Business 2.0, Government 2.0, Social media & networking, Sustainability


Just before the holiday break I had the pleasure of catching up with the folks at Headshift (who I think are doing great work) and during the conversation we were considering how slippery the term “social” can be.

Along with others in the Dachis Group, Headshift use the term “social business” to describe their work, which they use as a term to describe to businesses that use “social technologies to improve business performance, communication and customer engagement”.

This is quite a different definition of “social business” than is used In the non-profit and social innovation space — i.e a business at has social outcomes as a core focus.

During the conversation I mentioned that at Zumio we work at the intersection of three different worlds, all of which include “social” as a key descriptor, but where that term means something different in each instance.

Venn diagram showing overlapping social networks, social design, social innovation

Social networks: here “social” refers to the social relations and peer connections between individuals, and how social technologies are enabling these connections.

Social design: as outlined in the presentation I gave at Enviro 2010 earlier in the year, this refers to including people (both internal and external) in the process of design, but also designing for social use — including consideration of behavioural norms and social interactions in our designs.

Social innovation: here “social” refers to positive social outcomes (and environmental benefits) from our activities, often borne of social needs and actions (e.g. communities creating their own solutions).

Each of these areas of focus has a significant history and background of practice — terminology, methods, framing/perspetives etc. — and each in itself has a depth that can take some time to explain and “unpack”.  Which makes it all the more challenging to try and explain succinctly what it is that Zumio does ;)  But combined, we think these focal areas can be a very powerful force for positive change.  Hopefully, over time, they will become more widely known and accepted, making the story a little easier to tell.

And of course, if these ideas do become more “mainstream”, society will of course be reaping the benefits of each approach, which can only be a good thing.

Business 2.0, Government 2.0, Presentations, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Web Directions South 2010 – presentation and notes

Thanks to everyone who came to see the presentation at Web Directions South yesterday, and sorry we weren’t able to have a bit more discussion at the end of the session — some great questions and ideas came up that I would have liked to explore further.  I’ve posted the presentation to Slideshare:

Or you can download a PDF of the presentation, along with notes (PDF 14.4 MB), including pointers to the various sites and articles I mentioned in the presentation.

Business 2.0, Design, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Participatory Design Conference 2010

As I hope is obvious from our work and the posts on this site, we’re very passionate about engaging people in the process of design, so we were  delighted to be able to contribute a small something to the participatory design community as a sponsor of the Participatory Design Conference for 2010, being held in Sydney (in part co-ordinated by our friend and colleague @pennyhagen).

The “prototype” programme is now up, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a great set of sessions.  And the industry day seems like a great opportunity for those of us in the design field to connect with the academic world of participatory design.  I know that I’ve certainly benefited tremendously from the academic literature on the topic (esp. during the preparation of my recent paper), so am looking forward to more cross-pollination of ideas at the conference…

Business 2.0, Social media & networking

Design we can all live with

I caught this video from Worrell Design (via @metarand) last week and I wanted to post it here because I think it is a great overview of the value of user research and collaborative design, with a specific focus on health care.

A lot of what’s covered in the video applies in a multitude of sectors and circumstances. While some of the video hints at some great technology ideas, these are only made possible by understanding the social aspects of the provision of health care — that is the relationship between practitioner and patient, and the other challenges, motivations, needs and wants that revolve around managing health.

I also think it highlights the challenges that many organisations and sectors face as the people formerly known as “consumers” are wresting back control using social and personal technologies, becoming active participants in the process.

In any case, well worth a watch…

Business 2.0, Government 2.0, Presentations, Social media & networking, Sustainability, Work

Web Directions South: Creating platforms for social innovation

I’m very excited to be joining an inspiring line-up at Web Directions South in a few weeks’ time, presenting on the topic of Creating platforms for social innovation:

People are redefining the relationship they have with the organisations they interact with, empowered by social technologies.  They are seeking:

  • Human-ness: as organisations have grown in size and become more and more depersonalised, people are wanting more human interactions and personal response;
  • Trust: from greenwashing to the GFC, the market’s trust has been eroded — people are looking for organisations to say what they mean and mean what they say;
  • Co-creation: people are taking a more active role in developing the products and services that they use.  And if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they will often create it themselves;
  • Responsibility: people want to engage with organisations that are genuinely addressing the complex issues of sustainability and wellbeing.

Building a brand, service or product offering that resonates in this new “economy of meaning” requires a rethinking of an organisation’s relationship to the “market” — their customers, stakeholders and the environment.

In this presentation we will examine how innovative organisations are using social technologies and design methods to create multi-dimensional value — both for the organisational and community — and will explore the themes that underpin the examples with a view to applying them in your context.

Regular readers will note that the session is focused on a number of themes that I’ve been exploring here lately, so I’m really looking forward to connecting with other folks at the conference around these concepts.