stacks of papers everywhere make you look messy, disorganized and unpolished. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to wean yourself off paper to maximize your productivity and professionalism. Here are five tips for success.”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

Coffee Is Killing Your Productivity

Perhaps the saddest news to ever appear in a Fun Friday post: apparently, the glorious buzz so many of us depend on to get our morning work juices flowing actually has the opposite effect. Or, it at least doesn’t do quite what we think it does. From Slate:

“You already know that caffeine is a drug, but really thinking about what that means in terms of physiological effects on your body can be a little alarming.

Travis Bradberry, co-founder of emotional intelligence testing and training company TalentSmart, is out with a new post on LinkedIn that makes the case as to why your daily coffee habits are terrible for your personal productivity. Bradberry points to research from Johns Hopkins Medical School, which suggests that those good vibes and the boost in energy you get from drinking a cup of coffee are the results of temporarily reversing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

In other words, that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what nonhabitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.'”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

The post Fun Friday Links: Neuromarketing, Parting with Paper, and Why Coffee is Killing Your Productivity appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Mindjet, coffee, forbes, fun friday, fun..."
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 22:25

In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at leveraging thought leadership for greater profit, hear what Malcolm Gladwell has to say about defeating industry giants, and uncommon tips from one thought leader’s personal experience.

Two Keys To Unlocking The Profitability In Thought Leadership

From Forbes:

“The rationale for pursuing a thought leadership position is straightforward and logical; by attaching one or more executives to a critical subject, a firm (or a subset of its professionals) is able to increase its profile and, in turn, attract more clients. However, thought leadership is about more than being identified as an expert in a specialized field. These days, effective thought leadership must also take the extra step to thoughtfully and consistently convert that positioning into increased financial and strategic value.

Based on wide-ranging experience building thought leadership campaigns augmented by extensive research on the topic, I can see when these programs are effective and when they fall short of their objectives. Let’s take accounting firms as an example. Many of the larger firms have a number of exceedingly erudite and talented partners that possess unique expertise and intellectual capital that can form the basis of high-impact and differentiating thought leadership campaigns. The initial packaging, usually in the form of whitepapers, media outreach and educational forums, is then systematically undermined by critical errors that impede progress and deter new business. In short, while most accounting firms can demonstrate their expertise they are simultaneously unable to monetize their newly created stature.

Why? The most common mistake is failing to fully leverage the intellectual content.”

Our take: Business is business, and — despite what other goals you may have, altruistic or not — making money is a big part of what you’re after. That means that any initiative you take on is at least loosely tied to growing profits; what better way to kill two birds with one stone than by building valuable thought leadership content that not only positions you as an expert, but that also clearly drives ROI?

Read the full article or Tweet this!

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Underdogs

From Inc.:

New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell talks to Inc.’s Issie Lapowsky about business lessons from his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” Watch the video here.

Our take: In this video series, Gladwell breaks down the major concepts of one of his most well-received business books, wherein he uses the traditional story of David and Goliath to exemplify how businesses can stay competitive, even in the face of what appears to be certain failure. The lessons here are particularly important as the global, digital network makes transparency and limited resources not only difficult to avoid, but necessary components of successful business.

Check out all of the video excerpts or Tweet this!

Some Non-Obvious Advice on Thought Leadership

From Moz:

“For the first 10 or so conference speaking spots I earned (at new conferences, not those that invited me back), the invitations didn’t come based on my stellar scores from prior events (in fact, conference organizers don’t do a whole lot of sharing of speaker scores between one another). Most of the new conference invitations came from my work on the web – from blogging, videos, participation in forums, and mentions on other sites. I can say, without a doubt, that my first few speaking spots were fairly horrific. Today, there’s no chance I’d have earned an invite from Mozcon or Searchlove (two of the most selective and high-expectation events in our space for speakers).

