What's in a name? Plenty.
A name is a label, a person, an object. Or sometimes it is something of a
puzzle. In this case, it is a puzzle in time… an object on a company’s
roadmap or possibly several companies’ roadmaps? How great things can
get invented several times?
The picture comes from a 1999 slide presentation about a business development activity at Philips labeled the iHome project; a version of it used a special symbol based on the @ sign with a picture of a home was created for this project aimed a devices that combined media content display, user interaction and communications. One of the products was a PDA but also other product concepts were created within the project.
The objective was to create great digital products for the home and beyond. Entering the digital age. The start was a plasma HDTV in which we included the Trimedia multimedia processor. The team outperformed in getting the design-in done well within the time limit. Meanwhile, videoconferencing vendor Polycom rolled out a "Viewstation" videoconferencing product based on this processor core. Later Polycom acquired its competitor Picturetel who used a different technology. Philips excelled in creating innovative product concepts.
Another project, this time within Philips Semiconductors, was dubbed the “Wrist Communicator”. The project served as a vehicle to develop the RF and digital technology to be used in semiconductor products for wireless devices. It helped generate many successful semiconductor products in the communications space. Companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and many others became customers. The team who did this was outstanding. It was GREAT teamwork across the globe, 24 hours a day.
So what are the ingredients for success? A vision; without that it is like driving at night without the headlights on. It generates inspiration, excitement, participation and commitment. Next, a razor sharp focus to drive the effort to a competitive success. Excellent people who have no problem to go the extra mile or two. A demanding management that supports the team 200%, and a competitive environment. But above all: excitement to work on a project that exceeds the obvious and chases the seemingly impossible combined with pragmatism and common sense.
Another example is Albert Plesman, the founder of KLM. He was a visionary but also down to earth when it came to air travel. The combination of Anthony Fokker and his path-breaking biplanes and Albert Plesman proved to be a winning combination. The partners combined pragmatism with creative vision to help launch the airline industry. An early KLM ad shows a comparison between the legendary aircraft, “The Flying Dutchman,” and the actual flying
Dutchman. Early safety instructions to passengers were extremely pragmatic: "Don´t wear your hat or shawl outside the window (!) at departure; the airflow could tear it from your head causing it to get into the rudder and disabling these
." Or: If you travel in an open cabin, take good goggles with you and put on a leather or silk cap to protect your hairstyle
The instructions showed that KLM was already thinking about customer service.
Conclusion: Crazy ideas from visionaries became reality and changed the world. So don´t be afraid of creating far-fetched products since they may become reality.
-- Cees Jan Koomen, a former Philips executive, is a Netherlands-based entrepreneur.