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How I found out the true meaning of “being in charge” (or The Guy Behind the app)

A few days ago, I ran into a couple of colleagues. We all have in common the company we work for, but also that within the company we are involved – from different flanks – with the Digital Cultural Transformation initiative (DCT) running at the organization (read: Daring and Failing).

There we were catching up, when one of them tells to the other something that has been swirling around my mind for many reasons ever since:

This is the guy behind the app

He was talking about me a successful application, developed for and used at an event related to the DCT and launched last year in New York.

His words got stocked in my mind since then, and now I feel compelled to write about this because I think that there are a couple of learnings that must be mentioned and capitalized.

If any, I am in front, not behind.

I AM NOT the guy who created or developed the app. I am not even the one who came up with the idea to make use of an app to support the event in NY. The credit should go to the Change Management team appointed to help me out for this task. So, thank you, guys! You are actually the ones behind everything.

So, I am just, if any, in front of the idea of the app. I am the one showing the face, but that’s all. Let me explain this.

What I did:

I coordinated and focused the efforts of these guys to create something (mark this: SOMETHING) to support the organization of the event. My duties were to oversee part of the logistics and help the teams involved to connect the topics so, we could have a strong, linked and flowed agenda.

By doing this, I got a clear image of all the messages we would aim to deliver at the event and all the things we would be trying to set in our participants’ minds. The most important was to convince everyone that “digital” is the Future of our business (that’s why we seek a digital transformation).

Nowadays, I think that I was actually able to communicate this idea – digital as the future – to the change management team (the guys behind the app). I remember myself pushing them hard to brainstorm ways to create tools, dynamics, even social media platforms that seem different, innovative and “digital”.

I put all my ideas on the table: to use all the functionalities of the internal social media platform, to apply emailing, to make use of QR codes. We discussed which content we could add about NY city and the digital latest news on the industry, to complement the main info. All this ideas and conversations were aimed to give the participants a more “digital”experience.

Then, it happened. One day, the team called me and throw a question/suggestion:

Why don’t we develop an app?

Most of my ideas went directly to the bin at that precise moment. However, it made sense. I must have been smiling, while I was asking for more details about the idea. I remember that throughout the entire call I was thinking:

We will actually use an innovative approach and a digital product for an event that was about Innovation and Digitalization.

I felt we had hit on the spot!

We made a full and deep immersion into the idea and developed it in less than a week. We showed the app to a couple of target users and used their feedback to improve it. There were a fast track advance, but also harsh setbacks.

Days before the event, we received the hard news that because of legal and confidentiality issues we wouldn’t be able to use the app since we were working on a free version of the software. That was hard. I discussed the issue with a couple of key persons involved on the project and explain the idea and our point about looking digital. Before we knew, we received budget to buy the on demand version and we were back on track again.

True meaning of being in charge

The rest of the story can be summarized with the app being a big hit. Everybody loved it and now we are using it for other important events.

But the crucial learning for me here was this:

Empower others, be a resource for them, take the roadblocks out of their way, make them to own your goal and surely, they will get you there and beyond. I guess that is what being in charge is mainly about.

Of course, there were mistakes, errors and things that didn’t work completely with the app, but that was also an important part of the message of the digital transformation event and initiative that motivated this:

We all must be eager for innovation in ourselves and within our teams. We must be in peace with experimentation and uncertainty in order to learn from errors as fast as possible and then just improve as required… but that is another story (read Seth Godin‘s and James Altucher‘s about daring and failing).

What is the meaning of being in charge for you? What would you add?

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