That said, about 3 years into my speaking appearances, I watched Avinash Kaushik present. He blew me away. And after his talk, he told me something that’s stuck with me ever since. Avinash said “Everywhere I speak, I always work to be the best speaker at the event.” Simple, but it blew my mind. Of course. Of course being the best speaker would build and build on itself. Because at every conference, the conversation between any two attendees in any given hallway is always the same — “so, which speaker did you like best?'”

Our take: Finally: a thought leadership advice piece that doesn’t align with the status quo or regurgitate popular advice. The info in this article comes directly from a true-blue thought leader’s personal successes, failures, and findings, and offers some never-before-seen tips that have very little to do with concept, and everything to do with application.

Read the full article or Tweet this!

The post Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: Unlocking Profitability, Learning from the Underdogs, and Some Non-Obvious Advice appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Innovation, becoming a thought..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 19:53

Recently, Mindjet’s VP of Products, James Gardner, sat down with UCInsight’s Chris Middleton –a widely respected business and technology journalist, author, and magazine editor — to discuss why collaboration and crowdsourcing are so imperative to today’s enterprise innovation initiatives. Below is an excerpt from their interview.

Your software tools help organisations manage innovation. But what are the obstacles to innovation? Why do companies need software to manage it?

James Gardner (JG): “The bigger and more ‘command and control’ an organisation is, the harder it is for innovation to exist. Usually, the boss wants more innovation, and frontline people want it too, but then there is the middle layer – middle managers – who are ‘goaled’ on doing the same thing over and over again. There’s no benefit to them in being innovative, because if they are the likelihood is that things will go wrong.

“In fact, there are usually systemic rewards for middle managers not innovating – for example, their annual bonus might be related to serving a particular number of customers, so they’re always rewarded for doing things the same. The problem is how to fix that: how can it be made more compelling to innovate than simply replicating the same processes over and over again? That’s what our tools aim to do.”

So how can collaborative tools help to foster and manage innovation within organisations?

JG: “Our idea was that everyone who puts an idea into one of our tools can then read everyone else’s ideas and make some decisions about them. Because if you’re frontline staff and you have a great idea, then there’s probably no way that you can bust through middle management to get to the CEO. But if it’s you plus 1,000 people who have all agreed that your idea is brilliant, then you’ll get heard, as no CEO will want to ignore that. So we’re building tools that use consensus to break down barriers.

“When we put together Spigit [of which Gardner was CTO when the company was acquired by Mindjet] the state of the art in repeatable innovation was the suggestion box. That’s a great means of giving people a voice if they want things to change, but it has a disadvantage: it fills up. And then the challenge becomes: Who’s going actually to read all this stuff and then take action? Because if nothing happens, then people stop using the suggestion box. Our tools use internal crowdsourcing rather than a single person’s time.”

A wiki-like approach…

JG: “Yes, and now our focus is, rather than just getting crowds to look at ideas and review them, what if we can give crowds the ‘hands’ to actually do something about those ideas in a decentralised way? In that scenario, organisations not only listen to employees, but also empower them to act.”

In our personality-obsessed culture, there’s a perception that innovation lies in brilliant individuals, rather than in crowds.

JG: “I’m fascinated with the idea of the iPhone and how Apple, a computer company that had never been in the phone business, could make the iPhone happen. When you think about that, then you do start thinking along the lines of ‘innovation heroes’, which is what everyone thinks Steve Jobs was.

“What I can tell you from our data is that large organisations where that sort of change happens always have an innovation hero, someone who is so dynamic and influential that they make this stuff a reality. But the interesting thing is it doesn’t have much to do with hierarchy. It could be the CEO, but it doesn’t have to be.

“We observe there are innovation heroes who can get stuff done, and we observe that there is ‘everyone else’, but what we don’t observe from our data is that there’s any difference in the quality of ideas between those two groups.

Where does your data come from?

JG: “We have six million users, in some hundreds of companies that use our products to create internal social networks. And we can see how data flows from individuals into groups, and what the progress is of ideas through this social system. And we can compare these processes from industry to industry to see emergent behaviours around ideas.”

Has your data produced any standout strategies for running an innovative business?

