In between games of the NBA playoffs this weekend and as I was digging through a couple of weeks of 'saved' items in my Feed reader, (anyone still using feed readers?), I came across a link to a Quora thread aiming to address the question 'What made Xerox PARC, (the legendary reseearch shop in Palo Alto), so special?'
One of the responses, from Alan Kay, offered eight reasons why PARC (and the earlier ARPA) were so effective, and in reading Kay's observations, I thought the first five were pretty applicable to just about any organization that is faced with the need to remain, (or become) innovative and dynamic.
The first five points are below, I think they pretty much are self-explanatory, so I will just repeat them here and send you on your way on a sunny Monday:
There was a vision: “The destiny of computers is to become interactive intellectual amplifiers for everyone in the world pervasively networked worldwide”.
A few principles:
- Visions not goals
- Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.
- Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving
- Milestones not deadlines
- It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, an “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)
Really solid stuff, I think.
Start with a vision, but one that is short, cogent, and easily rallied around by the right people. Then set about giving those right people support and space to execute on that vision. And allow 'misses' from time to time, after all, even the best baseball players fail more than 60% of the time.
But much easier said than done. Probably why we still talk about legendary places like PARC all these years later. They are the unicorn stories we keep having to cling to.
Originally posted on Steve Boese's HR Technology blog.
Steve is the Co-Chair of Human Resource Executive Magazine’s HR Technology Conference, the leading global event for the HR Technology Industry, and a Technology Columnist and Editor for LRP Publications.
Additionally, Steve Co-founded H3HR Advisors Inc., and is a frequent author, speaker, and panel moderator on a diverse set of subjects related to Human Resources, HR Technology, and the workplace. He also created and co-hosts the popular podcast the “HR Happy Hour Show”, which is the most downloaded Human Resources podcast since its inception in 2009.
Previously, Steve was a Director of Talent Management Strategy for Oracle Corporation helping to create and deliver the next generation of Human Capital Management solutions. And before that, Steve led HR Systems in a corporate role for diverse industries like telecommunications and higher education.
Steve is also a leading HR and technology blogger and monthly HR technology columnist for Human Resource Executive Magazine. Steve has extensive expertise in Human Capital Management technologies from his experience working in Product Development & Strategy, in corporate HR leadership roles managing internal HR technology platforms and support teams, as a consultant leading project implementation teams, and finally as an HR technology industry influencer and thought leader from his perspective as the Chair of the HR Technology Conference, as a popular blogger, and the co-host of the HR Happy Hour Podcast.
Specific areas where Steve’s HR technology expertise can benefit corporate HR teams include:
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- HR technology implementation strategy development
- Design and assessment of internal HR technology support teams
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His unique perspective developed from experience in every side of the HR technology industry (product development, consulting, management, purchaser, and analyst), provides organizations insights and experience to solve their most pressing HR technology strategy, selection, assessment, implementation, and support needs.
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