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Pecha Kucha on Summer Vacation

I was invited to a pot luck dinner with other industry leaders and the host organized a very clever group activity that was a lot of fun. The invitation said that we would each be doing a modified and shortened Pecha Kucha that will consist of 2 to 4 slides with a couple of things that inspire us (love) and something that we detest (pet peeve). I had no idea what Pecha Kucha was so I went directly to Wikipedia and found that this was an informal presentation format that limited the amount of time one had to deliver messages and allow for a larger number of presenters. I did like the concept of sharing with a group of like minded professionals in a way that would help us understand one another’s motivations.

I was thinking of what inspired me as I drove in to work this morning. Defining inspiration is not a simple activity and I had to really think about experiences that I’ve had where I was excited about what I was doing. The memories that came to mind were ones of early projects that required me to work with groups of very bright people, understand problems that I’ve never encountered, identify solutions, and create an operational plan to execute the solutions. Boy, that’s a mouthful but is it really the source of my inspiration or what I love?

After examining the new projects that I remember so fondly the most common element was that the people on those projects were the key to my excitement. We had difficult and important problems to solve but what really made the projects as inspirational as they were was that the teams consisted of people who had the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right attitudes.

The early phases of these projects we brainstormed the and defined the problems. Everyone participated, everyone listened, and everyone appreciated the important contributions of the rest of the team. They were all experts and respected one another as experts. We all brought out each others creativity in solving problems.

Not long ago a friend of mine mentioned a very interesting health care offering that he’d been thinking about. After a brief conversation I started to research technology around health care infrastructures and he and I emailed ideas back and forth. We introduced one another to friends that had expertise in various aspects of the concept and worked to teach and learn from one another. That kind of partnership and mutual support, based upon shared interests and goals, is inspiring.

Coming back to the Pecha Kucha exercise, what would my pet peeve be? It would have to be the opposite of my passion. Projects that I’ve worked on that seemed like drudgery were because there was no leadership, no goals, and no planning. I guess my biggest pet peeve would be working with people that don’t make themselves experts in what they need to know and don’t contribute to solutions.

I was recently invited to a meeting to define a new energy product. The team was told that they had to come up with an offering in an energy management technology space and it seemed that nobody knew where to start. Not one member of the team had come from the energy delivery industry nor did anyone spend time researching companies that did. Man was this a disaster waiting to happen. We had to step back and assign areas to research and send the team out to explore what was needed but the passion and excitement just wasn’t there. You really need the right people in the right roles to be successful.

I’ve written many times about putting down on paper what you like to do and the kind of environment that you want to work in. This Pecha Kucha gave me an opportunity to revisit the types of people that I wanted to associate with and who to look for when building projects. Its not enough that you have smart people. You have to have the RIGHT smart people if you’re going to be successful.

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