The Rules of Randomness & How You Can Stand Apart – http://99u.com


99U
by Frans Johansson
http://99u.com

The world is an unpredictable place. Everyone seems to agree with this statement. We all recognize that unpredictable things happen every day, from a chance conversation to an unexpected meeting; from the rapid rise of an Instagram to the dramatic fall of a Lehman Brothers. We don’t question random forces in our personal lives or the world around us. But what about in our careers or in business? Why don’t we account for unpredictability in these areas?

Let me start with a personal example: In 2004, I was waiting for the publication of my first book, The Medici Effect. I was nervous, hopeful and relieved to finally be done with a three-year obsession—an investigation into how groundbreaking innovation happens at the ‘intersection’ of different industries, cultures and disciplines.  But the timing couldn’t have been worse. Clayton Christensen’s book,Seeing What’s Next, was also coming out the same month, from the same publisher.Soon, I was knocking on the doors of Innovation Officers and strategy leaders at companies to ‘consult’ on innovation and maybe give a talk or two. Turns out, it was a bad plan. Everyone else, some better known than me—including Christensen—were doing the same thing.

One evening, my then-fiancée came home and announced that her boss at JP Morgan had tasked her to find a “business case for diversity.” As we discussed this, it became clear that my book—my ideas about the “Medici Effect”—fit the bill. Within a week, I was presenting to the head of the investment side of JP Morgan Chase.

I share this story because it was the moment when everything “clicked” for me. My entire strategy for a “brilliant career as an innovation though leader” had just been obliterated. Never in all my planning and careful analysis did I ever consider that the answer would lie in the Diversity Office, rather than Innovation. After embracing this possibility, everything changed—so much so, that I finally found the time to focus on finding out whether the success of other individuals and companies all hinged on a similar “click moment” as it did for me.

The answer is simply, yes. From Starbucks to Microsoft Windows to Diane von Furstenburg to Twilight, and its ‘inspired’ Fifty Shades of Grey.

The world is unpredictable, and that means we cannot foresee whether an idea or project will turn out as planned. In fact, the plan may very well become outdated before we even start to execute it. And if we can’t logically plan our way to success, then it must mean that success, when it happens, is a result of something unexpected—of something random. It is a revealing paradox.

The world is unpredictable, and that means we cannot foresee whether an idea or project will turn out as planned.

If Howard Schultz had never taken a stroll down a street in Milan and wandered into a café, Starbucks as we know it would probably never have happened. If Murray Sargent and Dave Weise hadn’t happened to meet at a party on the Microsoft campus one night, the operating system we know as Windows would have been killed off—and most likely the PC revolution would not have happened as quickly, if at all.

Yet, we resist this notion. We want to explain away success as being more than just good fortune or luck. Indeed, very few people I talked to had spent much time thinking deeply about how to incorporate randomness into their corporate or professional strategy. The reason seemed obvious: randomness defines the part of our lives that we can’t control, so how can we rely on it?

Simply put, randomness makes us stand apart. In The Click Moment, I talk about a number of different approaches for using randomness to our advantage. Here are a few of them:

1. Increase the number of click moments in our lives. This is a lot easier than we think. Most of us, by nature, are creatures of habit. We like the familiar and avoid placing ourselves in uncomfortable positions. In a crowded room, we tend to gravitate toward the people we know, rather than striking up a conversation with a stranger. And we become so immersed in a certain path—or the momentum has driven us so far down it—that we’re unwilling to question or take our eyes off it.

Instead, change up your routine. Go to a different café. Read a magazine you otherwise never would. Talk to someone in the elevator, on the plane, or in the park—and go beyond the weather and your busy schedules. Surround yourself with people who are different from you, be it their backgrounds, their professions, their cultures. Embrace that diversity.

Randomness defines the part of our lives that we can’t control, so how can we rely on it?

2. Reject the obvious path. If we do what’s logical—take the path that everyone ‘knows’ to do—we will do exactly what someone else is doing, and never stand apart. My friend Marcus Samuelsson, food activist, restaurateur, and chef-owner of Red Rooster, recounted to me how he came to be the guest chef for the White House’s state dinner for the Indian Prime Minister Mammohan Singh.

Every state dinner since 1874 has featured French-American cuisine. The White House invited 15 elite chefs, including Marcus, to present a menu for the dinner. Everyone presented a French-American menu with a meat dish, save Marcus. Knowing Prime Minister Singh is vegetarian, he presented a vegetarian menu inspired by Indian flavors. He was selected as the guest chef, and the White House broke its French-American state dinner tradition.

