Online social networking giant Twitter is facing serious problems following another unimpressive quarterly return and a significant slide in the stock market. With the share price tanking by more than 10% on Tuesday October 27th, and with competitors racing ahead in user growth, Twitter's problems are mounting. They are facing very low percentages of new users, fast growing competitors, disgruntled investors to name but a few. Serious issues in the now, but critical for the company's future. If only for a 140-character turnaround solution...
Twitter has taken several steps to arrest its slide. Co-founder Jack Dorsey as been newly installed as CEO to replace Dick Costolo, who was removed following disappointing results in the last quarter. Mr Dorsey has swiftly cut the company's workforce by 8%, in an effort to mobilise agile development teams to produce solutions for growth. He has overseen the launch of Moments, a service which gathers tweets, stories, news and events and delivers them succinctly to users. And most recently, his organisation has released a voting mechanism that allows users to tweet responses to a 2 choice poll.
However, the biggest problem facing Twitter is its ability (or perhaps more accurately, inability) to innovate, adapt and to originate new, creative ideas to excite users; which ultimately will generate the income required to raise the share price.
Did you know that the 'hashtag' and 'retweet' functions, language and symbols that are synonymous with the Twitter brand, were actually created by users!? Quite astonishing that the core rhetoric of the Twitter fraternity were not the invention of the company itself. More importantly, this suggests that in actuality Twitter has not, and may still not, have the ability in its ranks to originate the creative ideas and services to meet the expectations of social media users.
Targeting a solution to their innovation problem will be critical to Twitter's turnaround. It has been their problem in the past and in the present, but ensuring it isn't a problem going forward will be key. This is not just an issue for Twitter of course, or solely for the social media market place. It is an organisational challenge faced by many companies in almost every industry; jostling with competitors and steeling a march on the opposition's ideas.
The most effective way for organisations to meet this challenge is to ensure they have the right balance of creative, commercially minded 'originator' talent within their ranks. An innovative, customer-focused, intuitively curious workforce at the heart of the enterprise who can envision and walk the pathways to excite their current users and grow their customer base; something that Twitter is consistently failing to do - only gaining around 3 million users (less than 2%) in the last quarter.
Recruiting and developing the right talent to meet these commercial challenges is not easy and requires a strategic, bigger picture mindset to what might appear straightforward problems. But steps can be taken to assess, acquire and grow the right talent to tackle these problems head on. Mr Dorsey and his talent management team might want to think about this more closely.
With users becoming less interested in Twitter and more enthused by rivals such as Instagram and WhatsApp, the company must evolve its service offerings now! For the good of today's Twitter but more importantly, tomorrow's.
Recent comments from Mr Dorsey suggest he is aware of the need for change in Twitter's product and service range, in order to engage 'tomorrow's users'. This is all well and good but there are critical, introspective questions he needs to ask. Do they have the visionary talent to deliver products to turn things round? Have they jettisoned the 'right' 8%? Do they possess the inherent capability to originate? Have they ever had it? Time will of course tell. But history doesn't inspire confidence. The market doesn't stand still.
At Thompson Dunn we have developed a tool called the Decision Profile that can help organisations like Twitter to immediately identify, recruit or develop their innovators. Ensuring that you have the right kind of decision makers, who make choices and develop commercial products in a creative, risk taking and decisive manner, will increase the chances of meeting the business needs of organisations.
Decision makers who hold the Originator Decision Profile in particular, who are strategic, enterprising and visionary in their contribution, are what Twitter require. And fast. #callingalloriginators
Visit www.decisionprofile.com to explore how you make decisions.
Michael Johnson Director & Senior Consultant Psychologist Thompson Dunn Ltd. & Decision Profile Ltd.