Friday, April 9, 2010

Living in the Future

This past week we got our iPad at work. It arrived just as we were debating the kinds of seemingly critical decisions that start ups seem to face every other day or so.

After an impassioned plea to respect the obligations of our mission even in the face of market resistance, I broke into "We few, we happy few..."

Some around the table smiled in recognition, some looked at the crazy guy. I pressed forward with "...we band of brothers, for he that sheds his blood with me today shall be my brother" and asked what decision Henry would make if he were with us at the table. The smiles grew bigger, and the concern about the crazy guy became acute.

After a brief discussion on leadership and the meaning of St. Crispin's Day, we took a break.

Over the next 60 seconds, I fired up iBook on the iPad, did a search on Shakespeare, downloaded the complete works (for free), did a search on "We few we happy few", and highlighted one of the most famous passages in English literature in remarkably attractive highlighter effects (bravo Apple), bookmarked the passage, fired up YouTube app, did a search on "we few, we happy few", and brought up the 5 minute speech from Kenneth Branagh's remarkable Henry Vth

When folks returned from break, we handed around the 1 1/2 pound device, everyone used hand gestures to watch the clip and read the passage, and we were all reminded of one of the greatest lessons in leadership the world has known. We decided to do the hard thing and not the safe thing.

All in less than 60 seconds, all on a whim, all without fanfare or surprise, all with transparent technology.

In that moment, the 40 year dream of the Dynabook was made real. We don't yet have jet packs, but we have something so much more profound.

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