Archive for the ‘collaboration’ Category
5th February 13
Posted in collaboration
One of the most amazing things about the internet era is people coming together in unique and scalable combinations. Yet organizing crowds is much more difficult than most organizations imagine.
Few people know more about facilitating mass collaboration than Shaun Abrahamson, the CEO of Mutopo. When Shaun talks, we listen. In fact, sometimeswe even ride his coattails on the subject. Shaun recently co-authored a book called Crowdstorm. It was released yesterday, so we invited him to sit down for a Q&A.
You can purchase Crowdstorm here.
Q. Crowdsourcing is used as a label for an ever increasing universe. Where does crowdstorming fit in?
The best way to think about all the facets of crowdsourcing is in terms of what we’re asking participants to do. For example, in microwork, like mechanical turk, we’re asking people to do small things like, tell us if this is porn (to create content filters) or verify a business listing. In crowdfunding, like Kickstarter, we’re asking people for cash and influence (when they announce their support via the social webs). In collaborative consumption, like AirBnB, we’re often asking people to provide assets to be shared, and often their networks and reputation so that we may build trust.
In crowdstorming, we focus on actions that crowds can take in relation to ideas: finding ideas, finding people or organizations to come up with ideas, offering feedback and rating/ranking ideas. Crowdstorming can include ideas through a range of maturity, from the napkin stage through to early stage companies. While writing the book, we realized that some of the basic patterns were pretty old. They had been described by Alex Osborne (the “O” in BBDO) when he introduced the world to brainstorming just after WWII. Osborne was mostly concerned with small groups of people coming up with and evaluating ideas. We just see networked crowds where he saw folks in a conference room.
Q. So is crowdstorming a fancy name for idea contests?
I see contests as a subset of crowdstorming. Crowdstorming tends to fall into 3 broad buckets: search, collaborative, integrated. We think contests fall into the search bucket because they are mainly focused on searching for the best ideas (or candidates, partners, etc). Often the search process is desirable because we have something we can test. Think of XPrize or DARPA Grand Challenges – there are spaceships and robot cars that can compete to see who wins.
Other crowdstorms are more collaborative. This is often true when there aren’t prototypes to race through the desert or fire into space. The key is deciding as early as possible which concepts are worthy of additional time and investment. Following the 1-9-90 rule, think of this collaborative approach as benefiting from the 9 – the “editors” so to speak. Thus while the 1 may submit ideas, the 9 are engaged to provide feedback. And this feedback is used to refine and select ideas. LEGO Cuusoo is good example of a collaborative crowdstorm. It is not so much a contest, as it is a filter. People or teams pitch new LEGO product ideas. The Cuusoo community needs to give the idea 10,000 votes before an idea will be reviewed by the LEGO team. This is where LEGO Minecraft came from.
I use the word “community” quite deliberately here, because when you add feedback, you drastically increase the number of participants and interactions. And if you invite the same group back to pitch and evaluate multiple ideas, you see relationships form. Yes, you see a competitive dynamic, but also a lot more collaboration. And increasingly we see participants being rewarded for more than just their ideas. Just look at the payouts from Giffgaff, which cover a broad range of contribution types, like sales, support and unique participation in the idea processes.
Q. One of the most interesting themes in the book is how innovative organizations scale talent via non-employees. This is a major discussion topic amongst agencies and clients. What companies are doing this best that we can learn from?
I really think this is a question of what patterns you adopt and where in the process you look to outsiders. One of the best illustrations of this type of thinking comes from Quirky. They literally remapped the consumer product development process around where outside talent can provide the most value.
If we look at the process above, Quirky smartly and explicitly positions themselves as the support system for inventors. They know there are lots of difficult steps like industrial design, quality control and distribution negotiations that require their leadership and control. They can manage the risks and quality in these steps. But Quirky also figures out how to measure and reward participation in some specific roles where it knows the crowd can help. Interestingly, measurement and reward systems inside firms are starting to show similar elements – just take a look at Salesforce’s Work.com. I think as we get better at measurement, it will get easier to bring in outside talent to add value to any creative process.
In terms of the ad business, the process below shows Amazon’s approach to the production of filmed content at Amazon Studios. They are taking their expertise from ratings and reviews, and applying it to content development. And if you look at the role of crowdfunding in areas like film development, you can see another voting style. We tend to focus on the finance, but pre-selling also provides a strong indication of the potential of an idea.
