Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bangalore : Will it Survive?

Business week writes Bangalore is the city of dreams. It is the city where failure is a stranger, and expectations climb as high as the booming Indian stock market. Bangalore today accounts for a large slice of India's revenues in outsourced services and offers a model that cities around the world are emulating. Many American companies view it as an place to pursue innovation, while American knowledge workers see it as a threat to jobs.

It's also a city where the clock is ticking.

The ugly truth is that, while this southern Indian city of 7 million may be a global center of information technology and other services, business in Bangalore is essentially a "me, too" activity with little true innovation. Multinational corporations come to reduce their costs, and the Indian companies set up shop to offer services to whomever wants to reduce risk as well as cost.

A WINNING PLACE. It's a comfortable and, so far, highly profitable arrangement. But it's not what India needs in the long run. The growth rate for such services as information technology and business-process outsourcing cannot be sustained. The cost pressures on outsourcing and offshore providers from a booming local economy, combined with competitive price pressures from rivals in many parts of the world, will slow the expansion.

The first reaction to slower growth will be to lower prices, but the pressure on margins will demand more creative solutions. How can Bangalore sustain its strong position beyond 2007, and what is the right model for other regions and cities aspiring to a winning place in the race towards the globalization of innovation?

The answer lies in vigorous, robust, and innovative tech companies that can develop new products for the world. These companies will be a new breed, with the ability and nerve to generate ideas and then use science, technology, and engineering to produce high-value results. Most -- perhaps 90% -- of all such attempts will fail, but the successes will sustain the regeneration of the economy.

TECH ADVENTURES. Silicon Valley is the benchmark example for this concept of serial innovation. The micro economy running from San Jose, Calif., to San Francisco has given birth to generations of risk takers who have taken technology to market and, in the process, changed the world. The globally recognized names of Hewlett and Packard, Wozniak and Jobs, Page and Brin, are representative of the many individuals at smaller companies who engage in innovation risk as a way of life.

Bangalore must build such an environment if it is to prosper. India has done it before -- the space program is an example -- but it has never done it on a sustained basis. The key component of "serial" has been missing from innovation. Until it reaches such a level, Bangalore cannot be said to have a truly innovative technology sector and will continue to rely on cost arbitrage-based information technology and other outsourced services.

How will such a climate of innovation come about? Despite the success of India's space and defense initiatives, serial innovation cannot be dictated by government. Nor can it be created by multinationals, which are too risk-averse for such adventures on a sustained basis. It will happen when enough entrepreneurs and venture capitalists enter the field, and when failure is accepted as part and parcel of success.

NO RISKY BUSINESS. The instances of serial innovation in Bangalore are few, indeed almost nonexistent. Bangalore has a number of wonderful technology service companies that meet and beat their clients' expectations on a regular basis, but are they really driving and building a culture of innovation? I think not -- everything is just a bit too easy.

In a recent interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Vivek Paul, late of Wipro (WIT), said: "India lends itself to lower risk and more processed activities, rather than taking a gamble...if you look at that service business as leading to innovation and product outcomes, the answer is absolutely not."

Bangalore is full of bright engineers and businesspeople. There is ambition and there is expectation. There's cash in the pockets of professionals and in the coffers of the successful companies, but there's no compulsion to take big risks.

CONSTANT UPHEAVAL. Today, unlike in California, there are no tectonic plates to disturb the Bangalore serenity, no fault lines that can spur individuals to take a chance with something outside their comfort zone. These exist as a natural phenomenon in Silicon Valley, where upheaval occurs constantly and there is continuous regeneration of ideas. Bangalore wants to be compared with "The Valley," but first must come the earthquake.

This earthquake could be caused by a severe downturn in the economy, or by some spectacular business failures, or by major mergers or acquisitions. It could even be the result of an organic movement among the professionals who today are driving the Bangalore miracle from the inside.

Any of these events would bring bright and resourceful individuals onto the street in sufficient numbers that a new ecosystem of innovation would emerge. Many would fail, but there would be enough successes. These would inspire more attempts, and the failures would provide the learning ground that is vital for serial innovation.

PAINFUL RELEASE. The impact of such a revolution would be felt around the world. Businesses in the developed world would see new reasons to invest in India and to take more risks in product innovation. Engineers and entrepreneurs in developing countries would be encouraged to follow the Bangalore examples, with resultant step increases in global innovation.

Bangalore has a surfeit of great talent. There is plenty of money to fuel innovation, there is ambition, and ideas are plentiful. What's needed now are the right conditions. Old and new money has to be extracted from safe havens such as real estate and put in the hands of people willing to take risks.

This, in turn, will lead to a steady stream of new products and innovations. The change may be painful, but it will also be a release. Bangalore will then begin to realize its true potential as a global center for serial technological innovation -- and break away from the bonds of an outsource services model that is rapidly becoming a global commodity.,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes: Business Process Innovation and Social Networks

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a breakfast roundtable in Palo Alto on Social Media and Web 2.0 hosted by Tony Perkins, founder and former editor-in-chief of Red Herring, who now leads AlwaysOn, an interactive online network.Read More...
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Cliff Reeves: What happens when business data is liberated?

What happens when business data is liberated?

I often get asked where I think the opportunities are for innovators and investors. Well, business data is about to become accessible as never before. There is opportunity here for any innovator who know how to get the best out of the data historically locked away in business systems.

We are about see a transformation in business applications. Mary Jo Foley hints at this future in an eWeek article today, but I think there's a lot more to be said. Realtime dashboards (mashboards) will select and combine Information dynamically from rigid, structured systems like Oracle and Siebel. Situational applications (like email) will let us look up inventory, accept orders and submit bills, without ever seeing the SAP system that actually carries out the transaction. As a result, software innovation will centre on components that offer access and insight into business systems. IT's focus will be managing interfaces and metadata.

