Getting New Ideas

I am a firm believer in sharing knowledge as opposed to hoarding it (especially within the confines of a company). Knowledge is power, so many of us are reluctant to give it up. Leadership should concentrate on building a collective intelligence, as opposed the combination of individual intelligences; this is obvious, though the strategies to improve a collective intelligence are not.

To conclude my series of blogs on actualizing ideas (and its relevance as part of a company strategy), I wanted to share some insights from Andrii Sedniev in his book The Business Idea Factory. He is a smart guy who has devoted himself to the art of generating ideas. Early on he makes a point that hits home with what I have been saying:

Companies succeed because of great ideas and go bankrupt because of lack of them.

New Ideas

New Ideas

He refers to Walt Disney’s three stages of thinking: dreamer, realist, and critic. You start with creative energy as you seed ideas; have an open mind (do not squash ideas). During the next stage, you figure out how to move an idea forward – realize it. In the final stage, you reflect on the idea: determine pitfalls and weigh competing ideas. (Now you do the squashing.)

Sedniev says great ideas are an extension of our life experiences. This is true. What you have and are experiencing consumes your thoughts, so new ideas are naturally sprung from these experiences. To seek inspiration, you immerse yourself in experiences related to the problem you are trying to solve – technology, applications, processes, etc. An example in my work is creating a user interface. I have to spend time tinkering with actual processes to generate new, user-friendly interfaces.

No matter what anyone tells you, great ideas are “either modifications or combinations of the old ones”. The takeaway here is twofold: be willing to adapt and evolve preexisting ideas and the novelty of an idea does not always equate its value. Few ideas do not have precedence. Just think how few thinkers foresee the future ten years in advance.

I like the “100, 20, 5, 1” rule for a group brainstorming new ideas. It says you start with 100 ideas then break the list down to 20 ideas, then 5 ideas, and finally the one idea you actualize. Admittedly starting with 100 ideas seems like a lot, so you may scale down the ratios. (I combine this rule with Disney’s three stages of thinking in the graphic above.)

He also talks about idea bombarding (rapidly coming up with a lot of ideas), an idea snowball effect (one idea leads to others), and the importance of engaging others (casual conversations). I love bouncing ideas in random encounters because you get candid, unadulterated feedback.

Finally, I hope this quote from the book is inspiring:

The world’s best thinkers are able to generate successful ideas not because they are geniuses, but because they think about ideas daily and have trained their creative muscles more than other people.

 

Less Self-Promotion, More Idea-Promotion

Regarding personal branding, many of the experts suggest heavy doses of self-promotion and cater to the elite. Much of the audience who buys and reads a personal branding book wants to hear stories of how to make it big. This might be landing an elusive job at a top company, becoming a thought leader, or making tons of connections in social media. How do you reach these accomplishments? A common suggestion is self-promotion.

Idea Promotion

Idea Promotion

A difficulty for many of us is what to ‘self-promote’ (especially early career professionals).

  • Size, scope. There are an astounding 5,000 colleges and universities in the US; total undergraduate enrollment was 17.7 million in 2012.[i] Getting in one of the top 100 of the colleges and universities is ridiculously challenging. It largely depends on a near perfect high school GPA, which barring geniuses, requires a lot of maturity.
  • Tangible talent. Regardless of the college, it is statistically hard graduating with top honors; there is a bell curve and lots of smart people. Many talented individuals do not perform well in college.
  • Lacking leads. Most of us are not ‘connected’, so have to build our reputations on our own.
  • Costly credentials. Acquiring credentials is expensive and time-consuming. Not everyone can afford the expense.

I suggest a mainstream personal branding approach. You take an inventory of your assets and then project them onto networks; anyone can do it and at any stage of their career. Some takeaways:

  • ‘Idea promotion’ over ‘self-promotion’. Use the power of demonstration. Allow others to assess your skills by seeing what you can do.
  • Build your own identity and network. Make connections and establish an online identity from scratch. Spread your ideas to make connections.
  • Control the impression. The idea of an aura (an element in my personal brand model) is to have someone come up with their own impression of you, without you telling it to them.

