Saturday, March 24, 2012

Are We Not Mets?

ImageMy dad didn't hand down a few things. One is the ability to fix stuff. Another is his love of the New York football Giants.

One of my dad's favorite stories features the fatherly advice of Archie Manning after completion of the Giants over Patriots Superbowl sequel. In the story Archie the Elder counsels first born Peyton to steer clear of New York in his own landing rights scouting reports. Eli, on the other hand, has the thickness of skin to labor under the media glare. It's the younger Manning with fewer expectations and greater poise. The verdict? Eli now leads the National League of Manning in Super Bowl rings.

But here's the latest chapter: With the Jets signing of suddenly displaced Tim Tebow, Manning family relocation plans have boomeranged back to the Big Apple .

If the Mannings are a football's family dynasty, Tebow is an aura that anchors the t-bow(n) in a gridiron trinity. His heavenly father calls the plays. And when he huddles with his new teammates next year what kinds of formation-making will he be scrimmaging? What other earthly improbabilities are now within striking distance or even his passing range?

1) If I can make it here: This is a locality that trades in stocks, not flocks. Will Tebow's charisma continue to attract the ardent following that he did in Denver? Is anyone even in the position of posing as a charisma transition authority here? This potential impasse makes the tug between Tom Brady's allegiance to Giselle Bundchen of Hollywood and the townies of greater New England look like a resolvable quandary. The last time a U.S. President's popularity reached 90% George W. Bush stood in the post 9-11 rubble with bullhorn firmly in hand. That was probably the last time anyone ever sampled Manhattan as American soil. New York is no more an All-American city as it is any town U.S.A. or a town for that matter. Ancestral soul mates can wander below 96th Street for lifetimes and never share the same checkout line, subway platform, or rain check from their local Apple stores.

2) Back pages to fill: The void that the Jets have hired Tebow to fill is not an actual vacancy at quarterback but the empty column inches of empty tabloid fodder. In this game of inches where New York comes down in the Giants or Jets column depends on whose competing stories hold the popular sports imagination. Jet coach Rex Ryan is one losing season away from rousing and brash to boring and blowhard. Can the aura of Tebow grow coattails that extend past the bellowing and shadowy girth of Friar Ryan?

3) Quarterback by committee: Assuming the stranger-things-than-Jeremy-Lin-have-happened scenario, Ryan platoons Tebow with his underachieving incumbent starter, Mark Sanchez. Yet in terms of the air game, the juries still out on whether Tebow even qualifies for his pilot license. He's got that canon of an arm whose misfirings remind us city elders of the opening credits to F-Troop -- and that's without fortress Tebow even being knocked off his mountings.

So if there's a questionable cultural fit and a non-vacancy for a loose canon-armed quarterback, maybe Tebow's speed, strength, and agility can grace the number one hard luck New York franchise -- even if that team already fields an entire staff of misfires by committee. After all, that athleticism includes winning the James E. Sullivan award as the nation's most outstanding specimen -- in any sport! His raw gifts prompted Joe Collier this week to Tweet...

"If Tebow played baseball, would he swing the bat or would the ball just go over the fence with his willpower?"

What if he was a pitcher? JimyYankee2 cast a sardonic eye at Tebow's unflattering passing stats to predict a 2012 mark of 20-10 with a 5.55 ERA on a team that scores 4.0 runs per game.

Back to that hard luck curveball of a boomerang within boomer range -- The New York Mets. Those post Madoff Mets will lead the majors in one important column -- salary attrition. In fact the drop-off is so precipitous it may be sending super agents like Scott Boras to the poor house. Plead Boras:

"The major franchises who are getting the majority of revenues should provide a product, or an attempt at a product, that has the near-highest payrolls commensurate with the markets they are in."

Translation: big market teams like the Mets can only buy destinies, not build them, for the betterment of the shareholders, the players, and Boras. Boras is especially irritated that lean times afflict his second largest market as well:

"The New York Times' Vincent Mallozzi notes, Boras once noted that the Mets and Dodgers 'used to shop in the steaks aisle and now they're in the fruits and nuts section.'"

But Tebow is not going Hollywood.  Before home-school gave way to high school, he did once play baseball before his mortal passions were covered in pigskin. Full disclosure: is this really news to anyone in Manhattan or the rest of America?

The real serum test for any future apparitions of Monsignor Met will be about what happens in the clutch. The one legacy bridging the team's recent success with its more immediate failures is the inability to execute under pressure. Perhaps this is that thundering glide path in the deliverance of Tebow to Broadway: The shear theatricality of his unscripted rescues; his analytically-defying finishes in the face of accomplished stat-hounds.

This spring the Mets will move the fences in at forbidding Citi Field and ask their fans for a forbearance that dwarfs the size of the original TARP package. Tebow, on the other hand, can reign down the boomerangs. And he has only his savior to credit.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Now Accepting Business Facebook Applications


[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="202" caption="Such a deal!"][/caption]

Psst ... hey ... yeah you.

You social engineers getting certified in Business Facebook applications!

Remember what-you-see-is-what-you-get? Probably not unless reinventing yourself for a living is measured in decades. For you digital natives I'm describing how dinosaurs like me once crawled out of our darkened caves of DOS. Back in the late eighties the notion that our interfaces would actually reflect our dot matrix print-outs was an epiphany (that's where our documents were all headed back then, right?)

