One of the things that Andy, Brian, and I struggled with as we grew SQLServerCentral was "thinking time" as Andy liked to put it. We didn't have time to often sit down and brainstorm as a group and try to evaluate and come up with ways to substantially grow things. I guess you could say that we didn't make the time, but it was hard with other full-time jobs involved for all of us at various times. Andy liked to say that he needed this in his full-time job as well in the past, but it was hard to find.
I wasn't sure. I've been on some "summits" and "off-site brainstorming sessions", but they never seemed to make a difference. I felt like we spent all this time talking about things and not following through. With work piling up back at the office for me, it constantly felt like a waste of time. So when Andy told me we didn't get enough thinking time, I didn't take it seriously.
Since then I've matured, or at least I think I have. I see the value in thinking time, and apparently, so does one of the world's most famous restaurants. El Bulli, in Barcenlona, announced they were closing for 18 months. The head chef, who has received numerous accolades and has a many-months-long waiting list for dinner, doesn't get enough thinking time. The chef recognizes that creativity takes time, and planned to take that time and re-evaluate the knowledge and experiences. Since then he has thought about it more and is looking to practice his craft in a new way, which should be interesting.
That's fine, and I think it shows that they have something that I haven't seen in the past. The leadership to actually move forward on ideas as they come up and make them happen. Too often I think there is a lack of leadership to actually take good ideas, or even just ideas, from a summit and help drive them forward. Instead it's left to the workers to try and fit in things around all their other work. Without that executive sponsorship things just won't move forward.
I will say that we once had a few days in Florida to talk about some ideas we had been mulling around, and out of that short summit came the SQL Server Standard, one thing I was very proud of. I can only imagine that if we'd had more thinking time we might done even more.
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