JG: “We observe certain characteristics in organisations that are good at innovating. Number one is that there is a pervasive culture of permission, in which people are told ‘You may go and do this’. That’s something we don’t normally see in very hierarchical, command-and-control organisations.

“Of course, when people are given permission to try things, often those things don’t work – and our data suggests that happens in about 50 to 80 per cent of cases. So an innovative culture also has to be one that accepts high levels of failure, and even celebrates failure as a means to get on to the next idea. In the organisations we look at, those are the most important things.”

Read the full article on UCInsight here.

The post Collaborate to Innovate: Mindjet’s James Gardner on Crowd Thinking appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Innovation, Agile Business, business col..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 22:08

Most companies are aware of how crucial their sales force is, but it’s not always considered integral for the right reasons. True, the sales team is on the front lines of fiscal deadlines and growth, but more importantly, they’re an organization’s direct doorway to the customer base. In the face of today’s intricate digital network of competing products and services, it’s not enough to just train your salespeople, give them a playbook, and send them off to regurgitate information to the next set of prospects or clients.

Our Next Innovation Cafe

Much like anything in collaborative, expanding, and forward-thinking organizations, it all comes down to engagement. In our next Innovation Cafe webinar with Sally Kelly, Vice President of Member Communications at CCA Global Partners (the parent company of Carpet One), will share how her group engages with their retail consumers’ questions in order to encourage them to purchase products from Carpet One retail locations. Additionally, Sally will share how her team continuously seeks to improve service to their retail consumers through innovative ideas and solutions.

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Creating the Killer Close

This webinar will be especially beneficial to anyone involved in sales enablement, including management operations and training. Attendees will discover how to best explore the circle of inquiry, engagement, recognition, and collaborative ideation that her group supports with the membership of CCA Global to help them grow their business in the digital age.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for our October 1st Innovation Cafe — we can’t wait to see you there!

The post 10/1 Innovation Cafe Webinar: Co-Creating the Killer Close appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Mindjet, Agile Business, business collab..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 21:30

Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to conspire@mindjet.com for consideration.

5 Ways the 80/20 Rule Can Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

It’s not entirely true that everyone in the world doesn’t want to work harder than they have to, but for today’s frequently over-burdened workforce, any advice on how to work smarter — rather than harder — is pretty valuable. That’s where the famed 80/20 rule comes into play. From Inc.:

“You probably have a decent intuition about which of your daily tasks squelch productivity. Pinpoint these by asking yourself, “What’s the stupidest thing I’m wasting time on?” You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to cut these activities out. Set parameters for when you can do these activities (such as answering your email once a day), and eventually, you may be able to cut it out of your workday entirely.”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

John Dewey on the True Purpose of Education and How to Harness the Power of Our Natural Curiosity

There have been mutterings around the business arena lately suggesting that the way we educate people is long overdue for a makeover. Whereas traditional education teaches memorization, repetition, and a stringent set of universal rules, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for out-of-the-box, innovative thinking. Unfortunately, that can be a critical error with long-term, negative effects, if we’re not also teaching people to tap into their own curiosity. From Brainpickings:

“While it is not the business of education to prove every statement made, any more than to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and opinions; to develop a lively, sincere, and open-minded preference for conclusions that are properly grounded, and to ingrain into the individual’s working habits methods of inquiry and reasoning appropriate to the various problems that present themselves. No matter how much an individual knows as a matter of hearsay and information, if he has not attitudes and habits of this sort, he is not intellectually educated. He lacks the rudiments of mental discipline. And since these habits are not a gift of nature (no matter how strong the aptitude for acquiring them); since, moreover, the casual circumstances of the natural and social environment are not enough to compel their acquisition, the main office of education is to supply conditions that make for their cultivation. The formation of these habits is the Training of Mind.”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

How Innovation Can Lead to Life Purpose

Whether or not you attended college, you’ve most certainly been questioned about your life intentions, and how you plan to achieve them. And while it’s an important question, it’s an incredibly daunting one to deal with if your knowledge of your own possibility is limited. From Forbes:

“We help students combine aptitudes and interests in a way that helps them apply those talents to career and education choices. And given the rapid pace of change and innovation in our world today that ends up being eye-opening. For almost all students, we expand, rather than narrow, their vision and opportunities. Most students only know a few potential careers from the contexts of family and their community, and this can be dangerously misleading and uninspiring. We help them apply their giftedness to the broader career marketplace and give them the insight to see the careers that are increasing in economic viability and availability. So, students can then begin to set a path of intentional discovery and use their education to create more options, not eliminate them.”

