The Brightest Future Ever…But

A good friend of mine sent me this link today about the future of the work world, asking me if I thought that the predictions would come true. The executive recruiting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas has peered into its crystal ball to predict the future of our work environments. According to the Information Week Blog, the recruiting firm expects:

  • More employees will work from home
  • Cubicles will be phased out by shared communities via wireless devices
  • Free agency will flourish
  • The US will increasingly target recruiting efforts oversees
  • Companies will offer more of their own educational programs
  • A four day work week will become more common
  • Companies will provide less health benefits to employees

A lot of these predictions make sense. In light of the proliferation of novel productivity tools, they actually are very reasonable expectations. But will these predictions actually bear out?

NOT SO FAST
Well that depends on many factors, including:

  • Global economic conditions
  • Geopolitical catastrophes
  • The degree of corporate allegiance to 20th Century industrial mechanics (e.g. The Short Snout)
  • The willingness of businesses to adopt distributed collaboration over centralized command
  • The advancement of entrepreneurial deployment along the Long Tail

I’m not so sure that the Short Snout is all too willing to hand it over to the Long Tail. Chris Anderson has the right idea about the general trend of inventories becoming freer. But those Short Snouts clustered around the Small Head don’t give up the bone easily. Swiss Bank Socialists: they will cry Mommy after dropping the ball on their own foot.

(Incidentally, there’s now some controversial evidence out of Harvard Business School that sort of challenges Chris’ theory, of which his analysis you can read about here).

Although these predictions were made a decade ago and still have yet to become major trends, I do believe the technological and cultural changes that are taking place right now will in fact bring some of them true within another decade.

It just doesn’t make sense for businesses to ignore Moore’s Law, nor for people not to exploit the benefits of sleeker means of community inter-reach. Moore’s Law is making tools increasingly more powerful and robust while diminishing their relative and absolute costs.

No, the problem, as I see it, is that the changes are themselves changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Businesses, less and less, can project with a straight line. Their vision has be be curved through the space-time warping that is Moore’s Law.

HIKING

If you’ve ever hiked up Mount Rainier or Half-Dome in Yosemite, you know that the beginning trek is a pleasent stroll. You’re excited about your journey. You hike for hours and you feel great. You enjoy the views as you stop for a break.

But then a curious thing happens. Your feet feel a bit heavier. And pretty soon your huffing up steep edges, rough woods, through cold air. The view is spectacular, but you wonder if you’ll get to the top. It seems much farther now that you’ve gotten closer.

That feeling that things are getting rough… Well that’s the feeling of hitting the inflection points along the metaphorical curve of Moore’s Law. And if you don’t know that you’re climbing up a mountain, and not just a small hill, you’re less likely to make it. You’ll be psychologically blown down. At that point, businesses will either have to get huffing very fast, or they’ll just stop in their tracks and be done.

VISION and CLEAR FOG

Even the smartest of large enterprises sometimes vastly underestimate the Tao of Change. Years or decades of financial boom and comparative advantage tend to make the Short Snouts blurry-eyed with reverie. When startled awake, gluttony seizes everything around.

A 13,500 ton ship is no way to sail down the river of change.

We can all predict wonderful things as our technologies become increasingly refined, more potent and cheaper. But if millions of people continue to work in organizations that see the world through clear fog then we’ll continue to see much of the same as we see today: cubicle on cubicle, cog-job after cog-job and clinical depression to accompany the economic malaise that follows dysfunctional social traditions.

Overall, I’m optimistic about our opportunity along the expanding Long Tail. As should you. Optimism breeds itself.

For perhaps the first time in history, we all have the chance to manifest our entrepreneurial visions on the side. Moonlight Entrepreneurship might be in the cards for those who can’t yet quit their cubes. Which means that those predictions which Challenger is making might come true only if individuals take the initiative to make them come true. It could be a nice future, the brightest ever.

…But: never take your eyes of the Short Snouts. History has a long tail of them ruining promising things.


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Bloggers Wanted: Why You Should Volunteer for a Hospital Blog

Of the billions of bloggers out there (albeit most with an average readership of 1), how many talented ones would be willing to volunteer their time to help out a community hospital with its blogging?

