Sam and Kris


Global distributed workforce collaboration issues


Exploitation as contradiction in ideality

2 really disparate examples of exploitation here, I will do a couple of illustrations for defining these contexts as contradictions in players’ ideality and then applying a trend.

One from the affordable internet efforts and why even with reducing capex and opex telecom companies would not cut prices to customers and continue to exploit.

Player Function Ideality Contradiction and resulting exploitation
ISP/Carrier/Operator connect subscribers                          to internet not lose subscriber base, increasing revenues/cash flows, decreasing spend, monopoly increasing average revenue and profit per user directly contradicts with customers ideality to pay
Customer/Subscriber connect to internet for access to services and information pay nothing for connectivity, highest speed possible, always connected ties with devices, price increasing data plans, speed limitations, and forced congestion from operators
Investor invest for returns in companies that make profits reducing capex and opex with increasing revenues and profit is approaching ideality reduced customer service levels and migration of customers, puts revenue and profits on a decline, hence the stock value as well
Media Industry create and distribute media monopoly for content and affiliated business, no other competitive media / distribution channels becomes viable Access to media from internet directly contradicts with their business model to sell content from traditional forms of discs, cable tv content

Second example is around immigration from the recent Syria crisis, even though legal immigrants add value to the migrated place, why politicians continue to exploit voting population by fueling negative perceptions around immigration. But still continuing to turn a blind eye on labor exploits of immigrants to continue with a not so competitive economy.

Player Function Ideality Contradiction and resulting exploitation
State/Politician development and upholding state  sovereignty zero dollars spent on regulation, and citizens get all priority services from government, and never lose an election allowing cheap immigrant labor into non-subsidized industries maintains a bad economy building a false perception around immigration maintains status quo and votes from conservative population that wants to maintain sovereignty
Immigrant Labor to industry every border is open, every country is ‘migration’ worthy, on par with citizen benefits, rights protected lack of labor law to govern their employment means giving away rights, without votes or rights deprived of having a voice in the country
Industry/Employer Value creation for economy, investor, and customers cheap and exploitable labor use and less than minimum working conditions for higher profits, no litigation on violations lack of labor inspection / governance maintains  status quo, including less than worthy labor conditions and pay to immigrants and this as the only way to maintain competitiveness in a falling economy
Citizen Tax payer and uses benefits from state.Also customer for industry. Subsidized sectors, and unemployment benefits for citizens, Pay/Benefits without job. Subsidy perceived as right and any state capital spent on immigrants is actually something the citizen could be deemed eligible for as lost/wasted.
Border Control Regulate migrant flow into state no immigration (legal / illegal) means no patrol or control necessary migrants posing threats to sovereignty, and citizen welfare, calls for massive spend in border control and leading to a back passage creation

Now in both cases at super system level, you could add regulations that will move some functions from the players to another neutral authority. So Regulatory Authority could standardize price plans, open up migrations across, just like they do in insurance policy terms and conditions. Similarly new technology like unlimited connectivity say from Google Moon or, open id, could turn functions in favor of customers/migrants, while skewing for specific types of businesses and not the legacy ones.

In both cases simple system completeness trend will show deficiencies in the governance bit, and a massive undercut of benefits from customers/migrants as a driving force for the functions delivered.


Innovation questions to management, some more

Which of the following gets an overwhelming yes from your leaders internally

  1. We don’t have to  innovate or invest internally in innovation, as there are other smarter players and start-ups, that we just need to follow suit or outright acquire them. Just tell me who they are?
  2. We know our team has ideas on strategies and priorities, that we are unable to invest time and resources. Can the innovation team just take up one/many such items and come back with solutions?
  3. We are all stuck in a very old thinking pattern and tenet, constrained by assumption. All we need is a training that will help us break that pattern and leave it at that. Can we also get a certificate at the end of the course?
  4. Problems provide the best low hanging fruits for innovation, can we just stick to problem solving, instead of doing open themes for innovation?
  5. Decision on strategy are made elsewhere at least in our area of work, really see no road ahead for any idea pipeline, even if they are only mildly disruptive. So we should focus on execution than innovation?

my original and building list of survey questions on innovation is here



Making case for systematic innovation in consulting

I am in the idea business for about 7 years now, usually my kitty is small in terms of budget to spend, management attention, and customer appetite to ideas. Problems/Opportunities are as always many and wide. Making this a green territory for the consultant in me. 3 realities that I face are pictured below. I will then pick reasons from each and make case for the consultant in you to learn a systematic innovation method this year. It is still not too late for a resolution.