How do you use ‘idea promotion’? You publish past work projects from a college course or an employment experience on a personal website (or LinkedIn profile). You write and maintain a blog where you share interesting insights. You choreograph a video that exemplifies you. In all of these cases, you let your audience draw their own conclusion about your ideas – what you have to say!

How do you control an impression? You build a personal website with style and aesthetics matching your personality. Use all types of media to create depth on an emotional level. It is implicit. You do not say: “I am creative… I have style… I am meticulous.”

How do you make connections from scratch? You participate in some combination of the major social media platforms. This is where you share insights, link to published works, and comment on the posts of experts in your discipline. It is not about talking about you and your accomplishments, but rather spreading your ideas and showing interest in other peoples’ ideas.

Hard to deny self-promotion has its place in being successful, albeit depending on how you define successful. We face acute competition to establish a career and build a reputation, so self-promotion is a way to get ahead, gain an edge. If you have the credentials and connections, might as well use them to your advantage; they will open doors for you and get you pass initial screens. However, if you do not, consider my online personal brand model. It should motivate you to come up with your own ideas and get them out there, regardless of your past record and accomplishments. And it is refreshing if you would rather talk about your ideas and values, than yourself.

You can learn more about this concept by buying the book: Online Personal Brand: Skill Set, Aura, and Identity.

[i] http://nces.ed.gov/pro

Original Image © Depositphoto/ zoomteam#6519586

A Company Culture Goes Both Ways

You should maintain your identity, especially as employers want to manage your behaviors. Let me be clear, I am a proponent of a company culture that defines how you must act while working for a company. A strong culture impacts a company’s success: better ideas, more engagement, and improved retention. It also has the potential to make you (as an employee) smarter, happier, and more productive.

Still, you do not want to lose track of who you are – your essence. Adopt the expectations of an employer for as long as you are required, yet always keep in mind what expectations are a true reflection of you. Keep a perspective. Later you might choose to stay or go based on these self-reflections; moreover, it becomes an important maturation process.

Respect is viewed as an entity that is hard won but easily lost so must constantly be guarded.[i]

Identity and Behaviors

Identity and Behaviors

I come from both angles: a leader defining a company culture and a professional projecting a personal brand (which I argue has a critical identity element).

I created a ‘standing constitution’ defining values and behaviors everyone should follow.[ii] For many companies, it gets much deeper than simply writing down expectations. New applications monitor and collect data based on behaviors and competencies of all workers. Management has desired outcomes. They monitor behaviors, analyze the results, and then make decisions. They encourage employees to adopt their behaviors, usually with contingencies. They train employees to modify their behaviors.

I created a model for professionals to project their personal brand onto networks; it includes a critical identity element. (The book is Online Personal Brand: Skill Set, Aura, and Identity.) A central premise is professionals become their own advocates. A professional has desired outcomes. A professional communicates how he or she wants to be perceived, has internal beliefs, and is prepared to respond and negotiate based on his or her own convictions.

Having an identity should not be casually overlooked. A professional needs to be self-aware. Here are some suggestions:

  • Show career vision. Understand short-term and long-term goals. Think of how a company culture coincides with your personal brand. (In the above mentioned book, I dedicate a chapter discussing this concept.)
  • Be prepared and proactive. Pull feedback to you.[iii] Find ways to advance your career goals.
  • Constant learning. Find ways to build and validate skills necessary not only for a current job, but also future jobs (with or without the company).[iv]
  • Listen to all suggestions. A company has invested to correctly measure your competencies; management has data and analysis to back up their assertions.
  • Not always a matter of right and wrong. You are who you are. Some things are worth changing, some things are not worth changing. Some things cannot be changed.
  • Keep a diary. Take note of your observations of a company culture as it evolves. Maybe it is simply an acknowledgement of how you feel; maybe it inspires you to make changes or decide to leave.
  • Separate identity in social. Social media makes it more difficult to have an identity. Separate how you represent yourself versus your company. Moreover, make sure your self-representation is not detrimental to your company representation.

