Monday, November 1, 2010

Ideavirus and the Superintendency

Key message
Seth Godin is a master at creativity in business.  He states that this book is free and should be passed on to others.  His goal throughout this book is to help others find ways to make their message, their company, and their ideas, catch on, to help the ideas spread like a virus.  As leaders in a school district, as the CEO, if we see a vacuum between how things are and how things should be, we must be masters at marketing our own ideas and plans to help fill the vacuum and assist in school district success.
            The “ideavirus” is the belief that a concept can spread, like the common cold, throughout your organization.  This book analyzes how it spreads, what makes it spread, and what are the pitfalls and opportunities CEOs have in order to assist in the growth of their organization.  In this day and age people are more connected than ever.  A simple video of a kitten being tickled that someone uploaded earned more than 33 million hits on YouTube.  33 million!  ( video caught on, it spread like a virus, these concepts/ideas/thoughts are said to be viral.  The idea that someone wants to see a video of a kitten being tickled was probably not intended to spawn such an amazing result.  The key message here is that many ideaviruses are not intended to spread.  The reason why they do is they speak to the key factors that make an ideavirus successful.
            The key factors to consider when trying to spread an idea like a virus are: velocity, smoothness, sneezers, hives, persistence, vectors, and amplifiers.  Each of these key parts plays an important role in spreading an idea.  Mistreating or neglecting any of these will cause an idea to fail to spread and the virus to die out.  Understanding each of these concepts will also help the CEO to understand why an unintended virus spread and how best to manage or contain grass root movements.
Impact on Superintendent
            Just as the CEO of a major company, the superintendent is given the job not only of managing the day-to-day operations of the district but also of setting a course, a vision, for what is to come in the road ahead.  It is imperative for the superintendent to focus not only on today while also always preparing the course of tomorrow.  In completing this task an important piece of this puzzle is marketing the district as a viable option for community members to support.  Just as they say in marketing, one bad review will take over ten thousand positive referrals to refute.  We must be cognizant of those we seek positive referrals from and market our district to those people.  We must ensure those people, who Seth Godin calls the “sneezers,” continue to have positive interactions and memorable experiences at our schools.
            A superintendent must be thoughtful about the initiatives the district undertakes.  They must work with the central office staff to unify the goal of the initiative, break it into manageable pieces, and surround the organization with the right people to communicate the task ahead.  Marketing that initiative is imperative to the success of the idea.  Understanding the vacuum the initiative should fill and the medium the message should be communicated through is as important as the idea itself.  Creating a catchphrase to ensure that the essential aspects of the idea/intiative are spread to the community (hive) will all help the idea go viral.
            Justin Bieber is famous.  There is no doubt about that, but his rise to stardom was not because of hard work, dedication to his craft, talent agencies, and corporate executives.  He was made famous by ordinary people through the website  What can we learn from this as CEOs?  Ultimately, ideas spread.  Why do they spread?  They spread because there is a need, a vacuum, a desire for people to hear a certain kind of music targeted to a certain population that was not being targeted by music executives.  This is what made him famous.  As the superintendents we must be aware of those pockets in our community.  We must seek to capitalize on those pockets, identify services to alleviate that need so we can continue to serve our community.  If we do not do it, people will seek out other resources to fill their needs.  As a superintendent we must know the correct medium with which to fill that need which in turn will make for a successful tenure.
We live in a society connected like no others, we no longer have to spread an idea at the hair salon, phone call to phone call, station to station.  Ideas spread like virus, they go viral.  What can we do as the leaders of our organization to recognize and capitalize on this realization?  As the CEO of our organization, superintendents should master the art and science of marketing. How they spread the message of the school district matters.  How they gain support from the board and the community, matters.  How they develop their district through strategic, focused, planned and unplanned change, matters.  Understanding how ideas spread like viruses, who makes them spread, and how to influence the virility of the message can rapidly improve the tenure of a superintendent and the success of the district itself.

Ideas That Spread...Win!

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