Posts tagged ‘newsgroups’

Social Media Can’t Spur Innovation Alone

In my last post I discussed Value Networks. Of course, value networks are not talked about much these days. Scan the marketing blogs today and you’ll find that social networks, not value networks, are the flavor of the month. I’ve got nothing against social networks, but I wonder if Linux would have arrived yet if developers had just been tweeting their ideas.

Facebook and Twitter, the social media poster children, aren’t collaboration tools, so they can’t really create a value network. They are information-enabling tools. The purpose of social networking is to connect. Nothing wrong with that, but to create something complex and valuable, you need to go beyond connecting to collaboration.

I mentioned that the overheard conversation is essential to speeding up innovation. True, you overhear a lot of conversing on Facebook and Twitter, but to really collaborate, you need a tool that can organize conversations into a coherent threaded structure. Complex problems require a lot of people to know where they are in a conversation, and what’s gone before. Jive and Central Desktop are examples of collaboration platforms that do this, and there are others as well.

The upshot – to find out what people are chattering about, monitor social media. To innovate faster, get those conversations threaded up.


March 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM 1 comment

Waterfalls, Eyeballs and the Power of the Overheard Conversation

When I first started i-OP, one of my tasks was choosing the tools our team would use to collaborate. My developers insisted that newsgroups – what we now call forums – were the right way to communicate as a company.

It struck me as odd at the time, but I trusted them, and a good thing, too. What my developers taught me was the same lesson that Microsoft learned the hard way when Linux started to move in on their territory.

Linux is open source, developed in a large part collaboratively via the network of newsgroups known as USEnet. The beauty of a newsgroup is that discussions are overheard by others, who can introduce new ideas and possibilities. This is especially important in software development, because it’s just about impossible to know all the requirements and obstacles before you start. The job description constantly changes, so the top-down waterfall model just isn’t flexible enough. You need eyeballs all over the place to find and kill the bugs and suggest new approaches.

Linux was and remains a great model of the value network method of creating, as opposed to the traditional value chain method. Value networks allow for a faster innovation clockspeed, which is why, in just 5 years, Linux was able to take on wealthiest corporation in the world.

These days USEnet, though still around, has largely given way to a new generation of Web-based collaboration platforms which still nevertheless exploit the power of the overheard conversation.

In my next post I’ll talk a bit about how social networking fits – and doesn’t fit – into the value network model.

March 11, 2010 at 1:33 PM 1 comment

Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

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"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters