We Need More Demos

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TED is an unbelievable place to step back from the day-to-day and dream big.  As I described in my first TED 2012 post this week, this place puts me in a great frame of mind to find meaning in just about any subject or point of view.  Speakers all throughout the week have helped me to crystalize one thing in my mind that we as IT leaders in our organizations can and should do better.  We have the power to do it.

More Demos

Picture this.  A presenter steps onto the stage of a packed auditorium to demo a new “crowdsourcing” technology.  As he tries to get his demo to launch, error windows begin to pop and stack to the heavens. Stuttering, the presenter just stands there.  Just then, as if coming to his rescue, several beach balls appear from stage left and launch into the audience just as huge umbrellas open in the audience as defense.  This is then followed by colored lights, streamers and a parade of dancers, somehow removing the focus from the stumped presenter to the emerging chaos.  OK, this was a staged screw-up at TED yesterday by an improv troop but highlights one of the reasons we don’t do more demos - the fear of failure.

When was the last time you showed anyone a demo or prototype of something totally new?  Do you have a simple and publicized way to let people experiment or get an idea on the table (I’m not talking about some giant top-down corporate idea sharing initiative either)? A large part of managing expectations around demos and experiments is just setting and sharing the ground rules - how much money, how much time, what the end result will or wont do.

The amount of sheer joy, amazement and inspiration that comes from watching a demo of a great idea is worth its weight in gold.



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