12 Big Ideas for 2012

4,256
-1

Published on

Each one of us has the ability to transform the way the world thinks about critically important issues. But making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process.

Inspired by the concepts outlined in my new book, Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues In A Connected Society, these twelve big ideas are designed to make you think. Differently.

I am sharing these ideas to start a conversation. I want you to feel excited about the new opportunities that are available to us, individually and collectively, and frustrated that we haven’t made more progress.

I don’t have answers. You won’t find a five-point plan for anything in the pages that follow. But when you consider how your individual behaviors could change, your approaches might be altered - that’s when things will change. That’s when the real fun begins. That’s when we really start to make something happen.

Thank you for reading. And don't forget to share.

12 Big Ideas for 2012

  1. 1. 12 BIG IDEAS FOR 2012How To Address Serious Issues Differently In The Year Ahead by Brian Reich
  2. 2. CONTENTS WELCOMEIntroduction: Stop Whining Each one of us has the ability to transform the way the world thinks about critically important issues. But making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process.1. Think Bigger. Act Smarter.2. Get Your Focus Back. Inspired by the concepts outlined in my new book, Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues In A Connected3. Build A Better Effort. Society, these twelve big ideas are designed to make you think.4. Show Your Stripes. Differently.5. Become The Media. I am sharing these ideas to start a conversation. I want you to6. Write The Future. feel excited about the new opportunities that are available to7. Be Social. us, individually and collectively, and frustrated that we haven’t8. Little Things Matter. made more progress.9. Take On The Hard Stuff. I don’t have answers. You won’t find a five-point plan for10. Finish Something. anything in the pages that follow. But when you consider how11. Fail Fast & Fall Forward. your individual behaviors could change, your approaches might be altered - that’s when things will change. That’s when the12. Pay Attention. real fun begins. That’s when we really start to make something happen. Thank you for reading. - Brian Reich
  3. 3. STOP WHINING.THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR CHANGE, IMPACT AND INFLUENCE TODAY THAT WE SHOULD ALL FEEL INSPIRED TO BECOME ACTIVE.  NOW IS OUR OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REALLY BIG THINGS HAPPEN. 
  4. 4. Everyone talks about the transformational power of digital and social media, thecontribution that technology and the Internet are having on our society – but for all thechanges and advancements, most of the important things about our society seem to belargely operating as they have for a long time.  In todays fast-moving, hyper-connected society, everything is different, online and offline -how we function, as individuals and within organizations and communities, has changed.  Noapp or widget is going to improve our communication, or drive more meaningful, measurableaction without someone figuring out the best ways to do that.  No single organization orinspired community action alone can bring about all the changes that are needed.  There aretoo many bad habits that are preventing us from pursuing the best solutions.  There is so much potential for change, impact and influence today that we should all feelinspired to become active.  But we lack focus and discipline. We complain when things don’twork as they should - when we should be focused on finding solutions.It’s time to stop complaining. It’s time to change... everything. A new year provides a newopportunity to shift our attention and reset our way of operating.  What follows are somebig ideas to help us get started.
  5. 5. THINK BIGGER. WE CAN’T JUST FOCUS ON IMPROVINGACT SMARTER. WHAT WE KNOW OR FIXING WHAT IS BROKEN.
  6. 6. THINK BIGGER. ACT SMARTER. The challenge: The desire for efficiency and speed have trumped the commitment to quality and focus. Our actions focused on addressing serious issues have become commoditized - at the expense of pursuing bold ideas and realizing meaningful, measurable impact.   While the problems that we face in society today seem insurmountable, they are not. But we can’t just focus on improving what we know or fixing what is broken. We shouldn’t be content with simply promoting an idea or repeating a slogan. The solution: Think bigger. Act smarter. The First Step: If we think bigger, and act smarter, we can elevate the work that is needed to address serious issues to a place where it influences how we think, act, and perceive everything. We must consider all the possible ways to address an issue, creating from scratch the ideas, systems, products, programs, services and approaches necessary to do things that have no blueprint to follow or pattern to copy. We have all the tools we need - but we still need to apply our intelligence in better ways. Start by breaking big and complex challenges down into a lots of individual elements that people can truly understand. Seek out knowledge, thirst for information and become part of an informed majority that helps to shape the course of our world. Explain what is needed to solve a problem and help guide and shape how people think and act - in real-time, with laser-like focus.
  7. 7. GET YOUR FOCUS BACK. WE CANT TAKE ON ANY NEW CHALLENGES UNTIL WE STOP SPENDING TIME ON THE THINGS THAT DONT WORK.
