Disruptive Minds Think Alike

work like da vinci

I started thinking about this while I was reading “Work like Da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb. It hit me like a rock, it just happened.

It became clearer when, about 7 years ago, I was doing a presentation to some former colleagues. The presentation was about applying what I learned from that book to our work, our job roles, our goals.

I was mostly astonished by two things:

1) Realizing that it wasn’t what people wanted to hear

2) The passion and the belief I had it was the right (or, the one right) course of action.

When you work in the corporate world, you hear a lot of “being agile” without actually being such. Why? Because corporate policies are required to keep things in order.

Order, that is the exact word. Order is necessary in some environments because you need to control a lot of things including budgets, regulations, internal policies but also behaviours, attitudes, mind-sets and even relationships.

I’m not saying these are bad things as sometimes you need a certain environment for people who need boundaries. It’s just human nature.

But Order and Control are what keep you from being creative, or better, disruptive.

Disruptive Mindset
Developing a disruptive mind-set is not something you learn to do overnight. You need to re-learn, or “un-learn” several things in order to follow this path.

 

And not all the people want to do that. Because it’s risky, it can lead to challenges and failures and who wants to fail nowadays? Sometimes you don’t even have the luxury to do that.

But, you need to start from something, somehow. And I personally started with that book, although my path that led to it started many more years before that event.

Looking at things differently, this is what I would suggest to anyone who wants to embrace the uncertainty.

It’s so obvious but in our everyday life we are so concentrated with the things we have in front of is that we just don’t do it (or we don’t find the time to do it).

Because sometimes it seems a loss of time, because it doesn’t seem worthy, or simply because our perception of “concrete doing” reminds us this is not productive. Wrong, very much wrong!

If you want to start your “disruptive journey” you need to look at things differently.

New Mindset

I was talking with a colleague and a friend, a few days back. We talked about how Companies in the past tended to be product-oriented. And this is still the case for many Companies, and people.

“Leads, leads, leads” is their motto and “product, product, product” is their focus. You can’t argue with that of course because, in the end, you are there to produce revenues. Are you, really?

Why, instead of looking at you and your role like that, don’t try to look at yourself differently? Why don’t you start thinking that, maybe, you can produce much more than just revenues?

What if you can really change the mind-set of the Company you work for, a team you’re part of, or your manager’s beliefs, from the ground-up? What would the outcome be? Uncertain, for sure.

But maybe a lot more productive and successful. Because it will change you as well while doing so. And that’s definitely something you can’t ignore.

Uncertainty

Logic VS Creativity

Here in IBV we tend to do things differently. We meet, every week, and we do a few exercises. I call it: Balance between Logic VS Imagination (Concrete VS Creativity).

We sit together in a “creative room”, start CollaBoard on a Surface Hub and all our Surface devices and we share a project altogether.

Of course we look at the data and talk about goals/strategy/tactics/timeline using a sort of S.M.A.R.T approach (Logic). And then, we disrupt it (Imagination). (I’ll dig into this in another post when talking about Data). Everyone looks at the data provided in different ways, or better, in their different ways, and we start building a “bucket of ideas”. Ideas are the ones who bring creativity into motion.

We create our own content and put them into libraries and then we discuss them. Remember: even the silliest idea or the silliest question can be the most brilliant one. The tools we have at our disposal help us to create this agile environment where people can express themselves and bring their inputs into actionable items using their creativity. When we finish our exercise, everyone has at least 2-3 action items based on the things they saw, we shared and they experienced.

After a few days, you will really see people thinking differently, get more familiar with the “uncertain” and be bold enough to take actions.

Even the most logic and structured mind is, at an unconscious level, pushed to look at things differently.

That is what I call a real brainstorming and that is a good starting point when you want to start to embrace the change!

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): You

BYOD, an acronym we heard several times in the last year or so. Now it seems a bit obsolete because, as we very well know, technology runs faster than the blink of an eye (or maybe because marketing did a darn good job at the time!).

A “buzzword”, or a cool word, that has been used several times to apply something that was so obvious for a lot of people but somehow it was not really happening in the business world. Bringing your personal device, from home to the office, and connect it to the domain/active directory or whatever you have/had in the workplace. Why? Because it’s easy, fast, efficient, …. (fill in the blanks with any other powerful word you can think of!).

