Thank you Derek Sivers … best explanation of SAM (Social Adoption Mechanism) ever

August 5, 2011

For those who have not: look at this cute presentation by Derek Sivers on ‘the start of a movement’:

http://blog.ted.com/2010/04/01/how_to_start_a/

It shows how both typologies (innovator and gatekeeper) are crucial in introducing a new ‘idea’ to a group. The crazy dude (typical innovator) is just doing his thing, ignoring the group’s expectations. He is driven by nothing but his own amusement.

The second guy (typical gatekeeper), seeing the social potential, copies the crazy guy’s dance, and engages his friends to join.

The little movie perfectly explains the Social Adoption Mechanism (SAM), the diverse motivations and functions of each cog in the mechanism. So thank you Derek Sivers for looking attentively at this movie and explaining it with so much enthusiasm. Damn right I will use this in my future presentations about the topic.


Where good ideas come from …

July 7, 2011

Steven Johnson talks in his TED presentation about the environments that are most stimulating for generating innovations.

He argues that great innovative ideas are not being formed during some individual Eureka moment. Rather, these ideas are formed in social places, ‘where ideas can have sex’ . Chaotic environments like ancient coffeehouses where ideas from various backgrounds were likely to come together and have unpredictable collisions. Next he makes conclusions how to facilitate the innovation process in a company, elaborating on these insights.

The idea I share with Johnson is very strong: innovation is a social event, not an individual event.

However, I tend to disagree on the idea that social gatherings are the sole stimulating environments for innovation. As the SAM (social adoption mechanism) explains, you need isolated innovators, developing their ideas away from any social guiding, in the first place. I do agree that these ideas indeed need the collision with gatekeepers and larger social contexts to refine and adapt these raw ideas … and that process could have well happened at a coffehouse.

It is this mechanism, the interaction between innovators and gatekeepers, that leads to powerful innovations.


Spear B: the birth of the first brand

May 30, 2011

Most probably, the first brand must have appeared long before human beings were able to speak. It could well have happened on a moment as the one I’ll describe here …

For long, this tribe in Northern America has been hunting and staying close to a herd of buffalos. But due to a cold period, the herd has migrated towards the south, leaving our tribe with a food problem. Their hunting techniques and equipment have been finetuned during the last decades to attack buffalos. Spear A has been proven very useful in penetrating the buffalo’s skin. Erik, the blacksmith (avant la lettre) who invented this spear A, has spent his entire live developing and refining his innovation. His son, Björn, learned a lot from his father but developed his own technique in crafting spears. Despite his father’s instructions, he focussed on a sharper spear, less secure when thrown at the animal, but able to penetrate a thicker type of skin. Björn has practiced this new spear on different kinds of wood, improved it, and tested it over and over. Björn even argued that it would allow them to hunt down the biggest animal of them all … the mammoth. Unfortunately, noone would care to listen to his fantasies, not for the least his own father.

Johan, who is very aware of the problems his tribe is facing, is willing to take a risk. As a trusted opinion leader, he believes in Björn’s spear. He asks some of his blacksmith friends to have a look at it, to change the grip of the spear and to lighten the weight so it can be thrown from further away. When he considers spear B to be ready to give it a try, the tribe assembles some of its best hunters and equips them with Spear B. The hunting of mammoth had begun …

I may hope this story illustrates how the first brand could have been born, making use of only word-of-mouth (actually, the first form of WOM must have been sound-of-mouth or gesture-by-hand :-)) and the SAM (social adoption mechanism). Spear B was the perfect answer to a changing environment and consequently an emerging need within the social system … Björn had the answer, Johan linked the innovation with the emerging need. The SAM did its job … it’s some plain and simple marketing.