f.art

Waxing Waning Ideas

dav

because we need black and white categories and clear boundaries of great and sucks, here is a suggestion never take a position especially if you are investing in some ideas

Advertisements
Standard
metaidea

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.

Standard
metaidea

Innovation risks

Drucker‘s Landmarks of Tomorrow lists clearly 3 risks that arise out of innovation is comprehensive and can orient towards tasks and outcomes around innovation quickly. Even if outcomes are a function of many variables and ambiguous,(an excuse that innovation managers typically ride on to retain jobs/titles while not really “tasking”) you still have to act. That said  “tasking” / task orientation is necessary and not arbitrary or ambiguous in any enterprise. That’s a post for another day. So these tasks arise after the enterprise decides to reduce its first risk in innovation.

1. Risk of Exposure. Exposure risk is an inaction risk, while remaining very successful in the chosen market, this risk makes the whole business irrelevant as newer models and innovations take over existing customers and create new ones. I visualize this risk on a slider bar, where there is a NO on the left end and an YES commitment on the right. Depending on the level of YES, time and resource availability is determined for innovation.

Risk of Exposure Slider bar

This YES commitment (on the risk of exposure) does not mitigate but lead to the next, new set of risks below. In any case this risk cannot be avoided. You can see examples today in education like the massive open online courses offered by Coursera and the likes while the incumbent i.e. every higher education player could have very well acted earlier or the popular digital photography disruption misses by Kodak.

Risk of failure in developing the innovation When I heard Ravi Venkatesan at the recent Zinnov Confluence, he mentioned “skunkworks are interesting to see in labs, but unless the whole organization aligns to an innovation, there is really no chance”. I believe that, by organization he would mean the “tasks” on business processes starting from budgeting, development, sales/marketing, service, legal etc. that are specialized and entrenched across departments, but need to come together. Successful businesses ideally should not delay capex investments into innovation, and commit to experimenting the next set of revenue drivers. Experiments could be for example

  • small like skunkworks or community driven developments internally
  • taking ownership in companies that are doing the development

Still the structure has to commit itself to this developmental action and evaluate all along even if it means changing directions many times mid way to make sure the next risk of failure is covered. With the crowd sourcing possibility on almost anything this risk has greatly reduced, this as a model has been operational across many platforms like kickstarter (for investments), or ninesigma (for effort).

Risk of failure of the innovation itself

This is the biggest of all risks and can be really dramatic, and we know many stories like these in recent times. What Drucker calls here as ‘responsibility for the consequences’ of the failure itself, while constantly acting for the opportunity. It is no more a chance but choice and choosing to resolve contradictions between the global versus local, profit versus free, etc and thus becoming a value decision in itself. Most of us are aware of the commercial failure of much touted innovations like Segway and others.

Risks in Innovation

Standard
metaidea

Evolution and speed measures for innovation

I keep hearing “becoming more nimble“, “quickly responding to customer needs with ideas”, “rapid prototyping” that inherently speak of a speed metaphor in innovation. But what if we were proceeding in the wrong direction but very fast. An independent speed measure without looking at the evolution direction is meaningless and risky from an investment perspective. Very similar to running a project that is on time, under budget but for the wrong requirements.

It would be useful to look at the evolution within a space as ideas get developed using different methods.

For speed of course the measures will have some form of time in the denominator like

  1. Ideas per month per area
  2. Prototypes completed per month per technology
  3. Investments per year per portfolio

These can be plotted easily for comparison of speed across a time frame.

But what about the direction, here I feel directly tying business alignment on longer term goals and strategy comes in. A simple evolution potential is a web plot touching multiple different evolution directions usually within a single portfolio or in some cases many portfolio. It is a relative figure that gets plotted across the dimensions comparing against the maximum possible limit or an ideality (usually a scientific limit, like speed of light,  mobile internet reach, maximum load etc or the Ideal Final result we talk in TRIZ). All the axes are equidistant and same scale as the values are normalized as below

Normalized plot value ={Actual value – minimum need} / {Maximum/Ideal value – minimum need}

For example dimensions of a CRM system evolution you may have

  1. Communication / engagement frequency
  2. Revenue per sales staff
  3. % sales from new technology / service
  4. customer service satisfaction index

each round of innovation around maximizing these dimensions will be tracked on a single plot like below, giving you a sense of progress from those ideas. (Try and imagine what your head of sales told in last quarter analyst meeting on any of the metrics)

EvolutionPotential (2)

Standard
f.art

5 essential meeting room filters

I feel meeting rooms have to be equipped with special filters to shorten meetings, make them meaningful and useful. I will start with the simple one and gradually build complex filters.

1. Clichés Filter: This filter will simply cut out all the clichés uttered in the room from the grand global database of clichés

2. If Only Filter: “If only, …simple past blah blah blah” is almost like visioning in hindsight with no possibility ever to change anything in the present, but can go on through the meeting and its next 4 occurences.

3. Me more me some more me Filter: Although can be avoided with a good time-keeper, there is an interesting instance of this filter under the name of “hide updates from this user without unfriending” feature on Facebook.

As we move from words to word collections to me me me, filters get complex as below

4. Plati Atti Servi tudes Filter: This is a seeded learning filter, inputs vary across organizations due to varying limits of acceptable platitudes and attitudes, and the number of people adopting servitude in a specific meeting. It operates on many principles like deepening organization hierarchy,  modes of operation range from total internal reflection of words (when speaker starts to meditate in the meeting room or usually sleeps off before completing the sentence), substitution of words with antonyms, thus disrupting any units of conveyable meaning.

5. Blame the Culture Filter: BTC filter operates on instances of not taking personal responsibility for failure and vaguely attributing to a figureless culture. Like “tudes” filter this is also a seeded learning filter. Performance of this filter varies based on initial org conditions, retirement age, hiring and firing volumes, country of origin among other variables.

Standard
cognoise

On Authority Types

Especially in corporate functions, the talk of being “handicapped without authority but only more  responsibility” usually echoes in at least one meeting room daily. Governments and their structure teaches a thing or two about authority, for me the most important is the distinction between statutory authority and executive authority.

Statutory authority is usually independent of the government itself, i.e. the political party in power, an example could be the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or the Securities and Exchange Board of India. They have certain key responsibilities like protecting interests of consumers, shareholders, investors and others, they set standards for transactions broadly, and they monitor adherence. They get their form from a legislation and they have a tribunal mechanism attached where disputes can be resolved. Resource needs for statutory authorities are usually small.

Executive Authority is usually part of a government and is controlled by the party in power. They execute simply, the Central Public Works Department is one such example. They take ” full responsibility for planning designing, estimation, evaluation of bids, finalization of contracts, defending arbitration and court  cases” but all within some statutory framework only. Resource need for this form of authority is huge.

Obviously to function effectively both are needed for the common good, issue within organizations and corporate functions is the confusion between what authority are we talking about among other minor issues like in dispute or lack of use how to deal and existence of competing standards.

Can we clarify when next time some one complains “responsible without authority” please.

And “empowered” means granting at least one type of authority.

Standard
cognoise

Important but Tough to Measure

Yes we have heard some large board rooms loudly claiming “if we cant measure, we cant manage”. There are things that are inherently tough to measure but does not mean they are not important. Can the same board rooms claim “innovation”, “engagement”, “integrity”, “knowledge management”, “social media” are not important for their business, just because they cannot measure?

So the issue not about whether we can measure or not, but only broadening the nature of measures that will make sense for each one of them, not a number, not an index, not a ratio, may be yes to a collection of stories, how about a perception map, even fitness landscapes.

Look wide sometimes, not deep always to manage.

Standard