How Much it Means to Share Something of Meaning
Our BridgEvent experience
We think that we’ve adapted to this ‘new’ world – and certainly, we’re an adaptable species (it’s one of our secrets to success), so we’ve been quick to adopt a world of 24/7 communication, virtual meetings through Skype, and interpreting subtle meanings in simple emails. We think we feel comfortable in a world where ‘Per my last email’ means – ‘oi, read your emails and reply to them!’, and where when a Brit writes ‘with the greatest respect’ they mean ‘with absolutely no respect at all because I think you’re an idiot…’.
(As a side note, for a fantastic translation of ‘Brit speak’ in emails, check out this article. It’s fantastic evidence of how two people can be speaking the same language but have no idea what the other person truly means.)
So with all this technological progress, we may think we’re communicating more, but in reality – we may be saying a lot less.
We had the opportunity to witness this first hand in the last month at the quite spectacular ‘BridgEvent’. (See, that’s another example of Brit speak – we love using the modifier ‘quite’ to tone down our apparent levels of enthusiasm, even when we think something is absolutely amazing. Ask Fiorenza what she thought about it and she’ll say ‘bellissimo’ – using the highest form of superlative in Italian).
But back to the BridgEvent. To celebrate 15 years in the business, Bridge Technologies – creators of end-to-end monitoring solutions – hosted a three day event for business partners and collaborators, and Xpresso Communications were invited to join them.
At every level, the event was the epitome of what it meant to have a truly personal connection with the people you work with. The event kicked off with a BBQ – because what brings humans together better than the concept of charring meat over an open flame? The casual but quite frankly delicious nature of the event put everybody at ease – allowing for people to mingle and meet new ‘contacts’. But thinking of it as a networking event would do the feeling of the event a disservice. It was first and foremost about making truly human connections with people; if you listened in on the conversations between new friends you would find industry talk making up only a fraction of what was being said.
The next day was a series of lectures and workshops to discuss how business partners can best integrate Bridge Technology monitoring equipment into their overall client solutions. The focus of this was of course much more business orientated – and frequently highly technical. But again, the relevance of the human connection was evident. All of this could have been covered in an annual report or memo – or perhaps in a webinar. By holding it in person, the ability to interact, understand and create a dialogue was enhanced significantly. The synergy that exists when people collaborate and share in person is appreciably greater than in online interactions, and this was evident in the thoughts and ideas that emerged from the workshops.
The key theme of the lectures was the idea of ‘knowledge’, and the way that technology and people interact to deliver this knowledge. Products such as Bridge’s VB440 are incredible in delivering knowledge of how a system works, but this is meaningless unless it is presented in a way that communicates meaning to the people using it – the interface has to ‘Bridge’ the gap between technology and psychology. Moreover, the use of business partners as a method of distribution ensures that potential clients have access to more than just a piece of technology – they have the knowledge and reinforcement that only meaningful contact with real experts can bring, rather than ‘cookie-cutter’ online support and technical guides.
The real spectacle came with the celebrations of the evening. Given the opportunity to dress in our black tie finest exhibited yet another facet of the human connection; in a world where we might be used to tuning in to a conference call in our pyjamas, there is something special about making an effort for the people around you, showing off and enjoying a sense of occasion – signaled through the dress you wear and the way you act.
A red carpet with photographer led us through to the Vulkan Arena –a beautiful venue where we were to witness a full-scale theatrical and musical production that highlighted all of the flair and panache of Bridge as both a business, and a collection of personalities and people. From concert pianists and violins, to wacky comperes and the soaring vocals of rock vocalist Gudny Aspaas (and communications manager Tim Langridge!), the entire show – witnessed with champagne in hand – was a gift from Bridge to its collaborators; a special kind of thank you that comes from shared experiences and can mean so much more than a material gift. It didn’t hurt that it gave Bridge the opportunity to show off the groundbreaking nature of its technology – as the whole production was broadcast around the world from a remote OB truck parked outside.
And finally – an unsurpassable dinner together, which itself held as much theatre as the production that preceded it. Witnessing five chefs-in-training working up close and personal as they delivered bite-size dishes of the most incredible flavour gave an opportunity to share another experience and truly understand the human element of the food we eat – the passion and belief that goes into its creation. Food is perhaps the ultimate bonding experience for humans; something we have elevated from a merely functional energy exchange, to a cultural, social and aesthetic experience (and of course something close to the Italian heart of Xpresso!).
So whilst we may continue to conduct business on a largely virtual plane of existence – and enjoy the particular benefits that can bring – we will certainly look back fondly on the BridgEvent experience as a reminder of how much it means to meet people in person, and share something of meaning.