How this Social Era Affects Strategy Execution

Social networks have always existed, even when put under pressure by technological advances and societal events. The connection has always been that people have conversations with other people. As companies grew, some of the personalized socialization was removed. A significant change was noticed in 1999 about how people markets and businesses are socialized.

Maybe aspects of this always existed but  The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End Of Business As Usual, written by Christopher Locke, Richard Levine, Doc Searles and David Weinberger, identified that how organizations communicated internally and externally changed with the Internet.  Right on the front of their book, it states “markets are conversations, talk is cheap, silence is fatal.” But even ancient markets were places where conversations happened and ideas were exchanged.

*Please join us Friday, October 12th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Creating Workable Solutions To Encourage Genuine Productivity”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

So, what is different about the current “social era” and how businesses engage strategically with the market? Continue reading


What Does it Really Mean to Humanize your PR & Brand?

computer keyboard with a key that says the word Chat on itI’m Cathy Larkin, Owner of Web Savvy PR, and a part of the Kaizenbiz Team. Our fearless leader, Elli St. George Godfrey, is on vacation and asked me to host #KaizenBiz chat this Friday August 24, 2012. I come from the PR-side of marketing. I’d like to talk today, and on our Twitter chat Friday, about just one slice of the PR / digital marketing pie – the part of PR that handles connecting an organization or business with its clients, customers & stakeholders and getting a conversation going. In the past, the goals might have been more to “get the business’s message out.” However, with the rise of social media, the balance has shifted even more towards relationship building. Businesses and their PR & Marketing teams are struggling to respond to this balance. In my over 20 years in PR, even before social media, part of our job was to humanize the brand. Connection, Conversation and Relationship-building have always been key ways of getting any message out to individuals who might care. But organizations can now do that much more directly. This paragraph is full of buzz words, words we’ve heard too often lately. But I really feel at their core, they are very important: Connection, Conversation, Relationships. Continue reading


KaizenBiz Is Growing Up

What is is like to be in a room full of smart people all talking at once? I’d say that’s the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. Every Friday at 12pm Eastern time, we gather together from places like Canada, Japan, Portugal, the UK, Mexico, Ireland, the US and other places to dissect a business idea.

The introduction

Every week I tweet out the same four statements at the beginning of the chat:

  • This chat uses concept of kaizen to examine various aspects of business, enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding
  • Kaizen is a Japanese concept of continuous improvement; mainly used to improve processes in business, education & other organizations
  • In this chat, you are highly encouraged to interact with each other (ask questions, comment on others’ points of view)
  • Sometimes we tease apart ideas tweeted here. We keep it respectful even if moves into debate

These four statements are the glue that holds the conversation together. Most of the time, it isn’t obvious that kaizen is present in the chat. But it is the underpinning of how we explore each topic as a group and see how we improve ourselves over time. Some of our community members have improved so greatly that they can only visit the chat infrequently while others have blossomed in their careers and just don’t have the time to be with us. Continue reading


Brands and ChitChat

This post is by guest blogger, Ric Dragon. Ric is the author of Social Marketology and CEO and co-founder of DragonSearch. We continue to celebrate our 3rd anniversary of this Twitter chat as we explore how small chat can help brands connect with people more effectively this Friday, August 10th, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz.

“Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter. (…) He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, and connected with the goal. “This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.”-Anguttara Nikaya

Ric Dragon, allogrooming, chitchatIn the American evangelical tradition, the concept of gossip has been shaped by particular biblical translations, where the notion of gossip is closely associated with slander. One writer was explicit, “Satan started gossip.” [It is Written, by Kelechukwu O. Okafor] Continue reading


KaizenBiz Turns 3! Tell Us How It’s Inspired You

When Valeria Maltoni, the Conversation Agent, started the Twitter chat, #Kaizenblog, I wonder if she had any inkling that this chat would still be active at three years and continuously evolving. Valeria is a great advocate for conversation, exploring ideas and connecting people. When I became sole moderator for the chat, it was certain that we would continue using her foundation for the chat.