As I’ve discussed in the last post, hospital blogging can be a costly project. The opportunity costs of blogging can be huge (time spent on research or improving operations). But: the opportunity costs of not blogging can be even bigger (not showing off your knowledge base and expertise or establishing community trust and authority).

So to help the community of hospitals (large and small), one possible route is to solicit help from the community of bloggers. The blogosphere a disparate and often talented community. It includes soccer moms, engineers, web designers, doctors, politicians, forest rangers, comics, and a whole assortment of other resourceful individuals. Many of them also have other skills pertinent to business and process management.

I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of bloggers (some amateur, others experienced pros) who would be delighted to offer their services to community hospitals. There’s really no University of Blogging per se. And no one company that stands out to fill the role of uber-consultant. So hospitals interested in looking into blogging or other Web 2.0 projects could reap handsome rewards by reaching out to the blogging community.

Why would bloggers volunteer their time, even it would be for an hour per week? Here are some off-the-cuff benefits to volunteer hospital-blogging:

1. Boost traffic (slightly) to their own site (as appropriate)
2. Help enhance their reputation and authority
3. Develop another blogging “voice”
4. Build their brand (or resume if that’s what they want)
5. Expand their horizons
6. Offer a chance to become evangelists for healthcare technology on the web
7. Enhance their value to other bloggers
8. Network with other bloggers
9. Change the mix of their daily grind
10. Gain a sense of participating in a noble cause.

I hear people laugh and offer a lot of (understandable) sarcasm at the idea of bringing blogging and other social media to hospitals. That’s fine with me. As long as they have ideas for improving healthcare. And understand what it is that I’m driving at.

Cynicism is not skepticism.

Cynics put down the truth. Skeptics lift it up.

For you folks who find it a nutty proposition, please argue with any of the ten items I listed above. If you reject them all, would you just do me a favor and offer your own lists for improving healthcare. People are suffering. They could use your help. You’re brighter than me, so radiate your brilliance!

For those of you who believe in the values of hospital blogging let me know why you think volunteer blogging makes sense. Do you think it’s a realistic proposition?

Elements of Hospital Blogging…Some of the

Intensive care bed after a trauma intervention, showing the highly technical equipment of modern hospitals.

Image via Wikipedia

My post on Blog ROI generated some excellent questions about how to face the specific challenges of hospital blogging. There’s a lot of unchartered territory, and I doubt that any one person or group has all the answers. But I’ll pound out some on-the-fly thoughts.

A Little Internal Trackbacking
Before offering thoughts on how to address the specific problems of hospital blogging, it should be noted that whether or not a blog itself is ultimately worth burning the candle, there can be merit to the process of blogging.

There’s something about the discipline of blogging that confers benefits worth considering.

Just as the process of writing and reading can help you become a better communicator, thinker, problem-solver or just a more awakened animal, blogging can polish the lens through which you see things. The pliancy of the blogging process offers the ability to zoom-in on details you might otherwise miss or zoom-out to view the larger forest. It also connects you with other people and those people in turn connect you with new ideas or novel mutations of older ideas. And although it can be a solitary discipline, it opens you up to the world around you (if you’re paying attention). (Uh oh, I just caught myself meta-blogging. Shoot!)

Web 2.0 Shmeb 2.0…But: It’s Still Useful
For all the ridicule of Web 2.0’s hype, its tools permit a connection to the rest of the world that is unprecedented. That’s not a small thing. In fact it’s so big that it’s probably going to overwhelm us.

Still, the tools have utility in the right hands. For example, RSS feeds help you to stay on top of what an oncology nurse is thinking. And in conjunction with Twitter and Yahoo Pipes, RSS can help medical students Follow (spy on?) doctors. And I’m sure that there are ways to use FriendFeed similarly, if not even more powerfully.

(Incidentally, if you’re experiencing comment-fragmentation due to FriendFeed, here’s a WordPress plugin that’ll make your day.)

It’s usually blogging around that gets you hooked into these tools. So far, most of the social tools are being used to fuel untreated addictions. But that’s OK: boredom will eventually set in and the tools will evolve refinements that get us back to being more productive with them. For now, it’s a good time to adopt, play around, and figure out what works for you. Just don’t take all it too seriously.

That’s my argument for why hospitals might want to consider blogging. Not necessarily to throw a blog up (especially without seriously thrashing the project about up-front). But the benefits that the blogging process confers might justify its work-up. In the process, your employees might learn things they never knew were possible.

