Brett Sadler

Archive for the tag “Google+”

Innovative thinking in #ukhousing

Stevejobs

I have been reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography over the past few months. It’s a fascinating read and although Steve Jobs character is hard to like a lot of the time, I really like his approach to business, constant innovation and striving for the best. There are a lot of Jobs quotes I like, but this one in particular jumps out:

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”

It has got me thinking. Where is the truly innovative thinking in #ukhousing ? I’m talking about truly innovative thinking, that stretches the currently accepted norms and could truly move the sector forwards?

What strikes me most is the backdrop for Steve Jobs’ success; it’s not just about his drive and innovation, but the team of really talented people he brought together and worked with. So, following this thought through, it stands to reason that one of the keys for innovative success is to build an ‘A Class’ team (to use another Job’s quote).

How many ‘#ukhousing organisation’s truly create an ‘A Class’ team around innovative thinking? One where they sweat the detail, but under a truly challenging vision of the future? To borrow an idea from another favorite innovation organisation of mine – Google – their ‘big ideas: 10x thinking’ approach to work is also a great way to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Its by thinking big that you get big innovations.

So much of this goes back to getting the right building blocks in place in an organistion – the right culture, the right leadership and building an ‘A Class’ team.

So, going back to the Steve Jobs quote, would you consider yourself an innovative leader or a follower? Are you truly pushing the boundaries wherever possible?

 

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A Taste of the Google Culture

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I was lucky enough recently to visit the Google offices in London, through a Housemark Digital Futures event.

So, what can I say about my visit to Google? If I could sum it up in just one word, it would be amazing.

The visit itself was everything I hoped it would be. I got to hear from Lyndon Fraser from Google for Work, along with Duncan Farley and Dan Sullivan from Ancoris (who are a Google for Work partner organisation) who held a quick interactive session in Google’s ‘Tech Talk’ Transformation Lab. I also got to meet up and network with other housing staff with digital responsibility, including Paul Taylor and Tom Hartland from Bromford Labs who gave a presentation in the afternoon on ‘how to build an innovation lab’.

As we were not able to look around the offices (as if was felt it would be too disruptive), we got to look around the 9th floor of their offices, complete with a ‘Green Room’, their on-site Gym, ‘La La Library’ (which was genuinely quiet enough to hear a pin drop, despite several staff working in there at the time), outdoor space which wrapped around two sides of the building, a big staff cafe called ‘Cafe Royal’ which was absolutely packed with staff and a massive room called ‘Google Town Hall’ where they hold staff meetings of 100 staff or more.

Other things I noticed include:

  • The offices were bright, light and colourful;
  • They clearly do things differently to most organisations;
  • They have a very clear ‘Google’ brand to everything they do;
  • They all dress in casual clothes at work, but no-one was scruffily dressed;
  • Staff who work at Google are actually referred to as ‘Googlers’ (and refer to themselves as Googlers);
  • The food for Googlers is ‘free’ and covers breakfast and lunch;
  • There were various staff snack points throughout the offices with all healthy free snacks;
  • The main cafe even had two staff serving ice cream for Googlers;
  • Googlers have the freedom to go wherever they want in the building and use any of the collaborative rooms (as long as they have their pass);
  • We even saw a Googler using one of the Sleeping Pods, presumably catching a quick power nap!

It’s always hard to describe the culture of an organisation, but the Google culture was pretty much as I expected, albeit from one day’s visit.

It felt like an open, exciting and inspiring place to work, with a core focus on working collaboratively, not only on digital and technological solutions and advancement, but on keeping the solutions as simple and user friendly as possible.

For a digital techie person like me, it really was hard to leave at the end of the day!

Social Media 2015

Future-of-social-media

In early 2013 I wrote a blog post titled ‘Has Twitter Seen its Best Days’. OK, so the title wasn’t the best I’ve ever come up with, but funnily enough I have been asking myself the same question again – is Twitter on the decline?

