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Archive for September 2009

The New Wave in Collaboration?

Have you seen the demo for Google Wave? If the answer is no, check this out at – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_UyVmITiYQ&feature=player_embedded#t=611

Or visit:

http://wave.google.com/help/wave/about.html

Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.Very very cool. Has the potential to change the way people and organization communicate, collaborate and share information and content in real time. This tool is open source targeting Google’s large 3rd party developer pool. Lots of automated extensions enabling efficient usage and interaction.

Lots of strong application for internal organization usage, internal collaboration, connection to your clients, social networks and embedding into websites, portals, blogs, etc. Very very cool. Check it out and get on the list. A new wave is coming and it is definitely very interesting. Especially that it is completely browser based!

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

September 29, 2009 at 8:22 PM

Posted in General, Innovation

How Executives Can Make Bad Decisions

Oh boy! I love that title!! I could write a book on this subject and throw in a couple of case studies for good measure!! There is no shortage of bad decisions by bad executives. Dont even get me started! I could think a couple of “executives” I know personally who are real winners and what a fun book that would be to write. But, I digress.

Here is the point, with the proliferation of new social media mediums i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and many many more, most folks today are struggling personally and corporate wide on how to leverage this new technology. Worse however, is the fact that senior executives who don’t know how to use, analyze, leverage and engage this medium are setting themselves up for failure and mistakes, not to mention looking like knuckleheads. Thats why there are great firms out there that help specifically in this niche.

This article from Sloan Management Review is a perfect example. I would highly recommend a read.

-DF

How Executives Can Make Bad Decisions

July 1, 2009

Social networks provide greater access to information, which improves people’s judgment and decision making, right? Not always, according to some recent research.

The conventional wisdom is that social networks are good for decision making because they help people to acquire knowledge that then enables them to make better choices. In other words, the more extensive and active your social networks, the better decisions you’ll presumably make. But could social networks actually impair your judgment and decision making? Consider a recent study conducted by Francis J. Flynn, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and Scott S. Wiltermuth, a Ph.D. student in organizational behavior there. (Their paper, “Who’s with Me? False Consensus, Advice Networks, and Ethical Decision Making in Organizations,” is under invited resubmission at the Academy of Management Journal.)

In their research, Flynn and Wiltermuth asked participants for their opinions on different ethical dilemmas. For example, in one of the hypothetical scenarios, an employee is caught pilfering pens, paper and other small office supplies. Corporate policy requires that the person be fired on the spot, but she is one of the best workers at the company and is also a long-time employee. So her manager decides to give her a second chance. Was that ethical? The study participants were also asked to estimate how their colleagues might view those same dilemmas. Lastly, they were asked for information that helped determine their position in a social network of their peers. Whom, for instance, did they turn to when they needed advice?

Flynn and Wiltermuth conducted the experiment with three groups: graduate business students, executive education students and employees in the marketing department of a large manufacturing company. For all three samples, the results were the same: The more that people were centrally connected to their peers, the more they tended to overestimate the degree to which their judgments were in agreement with the views of others (a phenomenon called “the false consensus effect”). This was true even when the study participants held a minority opinion on an issue — but mistakenly believed they were in the majority. Simply put, social ties tended to exacerbate — and not mitigate — the false consensus effect. In essence, social ties strengthened the illusion of consensus even when none existed.

To Read More Of This Article, please click this link the Sloan Management Review: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/articles/2009/summer/50402/how-executives-can-make-bad-decisions/

Written by David Frederick

September 29, 2009 at 7:25 PM

How to Manage Virtual Teams

You know, I have had a lot of experience in managing disparate virtual teams in multiple competencies. In fact, when I pioneered the first electronic digital musical instrument (keyboard) solely built on a Windows operating system with COTS parts, it was with a team based throughout the U.S., Europe and Taiwan. Bringing software developers, manufacturing, sourcing, marketing, sales, R&D, components, etc. together as a multi-disciplined team working toward a common goal I think was enhanced by the fact that we were virtual. It forced us to communicate regularly, effectivly and clearly. Also, remember this was before all the cool stuff we have now on the web and Web 2.0 collaboration solutions.

But early on and before this time, one of my more infamous motto’s was; “You can manage remotely, but you can’t lead remotely”. Over time and experience, I have come to think differently. Not only can disparate virtual teams be effective, but they can be led by strong leaders to accomplish enormous tasks productively and effectively. I have seen this both on a regional/national and global scale.