I am a firm believer in the potential of a company culture. So my advice to you, as a professional, is to consider a company culture from the start – while applying and interviewing for the job. Recently, I saw a job posting where a company listed behaviors the company likes and dislikes. I went through the list checking what fits me. Right away I knew whether I wanted to be part of the company.

Once employed, observe how a company culture is evolving. Do you stand behind what the company is trying to accomplish? Do you agree with the expectations? Are you willing to suggest changing the culture? Are you in for the short or long term?

Last year, the median job tenure for workers aged 20 to 24 was shorter than 16 months. For those aged 25 to 34, it was three years, according to the BLS.[v] LinkedIn managers call this period: ‘tours of duty’. This means, if you are an early career professional, you have a mutual understanding with an employer that after the period has completed you will renegotiate your terms of employment. Take full advantage of this period to determine if your personal brand coincides with the company culture. Keep your identity, part of an online personal brand and more importantly who you are as a person.

[i] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/02/business/dealbook/the-enduring-hunt-for-personal-value.html

[ii] http://blog.theprofessionalwebsite.com/2015/02/27/adopting-a-company-culture/

[iii] Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Penguin (2014, New York).

[iv] http://www.skillsbasedapproach.com

[v] http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-employers-wrangle-restless-millennials-1430818203

Showcase Your Personality

A personal website is an ideal platform to showcase your personality while trying to get a job. If you have been listening to me for the past four and a half years, you know I think there are many other benefits of a personal website. But here I want to focus on the personality aspect.

personality

personality

Why should you care about how your personality is portrayed to prospective employers? The reason is: many employers are considering it as part of an initial screening process.

  • They might have you take a ‘personality test’. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administer pre-hire tests in their job applications for some positions”.[i]
  • They might scour your social media profiles. According to a Career Builder survey: “39% of employers dig into candidates on social sites, while 43% said they had found something that made them deep-six a candidate”.[ii]
  • They will assess a personal website. In a survey I conducted, 77% of the HR respondents acknowledged they would review one in an employment evaluation.[iii]

Since a ‘personality check’ happens so early in an employment evaluation, if you do not pass, you do not get a chance to make a face to face impression in an interview. Does a personality test effectively tell your story? Do social media profiles capture your essence?

Taking a personality test. It varies and depends on the test. Employers will argue they have stats indicating how a candidate answers particular questions predicts future performance; though according to one study: “only 14% of organizations have data to prove the positive business impact of their assessment”.[iv] I think the testing is skewed because of the tremendous amount of pressure a candidate faces trying to impress to get a job. Have you ever taken a personality test for a job?

I took one while trying to land my first job after college. I was applying for a financial advisor position. The test was a minefield of questions on ethics. With many of the questions, I remember thinking over and over again: “how do they want me to answer this question?” I desperately needed a job!

LinkedIn presence (profile, content, and updates). There are a lot of great features of a LinkedIn profile for an employment evaluation. Its strengths include: being indexed by a powerful search algorithm and the representation of connections and endorsements. Do you think it represents your personality, however? Not me. It is too formal and has a uniform style – other than your profile background image. Everyone has the same layout – a boxy table. When I write content for LinkedIn, I write in a ‘professional voice’ (not a ‘creative voice’). Though it is possible to add various forms of media, it does not have the same depth of a personal website. Finally, if you are a student or an early career professional, your LinkedIn profile does not have much content.

Facebook presence (profile, content, and updates). Of course, a Facebook presence is much more a personal reflection than a LinkedIn presence. As an assessment of your personality, it shows everything from all stages in your life. But your personality develops in stages. Moreover, elements of your social life (like ‘referenced drug and alcohol use’) are not strong indicators for how you would perform at a job. It is also much more difficult to control a Facebook presence because you have so many audiences.

A personal website gives you a chance to create a deep persona; it puts everything together, so you have control over the impression. You have a home page. This is where you choose an effective style and layout and carefully crafted content to make a powerful fifteen second first impression – a viewer’s gut reaction. You have a blog. Anyone who reads your posts gets a glimpse into how you think and what you have to say. (On my blog, I share stuff about me such as my love of fishing and Grateful Dead improv.) You have video. Create a powerful message across many dimensions – a script, setting, action, etc. Finally, with a personal website, you have full control of all the content, down to the pixel.

