Monday, May 31, 2010

Hello, WCG!

Six years ago I moved to Louisville to take a job at Humana - pulling up roots and leaving my beloved Chicago behind. I was joining a company that had begun to establish itself as a leader in innovation, and was about double in revenue and size. I still remember the line that hooked me:

"Come and join the department that's transforming the company that's transforming the health insurance industry."
- Carleen Haas, VP Human Resources

It was as true - and as compelling - then as it is now. And it's a big part of the reason that I'm moving on six years later. Not because the transformation at Humana has stopped - but because there is a bigger transformation in the business world that is picking up speed and getting ready to explode.

Over the last 10 years, we've seen traditional business models change forever in publishing, music and entertainment - and they are just the harbingers of what people like Don Tapscott, Steve Rubel and Jeff Jarvis refer to as "the Collaboration Economy." I've had the good fortune to be able to explore what that means for Humana. And now I'm headed to WCG - a global communications firm - to help their clients to define its meaning for themselves.

It's hard to sum up what the last six years at Humana, and in Louisville, have meant for me and my family. I've worked with brilliant, passionate people. We've made friends for life in our neighborhood and in our church. I've also had the opportunity to work for some true visionaries - like Jack Lord and Grant Harrison - who helped give form to a few key fundamentals in my professional outlook:

Don't accept the unexceptional - It's really easy to do things the way they've always been done. It can be really efficient to follow optimized processes. And thinking inside the box is usually a way to have things "accepted" inside a corporation. A lot of the time, that's fine ... but you should never stop thinking about whether, if something was done differently, it might open up possibilities you never dreamed of. And at a minimum, it'll get you noticed and help people think differently about YOU.

If you don't like reality, change it - "Do the best you can with the resources you've got." A fine motto. But sometimes you don't know what's possible until you try. When we built TPS, it was because we didn't like any of the publically available twitter monitoring and analysis tools. And we were prepared to make the best of it, and temper our expectations about what we could achieve with the existing toolset. But when we tried to bend reality to create what we really wanted, it opened up new doors for us ... and as a side benefit, completely changed the way that we started thinking about interactive development in the innovation center.

Know when to jump the curve - This is where the wisdom to decide comes into play. Sometimes, the best move is to make incremental improvements on what already is ... sometimes, it's time to do something completely new. The knowing when comes with experience - and working with people who have done it successfully for years.

I believe that following those principles as best I could led to the opportunity before me at WCG - and I can't wait to get started. Please keep my family and I in your prayers as we go through this period of big transition - and I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to use the comments on this post, or connect with me on LinkedIn (professionally), facebook (personally) or twitter (everything!).