FACING THE CHALLENGES…SOME PROPOSALS

Basics…Start with Them
My primary suggestion for hospital blogging is to keep the focus pretty limited at first. I don’t think being comprehensive all at once is a safe approach. Rather a narrow focus on a topic that has a low risk of causing controversy and legal entanglements is a smart start.

Fear is not a strategy. It’s a paralytic.

Mindfulness is the Antidote.

For example, a CEO’s or CNO’s posts about her plans for her facility could be low risk with a better return than posts about controversial matters. Starting small also gives more wiggle room for the mistakes inevitably needed for learning.

Involving the right people is another important step. Scout for hospital employees who (responsibly) blog on their own time. There are some pretty web-savvy doctors and nurses out there who might just love the opportunity to contribute. Give them permission to be champions!

Ah, Them Lawyers and PR Wizards
Yeah, they blog…some of them do. And they’re smart and helpful…many of them are. Consulting with these resources is another important component of taking the first steps toward a hospital blog. Public relations may have a bad reputation (some of it earned, some of it not) but it’s an important tool in ensuring that the right kinds of messages are sent out.

“The right means in the wrong hands lead to the wrong results.”

That’s what good PR agents help you to avoid: costly and unnecessary wars. So consult with them and solicit their feedback.

In fact, PR and Legal might be able to spot bad operational decisions before they’re implemented since they may have a fresh perspective on a project that even the most capable operational managers can miss. So get them involved in the pre-launch thrashing. Don’t dismiss them. The up-front expenses of remarkable PR are probably lesser than their back-end replacements.

[[Link Update: Seth Godin indirectly invokes to the spirit of what I’m talking about with respect to PR and lawyers.]]

Involve IT, but Don’t Let ‘Em Bone You Out with “Can’t Do”
Strange as it is, the (important) IT component of blogging isn’t the biggest challenge. Blogs can be fairly straightforward, technologically. It depends on what you want. Find out how you might want to grow the blog. Consider the sorts of things should you build in at the beginning in case you want to expand your blog.

Establish strict security protocols. And make sure that the users of the blog can just blog and not have to worry too much about technical tweaks in a shaky system.

Custom-built bogs are one way to go. For smaller entities WordPress.org or Blogger might work. But WordPress, for all of it’s remarkable features, can be quirky and troubling. A simple and stable solution might be TypePad. Sure it’s not as sexy, but sex isn’t what you’re going for here I suspect.

Your Patients (aka Citizens)
Safety First. Always.

Don’t look for home runs or gushing bursts in your revenue streams. Instead, simply enable your community to interface with your facility’s human beings. Give time to sew the seeds and grow as it were. There’s no rush to assault Mount Remarkable. Don’t set high or unrealistic goals. Keep things simple.

Set strict privacy policies for your blogging. There shouldn’t be any reason for a hospital to mention the names of patients in a blog. And in fact, cases probably should not be discussed…at least until your blogging routine becomes well established. Start with fictive cases if that’s an interest.

Develop a Terms of Service policy. On one hand, you want to make it easy for participants to enter your blog; on the other, you need to establish their informed consent. And blog monitoring should ensure that participants do not reveal the names of other patients.

Complaints (legitimate) on a blog are perhaps the single most valuable commodity on a hospital blog. Why? Becuase they’re information. They’re (free) consulting data. Use what’s being given to you. Follow up immediately, whether or not it’s appropriate to do so on your blog. Give your citizens simple and easy choices on how to complain. Invite your complainers to a personal meeting. Ask them for more. And: thank them.

(You know what the Return in ROI really is? It’s “thank you”. Just a thought for all you John von Neumanns of financial ratio fetishes out there.)

ADDING IT UP

This is just a small outline of a larger plan for implementing a blogging strategy for a healthcare facility. These are just open-ended intuition pumps, to be taken more for early project-thrashing than as Gnostic Gospels with precise schematics to blindly follow.

It’s easy to get lost or burned blogging about your hospital activities. But it’s even easier to get burned providing the very services you provide daily. Examples of the risks/costs hospitals face/incur almost every day:

  • Medication Errors
  • Surgical blunders
  • Patient Identification FAIL
  • Protocol Breaches

These are the risks already inherently built into the fundamental operations of a hospital.