IT and by major ISVs are adopting web services and service-oriented architectures, and that's making the back-end systems accessible. Microsoft Office Smart Tags and the Information Bridge Framework (IBF) give business users the access they need. Accessibilty will get a major boost from Office 12 and the (virtually unnoticed) Sharepoint Business Data Catalog (BDC -- noted by Stefan Gossner here; with an insightful view from Eli Robillard, and another from Joris Poelmans).

Here are a couple of real-life examples of mashboards and situational apps:

A major oil company built a mashboard based on OSISoft's Realtime Performance Manager, RtPM). Using it, a refinery operations manager sees an alert on an overheating pump. Clicking on the alert (actually a symbol for the pump in a schematic of the whole refinery) he sees the real-time data (temperature, pressure, throughput, etc) as well as a list of situation-specific information located and presented dynamically -- such as maintenance records for the pump, people who can help (the authors of the maintenance records, people near the pump, the department responsible for that area of operations, etc). The operations manager can check the maintenance data for clues, send an SMS or IM to someone nearby (maybe ask them to go and kick the pump), or notify someone he's about to turn the pump off.

We developed this situational trading application as a proof of concept for the same oil company, using IBF. In it, an oil trader receives an email in Outlook with an order for December delivery of 100,000 bbl of Brent Light Crude, conditional on a price ceiling. Outlook has recognized that "Brent Light Crude" is a company product type and subtly highlighted the words. In the background Outlook asked IBF to identify for the trader, all the company's back end systems that she can access for product-related transactions: checking prices or inventory, for example, or placing orders. The trader clicks on "Brent Light Crude" and from a series of options she selects "Pricing." IBF queries the back-end system (in this case a trading Exchange) and presents option prices for Brent Light Crude in a task pane alongside the email. The task pane includes additional options, such as "check inventiry" and "place order." The trader places the order and IBF extracts related information (such as purchaser) and initiates the the appropriate SAP transactions -- verifying credit, placing the order, initiating an invoice. The trader is presented with a pre-filled email (actually an Infopath form embedded in an email) that confirms the request, which she sends to the purchaser.

Not many commentators have picked up on this but, as Office meets ERP systems, it will democratize business intelligence in much the same way that desktop word processors democratised document preparation. This will put a premium on people and innovation that can provide easy (situational) access and insight. Email and portals are the likely situational applications and mashboards, and insight will be provide by innovators like Metapraxis (board-level insight into company performance), Tableau Software (data and relationshop visualization) and CXO Systems (business and IT visibility).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jazz in Bangalore

"A pinch of Jazz", concerts of Jazz in Bangalore are rare and here is one coming up.

William Joseph International Academy For Performing Arts Presents

An Evening Of Classical And Jazz Music. A Tribute To Maestro
J.T.William Joseph
Sunday 27 Nov. St John's Amphi Theatre -Koromangala 6:30pm

Admission To The Concert Is Free So Do Come With Family And Friends.
The Evening Would Feature Dr. Ashley Williams Jazz Piano-Vocals. Also
Performing Will Be -

Aarti Desikan-Sowmya Venkatesh- Gauri Burde-Divya George- Vocals
K.N. Prakash- Classical Guitar
Johnny & Pranav- Piano
Violin Trio- Prafulla- Dawn- Dr. Giles
Admission To The Concert Is Free So Do Come With Family And Friends
Oops Dont Forget To Bring Your Wollens And Something For The Mosquitoes

For Detail Contact 98442 75837- 9844077004,,

Bangalore Habba is back; events to start from December 2

The Hindu

Parallel show in Mandya, Mysore, Dharwad, Mangalore, Tumkur and Chikmagalur

Bangalore: The annual city festival, Bangalore Habba, is back and has become more broad-based than last year. The habba will be celebrated from December 2 to December 11 at various venues around the city.

This year, parallel events are to be held in six towns — Mandya, Mysore, Dharwad, Mangalore, Tumkur and Chikmagalur.

According to the organising committee, led by Nandini Alva and Padmini Ravi, the pre-habba promotional events are on with Festival Stories, organised by Kathalaya, going on at 40 schools in Bangalore, till November 30.

Much attention has been given to Kannada theatre, music and literature this year. The inaugural ceremony at Ravindra Kalakshetra on December 2 will be followed by a theatre presentation: Typical T.P. Kailasam by the Vedike troupe. Street theatre will be another component with plays staged by Voices at Bangalore Centre near Mayo Hall, Big Bazaar in Banashankari, on Mahatma Gandhi Road, at Jayanagar, Koramangala and Indiranagar, on Brigade Road, Residency Road, Commercial Street, Cunningham Road and in Malleswaram and within Cubbon Park. Besides entertaining people, the street plays will carry messages.

The concept of " neighbourhood cricket" will be given a boost with tennis ball cricket tournaments between teams representing the south, north, east and west of the city. In all, 16 teams will play the matches.

December 4 will see the rage of city youth, a Drag Race at Jakkur airfield. Motor sports enthusiasts and speed loving amateurs, can race on a quarter-mile strip, open in different categories to cars and motorbikes, Indian and imported models. The same day will see a Vintage Car Rally.

With the aim of reaching out to all sections of Bangaloreans, there will be a Bangalore Habba Golf Tournament organised in association with the Karnataka Golf Association, on December 2. Youth who seek thrill are to be given a chance to experience adventure sports with the Adventure Maze to be offered from December 2 to December 8, coordinated by Chandrasekhar of "Escape".