Kaizen is a philosophy for growth… Continue reading


Social Media Is About Perception…Changing Our Vision

Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu Social MediaThis post is by guest blogger, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, (Twitter, @mediasres) the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company. We’re celebrating our 3rd anniversary of this Twitter chat as we explore Social Media, Perception and Organizational Decision-Making this Friday, July 20th, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz.

In Social Media everything is about perception… but perhaps not in the way you think. Counter to the Marketing and PR “message control” approach to Social Media, what truly is radical about Social Media is that businesses have now a new way to perceive and this changes what they are and possibly influences how they make decisions. This new perception gives them insight into not only the World but also their own place in it. The challenge is how to become aware of this mode of perceiving and incorporate what is seen into new decision making processes.

Organize and organism

There are close conceptual connections between “organize” and “organism” and it sheds real light to consider our enterprises as living things. Living things have an inside and an outside, though the boundary can be subtly blurred. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of any organism is how it perceives the world. For instance that shark can smell blood kilometers away, or sense electrical pulses up close says something about sharks. Bats are both blind but can “see” flitting insects. Perception goes a long way in defining what an animal is, and what is possible. So any business that wants to understand itself needs to take stock in exactly how it perceives, or more specifically orients itself to the world around it.

What are the organs of perception of your business?                      

An important conceptual analytical tool in this question is John Boyd’s OODA loop. His Observe Orient Decide and Act bears close resemblance to the Kaizen PDCA Shewhart loop, with notable differences. Boyd’s OODA is a consciousness and strategy model that allows us to read businesses as if they are living things seeking to constantly orient themselves more quickly in ever changing environments. The OODA loop in a fuller schematic looks like this:

OODA LoopEssentially it is a feedback loop wherein an individual seeks to identify features and patterns in its environment, and to adapt its orientation as quickly as possible to changes, going through its loop faster than its target environment is making changes. It’s staying ahead of the breaking wave.

Speed of Feedback

One application of the OODA loop that perhaps appeals most directly to Social Media marketing is his emphasis on the speed of feedback. Rather than seeing Social Media as a new channel for company message, it is perhaps more enlightened to understand Social Media as a new mode of perception for a business, a quick-pulse, quick-twitch sensitivity that gives it striking new powers of knowing where it is and cues on how to proceed. Community managers and their spaces are no longer just low-end Customer Service features but have become human hubs of brand intelligence. Self-organized consumer consensuses – whether they be found in data or expressed in conversation – become real-time tea leaves to be read.

The problem with new sense organs though is that you can’t just plug a new mode of perceiving onto the old architecture without potentially causing a fair amount of confusion. One is ever in danger of overreacting to, or more usually censoring out completely the new information. It has no natural place in the modern Marketing business model. Its speed of awareness, the very proximity to the customer or user, do not fit easily into the time frame of long campaigns, or company customs of self-perception. Things can happen in minutes, or days in Social Media and those events can be large windows into a business’s environment and markets, keys to possibilities or dangers not otherwise seen.

Q1 If we think of your business as an animal, how does it perceive its place in the world? What are its organs of perception?

Q2 If Social Media comprises new organs of perception? How does it challenge the way business used to see? What is new in what it sees?

Q3 If Kaizen is continuous & gradual business improvement, how does the speed of Social Media enhance that?

Q4 How does the speed of Social Media perception and decision pose difficulty to Kaizen improvement?

Q5 If your company adopted a much faster decision cycle do you think the role of Social Media would be increased?

Q6 Community Managers are a new hybrid which speaks and listens as the brand. Has their position in the decision process changed? 

Q7 What business decision-making roles are most resistant to taking advantage of Social Media perception? How do you bridge this gap?

Q8 If you could imagine a business that is born with strong Social Media perception, what would it’s decision-making process be like?

About the author: Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, currently based in Thailand, is the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company.  Interests include Social Media ethics and designing social spaces; he considers his work in Social Media an expression of his study of Spinoza.



Multi-Directional Expressive Capability-Gold Dust For Organisations?

