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Extremely Productive Application

Ok, I not a big fan of posting product or service endorsements on my blog, Thats not what my blog is really about, but I came across and now use extensively, a new mobile app for my iPhone. Its call Vlingo. Check it out at http://www.vlingo.com/products/iphone/.

They also make it for other smart phones. Here’s the key thing. Its affordable i.e. Free for most of the key functions and only $6.99 for the email version. It works and works really well. Yes, you need to think about what you are saying and articulate a little more clearly, but it works really well and makes life a lot easier. Especially if you are driving. Totally hands free (you do have to touch a button to start the recording, but that’s it.)

This is great for those of us who travel a lot, drive to clients, etc. You simply speak your commands, email, search, map information, etc. and it does the work. I highly recommend.

Check it out. Very cool and very productive!

NOTE: Vlingo is not a client of iAIR. I simply dig their app.

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

July 21, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Is U.S. Now On A Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

A very interesting article by one of my favorite modern thinkers – Thomas Sowell. I thought you might find it thought provoking.

-DF

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP’s oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

But our government is supposed to be “a government of laws and not of men.”

If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without “due process of law.”

Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis” — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?

FULL LINK HERE

Written by David Frederick

June 22, 2010 at 11:56 PM

World Innovation Forum – Rethinking Healthcare Delivery with Michael Porter

When I was at the WIF, this was a tremendous lecture and extremely relevant.

-DF

World Innovation Forum – Rethinking Healthcare Delivery with Michael Porter
Posted by Bernie Gracy on June 08, 2010 in Events, Innovation, World Innovation Forum

Michael Porter at World Innovation Forum 2010

Michael Porter, the dean of Corporate Strategy, is focused on Healthcare. Healthcare has had breathtaking innovations in science but not in the service delivery of care. The problem in healthcare is in management and serving patients

The problem in healthcare is the number of people who are chronically uninsured. But the core issue is not coverage – its delivery and the patient outcomes we can achieve with the money we spend. We must think in terms of value – but in healthcare this has not been a driving force. The fundamental challenege is that we must change the equation or we will go bankrupt. We don’t want to ration care – but we must improve the value equation. We will do this by fundamentally changing health care delivery.

The basic structure of healthcare delivery has been left constant and is 100 years out of date. It is an organizational model that businesses left decades ago. The structure no longer makes sense because it is not organized around value. Healthcare reform was all about insurance – not about the transformation in delivery. Moreover, we have created the wrong type of competition – competition in shifting cost vs. competition in creating value. We are not driving the fundamental goal which is creating value for the patient. If we maximize value – everyone can win.

Are these the right healthcare goals – Access? Convenience? Every possible service that a person might need? Cost containment? We have had the wrong goals. We need to focus on outcomes but what are the right metrics on outcomes? You can’t manage what you can’t measure. What is value in health care? It’s measuring health care outcomes divided by the cost of delivering those outcomes.

The most fundamental change is to organize care delivery around the patient. This was the lessons learned years ago by commercial entities to be organized around the customer. Health care is organized around tools and specialties – reminiscent of companies who are organized by functional organizations. The patient is a ping pong ball – bouncing between skilled staff in a sequential process in which there are inherent substantial delays, administration, scheduling, paperwork, and complexity. Moreover the specialists patients are being referred to may not have the focus on the patients need. If you have a migraine, should you see a neurologist that specializes in strokes. Yes, you need to see a neurologist – but can neurologists play every position on the field?

Many companies are moving to onsite clinics and Michael Porter recognized Pitney Bowes as an early leader in changing the employee culture around managing their health. From healthy cafeteria menus, passing out pedometers, information, education, and most importantly onsite access to services, Pitney Bowes is a leader in improving employee outcomes while managing cost. Pitney Bowes is creating value in employee health outcomes!

If we are going to transform healthcare we need to change the way we pay for it. We need to move from fee for service from each “species of doctor” and the hospital to bundled payments. You pay one price with a “warranty” on any issues associated with the services provided.

Written by David Frederick

June 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Are We Ready To Reinvent Our Management?

Here is another great article from Eduardo Braun – Director of HSM. In this article he articulates the challenges for reinventing management, improving efficiencies and more. Check it out!