Time Magazine

When I was working for Microsoft, it was even more obvious to me that we needed to bring our own device and configure it as a personal/business device (and I’m not talking about those nice-keyboard-but-very-hard-to-configure Blackberry devices). It didn’t happen a few years back and then Microsoft, and many other Innovators, realized that.

But why starting a blog post with something like this? Well, it’s not really about this buzzword I want to focus your attention on. The attention is on two main points: “You” and “Personal”.

These 2 concepts are part of the Evolution, or better Re-volution (Re-Evolution), that we are experiencing right now. Not of all us really understand what’s happening (lack of knowledge, or simply disinterest) and I’m definitely not calling myself an expert on this field. But there is this wind blowing, this fresh air you can smell, and that’s happening right now. You can feel it, at least heard about it, and, not only that, this will have an impact on us and our children for many years to come. There is no turning back.

But what is this Re-Evolution and why this is somehow related to the Personal Technology?

Everything is personal, even if it’s loaned or temporarily provided it to you by the Company that hired you. Think about iOS or Android: everything that it’s in there is personal (although the “Data” you digest, in and out, are not really yours but that is another story). You have all these services and tools that are tailored to your needs. And here the Cloud concept played a huge role affecting all of us, business or leisure-related data or service you can think of. There is no difference anymore; these 2 things are not completely separated anymore. And, whether you like it or not, that’s a key difference from the past.

People want to embrace the “personal” and the “business” because it’s easy, because it makes sense and, why not, because it’s even fun sometimes.

Personal Technology. The BYOD concept was about bringing your personal into the business, now you don’t have to do it anymore. Because YOU are the technology and there’s nothing more personal than you, right? 😊

Wearable glasses, virtual reality, more personal computing (and yet another buzzword): put all these things together and you got yourself what? You. We are experiencing all these revolutionary technologies that will change our lives forever and the best part is that they are all “You-Centric”.

Think about all the devices you have: your laptop, maybe a PC at home, a couple of smartphones, a GPS in your car. You won’t need all of this anymore because the technology is (and will be) all around you. Devices that are always on (like the Amazon Echo), lenses that communicate with you, holograms that come out from a display (HoloLens in-primis), watches that measure your pulse and who-knows-what in the near future. This is the big step forward I think human kind did since the Invention of fax machine (maybe bad comparison but gives the idea 😊).

HoloLens in action

Why do you need to type when you can use your most natural gestures? Why do you need to click when you can speak? And why do we need a computer when this fast-changing world will be able to “compute” itself?

This will be your Personal Technology: something which is always on, something which is always there whether you turn left or right. But it won’t be you that will have to learn how to use an application anymore: the application, or more in general, the technology will be around you.

So, prepare Not-To-Bring-Your-Own-Device anymore because you will be already in it 😉

(Link to the original article)

 

Surface Hub gets the Big Update!

Some of us today in IBV are excited. Not because the weekend is approaching (LOL) but because Microsoft recently announced the availability of the Anniversary Update for the Surface Hub!

This is not like getting the update for the Phone (which was exciting, yes, but not at this point), this is about seeing what the Update will bring to the device we in IBV use the most, together of course with our HoloLens.

This morning we will be running around and check the installation on our 3 different Surface Hubs. It’s a big improvement also because it will enable us to do much more on the Hub (other than of course solving several bugs).

But the primary reason we are excited about it’s because of our app CollaBoard, specifically designed for Windows 10 Devices with Ink capabilities (and who’s better than the Surface Hub ?? :)). I think it’s an amazing app, it brings a lot of additional value to the device, it brings real-time collaboration where everybody were waiting for it, and much more.

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I will tell you more about our app but, in the meantime, let’s go run the Hubs and start the Engines 🙂 !!

The Vision Surfaces

After the fact, after the event #IBVDay16, we had a lot of time to talk about it and also to talk about the strategy we where going to implement moving forward.

It’s a good exercise to do in teams: working together, brainstorming in my opinion is one of the most important things you have to do after you organize an event like that. And after you (me, in this case) have a clearer picture on were we are heading.