Now I warn anyone reading this post that I haven’t got any real statistical basis for raising this question, but I have got some evidence of sorts:

  • Over the course of this year I’ve found less and less engagement on Twitter;
  • With the introduction of Twitter adverts in anyone’s timeline, regardless of whether you want them, it’s watered down the essence of Twitter;
  • Competition from the other plethora of social media platforms out there – too many choices?
  • I often feel like I am posting to the virtual world on the hope that someone (anyone?) will comment on my tweet;
  • Often the best tweets go unanswered and, seemingly at random, some of the worst get the most traffic.

Alright, so they are hardly damning, but I can honestly say that recently has been the first time in over two years I’ve really questioned the use of Twitter in my daily work life. Before that I was a several tweets a day kind-of-guy. I was pretty active on Twitter, being recognised as a digital engager and even featuring in the top 50 Digital Power Players for 2014 (and to answer your question, yes, it has gone on my CV).

As far as forecasting goes, my track record is patchy at best. I forecast that in 2014 Google+ would rise to the top in the world of Housing and although it started out OK, the announcement that Google were going to drop it from their development programme pretty much knocked this on the head. Don’t get me wrong, Google+ still has an awful lot to offer, but I’m not sure I can stretch to saying that 2014 was the year of Google+.

That said, I for one will be watching closely in 2015 to see what happens with Twitter, along with other social media platforms.

So what are everyone else’s Social Media predictions for 2015? Twitter up or down? Facebook up or down? Another social media platform (as yet relatively unknown) to make it big in 2015? Or maybe 2015 is the year that social media slows down as a whole? Leave your thoughts below……..

Google+ – The Forgotten Social Layer?

G+Anyone who has followed my blog for some time will know that I’ve been championing the use of Google+ (or G+ for short). It has some great features that out-do some of the more limited features of other social networks.

One example is the 140 character word limit on Twitter. G+ posts have a limit of 10,000 words (apparently), although that would be a might large post!

One of the best features in G+ is the use of circles. This enables a user to group people together into like-minded people. I have used this to some degree. I’ve put a screen grab of my circles below:

G+circles

What this means is that I can target my G+ posts to the people that will be interested in seeing that content. This is a completely different feature to Twitter for example, where you just tweet out to ‘the world’ and hope for a response. Granted through Twitter you can target it by adding in some Twitter Handles (@) but you can also do the same through G+ (+).

Another great feature is G+ Comunities, where like-minded people can join with others to comment, post and debate whatever interests them. These work much like the LinkedIn Groups, although my experience has been that you get a lot more interaction and reaction on G+ Communities compared to LinkedIn Groups.

Another great feature (and arguable the best feature for Housing) is the use of G+ Hangouts. They are remarkably easy to use. You just click on the option and invite who you want to join. It is that simple. For me, the real opportunity is using this option as part of customer services, for customers to contact an organisation to query something. Or better still, organisations can hold G+ Hangouts for tenants to join and interact with staff by asking questions.

G+HangoutsOther organisations on G+ have been quick to jump on the G+ Hangout bandwagon. A popular option is to ‘broadcast’ to people through a G+ Hangout, much like a YouTube channel, but instead of this being pre-recorded, it’s a live conversation between 2 or more people. This can also be recorded for anyone to watch at a later date.

I’ve also heard of people using G+ Hangouts for talking to remote staff, for things like supervision. I know that you can use Skype for the same kind of thing, but G+ Hangouts allow you to integrate this into a much wider network of staff and customers.

But one of the best things I have heard about G+ is it being described as a ‘social layer’ rather than a ‘social network’. I hadn’t really appreciated this at first, comparing it to Twitter, Facebook and the other social networks available, but it really doesn’t quite fit into that bracket. You can do so much more with it.

So, I hope I’ve convinced some of you to join G+, have a play with it and find out what it can offer. Go on, you know you want to….

**If you are interested, I also run my own Google+ Community called ‘G+ Housing Community’ where like minded people can post, query and comment about the use of Google+. Just click on the below image.**

G+Housing

Where next for Google+??

ImageIf you’ve read the tech news in the last few days you’ll have seen that Google+ is now under threat, with commentators ranging in opinion from ‘it sounds the death knoll for Google+’ to ‘time will tell’.

It’s all down to one man announcing that he is leaving Google – Vic Gundotra – the reported driving force behind Google+.