Read the full article or Tweet this!

The post Fun Friday Links: The 80/20 Rule, Natural Curiosity, and the Purpose of Innovation appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Mindjet, 80/20 rule, brainpick..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 13:05

With the contemporary focus on driving change and global growth, innovation is certainly not just for technology geeks and marketing mavens. Businesses, in order to sustain themselves, need to maintain an edge over competitors, and this holds true in the nonprofit sector as well. Innovation technology can help not-for-profit organizations, even if they are not traditionally associated with high-level technology adoption.

For one, donors can be hard to come by in competitive markets, especially when nonprofits don’t know where to find qualified, ideal contributors. Nonprofits also need to involve more people in their cause than the average for-profit company; this is what allows them to support their mission and help a greater number of people in need. Innovation software can also support donor and volunteer targeting, and provide engaging ways for them to interact and be more involved in the organization’s charitable efforts.

Here are a few more key things that nonprofits need to know about innovation platforms and how they can use them to make a real difference.

Build Relationships

Nonprofits thrive on volunteer participation and sponsorships. Innovation platforms help create a sense of community, and allow participants to communicate and work together in real-time. With software, different groups can connect with more like-minded people and partner with other organizations committed to similar causes. They can even uncover potential partnership opportunities with for-profit organizations.

Streamlining Tasks & Data

Because nonprofits work for the greater good, they need to have the ability to continually assess projects and measure impact as initiatives roll out. Constant evaluation means constant data collection and analysis; innovation software can help teams assimilate, sort, organize, and share data, as well as make it accessible to disparate stakeholders. Additionally, cloud-based solutions allow easy access without the hassles or risks of file sharing. Moreover, tasks can be assigned to specific people and automated to create a smoother workflow.

Fundraising

Nonprofits need funds to sustain themselves, and in a competitive market, gaining a donor’s attention can be tricky. Many noble, valuable charitable organizations never take off due to a lack of funds. Rather than relying on the philanthropy of random individuals, innovation software allows you to tap into the power of the global crowd. Crowdfunding can help nonprofits expand and segment their donor base. By putting the message out there, nonprofits engage with a wider audience, and can get more people involved and interested in their cause. Tapping into people outside of your circle of influence also means that you will attract new donors, and you may even stumble upon a new cause that needs attention.

Crowdfunding, however, can be pretty tough. To be successful, you’ll need

  • A great idea that can be articulated in a smart pitch
  • Compelling rewards that will attract people to the cause
  • A thought-out, strategic marketing campaign
  • Access to a strong network of organizations and people.

But remember, funds don’t just pour in overnight; nonprofits need to constantly campaign and keep potential donors updated. A realistic fundraising goal needs to be set, and the team needs to develop a strategy to promote the cause. Telling an engaging story can help connect donors to the cause in a more authentic way. You can also host an online contest or event to get more people on board — the more unique and fun the event is, the more buzz it will create and the higher your chances of meeting your funding requirements will be. Innovation platforms can provide all of the above — and in one, central place.

Transparency

For successful collaboration and crowdsourcing, transparency is a must. Each idea needs to be recorded, shared, voted on, discussed, and given the right amount of consideration. Innovation platforms allow for an engaging environment and ensure that no idea is lost in the buzz of activity. Credit is given where it’s due, and funds can be tallied, allocated, and accounted for.

Have you tried to crowdfund for your nonprofit? Share some of your success stories in the comments below!

