Facebook innovated its way to become the dominate social network with 600 million users in just six years since launch. What will it do for an encore? More importantly, how will it continue to innovate? For this month's LAB, we will apply the Attribute Dependency tool to demonstrate how Facebook might continue re-inventing itself.
To use Attribute Dependency, make two lists. The first is a list of internal attributes. The second is a list of external attributes - those factors that are not under your control, but that vary in the context of how the product or service is used. Then create a matrix with the internal and external attributes on one axis, and the internal attributes only on the other axis. The matrix creates combinations of internal-to-internal and internal-to-external attributes that we will use to innovate. We take these virtual combinations and envision them in two ways. If no dependency exists between the attributes, we create one. If a dependency exists, we break it. Using Function Follows Form, we envision what the benefit or potential value might be from the new (or broken) dependency between the two attributes.
Here are attributes of the Facebook experience:
Embracing social media and the myriad of Web 2.0 tools is more challenging than just setting up a Facebook account or adding a “Follow Me on Twitter” link. A lot of organizations struggle with how to take advantage of the power of Web 2.0. Where do you start? How do you tie these new tools in with your current website? How do you make sure you keep your current constituents happy while moving the organization to a more networked world?
For this month’s LAB, we will use the innovation template called Task Unification, one of five templates of the corporate innovation method called S.I.T.. To use Task Unification, we take a component of a product, service, system, etc, and we assign an additional job to it. For this exercise involving Social Media, here is how it works. Imagine your company has a large base of employees in the field. For example, suppose your company has a large sales force or an extensive network of delivery or service people. Consider the U.S. Postal Service, for example, with an army of postal workers and letter carriers at over 32,000 post offices. A key question for these organizations like the USPS is: how to get more value out of this fixed asset? Let's use Task Unification.
I start by visiting a site that inventories all the social web tools: GO2WEB20.NET. I randomly pick an application from this list. Then I assign the internal field resources to "use" this application to increase revenue/profits for the company. Using our example of the postal service, I create this statement: "Postal delivery staff have the additional 'job' of using XXXX (web application) to increase USPS performance."
The key is to use the non-obvious applications for creating new, innovative services. Here are examples I created using Task Unification: