Once upon a time we actually allocated time during the working day to think. I’m now under the illusion that I get paid and pay others to think but in reality we have become reactive doers. Only a few weeks ago I caught myself saying to a senior colleague “…I don’t want to hear about what you can’t do I want to know what you can do…” What I should have said was “…think about what you are doing…but really think….” Of course I should have allocated her the time and I could hear the unvoiced grumble: “… and where am I going to find the time for that?”
There is of course nothing wrong in running a business by doing. In fact our modest success is based on doing things well, quickly and efficiently but this means we also sometimes miss the bigger picture.
About a month ago I decided that whereas the Van Walt Group should continue to provide the quality of service our customers have become accustomed to I needed to allocate the resources to allow for thinking time and created a department which I called the Rodin Group. Three of us, with varying backgrounds in Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Engineering and Financial Management will allocate up to 50 percent of our time thinking. About what you may ask? Well, primarily focusing on the equipment and services we provide and linking these to different sectors. By studying the broader picture we can start linking sector specific requirements to a broader audience. But the brief for this group is purposely vague. We’ve given ourselves a blank canvas; in fact an empty whiteboard without boundaries and you can scroll up or down, left and right and there is no end.
Ramon and Ricard looked puzzled when I gave them our first goal: Rivers. In choosing such a wide goal I wanted horizons without frontiers. The flow of ideas, even within a week has been thrilling and the virtual whiteboard is filling up rapidly.
All those years ago when we had allocated thinking time we used a technique commonly referred to as brainstorming. As Ramon will explain better, we needed to find a more exciting platform to structure the Rodin Group:
From Sant Cugat to Harvard
That’s an example of how far we are ready to go to help you.
The key of our success is very next to the key of yours. The better you, our customers, perform, the closer will our success be. It is very important for us to understand your needs, to know how you work, to learn from you about how to improve the performance of our services and products. Our aim is to be a reliable partner for you. Your feedback is always welcome, mainly the negative, that make us be aware of our weaknesses.
We are continuously thinking about the best way to reach your needs. Our new product range (GDT-M, new sensors, new items to rent) and the services we offer (our new training facilities, that complement our onsite training, data retrieval for Diver, performance checks, etc) come from a very intensive process of analysis of your needs.
As I am always willing to learn more things, compulsively reading everything that comes to my hands about personal productivity, ideas’ generation, new gadgets to make my life easy … one of these pieces of info came from our IT support, Ramsac. In one of their bulletins they explained something about a new tool for ideas´ generation: brainswarming. Simultaneously, an email from Vincent pointing this article as something nice to read. This increased my interest, and googling a little bit about this concept, I had a wider idea about it. No more news until two months later, when in a meeting to define our new roles in the company when Ricard will join us, this concept appeared again! We will use this concept to design our strategy to be more next to you and have created the so-called Rodin Group.
I was in charge of creating a presentation for my Rodin Group colleagues about Brainswarming. You know, a bit of Google, a little bit of Wikipedia, copy and paste, and done! But no! Almost nothing on the net! Oh, Ramon, you have a problem!
So I decided to contact the most cited person in the brainswarming literature: Dr. Tony McCaffrey, who published in Harvard Business Review a very interesting article about brainswarming. You can find it in blogs.hbr.org/2014/03/why-you-should-stop-brainstorming.
I was surprised when, some minutes later, Dr. McCaffrey sent me quite an interesting answer. He is offering us all his support to develop productive brainswarming sessions. So, you see, we are going from our office in Sant Cugat to Harvard to find out how we can be more next to you as a reliable partner.
So having found our thinking platform we’re ready to forge ahead with what I’ve called the Riverline Project. By way of this project we would like to invite you, alongside academics like Tony McCaffrey to participate. We will do this with a dedicated rolling blog and we would welcome your comments and input.
Is this all a bit vague? Yes, but it is designed to be so we are not constricted by boundaries.
Vincent van Walt / Ramon Quiles