You may have to take a personality test and your social media may be reviewed. Regardless, an employer will review your personal website where you own the impression.

To reiterate, there are many other benefits in having a personal website. Here is a presentation of the main benefits of a personal website:

[i] http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-personality-test-could-stand-in-the-way-of-your-next-job-1429065001

[ii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/should-companies-monitor-their-employees-social-media-1399648685

[iii] http://blog.theprofessionalwebsite.com/2012/11/22/survey-employers-seeking-employees-professional-website

[iv] https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-problem-with-using-personality-tests-for-hiring

Original Image © Depositphoto/ mybaitshop #45892597

Let’s Come Up With New Ideas Together

Earlier in my career, I worked at a startup that struggled to survive (like most startups do). One thing I remember from this experience was how unified and committed we were to get better. Every day the four to five of us went to lunch together. This is when we bounced ideas on each other. No one was squirrely about sharing because we had mutual respect for each other and had common goals. (So now I always ask in an interview: “What do you guys do for lunch?”)

New Ideas

New Ideas

Ideas are critical to success; actualizing new ideas should be part of a company culture. It is something many technology companies try to nurture and build into their normal routine. Here are some of the things they do:

  • Use enterprise systems to promote internal communication. IBM has Verse (an email platform) and Connections (micro blogging, social media, wiki, etc.).
  • Create an office layout where employees ‘bump into each other’. Apple built an amazing circular campus where employees cannot help but have random interactions.
  • Get paid to develop your own ideas. Google gives you a day every week. LinkedIn lets you take a day off to volunteer or ‘explore new ideas’.
  • Provide assistance with menial tasks (laundry service, food preparation, etc.), so you spend more time being brilliant.
  • Promote mindfulness activities (yoga, resting pods, working out, games, etc.).
  • Facilitate gatherings outside of the confines of the office. Zappos bought a whole neighborhood in Las Vegas for this purpose.

In the book Non Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas, & Predict the Future, Rohit Bhargava shares his “five habits of trend curators”:

  1. “Being curious”… Always understand how things work. Ask the right questions.
  2. “Being observant”… Nitpick on the details and methods behind processes. Take little for granted.
  3. “Being fickle”… A subtle, but important habit. Too many times ideas get tossed too early because of a gut reaction. This why the smartest people are not necessarily the ones who actualize the best ideas
  4. “Being thoughtful”… It is important to rationalize and reflect on ideas. Setup debates to hash out other perspectives and arguments.
  5. “Being elegant”… Find ways to simplify and illustrate an idea. Try creating a model, something that is easy to remember. Try communicating the idea using visual media: a video, graphic, etc.

Some arguments against making ideas the focal point of a company:

  • Too many ideas creates too much noise. It takes many bad ideas to get good ones. Employees need to feel welcome to share their ideas. It is worth the added expense of filtering out bad ideas (or better said: ideas that cannot be actualized at this stage).
  • Employees will just take their good ideas and do something on their own. On occasion, this will happen. It is important to build in reward and recognition for good ideas, while also ensuring the sharing goes up and down the ladder (make sure employees feel empowered and trusted).
  • Some employees just want to do their job. While idea sharing is an important part of company culture, it is not mandatory. Employees decide their own participation.

The concept behind Become An Idea Machine by Claudia Altucher is to build “idea muscle” by committing to a regiment of coming up with ten ideas a day. I agree with her that ideas are the “currency of the 21st century” and it is necessary to be insightful, but not sure about the level of commitment for most individuals. Though I full heartedly agree in applying her concept to teams.

We are moving away from an employer-employee relationship where an employee is confined to a standard routine: clock-in, do a job for an eight hour shift, clock-out, and then go home and forget about work. Employees are human – have values and ideas and want to be heard. Companies must invest in its collective intelligence by promoting the circulation of new ideas.

