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  • Manel Alcalde 9:00 am on January 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beta, , , crowdsourcing,   

    Living in Beta 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka opens the doors of his factory to a select group of children, who have the privilege of exploring the insides of the place that produces their favorite candy. Forgive me if I ruin the charm of the story, but it occurred to me that what Wonka did was something similar to an act of business 2.0 transparency on a small scale: a company reveals to a reduced group of customers its production processes and therefore ends the obscurantism of many years (Willy Wonka’s factory had been closed to the public for a long time). And, surprise, surprise, in another fit of unwitting and anachronistic 2.0ism, the peculiar Mr Wonka shows the kids one or two ‘products in beta phase’, such as the 3-course meal gum that Violet Beauregarde, world record holder in chewing gum, can’t resist trying. The problem? Wonka’s factory belongs to a world that doesn’t know about beta culture and where a product isn’t launched on the market until it is ‘perfect’. The moral of the story, in this context, gives a surprising result: After eating the experimental gum, Violet turns into an enormous blueberry.

    Nowadays, the story seems to have changed. Beta culture has expanded and, in the real world, the idea that products are never entirely finished and that talent and ideas aren’t only in the hands of brands is gradually becoming more and better accepted.

    Many companies offer their customers the chance to test experimental models with the aim of improving their prototypes. With regard to the development of products, today, consumers have a lot to say (hopefully without running the risk of becoming giant blueberries!).

    An example of this is the American company TCHO, a case described by journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis in his book Public Parts, as a paradigm of a transparent company dedicated to promoting crowdsourcing, convinced that its value doesn’t lie simply in the product it produces and sells, but also in the quality of its relationship with its customers. Just like Willy Wonka’s factory, TCHO manufactures chocolates, but as a rule this company in San Francisco shares its formulas and manufacturing processes and encourages its customers to be co-creators of its products, providing their opinions and advice about the ‘beta versions’ of each new chocolate. These versions are altered thousands of times before becoming 1.0 versions, in other words, sold, but even then they are considered products with room for improvement.

    When a company like TCHO launches unfinished products it is calling for collaboration and also recognizing something that until recently was unthinkable for many businesses: that its clients’ ideas could be much better than those of its own team. This is an interesting point:

    Transparency in the 2.0 environment means, to a certain extent, naturally sharing our inadequacies, openly asking for collaboration and breaking with what Jeff Jarvis calls ‘the tyranny of perfection’.

    Even though we may find ourselves in a world with more wrinkles to be ironed out, I think that freeing ourselves of the ideal of perfection is healthy and necessary at times like these, when action and innovation are essential, not only for companies but also in the lives of many people. When we take excellence as a sine qua non condition for jumping in to play, we run the risk of ending up at a standstill, watching from the sidelines. Nothing is perfect enough. On the other hand, when we overcome the fear that people will see the stitching, we are laying the foundations for action, learning and continuous improvement.

    I believe this is something that can be applied to both companies and individuals. Living in ‘publicness’, as Jarvis would say, means living constantly in beta. Feeling comfortable in this context means not obsessing with ideals of perfection and learning to enjoy and share our process with all its ‘faults’, trusting that everyone else is there not to judge but to accompany us along the way.

    Manel Alcalde is a creative writer, audiovisual producer and a digital communicator. In his personal blog, Nionnioff, he writes about creativity, communication and narrative.


     
  • Eirene Ramos 9:00 am on July 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crowdsourcing, ,   

    Zyncro on the big screen 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    At Zyncro we have always supported entrepreneurship and innovation. For that reason, when the production team of the movie Subir al cielo approached us, we didn’t hesitate in joining in. But how could Zyncro relate to a movie? Continue reading to find out ;)

    Subir al cielo is a fictional feature film that has opted for innovation in the creative cinematographic processes, both in production and distribution. It was shot and produced with a zero budget that defends the pro-common culture and is backed by a Creative Commons license. Its work methodology is based fundamentally on crowdsourcing. Here is where Zyncro comes into play: during the shooting of the movie the team is using Zyncro as the internal tool for carrying out its work. In the words of Lucía Costa, from production, who tells of the benefits that using an Enterprise Social Network in their project has brought them:

    Zyncro gives us an internal communication space that overcomes obstacles in time and space. The structure of our intranet revolves around the different departments that participate in the audiovisual projects we are making: Direction, Production, Photography, Sound, Post-Production, Distribution, Design and Communication. We also have a legal department that manages documentation on the association and with interdepartmental groups that operate like forums for carrying out the work and specific events.