Now, for some "highbrow" events for the artistic and intellectual side of the city: The Art Espressor to be held from December 2 to December 8, will be in association with British Council's Culture Care and will see prose and poetry readings at Café Coffee Day outlets in Indiranagar, Frazer Town, Koramangala, Malleswaram, on Brigade Road, Commercial Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Cunningham Road, Lavelle Road, BEL Road, at Garuda Mall, Bangalore Central and Infosys and Wipro. There will be a Book Lounge at Palace Grounds to create a space for the literary-minded and an outlet for Kannada writing. Bangalore Central has emerged a major supporter of the habba, offering space for events at their malls. Dance, music, theatre and fashion events have been planned for these venues.

A film festival, supported by the Kannada film industry and other Southern film chambers, will be held during the habba. Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films will be screened at special shows at cinemas. There will be a Food Festival at a number of venues, in collaboration with Nammura Hotel. The flavour of the season will be culinary specialities from different parts of Karnataka.,

Who Has Time For This?: How To NOT Write A Business Plan

David Cowan:

Entrepreneurs often ask me for a sample business plan they can use as a model for their fundraising efforts. They are surprised when I send them a powerpoint file.

It's always a good idea to put down on paper your plans for the business, so that your team can build consensus around objectives and metrics. Make it as thick and wordy as you like (though show some restraint--over-modeling the future only wastes your time). I'm sure that Brad Feld's upcoming series on business plans will become the authoritative online reference for this kind of internal operating document."

SAP to acquire Khimetrics

CNet: SAP AG announced Tuesday plans to acquire retail software maker Khimetrics, a privately held start-up that develops analytical pricing and forecasting technologies that will bolster SAP's presence among retailers.

SAP's pending acquisition of Khimetrics comes months >after it lost a bidding war against Oracle for retail software maker Retek. SAP plans to enlarge its retail software suite with Khimetrics' revenue management and pricing software. Financial terms were not disclosed and the deal is expected to close in January."

Monday, November 21, 2005 ERP Apps Vendors: Who's Ahead

AMR recently released its enterprise resource planning (ERP) survey, which saw a big opportunity for vendors in 2006.

Now here's a look at who those vendors are, in order of the frequency of their appearance on evaluation lists:
Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS): 58 percent
Oracle: 57 percent
SAP: 49 percent
SSA Global: 32 percent
Infor: 25 percent
Geac: 24 percent
Lawson: 22 percent
Intentia: 21 percent
IFS: 19 percent
QAD: 17 percent
Activant: 15 percent
Epicor: 14 percent

The list does not itself reflect a pecking order of ERP vendors by revenue or other metrics of success, but it tells you who is going to be most involved in 2006's bake-offs. In that sense, the list is an indicator of momentum.

The survey demographics do not skew towards the lower end of the market, in which Microsoft has its historic stronghold. Forty-five percent of respondents were from enterprises with over $1 billion in revenue; and 19 percent were from the mid-market ($500 million to $1 billion). As such, the results are good news for Redmond in that, at least in ERP, it has significant traction at the enterprise level.

The distance between Oracle and SAP is also intriguing, as SAP has long been the leading global ERP player. As such, the survey will be good news for Oracle as well, since the company is enthusiastic about overtaking SAP.,,

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sal Walton teaches Google what Microsoft didn't

Play to your strengths. That's the key to success in any industry. This is the week I promised to explain where I think Google is headed, and playing to the company's strengths is key if they are going to do what I think, which is effectively take over the Internet. Oh they won't steal it or strong-arm us. They'll seduce us into giving it to them. And I am not at all sure that's a bad thing.

Google's strengths are searching, development of Open Source Internet services, and running clusters of tens of thousands of servers. Notice on this list there is nothing about operating systems. There are many rumors about Google doing an operating system to compete with Microsoft. I'm not saying they aren't doing that (I simply don't know), but I AM saying it would not be a good idea, because it doesn't play to any of the company's traditional strengths.

The same follows for the rumor that Google, as a dark fiber buyer, will turn itself into some kind of super ISP. Won't happen. And WHY it won't happen is because ISPs are lousy businesses and building one as anything more than an experiment (as they are doing in San Francisco with wireless) would only hurt Google's earnings.

So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google's underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

While Google could put these containers anywhere, it makes the most sense to place them at Internet peering points, of which there are about 300 worldwide.

Two years ago Google had one data center. Today they are reported to have 64. Two years from now, they will have 300-plus. The advantage to having so many data centers goes beyond simple redundancy and fault tolerance. They get Google closer to users, reducing latency. They offer inter-datacenter communication and load-balancing using that no-longer-dark fiber Google owns. But most especially, they offer super-high bandwidth connections at all peering ISPs at little or no incremental cost to Google.

Where some other outfit might put a router, Google is putting an entire data center, and the results are profound. Take Internet TV as an example. Replicating that Victoria's Secret lingerie show that took down years ago would be a non-event for Google. The video feed would be multicast over the private fiber network to 300+ data centers, where it would be injected at gigabit speeds into each peering ISP. Viewers watching later would be reading from a locally cached copy. Yeah, but would it be Windows Media, Real, or QuickTime? It doesn't matter. To Google's local data center, bits are bits and the system is immune to protocols or codecs. For the first time, Internet TV will scale to the same level as broadcast and cable TV, yet still offer soemthing different for every viewer if they want it.

As for the coming AJAX Office and other productivity apps, they'll sit locally, too. Two or three hops away from every user, they'll also be completely backed-up by two to three data centers down the line. Your data never goes away unless you erase it. Your latency and system response are as low as they can possibly be made for a network app.