The great part of IBV is People. I found very energizing the fact that we always come up with great ideas to implement in our overall strategy. And it’s not that easy, considering all the differences people have in terms of background, education, past experiences, previous jobs, etc. Sometimes you need to come up with a single solution no matter what. Because the ideas are thousands but then someone has to take the risk to go for one instead of another. The mixture of cultures we have here definitely helps this a lot but, again, one person needs to lead, decide and take actions.

Even the smallest thing can be important. Content, for example. Content is big, huge, is THE topic that drives marketing and sales. But what kind of content? Which types? Considering that people have to do their jobs on top of this, this can become an issue, or at least can become complicated. Sometimes you feel like you are floating around this amount of content that you don’t know where to start. And sometimes Content drives even the business decisions and not viceversa which is kind of weird but often true.

If you consider the huge, monumental amount of content that is out there, you need to have a Vision. And thank goodness we have one 🙂

Depositphotos_9623543_original.jpg

Me and my counterpart Michael, we work everyday on this Vision. We have a clear picture on where we are heading to. Sometimes we need to “defend” our ideas, and that is normal for a Company that switched gears in a very short time-frame. We do brainstorming every single day, sometimes just for half an hour, but we are able to talk about the same things using different paths or languages (and I’m not talking about English VS Italian VS Swiss German :)). This is very reassuring to me, having the chance to confront my ideas with a person that really understands me and with whom I share the same Vision.

But, what is this Vision then? Well, of course we got some “hints” from our boss Andi who is really a visionary. But we change things, we move items a bit, we modernize them and often times we need to bring this high-level Vision into something tangible, something concrete and something we, the Company, need to work on. And this is not always easy. But we also add our shared vision, based on the different things we learnt on our paths that led us here together.

If I think about the things we want to achieve here I’m really impressed. We set ourselves a very high standard and we want to make this happen. And this doesn’t want to be an “apologia” of our ideas but rather a way for me to explain what you can encounter when you “fight” for your beliefs.

Again, the Vision. During our event we talked about the future of computing. We have this concept now of More Personal Computing which, to me, sometimes sounds like a cool keyword to use. And maybe it’s true but there’s more to that. We talk about inking, voice commands, mixed reality. How will the future of personal computing be in like 3 to 5 years? We’re going so fast every technology we embrace it becomes obsolete in no time. So, definitely you need to stay on top of these things, making sure you learn, listen and understand the markets. But you need to do a step forward, a small step and try to make your own prediction and invest in it. It is a big risk, that’s for sure, but if you want to be ahead of your competition you need to do this kind of exercise. This is, to me, the key to success.

Sometimes ideas come when you never expect and this is the beauty of it. This is because you Believe in the Company you represent, you have Passion for it, and the combination of all these things trigger new ideas. And new ideas come to action only when you have the right people in place.

I’m grateful for the opportunity I have here and I want to continue to learn and growth in this never-boring, sometimes-challenging and always-exciting path I’m in !

Our first Surface Hub Event !

Yes, the title says it itself, although it’s gonna be more than that. But yes, we are gonna host the first IBV event related to the #SurfaceHub (and the #HoloLens) here in Zurich next week. You can’t imagine the excitement I can feel around me! And the excitement is pretty high on my side too as it’s the first IBV event that I co-organize somehow. I wish it could all be perfect but, although we know we can’t hit the top (the 100% perfection), me and my “counterpart” Michi are very confident it’s gonna be successful and we’re gonna get close to that number!

But let me do a step back on: Why we are doing this? Well, since I joined IBV one of the things we started to do was to embrace new technologies, technologies you can bet they’re going to represent the future for all of us. No matter what the size or the weight they have right now, in just a few years we will see them getting better and better (as it always happens with technology, or at least most of the times). This concept perfectly applies to #virtualreality or #augmentedreality or better #mixedreality devices. We don’t know what will come up in the near future, we just know that some technologies will be more successful than others. That’s a fact, or at least this is what we believe as part of our Vision. That is why we are concentrating our efforts on two of the most exciting hardware devices Microsoft has built over the course of the last few years: the Surface Hub and the HoloLens. These 2 devices have a complete different story and of course some of you may wonder why we put them together. Well, first of all because they somehow represent, together with other things we do here, our playground for now and the future of IBV, then because it’s really clear Microsoft is betting a lot on these devices and third, well the 3rd one is more like a surprise if you’re gonna attend our event 🙂

Me and Michael today are gonna do some preparation because, hey, I forgot to tell you something important. The event is called “Surface Hub meets the HoloLens” and I told this has a meaning and it’s not just a marketing keyword to attract more people (or is it? :))

area-map

The location is the Swisshotel in Zurich. It’s a location that is also very much used by large Corporations (including Microsoft Switzerland) to host their events as it’s close to the city center and the airport, very close to the train station, together with other amenities you can’t find in other places. I found in there well-prepared organizers and technicians so I think we’re safe on that side.

