We need microchips in this hoover

I was hoovering (ok, vacuum-cleaning – I prefer the colloquial British cos I’m a colloquial Brit) the other day – absentmindedly, which is how I do most things – when I suddenly wondered to myself “Does this hoover have a microchip in it?”

Because I bet it does. When you start it up it idles for a couple of seconds then suddenly it’s like Twister. It grabs hold of everything within reach. The carpet comes up, trees outside bend, the cat runs away on the spot. Ever seen the Jackass Rodeo Firehose? Imagine that, but in reverse.

Then I wondered who was the first person to put a microchip in a hoover. Then, more importantly, who was the second. I could imagine the conversation:

CEO: “We need microchips in our hoovers!”

Technician: “Darn-tootin’ boss! But why?”

CEO: “Er…. I dunno, but the other guys have!”

This would be a neat metaphor for social media. I often come across anecdotes in which people say “We need a blog/wiki/Twitter account”, to which the obvious response is “why?”

Fortunately I’ve found a book which agrees with me – Groundswell, by Forrester. I’ve been following Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang for quite some time – he’s the person I’ve bookmarked the most – and whereas he isn’t credited as an author of the book, the quality of Forrester’s thinking shines through here.

I’ve had several ‘slap-onesself-on-the-forehead’ moments where what I’ve read has made so much sense. One of these has been recognition that the tactics/tech come last in all of this.

So you can say “we need a blog”, but suddenly that brings up so many questions. Much better the other way around, when you’ve established your strategy and objectives and audiences, and the blog is one of the (significantly fewer) answers.

So the next time you, or anyone else, says “We need an X”, just imagine what use a microchip would be in a hoover, and ask that obvious question…

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