-DF

Are We Ready To Reinvent Our Management?
Eduardo Braun, Director HSM

Not too long ago I had a chance to talk to Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world, transporting more than 100 million passengers a year. Herb was CEO for 36 years, and during that period, Southwest produced the highest return on investment of any company ranked on the S&P 500. Yes, you read correctly, although it is in one of the industries with the highest profitability problems (just think about the fluctuation in oil prices and the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks, among other things), Southwest is among the most profitable companies in the last three decades.

How did he achieve this? According to Herb, there are two main reasons. The first consists of having a simple and focused strategy and the second, and perhaps most important, a people-centered culture. His motto is, employees come first, even before customers!

I would like to reflect on this particular aspect of the Southwest culture. It is about the habit to delegate, to trust, to leave problem-solving on the hands of employees who are in contact with the customer; in other words, it is about not “including everything within a process” since this undermines creativity. “We had some thick customer service manuals and we literally burnt them!”, giggled Herb and he added: “we replaced them for simple guidelines.”

As an example of his people´s creativity, he mentioned the occasion when a flight between Baltimore and New York was cancelled due to bad weather and the person who was responsible for customer service, an employee with only four months at the company, decided to rent five buses to carry all passengers to their destination. Instead of being punished for her decision, she was rewarded. But what happens if good ideas are too expensive? Herb tells employees that they cannot solve the problem the same way twice, but he does not set any rules or additional guidelines, he just discusses the issue with the employee face to face. And here lies his genius: he does not add a process to correct a mistake, he continues to trust the innovation capacity and the criteria of the people.

In the industrial age processes emerged to produce goods efficiently and repetitively, originally with unskilled labor. The process was designed by Management and “thinking” engineers with workers not having to make any decisions. According to expert Gary Hamel, the industrial age had a “Management” that enabled large-scale efficient production. I think that this same philosophy is what he called ISO “quality” standards, which essentially are a seal that guarantee the existence and “respect” for processes. But, are those the most adequate processes and do they optimize solution of a situation? Not necessarily.

The philosopher David Weinberger argues that “we analyze the complex systems that have failed sometimes due to complex reasons and we decide that the problem can be solved by adding some level of detail.” We write more processes and we end up transforming complex systems into complicated systems, sacrificing innovation and adaptability. How can a company be agile if every change or switch requires filling out a new set of forms? The excess of processes – even in an attempt to increase individual responsibility -, ends up suffocating human criteria. Similarly, if every time there is an accident we add a traffic light; we would end up with a traffic light in every corner and traffic chaos.

It seems that the industrial age is partially and gradually giving way to the services era. As a consequence, the client´s design and experience dimensions, both for products and services, will be enhanced in the upcoming years. Thus, what are the management challenges in such a context? Creativity and innovation at all levels. In particular, in the customer points of contact. Should a company design a process to regulate every conversation between employees and customers behind a desk or in a call center? Or should it train them how to think, and then trust the criteria of their employees?
Gary Hamel usually talks about the reinvention of Management and during an interview he emphasized: “People are creative at home, in the kitchen, in the computer, in the garden; but when they get to work that creativity is lost. Why? How have we organized work at companies for this to happen? Today more than ever we need to reinvent how to manage people to surface their creativity.”

Herb Kelleher achieved extraordinary results by trusting the capacity of his employees, and by not setting up a new process to correct each mistake. Are we ready to reinvent our management style? Are you ready to review your processes and to change whatever is necessary to trust your people more?

Written by David Frederick

May 26, 2010 at 3:56 PM

The Disruptors of the Decade

Here is another interesting post from HBR.

-DF

The Disruptors of the Decade

11:45 AM Thursday January 14, 2010

Near the end of December, I created a survey with a single question: “Which companies do you think have done the best job of driving growth through disruption — transforming what exists or creating what doesn’t through simplicity, convenience, affordability or accessibility — between 2000-2009?”

To read the full post click here:

Written by David Frederick

January 15, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Punctuated Equilibrium Theory Applied To Business

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM THEORY APPLIED TO BUSINESS

I have been thinking a lot lately about PET – Punctuated Equilibrium Theory. More specifically how it applies to business, economics, organization theory and structure, etc. PET original came out of biology and anthropology in theorizing types of biological and anthropological evolution phases. However, in my case and recent thinking, it is more focused on business and organizational theory.

