Echo smartpen from LivescribeHere’s an example of the usefulness of the smart pens from Livescribe I wrote about earlier. Last week I sat down to meet with a client (a battery manufacturer). I pulled out my notebook and smartpen…and instantly the meeting became about the pen. Everyone there wanted to know what it was, how it worked, and wanted to see it in action.

In the midst of that, the president of the company walked into the conference room, saw what was going on, and asked me to demo it for him too. He watched the demo, nodded, and then turned to the guy who was supposed to be running the meeting. “I want every executive in this company to have one of these. Give me 10 to start.” Up went the Livescribe website on the display at the head of the room as my client scrambled to comply.

The president leaned across the table to shake my hand (this was my first time meeting him). “You just earned your pay,” he said. “Everything else you do for us now is gravy.”

The whole thing was over so quickly, the president never even bothered to sit down; he just sauntered out again, leaving the rest of us to get back to our meeting.

Two things impressed me about this interaction: the speed at which a new technology can effect change, and what it told me about the reasons for my client company’s success.

For the past 4 decades, this company has dominated its niche by being quicker and more adaptive than its competitors. Quick decision-making and a streamlined approval process are part of the reason. The CEO can perceive the utility of a new idea,  see how it could improve his business, get buy-in from his managers, and quickly make use of it.

In this case, it was only a few $100 smartpens, but the CEO later told me about a $1 million dollar deal he had signed off on that day with equal ease. He himself cited his company’s responsiveness to new opportunities as a major reason for its success.