Lesson of November 4th – Power of Community

7 11 2008


Revelers in Lafayette Park across from the White House on election night.

Lost in the euphoria and the recent news headlines of the election of our first African American to the Office of the US Presidency is the recognition of a major strategy that guided the Obama Campaign through the primaries and now the Presidential Election.

It was joked and ridiculed at the Republican Convention.  But no one is laughing now.

Community organization won this election.   In fact, it transformed politics in this country forever.

A bottom up strategy giving average Americans a “direct” opportunity to “contribute” their energy, passion, talent and yes MONEY.

Obama won by giving the keys to the inmates in the asylum.

Thousands of unpaid volunteers who never participated in politics previously destroyed two well-heeled political brands (Clinton and McCain) on their way to the White House.

Only in America.  And here is the lesson for associations.

While much of this vaunted Obama machine was web-based featuring tools for e-commerce, social networking, and community organizing,  the lesser known neighborhood volunteer efforts run precinct by precinct made this campaign personal to millions.

Obama used community-centered politics to drive his campaign.

Just like InnoCentive, Ninesigma, ArtistShare, Open Architecture Network, and many others featured on these pages.

The research evidence proves that community-centered strategies that give end users freedom to create and drive innovation boost product and service growth.

Here’s a salute to our new President.  And one more for those brave enough to let the inmates co-create the future in your own associations.


The “I” Disease Threatens to Ruin Social Networks

1 08 2008

Social media and online communities have great potential for fostering the growth and development of fresh thinking, exciting new products or services, or just to challenge the status quo.   But it is sad that more and more we wade through a thick soup of “I this” or “Me that” in how we communicate or collaborate.

This threatens the very heart of the credibility of Web 2.0 and other new approaches to management thinking among the wider audience who creates and consumes digital content.  The sharpest critics of open innovation of all kinds…the ones who still think email is a productivity tool…that listservs are our best way to collaborate… can happily point to this “me”ans of communication as further proof that the crowd is wrong, that the rank and file should never be allowed to collaborate or have a say in how products or services are developed with volunteer leaders and staff.

Good leaders lead by staying focused on the mission and being passionate without fear of losing the  attribution or critical acclaim.   They are the ones more respected by others because they can see their motives aren’t about self-promotion.

Let’s help ourselves.  Present ideas and opinions with force and passion but with a little less “me.”

TED Conference Injects Crowdsourcing

27 02 2008

If you are a devotee of TED’s videos you know that this event has has some amazing presentations. I have been jealously watching them for years since the event was started by Richard Saul Wurman. But I always wondered whether people walk away from such an inspiring event and feel a little frustrated as the enthusiasm runs through their fingers like so much sand without marshaling that emotion into real projects.

This year TED looks like they are fixing that problem by bolting on a crowdsourcing attendee experience using a new software product called Kluster.

Watch this video to see how they plan to do it. (Click on image)

Over the 72 hours of TED, they plan to use the power of the audience and the rapid-prototyping system and software to develop a tangible product. And we can all join the party. You can sign up here.

Good luck guys.

Predicting Customer Need, Trends, Challenges Via Prediction Markets

28 09 2007

Would you bet your paycheck on the popularity of your latest new product or service?

Maybe if you knew the odds would be in your favor. How would you do it?

One way might be through crowdfunding – where you let your customers participate in choosing not just the idea or the initial design for a product or service but also help fund its start up. You can read earlier posts here on crowdfunding. You might also enjoy this old post on using customer-driven product design using “idea war” competitions like this one from Cambrian House.

Another way to predict product or service success is through the creation of a “prediction market” which has been taking many companies by storm in recent times. One amazing example is the Hollywood Stock Exchange, a virtual market game in which players buy and sell “pretend shares” in movies, actors, directors, etc. The market correctly predicted 32 of 2006’s 39 big-category Oscar nominees and 7 out of 8 top category winners.

How Prediction Markets Work

Prediction markets let stakeholders buy “imaginary stocks” in particular “events” that pay out a fixed price if the event transpires before a certain date, or nothing at all if it does not. Essentially, you are betting that an event will or will not occur. The price of an “event’s stock” represents the odds that the event will occur at a given moment in time.

Here is a scary one…. For example, you could ask your members:

“Will you achieve enough personal value from your membership to renew your membership by December 31, 2007?”

Presently there are online prediction markets for all sorts of things from politics to the weather. Google uses a prediction market internally to predict launch dates and other strategic events.

The theory holds that large groups of individuals are better able to make more accurate predictions and another example of crowdsourcing or peer production.

PPX is a market for science and technology events for Popular Science magazine. Below shows how readers are betting over time on the popularity of the iPhone as a predictor of Apple personal computer market share.

Applications for Associations

Prediction markets can offer:

  • A great way to stay engaged with your members and customers in “real time”
  • Create an ongoing collection of useful data to better inform product or service development
  • Separate volunteer “pet projects” from rank and file “needs”
  • Frame critical questions regarding emerging trends, market opportunities, product or service design issues, etc.

For more information of prediction markets click here.