    Transparency and the constant flow of communication help create a social collaboration environment which is so necessary in a project of this type.

    Another pillar on which Subir al cielo is supported is without a doubt the Kaizen philosophy. The core of this Japanese thinking lies in the desire to overcome and it champions the possibilities of the infinite change for the better. We believe that Zyncro can help us to implement this way of working, as common access to documentation helps troubleshooting, accelerates correction, and generates improvement. Furthermore, Zyncro offers the capacity to update documents immediately, storing them within an efficient and organized structure of contents.

    Zyncro also helps external communication processes in the entity notably. Thanks to ZLinks, we can transfer information to our partners exclusively, as well as to future sponsors and media. We particularly value the ease of use and operation that the platform offers us in working with video, as it was almost impossible to manage them via email due to the size of the files. For us, this factor is essential, as with the shooting now finished, we need to find funding to optimize distribution, both at festivals, and on screens and VoD platforms on the Internet. This process is very complex, and for this reason, we are happy to be able to have a tool that simplifies and enriches the relationship with our contacts.

    Being able to work with image and video formats will mean that the Post-Production departments can show short clips of the movie to the rest of the team. This way, interest will be maintained and boosted during the long editing stage, which is usually quite slow.

    Subir al cielo is also aided by Zyncro in terms of physical meetings. We can call meetings through the platform, whether it be to shoot more scenes or for conventional meetings. This system helps us to reduce the number of emails and more precisely control attendance.

    At Subir al cielo, we believe that as well as contributing to corporate information exchange, Zyncro promotes collaborative learning as it gives permanent contact between different sectors.”

    The team of Subir al cielo shows us how Zyncro can be adapted to any business environment, no matter what sector or area. The movie industry is being Zyncronized… What are you waiting for?

     

     
  • Manel Alcalde 9:00 am on July 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: crowdsourcing, ,   

    Crowdsourcing for an organizational culture 

    Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

    Anyone who has come into contact with Coaching or Neuro-Linguistic Programming has probably found themselves in a position of having to write a personal mission statement or design objectives. They have also most likely discovered how complicated these tasks are. What? I’ve got to think about what my mission is? What my objectives are? And, on top of that formulate them from a positive angle? And specify? And specify EVEN MORE? Ugh! The task is complicated when we’re so used to being carried along by inertia and when we’re not being entirely conscious and responsible for our future. Often, although we believe we’re heading in the right direction, after performing this exercise we discover that in fact this direction is still too vague, and that we are not actually heading towards a real, clear and permissible goal.

    We are not heading towards any sort of tangible objective. We don’t have a ‘manifest’ by which to guide ourselves. We aren’t being responsible nor are we really committed.

    In order for organizations to be effective, they also need a mission statement. Having a defined system of beliefs and objectives, a clear reference framework that is shared by all employees is essential for a company’s good health because it means that some sort of common responsibility pact exists. That’s what the theory says, and I say ‘theory’ because I’m not sure this is a general rule. Nor do I know if another rule is: the one that says that in order to be effective, this statement should, somehow, be created by all of the members of the organization together, because without participation there is no commitment.

