From the Fake Beach to Gouda

by | Jun 29, 2018 | PACE approach


I began to tell something of the Silverside story last week, at least the part where it intersected with my work and life. After the short meeting on the fake beach at a hotel resort in early 2013, Roland Driesen – the Director of Research at Silverside – reached out and asked if I would visit the Netherlands sometime during the year and present a one-day workshop on user adoption. Since I’d written the book on user adoption – twice actually – and already had a one-day workshop that had been presented around the world, it was an easy answer. “Of course. Absolutely. Let’s do this.” We set the date for late June 2013, and I started to get ready (since I had three workshops to deliver in three days – Collaboration Roadmap in London on the Tuesday, User Adoption Strategies with Silverside on the Wednesday, and Doing Business with IBM Connections in Switzerland on the Thursday).

One of the first tasks was to learn how to say the name of the city in the Netherlands we were going to hold the workshop. “Gouda.” Now to my English-speaking mouth, you say that word with a strong G sound – almost like “goo-da”. But since it is a Dutch city and Dutch word, it has to be said with a strong and throaty H sound – like “how-da.” Apparently, the throatier the better, unless my Dutch language coach in New Zealand was having me on.

While I practiced my Dutch pronunciation of Gouda and prepared the workbook (and sent across a few boxes of books), Roland and his team starting pulling together all the details for the workshop. They found a local hotel with the right facilities, made the bookings, and put up the advertising. They did a great job, and by the time late June came around, we had almost 30 people in the workshop.

There were a few “funny” things about that first workshop half a decade ago, some of which we still laugh about:

  • I stayed in a hotel by Schipol when I arrived late the night before the workshop (having done the first workshop in London that day). Since I was going to Switzerland for a conference immediately after the workshop with Silverside, I had four pieces of luggage, include two large suitcases (one with books for the workshop in Switzerland the next day). Roland picked me up on Wednesday morning in his two-seat sports car. It was a tight squeeze on the drive to Gouda, to say the least.
  • It wasn’t funny, but the second computer I had with me for taking notes during the workshop was a small HP netbook. It was so unreliable and slow that I struggled to do what I normal do – listen and type – so as to create a record of our discussion during the day. I think I had to drop the HP and use my iPad part way through the day, because it was just not working.
  • After the workshop I flew to Switzerland with a Silverside consultant who was attending the same conference. I was so exhausted – and was still not over my jetlag – that I fell asleep while we were in conversation on the plane. That didn’t go down very well!

I thought the first workshop with Silverside went well. And so did they, clearly, because we immediately started talking about doing it again in 2014.

Here’s the video the Silverside team put together of that day half a decade ago.