Update from beyond the Squiggly Lines: What projects am I working on currently?

There has been a lot of news recently. A lot has been happening in this little world of ours – one night a few weeks ago I awoke to a great email from Ross Hill that made me aware that overnight Zach Klein had been hired by BoxeeJeffery from Threadless was joining Digg and that Google had aquired ReCaptcha. That’s just in one night. Certainly, it was cause for a pause and consideration about what had been happening in my own ‘Valley.’ So, inspired by the posts above and also Fred Wilson’s totally authentic announcement about Union Square funding Foursquare I thought I would provide an update of where I’m at and what that means.

The Australian Davos Connection

I’ve been working at the Australian Davos Connection (ADC) now for the past 6 months or so, coming on board in an exciting move as their Community Manager. Certainly, the past 6 months have been a great roller coaster to ride between Future Summit (@futuresummit for the tweeps out there) and the recent Australian Leadership Retreat we held on Hayman Island. If you’re interested, check out our (still nascent) Future Summit Blog and Twitter account – as well as some of the Livestream footage from the ALR.

Twitter Crew at Future Summit

(Photo by @jjprojects)

I’m quite excited about further developing the ADC presence on the web, in the hope of connecting with more of the amazing people (such as yourselves) out there agitating for a better world. Stay tuned, as soon we will be opening the nomination process for our Australian Leadership Awards, which provide successful applicants free entry to Future Summit each year and inclusion in our small Awardees Community, which includes invitations to smaller lunch events and discussions. I encourage you to apply.

Ai-Media and Ai-Skills

Whilst I was at Future Summit, I met Tony Abrahams – CEO and founder of Ai-Media and a great guy doing an amazing job leading the march for access and inclusion in Australia. We got chatting at Future Summit about all the possibilities around inclusion for deaf children in Australia and what that looks like in the classroom environment. Low and behold, a few months later Tony had fully unearthed what his crew at Ai-Media had been concocting these past three years and I couldn’t help but jump on board and help them continue to build the platform for what promises to be a truly paradigm changing innovation in the provision of education access for deaf children in Australia. Ai-Media have developed a system which now allows children in class access to real time, captioned text from their teachers. It’s essentially the same as having subtitles on your TV, only on a laptop in a classroom. It’s an exciting project and I’m proud to be involved. You can see Tony and Alex, the founders of Ai-Media, talk you through the project below.

The role at Ai-Media is involved in helping to build the market platform to allow this service to blossom across the country. I’m sure I’ll be talking to many of you and seeking your advice (yet again) in time to come, but for now appreciate that the technology and people are hear now to make this happen. These surely are exciting times.

Of course, some thank-you’s

There have been a few notable people who have helped me progress and make stuff happen in these new roles which I would like to thank at this current juncture. Ross Hill helps me everyday with his insights, thoughts and friendship and certainly has provided me perspective on the number of activities above.

Pete Williams (@rexster) was the one that helped with the strategy that became the Future Summit twitter/online presence back in May. His help and thought-leadership made moving into ADC a dream and provided me with clear direction at a time when it was at a premium.

Donal, the man (Myth. Legend.) behind Nodecity, has helped ADC no ends in doing his thing and providing connectivity services and access to the internet at both Future Summit and ALR. Without him, we simply wouldn’t have achieved what we did and he deserves the credit for that. The man knows his stuff better than most I’ve met and just nails it time and again.

Col and Derek from Ergo Consulting for their constant support and understanding which I constantly appreciate.

Finally Nathan, for throwing open his digs at Inspire9 and allowing me to take a desk at different times most weeks.

Finally, in fear of making this sound more like an Oscars speech than it already does, thanks to everyone who spins around this community and makes all of these interesting things that take place possible. It’s impossible to mention everyone, so I won’t – but those involved know just what I mean when I talk about the magic that currently floats about Melbourne like a dust cloud in Sydney. Let’s keep moving, keep progressing and making the good stuff happen.

Changing direction when it's the hardest thing

Today in Samoa, for the first time in about 30 years, a country changed the side of the road they drive on. From the Associated Press article:

“As the 6 a.m. deadline approached, Police Minister Toleafoa Faafisi went on national radio to tell drivers everywhere to stop their vehicles. Minutes later, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi broadcast the formal instructions for drivers to switch sides.”

 Samoan change direction

(AP Photo/Cherelle Jackson) 

I was fascinated to hear this over the Australian radio earlier today.  

By the sounds of it, everything went according to planand there were no serious injuries or road deaths (yet). It sounds like it would have been a very interesting day to have lived in Samoa. The part I love most is that moment when everyone was instructed to stop there cars, before waiting to hear from the Prime Minister that it was ok to turn around and keep on driving!

But the thing I love about this little instance of change that took place in the world today, is what it represents in terms of innovation and business.How many times, when you’re at work or in your own start-up, have you thought “it’s easier to leave it the way it is than to change it.” I know I come to this conclusion almost everyday in the various projects I work on. As much as we hear the rhetoric about making small change and leading change initiatives within organisations through “Continuous Improvement” the truth is that all change in an organisation takes time to happen.  Sometimes, it’s easier to leave some things as they are than to push and rock the boat too much. If the boat is ever going to sail anywhere, it’s best to not take on too much water worrying about what the chef is cooking.

The Samoans though, had hit this point. The reason they changed the side of the road they drive on is so it’s cheaper for them to source cars from their neighbouring countries New Zealand and Australia. It currently costs them more to import cars from the US or Europe, with the left hand drive, than from Australia or New Zealand.

Now, the Prime Minister of Samoa could have wrung his hands together, twiddled his thumbs and proclaimed that it was all to hard to change. Sure, people would need to pay more for their cars – but the truth is, changing the side of the road people drive on is a huge national change. It would be expensive for government to change road signs. There will likely be a number of lives lost as citizens forget the new rules and crash. There will be trouble making slow changes to the fleets of cars on the country’s roads. But, it’s a great example of a country standing up and saying “we’re not doing this as well as we could” and making the required change to make it better.

Sometimes it’s much easier to maintain the momentum of doing things wrong, than to grind to a halt to do things right. Let the Samoans teach us a lesson and consider what you are letting slip today which might not be so right and think about making it better.