Thursday, February 4, 2016

#InnovatorSummit at #RootsTech – Inside-out and Upside-down

Steve Rockwood of FamilySearch looks at problems inside-out and upside-down.As a prelude to #RootsTech, the 2016 Innovator Summit began yesterday in Salt Lake City. The opening keynotes were given by Steven Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, and Ken Krogue, cofounder of

Steve Rookwood said that innovators make a living by looking at different ways to approach things. FamilySearch was looking at things differently when they came up with the “crazy” idea of a shared, public family tree. Looking at things differently is something Steve’s done in his career. He likes to solve problems by looking at them “inside-out and upside-down.” (Hence the joke his staff played on him by projecting his first slide upside-down.) In 1990 he and partner, Jim Ball, created Alpine Axis in Golden, Colorado. They had the idea of creating call center technology for a center that wasn’t a center at all. They developed technology that allowed workers to work out of their homes. Calls coming into an 800 number would be routed out to the employees in their own homes.

Now as the new CEO of FamilySearch, it is a skill he is bringing to his work. Prior to becoming CEO, he served as a vice president over international concerns and as part of his responsibilities lived outside the United States. He comes to his new position as, in a way, an outsider looking in. Steve identified five areas FamilySearch is focusing on: discovery, family tree, searchable records, memories, and contextual help.

Everyone has positive feelings about family history. If someone becomes engaged, they develop skills. With those skills, they produce results. What would our industry be like if we could extend engagement to teenagers and millennials? What if we learned how to bring others into our circle, providing them the feelings, skills, and results that we experience?

What would our industry be like if we could integrate family history into our everyday lives, like we do in subtle ways with math?

Let’s grow the family history space. Let’s bring family history out, to weave it into the fabric of everyday life.

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