The post What Nonprofits Need to Know About Innovation Software appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Jenn Lisak" Tags: "Featured, Innovation, Agile Business, bu..."
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 21:54

In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at how innovation comes from everywhere, why partnerships are critical to success, and the crucial difference between business disruption and optimization.

Maynard Webb: Innovation Will Come From Everywhere

From the Wall Street Journal:

“The rise of new tech hotbeds in places like New York City and lesser-known Provo, Utah doesn’t mean the demise of existing ones. It’s not a zero-sum game. Silicon Valley is not waning; it’s getting better and stronger every day.

This trend of seeing innovation everywhere is not being dictated by changing geographies. In fact it has more to do with the Web untethering us from geography. The real driving factor for the rise in innovation is economics. It’s easier than ever to start a business because it’s less expensive to do so and there is more “friendly” money available than ever.

Not only is there more early-stage angel money, but new models like crowdfunding enable more ideas to actually get off the ground. Investing is happening by the masses and it’s bigger than we could have predicted.”

Our take: One of the most amazing opportunities we’re seeing as a result of advancing technology is how the world is simultaneously shrinking and becoming far, far more interconnected than seems possible. But of course, shifting from a localized perspective to a global one — e.g., reaching beyond your specific company, industry, or region for collaborative efforts and innovation — can be challenging, overwhelming, and time-consuming. Thankfully, the very technology that opens this worldwide door also enables us to develop scalable networks and initiatives.

Read the full article or Tweet this!

Partner To Prosper — Advice From 5 Collaborative CMOs

From Forbes:

“Marketing has always been a team sport. But astute marketing leaders are finding innovative ways to forge partnerships to enhance their businesses’ success…

In a world where marketers should be thinking about connecting with individuals and not just audiences, the data and applications needed to build those personalized connections require the support of an IT organization. Using data to monitor real-time trends and conversations can also help marketers proactively capitalize on key trends or mitigate looming issues.”

Our take: Who better to go to for advice than experienced execs who’ve seen their fair share of both successes and failures? The partnership tips in this piece are invaluable, and are totally in line with the way most industries are swiftly heading.

Read the full article or Tweet this!

Big Data-Driven Innovation: Disruption vs. Optimization

From Wired:

“Analyzing the information at our disposal, of course, can help any organization deal better with change through a straightforward optimization process. Gather data on anything you’re doing, crunch the numbers, and make recommendations on what to adjust to make the process better. After all, such analysis has been the primary purpose of business information since early managers crawled out from their cave and held the first punch card up to the wan light of morning.

Data analytics in support of human decision making, however, has one flaw — the human. This weak link in the data-driven agility chain becomes apparent as we move to Big Data: as the data grow so too do the results of the analyses, and yet people have a limited attention span and with it, the ability to process information. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the reports your newfangled Big Data tool generate if no one has the time or predilection to read them — or even worse, understand them.”

Our take: An old point, but a necessary one — fancy tools and platforms are utterly meaningless unless you have the programs and people in place necessary to operate and leverage them. Investing in personnel is far more important than repeatedly adopting tools you don’t have the resources to implement properly.

Read the full article or Tweet this!

The post Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: Innovation Everywhere, Partnering to Prosper, and Disruption vs. Optimization appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Featured, Innovation, Agile Business, bu..."
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Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 19:33

One of the best ways to expand the functionality of the mind maps associated with your Mindjet Dashboard is to constantly analyze the efficiency of your Expert Tracker.

Ever since its first appearance last October, new Expert Tracker features have made it easier to add and follow key experts in your own field and beyond. Boosting the efficiency of your Expert Tracker is a prerequisite to efficiently following and learning from their latest thinking, as well as a prelude to building relationships.

I find that each time I’ve incorporated a new feature in my Expert Tracker, based on greater utilization of MindManager’s features, it has lead to important improvements in the performance of the other mind maps in the Dashboard series.

Background

Often, enhancements are the result of addressing problems I’ve encountered using the Expert Tracker.

