?What If!: 25 Years of Innovating
It feels like only yesterday that we scraped together what little money we had and swapped our corporate careers for this crazy adventure. We wish we could say that we had a plan, that we had thought the whole thing out but we hadn’t.
What we did have was a real belief that great new leaps in business would not come out of the boardroom but by immersing decision makers in the environments in which customers felt let down, disengaged or plain angry. Our hunch was that making solutions real, and doing it quickly was the best way to make senior executives believe radical new things were possible. We had an unshakeable commitment to building a fester-free culture; a place where ego came second to admitting you were wrong and trying another route (that’s called pivoting these days). And we found fabulous clients with whom we’ve built longstanding and inspiring relationships.
Standing back, we are so proud of the impact we’ve made in the world. Today there are a couple of hundred ?What Iffers! and associates located in our San Francisco, New York, London and Shanghai offices. We’ve trained over 100,000 people, sold an equal number of copies of our innovation books and at a more personal level, 18 babies have been born out of ?What If! marriages and couplings!
So on our 25th birthday we want to say thank you to all those ?What Iffers! across the world who will spend today working on an exciting assignment. To the ?What Iffers! who have made their mark and left their legacy (and some great stories). To all our clients and partners who have been so supportive over the years and especially to all the friends and families that have been our bedrock of energy through late evenings and mid-week absences — to all of you, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Looking forward we are full of optimism. This is an amazing time to be in business. Technology disruption is fuelling a revolution in almost every sector; customers are outstripping corporations in their ability to try new things and at work, strategy formulation as we have known it is dead. Our beliefs from 25 years ago still hold true, but going forward the winners will be those who know how to make ‘Experiment Engines’ — fast fluid microcosms of the future that embolden senior executives to take the audacious path.
We will look back on these days as the time when customers took back control of their markets and that business got to be both more dangerous and more fun. We look forward to continuing our journey with you.
With love and thanks,
Dave and Matt
Founders of ?What If!
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