It’s for the Future of Computing

So I just took on a really cool project: I’ll be presenting to a group of high school students from all around Southern California on careers in computing! A friend of mine is on the board of the organization that organizes this event and he asked me to participate. The event is on March 1st, so that should leave me a good amount of time to prepare.

I can’t begin to explain how excited I am about this project. I’ve been so fortunate to have had a pretty successful career in computing so far and I’m happy to connect with students again. I was actually a TA back at UC Irvine, so it would be great to be back in that atmosphere.

I think the biggest reason why I’m so excited for this project is because I’ve been so excited about computing and how pervasive it is today. Computing touches so many different aspects of our lives, it’s hard not to get excited! It’s mind-boggling to think about the things that we have today that we didn’t have 5 years ago. Imagine where we’ll be 5 years from now…

I’d like to try a little experiment: I think it would be great to crowdsource the creative process for developing this presentation. Because the topic is so broad and so deep, I want to make sure I present the material in a way that fulfills what I think the job this presentation is hired to do — to motivate students to discover their true potential with the help of computing.

As I go through the process of brainstorming, outlining and creating the story, I will share the process here on my blog and on various social networks. If you’re interested in contributing your thoughts and ideas, I would love to hear them!

The Over-Service Blind Spot

In one of Horace Dediu’s old podcasts, he discusses with James Allworth, among other topics, the importance of measuring when a product has reached “good enough,” based on the current basis of competition. For a company, recognizing when you’ve reached this point is important, as incremental improvements to the product once you’ve hit this point is over-service, exposing it to low-end disruption.

Horace cites that not only has Apple been a serial disruptor, it has also shown evidence of being able to self-disrupt. He also states that over the last several years, he has struggled with trying to measure this point of good enough for the iPhone — there doesn’t seem to be any good public data points that suggests this. He goes on to explain that Apple however has a good built-in mechanism to detect whether they have reached this point with the iPhone: by concurrently selling the current version alongside the previous version of the product. The idea is that if Apple sees that consumers continue to opt for the previous version while the latest version is in the market, this would serve as a signal to them suggesting that they’ve hit good enough.

This was interesting to me and I started thinking: Do other companies actively do this? How does this overlay with software companies?

My mind then quickly jumped to Software as a Service (SaaS) companies: Does the practice of automatically delivering the latest versions of software deprive them of the valuable of data of knowing when they’ve hit good enough? Is the model itself more susceptible to disruption because of this blind spot?

Continue reading “The Over-Service Blind Spot”

Simple Math: Social Engagement

Twitter Follow < Retweet < Mention < Email Subscribe < Email Click-through < Text Message < Phone Call < Video Chat < In-person Chat < Recommends You to Others < Recommends You to Friends < Recommends You to Loved Ones < Sends You a Card for the Holidays < Sends You a Card on Your Birthday

Not exhaustive, but you get the point: Move to the right as much as possible

What Do We Hire Our Jobs to Do?

This might sound a bit backwards, but when you think about it, our employers not only hire us to do a job for them, we hire our employers and our jobs to do a job for us. What do we hire our jobs to do? Why does it matter? By understanding the true nature of what we hire our jobs to do, we can understand the causal relationship between our jobs, job satisfaction and in the end, personal fulfillment.

Continue reading “What Do We Hire Our Jobs to Do?”

Reinvention

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So the world didn’t end today. Good–I’ve got a lot more work to do.

I’m writing this post on a train, coming home at the end of Week #2 at my new gig. For those of you keeping score, I’ve moved on from my role as Director of Product Management for Eccentex. I’m now consulting for a healthcare provider implementing a document capture system.

Why the change?

Continue reading “Reinvention”

Bringing Meaning Back to Innovation

If Time magazine were to do a spread on the 100 most overused words in 2012, I think the word “innovation” would at least break the top 5. It’s unfortunate because innovation is such a beautiful word.

It’s very melodic—its four syllables moving up, then down, then up, and down again. Visually, it’s very well balanced—its collection of letters creating a low center of gravity while the i’s and t poke up to pique some attention. It has 5 vowels and 5 consonants, with the repeating i’s, n’s and o’s spread apart nicely. And in the middle of it all are the letters o-v-a, which have the connotation of birth and fruitfulness.

Regardless of its overuse, innovation means something to all of us, in a business and personal sense. Innovation is rebirth—rebirth of an idea, a product or how we treat our customers. Innovation is the motor that brings freshness into our ever-changing world. Innovation is both a destroyer and creator—it burns down the stodgy and ineffective and from its ashes creates new and beautiful ways to add value.

If you’re reading this post, you, like me, are likely someone that cares about innovation in your personal and business life. You see things in your life that needs to be changed—not just for the sake of changing, but because changing those things will bring value into your life and into the lives of the people around you. That’s why technology is so exciting today—technology is a tremendous change agent and with recent developments in cloud, mobile and social computing, it is accessible to the masses.

So, how can we be innovative?

First, we have to realize that it is our personal responsibility to be innovative. No one has to give us permission. Innovation does not need to be in our job description for us to take responsibility to change what is no longer working. If we don’t innovate in our personal or business life (and let’s face it, it’s the same life), we run the risk of being ineffective—or worse, we stop having fun.

Second, we have to become students again. Life is a never-ending opportunity to learn and we need to look at the world through inquisitive eyes—understanding instead of judging; analyzing instead of assuming; listening instead of being closed-minded. Only through the process of learning will we be able to internalize the reasons for change and how to make those changes.

Third, we must not be afraid to try something new. One of the most destructive thought patterns is, “we’ve always done it this way, so why change it?” Change can sometimes be difficult, especially when we’re taken outside of our comfort zone. But like physical exercise, sometimes we have to take ourselves outside of our comfort zone in order to grow.

Lastly, do something. Anything. Get busy. Try something different. Try out some new tools. Talk to peers about problems we see in our businesses. Help motivate them to be change agents as well.

The world is ripe for innovation. People are out of work, economic uncertainty is causing people to rethink how they allocate time and resources, and there are countless tools available today that can help us transform our businesses and our lives. The world needs us to take charge and help create something better.

What are we waiting for?