BMW does not stand for Bayerische Motoren Werke. It stands for Brand Manual Wednesday. Which, occasionally also can be a Tuesday or Thursday but most frequently is, in fact, a Wednesday. BMW started as internal knowledge and information sharing initiative.
We recognised fairly early on in our history, that we (the people in Brand Manual) know a lot about a lot of different things. But without a way to share this knowledge, it would never become part of the company, which is how BMW was born: as a framework where we could simply learn from each other.
The knowledge we shared didn’t have to be explicitly professionally relevant, but could also be about a passion or deep knowledge that we have about something outside of work. The other benefit of BMW is to teach everyone presentation skills. Not only on how to put together a compelling keynote / powerpoint, but also about how to present to a group. This skill is invaluable no matter what the topic, and is more and more important as more and more of our work involves public speaking.
In a way, BMW can almost be considered a mini TED talk, but internally for Brand Manual. This last thing, that it was only internal, became a point-of-contention eventually. It was always the same faces looking on and one of us speaking, so this year we decided to open our BMW to the public. Moreover, since we had in many ways already explained everything we know to each other (actually not, but …never-mind), it was also time to invite subject matter experts from outside Brand Manual to come and share their knowledge of strategic design, branding and their business.
So we’ve had a bank share their learnings. A food producer talk about their challenges. A design thinking professor from the university talk about the academic angle of our business. And so on. And every time we’ve had more people show an interest in BMW and each time the limited amount of seats gets “sold out” more quickly. “Sold out”, not sold out. Because BMW is not a business, but a mission to share knowledge and make friends.
The newest thing is that we’ve streamed the events live on Facebook. 10, 20, 30 people have sat somewhere online and listened to the speaker. Which is actually really cool, if you think about it. Because only 10-15 years ago live-streaming would have required ridiculous amounts of specialised equipment and dedicated bandwidth. Now all it requires is a smartphone.
What have we learned from BMW? That knowledge worth having is worth sharing. That the more we give away, the more we eventually get back. And that within every colleague there is a deep well of knowledge, that when shared, makes everyone better off. Who knows, we might someday even make it to a BMW conference…
In the meantime, follow Brand Manual on Facebook to find out when the next event will be.