And remember the Google Web Accelerator that came and disappeared? It's back! Only this time the Web Accelerator will have the proper hardware and network infrastructure to make it worth using.

This is more than another Akamai or even an Akamai on steroids. This is a dynamically-driven, intelligent, thermonuclear Akamai with a dedicated back-channel and application-specific hardware.

There will be the Internet, and then there will be the Google Internet, superimposed on top. We'll use it without even knowing. The Google Internet will be faster, safer, and cheaper. With the advent of widespread GoogleBase (again a bit-schlepping app that can be used in a thousand ways -- most of them not even envisioned by Google) there's suddenly a new kind of marketplace for data with everything a transaction in the most literal sense as Google takes over the role of trusted third-party info-escrow agent for all world business. That's the goal.

All this is based, of course, on Google's proven network and hardware expertise. Have you seen Google's Search Appliance? They ship you a 1U prebuilt server. You connect it to your network, fill out a simple configuration screen, and it scans and indexes your web site (or sites) for you. Google monitors and manages it remotely, and sucks up the data and adds it to theirs. You just plug the thing in and turn it on. It just works. You need do nothing else to keep it running. Google understands how to do this stuff. Microsoft definitely does not.

And there lies the differences between the two companies. Last week, I wrote about Windows Live and Office Live as Microsoft's best attempts at pretending to be Google. And Google will do those kinds of applications, too. But they'll build them atop a network infrastructure that Microsoft can't match.

But that doesn't mean Microsoft customers will be denied access to the Google Internet. Quite the contrary. Google would be insane to exclude Microsoft customers, which will be as welcome as any other. Only Google will be benefiting far more than Microsoft from that usage.

Google has the reach and the resources to make this work. There are only so many fiber networks and they'll be BUYING service from those outfits -- many of which are in or near bankruptcy. Say the containers cost $500,000 each in volume and $500,000 per year to run. That's $300 million to essentially co-opt the Internet. And you know whose strategy this is? Wal-Mart's. And unless Google comes up with an ecosystem to allow their survival, that means all the other web services companies will be marginalized. There will be startups and little guys, but no medium-sized companies. ISPs, which we've thought of as a threatened species, won't be touched, but then their profit margins are so low they aren't worth touching. After all, Wal-Mart doesn't try to own the roads its goods are carried over. And the final result is that Web 2.0 IS Google.

Microsoft can't compete. Yahoo probably can't compete. Sun and IBM are like remora, along for the ride. And what does it all cost, maybe $1 billion? That's less than Microsoft spends on legal settlements each year.

Game over.

And yet next week I'll take it one more step.,,

Hindu: Abdul Kalam's vision for Karnataka

Abdul Kalam's vision for Karnataka

The Hindu

The President unveils 11-point plan, wants economic activity spread across the State

# The goals set Achieve 100 per cent literacy by 2012
# Increase per capita income to Rs. 75,000 by 2009
# Develop tier-two cities such as Mysore and Mangalore
# Create Metro rail system for Bangalore

Bangalore: President A.P.J Abdul Kalam on Sunday set the Government and the legislators of Karnataka thinking and placed before them an 11-point agenda for development to transfer the State into an economically-developed model State over the next four years.

He was addressing a joint sitting of the two Houses of the Legislature at a function held at the ornate Legislative Assembly chamber, heralding the inauguration of the "Suvarna Karnataka" anniversary, the 50th year of the reorganisation of the State.

In an inspiring address, Mr. Kalam played the role of a think-tank and he wanted the missions he was placing before the legislators, debated in depth by the State Legislature, which is one of the few bicameral ones in the country.

Quoting from the development radar of the Planning Commission, Mr. Kalam pinpointed the problems of Karnataka, which he noted has a "core competence". He also noted that the Government of Karnataka has already chalked out a road map for the State's full-fledged development. Karnataka has 19 per cent of its population living below the poverty line.

"The first mission is to elevate all of them and bring smiles to their faces". It could be done by focused development leading to higher per capita income and better quality of life. The literacy rate in the State, which stood at 67 per cent, should be increased and emphasis laid on spreading literacy among women. The State should aim at realising the goal of 100 per cent literacy by 2012," he said.

The per capita income of Rs. 26,000 estimated in 2004-05 could be almost trebled to Rs. 75,000 by 2009. An investment-friendly climate should be created to open employment avenues to the two million unemployed or underemployed persons of the State, the President said.

The 11 missions he exhorted the State to take up are textiles, energy (bio fuel mission and power through municipal waste), horticulture, agro-processing, water management, tourism, preparing paramedics and technicians with quality training, creation of industries for knowledge products, grid connectivity for sustainable growth, providing urban amenities in rural areas and development facilitators. Noting that the high revenue information and communication technology industries are concentrated in Bangalore, which occupies one per cent of the area of the State but has 14 per cent of the population, he wanted economic activity distributed across the State to ensure homogenous growth taking into consideration the core competence of the regions.

There is need to develop tier-two cities such as Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Gulbarga and Madikeri. Reliable air connectivity, construction of four to six-lane roads and fast train services. "I have seen Bangalore in 1970s, 1980s , 1990s and now. Bangalore's economic growth has far exceeded the growth of development facilitators. The core attraction of Bangalore as a development facilitator is getting slowly eroded," Mr. Kalam said. The President, who was a Bangalorean right from 1958, noted that the "road capacity in Bangalore has reached a saturation point. This can be achieved through alternative possibilities such as creation of metro rail system and early commencement of the project is a necessity". He also emphasised that the development of the city should not be at the cost of its greenery, which makes Bangalore beautiful.