This post is by guest blogger, John Twohig, co-founder of the Ahain Group , a social business consultancy based in Ireland. Please join us to explore MDEC: Multi-Directional Expressive Capability with John Twohig this Friday, July 13th, at 12pm ET/5pm BST/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

Through-out history, humans have possessed the ability to express themselves by speech, body language, song, and the written word. Historically this meant we had to physically gather together in groups, large or small, for multi-directional expression to take place. By this I mean more than two people are involved in conversation and people expressing themselves freely and in different ways.

With the advent of Online Social Media Platforms that has all changed. Just logging onto your chosen platform allows you to instantly enter a “Mutli-Directional” conversation or dialogue. This allows you to exercise your “Expressive Capability”. For a Social Business Strategy to have success, it is my opinion that MDEC activity is the gold dust, one of key drivers and measurement of ROI.

This Multi-Directional Expressive Capability is spooking business and traditional marketers. They feel they have no control over the conversation’s direction after they put their message out onto the online space.

It is this very MDEC communication model that gives Social its power. Originally the marketing message direction was one way (what is referred to as broadcasting or push marketing). As in, then-a TV adverts tells you about a companies product/service; a one way conversation. Now, thanks to Social Platforms the messages are:

  1. Business 2 Consumer(B2C)
  2. Consumer 2 Business(C2B)
  3. Consumer 2 Consumer about Business (C2CaB)

Businesses and organisations feel they cannot control the C2CaB aspect of the conversation. In the C2CaB aspect of the conversation, consumers can and will discuss, review and /or rate your product or service in an honest open discussion.

Old Model

Broadcasting your marketing message is not the correct model for online marketing. Content has to motivate the online community. There has to be an edu-tainment value to inspire the community to express why they are happy or unhappy with your business/organisation. Coca-Cola is now measuring their success by the total amount of “Expressions” rather then the old metric of “Impressions”.

What are Impressions

Impressions are created when somebody clicks on a landing page containing a promotion. The numbers of clicks/impressions the advert receives indicates the ability of the company to drive traffic to that advert. The problem is I could really like an advertisement and not take action.  In fact, I could like the advertisement so much that I click on that page numerous times and never buy the product.


Expressions are different…and the best way to measure your online success. If you take action and express an opinion about the business or organisation, you are contributing to that online community and online profile.

  • Commenting on their blog
  • Posting on their Facebook wall
  • Commenting on their posts on Facebook
  • Sharing their content with your community
  • RTing Tweets which you find interesting
  • Sharing your content with their community

Above are just six of the ways you can take action. This expression of interest in a business or organisation is the metric that Coca-Cola is now using to measure its online marketing success. There are many more methods of expression but the list above contains some of the most popular.

The Benefit

“Social Proof” and “Peer to Peer” recommendations are the gold dust to online marketing. These expressions are what all businesses and organisations should be pursuing to grow their market share and increase their profile in today’s popular culture. This Nielsen Report should provide some food for thought.

Real engagement matters

MDEC will help business, organisations and communities gain exposure in the online space. In a new model such as todays’ social platforms, which are only 7 years old, it will take time for people to adjust. People are driving this change as they are intolerant of businesses and organisations that are not authentic. They are intolerant of companies’ management do not engage and they are certainly intolerant of businesses and organisations that do not make an effort to edu-tain them.

How can the MDEC model help biz/orgs leverage “The Wisdom of Crowds” to achieve innovation and efficiencies?

What would be the most important area to focus a Social Business Strategy

If  impressions do not measure engagement, what role do they play in MDEC?

How would you describe the ideal model for marketing to consumers?

About the author: John Twohig is Co-Founder at the Ahain Group, Social Business Strategist and Blogger. He is the first person to name the new communication model that online social platforms facilitate, Multi-Directional Expressive Capability (MDEC) and its benefits to business and organisations.


What Is This Brou-ha-ha About “Having It All”?

men, women, having it allWe’ve certainly talked about work/life balance recently and women’s leadership but the latest brou-ha-ha erupted in The Atlantic in a post written by Anne-Marie Slaughter. She really touched a nerve when she described her dilemma between her high-level position and her family. Now there are posts written on Forbes and on Harvard Business Review among many others. One particularly interesting post was written by Dorothy Dalton.

