Three Reasons to Get Out of Your Corporate Cocoon
We are sponsoring and promoting a big conference this August called Day of Innovation. It will feature a diverse lineup of speakers representing multiple industries and expert perspectives. We've been very surprised at how slow local corporations have been to jump on board. Even more surprising are the responses that we get when we talk to various employees (from executives to entry level). One disturbing common theme that we hear is this; "Whatever training we need, we get internally. We don't typically attend any external events like the conference".
On a separate note, I was recently talking with a client about a number of big collaborations that I'd been reading about on the internet. Seemingly disparate companies either partnering or merging to do something much bigger than what either company could do on their own (e.g. Google buys Nest... think about it, a one time search engine company buys a smart thermostat company with the goal of owning a piece of total home management). The client asked me "Do you really think that external collaborations have to take place for these types of things to happen?" I referred to companies that I am aware of that have tried to do these things strictly on their own. Who really needs a waffle iron that is controlled by their smart phone?
So, these recent occurences have inspired me to list the following three reasons why you need to get out of your corporate cocoon.
- Your perspectives are limited by what it is that your company currently does. If a company that makes waffle makers wants to jump on the internet of things wagon, it will seem like a good idea to make a smart waffle maker in order to stay competitive. Never mind the fact that no consumer wants or needs a smart phone controlled waffle maker, it's perceived to be required to stay relevant. You have to get your head above this to see what meaningful opportunities could exist by reaching out beyond your company.
- All internal training is biased. Let's be honest, most corporations are far more interested in compliance than enrichment. In other words, the training that they provide will be to help you adhere to internal processes and policies to make you more efficient at your job. It's very hard for an individual to create something entirely new (product or process) when they're strongly encouraged to simply "tow the line". Exposing yourself to outside thought leaders can help you to stand out from your peers in terms of bringing a richer perspective to your organization.
- The person you meet might be a linchpin to your future. We all know the days of hiring into a company out of college and retiring from that same company forty years later is a thing of the past. However, many corporate employees wait until a situation becomes unbearable, then head down traditional paths (e.g. job postings, headhunters, etc.) to find a new opportunity. I'm convinced that some of the best jobs are never posted. They come from meeting the right person and making a personal connection. Many jobs are created based upon the skill sets that are displayed. "That lady is good, we've got to find a place for her in our organization". I've heard this numerous times. But that opportunity will never find you if you're not out there meeting people (outside of your company).
I spent fifteen years in a large corporation. And I was as guilty as anyone of only looking internally for my personal development. If only I had known then what I've come to learn now...