You Are Not a Large Corporation — I don’t know a thing. — Medium
Totally. Well, not the llamas.
“You can define “success” without it being tied to quarterly shareholder reports or even income. It can be tied to the amount of days you can afford not to work. Or by how much you can donate to your favourite animal charity that rescues llamas. Or by how often you can work from the road.”
“So she posted her solution online, and then…” | johnstepper
Good post by John Stepper. I’ve highlighted the issue I encounter most in enterprises: the quest for credit, as mandated by current performance practices:
“People who are aspiring to make a difference will share their work online so others can use it and improve on it. Yet it’s a phrase you might never hear at work. Why not? And what can we do about it?”
“I won’t get credit.” A more insidious barrier is when people feel their contributions won’t be recognized. Particularly in a management system of competitive ratings and bonuses, there is a heightened sense of internal competition. Feeling like you’re fighting for your share of a finite pie will grossly inhibit your willingness to contribute and collaborate.
“And credit? This comes in several forms. Social recognition from relevant peers is often powerful enough to drive continued contribution. Beyond that, though, it’s the role-based community that knows about all the good jobs within the firm. When individuals contribute, they do so for their own reputation and their access to opportunities in addition to the good of the community.”
15. Ivan Poupyrev | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
“Ivan Poupyrev had a theory: What if he sent a broad spectrum of AC current through everyday objects? Would those objects be able to sense touch? The answer is yes, and Touche is the sensor system developed by Poupyrev and his team at Disney to do it.
Connect Touche to a living orchid and the plant’s entire skin becomes touch-sensitive just like a smartphone screen; attach it to a computer-music program and you can play the flower like a violin. Touche is compatible with almost any object you can grab–wooden tables, metal sculptures, water tanks, even breathing humans. Touche could make every square inch of Disney World responsive to touch–and open up a world of possibility for connecting objects to the Internet. “My long-term vision,” Poupyrev says, “is making the entire world interactive.””
The audacious plan to end hunger with 3-D printed food – Quartz
“[Anjan Contractor] sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.”
How to Run IT at the Speed of Silicon Valley – The CIO Report – WSJ
“a combination of technologies, management practices and cultural features that enable Valley technologists to work fast. These practices are used by their engineering and IT organizations.”
“…Before companies become fast, they have to learn how to accelerate. There are new skills to learn. But perhaps more challenging is the need to unlearn old ways. For example, traditional development practices, such as change control boards to oversee code changes, are inconsistent with rapid, iterative and agile practices. Companies that use both agile and traditional techniques must figure out how they will co-exist. While CEOs may not completely agree with LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman’s maxim, “if you are not embarrassed by your first release, you’ve launched too late!”, they need to support CIOs who, in their quest to create faster, more agile IT organizations, attempt to follow its spirit.”
In the Programmable World, All Our Objects Will Act as One | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
“In this future, the intelligence once locked in our devices now flows into the universe of physical objects. Technologists have struggled to name this emerging phenomenon. Some have called it the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet—despite the fact that most of these devices aren’t actually on the Internet directly but instead communicate through simple wireless protocols. Other observers, paying homage to the stripped-down tech embedded in so many smart devices, are calling it the Sensor Revolution.
But here’s a better way to think about what we’re building: It’s the Programmable World. After all, what’s remarkable about this future isn’t the sensors, nor is it that all our sensors and objects and devices are linked together. It’s the fact that once we get enough of these objects onto our networks, they’re no longer one-off novelties or data sources but instead become a coherent system, a vast ensemble that can be choreographed, a body that can dance. Really, it’s the opposite of an “Internet,” a term that even today—in the era of the cloud and the app and the walled garden—connotes a peer-to-peer system in which each node is equally empowered. By contrast, these connected objects will act more like a swarm of drones, a distributed legion of bots, far-flung and sometimes even hidden from view but nevertheless coordinated as if they were a single giant machine.”
