Back on the ground; lessons from Innovation Discovery Tel Aviv and CASCON

| travel

It’s good to finally be on the ground.

It’s been a crazy two weeks, so I’ve been blogging very little. From Sunday to Wednesday last week, I was in Boston. I returned to Toronto, then I flew to Tel Aviv on Friday and I got back on Tuesday. Tuesday was also when I’d promised to talk about social networking business models at CASCON, so I did, jet-lagged and all. Before all of these Innovation Discovery workshops turned up on my calendar, I’d bought myself a ticket to the opera (Don Giovanni). It was a beautiful production (great lighting and set design!), and the singing was, of course, amazing.

So the long and short of it is, this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and write! <laugh>

Time for the usual reflections. What worked well:

  • W- was absolutely wonderful. He helped me pull myself together for the trip. Little things reminded me of him, made me smile, and kept me going. And he picked me up from the airport and helped me get through that crazy day yesterday, too. Just so you know and there aren’t any surprises: if I ever had to choose between IBM and him, he would win. No doubt about it. So let’s not ever let things get to the point where I would have to make that choice, mmkay?
  • I prepared for my session on very short notice, but I pulled through thanks to the help of Andy Schirmer, Mahmood Ashek, Stuart McRae, and the wonderful thing that is Cattail. Julia Bartlett and Jade Nguyen-Strattner helped me make changes on the fly. One of the great things about getting to know lots of people and finding out what their passions are is that I can pull the right names out of my head. Funny, but none of them show up on the first page of a SmallBlue search for mobile social networking… =)
  • Social networking was clearly a big topic for the client, and they’d spent a while thinking about mobile social networking and what services they could build around it. They presented their plans and ideas first, which allowed us to adjust our presentation based on what they already knew and what they might be interested in.
  • The personas that I quickly developed helped people anchor the discussions and brainstorming on a clear end-user. One of the groups eventually decided to go with a different persona, but everyone found the idea to be useful.
  • One of the other topics was emerging markets, and the fact that I’m from the Philippines helped because I could give a different perspective and anecdotally validate some of the trends that they had been seeing.
  • Despite my jet lag, I still got compliments on my energy and spirit. I also got through my CASCON presentation all right, even though I was also jet-lagged and fuzzy. Stephen Perelgut suspects that this is a good way to make me more understandable at conferences – tire me out with jet lag first, then put me in front of people. ;)
  • Trips are a great opportunity for me to meet up with people I’ve kinda gotten to know online. I chatted with Ido Guy from the Haifa research lab. It was great to finally meet him! He’d like to learn more about promoting the cool things that the Haifa research lab is working on. He’s also interested in measuring the business value of social networking, and we might be able to get something going. Joan DiMicco is curious about the same thing when it comes to new hires, so that sounds like a good area to explore.
  • The maps I printed out helped me orient myself and reduced my anxiety when I was taking cabs. Also, knowing a little about the local culture helped me avoid getting ripped off by fixed pricing for cabs. ;) It was impossible to convince cabs to use the meter when I was with George and Neil, but I got the other cabs to use the meter when I was travelling alone. It’s the principle of the thing: I’d rather encourage honest taxi drivers than go with taxi drivers who take advantage of tourists, because I’ve seen how taxi drivers can go from taking advantage of tourists to taking advantage of pretty much everyone. You should try getting a cab from the malls in downtown Manila at night…
  • I spent a few hours learning Hebrew while sewing and while doing the dishes, and that helped make the place feel less alien. It probably helped me build some more rapport with the local folks, too!
  • The sock-shoes in the amenities kit on the Air Canada flight to Tel Aviv were pretty comfortable. I should make some for myself for future business trips.

What to do better next time:

  • I regretted not being able to wander around and see more of the place. Some people took extra days off. The two trips I took to the Philippines took up all my vacation time, and I also enjoy spending time at home, but maybe I can save up overtime so that I can have a free day.
  • Jade Nguyen Strattner and George Rudnicki facilitated very well, keeping the conversation flowing. I liked the introduction structure that George used, asking people to tell a story about something they innovated. I’ll try using that the next time I’m in charge of introductions. Maybe during my tea parties?
  • Neil Marquardt took individual pictures of everyone and put them into the capture document. People liked this a lot. Maybe I can do that at the Innovation Discovery workshop in Brussels. I can bring my camera and a flash, and maybe even a background if I can fit it into my suitcase. An umbrella and a light stand might be overkill, though. ;)
  • I can put together a travel kit with a mask, a travel pillow, an extra pillow for lumbar support, sock-shoes, and a wide-necked water bottle that I can ask the flight attendants to fill. I can also make sure I always get an aisle seat, so I don’t worry about disturbing others if I’m getting out of my seat too often.

Now back to my regular work!

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