After writing an article for E20portal.com on Ismael Ghalimi ‘s Office 2.0 conference, I also wanted to share some personal reflections from an intriguing conversation with Ismael about deadlines and innovation.
Deadlines are nothing new. However organising a significant event over a very short period (nine weeks) with limited resources creates what I’ve termed an extreme deadline. Ismael says the self imposed deadlines “forces productivity” and “pushes tools to the limits”. However the risks are high — unhappy paying customers and suppliers may result in a loss of hard earned credibility and reputation.
Being extreme is about pushing the limits or as Ismael said “Pushing the envelope” – a term used by aircraft pilots. Ismael referred to the conference as an “experiment”. By innovating the conference organisation into this limited time window, Ismael called it “outside of the thought zone”, rapid and effective decisions have to be made. If mistakes are made they can be corrected quickley or work arounds found. As the conference back-office evolves Ismael is also pushing the boundaries further to reinvent the conference attendee experience.
Ismael sees the future of conferences as: “branding being much more than having big conference booths”; “more involvement of panellist moderators”; “Social networking before, during and after the event”; use of “conference internet tablets”; “displaying the back channel conversations for all to see”; and “giving remote attendees a good experience”. He is putting some of these ideas into practice at the Office 2.0 experiment using Jives clearspace and this years free HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. Conference 2.0, as I called it, is trying to extend the social experience using social media for more audience participation and interaction.
The event seems to have got TechWeb’s attention, a larger conference provider, as Steve Wylie the TechWeb Enterprise 2.0 conference General Manager is on the conference attendee list. Interestingly Ismael is using the event as a networking and marketing tool for his other businesses, which include open source BPM software and serviced offices . Ismael said he runs the conference because “it’s fun” and he “loves people”.
Web and software firms like Ismael’s know all about meeting drop dead release dates. These deadlines can require additional emergency resources to be drafted in, planned features to be dropped and products that ship with bugs. As someone recently said to me JFDI (Just Feakin’ Do it – the acceptable version) when asked their opinion on the idea of the E20portal.com website. They said even if it is rough around the edges just get it out there and see what sticks.
I think deadlines are very important to focus effort. However deadlines can cut both ways. They can help to bring action but they can also harm quality. It’s a careful but vital balancing act for any tech firm, particularly start-ups. Most entrepreneurs have limited resources, and time, so deadlines are a key part of effective productivity to get innovative products out the door.