  8. 8. GET YOUR FOCUS BACK. The challenge: Cause Marketing and Social Entrepreneurship are major buzzwords that become big business. Everyone thinks they know what it takes to fix what’s broken - or at least want to be seen as trying to find solutions to the complex problems facing our society. But as the industry of doing good has grown in size and influence, our impact has lessened and we have lost our ability to solve some of our societys most complex problems.  Lost in a sea of different colored ribbons and the crush of buy-one-save-everything campaigns is the discipline needed to find real solutions.   The solution: Get your focus back. The First Step: Stop doing things that don’t work. Stop spending your time, energy and resources on projects that don’t make a difference. For brands, that means no more opportunity-driven sponsorships or promotional-only campaigns.  For nonprofits and charities, that means no more do-nothing partnerships and transaction-only requests of your supporters.  For individuals that means committing to real, meaningful, measurable actions and holding yourself, and everyone else, accountable until the desired results are achieved.   We cant take on any new challenges until we stop spending time on the things that don’t work.  If you want to change the world, you need a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. You need to adopt new and different approaches - things that have never been tried before. That won’t happen if you can’t find, and keep, your focus on the task at hand. Stopping what isn’t working will give you energy, time and resources to explore whats truly possible.
  9. 9. BUILD A BETTER EFFORT.ASSEMBLE THE CHOICEST ELEMENTS TO FORM A FREAKISHLY AMAZING OPERATION. 
  10. 10. BUILD A BETTER EFFORT. The challenge: Every organization needs to recognize that finding a solution to a complex problem will require many different puzzle pieces, each interlocking to fit together just right. And every organization must be good at something -- and make sure the focus remains firmly on the limited areas where they can have success. But few organizations can articulate what makes them different, and how their work will truly have an impact - and none of them can change the world by themselves.   When you successfully create a powerful system, or assemble a high-performing team, others can step in to help address the different challenges that come with scale and adaptation. When individuals and organizations try to be all things to all people, they inevitably fail and everyone loses out. The solution: Build A better effort. The First Step: Assemble the choicest elements – the highest performing individuals and teams, the most impressive capabilities and most compelling and influential partners – to form a freakishly amazing operation.  This kind of super team will not only accomplish its own goals, it can create opportunities for every audience and group they collaborate with by engineering their strategic focus to take advantage of each, important opportunity that they are given.  Don’t rely on established patterns or set structures - build what is needed to have the desired impact. Find smart people with passion. Have faith that their excellence, when applied properly, not only helps your efforts but also creates an opportunity for others to distinguish themselves and find solutions.
  11. 11. SHOW YOURSTRIPES.YOU ARE IN EXPERT IN SOMETHING - PROVE IT.
  12. 12. SHOW YOUR STRIPES. The challenge: Nobody can ignore the trends we are seeing nor the trajectory we are on as a society. But while the cultural acceptance for bad behavior has disappeared, in many cases the practices and rewards for such action still remain. We will see results, and recognize change, only when we begin to actually do things differently. The solutions to our current challenges won’t be found in the past. There are no proven models for success any more. And we now realize that our institutions – government, nonprofits and charities, foundations, media, corporations, educational institutions and more – are too slow to embrace the need for change, or not up to the task at all. Gone are the days when everyone was unique, on their own. Each of us have a role to play in solving major issues. The solution: Show your stripes. The First Step: The most compelling and effective strategies will need to be defined around each unique situation, by each of us individually, and applied differently at every turn.You don’t need to be the only person who has experienced something to be an expert. People become experts as a result of their membership in a community of practice – a group or partnership around a specific issue or service. Knowledge makes you an expert. Your experience makes you an expert. Your network makes you an expert. Your notoriety (if you have it) makes you an expert. You are in expert in something - probably more than you realize - so demonstrate it, when its needed most And always   be learning, changing your approach, updating your understanding, and re-engineering how you think about the opportunities that are available today. Each individual and collective effort we take, when focused appropriately, enabled and accelerated sufficiently, and directed effectively does have an impact.
  13. 13. BECOME THEMEDIA. Generate the coverage, tell the stories, andelevate the discussion to the level it deserves. 
