How do successful organisations innovate – Thoughtworks + Caelum

Last night we had a very nice meeting @ Caelum, organized jointly with Thoughtworks. The talks were:

Patrick’s talk was really awesome, with several rich examples of companies which are successful innovating and details about their approaches. I found @ his slideshare a set of slides from a previous presentation on the topic, so I think it’ll be no harm sharing it here. Actually the slides are just a smaller part of the talk, since the experiences and stories are the most valuable part.



Citing the book “The Modern Firm“, he analyzed the influence of People, Architecture, Routines and Culture (PARC) on the way companies innovate, and I strongly agree that culture and people are what makes the most difference in how you’re going to do innovation in any single environment.

There were some interesting questions after the talk, mostly about experiences while trying to do innovation projects. Since I’ve been in several innovation projects for large companies, I asked him if he’s seen successful cases of innovation projects in a “service provider role”, which has specially tricky things. I mentioned the approach I’ve been through recently, where the large company puts the new product within the “Innovation Border” and gives the team a certain monthly burn-rate for it to live for several months and then decide if the product is worthy of additional funding. I think this is a very nice approach, but it’s very important that the team is actually given the “authority” to decide, and doesn’t become a “pet department” within the enterprise.

After Patrick’s talk, Guilherme tolds us a story about he and his brother trying to build products and businesses and several failed attempts that gave them much learning before finally getting it right with Caelum.


I knew some parts of the history, but he mentioned much more than I knew, including innovative mobile phone games, math products and some other tech stuff. Later on, he talked about VRaptor, GUJ and some other things, and how they eventually started teaching @ USP and founded Caelum. It was awesome to know how hard they tried and how they ended up building one of the most admired tech companies in Brazil.

Something he mentioned that was interesting was the failed experience with consulting. They technically have much more than what it takes to be successful with consulting, but they just weren’t happy doing this, cuz it’s hard to keep both clients and employees happy at the same time.

They ended up choosing training and this was a very fortunate choice for me. Paulo forwarded many clients to me along the years and I cannot thank them enough for their trust. I feel very very happy about it because they’re 2 of the guys I admire the most in our field :)

Well, it was obviously a very pleasant evening for me. As you can see from the pictures, my friend Luca was there as well, and as usual we talked a lot about software, culture and many other stuff. Nice seeing you there buddy!

To finish I’d like to share some book recommendations I got from Patrick’s talk. If you get the chance to see their talks next week @ Agile Brazil, I strongly recommend it, you simply cannot miss!