We believe investigating our curiosities leads to discoveries, inventions, and innovations that improve the world around us. To unleash individual and collective creativity we must have the courage to test new ideas, confront possible failure, and discard obsolete ideas.
Back in the dot-com crazy days, I was determined to leverage our technical prowess into the next Google. I started thinking about how technology might be used to relieve some of the bottlenecks within our business. One of the biggest was the reference-checking process. It’s the bane of every recruiter’s existence. Chief among the many problems within the reference checking process was the fact that most employers have policies prohibiting employees from giving references on former employees. So, we came up with a solution to most of the reference checking problems. We called it 3references.com—the world’s first and only clearinghouse for job references via the Internet.
3references.com represented our “field of dreams” so we built it, but they didn’t come. To this day, I think it was a pretty darn innovative idea. The idea was to record reference giver voice responses to a list of standardized questions, then give prospective employers online access to both their verbal and numerical rating responses.
So, if out of 15 questions, a reference giver rated the candidate 9 out of 10 on all but one question rated a 5, the reference checker could go straight to the 5-rated question to determine if it’s worth the time to listen to the rest of the responses. Slick huh? We tried selling it to Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, but never got very far. I’ve been looking for the next field of dreams ever since. Even spent some time praying about it.
FocusOnPrayer.com never got built, but we did a pretty thorough analysis of the possibilities while coming up with a rough design. The vision was huge and the life-changing potential was incalculable. Just think about something in your own life that you prayed fervently for…or perhaps still are. It could be for the health of a loved one or the strength to survive their loss. It could be for that big promotion or for a desperately needed job. It could be for relief from chronic pain or the will power to overcome the debilitating addiction that came with it. It could be for the future spouse of your dreams or the end of a marital nightmare. When it comes to prayer, it could be for an infinite variety of things.
I don’t profess to fully comprehend the mystery of prayer. And, I’m pretty skeptical of anyone who does. The notion that my feeble requests can literally prompt the creator God of the universe to action is beyond mind-boggling. Yet, my own life experiences and the well-documented experiences of millions over millennia suggest prayer may well be the most powerful force on the planet. If so, how far-fetched is it to think that we could use technology to wield our powerful prayer weapon in a more effective way?
Referring to prayer, Jesus said, “If two of you agree on Earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Entire books have been written on the theology packed into that single statement. I won’t attempt to unpack it here. But, the notion that the only thing more powerful than prayer is when two or more people pray together was foundational to FocusOnPrayer.com.
Its 2:00 a.m. and your third sleepless night in a row. You can’t get your 14-year-old son’s face out of your mind. You don’t want to. No parent should have to bury a child like you did three days ago. Your next-door neighbor who came to the door with the police officers to give you the horrible news has been a great comfort to you. But, she’s never been where you are. You don’t know anyone who has. Desperate for something you can’t even articulate, you get on your laptop and Google “parent grieving loss of child.”
That’s when you discover FocusOnPrayer.com. With a few clicks, you’re connected to another mother on the other side of the world who’s been where you are and is available to join you in prayer.
But there’s a third party to this transaction. Jesus followed His previous statement with this, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). So, while your grieving husband sleeps off the scotch he pours to temporarily deaden his pain, you pour out your heart with your new cyber friend to the mysterious One who promised to be present, to listen and to act upon your request. 15 years later, I still get goose bumps thinking about the life-changing possibilities of FocusOnPrayer.com.
By far, we have less experience with our Discover, Invent and Innovate Value in Action than any of the others. In saying this, I’m probably unfairly discounting a great deal of innovation that we bring to each and every client engagement. But, the big ideas (and hence the biggest innovations) originate with the clients who then bring us in to help execute their plans. During our firm’s next quarter century, we’ll be much more focused upon bringing our own innovations to market. I can’t wait!