Blogging, for all its pitfalls and potentials for blunder, probably won’t harm people as much as the items above. Put things into perspective. If anything, the practice of blogging might:

  • Enable a more efficient dialogue about the risks listed above
  • Provide your facility with the opportunity to explain the challenges of running a hospital that you strive successfully to meet (people love the honesty of competent minds)
  • Offer an information-based incentive for your staff to provide the remarkable services for which you hired (and pay) them

Creatively capitalize on your investments. (And don’t stare at sunk costs. You’ll fall into a black (red?) hole.)

With a successful blog, you just might shine your sincere concern and commitment to safety and efficacy of care. That’s an assurance that’s good for patients. And your tush-line.

So, here are some of my off-the-cuff, very informal and un-researched suggestions for hospital blogging:

  1. Start small…but don’t be afraid to think big
  2. Keep the focus narrow, to one topic perhaps (e.g. fundraising events)
  3. Recruit passionate bloggers internally (or externally)
  4. Establish good blogging hygiene
  5. Monitor comments and vanguard privacy
  6. Promote locally first
  7. Don’t promote too heavily (at least in the beginning)
  8. Involve Legal and PR ahead of time (thrashing)
  9. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks
  10. Invite guest bloggers for consultation and/or posting
  11. Reach out to the community of “Social Media” folks…(but use your common sense and skepticism!)

Don’t blog until you really understand the hard work needed for easy use. The intangible costs of blogging are heavier than the tangible ones (yes, a paradox of physical laws, but that’s blogging). When in doubt bail out and get back in when you’re vision is clearer.

Blogging s an open affair, whose floorboards are set down on the fluid air. But so is life, which is what healthcare is all about serving. What I mean is: you have to acquire the talent and skill to be able to think and respond swiftly but responsibly even if the aren’t established templates or recipes for doing so.

The purpose of a blog (at least this one) is to spread ideas, have them filtered through other brains and watch them grow. My hope is that I encourage free (not hate) speech with critical commenting.

The process is the principle.

For more about integrating emerging technologies into your enterprise, check out Health Is Social here.

TWO MEDICAL BLOGS OF INTEREST I RECOMMEND:
The Efficient MD

CaseBlog

These aren’t “hospital blogs” but they do illustrate what some smart folks are doing with these tools.

Please…comment: it’s free and useful.


Credibility: Unknown

According to a post on Twitter, my credibility is unknown. I (partially) disagree of course because I know what my credibility is. But the online community really doesn’t know what it is (at least not yet). So let’s see what can be known about my credibility (and yours).

I’m glad that I was given an opportunity to have my credibility evaluated out there among the *Twitterverse*. So here it is, that indiscreet Tweet:

Credibility

From this Twitterer’s perspective, the Tweet is true, absolutely true. This person has no way of knowing my credibility. And it aught to be questioned by anybody following my online activity (as well we all should do of everything we encounter online).

But this Tweet raises a particular question: when is credibility relevant?

MY CREDIBILITY
If you read my current About statement, I don’t claim to be an expert in everything, especially social media (as many are famed to do). I simply state the boring facts of my background, as an RN with a pied array of disparate experiences. My claim to social media is simple and unpretentious:

“I am currently interested in how individuals and organizations use social media tools to improve the way things get done.”

Since I don’t claim to be an expert in social media, the relevance of my credibility can only reasonably be expected to be limited to my general character: whether I am a liar, a snake-oil salesman or evil-doer par excellence. That sort of credibility gets determined over time, by users, by the things I say, Google, etc.

OUR CREDIBILITY
If any of us becomes specialized and experienced in a particular field, then our specific credibility becomes relevant. Nobody wants a random schmuck to just walk into your house and fix the plumbing just because he claims to be an expert or have has a website or blog. But that doesn’t mean we all have to be experts in order to speak our minds or to add something to an ongoing multilogue (getting tired of *conversation*).

Wikipedia discusses credibility and specifically references a mouth-watering proposition called Prominence-Interpretation Theory. You can download that exciting product if you’re hot and bothered. (It uses big words and multiplication to establish its own credibility.)

