Top 5 Trends in the World of Work This Week

I like to talk nerdy and have this thing for using analogies, metaphors and alliteration to connect seemingly disparate phenomena — what some might call “random.” It’s not uncommon for me to do so using old school rap songs, childhood nostalgia or other pop-culture references. Now that you know, you’ll be able to understand this week’s theme, which sparked when I was watching the original cinematic classic: Dirty Dancing.

To set the stage, I was fresh off a stimulating #TChat on the Innovation Revolution when it came to me: “No one puts baby in a box.” So without further ado, for your reading pleasure, here are the Top 5 Trends in the World of Work this week a la le box.

1.     Boxing Match Meets Boxes with Pretty Bows

If you haven’t been living under a rock or rockin’ a vow of social silence in a self-made asharam, you’ve heard about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. The big news is not the cool $1 billion Instagram was sold for, or how two young bucks cashed in on overnight success (like Charles Forman experienced when he landed a sweet deal with Zynga thanks to his game Draw Something). No, the epic-ness of this deal is in the drawing of some interesting conclusions, both figuratively and literally. One is that the game is now about what “looks” sexy, and some say Facebook’s move this week was an attempt to compete with Pinterest as the Victoria’s Secret of the social networking world — they’re vying for eyes. This point-set-match version of Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-IPO CEO letter cleverly shows us who’s leading the game between Facebook and Google (who had made its own attempts at an “Instagrab”). For fun, I’ve shared a screenshot of Google+’s Facebook page — 23 likes and counting. If you’re wondering where Twitter is in this social party, it’s probably still choked about Google’s decision to further personalize search results. But hey, the purchase of Tumblr’s biggest rival Posterous seems like quite the awesome goody bag; don’t you think?

The Trend: We’re amidst a social war of the visuals, and the battle lines have been drawn between Facebook, Google and Pinterest.

2.     Big Box Makes “Small” Talk

It’s been a few weeks since we starting hearing about Best Buy ditching the big box in favor of a small business model. Store footprints are shrinking, and some 50 stores will close entirely by the end of this year. It’s an effort to re-commit to the customer and focus on delivering what the market is asking for instead of marketing what the four walls can’t seem to sell. There’s nothing fancy about old-fashioned cost-cutting. Neither is cutting one’s self loose of leadership, as Best Buy’s CEO did this week. Nevertheless, the retailer is forging forward with its new.0 model, which boasts the introduction of 100 smaller, mobile-only stores focusing on tablets and smartphones. Will this ring true for other retail giants?

Trend: The era of best bye may be emerging, and other companies may follow suit in boxing up their enterprise strategies in favor of nimbleness and precision.

3.     The “In” Box

This video has all the bells, whistles and pop-cultural bling one could ask for on film. Spoiler alert: If you like high-speed chases, highly populated areas, a scantily clad woman on a motorcycle, or a heroic rescue, you’ll definitely want to see it. More important than sight is what it means for the vision of marketing and branding in the social space. Mark Bonchek, SVP of Communities and Networks for Sears Holdings, talks about brand humanization and the necessity for marketing’s message to be focused on “identities” and “social contexts.” He believes, “As brands become more like peers, they need to behave more like people: personal, reciprocal, and authentic.” How business can spar with “digital darwinism” is the crux of what Brian Solis has been telling us all along: “To reach the connected consumer, you must first walk in their footsteps.” Brian urges brands to become digital anthropologists, keen observers of the psychology of customers’ lives. The power is no longer in the hands of brands. The ego-system is out, and evolution is in.

The Trend: Successful brands will create footprints customers want to follow.

4.     Think Outside the Box

The title is cliché, but roll with it — because it’s relevant. I watched a 10-minute YouTube video this week that a colleague shared on Facebook. That’s a long time to stay focused for a video these days, but I was glued. It was the story that needed to be told, and it was about a boy, a box and how social brilliance made the term “if you build it, they will come” a modern day miracle. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but be forewarned: This video may force you to point the finger at yourself for indecent innovation — the shamefulness of drawing inside the lines and thinking that way, too. It’s never too early (or too late) to innovate. You can start by getting clear on how you innovate with this fabulous post by Forbes, which helps you determine your innovation personality type. As for the boy and the box, when I watched the clip on April 11th, at about 9:30am, there were about 14,500 views. By yesterday afternoon, it was over a million. If you’re still not convinced about watching a 10-minute video, maybe this Forbes article on how the 9-year-old innovator will be a billionaire in 30 years will convince you. That’s a long way from East L.A.

The Trend: Social media lets remarkable innovation tell its own story. Tune in and take note.

5.     Check-Box

Do you remember the way-back-when of networking? You got invited to an event that you showed up to in shiny wingtips or a pretty pair of pumps. With coiffed hair and leather portfolio in hand, you talked about all the famous names and places you possibly could. All that mattered was getting the business card and dutifully adding it to your PalmPilot. Now we have CardMunch and QR codes, but it’s more than technology that has changed. The boxes we should check off to signal networking success start with the self. What caught many eyes this week was Daniel Gulati’s HBR post on the idea that accomplishment trumps affiliation. His argument is that the relevance of prestige is diminishing. Long-standing brand names are no longer having legendary appeal because new legacies are born every day in our social epoch. The truth of networking today is your truth, plain and simple. What difference did you make, really? Talk about that. Tell that story. Live it. Whether you’re “working it” or chatting it up with a local bartender, when all else fails you have this Forbes list and ageless HBR wisdom on how leaders effectively network: “Stick to it.”

The Trend: Authenticity is an opportunity, not a buzzword. Rinse and repeat.

That’s it for this week.…wait…no, it’s not! Help us crowd-source here by sharing what’s new and novel in the world, or by voting on the trends you think are game-changers in the World of Work.