Mr. Kalam also wanted the Government to turn its attention to development of entrepreneurship among the youth.

Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh spoke of the dynamism of the State in thinking and action.

Governor T.N. Chaturvedi said that Karnataka is already foremost in many areas and it will keep up the momentum of growth.,

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dave Pollard: Wikis: A Tool for a Democratic Revolution in Business?

The best part of my visit to San Jose has been, perhaps not surprisingly, the social networking between the KMWorld & Intranets presentations on social networking. To any conference attendees visiting How to Save the World for the first time: Welcome! Some highlights of the presentations:

Tom Davenport described some research he's done with Rob Cross on the social networks of identified high performers in organizations. Relative to other people in their companies, these high performers:

* Have larger, deeper social networks
* Have more people from outside their organization in their networks
* Are more sought out for advice and information
* Are more aware of who to go to and where to go to get critical information
* Have more new (to the organization) people in their networks
* Invest significantly more time in their networks

Nothing remarkable in this, perhaps, but interesting. Think about the people in your organization or network who you think are most effective -- do they fit this profile? Will social network mapping 'out' the 'leaders' who surround themselves with a small (often sycophantic) cadre of advisors as the ineffective, out of touch, isolated organizational weak links they really are?

Ross Mayfield of Socialtext and Many 2 Many fame had lots to say about wikis, of course, but also made some awesome comments about how social networking disrupts many 'political' aspects of business and society and ushers in Extreme Democracy:

* Wikis can evolve to be more than just collaborative content aggregation tools; they can be platforms for collective knowledge that could replace entire corporate Intranets (Dresdner Bank is already doing this), and also replace e-mail (other than one-to-one messages) and most 'managed' collaboration 'spaces'.
* Wikis are becoming a lot less intimidating with the addition of WYSIWYG entry screens that eliminate the need to learn those unintuitive formatting codes.
* The biggest cultural barrier to wikis is also their greatest potential value and power -- they engender shared trust and shared responsibility by offering participants unrestricted collective ownership of all content; the space and the collective knowledge in it belongs to 'us' (the participants, jointly) not to 'them' (the company).
* Today, over half of the US GDP consists of transaction (clerical, management and administrative) costs -- i.e. 'non-productive' costs that are passed along to the ultimate consumer and which, in a 'perfect' market economy, would be zero; eliminating hierarchical, 'managerial' and paper-shuffling non-value-added work could therefore more than double productivity and halve cost, and in the process would massively shift organizational power and authority to the front lines (and eliminate a ton of expensive, overpaid executive jobs).
* Clay Shirky has said"Process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity." In a world where every situation is different and everyone knows their own job better than their boss does, process is simply a dysfunctional imposition to try (fruitlessly) to prevent recurrence of a specific human error. A perfect example of this is 90% of the ever-changing and seemingly arbitrary processes in what is laughably called 'airport security' (this week I've discovered that they've decided allowing cell phones turned on within 100 feet of customs booths is a security risk, but on some domestic flights they've stopped asking for picture ID). Clay and Ross assert that wikis and similar 'democratic' social software tools promise the end of process in business. And eliminating the need for process also eliminates the need for most management. It is replaced by collective self-management.
* The value of information is in its currency and movement. "Word and .pdf format is where information goes to die".
* The standard for good social software is: Social, Simple, Open. Not: Powerful, Multi-Featured, Sophisticated, Integrated, or even Secure.
* As the cost of forming a group using social software nears zero, under-represented groups in society and business will start using such software to find, articulate and aggregate their voice, and agitate to rectify their under-representation until that voice is heard.
* What is holding back simple, open, social software from becoming an extremely powerful, democratic social, political and business tool is the digital divide.

Ross agreed with me that the biggest drawback with wikis today is difficulty of navigation. I told Ross that wikis need "a map that shows you where you are". I have a half-formed idea that there is a great opportunity to allow the sections and pages of wikis to be generated and indexed visually by mindmaps. The mindmap could serve as a cognitive representation of the entire landscape of the wiki, so it could be used not only to spontaneously and collectively create the organizational framework of the wiki, but to visualize and navigate that framework as well.

Ross co-presented with Jim Bair, who I also had the chance to talk with at length. Jim described IBM's prediction that we will soon see software that will allow people to more powerfully browse and organize blog content, both of single users and of multiple users as a collective repository. Think of the entire blogosphere as a single large collective knowledge repository that you can reorganize, filter and index according to your own way of looking at that content, or as a giant conversation that you can re-thread in a way that is most coherent and meaningful to you.

I had the pleasure of having dinner with Dave Davison, who has been a consistent champion of my AHA! per project. We shared some interesting ideas about the project that you'll see on these pages soon.

This has been, for me, an outstanding conference. Wish you were here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani writes: Leveraging Technology to Make Doctors More Productive

Everyone agrees that the healthcare industry in the US is a mess. This is a major multi-billion dollar opportunity and India can provide a solution , if we learn how to leverage technology intelligently to make our doctors more productive. Indian doctors are world- class; as is the Indian IT industry. If we marry these cleverly, we can significantly improve patient care all over the world. In the past, we helped to support healthcare in the US and the UK by exporting our doctors ( the "brain-drain"). We can now export our services instead.

Today, the major bottle neck for efficient healthcare delivery in the US are doctors. Doctors are few and far between, and are an expensive resource ( after all, it takes a lot of time and money to train a doctor) . How can we make better use of this scarce resource ?