Basically, it comes down to what users notice (Prominence) and their judgment about it (Interpretation). And it’s an important topic, especially since the rate of information flowing our way is accelerating at an accelerating rate. The arithmetic is straightforward:

Prominence X Interpretation = Credibility Impact

Good luck crunching the numbers on that one. Intuitively, though, what’s our Credibility Impact? My number’s pretty low online, but not because I’m a bad person. The arithmetic says that I have to leave it up to computational and human algorithms, and so do you.

So if you’re an expert in social media, make sure you take that bold Twitterer’s implied advice to heart, regardless of his or her intriguing intentions: establish and prove your credibility. It’s good for your health and your reputation. And it will eventually boost your authority.

WESTERN UNION and SO MUCH FOR CREDIBILITY ABSOLUTISM
Western Union used to be a telecommunications authority, likely with a high credibility rating. It’s still doing OK. But the credibility it had in 1950 didn’t exactly get it the gold medal forty years later on the interwebs, did it? What credibility did Google have in 1998? Yahoo! had credibility, perhaps more so in 1998 than Google (just a supposition). And yet Google’s current stock price (one measure of credibility-ranking) suggests that its credibility gap is a lot smaller than Yahoo!’s. Go figure.

The basic point that I’d like to make is that the interwebs (or innernets as I heard once from a credible authority) has given us all a chance to contribute ANYTHING (from original insights to totally random BS and everything in between).

Examples. If you need an inguinal hernia repair, credibility is the difference between a speedy recovery and a painful death from infection or intestinal ischemia. If, however, you want a new perspective, an opinion, a fresh synthesis of old ideas, or a synergistic perspective from the infusion of multiple experiences, then credibility is secondary to your inspiration of that content. It’s up to you to be a good speneralist.

PRIMING OUR INTUITION PUMPS
Credibility is one king in content. Obviously.

But so are: insight, creativity, skepticism, freshness of perspective and the right to be wrong and standing up corrected. And those features of an independent mind are important tools in the ongoing construction of useful and falsifiable intuition pumps.

It’s those pumps that drive knowledge and civilization forward. What are your intuition pumps? Are they credible? Or “merely” inspiring? Could they spring hope? Or leaks? Upset the stodgy status quo? Break a cold heart open and warm it?

This is my credibility: a synestheisa of metaphors. They’re meant to enliven and spread good memes in an often bad world. They’re powerful tools for evangelism, conveyance and leadership. Take them, use them or toss ’em into the drains Lethe-wards to be sunk. Time will tell if my online credibility matters to anyone, including myself.

Be true to thyselves, friends, especially when nobody else believes you. Mahalo!


This post made possible in part by an alert from TweetBeep. It’s a great (free) reputation management tool. I received no payment or solicitation for the shout-out, just remarkable service.


Are We Generalists, Specialists or Speneralists?

I’m a speneralist, aren’t I? And you: aren’t you as well? I don’t know if that’s a good or bad characteristic these days. Maybe you can help me decide (because you need to know too). Let me explain.

speneralist
Photo: Tidewater Muse’s photostream

A Brief History of Our Species
A long time ago, most people were generalists. They knew how to hunt animals and cultivate the best plants, made living quarters out of mud, and maybe even painted on cave walls in their spare time or uttered poetic stories at night. They specialized of course, but in order to survive they had to be generalists. They had to know it all and do everything. Or die.

Then these generalists got better at refining their civilizations. Their economies sprouted up and out. They invented new gadgets, like printing presses and steam engines and assembly lines. To be good at something, these people had to become specialists. They had to specialize in printing books or navigating ships or installing gear shafts. Poets started to get paid less. Painters starved. And our modern world arrived like a thief in the night.

Our World Soul Got Owned
And this modern world brought forth more gadgets and grew things like computers and transmission protocols and weblogs and AdSense. Specialization became a specialization onto itself. And the unconscious manifestation of all this specialization was the invention in 1968 of the cubicle with its eventual domination of our Anima mundi (world soul).

We’re all now plugged in. Soon we will be enmeshed. Information is flowing so fast at us now, that we can’t depend on others to do specialized things like journalistic investigation. We have to specialize a bit in journalism and skepticism ourselves if we are not to be fooled again and again. We have to write our own blogs and tweak our CSS or compose our own slide shows for those special presentations. We are able to specialize in many things in order to accomplish our specialized tasks. But wait: doesn’t that make us generalists? What, exactly, is going on here?