Archives for May 2013
Link Collection — May 12, 2013
Obama orders agencies to make data open, machine-readable by default | Ars Technica
good, but note the “if implemented”…
“President Barack Obama issued an executive order today that aims to make “open and machine-readable” data formats a requirement for all new government IT systems. The order would also apply to existing systems that are being modernized or upgraded. If implemented, the mandate would bring new life to efforts started by the Obama administration with the launch of Data.gov four years ago. It would also expand an order issued in 2012 to open up government systems with public interfaces for commercial app developers.
“The default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable,” the president’s order reads. “Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable.” The order, however, also requires that this new “default state” protect personally identifiable information and other sensitive data on individual citizens, as well as classified information.”
Will Your Golden Years Be Robot-Assisted?
I’m totally counting on an eldercare robot, tho I might choose a name other than HERB:
“Robots—in addition to other uses—are now being viewed as a way to meet the needs of a fast-growing aging population, with technologies that assist in daily care and provide companionship. Over the next 18 years, 78 million baby boomers will turn 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. And most will not be able to afford the daily help often required by age-related disability.
At the same time, health care costs are skyrocketing. Robots could help address both costs and manpower issues.”
Technology is a tool: We can print guns, but we can also print prosthetic limbs — Tech News and Analysis
“The same week that brought us a video of someone firing a gun built using parts manufactured on a 3D printer, on Wednesday offered us an inspiring story about using the same type of printer to manufacture a prosthetic hand for more than hundred times less than the cost of a traditional prosthetic set of fingers.
The story of the Robohand is as inspiring as an Oprah interview. One of the participants, however, noted that he didn’t intend to help those missing a limb. Instead, he sought out a 3D printed hand to save himself after a wood working accident shaved off four of his fingers. And yet, thanks to a collaboration between carpenter Richard Van As in Johannesburg, and a Seattle prop designer a five-year old born without fingers now has a more functional hand.”
SAP Takes It All to the Cloud – NYTimes.com
The inevitable: “We will do cloud-based ERP on a massive scale,” said Vishal Sikka, a member of SAP’s executive board and one of the people who oversaw the project. Of SAP’s regular product, he said, “At some point in the future, complex implementations should go away. All of our products are moving to HANA.”
The Man Behind the Google Brain: Andrew Ng and the Quest for the New AI | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com
“Deep Learning is a first step in this new direction. Basically, it involves building neural networks — networks that mimic the behavior of the human brain. Much like the brain, these multi-layered computer networks can gather information and react to it. They can build up an understanding of what objects look or sound like.
In an effort to recreate human vision, for example, you might build a basic layer of artificial neurons that can detect simple things like the edges of a particular shape. The next layer could then piece together these edges to identify the larger shape, and then the shapes could be strung together to understand an object. The key here is that the software does all this on its own — a big advantage over older AI models, which required engineers to massage the visual or auditory data so that it could be digested by the machine-learning algorithm.
With Deep Learning, Ng says, you just give the system a lot of data “so it can discover by itself what some of the concepts in the world are.””
Avoid the PowerPoint-to-Execution Gap: Strategists as Operators
Reading a point-of-view piece by Cynthia Montgomery in Rotman Magazine reminded me of a soapbox tweet of mine: “we need to value execution on par with creation”.
That tweet was inspired by a consultation I did on a critical project that had fallen into the PowerPoint-to-Execution Gap.
This project made all the right upfront moves: defined a bold, yet attainable business vision, rallied executive support, hired a top talent technology consultancy, and hand-picked a skunkworks team.
Upon completion of the upfront, they had a well-defined business problem (process, requirements, data, roles), which would be supported by a state-of-art technology architecture. The creation portion was top-notch.
The problem was that company and project executives assumed that execution would take care of itself. They didn’t recognize that there is a strategic element to execution, involving not just scheduling, but careful packaging and orchestration of development, delivery, acceptance and business transformation activities.
In her Rotman piece, The Role of the Strategic Leader, Montgomery speaks to the often missed leadership component in strategic work, the “ongoing responsibility of leading strategy”.
“A great strategy, in short, is not a dream or a lofty idea, but rather the bridge between the economics of a market, the ideas at the core of a business, and action. To be sound, that bridge must rest on a foundation of clarity and realism, and it also needs a real operating sensibility.”
