Most of you are aware of my consuming interest in how Facebook creates value for the enterprise. Over the past eighteen months or so, I’ve written a large number of posts on the subject, and am currently in the process of converting them into a book. [Before you ask, the book will be a free download.]
The interest is not just academic; where I work, we have well over 10,000 people on Facebook, learning by watching and doing, and we continue to fashion and build tools that embrace and extend that learning.
Those who know me well would also be aware of the high regard in which I hold John Seely Brown and John Hagel, ever since I read Â The Social Life of Information (written by JSB in conjunction with Paul Duguid). The Only Sustainable Edge (written by the two Johns) is a book I delve into frequently, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing both the authors personally for some time now. In fact I was with John Hagel earlier this week.
Whenever I used the word “Facebook” in the same sentence as “enterprise”, I used to get quizzical looks. Sometimes those looks went beyond quizzical, marauding into the territory of “he’s old, he’s past it, let’s just humour him”.
Which is why I have this sense of being “legitimised” when I read this article in BusinessWeek, by the two Johns, on what executives can learn from Facebook.Â
An aside. How did I know about the article? Because it showed up on my Facebook news feed as a post by JSB. Seems fitting, somehow.
They make a number of points really well, points that I have written about before, but without the crispness and coherence they bring to the table:
- Innovation happens at edges
- Youth shouldn’t be discounted, their demographic group has edges as well, edges where innovation takes place
- We need to build platforms that sustain many open edges in order to foster innovation
- When building the platforms, we need to ensure that the time/money costs of edge innovation are kept low
The “lessons” piece at the end, while succinct, is really worthwhile. Don’t dismiss it lightly just because you may have come across variants before:
- Create more edges
- Provide better ways to connect at the edge
- Demographic edges are fertile grounds for business innovation
- Experiment and iterate rapidly
- Social, technologic[al] and economic are inextricably intertwined
And, of course, the paragraph at the end.
“Social interaction often precedes economic activity.”
Otherwise known as cluetrain.Â Markets are conversations. Relationship before conversation before transaction.