First no one including you, your boss, his/her boss, their customer, his/her investor knows for sure which will be the greatest idea (since sliced bread, iPhone, facebook, flush toilet, the movable type, safety-pin, or whatever). Greatest here is one that gives max return, finds large customer base, impacts life, etc on the outcome side. So I go for safety with numbers, instead of the 2 large bets can I get 200 ideas and later ruthlessly eliminate, or make ideas robust socially from that base before investing. If I knew how to get from 2 to 200 ideas in say 4 hours.

Second, problems manifest as contradictions or trade offs. When I try to solve one problem I have only merely shifted its base to a different department, or another part of the system. Examples could be while increasing revenue there is a disproportionate increase in marketing costs as well, while scaling up operations fast there is also significant loss of critical substance/knowledge, by increasing hourly rates am I killing a customer account slowly, and more such combinations. I don’t want to compromise on anything really, we just yet don’t know how.

Third is on the search for the rare breed genius/creative person that all of us want in our team. My experience is hugely disappointing in this front, because I can never afford this “genius in residence” and wait for the eureka moment. Instead I take safety in history, all problems that can be solved, have already been solved (by all those dead geniuses I don’t have to pay for) and I just have to adapt the solutions for my situation. Again if only I knew how.

So in short here are the 3 different reasons why you need to add ‘systematic innovation’ to your consulting arsenal/portfolio,

  1. To take safety in large number of ideas
  2. To not compromise on outcomes or merely shift problems
  3. Not afford another unpredictable genius to solve problem that have been solved elsewhere

It does not matter much what that specific innovation method is, but Sensei is guaranteeing a sharper edge to you.


Sample Innovation Services

What I wrote last week is true of any service, not just innovation service. So I just re framed what I have encountered as innovation services as a list below. Obviously words like facilitation or workshops is missing, but I am sure you will get the drift.

· Idea Generation

o Large number of ideas to choose, merge and conceptualize

o Usable, realistic, futuristic concepts

o Simple situated methods for practice

· Rapid Prototyping

o Demonstrating ideas

o Cost estimates for concepts/ideas

· Consulting

o Process set up

o Leadership mentoring and coaching

· Probe

o Ongoing measurement of outcomes and action impact

o Survey design

· Intrapreneurship Program Management or may be managing internal venture funds


Life of an Idea not Lifecycle

For reasons that are, probably historic lifecycle has become a word without life (a dead process), may be my earlier life in IBM did this to me, without my being aware of it.

For ideas we don’t need a system to support the innovation lifecycle or other point of no returns, we need warm bodies that will breathe life into ideas.

Life comes with indicators like ‘react and sustain’, ‘grow’, ‘respond to stimuli’, ‘reproduce’, and all the rest of life’s richness, not a status and a workflow.

Think twice if you are in innovation management before you get on a new assignment to consolidate idea platforms or building governance around innovation or making innovation social with your organization.


2 Research Proposals Submitted

Rolling Up Stories for Decision Making

What is the problem you want to research?

Experiences of individuals and groups within organizations become persistent within cultures in the form of narratives. These narratives augment business intelligence to decision making in several contexts including mergers and acquisitions, strategy making, work process changes, employee engagement, and investments among many other possibilities. Narratives are generally not fully formed, take multiple forms and signified differently by people.

This research seeks to develop methods for narrative listening, collecting, representing for specific decision making needs.

Why is it of interest? For whom?

Complexity science offers the necessary theoretical background, and there are open source methods already developed for such purposes that can be applied. This is of significant interest to industry as more and more independence is given to employees delivering work products in a distributed fashion. Industry’s ability to use the narratives for decision making has to be scalable and provide foresight (not hindsight)

Utility of the research will be for internal business management including R&D, HR and Management

By knowing this, who will this affect?

· Management, Employees and Stakeholders

Organization structure changes and Business outcomes

What is the problem you want to research?

Every organization undergoes periodic reorganization, involving hierarchical and portfolio changes. Intent behind such changes is better internal operations or market alignment leading to better value to the shareholder. Assumptions of an exact correlation between cause (Organization structure changes) and effect (business impact) are not systematically correlated. Once a correlation is made, management can use the framework to propose future changes and predict business impact of a change.

Why is it of interest? For whom?

Changes are frequent and impact of a change is not closely monitored. Questions that this research hopes to answer are

1. Can business impact be measured clearly? Even fuzzy terms like customer happiness, employee job satisfaction, shareholder value?

2. Can organization changes be quantified?

Cost Benefit Analysis ranging from

· Cost of reporting structure changes in systems

· Creation/adoption/training needs on working with the new structure

· Actual impact on business outcomes

These call for quantitative primary research across industries and size of organizations.

By knowing this, who will this affect?

· Leadership/Management teams

· Shareholder