Outsourcing Your Marketing Department to Your Customers
On one hand, in order to thrive in the economy of the 21st Century you must specialize, you must be better than best: you must be so damn good that your customers become your marketing department. Being a know-it-all doesn’t cut it. And yet you leave out so much of the life radiating around you when the very focus onto your specialty is laser-guided. You’re stuck in a trap my friend, or fast approaching one.

So, again, the question: we’re Speneralists, arent’ we? Isn’t that what you call a stressed out, Moore’s-Law-spaghettied group of human beings tweaked between the need for specialty and the widsom of generality?

Those two animals up there in the picture. What are they? Well, they’re both mammals. Is the dolphin the specialist whose evolved refinements enable her to sleekly fly in and out of ocean waves? Is the cow a generalist who learned to specialize in acquatic miracles and really good Photoshop? Or is she a speneralist? Evolution is a snappy bitch, ain’t it?

Long You Live and High You Fly
That cow. That cow is what we are beginning to look like I think, dear friends. A swimming cow that leaps over turbulent green. But should she be doing that? Is it cool? Or is it utterly nuts?

So, what do you think that you (or the company you work slave for) is? A generalist? A specialist? Or a speneralist ready for anything under the sun?

The dusk is coming. Will your personal or corporate philosophy open its wings, or fold?


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Blog ROI: It’s About Value, Stupid!

Simple question: why would a hospital have a blog? Or use Twitter? Or maybe even FriendFeed? Simple answer: value.

A hospital aught to be one of the most valued kinds of facilities in our communities. Every effort aught to be encouraged for such organizations to optimally utilize those resources which can improve the delivery of care, expand an organization’s presence, and even generate positive returns from the investments in those resources.

But not every organization blogs. Not every one needs to. Why? Because the theme of returns and cost efficiency have been propounded so heavily into our heads that we overlook the obvious. We need to kick ourselves and say: It’s about value, stupid.

Hats off to ROI Harper and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

Before addressing the specifics of hosptial blogging we aught to dip into some accouting theory, finance and arithmetic.

Organizations benefit greatly anytime they can create interactive means for people to find, experience and share value. A company’s Return on Invesment (ROI) is a simple quantitative method to express the expected gain from a deployed asset. But often, analysts focus so much on the number that they forget the value that drives it from the start.

Investing in social media is an investment in an intangible asset. Intangible assets generate both tangible and intangible losses and/or returns. Tangible assets include hospital beds, ventilators, infusion pumps, buildings, operating rooms, etc. Accounting theory offers ingenious methods for quantifying these assets in order to provide valuable information to investors and other stakeholders to make the soundest decisions about their resources.

Intangible assets include competent nursing care, physician experience, goodwill, communication styles, etc. They also include blogs and other social media that are currently evolving. Accounting theory has yet to work out how to measure a blog’s asset valuation (it could use a market costing methodology perhaps).

But the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) hasn’t yet seemed to issue a promulgation on the matter. If you’re a CEO, CFO, CIO or CAO of a publicly traded company maybe you can get a conversation going with the SEC or FASB (who knows, you might be able to get some tax deduction rules going: hint, hint).

Until someone establishes a standard measure of Blog ROI, I think it’s helpful to focus our lens on a fundamental question:

What information is needed to decide whether a blog is worth its cost?

There’s probably a complicated anwer to that question, one which depends on the economics of your particular organization. In its place, I’d like to offer up three simple intution pumps:

  1. Value drives ROI
  2. Price is a function of Value
  3. Value-Multiplied is replacing Value-Added


Value Drives ROI

ROI is just a noun. A number. A goal. It’s important.

Value is a verb. A movement. An infection. It’s essential.

If you want to generate positive ROI, you will have to create the setting through which customers (who these days aught to be called citizens) feel the value they seek (consciously or unconsciously). You will not only have to be the creator of value, you will also have to provide the means through which citizens can express their passion for the value they perceive.

So if you’re not able to derive an equation that gets you to ROI, you’re still not in the dark. If you’re trying to decide about developing a blog for your organization, you can just follow one word: value. What value would your blog offer to the people who read or join? Could you list out the (hypothetical) values? I think you could: around a conference table or in your armchair.

