What You Forgot About the State of Social Business, and Other Scattered Takeaways from #IS6621

The seventh and final blog. At least seven is a good number to end on.

Fittingly, I learned on Twitter long ago that Life Comes at You Fast. Watching Clay Shirky explain how “Group Action Just Got Easier” due to social media offered a hopeful start to this class. Indeed, Shirky effectively predicted the Arab Spring uprising and the positive political implications of technology were easy to imagine. Yet, as Professor Kane promised us, something big in social media happened during the semester, and we’ve since had to reckon with the political ramifications of the filter bubbles and fake news that influenced our presidential election. Group action is definitely easier now, but that also means it’s easier to let your friends know that the Pope endorsed a presidential candidate, even if that’s not true.

Here’s another big takeaway from this semester, along with some more things that I now know thanks to #IS6621.

Soft Skills are more Important Than Ever

Perhaps my favorite session was all the way back on September 8th, which featured Professor Kane and Natasha Buckley discussing their findings from the 2016 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project. In particular, this chart below fascinated me. In this supposedly scary new age, the best ways to stay ahead of the technological curve are mostly related to one’s disposition and open-mindedness.  The willingness to change and think ahead, for both leaders and employees, far outpaced hard technological skills as the key ingredient to a digitally “mature” company. As we talked about in a later class, these soft skills manifest themselves in companies that, for instance, don’t have long email chains, because you don’t have to know five programming languages to know that long email chains are unproductive and that you should make a habit of just calling somebody at some point if you really want to talk to that person. Another smaller takeaway from that discussion was that employees of all ages will leave companies if they feel like their digital skills are not growing, and that the prospect of digital growth was perhaps more important to people than the digital skills that they may possess.


Professor Kane also spoke about a similar concept in that second class, which was a “minimum failure rate” that all companies must have to stay innovative. I, for one, could absolutely benefit from maintaining a slightly higher failure rate in an effort to keep growing as a person.

When Crowds Work

Our discussion on the Wisdom of Crowds was another one chock full of takeaways. Simply, crowdsourcing works when diversity of opinion, decentralization, independence and aggregation are present. The concepts of randomization and sample size are familiar to many of us as business school students, yes, but in the corporate world, these directives are often not heeded. Additionally, governmental bureaucracy is ripe with homophily and can produce disastrous results, with the best (or worst) example being the Bay of Pigs invasion. Crowdsourcing is a hot topic right now, and it can be effective. We must remember, though, as Professor Kane said, “crowds can do great stuff under certain circumstances.


I’ll leave you with some more interesting quotes from Professor Kane that I jotted down throughout the semester. These knowledge darts may not be exact quotes, because I have pretty bad handwriting. The wisdom endures, though.

Be wary of analytics people. The impact of what they suggest is usually overstated, and just because you can implement it, it doesn’t mean they’ll do it right.”

“Facebook has your best interests at heart because it needs you to keep coming back. They need you to be addicted to it.”

“Open floor plans are overrated. They’rs always chaos. You need quiet spaces and some separation.”

“Alphabet is about turning Google into more of a VC company. They’re better investors than innovators.”

“The laws are always behind the technology.”

“Memes are like genes. They naturally wants to spread through the culture, and social media just allows for that to happen faster.”

“It’s all about finding that sweet spot between chaos and control.”



  1. adawsisys · ·

    Nice post! Those are some fantastics quotes. Its great that you wrote them down and thought to incorporate them in your blog. I will keep the Facebook quote in mind the next time I find myself wasting time scrolling through the news feed. I like that you mentioned how it is important to step outside your comfort zone and being willing to take a chance at failing. It is applicable to businesses that need to adapt and to personal growth. It think it ties in nicely to the chaos and control quote.

  2. Haha. I love those quotes. One student in a different class (in a different setting) did a similar thing, wrote down her favorite quotes, and then presented them to me at the end of the year. That was over 10 years ago, and it’s still on my office wall. Thanks for the gift. You make me sound really smart when you only pull out my best soundbytes. :)

  3. ikechukwu_28 · ·

    Great blog Michael. Those quotes you wrote down are a great touch, and one would definitely be wise to keep them in mind. I also liked when you talked about how soft skills are more important than ever. One might be the most technically inclined person of all time, but if they have no soft skills, then it doesn’t really matter. That’s on of the reasons why I actually changed my major last year, in fact.

  4. Michael Michael Michael we have come a long way since you flamed me in one your earliest blogs about my 2k skills. Great way to end the blog with a recap of some of your biggest takeaways from the semester. I really enjoyed reading your take on soft skills. Myself being one that is not always the best at technical questions in an interview, I try to rely on my soft skills in order to differentiate myself from other candidates. Also, enjoyed the quote list at the end of the blog, great way to end the semester on a high note.

  5. Good final blog Mitchel. I have laughed so hard with the quotes, how did you do that! It was interesting what you said about the crowds. I believe that it is an important thing to look up to, i don´t believe that is the solution to everything but there is some tasks that they could definitely outperform bureaucracy in my opinion, they are also very good source of creativity and political action. the hyper-connectivity has not reached its maximum potential, as I said in my exposition crowds might be the political instrument of the future.

  6. Nice post. I am a big fan of the Wisdom of Crowds and if you have not read the full book, I strongly encourage that you do so. Really good insight into how crowd sourcing has been used in the past and how crowd sourcing can drive innovation.

    One of the most interesting crowd sourcing concepts is crowd funding. Go Fund Me and Kickstarter have been great to help get ideas off the ground, but there are also social good applications as well. I just heard this morning that crowd funding has raised close to $500,000 for the vicims of the Cambridge fire just last weekend.

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