Original Image © Depositphoto/ minervastock #35173493

Build A Foundation (Ideas) And Show Strength (Hustle)

Hated packed lunches with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I was a kid. Got twenty-five cents for milk money, which I used to buy candy at a local grocery on the way to school every morning. I then sold the candy to my classmates and made enough profit to buy lunch at the cafeteria. This was my first real hustle.

Now, I am much more driven by an idea – something that solves a problem. In my mind, generating new ideas is the number one priority of a business (at least one that I am part of). Meeting customer and investor expectations and battling with competitors are also priorities. (And this is where hustling creeps in.)

Ideas and the Hustle

Ideas and the Hustle

Hustling is a popular topic in the media these days.[i] The skill of ‘hustling’ has its place; you want to have hustlers on your team. Some pros of hustling include: gaining consensus faster, removing the dogma of too many rules, and building on  momentum. There are problems when everyone just ‘goes with the flow’, however. Deep, meaningful thinking and reflection is ignored. Because there is a race to completion, proper discovery does not occur. I prefer having a team of thinkers (idea actualizers), than a team of hustlers.

Delivering on an idea and hustling often accompany each other. Ideas are rooted in rational thinking, while hustling is often managing perceptions and finding ways to gain an edge. To give a hustler due credit, getting leverage involves clever maneuvering.

  • Microsoft’s idea is an operating system – create a layer between hardware and software. The hustle is locking partners in contracts. It extinguished all competition for Microsoft. It also set a battlefield for hardware manufacturers.
  • Apple’s idea is to build one of a kind, smart products: IMac, Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, etc. The hustle is product linking. For example, with their new watch, you must also have an IPhone. (Similar linkage with ITunes and the IPod.)
  • Google’s idea is a search algorithm superior to all others. The hustle is capturing an audience with a free service, then selling access to it with targeted campaigns. AdWords is paid advertising to the right and at the top of searches; albeit also a good idea, it put companies in fierce competition to get on the first page of a SERP (“search engine results page”). It is now a huge revenue generator.

Some interesting conclusions regarding an idea and the hustle.

  • Actualizing an idea comes first. You need something to hustle. Google made headway with AdWords around three years after the search engine was first released.
  • An idea is what a leader and company talk about. The hustle occurs behind the scenes and only becomes public when needed – attracting investors.  Bill Gates talked about how great Windows was, not about putting PC makers on their knees.
  • Ideas get richer and deeper. Tangential ideas circulate. A hustle has an expiration date.
  • Ideas are based on rational thinking. Hustles are often based on perceptions. A smart hustle is to get someone with clout to endorse a product or service, regardless of the depth and breadth behind it – nothing more than PR.
  • Ideas are about solving a problem. Hustles are about turning a profit.

[i] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-most-important-skill-learn-syllabus-albert-mba-pharmd-jd?trk=object-title

Original Image © Depositphoto/ oxygen64 #41916069

Actualizing An Idea

I am motivated by the flow of ideas and enjoy the whole process of actualizing them; starting with idea generation and conceptualization, then application development and project management, and finally marketing, selling and delivering on the idea. I love talking ideas. It is my belief that ideas are the cornerstone of any successful endeavor.

Idea Concept

Idea Concept

 

I  am fortunate to have read the book Make Your Idea Matter by Bernadette Jiwa; it resonates with me on many dimensions. As the title suggests, her main objective is to help us move an idea into something successful. I will share some of her insights and my reflections.

Ideas are formed in the mind but triumph in the heart… If you want people to act, you must make them feel.

You may come up with an idea in the shower, in the car, or as you go to bed. It starts as something tiny – a tweak to something that already exists. But if you become passionate about an idea and decide to actualize it, you connect to it on an emotional level – start feeling sensations in your heart and gut as you talk about it. As you convince others, you reach them personally. Following through on an idea is a soulful experience.

What makes a product, service, cause, or idea fly is the ability to understand its relevance to real people and to sell that.