Under all of this are deeper issues

Gender roles have been changing for many decades at this point. This is not unique to the US. But sociological constructs persist. Often certain jobs or even industries are relegated as “men’s work” or “women’s work.” Stop for a moment and consider your impression of a woman working in the construction industry in a non-clerical role or a man working as a nurse. Maybe it isn’t something that seems wrong or out of order to you but how do people in general perceive these roles? This is where the deeper issues lie.

Who said women had to be caregivers 100% of the time?

Many of the roles that are assigned to particular genders stems from another time in history. In our own time, now in 2012, there is much more mobility and possibility for both men and women. There is no monopoly on which gender is the most compassionate or nurturing.

However, there is one more variable that must be factored in. There are ongoing serious economic uncertainties for many countries. For many men and women, work is not a choice but a necessity. “Having it all” isn’t a choice; it’s a just a day-to-day experience. If you have to work, how do you manage your values, priorities and financial obligations?

If we have to do this day and and day out, what has to give?

At the end of the day, this issue is not about Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Christine Legarde or Angela Merkel and how they manage their careers and a personal lives.  It’s not even about the “nanny-people” and what really makes a good parent or a good worker. We all have talents that are not gender-specific. It’s just as likely that a man has talent as a nurturer and parent as it is that a woman has talent for organizing and managing the operations of a multi-national corporation. It’s really about everyday men and women who want choice about how they create fulfilling lives.

So what is this brou-ha-ha about “having it all?”

Please join us on Friday, June 29, 2012 on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz to discuss this topic. The chat begins on 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT and we want you to add your insight and expertise to the conversation.

Discussion questions:

How is the concept of “having it all” affecting the workplace?

Why does “having it all” persist as a women’s issue rather than a human/talent/leadership issue?

Is “having it all” simply a class issue? Why/why not?

How do we move this conversation beyond gender roles and expectations in the business environment?



Transcript June 15, 2012 KaizenBiz Chat with Judy Gombita

Below is the transcript from the June 15th, 2012 #KaizenBiz chat on Twitter. Our host is @3KeysCoach, this week’s guest was @JGombita and the topic was: Working Towards Incremental Respect For PR. this week, due to a glitch in our regular transcript program, we used to create the transcript. The first link is to the framing post for the chat, then the rest of the chat is in reverse chronological order, so you will have to scroll/click to the end to see the start of the chat and read back to follow the chat questions. Sorry folks, the only one I could make work was the slideshow version. Bear with our technology issues this week.

Try this slideshow version of the transcript


Working Towards Incremental Respect For PR

Judy Gombita and incremental respect for PRThis post is by guest blogger, Judy Gombita, co-editor of PR Conversations and a senior/hybrid public relations,communication management and social media specialist. Please join us to explore “Towards Incremental Respect” on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, June 15, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT.

The art (and science) of communication

Back in the 1980s, high-school English teacher, Mrs. Fielding, drew a memorable analogy about two iconic Canadian literary figures: established author Margaret Lawrence and the emerging Margaret Atwood. Both were equally important, but for very different literary styles and impact.

Margaret Lawrence

Margaret Lawrence was the consummate water colour artist (think of Impressionists) who slowly, deliberately and wondrously created a canvas and characters with little dabs of subtle colours and shadings, filling in all aspects of her creations with scenarios and people—not always immediately recognised or understood. Mrs. Fielding declared Lawrence’s novels should be revisited every 10 years as we’d react differently to characters and circumstances, depending upon our current age and experiences; appreciation would be enhanced with long-term study and reflection.

Another pertinent point: Lawrence’s fictional Manitoba town and its inhabitants make an appearance in all of her novels, so her entire output should be read for maximum impact.

Margaret Atwood

Literary critic, poet and novelist Margaret Atwood is a different kettle of creator. Think radical and modern artist, favouring vivid oil paint squiggles and slashes, interspersed with pools of blacks and browns. Although strokes are bigger and bolder (maybe the metaphorical canvas is larger in size), her focus is limited to a few main characters, rather than an entire town, per Lawrence. Atwood’s writing tends to have an immediate and forceful impact.