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Vic Gundotra

As the Guardian article puts it, the fate of Google’s ‘Facebook killer’ is now unknown. It goes on to say that ‘despite building 300 million monthly active users by October 2013, Google+ is still dwarfed by Facebook’s userbase of 1.28 billion monthly active users. But the key quote in the article is from Larry Page, Google, Chief Executive – ‘we’ll continue working hard to build great new experiences for the ever increasing number of Google+ fans’.

I still think Google+ is a great social media network. I went on to Google+ to see for myself what it was about, but before I knew it I was hooked. It’s just very useable and marries a lot of the good points from Twitter with Facebook and others. The other thing is that it’s obvious there is a large community on Google+. When I’ve posted queries about Google+ on a few of the more established communities, I’ve had replies back within minutes and this is one of the things I want from a social media network – to know that there are conversations to be had with people of interest from around the world. To say I’ve learn’t some new things whilst using Google+ would be an understatement.

I guess time will tell with what happens to Google+ in the future. As Google have already embedded Google+ and Gmail into so much of what they offer, I’d be very surprised if they just pulled the plug. It might well be that they just stop developing Google+ further. Recently there have been some minor (but important) tweeks to Google+ in the Communities sections, reflecting a lot of user queries and requests. I was hearted to see some of these introduced.

I for one hope that Google+ continues, not least because I’ve invested some time and energy into creating a ‘G+ Housing Community’ for fellow #ukhousing professionals to converse and exchange ideas on using Google+ in the world of Housing. Although it’s been a slow burner, it has been starting to gain some momentum. For the time being at least I’m going to continue investing in using Google+.

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G+ Housing Community

My final thought is that I’ll be watching Google+ closely over the coming months to see whether the platform continues to invest and develop further, or whether indeed the plug will be pulled on Google+. If it was pulled, what a mighty big (and arguably success) experiment Google will be closing.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Listening-Island-Cartoon I’ve been pondering for some time whether it’s better to engage the few or the many in terms of customer/tenant engagement. Is it more important to engage with the few customers who want to be involved, or look to engage with a much wider, potentially more difficult group of customers?

My initial view is that it’s better to engage with the customers who want to be engaged. It’s a hard enough task getting meaningful engagement and feedback from customers, even from the ones who want to be involved. Mind you, it’s often the case that the majority of customers who have the time and inclination to be involved are of the older generation. You can almost always guarantee some older people will get involved.

It could be argued that the views you really need are from the customers who wouldn’t ordinarily feed anything back to you. We all know of customers who write in or telephone with complaints at any given opportunity, so you will always be guaranteed to get this feedback, but what about the vast majority of customers who we hear very little back from?

Maybe a scatter gun approach is the way to go, to give every customer the chance to get involved at any level they like. One downside to this is the amount of staff time this would take to get off the ground and potentially the lack of involvement you get from this.

And so to the title of this blog. If you build it, they will come. How many of you know where the blog post title comes from? It’s from the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner called ‘Field of Dreams’ (yes, it was on TV recently, hence why I remember it) and it’s about Baseball.

I’d argue that if you can create the right environment and use the right methods, you will get customers engaging with you as a landlord – they will come. For me this goes back to the question I posed near the start – is it better to engage the few or the many?

If you engage the few and tailor a service for them, you are much more likely to get their involvement. An example that springs to mind is that I’ve been pushing the use of Google+ in #ukhousing for some time now, but one thing I often get in reply is that there aren’t many tenants using Google+ and ultimately, would they want to converse with their landlord? I think the right way to think about this is that it’s a matter of getting the right subjects and the right people involved. There are tenants and customers on nearly every social media platform – you just need to engage and involve them on the right level. If I can get valuable feedback and engagement from one customer who hadn’t engaged previously, I’d view that as a success.

My final thought really is that it all depends on what you as a landlord or staff member want to get out of the exercise. If it’s qualitative data, then you need to spend a lot of time preparing the engagement method and ensuring it has the best possible chance of success. If it’s more a matter of ticking the box (quantitative) that you are doing some form of customer engagement, then it probably doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it. A word of caution though – I’m certain you’d be missing the valuable opportunity to gain customer insight and views which could only improve the service you offer to customers.

I’ll leave you with a well-known phrase that often springs to mind when talking about customer engagement:

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In terms of customer engagement, my view is that the journey is as important (if not more important) than the destination.