An idea without a foundation never really impacts an audience. Like it or not, you have to answer a WIFM (“what’s in it for me”) for each and every person you are trying to reach. Otherwise you might get an applause for a great idea, but no one jumping on your bandwagon. For example, with a personal website concept, two WIFMs are: job seekers improve their chances of getting employed and personal branders have a platform to take ownership of an online identity – a requirement these days.

No matter what you’re pitching, selling, or talking about, talk to one person.

At every opportunity, you want others to listen and respond to your idea. Ideally, they become evangelists who spread the word. But perhaps they just share nuggets of advice. I like bouncing an idea during a random encounter or conversation; it is an opportunity to get honest, unadulterated comments.

Ideas that matter, spread.

This is why I think ideas are an integral part of a company strategy. If you have a great idea, then it sells itself. Sure, it can be difficult and costly to get early adoption (though using social media helps). An idea has the potential to go viral.

Some of my concluding thoughts on delivering on an idea:

  • A standout idea is a beacon. Everyone is attracted to it, friends and foes.
  • Protect an idea contractually. But also be ready for an emotional tax.
  • Someone has the ‘seed idea’, but as it gains momentum, get everyone to contribute.
  • Create a perpetual system of generating new ideas originating from an initial concept.
  • Recognize and reward each person who makes a contribution.
  • Feedback – good or bad – is always worthwhile.

Skills-Based Approach: Performance Review

Thinking of a performance review, an employee pictures a sit-down with a supervisor where there is a discussion of positive and negative experience over the prior period. With good management, the supervisor has a report consisting of grades or measurements based on desired behaviors and expectations; a great report has benchmarks and input from team members.

A performance review is an ideal time to apply the Skills-Based Approach methodology. Its central premise is the development of a skill set throughout a career in four stages: planning, building, presenting, and validating.

Skills-Based Approach addresses all of the ‘ten biggest mistakes bosses make in performance reviews’ mentioned in a Forbes article, but in particular, reviews that are: based on most recent events, no discussion of a professional’s goals, inaccurate assessments, no follow-up, lack of management preparation, too vague, and no pats on the back.[i]

There are a few reasons why Skills-Based Approach is an effective platform for a performance review:

Shows career progression. A performance review is far more effective if both parties understand how an employee has progressed over a period of time. Thinking in terms of a skill set is particularly useful because skill sets are malleable – adapting to changes in a career trajectory. Addresses the problem of “recency effect” by documenting what an employee has accomplished over the previous period (as well as a career).

Represents career goals. During the planning stage, an employee defines who he or she is and wants to be – thinking about passions, strengths, personality traits, etc. – then translates the results into a desired skill set and an action plan to establish an expertise with each skill. Of course an employee chooses what to share with management, but whatever he or she chooses to share is powerful. A good leader listens and guides an employee along his or her career path by planning to build skills going forward (assigning a project, going to a seminar, getting certified, etc.). Both parties ask the question: Is there room for this employee to grow with the company? Addresses the problem of “no discussion around the (employee’s) career ambitions”; the planning stage is all about showing career vision.

Bridges learning and career development. A skill set can be used to describe education and employment experiences. Learning has become a lifelong commitment for many professions, so it is likely an employee spends time outside of work building skills – an opportunity to signal management of extra efforts. Addresses the problem “everything’s perfect – until it’s not and you’re fired”; an employee does not get blindsided by a scathing review because there are skill assessments.

Shows management’s investment. An employee knows what the company has done to improve his or her wellbeing. Has management assigned a mentor? Are they giving assessments? Are they providing access to learning and/or training resources? (In the past few years, there has been explosive growth in online training resources to build skills.) Addresses the problem of “no follow-up”; everything management has done for an employee is on record.

Addresses interpersonal capabilities. Soft skills – those representing interpersonal and emotional capabilities – are an important component of a skill set. Everyone is talking about the value of emotional intelligence – EQ. Unlike an IQ, you can improve your EQ.

Defines a clear framework to base the review on. Create tables laying out the progression of a skill set through each of the stages. It is simple, yet effective and doable. (See appendix in A Skills-Based Approach to Developing a Career as a point of reference.) Addresses the problems of “no preparation” and “too vague”; management is required to review the four tables representing each stage of a Skills-Based Approach.

