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Five big ideas from TED@Intel

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TED@Intel brought together 18 speakers from within the tech company. Photo: Shawn D. Morgan

Last week, Intel hosted a unique event — an afternoon of TED Talks delivered by their very own resident innovators, thinkers and dreamers. Through a partnership with TED, they received guidance on event production and curation. The final product — TED@Intel, themed “the future in progress” — was a moment for the organization to celebrate and communicate their best ideas.

According to Intel staffer Jeremy Schulz, these are the five most intriguing ideas he heard from the event’s 18 speakers:

1) To create technology that truly enriches people’s lives, you have to ask users what they need and immerse yourself in their challenges. Then think: What can you make that would be most useful for them? Tony Salvador has spent 20 years as an ethnographer at Intel doing exactly that. As he shared in the talk, “The Importance of Listening,” you can’t bring preconceived ideas into the process or you’ll only “hear what [you] want to hear.”

2) Employees living outside the U.S. negotiate an important but delicate balancing act between Intel’s open — but U.S.-centric — culture and the local cultural norms. Makiko Eda, who leads marketing and branding for Asia Pacific, gave the talk “The Corporation as an Agent of Cultural Fusion,” explaining that the balancing act practiced by people on the ground is vital to connecting the global company to local cultures.

3) “A little bit of insurrection” is necessary to keep new ideas alive inside corporations. In Peter Biddle’s “straight-shooting” talk, called “Plucky Rebels: Being Agile in an Un-agile Place,” he gave these pithy tips:

      • Make an attractive corpse: Projects get cancelled and plans change, but with an agile approach, your team will have built something and will have tangibles that at worst could go on a resume. “Worked for 2 years on 3-year project that got cancelled” is useless.
      • Keep it secret—until you have something real to show: In a large company, lots of people will want to “help” you, but “don’t be afraid to go dark until you have something to show.” Then show it—don’t rely on PowerPoint.
      • Find some users and make them happy: Anybody can create hockey-stick earnings charts, but “if you have people that are happy with what you’ve done, you’ve got superpower.” (See idea #1 again!)

4) Parents should act as shepherds to the online world, not gatekeepers. In the talk “Are You ‘Technically’ Fit to be a Parent?” McAfee CTO  and father Michael Fey shared how parents should negotiate the scary world of their children and the internet. He says that if you learn the ins and outs of the online community, “you can learn how to mitigate risk and prevent harm, and you can use technology to better connect with your child.”

5) If you tap into your community you will find “a fountain of creative and courageous people.” As Schulz wrote on Intel’s internal blog, “I came looking for ideas, but it was the people that left the greatest mark.”