The employees of ReadyTalk were recently challenged by Dan King, the CEO, to come up with a corporate vision. The format of this vision is supposed to be an article, written sometime in the future 10 or 20 years from now, about ReadyTalk as a company. We were tasked with doing this within our respective teams; to craft this visionary article and bring it back to the table and present it. The idea is then to combine the best of all these visionary articles into one, ultimate article. One article to rule them all.
This challenge is far more difficult than I thought it would be, to be quite honest. What will technology look like in 10 or 20 years? Things are moving so quickly now that the possibilities 20 years from now are nearly unbounded. How do you craft a vision statement for a company and it's products around that? And then I read an article titled The Top Ten Lessons Steve Jobs Can Teach Us - If We'll Listen. There were several things in this article that really stood out to me as I was thinking about something as epic and large as a company vision.
I want to talk about the first point in the article, which is 'The most enduring innovations marry art and science'. This is such an interesting idea, because when you think about it the simplicity of it doesn't hit you right away. I think the point being made here is to build a team of well-rounded thinkers and problem solvers. You will only get so far if you build a team that only thinks about computer science. You've got to have other types of thinkers as well. This is very similar to our hiring practices at ReadyTalk and the common theme of passion. Creative individuals come from varied backgrounds; from music and robotics to athletics and extreme sports. The more varied thought you have in a team, the greater the end result will be.
Points #2 and #3 both really struck me, as well. I think they go hand in hand, to be honest. 'To create the future, you can’t do it through focus groups' and 'Never fear failure'; I believe that in order to achieve the first, you must have the second. We see this occasionally in our Labs projects that our engineers come up with and present to the company. We've seen some great, off-the-wall ideas that may be something that a customer has never asked for. But how often do we stop to ask "What if we put this feature in front of the customers"? Maybe they have never requested it because they have never thought creatively about solving a specific problem they were having. But in order to put something off-the-wall in front of customers, you've got to accept that the result may be failure. But will you have learned something in the process? Will you know your customers better or their needs better or their problem domains better?
What is your company vision? Have you ever stopped to think about what it might look like in 10 or 20 years, or have you only been focusing on getting through the next quarter? Maybe it's time to take a step back and think about your own companies vision quest!
Jason Collins (aka JC) is the VP of Engineering at ReadyTalk and the self-appointed Chief Happiness Officer. He’s been either writing code or managing engineers for nearly 15 years and has a passion for technology and agile development practices. The happiness of the engineering team is his top priority and he can usually be found wearing a ReadyTalk cape and the infamous “idea helmet” around the office to help keep people entertained. When he’s not hanging out with his work family, he’s at home with his wife and four boys doing all sorts of geeky things, like playing video games and watching campy Sci-Fi and Action flicks.