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Meeting Ann Holman

2010 May 1

Innovation was a theme on Friday morning, when I had the pleasure of meeting Ann Holman in person. What an energetic and forward thinker she is!

We’d already conversed briefly by electronic means, and so we arranged to meet IRL (In Real Life), as others have termed it. Ann had already tweeted, although at the time I had not seen her message, that drinking coffee at the Innovation Centre, Exeter University, was an important ancillary benefit of meeting me there! So we know one source of fuel for her thinking; and our meeting place was one element of the “innovation” theme.

As I understand it, Ann’s main thesis is that business, in general, and marketing, in particular, have changed significantly over the last year or less due largely to the advent of new communication channels, notably social media.

An important aspect of her approach relates to the building of communities. She has strong views on the kind of people and organizations with and for whom she likes to work. So it is not surprising that her preference for clients is, in part at least, based on their ability to recognise the need to grasp the opportunities and to generate benefits from building communities.

I learnt that those communities might be around an organization, within an organization or even be the entire organization. More specifically, the development of communities in which people self-select their role is closely related to the avoidance of hierarchical organization structures; so organizations which cling to hierarchies are unlikely to hold Ann’s attention for long!

Such a forward thinking approach to the consequences of novel social media is itself innovative.

So, as “innovation is the key” is a theme of mine these days, it was great to share some innovative thinking at the Innovation Centre.

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