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I have a dream

Dreamforce
135,000 people are attending Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Mark Benioff, Salesforce’s exuberant CEO, proclaimed that the next big thing is The Internet of Customers.
Dreamforce
It’s going to be a 1:1 world. Every company will become a customer company, dealing with us as individuals. Mark pulled out his wifi toothbrush which reports him to his dentist if he doesn’t brush. He showed his Canon camera which has a help button for instantly calling for help from the manufacturer. We’re social. We’re mobile. We’re going to receive services directly form the cloud.

2/3 of all companies feel left out. They need a new platform. That’s the only way to go forward in a world where everything’s connected. And guess what? Salesforce has developed just such a platform, Salesforce1.

Substitute “learning” for “selling” and you’d have the backbone of a powerful enterprise learning system. Everything’s connected. It plays on any device. Chatter takes care of the social aspects. Personalization is 1:1. I’ve been calling this learning ecosystem a Workscape. Either way, it’s the platform on which future training programs, extremely short ones, will play.

Dreamforce Dreamforce

Dreamforce Dreamforce

I had never heard of most of the 350 exhibitors before. Everyone here is about boosting sales, even those I had heard of. How the sales task can be that complicated is beyond me.

Dreamforce

Dreamforce

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Towards the end of last year my Dad asked me what he thought I might try and do with the business in 2012. I told him ‘I want to work in America’. ‘How you gonna make that happen son?’ he asked. ‘I dunno yet’ I replied, ‘I just will’.

I turned on my radar and courtesy of Mike VanderVort I spotted an opportunity to submit a pitch to speak at the Florida State HR Conference. I also recalled a brief Facebook exchange with William Tincup about guitars and America, and I had a quick exchange with Steve Browne about maybe doing something down Ohio way. Then Dad died and things went a bit off track for a while. In due course I made my pitch to Florida, thought a little more about what William had said and kept in touch with Steve.

Florida didn’t happen this time. I’ve no idea why – I asked for feedback and got a rather bland ‘Dear John’ type reply. I’ll maybe have another try next year. Ohio is gonna happen and as you all know I’m really excited about that. And other US plans are forming as I write (watch this space).

So what?

Well I could have burned a pile of money and time coming up with a strategic plan on how to do cool stuff in America, and I’m glad I didn’t. I can’t predict the future so at the time of planning I couldn’t have known Dad was going to die, I couldn’t have known that a timely exchange between Steve and I would have developed further. I couldn’t have known a whole bunch of stuff. But if I had invested in a plan, I’d have felt the need to stick with it and justify the time and money invested. Strategic planning drives convergent, fixed thinking. Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant write beautifully about this in their book Humanize which I recommend if you want to go deeper into the pointlessness of strategic planning.

Me? I just had a goal, an ambition. My response to Dad was honest, I had no idea how I would achieve the goal, I just knew it was achievable and if I wanted it bad enough it would happen.

Set Goals. Have Ambitions. Do Stuff. Be Agile.

Follow your dreams. Life is too short for strategic planning.

With thanks to Sukh Pabial, David Goddin and Jonathan Wilson for a provocative conversation on Twitter that got me to writing this.

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