Experiencing constraints

Here’s a few thoughts on how a team can think hard about what it means to thrive despite constraints; to counter the ‘working for a large company’ mentality.

Unfortunately today most members of a team in a large company:
– Go to sleep in a comfortable bed with a roof over their head. This is something we conscientiously or unconsciously protect.
– Then they wake up in the morning, refreshed; go to their fancy kitchens and make coffee/breakfast. Again, protection triggers kick in.
– They take a shower in their fancy bathrooms; look in the mirror and think about what they need to do to ‘get by’ for the day. Because the mini-goal is to come back to their home at the end of the day feeling good. More protection triggers kick in.
– They climb into their fancy cars sitting their bottoms on leather seats; tuning out the world with music or talk. Again protection triggers.
– They drive into the large company parking lot; get out and walk into the building. The grandness of the building makes them feel like they’re part of something. More protection triggers.
– They walk into their office and feel some relief because they have a dedicated space in the building. “Just get by today; everything is ok, don’t mess it up” they think to themselves. Major protection triggers.

These protection triggers influence their work, their approach to work; certainly how much risk they’re willing to accept [or not]. They block – not ignite – innovation.

I challenge teams wanting to feel the urgency of a startup to try an experiment for one week:
– Form a startup team of immediate project team members only.
– Each team member lives in a tent at their home property; this is where you emerge from each day to start work.
– Take public transit to get to the large company location.
– The team works in a shared space in a building at the large company – no offices – I recommend a common area in a Facilities or Ops building.
– Use laptops and smartphones only; internet access via public wireless networks only.
– Don’t consume any big company free meals and beverages; bring your own.
– Outside work hours use public transit only and don’t eat at restaurants or drink beverages from cafes, etc.
– Bring the experience from all of the above to daily project meetings; integrate the creativity in response to constraints into brainstorming new cloud services and apps.
– By the end of one week the team should have built a service on Azure using publicly available data; bonus for building an app that works across all modern devices.

Give it a try, let me know what you learned.


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