    In 1989, when leadership expert Stephen R. Covey posed the question in his book The 7 habits of highly effective people, he used the example of IBM. The American multinational technology and consulting company has, since its beginnings, had a well-established beliefs system among its employees, based on the individual’s dignity, excellence and service. Just over 20 years after this book was published, IBM continues to be the example of a company with absolute confidence in its mission statement and in the commitment of its employees. Now, what’s more, it is an organization that is dedicated to giving its employees a voice and to fostering the exchange of knowledge between them. This is proven by the fact that with a workforce of almost 400,000 employees in 170 companies, IBM has its entire communications policy decentralized in Social Media. The multinational does not have a corporate blog or a dedicated account on Twitter. Instead it leaves corporate communications in the hands of hundreds of IBMers, employees from different areas of the company who have become the brand’s voice. IBM also has a staggering 20,000 internal blogs and 100,000 employees who post on them. Figures on other networks are also impressive: several thousand IBMer tweeters, thousands of other external bloggers, etc. (visit IBM Syndicated feeds on its American website and you’ll be dumbfounded. You almost wish there was only one possible feed…). The best thing about this decentralized approach in Social Media is that IBM doesn’t intervene in the process; the whole system works around guidelines established by a group of employees in 2005. These guidelines basically state that each employee is responsible for his or her publications, that confidential information must not be distributed, that they should try to add value and respect their audience and, finally it adds: ‘Be who you are’. Wow! I suppose this is only something that an adult organization is able to do; one which has a fully established value system among its members, and which trusts that the community, provided with a few basic guidelines, will self-regulate itself.

    I believe that the case of IBM is an example of how, by using crowdsourcing, a solid business culture can be promoted, one to which people are committed. Enterprise Social Networks can, without a doubt, play a crucial role in this topic. I also believe that participative corporate blogs are essential because they fulfill two missions: they make the company’s mission statement come alive, something to which employees contribute on a daily basis and, at the same time, they convey the brand story to all of the stakeholders in the best possible way; through the voice of the people most committed to the company. I recently heard Antonio Núñez, an expert storyteller, say in an interview that real branded content (or the most effective) are the stories of the employees, the customers or the members of an organization.

    To make the mission, vision and values of an organization common property, to which all of the employees are committed depends on encouraging each one of them, during the course of their daily work, to participate in its creation. I believe that, in this 2.0 era, this means establishing technological tools that facilitate exchange and collaboration, both behind closed doors and publicly.

    (As an aside, this study by New York University’s Stern School of Business has shown that blogging during work, even on personal matters, helps build relations among employees and increase productivity).

    Manel Alcalde is a creative writer, audiovisual producer and a digital communicator. In his personal blog, Nionnioff, he writes about creativity, communication and narrative. We recommend you check it out!

     

     
  • Yolanda Torres 9:15 am on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , crowdsourcing, dealer chic, flawsome, humanization, ,   

    Humanizing your brand is the key to success 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Brand, talk to me, love me, make me feel important!

    Good morning, everyone! Those that have been reading my posts for a while now already know some of my concerns: trying to illustrate in one way or another the trends and the transparent lines of the brand/corporate reality nowadays, always from a digital and innovative viewpoint.

    I read everything I come across on business trends and try to explain it from an approachable perspective, applicable to your work or business.

    Today, I’m going to talk about humanization. Against a difficult backdrop of recession like this, as consumers, we want brands/products to show their human side. Seth Godin defines the new marketing as “extending the narrative”, bringing us closer to the consumer/customer/supplier/employee from a human side.

    We delve into the concept of “sociality”, in other words, hyper-communication through the digital media, with special importance given to enterprise or private social networks, fantastic tools for this task of humanization.

    • Chat
    • Share
    • Connect
    • Reflect
    • Create
    • Spread
    • Express

    Rigid environments in enterprises are disappearing, leaving way for environments that are open to dialog and crowdsourcing. We demand to be allowed to participate, we want to share, this is the new reality. :-)

    Jorge Rodriguez-Guerada and Kognitif show what I’m talking about in images: a thousand faces of the brand, a thousand faces of the company. We cannot forget people!

     

    • Become social
    • Become digital
    • Create participative environments
    • Dare to show your flaws
    • Let others give their opinion
    • Let others help to build your brand/company
    • Show your human side

    Combined with this reality, we find the concept of “dealer chic” or “smart shopping”. Our customer and our channel must perceive a return in satisfaction that is much greater than that paid. We don’t want to pay more than what we consider right, and we want always the best treatment.

