The Paubox Adjacent Possible

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The Paubox Adjacent Possible
Exploring the Adjacent Possible with Blaine Kahoonei

  • The Adjacent Possible describes how innovation truly happens.
  • Peter Gassner and Dharmesh Shah are leaders in the Adjacent Possible for SaaS.
  • We implemented our own version of the Adjacent Possible today.

Peter Gassner and the Adjacent Possible

I first heard of the concept Adjacent Possible from Veeva CEO Peter Gassner at last year’s SaaStr conference in San Francisco.

Peter Gassner made a habit of taking a day off every three weeks to meet with someone outside his industry. His objective was to get exposed to new ideas from outsiders. In other words, he systemized a method to consistently level up. I recall immediately thinking that was very clever.

My Takeaways from SaaStr Annual 2017 Conference (Day 2) - Paubox
Veeva CEO Peter Gassner does not follow the herd

Nature Makes a Compelling Case for the Adjacent Possible

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on the Adjacent Possible: “The Genius of the Tinkerer.”

These two paragraphs beautifully summarize the genius of Adjacent Possible:

“The scientist Stuart Kauffman has a suggestive name for the set of all those first-order combinations: ‘the adjacent possible.’ The phrase captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation. In the case of prebiotic chemistry, the adjacent possible defines all those molecular reactions that were directly achievable in the primordial soup. Sunflowers and mosquitoes and brains exist outside that circle of possibility. The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.

The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations. Think of it as a house that magically expands with each door you open. You begin in a room with four doors, each leading to a new room that you haven’t visited yet. Once you open one of those doors and stroll into that room, three new doors appear, each leading to a brand-new room that you couldn’t have reached from your original starting point. Keep opening new doors and eventually you’ll have built a palace.”

Dharmesh Shah and Learning Lunches

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, I saw a post on LinkedIn from Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot. The post explained how Dharmesh pioneered the concept of “Learning Lunches” before he started Hubspot.

The concept for Learning Lunches is simple:

“Take someone smart out for a meal. Learn something. Expense it. No approval needed. No limits. No rules. Use good judgment.

The Paubox Adjacent Possible

Paubox Adjacent Possible

The Paubox Adjacent Possible

After digesting these new ideas I’ve been exposed to here in Silicon Valley, I made the decision to launch our own hybrid of the Adjacent Possible today during our weekly staff meeting.

The Paubox Adjacent Possible, as of today, is very similar to Learning Lunches.

Indeed, as I reflect on how deeply we’ve invested in the V2MOM system developed by Salesforce, I realize we are already utilizing the Adjacent Possible. Our next logical step was to systemize it and turn it into a playbook.

Hawaii will always be home. And I love Silicon Valley at the same time. It’s the best place in the world to level up in SaaS.

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About the author

Hoala Greevy

Founder of Paubox. Kayak fishing when I can. Native Hawaiian CEO.

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