 

Banging the Google+ Drum

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I feel a bit like a man obsessed. Of late I’ve been asking all and sundry in #ukhousing about Google+. I’ve been looking for any information, case studies, links etc. that even vaguely mention Google+.

The thing is, despite this taking up a fair bit of my spare time, I’m more convinced than ever that Google+ is the future. It has excellent usability, is increasing in popularity and has some really useful features that other platforms just don’t have. I’ve blogged some of the features here if you are interested.

What I really wanted to talk about though is my new venture (or is more of a quest?) in developing the ‘Google+ Housing Community’. I’ve had the idea in my head for a while now and I’ve decided now’s the time to get it off the ground.

Here’s the community bio I’ve got so far:

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The thing is, I’ve also come to realise that if I’m not careful it could just be me, rambling on Google+ to a small audience of followers. But I really do think this could be something big. So please, if you haven’t already, join the Google+ Housing Community and join in the conversation. I’ve got lots more content to add in the coming months.

As Henry Ford once said:

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

So come on #ukhousing, it seems like we’re at the coming together stage!

The 70:20:10 Rule – Could This Work In #ukhousing?

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Logo source: 70:20:10 Forum

You may well have heard of this rule before. It’s been made famous in recent years by a shy, retiring and little known organisation that goes by the name of ‘Google’.

I’ve heard the 70:20:10 rule banded about a lot of late and after doing some research there seems to be some confusion about what the rule means. I guess the easiest way to explain it is that it’s a rule of thumb that can be applied across lots of areas of business, in almost any form you like. It’s a bit like Pareto’s principle (e.g. 80% of complaints come from 20% of a company’s customers).

However, for the sake of this blog, I’m going to focus on two areas in particular. These are:

  • 70:20:10 model in Staff Recruitment
  • 70:20:10 model in managing and encouraging innovation

70:20:10 Model in Staff Recruitment

This model has reportedly been around since 1996. It works like this:

  • 70% of staff recruited within the immediate industry/knowledge area;
  • 20% of staff recruited within the overall industry but not the specialist knowledge area;
  • 10% of staff recruited outside of the industry.

The idea is simple. The 20% and 10% of staff help give different perspectives on the everyday issues and problems. They look at things in a different way. I really think this could work where you are looking to build a highly functioning, innovative team of staff. This could also work on a project basis, where you are pulling people from across the organisation to work on something. I’ll certainly be keeping this in mind for future projects.

70:20:10 Model in Managing and Encouraging Innovation

This model has arguably been made famous by Google, but it has been around for some time in different forms and ratios. The number of organisations embracing this rule seems to be growing by the day. The model works by staff spending:

  • 70% of their time on core business tasks;
  • 20% of their time on projects related to core business;
  • 10% of their time on projects that are unrelated to core business.

Unsurprisingly there are some stark examples of how this has benefited organisation. Google has reportedly gained products such as Google Earth from employee initiated projects unrelated to its core business. LinkedIn also developed LinkedIn Maps (which I’ve blogged about here) from a similar employee initiated project. There are lots of other examples I could have quoted.

“About 70% try to work on the core efforts of the company….about

20% goes to adjacent areas and expansion, and for the 10% anything goes.”

ImageGoogle co-founder Sergey Brin

 I wonder if any Housing organisations have adopted or would adopt the 70:20:10 rule?  Maybe we’ve even got some examples of the 70:20:10 rule working in #ukhousing?

I think it could work quite well and is certainly worth giving some thought to. On a personal note, I think I’ve been following something along the lines of the 70:20:10 rule for some years. Some of the research, blogging and work I’ve done on social media certainly hasn’t been part of my ‘core business’ role, but I’d argue that my organisation has benefited greatly from my increased knowledge.

So, does the 70/20/10 rule have a place in the world of #ukhousing and if so, how could it be used? Please leave your comments below!

5 reasons #ukhousing should adopt Google+

ImageFollowing my last post titled ‘Google+ and #ukhousing – is 2014 the year?’ I’ve continued to have lots of conversations with people about the ups and downs of using Google+. I’ve also continued using G+ to interact with other people and learn as much as possible about the platform.

