Tools I use: Plus/Delta

There are a few tools I use on an almost weekly basis. Some of these help me get more stuff done, some of them help me do things better. One of these tools is Plus/Delta.

Plus/Delta is dead-simple. Two columns, one labeled “Plus” and one labeled “Delta.” You can do it on a whiteboard, on a collaborative Google Doc (here’s one), on paper, on Post-Its or on index cards. Have a facilitator scribe, or have the participants write their Plusses and Deltas on notecards or on Post-Its. Have the participants in the session articulate what worked well (“Plus”) and what they would change for next time (“Delta”). Capture everything, summarize the key points, learn from it and iterate. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes.


It pretty much works with any size group; I’ve used it in groups up to about twenty or so. If the group is really large, break it into smaller subgroups and have each group do its own Plus/Delta. Then have each group pick a representative to share their results to everyone in the larger group in turn.

Plus/Delta works best when you make it a default part of a process. It’s just “the thing you do after you did something else.” For example:

  • Did you just do a two-day workshop? Have the participants engage in Plus/Delta near the end of the second day in order to understand how to do a better workshop next time.
  • Did you invest time to go to a conference? Plus/Delta.
  • Did your team pitch a project to a client? What do you do when you get back to the office? Plus/Delta.
  • How did that last development sprint go? Plus/Delta.
  • Is that an antelope driving a car? Plus/Delta. (Nope. Chuck Testa.)

You can learn more about Plus/Delta in the book Gamestorming, by Dave GraySunni Brown and James Macanufo. It’s one of dozens of tools in the very rich Gamestorming tool kit.

By the way, this post came about as part of the Weekly Post Challenge, proposed by Dre Armeda. You can find a few other posts from this week by Mendel KurlandKelley Koehler, Chris Ford, Matt MedeirosDre Armeda and an epic post from John Hawkins on how to produce a podcast.

image: Johanna Kollmann via cc by 2.0


It’s most definitely go time: I’ve joined GoDaddy

It’s official: I’ve joined GoDaddy. I am incredibly stoked.

(Ob disclosure: while I’m now an employee of GoDaddy, these are my personal opinions.)

This is a company that has gone through an incredible maturation process in the past few years, and where the company is now is miles ahead of where it was even 24 months ago, both in brand and in product. The T&A Super Bowl ads are long gone, the products are getting solid reviews, and a lot of attention is being paid to customers: from small businesses to web designers and developers (including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!) to mobile and local.

In particular, I’ll be working with our customers who are web professionals, ensuring that we’re engaging with communities of designers and developers and delivering the content, community and product that help this very important constituency kick ass.

Tomorrow is my first “official” day.

Let’s go!


New job == new swag sweatshirt. Bonus.

For Bitcoin to hit the mainstream, it needs to address its gender issue


image: freshphoto

Bitcoin has a woman problem that, unless solved, will keep it from hitting the mainstream as a medium of exchange, at least in the US. The following conversation is primarily aimed at the particular challenge Bitcoin faces in getting to mainstream adoption, and is not focused on the speculative rises and falls that have dominated the news cycles for the past few weeks in particular.

Right now (Dec 2013), the overwhelming majority of activity in the Bitcoin space is dominated by males. In doing a review of the market for consumer activity, and then comparing it to the market at large, it is clear that there is a significant gender gap that will need to be filled before Bitcoin can hit the mainstream as a payment mechanism in any meaningful way. Although all web statistics of this type are prone to some margin of error, these are certainly directionally correct. Read more at Coindale.

Talking ’bout my motivation

By way of a path through this whitepaper from Limelight networks and Digital Clarity Group, found an interesting presentation from this month’s Inbound Marketing Summit (#IMS13) that was created by Allen Bonde from DCG. Not only does Bonde’s presentation echo research we are seeing from the likes of Forrester and others that points to the reality of video channels becoming an increasingly important asset in the portfolio of B2B marketers, it also brings up an interesting model on the steps from engagement to action in the medium. In particular, Bonde outlines three phases of note: Inform, Connect and Motivate.

  • Inform: Tailored, simple and relevant content results in initial attention and gives the organization the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship

  • Connect: If your prospects, customers and influencers are spending time on social channels, your stories need to be reachable from social networks as well

  • Motivate: Simple, smart, responsive offers result in action

These three phases are critical, in my opinion. The things that drive initial engagement are either things that are educational or entertaining. (They’re the types of things that get saved or passed around.) As such, for a B2B marketer seeing to become a trusted advisor to her customers, skewing content toward the informational is a sensible route to take. Similarly, one needs to fish where the fish are. With social networks dominating the usage landscape, an organization simply can’t ignore their potential customers.

Which brings us to “motivation.” (And a brief mini-rant.)

As anyone who has been within earshot of me in the past couple of years can attest, I think it’s critical that we all actively work to end the process of “engagement for engagement’s sake.” On that note, “engagement” is a weak metric. In and of itself, engagement is near-worthless. What matters is the action that’s taken as a result of the engagement. That action can be the “next step” in the buying cycle, or it can be a request for further information, or it can be a phone call. But it needs to be something. The “counting metrics” don’t count anymore.

Check out the rest of Allen’s presentation here:

How a meme spreads on LinkedIn

I always find it interesting when things get used in unexpected ways, like using a nutcracker as a bottle opener or using rice to dry out a smartphone that got soaked. So when I saw that Koka Sexton had run an experiment that sought to understand how a meme could travel on LinkedIn, I was intrigued.

What Koka did was share an on-brand and topical image into his LinkedIn network which, frankly, isn’t something one sees every day. In this case, the image was a riff on the Liam Neeson “Taken” character.


