So, I’m back from San Francisco and the summit. Justin blogged several times already about the summit, and he even has video of yours truly, which I won’t embed here because I hate the sound of my voice. Click over to his post to viddie it.
This post is a collection of my thoughts and observations from the two-day event. Overall, I enjoyed the event, which was both grueling (two 12-hour days of straight work and snacking), and surprisingly useful. I honestly had no idea what to expect, and even after getting the agenda the Friday before, I wasn’t sure how it would go.
The trip started out on a rocky note. I nearly went to Kansas City instead of San Jose. I really need to pay more attention. Remember how I nearly missed my flight to OpenWorld in November? Luckily, the bar code scanner alerted me, and the entire boarding area, to my mistake. A few people laughed when I said “Kanas City? I don’t want to go there.” It was true, but not because I have anything against KC, but rather because I’d be in the wrong city and totally hosed.
By the way, has anyone else experienced the new Southwest boarding process? It’s pretty confusing UI; it works, but you wonder how they settled on that design. Wondering about how stuff gets done is fun for me; I like trying to deconstruct a finished product into its composite meetings, iterations, focus groups, political maneuverings, etc. Weird, I know.
Anyway, before the summit, I decided that since we were supposed to start with brainstorming ideas, that I wanted to collect as many as possible, which is why I decided to ask you all for help. Thanks to those who responded. I also wanted to join teams with another facilitator because more people should lead to more, disparate ideas in the brainstorming session.
So, first thing, I asked Justin if he wanted to join forces. Why Justin? Well, this event was hosted by Marketing, so I only knew a couple people. I happened to run into Justin first, and he agreed.
The exercise seemed pretty simple: take all the “2.0” ideas you brainstorm, then whittle them down to the most feasible one and create an action plan for Oracle Marketing. Each working phase was followed by a presentation to the overall group. Feasibility and execution were key components, which kept the ideas grounded, in a good way.
Our team consisted of about 20 people, and our first few sessions went decently. We had good ideas, and most people were participating.I started to feel cramped by the space we were using though. It was about a 15′ x 15′ space partitioned by hanging curtains, pretty small for 20 odd people plus folding chairs and a tiny table. The other teams were right over the partitions, so it was noisy. Plus, we had no natural lighting. Overall, a little stifling.
The discussion was being driven by a few people, including Justin and me. We were supposed to be facilitators, not necessarily leaders, so right before the last large group presentation of the day, I asked if we could use the larger space for our work after the group session. Turns out that session was an eye-opener. Judy Sim, Chief Marketing Officer, the event’s sponsor and the boss of pretty much everyone there, declared that the ideas we had weren’t very innovative. Others agreed and controlled panic ensued.
The combination of whip-cracking and the larger, open space did wonders for our team, and soon we had a sweet campaign idea, thanks in part to friend of the ‘Lab Karen Tillman (Remember the OpenWorld Blogger Program?) to go along with our overall plan to revamp oracle.com as a community platform and deploy all kinds of services on it.
This was a cool opportunity to test out a theory on workspaces and thought processes. I blogged about this before; essentially, the theory is that high ceilings open up the creative thoughts, and close quarters foster detail-oriented thinking. We needed big ideas and got them in the large room. Plus, people could hear and be heard better. Side conversations were rolled into the larger discussion, and nearly everyone participated. Justin and I took smaller roles, more advisory than leadership.
At the end of Day One, we felt good. Charles Phillips liked the idea, too, so we had that going for us too.
On the second day, we had a lot of details to iron out as we brought the project home. So, using the workspaces theory again, we split into groups: the big idea people worked in the large room on the three-minute presentation we were to present later in the day, and the detail people fleshed out the platform in the small room to prepare for any question/answer periods or follow-up presentations. Some people floated between the teams, working on both. Basically, people did what they felt like doing and contributed where they could.
The two groups reconvened to nail the presentation details (in the small room). Everyone was working together well, which gave me a chance to help the venue staff fix the wireless network, which was flakey at best. My role on Day Two was advisory, no leading, no facilitating. The team put together a great concept and rocked the house. Of the seven teams, we had the highest aggregate score. I wish I could take more credit, but I really stayed out of the way as much as possible.
To say we won suggests there was a prize, which isn’t really true. The plan was to give air time to all the good “nuggets” that arose from the summit and roll them into marketing’s plans.
The program was run by Bonfire Communications, and the theme was BFD. That’s Better Faster Deeper, not Boston Fire Department silly. Bonfire did a nice job handling the event and keeping it fluid in the face of shifting priorities. One idea that floated around was to run the same program for an external group of customers, partners, bloggers, media, and others.
The idea behind running the program for an external audience is to collect thoughts on Oracle and “2.0”, e.g. how the company is perceived, how it could change to embrace New Web. A cross-section of attendees would also give a profile of the readiness and knowledge of New Web in the Oracle community. At the end, it would be very informative to compare the internal and external ideas for similarities and differences. Plus, thoughts and ideas from outside the company give an interesting perspective on Oracle and New Web.
Justin and Marius are driving this effort, in addition to their day jobs. My role would be advisory again. I like that role, the Lazy Web prevails. Anyway, thanks to Judy for inviting me to the event. I like meeting real people in first life.
What do you think about running a Marketing 2.0 type event for external people? Would you attend? Sound off in comments.