I am preparing a one day course on using communication to build engagement that my client Dimela will offer in March for a group of veterinarians. As I assembled the materials, I realized that there is quite a lot to talk about. Two quick questions give a sense of the topic.
First, what is engagement? It is not the same as happiness or love. And it has a dynamic quality - from the idea of “flow”. To get a sense of this, you might check out Dwight Garner’s review of a new book by Sonia Faleiro called “Beautiful Thing”. The main character dances in a Mumbai sex bar, but in fact, she makes her clients dance for her. She is fully engaged in a gritty battle — not just to survive — but to prevail over poverty and abuse.
Second, how do we share engagement? It is one thing to experience it. It is quite another thing to build groups that are committed to learning from it over time. To institutionalize it. VC Fred Wilson writes about the excitement he feels when he visits college campuses. Why?
… this is talent development. We want to see more students choosing a career in entrepreneurship, more bright people working in startups, and more bright people working in our portfolio. This year already, I’ve talked at Columbia twice, Brooklyn Poly once, and now this back to back to back Ivy League week. And more is coming. Talent development is that important to our business and our portfolio.
Fred is pretty good at sharing engagement. And you can think of his firm’s startup portfolio as an engaged group dedicated to learning.
BTW, last night, Siisi Saetalu spoke at Wilde about her Uganda cafe project. In case you missed it, it was a fun event. Sure Siisi is going to learn a lot about starting up a cafe and working with handicapped people. She will learn a lot more about sharing engagement.
Part of the challenge in institutionalizing engagement is to speed up learning cycles. Fred Wilson made the point a while ago that the speed of these cycles hinges on cost benefit expectations in new product design and roll out. Smart phones are cheaper than laptops and people buy new phones more frequently. So the learning cycles are faster. And we are starting to see how smart phones are pulling forward innovation in those more sluggish markets. Just a few years ago, there was no synergy between these markets. Now a pattern for shared learning is starting to emerge with leaders and followers. The synergy that emerges is the end result of a new type of business model that builds shared learning capacity. I have called this the OI Game.