In today’s “connected” market and work place, there is no excuse for lack of productivity and success if you have a strong leader, clear communications and buy in from all constituents. Remember, some people need to have social “live in- person to person” interaction on a daily basis. They do not make good virtual team mates. Regardless, I read this article and found it to be spot on and very relevant in today’s connected market. Hope you enjoy it!

-DF

How to Manage Virtual Teams
By Frank Siebdrat, Martin Hoegl and Holger Ernst
July 1, 2009
Dispersed teams can actually outperform groups that are co-located. To succeed, however, virtual collaboration must be managed in specific ways.

TEAMS ARE THE typical building blocks of an organization: They provide companies with the means to combine the various skills, talents and perspectives of a group of individuals to achieve corporate goals. In the past, managers used to co-locate team members because of the high levels of interdependencies that are inherent in group work. Recently, though, more and more companies are beginning to organize projects over distance, with teams increasingly consisting of people who are based in dispersed geographical locations, come from different cultural backgrounds, speak different languages and were raised in different countries with different value systems.

Over the past 10 years, various studies have investigated the differences in performance of colocated and dispersed teams, quietly assuming that members of the latter never meet in person and members of the former work together in the same office throughout a project. But dispersion is not only a matter of degree; it is also a matter of kind. Most teams are dispersed on some level. They can be spatially separated (from “across the hall” to “scattered worldwide”), temporally separated (spanning different time zones), configurationally uneven (for example, five members in one location and two in another) and culturally diverse. And as past research has repeatedly shown, even the smallest degrees of dispersion, such as working on different floors in the same building, can greatly affect the quality of collaboration.1 In our own study, we have investigated the performance of 80 software development teams with varying levels of dispersion, including those with members in different cities, countries or continents. Such geographically distributed teams have commonly been referred to as “virtual” teams,2 but that label is something of a misnomer, because these groups are very real with respect to the work they can accomplish.

We found that virtual teams offer tremendous opportunities despite their greater managerial challenges. In fact, with the appropriate processes in place, dispersed teams can significantly outperform their co-located counterparts.

TO READ MORE FROM THIS ARTICLE PLEASE CLICK THE MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW LINK

: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/articles/2009/summer/50412/how-to-manage-virtual-teams/

Written by David Frederick

September 29, 2009 at 7:08 PM

Nanoparticles could pose threat to humans: scientists

I recently came across this article on PHYSORG.com and found it actually compelling. Why is the strange? Well for one, I am a big believer in nano-technology and the future it holds. My team is also working on a nano project around the reduction of thermal challenges in high performance processors. So I am totally cool with nano-tech (pun intended! 😉 )

But why I thought this subject was interesting was because it reminded me of the issues with food safety i.e. irradiation, antibiotics, nut allergies (not the allergy where your allergic to crazy people, but peanuts,etc.) You see, the key point here is this and nicely articulated by Susanne Stark, of the Consumer Information Association. She recently told a seminar in the Austrian city of Salzburg that companies should be forced to indicate on labels whether a product contains the tiny particles. “There are more questions than answers on the effects of nanoparticles” on human health, the chemist said.

Cosmetic and food products should indicate whether their products contain nanoparticles by 2012, she said. Why, because more and more consumer goods are including nano technology. From foods, to cosmetics, to pants! I even have a pair of those pants that are designed to be wrinkle free. Yes, they work pretty well.

But while we are spending all this time on developing very cool stuff, who is looking at the impact on humans i.e. when used in cosmetics, are they biodegradable or do they simply absorb into the skin? Then what? If used in food, how do they absorb or pass through? Or do they stay in your body? Then what? How does the human body process a foreign object like that? Will it cause cancer or other diseases? Do the nano particles stay embedded with the food so when the food breaks down and pass through your body, do they go along? How does the body’s digestive system handle these things? What effect if any do they have on major organs like your liver and kidney’s and the brain?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of nano tech. But who is asking the post development/implementation questions? Safety, efficacy?
Nano tech is revolutionizing almost everything we do and make. They can make fabric resistant to stains, improve the taste of food and help drug research, but nanoparticles could also pose a danger to human health at worst and best, we simply dont know what effect they have…. yet.