Most of the crowdstorm processes we have discussed have focused on finding and evaluating ideas. This is useful, but we forget that behind the ideas are talented individuals. Startup accelerators like Techstars are running idea contests – this is how teams make it into their programs. But they are focused on the ideas as well as the talent. And they offer a different set of incentives to work together; unlike Quirky and Amazon, who own the resulting IP, accelerators just want a small share. They want the teams to take the ideas forward. Techstars recently teamed up with Nike+. Why? Yes, Nike needs developers for their Nike+ platform, but they need a different type of talent, too. In this case it’s talent that is willing to share risks. As a side benefit, Nike will be pitched loads of ideas, so they get to validate their own understanding of the space. And while they might give away ownership, they have tapped into talent that might never have considered working for Nike.
Q. Now a question every author should have to go on the record with…. Who’s your favorite Transformer?
I think I risk being redacted by not saying Optimus, right? But I always liked Wheeljack because he invented stuff, even it mostly didn’t work. But this wasn’t an obvious choice, so I poked around a bit and realized that his first incarnation was a Lancia Stratos Turbo. That car is the embodiment of taking risks and it mostly worked. And it still looks like it might turn into something else. So Wheeljack wins.
Special thanks to Shaun for sharing his thinking with us. If the above is of interest, consider downloading Crowdstorm here. (And thanks BBH Labs for already letting me come back and “guest blog”).
3rd October 12
It is quite obvious that we here at Labs are huge fans of both the open source community, and idea of social-coding platforms. It would go without saying that being fans of such a community is not enough, one would argue that we should not only be an observer, but also a participant. That being said, we looked at a few of the internal projects and experiments we have worked on and felt that at this point we should share bit of code with the rest of the Internet.
What began as an exploration in Processing quickly became a prototype and finally a solid bit of code that is a complete application. We called it The GIF-A-MATRON, and it is a processing application that interprets the brightness of the webcam’s image and translates it to dots that scale based on that image creating abstract interpretation. In the background the application detects a vistor’s motion and secretly captures three frames, two seconds apart and creates an animated GIF. The GIF is then send via PHP to a destination tumblr site for all to see.
Once we showed it around to a few folks, people instantly liked it. The next logical step was to release it as source for others to build upon, and interpret into what ever they see fit. It’s primary function is something like a animated gif generating photo booth, but we are interested to see where it goes from here. Feel free to grab the source from our Github page. If you do add a twist, let us know, we would love to see what you do with it.
8th May 12
Authors: Fran Hazeldine, Strategy Director and Pelle Sjoenell, Executive Creative Director at BBH LA
In a couple of weeks time we’ll be speaking at the annual Planningness conference, which is coming to LA for the first time this year.
We were originally asked to talk about how we work as a planner / creative duo at BBH LA. But rather than share a single, narrow perspective, we thought it might be interesting to take a broader look at the planner / creative relationship today.
What do planners and creatives really value in one another? How can they best work together in a modern agency setup? Do similar or opposite styles attract? Does gender, nationality or experience make a difference? Has digital changed the relationship? Is it still a two-way dynamic or are planning and creative duties shared between more diverse teams?
We’re hoping to answer some of these questions by asking planners and creatives from a variety of agency backgrounds to fill out a short survey. If you work in either role at any level, we’d love to get your input. Results will be shared here on the Labs blog and in our Planningness talk on May 18th.
The aim is to gather some honest, practical learning about the planner / creative relationship, how it is changing and what we can do to improve it. Next up, the new business / finance relationship…
You can find the results of the survey and our follow up post here.
28th November 11
Author: Mareka Carter, @marekacarter, Creative, BBH London
Many people living in villages in Sub-Saharan Africa have to walk c. 5 km every day just to collect clean water.
#WaterRun is about running (or walking, if that’s more your thing) the same distance, our aim to raise enough money to build 30 new wells in the region.
5 km takes about an hour’s walk a day; for many of us it’s the equivalent of walking or running into work, instead of taking public transport – see what we did there?
Log your runs and donate here: waterrunproject.com. If you’re a Water Runner, you could donate the money you’ve saved not using public transport, if you’re a Supporter you can donate, well, as much as you feel able.
It’s something for everyone, not just the creative and tech community: we’d love everyone’s Mum and Dad, Mom and Pop, Mama and Papa to get involved too.
Think of it as a win-win, ‘pre-tox’ cleanse before the debauchery of the holiday season kicks in - or, if you’re in the States, a quick post-Thanksgiving fitness drive – a chance to do some good towards others and yourself in the process.
Why are we doing this?
You will have seen news coverage of the widespread famine in East Africa and very possibly heard about the 50/50 project launched in response by our friends at Made by Many, hatched with Good for Nothing. If you haven’t: each project on the collaborative platform combines fund-raising with digital goodness, aiming to engage a network of supporters to help spread the word and generate as much money for as possible for UNICEF famine aid. Like our brothers and sisters at BBH NY, we knew we wanted in the moment we heard about it.
