I have certainly seen my share of change. Other than the 2 years I spent at Océ, I have worked for Autodesk for 23 out of the last 25 years depending on if you count acquisitions and dot-coms; however, not in the same job nor group. I started coding 3D graphics drivers at Ithaca Software which was acquired by Autodesk. Years later, our department spun out as buzzsaw.com, but 2 years later was reacquired by Autodesk. I then spent time as a DWF Technical Evangelist, Engineering Project Manager, and Software Development Manager before my current role as Program Manager for Autodesk Labs. Autodesk Labs is part of the Office of the CTO which is a very forward-looking group. The very nature of our group requires the ability to embrace change.
Last week, along with our trusty HR partner, our team spent a day off site to gather our thoughts as to what change could mean for us. We followed this with a day of thoughtful consideration on site as to how we could embrace change to have an even more positive impact at Autodesk.
In the spirit of helping you consider change, I am sharing a glimpse of what we saw during our offsite.
The Long Foundation
We visited The Long Now Foundation to explore what is possible when one takes a long-term perspective. We marveled at how the foundation is designing and creating a 10,000-year clock inside a mountain using Autodesk software. This definitely grabs one's imagination and makes one ask "What are my long-term plans?". What would you change about your existing plans if you made them apply more long-term?
We visited Make magazine's Maker Lab (on the site that was formerly the Exploratorium) to distill the benefits of community and how it impacts toolsets, skillsets, and mindsets. It was a combination of our own Instructables and Pier 9. No matter how you measure it, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. What could you change to include more experience and less theory?
We visited Other Lab to see how they are applying robotics in innovative ways. As an example, we saw a bio-hazard containment system that robots can create in 15 to 20 minutes (including the welds) from 16 foot rolls of plastic sheeting that only cost about $8 per foot. Instead of medical staff suiting up to help the sick, which can lead to protocol violations when removing the protective gear, the patients are housed in tents, and the staff moves about in normal attire. Now that's turning a problem inside-out. What could you change to be more innovative?
In addition to these 3 stops, we also engaged in a fun challenge. We spent an hour at the Mysterious Room whose theme was time travel.
The day was a huge success in that it pulled our team even closer together, and we recharged our perspective regarding change. We are in the process of planning our next move. Check out The Long Now Foundation, Make magazine, and Other Lab for yourself to see what changes you can make.
Embracing change is alive in the lab.