Churchill Club Awards
September 13, 2012, Churchill Awards, Santa Clara, CA—The second annual Churchill Club awards presentations on are those people and companies who inspired others by highlighting excellence and innovation, collaboration, social benefit, and leadership. Geoffrey Moore, author, performed the duties of master of ceremonies.
The Game Changer Award went to SpaceX for indispensable technology and business innovation.
Steve Jurvetson, a board member for SpaceX accepted the award as all of the other executives were out of the bay area. SpaceX changed the game of space travel by being the first non-government entity to dock with the International Space Station and return safely. SpaceX has reduced the cost of delivery to low earth orbit by 10,000 times in a few years. They changed the supply chain. Their next target is Mars.
The company is built of explorers and innovators and will diversify from low earth orbit tasks to interplanetary ones over time. Other opportunities will be to open satellite delivery to more people, for experiments and specialized functions. One issue for the company is to maintain safety without overbuilding as NASA has done. They have reduced redundancy and changed to a modular set of structures to enhance safety and performance.
They face lots of challenges from the military-industrial complex where most companies have no real competition. In other areas, companies with competition increase innovation to get ahead. Over time, the better technology and ideas will win. For their Mars target, the best technology will evolve to achieve their goals. The company is riding on a dragon. There is a possibility for a launch vehicle to take space tourists in 6-7 years. The costs for a ballistic excursion will drop over time as they gain experience.
The Legendary Leader Award went to Vinod Khosla from Khosla Ventures who sees the future as filled with possibilities. He is a leader and mentor.
Khosla provided some thoughts on leadership. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (George Bernard Shaw). Khosla noted that all progress is due to socially maladjusted people. Most people live in the past and extrapolate that past to the future.
"The best way to forecast the future is to invent it!" (George Bernard Shaw). Khosla added that they then have to take responsibility and have the courage of conviction. Leaders and managers have to extrapolate the next great thing, a difficult and confusing task. The leaders—VCs, managers, CEOs—need vision. Good leaders use delegation and are flexible on tactics, but are obstinate on the vision.
Leaders don't need a partner, duet leadership is a load of crap. For example Steve Jobs had vision, Bill Gates is passionate about his vision and didn't allow changes in Microsoft. Success needs a person to be a jerk. The leader has to have distinct point of view.
The number of CEOs who need and listen to writers is 0. leadership is essential. Don't compromise on your vision, don't compromise your standards and goals, and maintain focus. Be rigorously objective and non-sentimental, but you don't have to give up your family to achieve success. There is a difference between compassion and sentimentality, and it shows in leadership style.
Leadership is changing and the rates of change are increasing and becoming the driver for change. There is little change in people over 45, so dynamic change needs a younger person to be in charge. The move in many industries is towards people under 25 with real conviction.
The Magical Team Award for collaborative breakthroughs that resulted in an irresistible product or service went to Box.
Aaron Levie, CEO and Dylan Smith, CFO of Box talked about their efforts. Levie considered it to be like magic that they have worked together for 7.5 years. They started with software for sharing at the enterprise level. They started with sharing and storage and moved these functions into the enterprise. A pivotal point in the company came when they realized that consumers were not the real target, and the enterprise was key.
The changing dynamics and focus allowed them to address the short-term needs with the ability to expand to the consumer sector later. Although most of their customers are consumers, companies are starting to use and pay for the services. They like getting feedback but sell mostly through resellers.
The range of expertise for the next generation companies need leaders in their areas. they have to blend mutual views and take the best of the breed. They have to continuously adjust their vision and try to get data from anywhere. Change requires adaptation to change. They took 3 hours to make their first port to the iPad.
The changes in technologies calls for agility. Vision and perseverance will change the landscape. Open platforms and model values are important. They hope for 1 year visibility , but they know that change is inherent in their business. They keep a dynamic team that is mostly self-selected. They try for a non-hero personality for new hires.
The Serial Disrupter Award went to Google for solving multiple problems in myriad ways on a global scale.
Amit Singhal from Google said that they had to change the way to think. Their people deeply believe in what they are doing and figure out hot how to solve problems. Visionary leaders drive the directions of the company.
They had to expand beyond their initial ideas due to changes in computers and the emergence of the cloud. Now, everyone has access to infinite capacity for compute and storage. The challenge is how to expand. They depend upon lots of close interactions and every dream has an advocate or champion.
At the same time, they welcome failures. At their scale, they can create good internal functions and algorithms to match to existing or future technologies without the complete apps. They encourage IP reuse. For example, gmail made the improbable possible by ignoring arbitrary limits on storage.
They actually have a different problem, too much creativity. They have to let people run crazy because they may not make a good product, but will make good pieces. Shutdown of a project is hard, but they always have more projects to join. They build technology that didn't exist and make it work at scale and speed.
The Global Benefactor Award for irrepressible vision and positive impact on society went to Hasso Plattner of SAP.
He suggested that ideas are greater than countries, companies, etc. The future can be constructed. Plattner is still working on making changes because of his history. He got a good education in computer hardware and software and built a real-time system for commercial applications.
You have to give back some of what you got or the government will take it away. Now he has the flexibility to do philanthropy and education projects. These projects have a high potential for attracting followers to continue the work.
Disruptive innovation plus design thinking plus changes in the feedback network will affect many. Innovative change is not enough to change the world, and the whole world is the target. For example, South Africa had to make major changes when the country became democratic. One issue was that a large part of the population was left out of the educational system. In addition, they had an AIDs epidemic to fight. In comparison, look at China where the smart people affiliated with schools like Stanford to improve the educational system in their own country.
Management has to lead the changes. The hot technology that will drive change will be databases. A memory-resident database can greatly improve performance. For example, a MRP that used to take 60 hours for a complete restructuring now takes 2 minutes. The key is to know how to apply new technologies to an issue.
One way to look at this is in the mobile space. This market needs to have a response time of less than 8 seconds, or the user will lose interest and go somewhere else. This calls for a database response time approaching 0 seconds to account for the delays in transmission and other interfaces.
The availability of unlimited compute and storage will enable improvements in healthcare costs and service delivery. It will transform many other industries once people figure out how to apply the resources to the problem at hand. To implement these changes will require the managements to reward getting things done. Some will even design things to solve labor problems.