Those links again:
Log your runs and make a donation here: www.waterrunproject.com.
Find us on Facebook here.
And check out the raft of other amazing initiatives for 50/50 here: 5050.gd
#WaterRun starts now, but you can join in whenever you want. Do it once, or you can do it every day for the next few weeks – it’s up to you. The main thing is to keep logging your distances on the super simple website and telling the world about it, so together we can send the total raised sky high.
Thank you. Happy Water Running!
1st June 11
- Picture the scene. There are around 4-6 people clustered around a table together. All trying to solve a problem, all very talented… most of them creative/strategy/tech hybrids. An hour later, they’ve gone in circles several times, sure, but between them there’s light at the end of the tunnel.. a few solutions look to be within reach. Then the school bell goes people have to head to another meeting and they agree to meet again. Except it takes a day or two to arrange the follow-up and then half an hour to remind everyone what they’re there to do. And repeat.. does this sound familiar?
There are some very smart people arguing that generalists are the future. When we have much more to do in less time, then it’s better we put together teams of people who can all spin plates, bang a drum and throw knives at the same time, right? Perhaps there are some people who are so extraordinarily talented across so many disciplines that they genuinely can claim to be the ultimate one man band; a steel-alloyed, swiss army knife of creativity. For the rest of us, I would beg to differ. Read full post
18th January 11A few weeks ago, we posted about what collaborative consumption means for marketers. We found it interesting that the focus on collaboration for most brands tended toward production (innovation, development, etc), but that there wasn’t much noise about the consequence of people collaborating to consume a brand’s products. As is the case often, one of the comments was more insightful than the post. It raised the point that collaboration in consumption actually yields production innovation. Thus, we asked the commenter– Shaun Abrahamson, CEO of Mutopo Colaboratorie– to elaborate.
*** *** ***Author: Shaun Abrahamson (@shaunabe), CEO, Mutopo Colaboratorie
As a guest poster, some additional disclosure is required because my LinkedIn profile is incomplete. I’d like to add:
+ reviewer at Amazon
+ gas refiller at Zipcar
+ traffic data provider at Google Maps
+ plug-in tester at WordPress
+ opinion offerer at Jovoto
+ classifieds editor at Craigslist
+ A/B headline tester at the Huffingtonpost
+ music popularity statistics reporter at Apple
+ idea spreader at Kickstarter
I think most LinkedIn profiles have similar omissions. But that is only part of the problem, because I don’t just do work for organizations, but also for friends and family.
So why it is so important to know who I “work” for or with?
Of people, value creation, costs and revenues
All organizations incur costs to make and communicate – to create, design, develop, produce and distribute products or provide services; to generate awareness, evaluation and trials to generate revenues. Of course many of the costs in doing this relate to things like media buying, IT infrastructure, raw materials, rents and the like, but depending on the business a very large percentage of the costs come directly from paying people (i.e., salaries for ALL the jobs to make the organization function).
So what happens if one of your competitors figures out a way to get some of their work done more cheaply? Fewer people, lower salaries – off shoring and outsourcing over the last 20 years has fundamentally changed developing and developed economies.
Or, what happens when your competitors are able to attract better talent?
Most labour conversations tend to focus on full time employment, but there is another important workforce – they are doing the types of tasks we don’t disclose on our LinkedIn profiles. And they are not just working for organizations as we tend to think of them, but for the benefit of their peers.
Paid vs. earned vs. owned business activities
Recently Rishad Tobaccowala described among other trends for 2011, paid vs. earned vs. owned media. I’d like to steal this idea and expand it to paid vs. earned vs. owned business activities. Not as catchy, but I’ll keep the explanation short.
I believe that some of today’s most successful organizations are figuring out how to earn “business activities” that their competitors still pay for. It’s more visible in part because it has become easier to help people help you. Amazon sells more because so many of us choose to write elegant reviews there and Lego benefits from a relentless flood of new product ideas from their community. Zipcar has us refilling gas tanks in the name of sharing and the Huffington Post generates more pageviews when they learn what we like by observing our choices. Groupon gets us to band together into temporary “big organizations”, so we can get discounts previously only available to real big organizations.
The fundamental change in this collaborative model is that business can create value by “earning” our effort. If you’re looking for inspiration for all the ways in which people can add value, I like the business model canvas or board of innovation (their templates were used to create the diagram above). More specifically, these visual business model tools can be used to quickly highlight the number of ways in which consumers can also be producers, or customers can also be suppliers.