Today, unfortunately, most of their time and energy is spent on paperwork (�documentation� ); and talking to insurance and HMO clerks for authorization. This creates a lose-lose situation. Doctors are unhappy and frustrated; and patients are angry because they perceive their doctors as being uncaring and rushed ; and are frustrated over the long waits for appointments. For example, it can take an infertile patient over 3 months to see a consultant in the UK today !

The solution I'd like to propose is the use of technology to leverage a doctor�s productivity. ( This would not apply for emergency situations, but for medical care for cold �elective� problems, such as fever, diarrhea, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis and asthma, which constitute about 90% of all medical care episodes.)

We need to change the model of the consultation � the entry point into the healthcare system. At present, a consultation is inefficient and time-consuming. Traditionally, this has been � face to face �, but this is an archaic model. It�s time for a makeover ! After all, communication technology has changed everything else � why not this too ? Businessmen conduct conferences and meetings efficiently online � why can�t doctors and patients ?

We need to replace the consultation with a better alternative ! I agree this may cause a certain degree of discomfort , because the visit to the doctor is still the �holy cow� of medicine, because medicine is based on �doctor patient contact �. However, is this really needed ? Isn�t there a better alternative ?

Telephone diagnosis is now routine for many specialties , and has been proven to be safe and effective. This confirms that options to the traditional real world consultation are viable alternatives we need to actively explore.

I am going to offer my solution based on my personal experience. As an infertility specialist, I am a resource in scare supply. It takes me about 60 min to do a consultation, and I can manage to do about 4 consultations a day . I am in private practice, and have a wait list of 2 weeks. It also takes the patient a total of 3 hours of their time ( to commute to the clinic and to wait for their turn) to come for a consultation. How can we make this more efficient ?

What do I do in a consult ? Primarily, like most specialists, I take a history; review the records; and then formulate a treatment plan. I don�t need to do a physical examination for the vast majority of patients. ( Many studies have shown that over 80% of medical diagnoses can be made based on the history !)

I have therefore designed a structured questionnaire on our website, which anyone anywhere in the world can fill up online and email to me . I can review it and reply by email and it takes me an average of about 5 minutes to reply to each query. I know what the key points on the form are; so that I can quickly look for these; and then guide them accordingly. Most problems are ones I have encountered before ( after all, I am an expert !); and most questions are ones I have answered before, which means I can reply much more efficiently

This is actually a better model than a face to face consultation ! In fact, a personal consultation may not be the most effective or efficient way of providing the doctor with medical information ! I know this may be iconoclastic, but patients are often confused, disorganized, or embarrassed. By subjecting them to the discipline of filling up a structured form when they have the time to do so , they can provide the key bits of information the doctor needs much more intelligently !

I can also provide reasons for my recommendations , and additional references if needed. Patients are much less stressed out ( studies have shown patients forget half of what their doctor tells them during a consultation) when they email me, which means they remember and retain a lot more of what I tell them, because it�s all in writing. Moreover, this can be an iterative process, because they can ask more pointed queries , which I can reply to.

It�s much easier for me too, because I can reply in my pajamas; and for complex problems, I can refer to my medial journals ! I can also �refer � patients to online information resources, so they become better informed about their problems.

It�s also much easier for my patients because they can ask me queries at their convenience; and they have a written record of what their options are . Patients can also think about their queries; discuss their options with family members; organize their medical records; and structure their thoughts. I now �see� 25 patients in the virtual world ! I find these patients are much better informed and have more realistic expectations, which makes treating them in the real world much easier. This model would work well for all chronic illnesses, such as diabetes , arthritis, hypertension.

One of the limitations of this model is that no personal physical examination is possible, but this is not essential for solving problems in many specialties today. Not only can a history provide a lot of useful information; the record of the primary doctor�s physical examination notes; as well as the results of imaging studies can be very valuable, which often means that a personal physical examination is not even required in the first place.

Medical experts in world class hospitals have been providing second opinions to patients from halfway across the world ( without examining or seeing them) for many years. Doctors are also used to providing useful medical advise on the telephone. Why can�t we use these models to improve the doctor�s efficiency ?

US doctors have become so petrified by the possibility of being sued anytime they write anything down, that they have got paralysed into inactivity ! They can no longer think of innovative ways of providing medical care, because they are so worried about possible medicolegal liabilities . There�s no reason why Indian doctors should allow this irrational and misplaced fear to immobilize them ! We need to capitalise on this opportunity !

We can use this model intelligently and �extend� it using physician extenders. Using a � learned intermediary� ( who could be a nurse , community social worker , family member or caregiver) can help to extend the utility of this model. Maybe a �targeted � physical exam can be done by a trained physician assistant or nurse, who can make house calls and video conference with the doctor ? This could also be done by �expert patients� or peers, for example. I agree that the �human touch� is important; and that an online consultation can be impersonal, but this is no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Doctors have a lot of expertise �we need to tap this intelligently. Many attempts were made in the past which attempted to use �artificial intelligence� to help the doctor to make the right diagnosis. Most of these failed, because I feel their goal was misplaced. Rather than try to use technology to replace human expertise, it would make more sense to use it so that to multiply its efficiency. Amazon�s Mechanical Turk was developed to help solve specific internal data processing problems that required human judgment and intelligence.

It's a clever marriage of information technology and human intelligence. India has lots of medical intelligence, and we can leverage this...

The key would be structured questionnaires designed for each specialty which the patient would need to fill up. The concept could easily be extended to allow family doctors to seek a medical opinion from specialists.

Every specialist need a core of critical information on the patient, based on which he formulates a treatment plan using his expertise and experience. While it may not be possible to capture his experience, reasoning skills or experience, by providing him with the core information he needs efficiently, his expertise can be used much more productively !