A couple of weeks ago, we linked to an article about how scientists had solved the fundamental problem in viral distribution of information. The research showed that seeding information into key groups in a network could significantly affect at what velocity and distance information spread throughout the network. Koka found that by sharing this type of content as a LinkedIn update, as opposed to the more typical link to external content, he was able to have an initial interaction with many more individuals than he typically would.

Perhaps even more interestingly, however, was Koka’s recognition that certain individuals in his network act as bridges between different parts of his overall network. (Social network analysis researchers measure this concept being a bridge or a broker as an individual’s “betweenness centrality.) In this case, he saw that many of the links to his third-degree network went through one of his colleagues and once the meme “jumped” into this other part of his network, it continued to propagate. This also showsthe strength of weak ties.

Once someone interacted with the meme, the most important thing was to take some form of action to take the first step in turning what could be a one-off engagement into the start of a business relationship. Four ways to do that included:

•   Liking their interaction

•   Thanking the individual for their interaction

•   Messaging the individual directly

•   Connecting with the individual on LinkedIn

“The idea isn’t to create the content, get engagement and then start pitching your product. The idea is that you share great things and then use the engagement to expand your network.” – Koka Sexton, LinkedIn

In reading the original post, it clearly cast the network that the meme traveled through into an explicit model of “1st, 2nd, 3rd degree connections.” While I know that’s how LinkedIn technically refers to individuals in the system, I don’t think I’d ever really used that frame as actively. When I look at the world, I typically didn’t go through the mental action of “do I know this person, or do I know someone who knows this person, or are they further away than that?”

A few key takeaways for me:

•   I’m definitely going to start to look for more instances where LinkedIn has worked as a medium through which information can travel, and not solely a place to build connections.

•   Need to do some more thinking on this “1st, 2nd and 3rd degree” framing of the world

•   Liam Neeson still kinda spooks me out a little bit with his intensity

What do you think? Have you seen other examples where this type of content achieved significant distribution through LinkedIn, as opposed to the more obvious venues such as Facebook or Twitter?

Bonus link: The voiceover is pretty funny

Mac Lethal fast-raps the news

(I also wanted to try out the Facebook embed post thing, just to check it out.)

This Week’s Social Business Jam

DocsearlsA number of luminaries participated on this week’s W3C Social Business Jam, including Doc Searls (pictured), Alex “Sandy” Pentland and the inventor of the web itself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. A jam is “an online conversation among leaders in business, government and technology about the current state of social business, the future role that social technologies can play in improving the bottom line, and how social technology should evolve in order to support business objectives.”

There were a number of deep conversations, which generated over 1,100 posts on the topic of social business. The key issues explored were:

  • Mobile And Social
  • Business Process Meets Social
  • Identity Management for Social
  • Information Management
  • Seamless Integration of Social
  • Metrics For Social Business

Of the topics covered, a few rich seams emerged. Doc noted that “way back in 1995 we got hooked on the cookie as a way for sites to keep track of our relationships with them. This, along with the login/password ceremony, cemented client-server in place as the default for e-commerce (and everything else) on the Web. This not only legitimized dependent submissive-dominant relationships, but made every site into a silo, and contained our imagination about What Could Be Done as well. This is why every ‘solution,’ it seems, is yet another site/service, each of which is its own silo, even if it has open APIs, uses open standards and the rest of it.”

This is a notable point. If you contrast the key pieces of social media infrastructure today, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, or internal collaboration tools like Yammer and’s Chatter, all are their own proprietary systems. Contrast this approach to the approach of the most social of all online tools, email, or even the web and the internet itself. In all of the latter cases, a handful of fundamental, interoperable standards have enabled a thousand flowers to bloom. Can you imagine Facebook and Twitter and Google working together to insure that their systems interoperate? Fat chance. (In fact, Facebook just killed one more bit of openness, by deprecating the ability to import RSS feeds from one’s own blog into Facebook Notes.)

In the same thread as Doc’s thinking above, Charles Oppenheimer, the CEO of Prizzm (and a great, great dude who is working on “Reverse CRM” which dovetails nicely with ProjectVRM), noted that “through the history of markets, which I suppose is a lot briefer than human history, markets were the place to be social on a daily basis, and defined our interactions with the community. Especially in rural places, that is the hub. But if we work in the ‘enterprise,’ we are in the business of taking something straightforward, exchange of goods and services – into something that scales, massive, and abstract. Goodbye social, and community — and I guess that is why the web/social technology seems to be a big deal. Bringing the old stuff back.”

This is an important point, in my opinion. Social business, when done right, enables us to play both sides of the fence. We, wearing our “customer” hats, can engage with each other at a human level and, when done right, enterprises can also organize their people and processes in such a way that enables connection with customers at this same human level. It’s not an either-or any more, where interactions with enterprises need to be filled with jargon and a deflection of the “human” in order to operate at scale. Instead, smart businesses are re-tooling their processes in such a way that they can both interact at a human level and do it at scale.

You can check out everything from the Social Business Jam until December 31, 2011, at which time the online archive will no longer be available. (You’ll need to register for the site, which is free.) And of course, if we’re talking about jamming, there is only one sound track that matters…

Google+ Launches Brand Pages

GoogleplusThe big news today is that Google+ has finally announced their long-awaited brand pages with a blog post here. The top line, from Google:

For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello.

A number of pages are already available (see below), but any organization will soon be able to join the community.

A few good examples of brand pages can be found here: Examples of Google+ brand pages

While the overall brand page implementation is new, it is still imperative to secure your organization's presence on the Google+ platform, if nothing else to prevent others from infringing on your organization's brand. The brand signup page is located here: (Do note that Google is incrementally letting new brands onto the system, so it may take a short time before your'e able to successfully log in and secure your organization's name.)

For a deeper dive, here are the differences between individual profiles on Google+ and Google + brand pages: