Over the past year we have been laying the foundations for Darwin's Grove, and it’s time to start sharing what we are up to these days. Our approach begins with some basic notions about a better way to do business.
After finishing the MIT Sloan Fellows Program (an intense business program in Cambridge, MA), I realized more than ever that there is a big gap between what many boldly claim and what is really true. The assumptions that have shaped entire organizations and industries aren't always built on such solid ground. Sooner or later these assumptions reveal themselves, often when it is too late. In one sense, Darwin's Grove is a bad-assumption hunter, and we will be sharing our findings as we go.
At Darwin’s Grove we have three aims in mind....
Openness- pushing the envelope organizationally. Back in 2005 I met Ricardo Semler, a Brazilian entrepreneur who inherited a slow-growth family business and over 20 years made it open and transparent, as well as a truly stable growing enterprise. At his company, Semco, meetings are optional, salaries are often self-set, and employees decide where investments are made. (His books Maverick! and The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works describe the democratic workplace he helped develop.) Darwin's Grove believes openness can strengthen our workplace and help our team make better decisions, and therefore better serve our customers.
Empathy- a little more could help out right now. We think it matters how deeply you listen to your customers. I have a practice these days of polling higher-level managers and executives, asking "What percent of your time is spent thinking specifically about your business customers and their needs?" Ask yourselves. The average answer I hear is about five percent. Is that enough empathy? Given that it is the most likely source for value-creating ideas, I think we need much more. At Darwin’s Grove, our efforts are centered on the people we serve.
And finally, curiosity. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt recently described efforts to make Google "a systematic innovator at scale;" they do it by creating an environment encouraging curiosity. Curiosity allowed to run free leads to interesting things. Our talented team prefers working on challenging problems that require our curiosity to run a little looser.
We live in a time where complexity is growing rapidly, and it will be those equipped with the best of these tools that will design the exciting new products and services of the future. Darwin's Grove focuses on the intersection of behavioral sciences, analytics, and algorithms. And our curiosity about this area indicates there is much to do here. Stay tuned.