Driving innovation and lessons in leadership

       “Story of what happens if you throw eight people from Ireland, South Africa, Turkey, France, Poland, Israel and Russia in one small room for ten days.         

When I saw that I was invited to Barcelona to attend a leadership course—I pondered a while. It was almost the busiest quarter of my life; not only I had to be on the road for many weeks straight but we had the ultrabook to launch; had big challenges with the world economy not being in the best of its shape. I would be taken away from the team and my life almost 11 days straight.

After a very intense journey on collaboration, group work and innovative thinking, I am back home now. So, what happens if you throw eight people from Ireland, South Africa, Turkey, France, Poland, Israel and Russia in one small room for ten days? Sheer physical outcome is, twenty hours a day ten straight days of talking in a room, a nineteen page document, a five page presentation, a fantastically breakthrough idea, and eight friends for life. We were thrown into a room, people who never met before and presented a very strategic issue and were asked to come up with a solution. So I wanted to share my own personal learnings from this breakthrough experience where we were pushed to think with no boundries. Seven engineers and me J
I am so blown away with the experience we had there, that I keep thinking what a wise man my boss is by nominating me for this journey. Christian simply mentioned Olympic athletes as they get ready for the big race, they keep training to do faster and better; but they also take time with their coaches and teammates and discuss their performance; strategize how to do things differently and finally they discover a twist that make them Olympic champions. Therefore it is important to take time to think differently to make breakthroughs.
First of all- we had no management structure and everyone was at almost the same level of seniority. The structure of the group remained flat for the duration of the whole experience. The group managed to leave their own agendas and egos outside of the door. This created an environment of trust and openness among all of us. The amount of the assumed responsibility was mind blowing; whenever one of us would get demoralized or fell tired, someone else would jump in. One day someone played the conductor, next day one was the innovator who had revelations, next day one was a movie director, next day one became the editor. Everyone jumped in with various skills in times we needed those skills and became a rockstar. People were highly disciplined and supportive of each other. In a non-hierarchical environment you step back and give space to others. So question to me and all managers is how do we make sure that all the teams we work in and all the teams we build become teams like that?
My ‘Aha’ moment was: we need to grow every single out of the box idea and not kill it at the onset.  Instead of trying to criticize, you try to build on it and grow it no matter how difficult it is. Along the way new ideas flourish and team thinking begins.
My other big take away is that how much I love to learn. I had to study four hundred pages of documents ahead of the training since I wanted to have an opinion on devices and I also discussed what we needed to do around 50 hours or so with various people. I keep on thinking what is next for me. I remembered how much I loved learning new things. My big question is what is my next big learning thing to do with work?
I also reconfirmed that I am so lucky to work in Intel because the people here are so special. And it is the journey that matters to me; not the outcome. Learning and observing how good and creative and amazing individuals are; and we have some of the most unpretentious, helpful and humble people in Intel. Makes me feel so grand and lucky!
Collaboration is at the heart of doing much more innovative things and thinking differently; it almost to me now is the only way to do big breakthroughs and achieve truly grand results. We all need to practice it more pervasively wherever we work.
Didn’t get to see much of Barcelona—but saw so much of inside Intel, and realized how much I been missing!
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