Reference for rewards. As an employee validates skills – getting a certification, earning a degree, etc., he or she earn a raise or bonus. For example, when accountants get their CPA, they get a raise of ten thousand dollars. Addresses the problem of “no pats on the back”; whether it is monetary or a gesture, management has clear bars to give recognition.

Way to communicate skill set expertise. Whether the audience includes clients, partners, or teammates, employees benefit by letting others know about their skill set – the presenting stage of Skills-Based Approach. It might be an assurance (prevention oriented) or a show of strength (promotion oriented). A good topic of discussion during the review is how an employee is communicating his or her skill competencies – on a personal website and social media.

Of course, there are other issues in a performance review that would not be captured in the context of a Skills-Based Approach – such as discussing particular projects, communication interactions, and legal issues. Part of the review should be about ‘company culture’. However, the crux of a performance review works with a Skills-Based Approach.

Performance Review

Performance Review

[i] http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2012/01/09/ten-reasons-performance-reviews-are-done-terribly/

Gain An Edge With A Personal Website

Deciding to Go Mobile

Companies with an established web presence must consider a mobile presence; this means having mobile apps that interact with its’ primary services. All major social media services have invested significantly to boost mobile accessibility. It was forced on them. Their monthly active users already consume services on mobile devices on par with computers; in the future, mobile usage dwarfs computer usage. Just consider, IBM recently made a whopping four billion dollar investment in cloud and mobile computing.

Going Mobile

Going Mobile

The question in balancing a web presence and mobile presence should be based on processes. Breakdown how consumers use your services in tasks, then answer the following questions:

  • How much time does it take to complete the task? Does it require focused attention? With Twitter, it is easier to view Tweets and respond to others from the app; in fact, for many, it is a requirement to be active on Twitter all day long. When you are running campaigns and researching what you are going to broadcast on a given day, it is easier to use web services.
  • Who is consuming the service? Are they likely using a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or computer? When are they accessing the content – before, during, or after work? Where are they – in the car, at their desk, or at home? Facebook – popularized by the younger generation – is an important communication platform. For the older generation, it is a source of recent news. Users access Facebook via their smartphone whenever there is a break in the day.
  • What content is used? Is it memory intensive? Does it require a lot of processing? What is the optimal screen size to view the content? LinkedIn comes to mind. Conducting advanced searches and reviewing many profiles in a sitting is easier to accomplish through its web service, but it is easier to send quick messages, make connections, and check updates on its app.

There are three strategies to establish a mobile presence. First, create your own set of apps that run on the three main platforms – Mac IOS, Windows 8, and Google Android. Second, provide API access, so third-party developers create mobile apps based on your service. Third, make your website mobile friendly – having it responsive or delivering content in a different way; all mobile devices have browsers.

There is always a place for a standard computer. Much of the content we consume requires a larger screen, better processing power, and faster memory access. There are tasks like programming, writing, editing videos or graphics, playing graphic intensive games, and analyzing or modeling statistics that you do predominately on a computer.

An advantage with using a browser as opposed to an app is it has a standard protocol: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With HTML, the structure, tagging, and functioning of websites are supported universally by a worldwide consortium. This ensures there is a security apparatus in place. It is easy to learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript quickly, (to see the underlying code of any website, simply view the source code from within any browser). It is also easier to develop websites. You can code a website in a text editor then upload it to a server, altogether taking you five minutes. With apps on mobile devices, there are far less rules and it is more challenging to learn all of the intricacies. For example, with Android, you download an editor, install Java, and use an emulator (of how an app works on various devices); moreover, there is a clear learning curve with programming in Java.

Apps are becoming a staple of future generations. (People label Generation Y as digital natives, I label Generation Z as mobile natives.) Apps probably become more prevalent than websites in many things, though websites will always have its place. In going mobile, companies need to breakdown things down into tasking – when, where, and how content is consumed.

Original Image © Depositphoto/ cienpies #9857738

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