Cumulus Partners

11. June 2010 01:55


When I'm writing, I'm also reading ...

11. June 2010 01:55 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

In my role as a "thought leadership content provider," I tend to consume a lot of books. That's one of the many things I love about my job. I've always loved reading, and as long as my vision lasts (quick cut to Burgess Meredith dropping his glasses in "The Twilight Zone"), I'm cool!

Last year, when I had fewer assignments (i.e., less work and more time), I had a chance to read some classics that I'd overlooked in college, such as "The Charterhouse of Parma" and "The Red and the Black." They are both terrific, and I recommend them highly, especially to all of you writers out there. You get the strong impression that Stendhal didn't have much patience for second drafts -- he just writes, and if you like it, fine. He reminds me of Hunter Thompson!

Today, I'm reading yet another book recommended to me by my former colleague and visionary marketing guru, Don Peppers. Don suggested that I pick up a copy of "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley. I did, and it's a wonderful book. It validates a lot of my late-night ruminations about the evolution of culture and society, and Ridley offers a believable explanation for why humans don't behave like other mammals. So I'm passing along Don's recommendation. You'll enjoy Ridley's book -- it's rationally optimistic!

1. March 2010 17:32


A good reason for rereading "The Tipping Point"

1. March 2010 17:32 by mike barlow | 5 Comments

Because the basic activities of social media strategy often play out in solitude -- lonely figures hunched over their laptops, typing furiously -- it's sometimes hard to remember that a core characteristic of all social media is multiple cycles of human interactions. In other words, social media is very social! Social media strategy doesn't work without lots of human beings -- their thoughts and emotions are the raw fuel that keeps the process going.

I thought of this as I considered a question being raised by some of the more farsighted executives I know. The question is: Does a person need special talent to succeed as a social media practitioner, or can just about anyone do it? Or more pointedly, they ask, will the organization have to go out and hire a bunch of specialists to develop, manage and execute successful social media campaigns?

The correct answer is probably yes, and no. Yes, some people with special talent will be required to staff an ongoing social media function. But some of these people can be recruited from the ranks of existing staff.

Anyone who is considering these questions seriously needs to reread "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. I know, you've already read it. That's what I thought when they asked us to read it for the class on social media strategy that I'm taking at SUNY Purchase. I thought, hey, I've read that book twice, and I thought it was kinda interesting, but obvious, shallow, pop culture, etc...

But I was hellbent on keeping a positive attitude, so I reread it. And I'm glad I did. Gladwell's take on the difference between Paul Revere and William Dawes contains some terrific insight that every manager needs to keep front and center when making hiring or staffing decisions for key social media positions. Basically, Gladwell notes that you need three kinds of influencers to make things happen: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

His observation applies to staffing up for social media initiatives; you'll need the right mix of talents to make it work. And before you start hiring, do yourself a favor and dig out your old copy of Gladwell's book.

25. February 2010 13:58


You can still order copies of "Partnering with the CIO" from Amazon

25. February 2010 13:58 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

Yes, the long tail is still wagging the shaggy dog. How's that for a mixed techno-pop metaphor? At any rate, you can still order copies of "Partnering with the CIO" at Amazon. In some respects, it's more relevant today than when we wrote it four years ago.

25. February 2010 07:36


Recommended reading -- "The Practical CIO"

25. February 2010 07:36 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Have you all had a chance to visit the website for "The Practical CIO" ? I recommend it highly!

18. February 2010 07:36


Welcome to the Cumulus Blog

18. February 2010 07:36 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Welcome to Cumulus Blog. I've been ghosting blogs for several of my clients, and I realized that it was kind of silly that I didn't have my own. I'm hoping this blog will become a sort of nexus for the thoughts generated -- or accumulated -- in conversations with many sources from a variety of industries and backgrounds.

One of the things I've noticed in my conversations with CIOs is that they tend to fall into two categories:

1. CIOs who "get it" and work closely with the business to deliver tangible value. In return they are valued by the organization.

2. CIOs who don't "get it" and devolve into highly paid techno-flunkies reporting to multiple VPs. This bunch seems to spend a lot of time on the phone with headhunters and friendly vendors.

Another trend I've noticed is that many of the really innovative IT strategies -- and the ones most closely aligned with pressing business objectives -- seem to be coming from markets in Latin America and China. I think it's fair to say that these emerging/developing markets are rewriting the IT rulebook. The CIOs and CEOs in these hypercompetitive markets are thinking, "how can I get this done fast, with mimimal support and no infrastructure?"

So if you're looking for exciting, inspirational stories about IT, you're more likely to find them in places like China, Brazil, Russia and Australia.