Its also not easy to figure out the impact. You see, nanoparticles, measure no more than 100 nanometres. Thats really really really small. 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanoparticles can enter the body through the mouth and nose, the digestive system or the skin, and spread inside the body through blood vessels, said Hans Peter Hutter, a doctor specialized in environmental hygiene in Vienna. “These tiny particles could without a doubt go all the way to the placenta,” he said. But he warned that little was known about their behavior inside human tissue.

With nano tech already being used in numerous products, from medical bandages to golf clubs and paints, Edinburgh University Professor Anthony Seaton, one of Britain’s leading environmental health experts, says concerns that tiny particles from the products might cause respiratory, cardiac and immune problems had not been properly assessed. Speaking with a newspaper ahead of a presentation he gave Tuesday at the Nanoparticles for European Industry conference in London, Seaton said that recommended nano testing “simply hasn’t happened.”

A recent report from a U.S. science watchdog suggested there are already 200 products containing nanoparticles on the marketplace, with hundreds more to be introduced during the coming year.n Nano critics point to asbestos — a nanoparticle already linked with cancer — and the high rate of heart failure in dense pollution areas, as early warnings of nanoparticles’ potential hazards when inhaled.

So what does this mean. Well, in my opinion, we have an incredible opportunity to improve the world through nana technology. No question. I love it and believe in it use across a broad spectrum of applications but, what I think may be needed is some strong research into the post development/implementation impacts of such technology. We simply need to know, what effects this technology will have post use.

Its simply a matter of intellectual honesty, responsibility and good science. If for no other reason, wouldn’t it make sense to see what happens after consumption and usage? This way you could “tweak” the secret sauce to be even better OR make adjustments to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety. Again, good, solid, practical science and product development practices. I am all for research on post development/implementation and even labeling. I could create a very strong and creative marketing position around the use of nano tech, so don’t let that be an excuse i.e. people wont buy it if the products labeled with nano-tech. BS. Its very cool and hip.

What do you think? I would really like to know.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

September 18, 2009 at 1:06 PM

Innovation – Where To Start

I recently had a client ask me about injecting innovation into their business and product strategy. The basic question asked was, how do I get started. I explained that innovation was not a thing you could simply inject. It starts with questions. Asking the right questions. I prefer to use my Aristotelian Framework for Innovation – AIF, to get the ball rolling.

You can also use the 5W2H approach. Not familiar with the 5W2H approach? I bet you are. It is simply asking various questions about the current process, product, service, etc. and how it can be improved. The 5H2W refers to “Why, When, Who, Where, What, How to do, and How not to do”.

Pretty simple right? Not so fast. These questions are deceptively difficult to answer. This is because focusing is never easy. Especially if there are other people involved. Trying to get everyone to align on the answers to the 5H2W or AIF can be a project in and of itself. But if you want to innovative you must start with questions.

Not only do questions help with setting the stage for how and what to innovate, but they start to help you carve our Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in which to measure the success of your efforts, in this case, innovation. But what about the creative side of innovation? the vision, the imagination, etc.? It has its place. A big place. But like many things, innovation is both art and science. It takes creativity, discipline, measurement, and execution.

So back to my client’s original questions, where to start. Start with questions. Questions lead to ideas. Ideas lead to action. Action leads to results. Result lead to more questions and the circle of innovation continues. Innovation is a dynamic process that feeds itself. The fuel for this cycle is questions.

Keep thinking and keep asking questions. That will get you started down the road to innovation. Like most things in life, it all starts with a simple question. In this case, 5W2H or AIF.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

September 16, 2009 at 2:02 PM

MITX Social Media

I will be attending the upcoming MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange) Social Media Series Event, this Thursday Sept 17th at 8:30AM in Watertown. If your there, stop by and say hi!

http://www.mitx.org/events/1989.cfm

Written by David Frederick

September 15, 2009 at 7:52 PM

Posted in General, iAIR

Disturbingly Interesting

If this doesn’t demonstrate how screwed up our government is right now, I don’t know what does. Check out this clip:

http://dailybail.com/home/there-are-no-words-to-describe-the-following-part-ii.html

It is a short clip of Former Prosecutor and House Democrat Alan Grayson questioning Elizabeth Coleman – Inspector General of the Federal Reserve on unaccounted for entries in the Fed’s balance sheet entries.

Written by David Frederick

September 15, 2009 at 7:46 PM