Atwood pushes boundaries, raising the literary bar and inventing new tropes. Topics such as dystopia capture attention and challenge. She’s an artist that’s hard to ignore with her compelling worlds we often marvel at and admire.

The connection to PR

So what do the Margarets have to do with an incremental respect for a company’s public relations function?

I propose Margaret Lawrence’s style is akin to corporate PR, whereas “sister” Margaret Atwood aligns with the marketing discipline. Lawrence remains important but is less recognised and possibly stereotyped as old-fashioned and dull—not all appreciate her subtlety woven tales, especially in a fast-paced world of shock and awe.

Atwood’s style and reputation is recognised and lauded…similar to marketing’s goals and objectives, particularly in B2C companies who entice customers with exciting, often bold, branding and ad campaigns.

Like a Lawrence novel, PR involves a wider cast of stakeholders (unlike marketing’s consumer focus) and many important connections are one-to-one over aggregate (unlike market research). Think of the important internal public, as an example: employees.

When a company is under the microscope (especially during a crisis), relationships promoted by public relations receive scrutiny for honesty and if they are in the “public” not just corporate interest. Think about the BP oil spill and the company’s relationship with workers, media, communities it impacted, US government environmental regulators, etc.

The three pillars of focus

My writing focuses on the strategic—the “why?” and “what”—involved in reputation and issues management for public relations, with fairly universal application. I’ve adopted the tweetable Terry Flynn shorthand for a three-pillar definition:

  • reputation
  • value
  • relationship building

During #KaizenBiz I’d like to focus on reputation, value and relationship building rather than stereotypes and turf wars re: tactics and ownership (e.g., “spin,” “black hats,” PR standing for Press Release and/or limited to marketing PR). Let’s also avoid the idea that PR is solely determined by “third-party” validation/earned media, whether traditional or social media properties and scribes.

Colleague Sean Williams declares, “All marketing is communication, but not all communication is marketing.” For 60 minutes, let’s tease out an understanding of effective non-marketing communication and connections to incrementally improve a company’s reputation, value and relationship building.

Great public relations

The PR Conversations’ PRoust Questionnaire asks, “Who do you think has great public relations?” Italian PR guru Toni Muzi Falconi:

“In most cases successful organisations do not have overt public visibility. Or, when they do have a high profile, they don’t betray their anxiousness or obsessive need to be liked.”

If you accept Toni’s answer, the way to achieve effective public relations may lie in trying not to have a high organisational profile, at least from a negative POV—not to be confused with accessibility and/or frequent and honest communications to stakeholders (with needs or interests).

And, like a Margaret Lawrence novel, consider how various stakeholders can shade and subtly influence an “organisational narrative.”


  1. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest positive impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  2. Which stakeholders potentially have the greatest negative impact on an organisation’s reputation? Why?
  3. What incremental PR best practices would help to increase the positive and decrease the negative impact on reputation?
  4. From your perspective, name a stakeholder group and indicate what is valued in companies from a (non-product or service) PR point of view?
  5. How can an organisation subtly communicate or weave these value propositions into its narrative?
  6. Think outside the traditional relationship-building box: with which groups could or should an organisation pursue a relationship?

About the author: Judy Gombita has more than 20 years of communication management and public relations experience, primarily in the not-for-profit and educations sectors. Now a hybrid public relations and social media practitioner, she is currently the co-editor of the highly respected international group blog,  PR Conversations and has been the Canadian contributor since the blog was launched in 2007. PR Conversations was named a Cision Top 50 blog. You can also find Ms. Gombita’s primary blog appearing in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog Blogs (also since 2008) and it is frequently included in’s Top Blogs. She also writes a monthly Bytes from the PR Sphere column on Windmill Networking (about the intersection of public relations and social media).

If the above #kaizenbiz chat topic interests you, Judy recommends you read her organizational narrative post and her co-editor, Heather Yaxley‘s companion digital/social media version one. Recommended reading from Windmill Networking includes her introductory post, Connections Byte, Profile Byte, Employee Byte, Culture Byte, Social Capital Byte and Crisis Byte.