3. Make lots of bets—but purposefully.  Leer más “The Rules of Randomness & How You Can Stand Apart – http://99u.com”

Anything’s Possible Through Crowdsourced Corporate Donations

Today, you are more important than you ever knew. Yes, you are a VIP. Every company seems to want your direct input: Can you create a short film (aka ad) about Bounty paper towels’ philosophy of life? What new flavor should Mountain Dew market, and how should the packaging look? Which couple should get married on the Today show, what should they wear, and where should they go on their honeymoon?

Whether or not crowds are truly wise, you’re certainly in demand in this era of crowdsourcing. That’s especially true in the not-for-profit universe. In the past, we’ve sought your donor dollars, but now we’re also after your support in the form of votes that help us get other donors’ dollars. Actor Hugh Jackman announced last year on Twitter that he’d give away $100,000 to a cause suggested by the Twitterverse. (Charity: Water and Operation Hope split the pot.) Major corporations such as PepsiCo, American Express, and JPMorgan Chase have all turned charitable dollars over to public votes. (Full disclosure: I sit on the advisory boards for the Chase Community Giving and Pepsi Refresh contests.) So have small ones; Kind, which makes fruit-and-nut bars, is giving away $25,000, and it’s up to people who perform “kind acts” — other than eating fruit-and-nut bars — to decide where that money goes.


By: Nancy Lublin

GOOD DIRECTION: Led by his Twitter followers, Hugh Jackman, right, gave $50,000 to Charity: Water, which has dug wells across Africa. | Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis (Jackman); Courtesy of Charity:Water

Hugh Jackman, Charity: Water

Well, sort of. As crowdsourced corporate giving becomes ubiquitous, Nancy Lublin offers tips to win those contests — and the increasingly big bucks.

Today, you are more important than you ever knew. Yes, you are a VIP. Every company seems to want your direct input: Can you create a short film (aka ad) about Bounty paper towels’ philosophy of life? What new flavor should Mountain Dew market, and how should the packaging look? Which couple should get married on the Today show, what should they wear, and where should they go on their honeymoon?

Whether or not crowds are truly wise, you’re certainly in demand in this era of crowdsourcing. That’s especially true in the not-for-profit universe. In the past, we’ve sought your donor dollars, but now we’re also after your support in the form of votes that help us get other donors’ dollars. Actor Hugh Jackman announced last year on Twitter that he’d give away $100,000 to a cause suggested by the Twitterverse. (Charity: Water and Operation Hope split the pot.) Major corporations such as PepsiCo, American Express, and JPMorgan Chase have all turned charitable dollars over to public votes. (Full disclosure: I sit on the advisory boards for the Chase Community Giving and Pepsi Refresh contests.) So have small ones; Kind, which makes fruit-and-nut bars, is giving away $25,000, and it’s up to people who perform “kind acts” — other than eating fruit-and-nut bars — to decide where that money goes. Leer más “Anything’s Possible Through Crowdsourced Corporate Donations”

Google, Coca-Cola, Amazon Own Best Reputations


– Mark Dolliver, Adweek
In its annual rankings of the “Reputation Quotient” of the 60 most visible companies in the U.S., Harris Interactive found respondents picking Berkshire Hathaway as the one with the best reputation. Filling out the top 10 were Johnson & Johnson, Google, 3M, SC Johnson, Intel, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Amazon.com and General Mills.

At the bottom of the Reputation Quotient standings were Freddie Mac, AIG, Fannie Mae, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Chrysler, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Delta Air Lines. Harris notes in its analysis of the findings that “the nine lowest companies all have received government/bailout money or currently remain government-supported.” Though it fell into the middle of the pack, at No. 37, Ford. — which conspicuously did not take a federal bailout — was notable for having achieved the biggest one-year increase in Reputation Quotient score of any company in the past nine years.

The ratings are based on respondents’ opinions of the degree to which companies embody (or don’t) 20 attributes, ranging from “value for money” to “environmental responsibility” to “record of profitability.” These 20 are grouped under six general headings: “emotional appeal,” “products and services,” “workplace environment,” “financial performance,” “vision and leadership” and “social responsibility.” Polling was fielded from late December through mid-February. Leer más “Google, Coca-Cola, Amazon Own Best Reputations”