Eric Schmidt was interviewed at the Management Summit in Monteray. Eric, for the uninitiated and those who come from another planet, is the Chairman and CEO of Google.
I was impressed by Eric Schmidt’s sense of reality. He may be the CEO of a company that is reshaping the world of advertising communications, but he points out that since the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, still own 60% of the company between them – there is really not much of a question of who is working for whom. Good to start with a sense of reality to make the source credible.
And, with that credibility, Eric has a great deal to say about doing business in the modern marketplace.
He concludes that one of the great opportunities that we all have today is to put what we are thinking “out there” to start the process of collaboration.
Collaboration is a topic that has been getting growing attention. Firms like McKinsey & Co. and IBM have been studying the collaboration technologies of Web 2.0 for a number of years now. In a recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly (“Using Technology to Improve Workforce Collaboration, James Manyika, Kara Sprague and Lareina Yee) the authors wrote
Knowledge workers fuel innovation and growth, yet the nature of knowledge work remains poorly understood—as do the ways to improve its effectiveness. The heart of what knowledge workers do on the job is collaborate, which in the broadest terms means they interact to solve problems, serve customers, engage with partners, and nurture new ideas. See McKinsey Quarterly.
One of my leading personal motivations for putting what the consulting firms refer to as their “IC” out there is the amazement of learning who else is out there. I have a personal favorite experience of reaching some INSIGHT that I think is particularly meaningful. Then because the Internet is moving at accelerating speed, I learn, often within 40 minutes of having reached the plateau that someone else somewhere in the world has been working on the problem for months, even years. There are times that Wikipedia informs me that I have just made a discovery that is an elementary part of an entire field of study that has been developing for years.
Perhaps this would be sufficient motivation for the series that begins with “IC-1-09.”
Or possibly it was the sense that its not just about putting something new “out there” but also the recognition that if you hold onto it too long, if you give it too much thought, that the good new thinking can go in the wrong direction. (My editor son put it more economically when he told me that something that I had written was sounding a little “unibomberish” – as if I had been cooped up in a cabin in the woods thinking about it too long without testing it with real people.)
In other words, whether its the nature of things in the knowledge workplace that we will all want to learn how to be more effective collaborators, the opportunity to learn new things and to contribute or whether its for my own good – the start of the IC series was born somewhere between Eric Schmidt and the Unibomber.