The great thing about it was you knew where you stood. The outcome on your screen was reproducible. Park that file on a floppy and your friend with the 10 MEG hard drive could see it too. It was the infancy of a new kind of printing press. What we didn't know about the paperless void that awaited us is the security that the paper gave us. We knew how many copies we'd run off, where they'd been circulated, and roughly the profile of the folks who had your layouts, graphics, and arguments in their hands. It wasn't world-wide or moving or making sounds but it was a level of control and transparency that packed the staying power of a flowering Polaroid.

Flash forward to the dawn of "the" Facebook circa 2005:

The moment we decode our thoughts the only thing standing between our expressiveness and the cryogenics archives is the indifference of our colossal and anonymous communities. Until keyboards come equipped with ears for tuning into keystrokes of genius, we'll be banished to "the new dark." Together alone. Old messages. New bottles. Voiceless discoveries wondering whether the people in our social orbits can share in our experience. Quick answer: 'course not! In social media what you see is what you interpret. These are not static inventories of text any more than our connections are a recessive flock of lurkers or even receptive band of onlookers.

Message from 2020 to 2005: There is no audience. If you're looking for distinctions, think engagement levels -- not content consumers.

Okay, back to the here and now.

It's in this cacophony of muffled experiences and tentative expectations that the social media curtain was raised within the confines of large services firms. From one extreme of tight-fisted control, we have leapt to the opposite extreme of unrehearsed community-building. No script. No change management roadmap baked into the recipe for success or even defining what success means.

One critical success factor? WYSIWYG 2.0 gets my knod. If those tentative steps off the social business platform are any indication the number one confronting our reluctant late-comers is not about brushing up on the latest apps and features but preening and probing in that new hall of mirrors:

What can you see that I don't?
What can I conduct in private and then invite a select group of team members at my discretion?  

These are not just passing hesitations for a bashful user base. These are no just executive-level insecurities surfacing as personal vanities. These questions push ahead of any potential opportunity gains or the most basic community-building efforts. Is my avatar out of focus? Are the views I share in my blog out of step with firm policies? Honestly, they can miss the next update cycle if I'm not clear on my WYSIWYG bearings:

"Basically, who can see what? Otherwise I can't tell the noise from the knowledge. Otherwise how do I figure out what's worth investing a part of my work day towards understanding?

There is no single recipe for baking change management into the cultural traditions of a large services organization. But if the adoption of SharePoint 2010 as the de facto enterprise content platform is any indication, then governance is the single biggest ingredient. Of course nothing has forced the issue of who-sees-what out of the maintenance closet  more than SharePoint governance. Chiefly: the deliberations around how corporate policies play out around what gets dragged into or dropped from enterprise interfaces.

If we want to deal with the inevitable as a force for good I would transition what we've learned from our SharePoint deployments. These lessons underscore three overriding factors in the bottom-up adoption of social business media:

1) COMING AND GOING: Connections

Big, impersonal enterprises are famous for counting "who you know" as the way to unblock bottlenecks and transcend their own bureaucracies. Large organizations can be clumsy around the question of how you come to know them. Did you work your way up through the ranks together? Did you stop along the way to sample the broader organization and how smart leaders piece together solutions falling outside the standard portfolio? Did you punch the most direct ticket to partnership, staying closer to the rails and to the exclusion of colleagues with complementary skills and often interdependent needs and resources? The ability of social media savvy managers to self-select their working communities is the most sweeping panoramic view into organizational needs and assets since the invention of the org chart -- and a trifle less static -- no?

2) EXIT: Internal Hierarchies

Remember George W. Bush and the megaphone at Ground Zero. Allies and critics agree. It symbolized the high water mark of his two administrations. My point here? Nothing promotes teamwork better than a big shot tossing off his suit jacket and joining in a bucket brigade. In the case of social business that means pitching in to answer a question or address a concern voiced in an activity stream. In WYSIWYG 2.0 the whole stigma around who should "be seen" with whom  doesn't disappear completely. But a CXO in search of a gut check can now wade into the weeds from the privacy of his corner office or from the primacy of his bully pulpit.

3) ENTER: Market Realities

See the pecking order exiting by the rear door? It's taking another time-honored game not worthy of winning along with it. It's called fixating on internal customers to the exclusion of focusing on actual clients. When the market speaks, it's more eloquent than the most thoughtful governance or the most resolute leadership. It's the clarifying resolution of a win or a sale or a revenue bounce.

Even those porous borders between our work identities and our social media selves can attest to that. After all, if a prospective buyer is looking for guidance on our products and services, who is she going to listen to -- our CEO in the press release or the irate customers sounding off on Twitter? The marketplace has spoken. And it's not waiting for our keyboards to grow ears.

What you see is not necessarily what you get. And what you hear is not necessarily what was said. Unless you hosted what was posted on your social business platform.
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About attentionSpin

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attentionSpin is a consulting practice formed in 1990 to create, automate and apply a universal scoring system (“The Biggest Picture”) to brands, celebrities, events and policy issues in the public eye. In the Biggest Picture, attentionSpin applies the principles of market research to the process of media analytics to score the volume and nature of media coverage. The explanatory power of this research model: 1. Allows practitioners to understand the requirements for managing the quality of attention they receive 2. Shows influencers the level of authority they hold in forums where companies, office-seekers, celebrities and experts sell their visions, opinions and skills 3. Creates meaningful standards for measuring the success and failure of campaigns and their connection to marketable assets.