Big companies are good at innovating within silos, but woefully bad at combining creative energies across divisions to build new businesses. As securities analyst Jessica Cohen once asked, “How is it possible that Time Warner owned both Warner Music and AOL and didn’t create something like iTunes?”
We couldn’t agree more. However, here is an example or two of innovation in an unlikely location: the U.S. Congress. Some chambers are so creaky they still look like they did in 1955. On the other hand, one congressman is using such new technologies as Twitter to have discussions directly with constituents as debates are rolling in the House. Fast Company.TV interviewed Tim Ryan, D-OH* about FISA laws and how he used Twitter to message people. (Bipartisan note: See our prior blog regarding Senator John McCain’s questions on LinkedIn. Senator McCain asked another question on that business network today, August 6, 2008).
Click below to watch the video.
Since the Congressman is not a reporter, he uses Twitter to build a constituency and help have two-way conversations that are not 30 second sound bites. If the information is too complicated and the constituent wants a 3 minute answer this may be a vehicle to provide more detail.
According to the Harvard Business review (July, 2008), “The problem, we believe, is structural: Business-unit boundaries exist precisely because they create efficient structures for executing strategy. But silo focus and ruthless efficiency come at the cost of cross-divisional collaboration, so some innovation opportunities are either poorly executed or not seen at all. The solution, we think, lies not in reorganization but in informal communication through the social networks that exist throughout the company. These networks must be shaped and cultivated to efficiently find and exploit innovations.”
* Note: we do not intend this to be an endorsement of the point of view presented on FISA by the Congressman. We do see a future for text messaging in politics and a way to reach and broaden dialogs.
Applications of social networks you might consider (we can help):
1. External – Open innovation – use of the right networks for your audience to enhance or create new products and services
2. External – Customer feedback regarding existing products and services
3. External & family – Connecting with and marketing to kids [or, your own kids?] who don’t email – they text each other.
4. Web synergies – Building web traffic for specific interests, refine content, enhance feedback.
5. Blog synergies – Building blog traffic and understanding what’s important
6. Internal, Innovation – Breaking down boundaries that stifle innovation (company silos, geographies, applications, etc).
No World Borders’ expertise in social networks for business is unsurpassed. Contact us if we can help you reach new constituencies in your market.