    • Blogs
    • Social networks
    • Customer service digital channels
    • Social branding
    • Transparency
    • Leadership
    • Proximity

    … these are the tools that will help us achieve this goal, which, when it comes down to it, shows what the digital world has managed to achieve: democratize prescription. We are all important! :-)

     

    The present is human, the future is human and now more than ever, we want to see how the brand/company is interested in us.

    The race of “lovemarks” has started. Are you prepared for the challenge? :-)

     

     

     
  • Ignasi Alcalde 9:30 am on February 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , conspiracy, crowdsourcing, freeriding, , , ,   

    Workneting and collaboration networks 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Collaborative workMuch has been said, written and speculated about collaboration and co-creation on collaboration networks and about collaborative work. Networking and relations are important for getting work, but when commencing projects through collective, joint work, what is really important is workneting, in other words, starting lasting professional relationships.

    Workneting means a true collaboration that cannot be forced, which is more than just coordinating efforts, as individuals decide whether to collaborate or not, and their decision is both emotional and rational. It is people, the project and ultimately the tool and/or software that gives value and meaning to the collaboration.

    How do I start and maintain a collaboration network?

    Essentially, in line with what I mentioned in my post Why do people share knowledge?, among the many other factors, there are two basic conditions: matched expectations and unmatched knowledge.

    Regardless of the collaboration network type, there are 3 types of problems that we come across in collaboration networks and collaborative work that need to be taken into account:

    • Freeriding: In a collaboration network, relations are sustained by fairness in contributions. When someone gives back little or nothing at all at an insufficient rate and takes advantage of other’s contributions, the “freeriding” phenomenon occurs, which takes its name from those that use the subway without paying: the group has contributed to create an infrastructure/service and there are those that don’t collaborate in maintaining it.
    • Crowdsourcing: Another problem that wears with this is that at times, “crowdsourcing” occurs where a privileged agent takes credit for all the creativity of the group (e.g. a company). If the rules are clear and indicate who will use the result of the group’s creativity, then there is no basis for complaint if the person who called the “crowdsourcing” uses the results.
    • Conspiracy: Networks are established on trust. Trust is expectations on the capacity for commitment and response, on the other person’s competence, on the people we collaborate with. Complete sustained trust generates and stabilizes a reputation. But the reputation can be easily broken if the group decides to reduce the positive evaluation and reputation of an element on the network after each interaction or collaboration. The mechanism can be extremely quick and difficult to detect in systems that base their evaluation on people’s votes.

    As we can see, in an ideal team-collaboration experience we must be able to detect who’s committed as opposed to who is frustrated, as this can determine the team’s performance.

     

    Ignasi Alcalde is a multimedia consultant at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Once again, he has wanted to share his thoughts on collaborative work, which he usually publishes on his blog and on his Twitter timeline.

    We fully recommend all his previous articles!

     

     
  • Joan Alvares 10:00 am on September 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , crowdsourcing, ,   

    Less is more (or more is less): in life, at work… and in software 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Think about it for a moment: Why did you buy your car? To own it or for transportation reasons? Supposing your answer is the latter, allow me to remind you that any alternative (taxi, tube, bike), would meet the same objective without all of the costs related to having a car: petrol, avoidable fines, inevitable repairs, the obligatory insurance or the excessive time -therefore money- that you spend daily whilst looking for a parking space or enduring traffic jams. But even if you still feel the need to drive, I am sure you will agree that it would be cheaper to rent a car for a few hours. So you need a car to be able to move around within the city centre?Rent a small car. Tomorrow’s day trip? A four wheel drive. Do you need to impress a client? A sportscar would be a good option. Swap ‘buy’ for ‘rent’ and ‘own’ for ‘share’ and you will see how the same amount of cash goes a lot further. Try CarSharing and choose the car you need today, try CouchSurfing and enjoy the feeling of having a place to stay in any city in the world.