Price is a Function of Value
If your service isn’t valued there is no price strategy that will keep your going concern, well, going on. Price is simply a numerical expression of value. It’s either determined by monopolistic Short Snouts, oligopolies, government regulation, or the Long Tail of perfectly competitive market forces.

Be the Genhis Kahn of social value.

Mongol Lego-Archer

Photo: Dunchaser’s Photostream

Your strike-price is a derivative of the value people perceive. So strike value right into the hearts of your target. Be the Genghis Kahn of social value. I say Genghis Kahn because his small horde of lithe soldiers wearing silk shirts conquered more land mass while ridding on tiny horses than any other force in history. His enemies wore thick, heavy, metallic armor and everything they did was big. Why did his strategy and tactics work? Because in silk, there’s value. (Lesson: you’re going to get wounded, so make it easy to pull out the arrows.)

Value-Multiplied is Replacing Value-Added
It’s no longer good enough to “add value”. You’re sinking down the Long Tail. You might be in denial about this, but it’s true. Technology will own you (sorry, we’ve passed the singularity). The value you create and which your customers/citizens perceive has to be multiplied, not simply “added”.

And that’s where intelligent applications of social media come into play. Can you think of a better way to multiply the shared values of your going concern? Word-of-Mouth (WOM) was always king. But know the kingdom of WOM has come. Know thy king. He’s a little different this time around. He’s wearing new clothing: a crown of truth, a cape of respect and a staff of democracy. In fact: he’s you!

You cannot lie in the New Kingdom of WOM without being cast out. This is good news: you can now multiply your value with nobility. You can now impress your citizens with your infectious passion.

Value-Multiplication. That’s the new math you need to learn. And learn well.


Family Values are Social Values

There is an endless list of things people value in general. Here are some activities that I think most people value greatly:

  1. Kvetching
  2. Praising
  3. Sharing
  4. Bragging
  5. Linking
  6. Being flattered
  7. Being Right
  8. Never Being Wrong or Hurt (unless it’s a Dominatrix service)
  9. Loving
  10. Being Loved
  11. Inputing
  12. Suggesting
  13. Being Listened to
  14. Commenting
  15. Creating
  16. Meeting Others
  17. Learning
  18. Getting Great Free Stuff
  19. Taking Action
  20. Being Offered Simple, Easy Choices
  21. Hearing “Thank You” (even when they mess up)

These are all ingredients to successful blogging. Successful relationships. Successful business. Succesfful Successful anything, really. You don’t need Excel for the formulaic recipe. But you can cook. Be creative, use your senses, surprise yourself and become a remarkable presence in the kitchen of your marketplace.

Remarkable Opportunity Ingenuity (ROI)

Let’s redefine ROI. Let’s give ourselves permission to take a few steps back from the professorial whiteboard, put down the calculators and take a look at where we are along the Long Tail. If you don’t know where you are or what value your blog will create, how will you ever hope to properly calculate the returns on your investment? Would it even matter?

“There are some things that count that can’t be counted. And some things that can be counted that don’t count.”

John C. Bogle’s paraphrase of an old proverb

You’ve read Seth’s blog (I hope!). So you already know what to do. You know the answer: be remarkable (don’t just feign it). Be remarkable in your decision about whether to blog or not. It’s not as easy as it looks. It’s hard. It’s costly. Which means it can be numerical and maybe calculable. But do the calculations AFTER you do the valuations. If you lay down the tracks for your customers’ value-train then ROI will come chugging along.

Some Rationales/Reasons for Hospital Blogging

Let’s return to hospital blogging, since it seems to be one of the most challenging. There are considerations in the healthcare industry that may not exist in others, including but not limited to:

  1. Patient Privacy
  2. Empolyee Privacy
  3. Safety
  4. Efficacy
  5. The Provision of Authoritative Content

There are of course other considerations. But they are manageble Dips. They’re not dead-ends (although I think many hosptial cultures automatically conclude that these are the dead-ends that deceptively justify the easy choice: not to blog at all).