To illustrate her point, Montgomery — a Harvard Professor — describes how her MBA and Executive Education students inevitably debate the importance of strategy versus execution:
“Every year, early in the term, someone in class always wants to engage the group in a discussion about what’s more important: strategy or execution. In my view, this is a false dichotomy and a wrongheaded debate that the students themselves have to resolve, and I let them have a go at it.”
Montgomery revisits that early term debate with a real-world case on Gucci:
“I always bring that discussion up again at the end of my course, when we talk about Domenico De Sole’s tenure at Italian fashion eminence Gucci Group. De Sole, a tax attorney, was tapped for the company’s top job in 1995, following years of plummeting sales and mounting losses in the aftermath of unbridled licensing that had plastered Gucci’s name and distinctive red-and-green logo on everything from sneakers to whiskey — in fact, on 22,000 different products — making Gucci a cheapened and overexposed brand.
De Sole started by summoning every Gucci manager worldwide to a meeting in Florence. Instead of telling managers what he thought Gucci should be, De Sole asked them to look closely at the business and tell him what was selling and what wasn’t. He wanted to tackle the question “not by philosophy, but by data” — bringing strategy in line with experience rather than relying on intuition. The data were eye opening. Some of Gucci’s greatest recent successes had come from its few trendier, seasonal fashion items, and the traditional customer — the woman who cherished style, not fashion, and who wanted a classic item she would buy once and keep for a lifetime — had not come back to Gucci.
De Sole and his team, especially lead designer Tom Ford, weighed the evidence and concluded that they would follow the data and position the company in the upper middle of the designer market: luxury aimed at the masses. To complement its leather goods, Ford designed original, trendy — and, above all, exciting — ready-to-wear clothing each year, not as the company’s mainstay, but as its draw. The increased focus on fashion would help the world forget all those counterfeit bags and the Gucci toilet paper. It would propel the company toward a new brand identity, generating the kind of excitement that would bring new customers into Gucci stores, where they would also buy high-margin handbags and accessories.
To support the new fashion and brand strategies, De Sole and his team doubled advertising spending, modernized stores, and upgraded customer support. Unseen but no less important to the strategy’s success was Gucci’s supply chain. De Sole personally drove the back roads of Tuscany to pick the best 25 suppliers, and the company provided them with financial and technical support while simultaneously boosting the efficiency of its logistics. Costs fell and flexibility rose.”
The lesson from the Gucci case, according to Montgomery is clear:
“The only way a company will deliver on its promises, is if its strategists can think like operators.”
“In effect, everything De Sole and Ford did — in design, product lineup, pricing, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, and logistics, not to mention organizational culture and management — was tightly coordinated, internally consistent, and interlocking. This was a system of resources and activities that worked together and reinforced each other, all aimed at producing products that were fashion forward, high quality, and good value.
It is easy to see the beauty of such a system of value creation once it is constructed, but constructing it isn’t often an easy or a beautiful process. The decisions embedded in such systems are often gutsy choices. For every moving part in the Gucci universe, De Sole faced a strictly binary decision: either it advanced the cause of fashion-forwardness, high quality, and good value — or it did not and was rebuilt. Strategists call such choices ‘identity-conferring commitments’, and they are central to what an organization is or wants to be and reflect what it stands for.”
Returning to the student debate (and the PowerPoint-to-Execution Gap):
“When I ask executives at the end of this class, “Where does strategy end and execution begin?” there isn’t a clear answer — and that’s as it should be. What could be more desirable than a well-conceived strategy that flows without a ripple into execution? Yet I know from working with thousands of organizations just how rare it is to find a carefully honed system that really delivers. You and every leader of a company must ask yourself whether you have one — and if you don’t, take the responsibility to build it. The only way a company will deliver on its promises, in short, is if its strategists can think like operators.”
Successful strategy demands execution excellence, which starts with an execution strategist. Or, if you are lucky, with one of the rare strategists who think like operators.