Google+ Enters the Social Networking Scene
“Online sharing is broken and even awkward,” says Vic Gundotra, one of the creators of Google+, Google’s newest social media project. Google+ was created by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz to “fix” social media by adding nuanced social sharing backed by the power of Google search engines and streamlined innovation.
These are pretty hefty claims for Google to make, especially to a public of over 600 million users who have been happily Facebooking and Tweeting away, seemingly unaware or untroubled by the brokenness of social media.
So what are the features of Google+? More importantly, what makes Google+ better than Facebook and Twitter?
At first glance, a Google+ profile looks very similar to a Facebook profile with many of the same components. However, the function and reach of these components is where Google+ pulls slightly ahead of its predecessors.
For instance, the “Circles” button enables users to organize different contacts from their Gmail, Google+ accounts into categorized groups. These groups can be as specific as needed and gives the user privacy control over who sees what of their profile.
The “Sparks” button is a feature that combines the search engine power of Google with the sharing capability of Twitter and Facebook. You can enter an interest into the sparks search engine and Google will search out relevant information for you to look over and add to an interest list page and share with your “circles” of friends. It will also pull relevant data from the Internet to stream constantly in real time to your interest page.
The +1 button is listed on everything and works as a Facebook “Like” button.
“Huddle” is a group messaging feature that works across Android, iPhone, and SMS. This simplifies communication and enables sharing across many different mediums.
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Instant Upload feature is an app that enables Android users to upload video and photos from their device to their Google+ profile.
The “Hangout” button alerts specific people of your availability/interest in chatting. It also enables group-chatting and video-chatting. For example, if you’re already chatting within a Circle, everyone else in that Circle will get an alert to come chat. This works for up to 10 people. The Google+ system is smart enough to focus on who is controlling the conversation as well as keep track of who is speaking to whom.
Finally, Google+ utilizes a main toolbar which features a drop-down showing all relevant Google+ activity as well as all of the functions. All of the information flowing through the system does so in real time. There is also a link to your Google+ Profile, which will replace your old Google Profile if you have Google+ enabled. On this profile you’ll find not only a stream of everything you’ve shared across Google+ but also your +1 content.
So far Google+ has only been released to 10 million users and only one business: Ford. In about three months, Google+ will be opening up its cyber doors to businesses but a set timeline for releasing it to the general public has not been announced.
“It’s not about one particular project, it’s about Google getting better. We know this is going to take us a considerable amount of time. But we want to make Google better by connecting you with your relationships and interests,” Gundotra stated.
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here