One of my biggest frustrations with tracking experts occurs when they regularly post their latest and best work as guest posts on blogs with higher traffic and visibility than their own websites. I needed an easy way to directly access their latest thinking on major, high traffic blogs without needing to:

  1. Visit each blog where the expert’s guest posts frequently appeared.
  2. Locate the blog’s search box.
  3. Enter the expert’s name in the blog’s search box, which does not always provide the results I’m looking for.
  4. Visit the links that appear in search engine results.

This was, at best, a cumbersome process. It also lead to frequent duplications, references to similar names, and brief comments that they had added to other blog posts.

Portal Pages Offer Direct Access to Latest Guest Posts

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Many blogs, however, create portal pages for their contributors. These pages make it easy for you to locate the latest posts by the expert influencers you’re following. From that one page, you can easily locate their latest guest post, as well as review their previous posts.

There’s little standardization of these portal pages, but the key characteristics include:

  • Photograph, links, and biography. Sometimes, there’s a 25 word limit; in other cases, guests can write as much as desired and include as many links as they choose.
  • Links to blog posts. In many cases, the blog post titles are accompanied by a summary, or brief text abstract. Often, there’s a thumbnail of the key graphic associated with each blog post.
  • Blog post tags and categories. In the above Inc. example, the categories appear above the blog post title. In other cases, the tags appear at the end of the text summarizing the blog post.
  • Additional options. Sometimes the dates of the blog posts appear; in other cases, they’re omitted. The Inc. example includes the contributor’s Twitter feed. Sometimes, the author bio will be accompanied by advertisements. Others, the blog posts are accompanied by a summary of each post’s social media shares.
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Below are some examples that showcase the diversity of content and design approaches that you’re likely to encounter when perusing guest portal pages:

Creating a Map Part for Guest Post Portal Pages

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Above is an example of an easily created map part that—once created—you can use over and over again to link to the portal pages where your experts and influencers frequently contribute guest posts.

The starting point is to identify the blogs where your experts and key influencers frequently contribute guest posts. Here are some of the ways you can do this:

  1. Check the expert’s About page on their website. This often contains links to the blogs where they frequently guest post.
  2. Monitor your expert’s social media postings. Often, they will Tweet a link to their latest guest post, or post a notification on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  3. Search on Google. Search on the expert’s name plus the title of the various blogs where they might be contributing guest posts.
  4. Click the byline next to their guest posts. This will take you to their portal page on the blog, if there is one. Otherwise, it will take you to their own website.

Tips

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When creating your guest post portal map part, include as many likely possibilities as possible. It’s easier to delete unnecessary subtopics than retype the blog titles you need. Let the map part serve as a reminder of the possible locations where your experts may be submitting posts.

As you can see from the Expert Tracker example above, the Guest Post Portals map part complements the Social Media map part. The two map parts offer you one-click access to an expert’s current projects, as well as their previous endeavors, in a variety of locations.

The Guest Post Portals map part is especially useful in cases like the above, where the individual’s guest posts are relevant, but cover less-technical issues than found on the website of their primary business.

The Ultimate Enhancement: Map Parts Plus Tags

The Guest Post Portals map part becomes even more useful when employed in combination with MindManager’s tags and filtering features.

As described in my Dashboard Series installment, 3 Steps to Make Your Expert Tracker More Productive, MindManager’s tags feature makes it easy to display experts on the basis of their categories and influence.

  • Categories refers to areas of expertise, i.e., content marketing, graphic design, social media, or video.
  • Influence indicates relative importance, i.e., their status as an A-list influencer, a rising star, a personal favorite, or a competitor.

For example, start by filtering your map to display only the A-list influencers in the copywriting field, then quickly review their latest guest posts in the most important blogs, i.e., the Huffington Posts, etc.

This is far more efficient than trying to monitor “everybody” in every field, regardless of their relevance or the influence of the blogs where they are guest posting. The process adds discipline and efficiency to what is often a “random encounter” experience.

A little effort setting up your Guest Post Portals map part can save you a lot of time down the road. Just remember to update your Guest Blog Portals map part as you discover new blog posts with portals in your field, or find that you’re rarely using other subtopics.

