Miracles don’t only happen on the ice—they happen every day in the workplace.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience several in my career. When I went to eBay in 1999 the company was battling some significant technology issues. Many people said I was crazy to join in the midst of such turmoil. Certainly during those dark days at eBay, no one believed it would evolve into the world’s largest online marketplace and transform the world of e-commerce. But the real miracle I witnessed was not eBay’s rise to greatness, but rather the many moments when I saw teams unleash their potential and brilliantly solve what was previously deemed impossible.
At the time, eBay’s site was not architected to handle the company’s sudden growth and the site kept crashing. At its worst there was a 22-hour outage that nearly destroyed the company. Based on the users response and the stock activity, it was clear it was a challenging time.
The U.S. versus Ghana World Cup match that aired on ABC and Univision attracted 19.4 million U.S. viewers—the same number that Fox averaged for last year’s World Series. Good for soccer, and for the networks; I just wish we could have had a U.S. victory to celebrate.
Soccer fever was sweeping the states, and then, with the loss to Ghana, the energy evaporated. Watching that defeat, I couldn’t help but remember one of our more inspirational moments (and one of the greatest games ever): the U.S. hockey team’s comeback in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.
As the CEO of LiveOps, I talk a lot about the opportunity of flexibility for both companies and workers. Flexibility has become a modern day value that everyone wants.
But flexibility comes with a cost. The cost is accountability, which is necessary to gain the opportunity to work where you want, when you want, and how you want. Just as it is in pro sports (http://blogs.liveops.com/2010/06/16/meritocracy-part-1-world-cup-fever/), being managed by outcomes, maintaining an outstanding record, and doing something to get voted onto the team every day is mandatory to make our system work. What gets me most excited though is what accountability yields: a work environment ruled by meritocracy. The result is a new culture that is better for workers, better for the company, and better for customers.
World Cup fever is here again and I’m more excited than ever — especially because this year I can catch the live games on my smartphone and laptop. The games are expected to get more online coverage than any major sporting event, and while fans across the planet are going ballistic monitoring matches, results, and statistics, I can’t help but think: why can’t work be more like this?
I’m not talking about the obvious good stuff — the energy, the teamwork, the camaraderie — I’m talking about the way the World Cup works. The event, like all athletic activities, represents a meritocracy at its finest.
Many of you will be starting new jobs in the coming weeks. Others might still be searching. Either way, many will tell you it’s a less than ideal time to enter into the workforce. Recent news headlines point to a grim job outlook that doesn’t exactly offer the inspiration for grads to conquer the world.
As the CEO of a fast growing company, and one that creates work opportunities for hundreds of people (contractors and employees) a month, I see the world of work very differently than the one that’s being reported in the headlines. I’m convinced this is one of the best times for anyone to enter the workforce—and one of the most exciting times in the history of work. Just as the industrial revolution was defined by manufacturing that gave people jobs, today’s IT revolution defined by new technologies is giving people more flexible and empowering opportunities for work than ever before.
Recently, I was honored to be a guest blogger on The Huffington Post. For those who missed it, below is what I had to share:
It’s been an exciting week. On Wednesday, LiveOps visited the White House to participate in the Forum on Workplace Flexibility. We were honored to be included among business leaders, small business owners, labor experts, and advocates to brainstorm about creative ways to encourage flexible workplaces.
This is one of our country’s most pressing issues, as President Obama said, “Millions of women and men across the country struggle to balance the demands of their jobs and the needs of their families. Too often, caring for a child or an aging parent can strain a career—sometimes to the point of job loss.” What’s remarkable, though, is that we already have many of the answers to alleviate this problem.
This week the Federal Communications Commission submitted a proposal to Congress outlining the actions needed to connect the U.S. by national broadband. FCC Agency Chairman Julius Genachowski notes: “It’s an action plan, and action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.”
I am pleased to share that salesforce.comrecently went live with LiveOps On-Demand Contact Center platform in Japan, Australia and the U.S. (Europe will be added soon too.) It may be no surprise that salesforce.com “walks the talk” by running their Global Customer Support organization in the cloud, but the results and the reaction from customers is certainly worth attention.
With so much talk about workforce reduction and the challenges companies face with too much to do and too little resources, I often get people’s attention when I talk about the value cloud computing can bring to building an on-demand workforce – I call it the new freelance economy. Adopting the principles of cloud computing – on-demand, pay-as-you-go, scale as you need the services, companies can contract quality workforces and individuals have more control to chart their career and work opportunities. An on-demand workforce can bring the best workers to companies to perform work and disband, once the work is complete.
At LiveOps we call this “cloudsourcing.” Yet, I believe we are selling the benefits of cloud computing short – it is also a tremendous asset for helping companies retain great and valued employees. As much as I believe cloud computing can introduce a new ways for us to get work done efficiently, I also believe it can enable us to rethink how we “resize” our business by allowing us to now get rid of costly overhead expenses like buildings and keep great people.