After returning to Apple for his second run as CEO, Steve Jobs fronted various sessions at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in 1997. I wasn’t there, unfortunately. During one of the Q&A sessions, someone challenged Steve on the decision to use Java rather than OpenDocs, questioning Steve’s understanding of the technical details and implications. Steve’s response started with “you can please some of the people some of the time, but … ,” and after a pause, said:
“One of the hardest things when you are trying to effect change, is that people like this gentlemen, are right … in some areas. I’m sure that there are some things OpenDocs does, probably even more that I’m not familiar with, that nothing else out there does. And I’m sure that you can make some demos, maybe a small commercial app, that demonstrates those things. The hardest thing is, how does that fit into a cohesive, larger vision that is going to allow you to sell $8 billion, $10 billion of product a year. And one of the things I’ve always found, is that you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to try to sell it.”
That’s not a bad summary on effecting change for an under-the-spotlight answer!
At Silverside, we are all about effecting change; about helping people and organisations transform from an email culture to a collaborative culture. And as Steve said in response to the question, people will be right in some areas about why this is a challenging journey, why the current state is better than the future ideal, and why current patterns should be left unchanged. But also as Steve said, there is a cohesive, larger vision that underpins our work, where email no longer holds pride of place.
Here’s the high-level talking points about our work and what we are trying to do:
1. The way the world communicates and interacts has shifted. There was a time when an email culture was an amazing and productive place to be, but that has become increasingly less true over the past decade. The ability of email to facilitate business, to bring project teams together, to offer strong data protection in the new world of GDPR, to enable participation across the organisation in communities of interest and practice … just isn’t there any more. Something much more is needed, and innovations in communications technology over the past decade have been fast and furious. And deeply fascinating as an enabler of new ways of working.
2. While technology shouldn’t be the place to start, changing technologies do create new options for how we live, interact, and do our work (and even the very nature of our work and jobs). The car has transformed where people live, distributing them across cities, suburbs, neighbourhoods and towns. The airplane enables a pace of business, relationships, and sports that sailing ships just didn’t enable. The smartphones in our pockets and purses (it’s a pocket for me) give us an incredible ability to stay in contact with others, to learn what’s happening, and even to micro-coordinate with friends and family. Not all implications of new technology are positive; we live in an age of unintended consequences indeed.
3. As Silverside, we don’t control what Microsoft or IBM does to its products. As you don’t either. But we bring a layer of expertise and insight into how these tools can be used, and yet we try to approach that with an understanding of what is possible in order to inform our interactions on what is necessary or beneficial in your world and work. Our scenarios approach reflects this, and soon you will be able to see the new scenarios we have put together on common business activities and where Office 365 can be used to effect change. The documents and resources we have developed are great (well, we think so), but the bigger picture is that we want these to be the starting point for a discussion with you – on your situation, on your challenges, on where you’re at, on the “cohesive, larger vision” that you have for your organisation.
There’s much more to come from Silverside as 2018 unfolds.
Can we walk this journey with you?