On The Fringe & Other F Words Business' Avoid

You know what happens out at the fringe? Innovation, that's what.

If you don't believe me, it's because you can't. You are probably too close to the center, or the flame, so to speak. Maybe you have different marching orders or you simply march to a different beat. Maybe your vision is myopic. Maybe you are just too darn tired. Either way, it's not your fault.

Or is it? 

Who decides where the fringe is or what people get to experience it?

Amazon seized the fringe back in 2002, then again in 2008 and again in 2010 and according to some, keep grabbing at wispy tails of innovation as part of their overall business model to transform the way people shop.

Google constantly gets media attention for their fringe-investigation and goodness knows everyone wants to know details about what they are doing next. (Google Sandbox is my favorite playground.)

Target has been cited for leading innovation for the conventional retail sector from the fringe and beyond as well, by really integrating technology into their enterprise leadership.

Much has been written about Facebook and it's wild west business strategy, but no one can argue with 1 billion registered users as a true indication of global domination.

Some organizations decide that only certain people get access to the fringe while other organizations thrive on pushing people into the fringe as part of their overall strategy. It's okay either way, if it's okay with the employee base. There is a secret sauce to what I am talking about. And it's based on opportunity, corporate culture and a few other F words that business' typically avoid.

The biggest opportunity for the fringe is in the social and digital sector, where the unraveling of conventional business seems to be the rule instead of the exception. It's not a straight up abandonment of traditional business practices. It's more like a propensity to challenge the norm, embrace all sorts of behavior changes (and lead in some really cool cases) and finally, my personal favorite...really connecting with the little people. When smarty-pants editors and researchers at places like Harvard Business Review write up articles about "Disruptive Innovation," they are really telling people that social media will lead this evolution because its the one part of business that normal "little people" can relate to. They use it every day. But let me be clear about that before I go on...connecting with the little people is built on the foundation of ONE REALLY BIG THING. That all people are created equal. Not all Christmas gifts are created equal, for God's sakes. But all people. Should be. At some basic level. Like the internet.

The internet. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Etc. all are platforms that break down traditional and conventional business endeavors and at the very basic level give access to everyone. Everyone with a computer. And access to wi-fi. And time. And willingness to learn new skills. And when appropriate, become thought leaders or advocates for changing things for the better. So, yeah, in that sense, there are limits and requirements like any good ole conventional business process. And there should be in order to increase the stickiness of the next new advancement, in addition to the overall sustainability of the business motive. But the one wild card characteristic that we can't forget is that social should be FUN.

On the fringe AND fun? We all know what that means. It means we are not serious business professionals. It probably means we are just playing around and don't really care about success. It means we are only having fun and wasting time, right? Not at all. It means that we are changing the way we do business and changing the way people do business with us.

We want doctors to be serious assholes. We need lawyers to give us guardrails. But we spend time and money with brands and Friends we love. (That's the last F word I'm using today.)

What's your favorite F word? 

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