So what are some of the rationales for crafting a remarkable hospital blog? Here are some suggestions (I use the word citizen in place of patient, family member and general public because it’s the only word that makes sense in a remarkable democracy):

  1. Citizen Complaints (These Should be Prominent!!!)
  2. Citizen feedback and praise
  3. Services updates (a new Operating Room or Surgical Procedure)
  4. Introduction of New Staff
  5. Nursing Notes (I Know a Bit Nightingalish)
  6. Up-to-Date Content on Disease Processes and Management
  7. Community News
  8. Pledge Drive Announcements
  9. Guest Posts from Prominent Doctors, Nurses & Other Healthcare Professionals
  10. Staff Recruitment (Show Off What a Remarkable Facility You Have – Be The Zappos of Healthcare!)

The same could be (partially) true for services like Twitter or FriendFeed. Here are some values to be shared through those media:

  1. Tweeting facilities about emergent crises
  2. Using Twitter for staffing needs
  3. Using FriendFeed to keep a stream of blog posts and other information about your facility for the whole world to see (also: if Google purchases FriendFeed, wouldn’t you want to be listed on their prime SERPs?)
  4. Using Twitter or FriendFeed as an educational tool for nursing and medical students (let them follow the best in the business)

Conclusion: Value Multiplied by Infectious Interaction Equals Gross Blog ROI

If all of this is new and bewildering to you, perhaps you aught to focus your investing efforts on a blog. For one, blogging develops the kinds of skills needed for effective social media marketing. Also, it offers a simple interface with your citizens.

Being passionate about your hospital and the services it provides is important. But: that passion must always be subordinated to something even more important. Be passionate about infusing your citizens with the infectious vectors of value that they can spread through the community.

A blog is one component of the passion-pump. Additional social media tools offer more options, which I will talk about soon (Twitter & FriendFeed). For now, you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my feed and we can continue the discussion. And feel free to (respectfully) obliterate my arguments here. Quality of life is at hand here.

Whatever your background, a blog is a good start to a healthier hospital. Then again, you could just let someone else do all the talking for you while you keep handing cash over to lawyers and PR wizards instead of your nurses and doctors and capital equipment. Who knows, with all of the ultra-portable devices around these days, you could just let your organization become a featured superstar on Youtube. Just what are you waiting for?


Digg!


For remarkable resources on blogging and social media, follow these links:

Darren Rowse Problogger (No Nonsense Mate from Down Under)

Chris Brogan (Knows his stuff and knows how to communicate it!)

Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop Blogging (A Great Collection for Beginners & Pros)

Zemanta Pixie

The 13 Blog Topics to Boost Readership 40,404%

If you want to boost traffic to your site, become recognized as a leading authority in the blogosphere and make lots of money, then the list offered here is a must-read. If you’re not blogging about blogging, Twittering about FriendFeed, FriendFeeding about FriendFeed, or Plurking on and off and then Twittering about Plurking on and off, you will fail as a blogger.

Successful bloggers must stand out. Distinguish yourself. If you don’t stand out, you’ll be stood up. So what can you do to avoid being stood up?

There are several ways to avoid being stood up by your readers. But to help you best your focus and your passion for blogging about blogging, here are the 13 Blog Topics that will boost your readership 40,404%:

  1. Write an interesting blog post about blogging
  2. Write a post detailing 23 ways to use Twitter
  3. Write a post about FriendFeed and Robert Scoble
  4. Write a post about how FriendFeed is better than Twitter
  5. Tweet your post about FriendFeed being better than Twitter.
  6. Write an interesting blog post about how to write an interesting post about blogging
  7. Make sure that FriendFeed is pulling in your Tweets and tell your readers which service updates first
  8. Offer a “Best Of” post with an introduction about how to SEO the title of your “Best Of” post
  9. Post about the pitfalls of a guest blogger
  10. Have a guest blogger write a post on your blog
  11. Survey your readers about why Twitter is still flapping its wings after of these crashes
  12. Write a post about why FriendFeed and Twitter can’t be compared after all
  13. Write a post about the how Twitter and FriendFeed are ruining metablogging, comments and your productivity

If you keep these 13 Blog Topics at your fingertips, you won’t be stood up. You’ll stand out. And so will your competition.


Obviously, I’m goofing around here. And I’m not maliciously picking on any one or group of bloggers. Most of the meta bloggers are doing an invaluable and rermarkable service to the blogging community and this post should not be taken as a slight on those professionals by any means. Still, it’s fun to meta blog. Which is what this post is doing, ironically.

Happy blogging! Ciao!

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