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Founder Stories, Empathy + New Shoes

New ASIC Gels

The Founder story

What does an image of new ASICS have to do with #CTS2019 I hear you ask. As I read through my conference notes designed to formulate a previous blog post a running theme jumps out at me and that is integration … not only on a technical level but on a human level. Too quickly do we get caught up in hearing the success stories of technology companies that we forget about the bloody hard work and support systems needed to get there. The integration of support networks across professional and personal levels creates a beautiful synergy that enables many Founders to push through, apply persistence and forge through many chapters of their business and life journeys.

One such business journey I had the pleasure of listening to included one particular Founder speaking fondly of the support his parents provided across his childhood and the proceeding decades. His father spoke proudly of his son’s achievements and made it clear with such a great level of love that they supported both their sons ambitions and choices in life.

Later that evening I had the opportunity speak to the parents of the Founder who shared their story. I learnt about his mother’s love of walking (70kms per week!), often taking their next door neighbour’s dog, her preference for ASIC walking shoes to carry her through all those kilometres, their pride with the birth of their first grandchild, their strong social conscience and working with refugees.

I was intrigued, as a parent myself, how they’ve supported both their sons’ choices across their lives and asked what path their other son had taken. It was here that the real power that these conferences can conjure. The opportunity to understand other people, their backgrounds and context around the choices they make. This woman hesitated, for what appeared to be an awkward amount of time, before her eyes welled up and she shared with me that their other son had passed away three years ago. As for any parent who loses a child, it was clearly still as raw to her as it was the day it happened.

Integration and empathy is key

When considering the application of any technology in today’s busy working world we must not only include integration consideration with other technical platforms, but the ability to empathise with our users. Taking into consideration their existing processes, respecting those processes but also influencing their thoughts to consider a new way of working. It takes time and effort away from their ‘every day’ responsibilities to learn new ways of working.

One conference presenter provided some valuable commentary around the importance of understanding a company’s end vision when determining which technologies to adopt, ie
– what are they trying to achieve?
– what is the driver?
– who does the technology impact?

The above not only enables a company’s end vision, but it also includes consideration to the people within that company and their requirements. It can be difficult to engage and encourage the end user to give consideration to new things. For some, ‘new’ can be wrapped in fear of the unknown.

As part of TCPinpoint’s implementation process, we ask these questions as part of our change management support for our customers. Whilst most of these have been determined prior to engaging us it is vital we understand them and track progress against them as we move through the implementation process – and throughout the lifetime experience with our customers. We are yet to prove that we’ve got this right, but it’s an ongoing improvement process for us too, to walk alongside our users and empathise with their change management processes and adoption of new ways of working.

Consider the needs of people when designing spaces.

Kirsten Mann, VP Product Experience, Oracle Construction & Engineering

This quote can certainly be applied to the design of technology. Kirsten’s explanation of the ‘Retro’s” undertaken by her team at the end of a software sprint continues to inspire me as a CEO to engage with our staff to continue to Act + Plan + Try + Review, a truly valuable collaboration exercise to ensure the continual improvement of our product.

Most importantly, when it comes to innovating, one presenter commented on the importance of explaining the why and making it fun. We’re people after all, collaborating, integrating, learning … for the same end goal.

Buy the shoes

As I reflect on all the points I wrote down and presentations I heard, the story of the Founder’s mother still rang in my ears. The sadness when thinking of losing a child highlights to me that no matter what your business goals are, no matter how big or small your company, people are at its core. We grow as humans by integrating with one another, connecting, learning from each other and creating new business together.

Whilst many of us may not be in a position in our lives where walking 70kms a week is possible, I did buy some new ASIC walking shoes to remind me that to walk in the shoes of others will get you a lot further in life and business than not walking at all.