Go big or go home. That’s what we used to say to each other while climbing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We pushed ourselves harder and harder every season. We were constantly trying to find our best on those boulders, cliff faces, and mountains.
I’m still trying to go big. Except now the mountains have become revenue goals, and the relentless desire to get to the top of the cliff has been refocused on some crazy new product. The game has changed, but the rules are the same.
One of the mandatory elements you have to have in climbing is trust. Trust in your partner. Trust in his abilities, his focus on your shared goal, and his commitment to always putting his partner’s safety first. Trust in your partner is sometimes all you have when your ten miles away from the nearest phone and on a 1000’ vertical rock face. Continue reading
To be a disruptive force in an existing market you have to be nimble, quick, and lean. One of your primary advantages over the existing competition is your agility. The behemoths in your space have lots of employees, complex organization charts, and they hold endless meetings to make simple decisions.
You and your team are small. You are able to quickly respond to customer’s feedback and expectations. When a problem arises, you don’t have to call a review committee. You simply analyze the problem, formulate a solution, and execute. Continue reading
I have heard a lot about the Tough Mudder challenge for a few years now. It has always sounded like a great event, I just never found the motivation to try it out. Luckily for me, I work for a company that values team building and comradery. So when one of my co-workers called and asked me to join the official company team, I figured why not.
For those of you who don’t know what a Tough Mudder is, I will quickly explain. A few years back there were a couple of guys who came up with this idea for an endurance running event. The concept was to lay out a 10-12 mile course. Scattered throughout that course would be 20 military style obstacles that would challenge runners both from a mental and physical stand point. So participants scale walls, military crawl under barbed wire in mud, and run through a field with dangling electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts. Continue reading
Have you ever left work feeling like you worked nonstop all day, except you have absolutely no idea what you did? It was like you were there, you were working, but nothing worthwhile actually happened.
How about the constant interruptions all day? You sat down at your desk this morning knowing generally what you needed to get done, then the phone rang, or your boss walked in, or your buddy down the hall chatted you up all morning about his weekend at the beach. Now it is four thirty, and just like before you have nothing to show for the day’s work. Continue reading
If you have been following the news the last couple of months than you probably heard about the couple of guys who climbed the New Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. If not, then click here, here, or here. As a climber, I have been following the Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson story for over five years. I have watched as they have come closer to success each year. I found it very interesting that this particular story resonated with the general public so much. Climbers have been doing really hard and crazy things for a long time now. I have been wondering why people were so drawn to this story. Continue reading
I graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering back in 2006. After working two years for a Civil Engineering firm, I got laid off at the end of 2008 due to the housing crisis.
So by the summer of 09’ I was broke, newly married, and desperate for work. Fortunately I landed a dream job working for a company called Ropeworks. The company specializes in rope access which is essentially industrial rock climbing. Using rope techniques developed on the big walls of Yosemite Valley, workers are placed hundreds of feet in the air to perform a wide variety of tasks.
I was fortunate enough to get hired because of my engineering background. The original idea was that I would help the company land more bridge inspection jobs. I did do a few bridge jobs (I even got to inspect the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans), but most of my time was spent doing maintenance work on 300’ tall wind turbines. Which was an awesome gig for an adrenaline junkie like me.
One of the most challenging time periods of new product development is when things start taking off. Customers like the product and the demand begins to sky rocket. Product champions must figure out how to quickly scale up their operations and subsequently their staff. In an ideal world, Human Resources would spear head the hiring and training initiatives and feed the development team product ninjas on a weekly basis. If that is not the world you live in (like me), then you need to be able to develop a training program and deploy it quickly with little or no budget. No problem!
Where to start?
My guess is that if you are finding yourself in this position you have already done a good job marketing and selling your product. The material generated for those efforts can be repurposed to serve as the foundation for your new training program. If the purpose of technical marketing material is to educate potential customers on a product, then that material can serve equally well to educate new team members. Continue reading
I believe the success of innovative products depend upon the dedicated team driving that product. Because there are so many forces opposing new products entering the market, the development team has to be unified and focused on the goal to succeed. The team has to have a leader they respect and are willing to follow when those opposing forces are bearing down.
That responsibility can be a lot for a leader. Especially when that person is having to play the corporate political game at the same time. Too often team leaders can focus their energy on impressing executive management instead of impressing the development team. Yet, these are the people who are the engine moving the new product to market. Continue reading
The team is the engine that moves the product to the market. A team that is well oiled is often unstoppable. Every member understands where the product is headed and should be excited about the role they play in taking it there.
You are the driver. You are at the wheel making sure everything stays on course. To be an effective driver, you need the right tools. You need to understand how to build the engine, keep it oiled, and improve it. Continue reading