I’m also really excited as the “Crew” (this is how I like to call it) is formed by amazing and passionate people: Michael, Gian, Tamara, Livia, Marina, Nicole and Corrado and of course our CEO which I’ll try not to involve too much (you know, he’s the Big Boss, he might be busy :)). But I’m really confident, as I’ll be surrounded by these amazing people, that not only the event is gonna be successful but it will surely be repeated somewhere else in Europe soon.

I wish I could tell you more but the only thing you can do is to really immerse yourself in this journey together with us and to take a flight and be here on Wednesday, next week! Alternatively, you can still come back here or in our new website to get content and follow up of the event 🙂

Talk to you soon!

And the Journey continues, better than ever!

I finally got a chance to refresh my blog and also found some time to write something worthy and meaningful, at least for me.

I’ve been working for Microsoft for like 15 years (oh my!) and that was a really long time. I had amazing colleagues, friends, people I interacted with on a regular basis, in Italy, in Europe, in EMEA, in US, in Asia-Pacific, Worldwide.

It has been an incredible, amazing adventure to me and I’ll never forget that not only for the many things I learned there, but also for the broad network of people I had the privilege to meet and talk with. Including the Microsoft MVPs of course!

It came a time to me, few months back, to decide whether to continue this journey or put my skills and my learnings at a service to something else, something different, unique and incredibly exciting. And that actually happened when I came to Zurich, Switzerland, to visit a friend, Gian Paolo Santopaolo. Last time we met was at the MVP Global Summit, few years ago for the first time. He was showing me the Surface Hub (it had a different name at a time) and we had very pleasant conversations during those evenings in Bellevue.

With him, we drove to Zurich, specifically to Bonstetten, as he wanted to show me what he was working on, the workplace and everything surrounding it. And then, what happened completely, and positively, changed my professional life.

I met amazing people here, I had long chats with Michael, the COO of the Company, and with Andreas Gorog, the CEO. They showed me around, they introduced me to the other employees, they showed me what they were working on. In short, very enthusiastic, smart, kind and incredibly passionate people. Yes, Passion is something that keeps on driving me and I was really amazed to see what was happening there at that particular moment of time.

I gotta tell you, it was like a “snap”, something clicked on my mind and my first thought was “Yes, I want to work here!” and I was so excited about that.

After a few days I was already onboard and my journey started (and I was incredibly excited about it!).

I joined as the CDO of the Company, a Small/Medium Business specialized in customized solution, IT Security, Data Management, CRM Solutions etc. (with another Branch in Berlin, Germany). Not only that, IBV was on the point to embrace a new path and I really wanted to be part of it.

This new path has a name: a new business model. Specifically, we started working on the Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens solutions. Really, REALLY exciting.

Gian was already working on it for some time, and at the same time another Microsoft MVP, and a friend, Corrado Cavalli, joined me at the same time. Later on, Livia Formisani, a Professional Content Manager and writer (and a great friend) who previously worked with me in Microsoft in the EMEA Community Team, joined us and I was really happy about that too.

Now, as I plan to share more about what we do, let me leave you with something: in less than 2 weeks, on September the 21st to be exact, we will host our first IBV event where we will showcase some of the things the Developer Team created on those two devices. I hope to see you there but if not, I’m sure we will meet somewhere else soon! 🙂

Evangelism Marketing: What is it?

Most of you heard the term “Evangelism” or “Evangelist”. Not in a “Biblical” sense, of course, although some people find it amusing to hear this term when we talk about Business. In this post, I would like to talk about about the Evangelism Marketing, something more and more Companies are doing. You can easily do a quick a search in the job posts to find many job roles that include this term. But, what is it?

Continue reading…