    This is the ownerless age: own less to enjoy more.

    Successful companies have been defined for decades by the old meaning or ‘more’. This meaning implies the possession of superior conditions over and above that of the competition. Until recently, the example to follow has been set by those corporations that have a presence in MORE countries, that bill MORE or that have MORE employees. Companies whose employees compete in order to gain HIGHER salaries that enable them to buy BIGGER cars and go on MORE luxurious holidays. In actual fact, the financial crisis, the first during the digital age, forces us to re-evaluate the meaning of ‘more’. And we are reminded that:

    • Being physically present in more places (being a ‘multinational’) is not essential in order to be global.
    • Billing more does not mean more gain: gross margin was always a relevant concept although less charismatic than billing.
    • Having more employees does not mean being stronger, as demonstrated by the ‘falling of giants’ such as; Lehman Brothers or General Motors. Even more-so in Spanish markets where employees are prized for a more historical start date rather than for their productivity.

    I recently heard an entrepreneur say very proudly, that his staff was very ‘two-point-o’. “We are made up of my wife and me, full-stop”, he joked as he explained how well things were going with his employment of this microstructure. This made me reflect upon the model that my partner (in Spanish) and I chose one day for Poko (in Spanish) that was in that day put to question. The model that had abandoned the path to the ‘big company’ in order to try and become a ‘great company’, that gave up its ambition to gain (more) in order to seek excellence (better).

    I must confess that I become more proud each day of belonging to a company that does not fear decline, that continuously optimizes its structure in order to contribute more value whilst using less resources. I believe this makes us better for our clients. If there is something I am more certain of each day, it is that companies that can get through this crisis are not going to be ‘big companies’ but ‘sustainable companies’. Tendencies such as Cloud Computing, Software as a Service, Crowdsourcing or Free software -which I will go into in more detail in the next post- make it possible for any businessperson to manage key areas without the need to create large departments. Because as they say; ‘it is not he who has more that is richer if not he who needs less‘.

     

     
  • Patricia Fernandez Carrelo 9:15 am on August 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , crowdsourcing   

    Business Crowdsourcing 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Crowdsourcing, is the act of outsourcing tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.

    Definition of the term crowdsourcing from Wikipedia

    Crowdsourcing within a business does not relate so much to the outsourcing of a task but to the carrying out of it by a large group of people (“crowd”).

    As described in article about “How to use crowdsourcing techniques in your virtual team”, there are four types of crowdsourcing:

    1. Crowd wisdom: many individuals contribute possible answers to specific questions.
    2. Crowd innovation: when many individuals participate to resolve a problem.
    3. Crowd creation: many individuals producing something together with each participant frequently contributing a piece towards the bigger picture in line with their skills and abilities.
    4. Crowd voting: “floating” ideas that are review and voted upon by the community.

    Contributions by many individuals can lead to confusion or an excess of information though by channeling and organising them well, crowdsourcing in its different forms can be a practice that leads to a very enriching final result.

    When applied to the business world and with productivity improvement in mind, Matt H. Evans supports the idea in his article “The Power of Crowdsourcing” that this way of doing things “Crowdsourcing taps into the global world of ideas, helping companies work through a rapid design process.”

    In this way, if we combine the richness generated by the multiple contributions and the speed of the design due to the liveliness brought out by the involvement of many individuals, we find ourselves with an excellent technique to apply to our business in areas such as:

    • innovation management
    • product development
    • process improvement
    • optimization of sales and marketing/communications flow
    • corporate strategy testing
    • or even talent management

    The mass that is the  “crowd” in a company could be its employees, its providers, its partners, its clients and even its social network followers.  With the right tool such as Zyncro and with an integrated IdeaScale (management and voting system system), we can move business crowdsourcing initiatives forward as well as achieving Getting Things Done whilst involving people and making use of the potential of the entire organisation.

    Get Zyncronized and use crowdsourcing. Your company will thank you for it


     
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