Beyond roles, these visuals also help outline the different value exchanges: from money and fame to reputation and experiences. The diagram at the start of the post was my attempt to describe the various value exchanges happening around this guest post. It is far from complete, but I hope it shows how “customers” also show up as “suppliers” in exchange for a variety of non-financial currencies. Organizations have many new ways to redefine their relationships with the people formerly known as customers (apologies to Jay Rosen).
Why this type collaboration matters to marketers
MIT Center for Collective Intelligence does a great job breaking collaboration down into its DNA – the who, what, why, where and how of collaboration. In Mutopo’s experience on projects like betacup and Life Edited, some of the hard questions have been:
+ why will people participate?
+ what are the right activites and outcomes to focus on?
+ what expertise is required?
+ what can organizations offer in return?
+ how do we quality control?
I don’t know that this is altogether new for marketers (or for markets). We’ve always had to build teams and find talent, but the scale has changed. Some activities will involve large numbers of people accomplishing tasking in a few minutes or in a few weeks. It will mean much more time evaluating what new outcomes we want, who we want to work with, what they want, what they can do, what we can give them and evaluating how they are doing.
Finding talent may feel like human resources’ responsibility, but this is a critical role for marketing. Not only because it can touch current or prospective customers, but because it is another way to create value for the organization beyond driving sales through a funnel. And these collaborations can build on exactly the relationships brands aspire to build anyway. Now they have the additional benefit of greatly expanding the reasons for conversation, as well as the types of conversations we can have. After all, it’s quite engaging to discuss what we can accomplish together.
26th October 10
Author: Erin Riley, Brand and Communications Director, ZAG NY
BBH Labs has become a watering hole for inquisitive, enterprising, and forward thinking minds. Thus, it is a fitting place for ZAG NY to make its first open call for ideas.
ZAG, a wholly owned subsidiary of BBH, is focused on brand invention. We invent brands by exploiting brand lags – where consumer activity outpaces brand activity. The trick of course is not only scouring technology, media, breaking trends, and cultural & consumer insights for what consumers want and need, but then uniquely satisfying those needs in a delightful and profitable way.
ZAG is fortunate because via BBH we have a unique network of collaborators who provide expertise in areas fertile for brand invention. Now, ZAG NY is looking to extend that network beyond the BBH walls and tap an even larger bevy of creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with a brilliant idea.
This slideshare serves as an official call for ideas which will be formally evaluated this November to feed the 2011 pipeline. While we’ll entertain ideas throughout the year, this marks one of three annual formal reviews that will garner the most focused attention from the ZAG team. Pitches will be heard live or by phone/skype/virtual meeting starting week of November 8th.
To stay up to date on ZAG news and thought starters follow our Blog.
(Presentation is best viewed by clicking MENU and FULL SCREEN)
14th October 10
Author: Steven Peck, Creative, BBH New York (@stevenpeck)
When I began design school at the age of eighteen, it was the first time I was ever exposed to a large group of people whose individual skillsets, interests and backgrounds varied so differently from my own. I was thrust into a new intellectual and creative environment that was completely foreign. Little did I know then how much value that experience actually created. Over the course of five years, I built great friendships with people in a variety of creative disciplines – from automotive design to interactive design to fashion design to architecture and urban planning. Many of my closest friends in design school were in programs outside my own discipline and as a result, I did a lot of my graphic design work in the car design studio. Simply working in the same studio with people who were creating completely different kinds of projects had an immense effect upon my approach and process, and the feedback from respected people outside my own creative discipline was, in many ways, more valuable than the people within it.
It’s been awhile since I was in design school. But looking at the world today, the need for a destination to house conversations that spawn new ideas, insights, and creativity is more pertinent than ever. Acquiring perspectives from smart, talented people with a different frame of reference, and the constant ability to see and experience creative work in the periphery of your own has a real, tangible, and positive effect. The reality is fast becoming that collaboration is not just a new way of doing things – it’s becoming necessary to survive and be competitive in business. Technology is enabling creative people to work in more ways than ever before and bring great ideas to life. It’s certainly an exciting time to be making things.
These beliefs led to my 20% project. The Knot Collective attempts to bridge the gap between these disciplines that are so often siloed to help share knowledge and cultivate thought leadership for creative businesses. We believe that cross-disciplinary collaboration is the future of innovation and design. We hope the site can serve as a valuable resource and build a thriving community that fosters critical thinking and lively discussion.
My longtime friend and product/transportation designer Marc Reisen and I have been discussing and developing the foundation of The Knot Collective for over two years. After thinking about it, building it, rethinking it, and rebuilding it, we’re extremely happy to have launched the project last month. It’s been a long road, but a considered one, and a labor of love nonetheless.
You can check it out here: www.theknotcollective.com (or @theknotcollectv)
We hope you find the mix of disciplines as valuable as we do. We’d love to have you join the conversation.