Hexagon’s CEO, Ola Rollén, is a rock star on stage. With a boyish grin and matching figure, teasing humor and love for all things that relate to a point cloud, he opened the conference by doing something remarkable – he told stories. Some true and some fairy tales to make metaphorical points. I’m still giggling recalling his story about a people overthrowing their government, decapitating the leadership and forming a new nation. Their first task is to create a new flag, and the story of data, customers and Hexagon unfolded. Infinitely more interesting than a series of PowerPoint bullets.
Open, Frequent and Casual Access to Executives
Hexagon’s executives like the press, or at least they act like it. Considering that Hexagon’s users rely on the media for third-party commentary of industry trends and product information, what better place to give the media a close look at the company and their users. CEO Rollén’s luncheon with the media yesterday had him showing up in jeans and polo shirt, answering any of the questions we wanted to ask him in a chatty and engaging fashion. One journalist asked about whom in the military told Rollén about the need for ruggedized smart phones that can also scan the terrain, and Rollén’s response was playful: “Well, I’m certainly not telling you!” Big laugh from the group. “But I can tell you that our strategy is to …” as he launched into a surprisingly frank description about how they evaluate potential projects.
Last year at the conference, Hexagon Metrology’s North American president, Angus Taylor, hosted an afternoon round table with members of the media, which started off talking about metrology products and morphed into a philosophical discussion on management style, leadership, developing talent, internal communication and so on. Brilliant.
Contrast this with other companies that actually try to keep the press at bay, in formalized press conferences, afraid they will ask a question that is uncomfortable or one for which they do not have a scripted answer.
Invite Third-Party Moderators
Instead of using internal people to moderate round tables and panels (who know all the questions not to be asked under penalty of death), use “outsiders.” Our own Editor in Chief, Dirk Dusharme, was asked to moderate a series of interviews at the metrology keynote. Dirk, an accomplished industry journalist and comfortable on stage, was in an ideal position to add a dimension of reality and honesty to the interviews. After all, isn’t that what a journalist is, an “honesty broker?”
The three techniques above are just the start of a new way of thinking about how user conferences add value to … users! All in all, it was a refreshing departure from your typical user conference.
Millennium 360 Inc.
Guest Blogger Profile
Jeff Dewar is CEO of Millennium 360 Inc., Quality Digest’s parent company. During his career he has presented quality-related topics to thousands of people on six continents, all but Antarctica.
Quality Digest is one of Hexagon’s media partners covering HxGN LIVE 2013.