Sunday, November 28, 2010

When It's Darkest, Men See The Stars - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A blog post by Steve Blank by the same title got me thinking about leadership and networked intelligence for entrepreneurs - that is, what kind of leadership and networks are needed now for pioneering leadership? (Steve's blogpost is well worth a read). In essence, Steve talks about the current financial crisis may be the beginning of an economic revolution - the entrepreneurial revolution. A revolution that will permanently reshape business. Steve talks about how startups in the past were mainly constrained by six barriers

However, the evidence is that these barriers to innovative startups are being removed because we are seeing:
  • Compressed product development cycles
  • New structures springing up in the venture capital industry
  • Entrepreneurialship is developing its own management science
  • The consumer and internet are often driving innovation rathe than organisations themselves

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These structural changes to the entrepreneurial landscape has led (and leading to) an entrepreneurial explosion.

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Pioneering Leadership

The wonderful thing about this entrepreneurial revolution is that people are rediscovering what it means to be a pioneer and to be a builder. (see Umar Haque's brilliant The Builder's Manifesto). In our pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness (you need them), the industrial revolution and the science of management has managed out the pioneering spirit from our human nature. It has managed out the six irresistible human endowments that compel human beings to lead irrespective of age, gender, status, race, nationality, creed and religion. These six irresistible human endownments are;
  • Purpose
  • Passion
  • Hope
  • Curiosity
  • Tenacity
  • Courage
And here is a wonderful example of this pioneering leadership - of how Robert Harrison, Space Enthusiast, records earth on £500 budget!

Social Networking and Network Intelligence

This structural change to the entrepreneurial landscape is also supported by the explosion in social networking and social media. It is hard to believe that the World Wide Web is only just 20 years old and the term 'social media' is less than 10 years old. It is social networking and social media that has brought about:
  • Low cost to first product
  • Short time to first product
  • (Getting to) large pool of risk capital
  • Fast customer adoption rate (creating fans and followers)
  • Lower startup failure rate
  • Global innovation

Those who have truly mastered social networking understand its true value, which is helping to establish trusting and meaningful relationships that lead to collaboration to build better business faster. The world is too complex for budding entrepreneurs to go it alone.
In short, how do they create a networked community to deliver networked intelligence that matters! In his brilliant book, The Five Literacies of Global Leadership, Richard Hames says of Networked Intelligence - "the key aspects of Networked Intelligence are ...."
  • The creation of preferential networks (look outside your normal hierarchies and boundaries for really fresh insights)
  • The strength of weak ties (don't just connect with people you know - those you do not know offer windows into different worlds)
  • Link to ideas not just people - the meeting and mating of ideas to spawn others generates innovation while helping to integrate and transcend what you already know.
  • Networked intelligence is the capability to continuously connect with and relate to other people and ideas in the process of sensing and making sense of complexity. You cannot fully understand complex systems if you do not have real-time intelligence.
Social networking and social media has been a gamechanging enabler in that it has enabled entrepreneurs:
  • to shift from 'selliing' to connecting with their audience at scale and at no cost. In the past, the only way you can reach a large audience and connect with them is via the tradition (and expensive) outbound marketing activities (PR being the exception).
  • to turn followers into fans, and with their help, making a produce/service go viral. That is to say, social media has enabled people to drive inbound marketing activities (at very low cost) instead of traditional outbound marketing activities.
  • to move from 'hard to reach' to being 'available everywhere'.

What are the 10 'Holy Grail' characteristics of a great primary connector in your network

In order to establish this kind of collaboration - entrepreneurs must be able to use social networking and social media to create and lead authentic conversations that matter. Authentic conversations that lead to great primary connections. And how do you know if you already have great primary connections in your network? Accordingly to Melissa Giovagnoli of Networlding, here are the 10 'Holy Grail' characteristics for anyone to be considered a great primary connector in a network.
When it's darkest, men (and women) see the stars .... stars by the names of ........ purpose, passion, hope, curiosity, courage and tenacity (with a dollop of social networking)

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