Several weeks back I picked up Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From, its an engaging read which focuses on the ecosystems which foster innovative thought. Johnson details the slow hunch, which is a thought or idea which takes a great deal of time to evolve and build into some concrete action plan. I’ve taken up his suggestion of keeping a thought journal, and cultivating this space to allow all of the thoughts on the fringes of your mind to be recorded and distilled. Its been a great exercise thus far.
Johnson’s most striking example of a slow hunch is FBI field agent Ken Williams, and his report filed on July 10, 2001 warning of the airborne threat posed by Osama Bin Laden. For a variety of reasons this one report was not connected with other reports by field agents, and no one pieced the information together. The report alone was not enough to cause alarm, but if Ken had been connected with colleagues who found similar evidence then maybe there would have been more meaning put into his warning. This is one, albeit extreme, instance of failed communication within an organization.
Communication is a pain point for most firms. This was apparent to me during the first week I interned with a Fortune 500 firm – it took nearly the full week for me to get logged into their computer systems to start working. Clay Hebert, a former Accenture executive, is currently working on a new technology startup called Spindows. His mission with this project is to enable video speed networking across large enterprises.
Imagine Chat Roulette (minus the nudity) and Skype blended together. That is something close to what I imagine Spindows will be when its launched. I was lucky enough to see Clay speak at an Under 30 CEO Demo Pitch, and he framed Spindows as a "high-value, high-discovery" communication tool. Over the course of an hour you could meet and chat with 20-30 colleagues.Spindows utilizes tags, to facilitate discussion by pairing people with similar interests. I don’t envision few minute conversation to produce an immediate value-add for corporations, but it will surely lay the foundation for future collaboration and engagement among peers who work in the same capacity, in different geographic locations.
I believe the potential for Spindows – both in terms of impact and profit – is huge. This is clearly a pain point for large organization, and Spindows should be able to solve a great deal of their problems. Clay is an engaging speaker. His experience at Accenture lends him credibility to corporations, and his involvement in the tech scene in NYC should benefit him as he finds talent to help him execute this vision. I am excited to see this idea evolve into a real product – and if I had the resources I would love to be an investor.