Brian Solis, leading thinker in the integration of social media and PR, recently spoke on an intriguing concept: ideas connect us more than relationships.
The premise of his argument is that ideas are what elicit passion in
people. They animate us, and if we find someone with a similar interest
in a given idea, we connect. You can see him describe this in the video
When ideas are stronger connectors
than pre-existing relationships, Solis notes that our connections will
expand, shrink and shift. The fluidity of connections reflects the
ideas that capture our attention at any given time. And at any point,
we will have multiple ideas that engage us.
This thinking dovetails well with a concept from leading designer Joshua Porter, also known as Bokardo. In his post, Finding Innovation in Design, he describes the AOF method of social experience design:
- A = activity you want to support
- O = social objects that define the activity
- F = features are actions people take upon social objects
You build social-oriented sites
around a core set of objects and activities which attract people. Brian
Solis’s concept about ideas being the basis of connections manifests
itself well into Porter’s social objects. Ideas are the social objects
around which people connect.
For companies seeking to leverage
social software, communities and crowdsourcing to tap new sources of
innovation, these are critical principles. Design people’s experiences
with an eye toward driving interactions around ideas.
When ideas are the basis of a social network, a more advanced system of innovation management
is possible. Relative to alternative social objects that are not
specific to innovation (e.g. tweets), ideas offer superior
capabilities in several areas: content, analytics, presentation,
milestone tracking, workflow.
As Porter writes:
The idea is that your
features are nothing more than the actions people take on accepted,
agreed-upon social objects. They are not pie-in-the-sky features that
may or may not be valuable. By modeling your software on existing
behavior you can be sure that the features you add will be
valuable…after all…people are already doing them.
Designing ideas as the social
objects significantly improves the ability of the community to find
ideas of interest, collaborate around them, provide feedback and share
them with others. And since innovation management shares aspects of
project portfolio management, social objects that can support workflow
is an important consideration.
As Solis says, what’s exciting in
all this is that people – employees, customers, partners – have a
natural affinity to connect over ideas. Proper design can tap this
affinity to help organizations find new innovation opportunities.
(Cross-posted @ Spigit)