This business model would allow expert doctors ( even those who have retired and are no longer in active practice ) to generate more revenue; and also allow patients easier access to medical expertise inexpensively ( because they would no longer be compelled by geographic constraints to going to expensive doctors in the US; or to wait for months and months on a NHS waiting list). This may even galvanize doctors in the US to reduce their expenses; and force them to become more efficient and patient-responsive ! The benefits for insurance companies are also enormous, because these consultant doctors would provide objective evidence based advise, with no vested interests ( since they are not going to be actually treating the patient).

Dave Pollard Writes: Business Models

Alex Osterwalder and I have been exchanging e-mails on the subject of business models. Alex's blog is devoted entirely to this subject, and the graphic above is his 'business model model', showing the nine 'building blocks' for such models from his synthesis of reading on the subject. The right side of the model is about how the business generates revenue, while the left side is about how it manages costs and hence generates profit.

I've been advising clients and prospective new businesses how to document and evaluate their business model for years, and in my experience there are three types of business models, that organizations look at in sequence:

1. Viability Model: How the idea/project/plan/business will make money, and with which partners. In some cases it is actually about How the idea/project/plan/business will fill an untapped need, and with which partners. Such a model outlines the research that will be done to ensure the value proposition is compelling (i.e. customers want and are prepared to pay for it), that the business has, or can acquire, the competencies and resources needed to deliver it, and that it makes strategic sense for the organization (e.g. it's consistent with their mission and values and does not cannibalize existing business). This model culminates in a go/no go decision.
2. Formation Model: How the idea/project/plan/business will be set up. This model is focused on capital and infrastructure that must be in place before operations can begin: human capital (what people will be involved in what roles), intellectual capital (what knowledge, technology and know-how must be put in place), physical capital (what premises, equipment and supplies will be needed prior to start-up), financial capital (start-up money, and where it will come from), and social capital (organization, alliances and relationships that will drive it). This model culminates in a launch.
3. Operating Model: How the idea/project/plan/business will operate. This model describes the ongoing activities of the organization or project -- what megaprocesses it will entail (e.g. R&D, purchasing, sales & marketing, manufacturing, distribution, service, back office support, and management decision making), what budgets and other resources it will require and use, and what roles will be played by who.

This sequence of models can apply to anything from a simple marketing program to the launch of an entirely new business.

It's been my experience that most businesses put insufficient work into the viability assessment, the wrong kind of thinking into the business formation decisions, and too much emphasis on the details of the operating model, and hence on 'micromanaging' the operations to ensure they conform to the operating plan.

The reason for insufficient work on viability assessment is that it's tedious, and the people who are championing the idea have already concluded that it's viable. That's why in Natural Enterprise I encourage an almost excruciating amount of attention and research on viability up front, tough, shoe-leather-wearing work with potential customers, suppliers and partners until you know that it fits a need, that you have the competencies to fill that need, and that you have some competitive advantage in doing so.

If that time and effort is invested, the whole approach to business formation changes. The people and partners who will play the key roles will already be onside and will have essentially self-selected to play those roles. Much of the start-up capital may come in the form of advances from customers who have already indicated an interest in the product or service, and who have been active partners in its design. The total amount of capital will be less, capital needs will be rather obvious, and may be already forthcoming, if the viability assessment has been done well first.

At this point, I think, trust takes over. You have the right people in the right places. They know what they have to do and how to do it. They're motivated, and focused on the customer. Why do you need an elaborate operating model at this stage? Not only will it be telling people what they already know, it will be getting in the way of them doing their job effectively, by imposing the inevitable standards, paperwork, and approvals procedures. And worst of all, it will discourage improvisational thinking and continuous sustaining and disruptive innovation, and will be contributing to what David Ehrenfeld calls "a society managed to death".
So the business models I have helped develop have been heavy on the Viability phase, creative in the Formation phase, and light on the Operating phase. The hardest part is telling entrepreneurs, before they've laid out a penny but after they've invested a lot of sweat equity, that the Viability assessment indicates they don't have a sound business model. More often than not, that's the right message, and failure to heed it is the main reason for the staggering failure rate of entrepreneurial enterprises.

But giving them that message at the outset is a lot easier than telling them, after spending years of effort trying to make a flawed business model work, and investing their life savings in it, that they should pull the plug.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Deccan Herald:Log on, adopt a pothole!

Bangalore’s potholes-related woes has gone beyond complaining road users and umpteen newspaper columns. The city’s yawning, gaping potholes have now become a subject of web world discussion, facilitated by a dedicated website — Bangalore Potholes

The website reflects the craters that fight for space on nearly all roads in the City. It has an updated list of potholes, with pictures and captions, an interactive forum where citizens can submit their inputs and a link to ‘potholes across the world’. It also has an ‘Adopt a pothole’ project, where residents can take up the job of repairing a pothole.,

Dave Pollard Writes: It's Easy to Be Brave From a Distance

I saw the title of this post on a local veterinarian's sign today. Apparently it's from Aesop's Fables, though I'm not sure which one.

One of my best-received articles was the one I wrote last year on courage. At that time I said that I disbelieved most of the common wisdom about courage: That it's in all of us, that it's false bravado, or moral strength, or superior character. I ascribed it instead to love: "If you love life, others, your world, enough, perhaps you can summon up the courage to do anything." And I agreed with this wonderful quote from right-wing blogger Bill Whittle:

And in this imperfect, flawed nation of ours, perhaps more than anywhere else on Earth, I think about the courage it takes to be poor, to face that sickening knot of worry and despair that comes with not having the money to pay your bills. For there is no more steady and enduring courage than that of a poor family, especially a single parent, who fights a never-ending battle of brutal hours at miserable pay, of perennially unrealized dreams, and of the desperate, numb agony of disappointed children. For people like that, who force themselves to work two jobs while we sleep, to avoid the temptations of crime and dependency while surrounded by luxury and wealth the likes of which man has never known…well, that is dogged courage of a sublime nature that passes all understanding.

