by: Jonathan Salem Baskin

Jack and Suzy Welch opined on their new love of Twitter in a recent international issue of Business Week, and I couldn't help but think of two rather snippy things:

First, can anybody say bandwagon? Their discovery of Twitter came about as they were researching the article on it, and they found it useful to tweet people about tweeting. This gave them the opportunity to mention a few Twitter handles for similarly famous celebs (like Suze Orman), and describe that you really have to use it in order to appreciate just how cool it is to use.

Wow. So here's the guy who takes credit for inventing the modern industrial conglomerate telling us that their most profound insight into Twitter is that it's an in club? You'd think Jack would riff a bit on how Twitter might have changed what he did at GE, for good or bad. Really give it some analysis. Similarly, Suzy probably has knowledge of hundreds of company case histories from her days at the Harvard Business Review, so I bet she has some real insight into the implications for micro-blogging.

Nope. We get none of that from them. Nothing novel, nothing particularly insightful or different. No exploration about the phenomenon that 1) makes no money, 2) replaces no operational function, and 3) has really weird stats on who, how many, and why anybody uses it. Instead, they wrote an article about how much fun they were having with Twitter, and Business Week thought it important enough to print. 

Which brings me to my second gripe: so much of the commentary on business today is just so boring.

Between the economic meltdown and all of the transformation going on (outsourcing, environmentalism and, yes, social media, among other phenomena), you'd think the sage titans of industry would be:

  • Challenging their very presumptions
  • Daring one another to blow up their old models, and invent new ones
  • Questioning rules and givens of operations
  • Debating every notion
  • Giving new consideration to old ideas, and repeatedly vetting new ones before anybody embraces them

Nope.

Instead, we get platitudes and drivel, whether from Welch, or Ted Turner, Richard Branson, or any of the other gurus who get booked on TV business shows, or quoted in magazines.

Think about it. When was the last time you heard one of the business celebs say something truly amazing or revolutionary (instead of their advice that we all strive to be amazing revolutionary)? In fact, a cover story for the international issue of Time recently focused on how Twitter will change our lives, yet the story was full of qualitative, buzzword-rich (that means heavy use of "innovation"), context-vacant commentary; Twitter is a miracle because, well, because it is! 

We should probably be suspicious of any event or supposed trend that allows everyone to embrace it without actually saying anything about it (i.e. being aware of any context, or providing real perspective beyond their own subjective wonder). There's probably a mathematical ratio here: the more well-know celebs weighing in similarly on an issue, the less likely they're telling us anything useful. 

Bandwagons are just so boring. 

Original Post: http://dimbulb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/06/bandwagons-are-boring.html

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