Sometimes, it is hard to explain something, and only witnessing it first-hand really helps. One of these things is pace and magnitude of change. You can hear about earthquakes and see all the documentaries, but only after you have personally been near the fault-line and felt the seismic tremors, will you be able to really get it. When you are stuck in your nine-to-five, you easily get tangled in your regular occupational routines and become myopic to where the world is moving.
When I took part in an excursion to the Silicon Valley last year, inspired by what I saw and heard, I decided I needed to convince more of our organization to do the same. I ended up boarding 10% of the company on the bandwagon, from various parts of the organization. A medley of hackathon winners, management and board members invested a week of their time in the Disneyland of start-ups, tech innovation, fame and failure, story-tellers and VC money.
What was the true rationale for investing in such a seemingly extravagant exercise? Well, it is a little hard to explain… Gut feeling? Partly… Well, there were a couple of reasons.
Spending a week in the Bay Area and encountering some 20 reference points of singularity, start-ups, grown-ups and meeting five of the top 15 most admired companies provides an excellent backdrop for thinking big and for ventilating the upstairs.
Seeing first-hand where and why leading companies are investing, hearing how they run their business, how they attract and retain talent and how they measure performance gives contrast to our own operations and thinking.
Networking with thought-leaders face-to-face is much more effective than connecting on LinkedIn.
Hearing the stories of those who have failed and of those who have made it is comforting and energizing at the same time.
Creating a winning strategy beckons for peripheral vision. You need hard facts, but for the intuitive part, it comes largely from observations you make in your immediate business environment, from things you might read about or hear in conventions and from your gut. When you broaden this horizon, the opportunities become much more abundant. When you spend a week immersed in an environment that attracted 9,5$ billion VC backed investments in Q2 2018 alone, you can imagine it is not small-talk. The impossible enters into the realm of possibilities.
This was one of those investments, like any learning experience, which is hard to factor into an ROI calculation. Will it ever even pay itself back? On the other hand, will it have provided some crucial insight, which defines whether we sustain our competitive advantage? Will it have confirmed some our beliefs and corrected some of our misperceptions?
At least speaking for myself, it was once again an inspiring week and there were some very tangible take-aways in the form of networks and potential partnerships. And it will surely provide some additives to our strategy. Time will show…
Below you can find a list of blog entries from our delegation.
My observations from the 2017 trip were embalmed in five blogs: