Saturday, July 7, 2012


Anticipation, [an-tis-uh-pey-sh uh n], noun
2. realisation in advance; foretaste.
3. expectation or hope.

Sitting in Starbucks sipping a reminder from the US, I watch the contestants walking by on the harbour promenade. They are on their way from the hotel to the convention center. The first round of the Imagine Cup competition begins soon and will run into the evening.  There is an urgency in their stride.

I see the Italian team in the coffee shop and say hello. They are nervous, and eye my badge. I ask about their universities.  They are from three cities, scattered across Italy.  I won't be seeing them today.  They are relieved.

We were told yesterday that the teams have been preparing for weeks, getting their presentations down to a rhythm, anticipating the questions we will ask.  Anticipating has a double edge.  As Pasteur reminded us, "chance favours the prepared mind".  Like the athletes in the summer games soon to start in London, there are months of conditioning and rehearsal.  A colleague challenges leaders to imagine the end of the movie, how this will play out.   Anticipating the ending, is rattled by the anticipation in the stomach for it to begin. Many of the teams take a deep breath then start.

The imagination that began the idea that got them here, is also needed for imagining what the audience will hear.  That is beyond the judges to the customers and users of their solutions and products.   Can they imagine the satisfaction, the "ah hah" of their audience.  

This is often an unnatural act for technology wizards, for whom the solution is "obvious". They know the end of the story.  But it is those who can tell the story in the words of their listeners, who will bring their audience along.  They will win the day.   

Tonight we selected 20 students from 72 amazing entries for software design, that in turn beat out almost 400,000 ideas from an equal number of applicants who registered on the site a year ago. The teams in the Sydney auditorium were aching with anticipation. Those that told the good stories of why, how and for how much, anticiapated what their audience needed to hear. Their solutions were, by and large, the best.

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