Beat Google!

Posted by on Nov 11, 2011 in Innovation | 0 comments

When I worked for a large data center co-location provider, I was privy to the headquarters of several large internet companies.  During this time, these companies were in fierce competition for the Internet search market.  When I visited Yahoo, there were signs up that said “Beat Google!”  I was at Microsoft and there were signs saying “Beat Google!”  A few months later, I started work at Google and I saw a sign on one of the cubicles that said “Beat Google!”

Google was one of the most innovative companies I had ever worked for.  And being involved in that environment made me realize that truly innovative companies never keep their focus on “the competition.”  Instead, they focus on how they can advance their passions.  Apple, under Steve Jobs, focused on his passion for elegance and simplicity – and that focus literally turned Apple into a company that helped define our culture.  Google focuses on doing “cool” things and in the process changed the way we find things on the Internet and how we navigate this world.  Jeff Bezos followed his passion for business – writing up the business plan for Amazon while driving from New York to Seattle – and revolutionized retail.  I’m pretty sure that any business Jeff wanted to pursue would have been wildly successful. 

The commonality around all these successful ventures, of course, is passion, a passion to make something better – not better than anyone else, but just better.  These companies have an intense desire to see just how far something can go and how much it can do.  Consequently, they have an altogether different vision for what better is.  Passion is the driver, the motivation that turns their vision into reality.

By now you must be wondering, “How could this topic relate to mission critical facilities?”  It relates quite directly to the people you hire to design, build, and operate those facilities.  Let me explain.  No one builds mission critical facilities on a whim.  They are built because business, national security, or public safety requires that they be built.  The organization that operates in the mission critical environment requires people who are focused and passionate about operating these types of facilities.  Their passion is driven by the technology, the sense of urgency, the level of professionalism, and the knowledge that, to be chosen to work in this environment, you must be one of the best in your field.

Passion in mission critical facilities is a double-edged sword, though.  One side is very caring people who drive themselves to know every facet of the facility, even to the level of minutia; the other is a quest to make things better.  While the desire to know the facility is great in and of its self, the quest to make things better needs to have a viable outlet in this environment.  If you hire passionate people, the organizational environment must have outlets for their passion.  You must have a process or program in place to deal with the creative output of these people.  If you don’t, they will leave, plain and simple.Imagine what would have happened to Apple if they had fired Steve Jobs.  Oh wait, they did.  (And look what happened to them!)  Fortunately, they came to their senses and hired him back.

People that are passionate about your facilities are like manna from heaven.  But like manna, people’s passion has a limited shelf-life if not tended to.  Imagine the processes and new inventions that these people could contribute.  Imagine having an entire crew of Thomas Edisons working to make your facility more efficient, effective, or reliable.  And so my question to the leaders out there is, “What have you done today to make your organization one that finds and harnesses this passion?”  Imagine what your organization could be like when you do.

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