Since my last post, I’ve had some further thoughts on Google+ and I’ve identified 5 reasons why I think #ukhousing should adopt Google+:

1. G+ will become more common place. We’ve all seen that Facebook numbers have started to reduce, but this trend was forecast some years ago. Well here’s another trend that’s been forecast, G+ membership is growing fast and will continue to do so. Whether you agree with Google’s continued plan to embed the platform in other Google products, it’s a fact that this will only increase G+ membership.

2. G+ Circles and Communities. I had no idea what the Communities facility, or even the circles part was about when I first looked around G+. But the more I’ve used them, the more they make sense. In essence, they enable users to link with other like-minded people, either individually or in groups. You can part of a small or large community and it can be based on anything or interest to you. You can even start your own community. You can also sort your G+ followers into circles of similar people. For me, I’ve only recently sorted my G+ circles out and I have to say, after doing some basic categorisation (e.g. blogs, social media, family, friends etc.) they are really helpful. You can use each circle to post something just to that circle, or conversely you can view G+ posts put out just from that circle of people. It’s a joy to use once you get it right.

3. G+ has a higher usability factor than other platforms. We all know that Twitter has a 140 character limit. Whilst this is brilliant for quick conversations and thoughts, G+ allows for much, much more. In fact, I’ve recently read that the limit is at least 10,000 characters. The other big difference is that G+ allows for video and pictures to be embedded in posts, making this a nice visual platform that also allows for a decent level of writing as well. It’s the sheer volume of people on G+ from the #ukhousing world (this is still low) that’s holding this back. But you read it here first, #ukhousing will adopt G+. It’s just a matter of when not if.

4. G+ enables a much richer conversation to be had with people. You can have conversations on G+ with people you wouldn’t be able to on other platforms. I’ll be putting this to the test in the next few weeks to see just how effective this can be and posting the results on my blog.

5. G+ ‘hangouts’. I was recently involved in a Google+ hangout as part of the Visceral Connected Housing Report 2013. I’d never been involved in a G+ hangout before, but after having done so, I can really see the benefits. It’s much like using Skype, but has more fluidity as you can make the hangouts public (or not) and users can pop in and out of the hangout as they wish. Thinking it through further, I think G+ hangouts could well be used in the future for customer/tenant/staff interface.

So come on #ukhousing, who’s up for the challenge?

Google+ and #ukhousing – is 2014 the year?

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I’ve been in Google+ for some 8 months now. My initial interest for the social media platform fairly quickly gave way to a general lack of understanding and then to only intermittently checking and posting the odd thing here and there.

 

So for 2014 I’ve decided I’d like to give it another go. The bottom line for me is that I need to use it more often and become much more interactive with other users. This has hit home to me again when looking through the number of registered users on Google+ compared to another platform like say Twitter. I think it’s fair to say that the number of Housing people on Twitter has fairly skyrocketed in the past 12 months and I’d guess this trend will continue, but what about Google+? The #ukhousing presence on Google+ is just a little bit sparse by comparison!!

 

A recent stat I read said that Google+ had the 2nd most active users for 2013 for all social media platforms. It only ranked behind Facebook. This got me thinking. Looking through #ukhousing, it does seem we are behind the trend on this platform. Sure, some organisation’s and individuals are using it, but it’s hardly caught on and Google+ is not yet the place to be.

When I first jointed Google+ it felt very similar to when I first joined LinkedIn. Back when LinkedIn first began in 2003 I joined in that same year (thanks to my tech loving cousin in Australia). Searching through LinkedIn back in 2003 I was struggling to find anyone I knew. It just hadn’t really reached the UK at that time so most of the registered users were still in the US. Of course, now, LinkedIn is truly global, but when I look at Google+ it has a very similar feel, like its not quite caught the UK’s imagination………yet.

 

Google+ has a lot more useability than Twitter. There isn’t the 140 character limit for one thing. You can also be as open (or not) as you choose to be with your circles and your posts. I won’t try and give any pointers on using Google+, but I’ve found a great introduction to Google+ here which explains it better than I ever could.

 

So, come on #ukhousing. Maybe it’s time we all signed up to Google+ and got on the bandwagon?

 

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