Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking community and the pace and shaping of innovation – 5

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 16, 2011

This is my fifth installment on innovation and its diffusion and acceptance, or rejection by communities. And a core point of focus in this series has been on the impact of online social networking, and online community on those processes (see Social Networking and Business, postings 133, 134, 136 and 137 for parts 1-4.)

In Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, I discussed the processes of innovation diffusion in terms of the social networking and communications strategies employed by the various members of a community as they collectively face change. (See Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy for a more detailed break down and discussion of these strategy types.) In this part 5, I turn to the topic of crowd sourcing as an innovation diffusion and acceptance enabler. In this, I start with the fundamentals.

• Active social networkers within a community drive the innovation diffusion process as they are the people who widely connect with others throughout their communities, and they are the community members who most actively convey opinion, experience and judgment to others in review of proposed change.
• People actively drawn into crowd sourcing as enablers and initiators for it, tend to be both very active social networkers and also pioneer and early adaptors.
• Crowd sourcing sites and sub-communities serve to bring initial word of innovation opportunities to these people, bringing them together across wide geographic regions – even globally. Here, even the most active social networker who is simultaneously most inclined to be an early or pioneer adaptor is not going to move to facilitate innovation diffusion or acceptance for a new idea, product or service if they do not hear about it themselves. Crowd sourcing resources help to bridge that potential gap in getting the innovation diffusion and acceptance process effectively started.

I have written about crowd sourcing on a periodic but consistent basis in this blog: see for example:

Crowd Sourcing and the Opening Up of Open Innovation,
• My series Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation and Open Organization (see Social Networking and Business, postings 44-46), and
The Myth of Usability – and the impact of crowd sourcing as needs complexity expands.

Here my focus regarding crowd sourcing is two-fold.

• First, it serves to more effectively start the innovation diffusion process for adapting and implementing New for a wider range of local communities. Active social networker/early and pioneer adaptors learn of innovations and bring word of them back to their own local communities and their more distributed online communities too.
• And crowd sourcing also predisposes communities to adapt change from the positive influence to do so, brought in by these community members.

And this brings me back to the Kurzweil model that I started Part 1 of this series with.

• Innovation diffusion and acceptance can speed up and certainly as larger communities are effectively brought together, increasing the scale and effectiveness of crowd sourcing and related mechanisms for positively introducing prospective change.
• But even the most active and rapid adaptors take some time to do so once they learn of a new innovation and their communication outreach, spreading the word takes time too. So this process cannot simply telescope in to reach singularity speeds.
• And one other point has to be noted here: for true late and lagging adaptors, very rapid change can be expected to provoke at least some resistance – and certainly where the nature and pace of change proffered challenges what they see as their core beliefs and opinions.

This last bullet point raises a complex of issues, and I will turn to them and to the partitioning of communities from the pressures of crowd sourcing in my next posting in this series.

You can find this and related postings in Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page and also at Social Networking and Business.

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