  14. 14. The challenge: No single publication, channel or service has the ability to cover the full range of what is happening in the world today – and increasingly, most media don’t even try.  There are huge gaps in what is covered and discussed,BECOME THE MEDIA. analyzed and understood.  It takes a war, a celebrity, or a tragedy to trigger a response, and it is often not the response we need. Were thinking so much about how to make something great and were missing the actual greatness thats occurring in real time.  We spend too much time lamenting the lack of coverage, criticizing the news media for not doing a sufficient job, condemning the companies who don’t satisfy our needs and apologizing for the organizations that fail to achieve what we believe is possible.  Instead, we should be seizing the opportunity to create that coverage, to tell those stories, to create those products, and to elevate the discussion to the level we (and the rest of the audience) desire.   The solution: Become the media. The First Step: Information is a key driver of change. With myriad of channels available today, your have great potential to get your idea discussed or your issue advanced. But you must do more than tell stories. Organizations must learn how to be more open and deeply committed to learning and teaching. That takes time, energy, and resources to do well. And there are no isolated actions any longer. Take a systematic approach to making information available. Everything should be designed to have multiple uses and applications.  Your content – whether the focus is on raising awareness, educating an audience, engaging supporters or mobilizing people to act – should be able to adapt to any platform or situation, and serve everyone’s interests. Nothing has a singular focus or purpose – it has to be setup so that it has the potential to create new options later.
  15. 15. WRITE THEFUTURE. WE SHOULD SUPPORT AND ENHANCE, CULTIVATE AND CREATE A BROADERCOMMITMENT TO CHANGE AND A LARGER VISION OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE. 
  16. 16. The challenge: While we need to stay committed to solving individual problems, we must recognize that our issues are all connected. We spend too much time trying to contain ideas, to define them and channel them to ways ofWRITE THE FUTURE. operating we already understand. We try to prioritize stories and concepts because they fit better into an established system or can be more easily monetized.  And with so many different messages and opportunities competing for our attention and commitment, it is easy for us to become distracted and overwhelmed. Our future can’t simply be about having more people sharing stories, displaying their personalities, or building a following because the barriers to entry are lower. We should be looking to support and enhance, cultivate and create a broader commitment to change and a larger vision of what is possible. The solution: Write your own future. The First Step: With the flourishing of ideas comes a responsibility to prioritize, sacrifice and learn.  We all must learn to embrace how, as individuals and as organizations, these changes impact our work, perspectives, and behaviors. We must learn—and move quickly—to adapt to changing times. It is no longer sufficient for each sector in our society – government, media, education, business, philanthropy and more – to operate separately, to compete.  Individuals and communities must do more than wait for direction, or expect that someone else will take responsibility for what they want to see happen. We have to create our own opportunities to act and participate where opportunities already exist and become part of something larger and more likely to succeed.
  17. 17. BESOCIAL.IT IS TIME WE CHANGED HOW WE ACT - AND INTERACT - WITH EACH OTHER.
  18. 18. The challenge: Social media has been seen, by many, as the solution to the challenges that exist in our society. But social media is far from enough. Social media are just another set of tools – a collection of sites, apps, platforms, and programs that reflect the changing nature of how we interact as people, online and off.  The hype and expectation for how it will impact the ways we address serious issues, thus far, has far exceeded its results.     We have learned a tremendous amount about how people interact, what they want and how they will behave.  But weBE SOCIAL. have also dumped significant energy into using social media, often at the expense of other, more important improvements.  We don’t pay sufficient attention to conversations unfolds, and we don’t appreciate how much someone might need to learn about an issue before taking action. We don’t understand how difficult and how important it is to deeply and thoughtfully engage with a person. And we won’t until we stop thinking so much about how to use social media. The solution: Be social. The First Step: If we truly want to solve the problems that exist in our society, we need a whole new approach, a dramatically different structure for the social, economic, political, organizational, communications, and personal efforts we undertake. Everything is social. We need to stop focusing on the tools and start focusing on being truly social. We must look at how people get and share information, how they spend their time, and who they trust and influence. The ability now to manage many of those relationships and communities is possible because of these tools. But the core of it is still this understanding that human beings operate in certain ways and need to operate in certain way. No tool can replace that.
  19. 19. LITTLE THINGS MATTER. THERE ARE REAL, PERSONAL AND LEGITIMATE REASONS WHY PEOPLE WANT TO SEE SERIOUS ISSUES ADDRESSED - AND YOU BETTER UNDERSTAND THEM.