How do you track the experts and influencers in your field?
How does the above process compare to the techniques you’re currently using to track experts both in your field, and outside your field? What are the criteria you use when you seek out experts and influencers to add to your Expert Tracker? Do you know of any other blogs who create portal pages for their guest posters? Most important, will an Expert Tracker mind map and Guest Post Portals map parts work for you? Talk to us in the comments, below.

The post Mindjet Dashboard Series: Ramp-Up Influencer Targeting with This Expert Tracker Enhancement appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Roger C. Parker" Tags: "Mindjet, Agile Business, business collab..."
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 21:52

The technological advancements of the last decade have allowed disparate organizations around the world to become increasingly interconnected. More than that, they have opened the doors to a mutual, global influence across industries, and ushered in a new era of collaboration that wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago.

Because of this widespread transparency, processes and approaches to project management, innovation, and product development are becoming more and more universal, both interdepartmentally and regionally. It’s what the team over at Innovation Management have deemed “The New Normal.”

An Era of Change

Despite years of claiming that market feedback is a crucial, driving force behind product and service creation, the reality is that even the most customer-centric companies have had to do quite a bit of guesswork when initiating innovation. After all, surveys, forums, interviews, and even focus groups can only do so much, and are limited by the questions being posed and the users’ willingness to be candid. In a recent article, IM’s Peter Hesseldah examines the value of expanding the pool of stakeholders and using customer-driven crowd collaboration. From the article:

What’s innovative, and what distinguishes successful companies in this new type of economy, is a company’s ability to create well-working platforms that enable a wide set of actors to participate.

Conventional hotel chains like Hilton or Intercontinental have built their business over decades by owning and operating hotels. Now, in just a few years, Airbnb has created a service that rivals them in size, by coordinating that a great number of private persons can rent out rooms to others. Likewise, the large media companies used to be broadcasters that would send the same, ready-made content to millions of viewers. Now, 7 of the top ten global websites are services based on content created by the users. Sites like Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter do not produce content, they operate platforms that make it easy for millions of users to exchange the information they need.

He makes a very well thought-out case for shifting focus away from product functionality and features, and instead basing even incremental innovations around overall user experience and ideation, which allows companies to reduce overhead while driving customer engagement. “One could think of these processes as a virtual ”superstructure”, which runs on top of the physical product,” he said. “For companies, it is typically a less expensive way to improve the value of its solution to users, and often it creates a more engaged and loyal relationship to customers. The same approach can be used for almost any object or device — whether it’s pharmaceuticals, sporting goods or DIY tools. It’s likely that for many devices there will be no point in trying to distinguish between the physical product and its virtual superstructure — they become an integrated solution. Already products like smart phones make no sense without all the apps and services that run on [them].”

Shifting Gears

The move to this type of open-sourced, user-based collaboration is not a simple one. So much of what is considered effective in companies — whether it’s outdated or not — is ingrained in the very DNA of the business. It takes time, resources, and an open-minded leadership team to fully take advantage of collaborative innovation, particularly when involving other businesses or the very people you’re trying to sell to. Hesseldah acknowledges the hurdle:

Managers cannot hand out top-down commands, because the contributors to a project may be from different organizations – or they can be customers or volunteers. The company can influence, but not control, and leadership becomes a matter of motivating others by the strength of your vision.

The shift of roles can be challenging, because it requires a rethinking of how you see yourself contributing value – whether as a company or as a person. In the co-creation paradigm, being an expert is not about knowing all the facts or being able to come up with solutions yourself. Rather, expertise can be in enabling the solution to emerge, by bringing together the right people and resources.

Whatever a company’s size and location, this deviation from traditional approaches to innovation is a necessary one. Check out the full article here, or visit the Mindjet SpigitEngage product page to learn how enterprise innovation management software can help your business stay ahead of the competition.

The post Innovation Update: The New Normal, Blurred Roles, and Crowd Collaboration appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.

Author: "Arwen Petty" Tags: "Innovation, Agile Business, business col..."
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