Thus, punctuated equilibrium theory/model of organizational transformation emerged as a prominent theoretical framework for explaining fundamental changes in patterns of organizational activity (e.g. Gersick, 1991, Miller & Friesen, 1980, 1994; Tushman & Romanelli 1985). As described by is proponents, punctuated equilibrium theory depicts organizations as evolving through relatively long periods of stability (equilibrium periods) in their basic patterns of activity that are punctuated by relatively short bursts of fundamental change (revolutionary periods).

Revolutionary periods substantively disrupt established activity patterns and install the basis for new equilibrium periods. Gersik (1991) described the largely independent emergence of punctuated equilibrium models over a number of social and physical science disciplines, including biology (e.g Gould, 1989, sociology (Kuhn, 1970), and psychology (Levinson, 1986), and at several levels of analysis in organization theory, (Gersick, 1991).

Why is this interesting? Well, if you apply PET to the last 25 years you can see some very interesting activity and result patterns. When looking at where we are today through the proverbial PET view, we can also see a very interesting period in our society, business, economics, etc. Specifically in how business operate, consumers behave, employee’s and organizations behave, industry expand and contract, etc.

The key points of Punctuated Equilibrium Theory in my thinking are these:

• Companies cycle through stable and dynamic environments. Those that are solidly run, managed and organized thrive in dynamic environments, those that aren’t, fail and flail.
• Today’s dynamic multi-dimensional global organizations contribute to a level of equilibrium if the company is poised and organized to handle environmental change.

Clearly, today, we are in an environment of rapid change, uncertainty, etc. – Revolutionary Period. What’s so interesting about that? Well, several things. One, its interesting in that those companies that were complacent in their operations, organization, etc. are now dying or gone i.e. GM, Chrysler, Bear Sterns, etc. Those that were innovative, multi-dimensional and able to respond versus react to a shift in the environment are successful i.e. Apple, Wal Mart, etc.

Two, its interesting from a sociological sense. Specifically, how people purchase. Again, the paradigm has shifted to rapid and radical changes in our world, marketplace, etc.. How consumers behave in that shift and understanding that behavior can be very important to the success of an organization. Finally, as far as a theory goes, it seems to shed light on some interest trends in a variety of analytical segments that are extremely relevant in today’s world and economy. If the theory is correct, this revolutionary period will ultimately be followed by a periord of equilibrium. The big question is, are the intervals between equilibrium and revolutionary periods getting shorter due to technology and the speed in which our world operates? And, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Understanding this theory and applying it as I have in high level outlined can reap some strong, useful and important actionable benefits. it can also tell us a lot about ourselve and our organizations. I am still thinking through it, but I am intrigued. I would like to get your thoughts.

What do you think?

-DF

Written by David Frederick

May 19, 2009 at 9:48 PM

Social Architecture in the ICT Innovation Architecture

I thought this was very interesting in relation to a firms social requirments in the innovative enterprise.

-DF

The ICT architecture as articulated by C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan in their book The New Age of Innovation, identified
three specifications/requirements of the social architecture within the ICT Innovation Architecture. With these requirements in place, companies can
act in real time to reconfigure their resources on the fly, establish a culture of transparency, or make any other changes they need to be competitive.

The first criterion is to expand the company’s engagement with customers.
It demands of the firm a capacity to engage customers in a wide variety of activities, such as product development, pricing, and logistics.
This co-creation nature of engagement can help firms to learn about customers as part of the value creation process. Internal
decision-making processes and the supporting technical architecture need to reflect this need.

The second requirement is to cope with complexity.
As we discussed earlier, this brings about enormous complexity as systems are integrated and
resources are reconfigured in real time. The social architecture needs to build capabilities to manage risks that arise from this complexity.
Imagine a firm operating in 150 countries with 10 large product groups. The company will be addressing a staggering array of business
models, competitors, cultures, and channels.

The third criterion is to build consensus rapidly. While there are likely to be a wide assort-
ment of microcultures throughout the global span of the firm, all of them must embrace a com-
mon way of looking at the world, at customers, and at competitors. The emerging information
technologies, such as wikis and social networking tools, allow firms to build a capacity for
rapid consensus building across the organization.

For more info on this excellent book, check it out on Amazon!

Written by David Frederick

April 9, 2009 at 7:47 PM