Yesterday, I experienced a full day of Google juice, a mixture of technical, educational and social experiences and content. I can’t report on specific details because of non disclosure rules. In any case, outside of some factoids, most of the content would not be terribly relevant to this blog.
At first sight, the concept of flying hundreds of people around the world to meetups and summits annually seems to be, for a person who watches his costs closely, a really extravagant process. However, the Google staff in explaining the process (specific details I cannot report) provided an understanding of the reason — leverage. With our status as help forum moderators (Top Contributors), we solve problems for numbers of people several massive orders of magnitude than our numbers. If you measure things on a cost-per-problem-solved level, the expense Google incurs by keeping us in the loop becomes tiny. (The company also had us participate in market study focus groups, so they gathered additional data without having to pay researchers to pull together the necessary numbers.)
Can we take insights from really big business to our much smaller enterprises (and in this context, most of our businesses — even large and successful practices, fit into the ‘much smaller category)?
Yes, allowing for scale. With all of the technological and communications tools and advantages — and I learned about a few new tricks of the trade yesterday — there still are real advantages in connecting face-to-face; in seeing our clients and potential clients in person, and in belonging to relevant groups, causes and organizations that broaden our horizons.
There are virtues in community service and association volunteerism. And I’ve discovered surprising advantages in voluntarily answering questions on a help forum.