Since today is Wednesday in the middle of Autodesk University (AU), and we're all fully immersed in AU activities, I can safely say "...and now for something completely different."
We work in the Office of the CTO (OCTO). OCTO's mission is to create stories about the future and help Autodesk make them come true. These stories depict how our customers will imagine, design, and make in the future so that they can do more and better with less.
The Secretary of Defense Executive Fellows program began in 1994 with the goal of transforming the Department and its military forces and capabilities. Annually, each service component selects several officers to serve in executive roles at high-performing and innovative corporations. Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spaulding (United States Air Force) is Autodesk's Defense Fellow for 2018-2019. Tim's 17 years in the Air Force have included tours as an F-15E pilot in Afghanistan and Europe, experimental flight test and evaluation of new radars, software, and missiles, and program management, most recently forming and leading the team acquiring the T-X — the Air Force's newest training aircraft. As a fellow, Tim works on the Corporate Strategy Team in OCTO.
As Lieutenant Colonel Spaulding has observed Autodesk culture, he shared a story about backing up culture values with stories. He referenced a speech by General Mark Welsh to the cadets of the Air Force Academy in 2011. This speech was given just before General Welsh became the Air Force Chief of Staff (his top uniformed leader). General Welsh's modus operandi was stories, stories, and more stories.
For the whole speech, there were 40+ individual stories that General Welsh used to bring his listeners to his conclusions. The YouTube video is nearly an hour long, so if you want just the core of the speech, it is from 24:12 to 41:48, where he hits his four big themes:
- Attention to Detail
- Decision making
- Know the stories to lead the Airmen
Watch video starting at 24:12 mark.
If you get a chance to watch/listen, it is a great example of how a well-crafted story can reinforce a cultural value in a way that no amount of detailed explication can. Keep in mind that General Welsh is talking to cadets — and so the premium is on inculcating these cultural values now before they go on to become officers. The speech was widely watched across the Air Force at the time, and even before Tim re-watched it recently, he could recall and repeat both the “attention to detail” and “know the stories to lead the Airmen” stories vividly.
As mentioned, the Office of the CTO creates stories about the future and helps Autodesk make them come true. Autodesk appreciates the values that the Department of Defense Fellows Programs brings. We are honored to have Tim among us. Together, we're creating stories about the future of designing and making. Thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spaulding for the email message upon which this blog post is based.
Actually, AU is about storytelling. Customers tell their stories of how they are using their subscriptions to do more and better with less. They share their expertise as classroom instructors. Autodesk shares stories about how it is automating design and make processes. Maybe storytelling is at the core of everything we all do? "...and now for something sort of the same."
Storytelling is alive in the lab.