  20. 20. LITTLE THINGS MATTER. The challenge: We spend so much time talking about business models and monetization strategies. We obsess about the most effective and compelling ways to push information, which day of the week to send an email or what hashtag will register the largest following. We are quick to launch a new activity but slow to embrace the lessons, good and bad.  We discuss, scrutinize and criticize the experiments that fall short of our expectations, but don’t offer solutions or recommendations that might help next time.  But, how much time do we really spend listening to, and hearing from, our audience - what they want, what they value, and how we can help? Do you know what they want?  Have you asked?  Did you listen to the answer? The solution: Little things matter. The First Step: There are real, personal, and legitimate reasons why people want to see serious issues addressed, and they have expectations for the groups who take on the responsibility to lead those efforts. There are reasons why people spend time watching, listening, reading, and experiencing various forms of media and culture. There are reasons why people log on to the various platforms, connect and communicate with people, buy products, and behave as they do. You must know your audience if you hope to reach them because what tools they use, when, and how their information experiences are shaped will define what options you have.You must understand what is happening in the world, at all times, if you want to create something that people will promote or share because the benefit they receive or the relationship they have with their community will dictate what is possible. It is easy to forget. But it is also easy to watch and understand, and then adapt what you are doing to meet the audience’s needs. That is our collective responsibility, and should be our shared priority.
  21. 21. TAKE ON THE HARD STUFF. WE HAVE PLENTY OF TOOLS, CASH, ANDATTENTION. WHAT WE DONT HAVE ARE REAL SOLUTIONS TO THE CHALLENGES THAT OUR SOCIETY IS FACING.
  22. 22. TAKE ON THE HARD STUFF. The challenge: We can bring together the major national players, global leaders, local organizations, companies with a vested interested in helping, and people who are highly connected through their digital and real-world social networks to work collectively now, more easily than ever before. We can amplify issues, reframe the questions we’re asking, and invite everyone who has an interest, or an idea, to offer new, different perspectives. But we must also recognize that there are no easy answers. We cannot solve serious issues by following the same, old, tired patterns. Hunger won’t be solved if the individuals and groups who are committed to the issue are competing for resources and attention. The education crisis won’t be fixed without teamwork across organizations and sectors. More money won’t bring about an end to the cycle of poverty or reverse the ill effects of global warming. None of the major issues or causes that continue to confound our world will be addressed by launching random, stand-alone cause campaigns and brilliant marketing and celebrity endorsements won’t make things better either. The solution: Take on the hard stuff. The First Step: The crisis of inaction and apathy, poor management, and lack of focus invites an opportunity to reorganize, re-prioritize, and reconsider the ways that we address serious issues. Corporations are feeling market and regulatory pressures to adjust their business practices to better serve the needs of their customers and support progress in the world. Nonprofit organizations, charities, and foundations are being called to task for their failure to advance the efforts to address serious issues as much as needed. Empowered citizens demanding openness, transparency, and democracy are challenging governments, of all sizes and across all areas of the globe. The world needs people who have no fear of failure; people who can bring others together in new, innovative ways. It needs people who can work hard, be smart, and commit to driving real change - people who can shake things up and produce new outcomes. The world needs people to start right now, without delay or hesitation, and take on the really hard stuff.
  23. 23. FINISH SOMETHING. INSTEAD OF CREATING MORE GROUPS OR LAUNCHING NEW CAMPAIGNS, WE SHOULD BE COMMITTING TO ACTUALLY FINISH SOMETHING.
  24. 24. The challenge:  Every time a new organization is created, we make the task of solving a serious issue more difficult. FINISH SOMETHING. The energy and resources that are devoted to new ventures, particularly when they overlap in many ways with existing ventures that would benefit from improvements, are being wasted. As more and more people demonstrate their interest in addressing serious issues by committing themselves to getting involved and changing their behaviors, the prospects of achieving a meaningful measurable impact seem to dim. Yes, we need more people to care enough to take action. But we also need to direct their attention and energy to the activities that will deliver the greatest results - not the ones that are most personally fulfilling. We need to take a good, hard look at all the organizations out there and make some choices about which ones are truly effective and worthy of continuing to operate. We need to identify the projects that have the potential to succeed and work collectively to support their efforts going forward.   The solution: Finish something. The First Step: Instead of starting something new, our goal should be to finish something.  To put ourselves out of business. Finish your work. Achieve your mission. When you feel the urge to launch a new group, consider the possibility that your contribution to the greater good will come in the form of helping something else succeed, instead of bolstering your own credentials. We need the organizations that are focused in the same areas to collaborate and work collectively to make progress.  And we need to get rid of the egos; the people who run organizations and allow their personal interests, their organizational priorities get in the way of progress on an issue, are getting in the way. 
  25. 25. FAIL FAST & FALLFORWARD.YOU CAN’T LIVE ON THE EDGE, BUT YOU CAN LEANOVER FAR ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE.
