“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
— Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian polymath
Earlier this year, I read the book, “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win” by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford. I actually listened to it over Audible. In the novel, the protagonist, Bill is an IT manager at Parts Unlimited. It’s Tuesday morning and on his drive into the office, Bill gets a call from the CEO. The novel’s plot revolves around the company’s new IT initiative, code named Phoenix Project, which is critical to the future of Parts Unlimited. …
“Innovation happens when people are given the freedom to ask questions and the resources and power to find the answers.“
— Richard Branson, an English business magnate
We begin with a premise: Innovation begins with questions.
In fact, in the story, “In search of the secret ingredient for innovation,” we discussed the entire innovation journey as a series of questions and our attempts to find answers to these questions. You can click on the story link above to read that story, but here I am reproducing the relevant portion verbatim.
“The innovation journey began with two questions for analysis, before we could proceed to synthesis…
“Colors are the mother tongue of the subconscious.”
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, is quoted to have said this. Jung is most prominently associated with the pioneering stages of color psychology, which has since been used for marketing, design and more. I want to share with you what I believe to the three most important colors and three important lessons to bear in mind while designing financial applications for users.
Imagine that you have $10,000 to deposit. You have a choice between two banks, the Blue Bank and the Brown Bank as shown here.
Assume that there is no difference at all between the two banks, save for their logos. Use a card or just your palm to hide one logo and look at the other, one by one. Now close your eyes and decide. Which one will you bank with? …
Did the title puzzle you? Let me explain. Only in reel life, does anyone become an overnight success. In real life, it takes persistence. Just passion is not enough. So, we are faced with two scenarios —
We fail so slowly, that we think that we are succeeding.
We succeed so slowly, that we think that we are failing.
Think about the one more puff of cigarette that a smoker takes telling himself that just another puff makes no difference to his health. That’s an example of failing slowly but surely.
Now, think about one more day that you walked 10,000 steps. Or meditated for 10 minutes. Or read for 10 minutes. Did it change your life? You are succeeding, but so slowly that you can’t feel the difference. …
We had failed. Well, let me not hide behind the “we” when acknowledging failure. I was leading the venture. So, I must accept that I had failed. Why? Why had I (we) failed despite having a team of excellent product managers with deep business knowledge, product engineers with technology expertise and solution architects abreast of the latest?
We had been working on this telematics solution for a year and a half now, iterating our web-based solution and our mobile app. We had been meeting scores of clients to demonstrate our solution and receive feedback. We had tied up with device manufacturers and cloud hosting providers. Yet, for some reason, our innovation had failed to gain enough traction. In other words, we had failed to get clients beyond a couple. …
Strategy develops through an interaction among multiple decision-makers, each of whom is vying for an optimal outcome in their favor.
This is the third trait of strategy, which we referred to in our previous discussion on the traits of strategy. Earlier, we discussed the first two traits, using moves in chess, namely the Queen’s Gambit and the Indian Defense to illustrate through examples that—
(You may please refer to “Queen’s Gambit, Indian Defense and South China Sea — Part 1” in case you haven’t already read it.) …
Strategy is often misunderstood. Not the least by people in the world of business. We have business strategy, marketing strategy, digital strategy, operations strategy and IT strategy to name just a few. It’s all very good to have all these different types of strategy, but what does it mean? Is strategy about picking out the most important things to go after? Is it about how we go after these things? Or is it about getting the desired outcomes? An oft-used word is oft-misunderstood.
I do not want to get into defining strategy. You can have all the definitions which you want and plenty more by looking up Wikipedia or an online dictionary. Do people still use physical dictionaries? I have a couple lying around in my home library. Lately, I have found a use for them. They serve well to prop up my daughter’s iPad when she attends her online classes since its cover lacks a stand. However, I am drifting. So, what I want to say is that I am not going to define what strategy is. What I will do instead is to provide three traits by which you may recognize this noun named “strategy” the next time that you meet it. …
Since the last meeting with the Master, the Seeker had started applying the two principles learnt from the Master.
(Please refer to the previous article, “How to enjoy your ice cream float?”)
They were meeting again. The Master inquired —
Master — “So, how has been the experience of applying the two principles which we discussed last time?”
Seeker — “I feel more in control. Often, I have to remind myself that I cannot blame others or my circumstances if something goes wrong. That is not easy, you know, but gradually I feel more empowered.” …
Seeker — “ I am not sure. I have a good job. I enjoy what I do. Of course, not all of it, but most of it. I also have a loving family. A few good friends as well. I am happy. Kind of, but I am not sure that I am successful.”
Master — “What do you mean?”
Seeker — “I mean that I could get another job which can pay me a lot more. Alternatively, I could do something which makes me famous. I am not sure which path to take to be more successful.”
The Master looks keenly at the Seeker and asks. …
Anakin — “A Virtual Design Sprint! What is that?”
(Please refer to “Can we reinvent design sprint for a remote working world?”)
Shreya — “We can still conduct the design sprint. Just that, instead of a physical, shared workspace such as a conference room, we will need to work together and collaborate using a virtual, shared workspace. We have plenty of options to choose from such as Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace or Slack.”
Anakin — “I think that since we already use Microsoft Office 365, with Outlook, SharePoint and OneNote, we can perhaps go with Teams.”
Shreya — “I guess that makes sense.” …