What does the New England Patriots' "rabid" fans' active sharing mid-game comments via immersive Wi-Fi have in common with Peabody hotels' guests' avid videoing and picture-snapping of the daily duck walk? Or parents standing in front a large store wall of bewildering choices in children's car seats, looking down at their free Car Seat Helper app from Phoenix Children's Hospital, comforted in knowing they'll be able make a wise choice about their child's safety?
Spur Sharing to Solidify Connections, Centered Around What You Offer
Each of those situations spur positive, shared experiences, shaped by organizations that seek to serve people better at the right time and in helpful ways. From the Gillette Stadium and sports team managers to the hotelier and hospital leaders, they all recognize that these multi-step moments boost involvement, loyalty and the bragging rights that bring other customers and stakeholders closer too. Instilling bragging rights is dubbed The Ultimate Moment of Truth by Brian Solis in his newest book, What's the Future of Business: "It represents the experience that people share after using your product and engaging with your company over time. Blog posts, YouTube videos, reviews, each in their own way direct people to take their next steps accordingly."
"Because I helped to wind the clock, I come to hear it strike."~ William Butler Yeats
I heartily agree. I also believe that the most impactful, change-evoking experiences still happen in-person, as experienced by the duck-watching hotel guests or the sports fans, sitting by side, sharing with others near and far.
"High Touch" Is Still Needed in An increasingly High Tech World
Way back in 1999 John Naisbitt and Douglas Philips described the "fabulous innovations and devastating consequences of technology's saturation of American society" in their book, High Tech/High Touch, a topic Naisbitt first raised upon even earlier in his prescient 1982 book Megatrends. We have an unalterable need to "connect with the physical world", they wrote, and with each other, I would add. As Solis says in several places, "technology is just a tool." Our desire, as social animals, regardless of temperament -- to feel known, appreciated and valuable -- provides the motivation for social sharing, selling -- and learning.
Dr. Atul Gawande, would concur. He discovered that multiple, convivial in-person interactions are the most successful way to spur behavioral change. When writing about the slow adoption of live-saving medical measures, from anesthesia to hand-washing, the renowned doctor writes in the New Yorker,
In our era of electronic communications, we've come to expect that important innovations will spread quickly. Plenty do: think of in-vitro fertilization, genomics, and communications technologies themselves. But there's an equally long list of vital innovations that have failed to catch on.
For example, he writes, "Every year, three hundred thousand mothers and more than six million children die around the time of birth, largely in poorer countries... Simple, lifesaving solutions have been known for decades. They just haven't spread." He goes on to describe how teaching and/or distributing how-to medical pamphlets rarely work, nor do attempts to provide financial or other incentives.
The only approach that spurs behavior change, he found, is what Everett Rogers advocated: "Diffusion is essentially a social process through which people talking to people, spread an innovation." Gawande cites how a pharmaceutical rep uses "the rule of seven touches," face-to-face interactions, so a doctor comes to know and trust the rep. Despite the remarkable discovery that a simple solution of water, salt and sugar could save many of the victims of the deadly diarrheal disease cholera, it remained difficult, for over a decade to get doctors and parents to use this cheap and easy-to-fix option. Yet, as Gawande recounts, a Bangladeshi non-profit, BRAC, was successful in spurring its use in villages by hiring individuals to go door-to-door and discuss it, semi-literate, using a "distilled" script with "seven easy-to-remember messages." The number of villagers they got to adopt this practice went up further, when they were paid, not by time spent but by the amount of adoption.
The Rise of Shareable Organizations Multiplies Shared Experiences And Start-Up Opportunities
Some foresaw years ago that organizations were springing up based on sharing. Local, not-for-profits like Quantified Self were scaling globally in participation and innovation, with each Meetup chapter getting smarter as they learn from each other. Their success has fostered a several kinds of ecosytems from clothing to APIs and device-making companies and collaborations like Nike and TechStars' Nike + Accelerator.
At the other end of the sharing continuum are disruptive, scalable for-profit companies, most
famously the on-demand car service Uber that's expanded to include boating, morphing into a lifestyle brand; and Airbnb, already sparking start-up variations, perhaps next, by you. Tom Friedman officially declared the sharing economy a trend. Looking at the trends from the perspective of "crowd-powered institutions" and corporations, the Altimeter Group, and others dub the trend the Collaborative Economy, with Jeremiah Owyang citing the threats and opportunities for them.
Years ago, several individuals began covering the mostly grassroots, sharing-based organizations that were sprouting up. They described how some new modes of sharing strengthened neighborliness, and provided fresh opportunities for individuals to collaborate, help each other and/or save or make money. The most touching, for me, are the ways many are surviving economically, in part, by renting out a room in their home, doing tasks or providing rides for others. Neal Gorenflo, for example, has been crowdsourcing coverage of such organizations at Shareable.net. In 2001, On the Commons magazine launched to cover collaborative ways of working. Recently they published the book, All That We Share. Roo Rogers and Rachel Botsman, co-authors of What's Mine is Yours, continue curating examples of Collaborative Consumption. In her book, Mesh, Lisa Gansky describes how businesses can be built to, "provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright."
Sharing-based living and working methods, organizations and experiences will continue to morph, scale and be adopted in more countries and adapted to more situations, causing rippling disruptions to traditional economies as they do. Several are ripe for you to adapt to your own interest, situation, market, profession, or industry. Are you interested?