  26. 26. FAIL FAST & FALL FORWARD. The challenge: There is this prevailing belief that changing the world is easy; if you believe, and if you have access to the technology, you can actually accomplish something. But in reality change is extremely hard. And not only are the issues we are trying to tackle very complex, but the institutions that control a lot of the very important elements to make the change are extraordinarily resistant to changing how they operate. Let me be clear: You are going to fail.You are going to fail miserably.  You are going to stumble all over yourself and fall head first, end over end, until you end up in a heap on the ground below.  But each failure provides a learning experience, and those learning experiences will push you ahead to places others haven’t considered. The key is understanding how to fail and how to recover. The solution: Fail fast & fall forward. The First Step: Push the envelope so far ahead that you’re failing and you’re learning, and you’re taking to your customers, your clients, or donors or volunteers, your constituents and members and supporters with you.  When you have a failure, you have to process it and move on.  You have to celebrate it. Because when you are falling forward every time – and that includes falling ahead of the competition. Innovation almost never pays off immediately. Patience and money are almost always required to generate ideas that that over time may turn out to be breakthroughs. New approaches don’t always yield good results. But even the wrong ideas provide learning all the same. Change is painful and slow, sometimes messy, and always exhausting. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices in the end.
  27. 27. PAY ATTENTION. YOU MUST UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD IF YOU WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING GAME-CHANGING.
  28. 28. The challenge: When something is overwhelming and/or daunting, it is easy for people to focus instead on less difficult things. When even the experts and leaders around an issue don’t seem to have answers, or prove willing to offer support and guidance, it is hard to blame someone for heading in a different direction. And when serious issues become easily politicized, it is not surprising that people choose to simply tune out.PAY ATTENTION. The seemingly endless amounts of information available via the Internet, and offline as well, should be seen as just building blocks. When put together, organized, presented, made available, and provided, in context, they have tremendous value. But the responsibility for educating an audience falls entirely on you, your organization, or whoever chooses to “own” an issue. We are all consuming more information than ever before, but it is also common for us to move from one issue to the next, collecting facts and stories, but never actually engage or take action.. The solution: Pay attention. The First Step: We get trapped in a continually repeating cycle of synthesizing and never allow ourselves to create the intellectual or emotional connections necessary to fuel our efforts to find real solutions. To break that cycle, for yourself and for others, you must understand what is happening in the world. Learning about complex issues is ultimately about personalizing the experience to meet the needs and interests of the audience. Marketing largely focuses on creating a single message or a limited set of options for consumers—around a product, a political campaign, or increasingly a cause or serious issue. But education is about more than just giving people information to retain, only to be spit out later exactly as it had entered. Education it is about integrating knowledge and experience into current behavior and future consideration. Read, watch, listen -- and start to make sense of things, then adapt what are you doing to respond to a particular issue or situation.
  29. 29. ABOUT ABOUT SHIFT & RESET BRIAN REICHShift & Reset takes on the serious issues facing our Brian Reich is senior vice president - global editor forconnected society and shows you how to take advantage of Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relationsrapidly changing technologies and the new communication firm, where he provides editorial vision and strategy for theecosystem to create real, meaningful change. company. He is the author of Shift & Reset: Strategies for Addressing Serious Issues in a Connected Society (Wiley, 2011)The book stresses the need to reshape policies, build and co-author of Media Rules!: Mastering Today’s Technology tocapacity, develop talent, improve marketing and promotion Connect with and Keep Your Audience (Wiley, 2007).—including storytelling, media relations, outreach andengagement, and advertising—and revisit our methods for Brian began his career in politics – working on dozens offundraising, partnerships, and collaboration. campaigns around the country. He has held senior roles at leading digital, PR, and public affairs agencies and led projectsShift & Research features interviews with more than for many of the largest and most influential brands andtwenty-five experts and thinkers and essays from nonprofit organizations, as well as media companies, start-organizational leaders and strategists whose experiences ups, and political/advocacy groups.and insights provide powerful evidence to support theseimportant calls to action. Brian attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Columbia University. He lives in New York City with his wife,For more information visit www.shiftandreset.com. Karen Dahl, their son, Henry, and daughter, Lucy.
  30. 30. THANK YOU FOR READING. DON’T FORGETSHARING IS CARING.

×