And I wondered aloud why day after day, despite my passionate beliefs about what was wrong with the world and what needed to be done, I sat at the computer, and wrote instead of acting. Did I not love the world, Gaia, and its needlessly suffering people and animals enough?

Since then, I've received some solace and, at the same time, a prod, from philosopher John Gray, who has persuaded me that no amount of energy, organization and ingenuity is going to prevent the end of civilization by the end of this century, but has also refocused me on what I can do and should be doing to make things better here and now at the local level, and to create some working models of intentional communities and community-based enterprises and economies that can help those who survive the end of our civilization to live in peace, harmony and comfort.

Supposing you were suddenly blessed with a benefactor who offered you $200,000 per year tax free for the rest of your life. The only condition is that you not accept any money from any other source for doing anything. If you work, it has to be for free. if you gamble or invest, any gains have to be given away. What would you do? Just retire and 'do no evil', living a life of ease with loved ones, minimizing your footprint? Write the book you've been putting off? Do work for charity -- locally? in an inner city or impoverished rural area near you? in a struggling nation? Study and learn and make yourself a better person, and then take it from there?

OK, now I'm going to change the supposition. Now you have instead a one-month sabbatical, $25,000 to spend, and a guarantee that your job or other source of income will be intact once the month is over. Same conditions on other income during that month. Would that change your answer? If so, why?

Back to the first scenario. It's now a month later. Honestly, have you started yet, or are you still thinking about it, unwinding, "in transition"? What's holding you back?

Now, just to up the ante, add to both scenarios a $10 million grant that you can spend on any one project, with the proviso that neither you nor any family members can directly personally benefit from the money. What do you spend it on? I'm willing to bet that you make faster progress spending the money than you do changing your lifestyle. If I'm right, why is that?

Here's my answers to the questions above, and why I think they're probably close to what most people would do:

WhatToDoI would start by writing my three or four books: First clean up Natural Enterprise, a book about models for establishing your own joyful, socially and environmentally responsible business. Then my novel The Only Life We Know, which tells the story of a model for intentional community. Then the book The Gift Economy, which outlines a model for a new community-based economic system. And finally, perhaps, The Cost of Not Knowing, a book that explains why we choose not to know or act about huge potential dangers.

The reason I would do that is that, if we're wise, we do things that are at the intersection of what we're good at, what we love doing, and what's needed. The market, I think, doesn't yet know that the world needs the models I outline in my books, so they won't, right now, pay me for writing them. My 'benefactor scenario' would solve that problem for me, moving the writing of these books from intersection 2 to intersection 3 in the chart at right -- and ending my procrastination.

Once these were written, I would start working full-time and simultaneously on making AHA! a reality, creating a new Intentional Community, and facilitating the creation of Natural Enterprises by young people -- for the same reason: these activities would then be in intersection 3 for me. There are some other things on my Getting Things Done list bit they're things I'm not good at and would need a lot of time to become good at. Even under this scenario I know these would never get done, though I expect I would spend some time acquainting myself with people who are good at these things.

In the second scenario, with only a month, I fear I would be much less likely to do much different from what I'm doing now. A month isn't enough time to make a significant change in what we do, if we know we have to go back to former behaviours at the end of it.

The $10 million grant would be easy to part with: It would be simply a matter of deciding whether to finance AHA!, or a new Intentional Community, or a 'school' to 'teach' Natural Enterprise, or a new animal welfare organization -- or all four. In a month, the money would all have been given away.

Why? I believe it is human nature (a) to only change when we have to, and (b) to avoid risk until and unless the current pain is high enough that the fear of changing is less than the anguish of not changing. There have been a number of studies that confirm this to be true for most of us. Lack of money (and the fear of not having enough) are currently holding me back from jumping into my writing and then real model creation, bringing the subjects of my books to fruition in the real world. For me to give up the current comforts of home, routine, and lots of time with family, for a cause, no matter how worthy, will only happen when either my intolerance for the status quo gets much higher, or the (financial) risk of that change gets much lower. In this scenario that financial risk is lowered. And giving away money for something you believe in, when if you do not give it away you lose it, is easy -- you have nothing at risk and you do not have to change.

Does that mean I lack courage, for not doing it now, anyway, with no benefactor or safety net? Perhaps, but I'm not so sure. Look at the best-known heroes of history and myth. They fought for what they did because the anguish of not changing was so high and so immediate, that they had no alternative but to be brave. There was no distance between them and the demons they fought and vanquished. There was no choice but to change. They had nothing to lose.

And how about the poor, the ones that live with this anguish every day? They are of course brave, because there is no distance between them and the grinding daily struggle to survive and make a life for themselves and those they love. The fact that they have no choice but to be courageous does not diminish their courage. It simply explains it.

If I lack courage it is perhaps not daring to eliminate the distance between me and the potential sources of anguish that might raise that level of anguish to the point I might do something heroic. If I were to go to Darfur and see how the people there are living, if I were to see first hand how animals in factory farms and laboratories are treated, if I were to witness the day-to-day misery of the poor and suffering living just a few miles away, that might change everything. That would change everything. My risk aversion, or cowardice, prevents me from staring that truth in the face, because I know I would have to do something, anything, now and for the rest of my life, if I really knew what I fear is happening now in our world.

That is my Cost of Not Knowing, and the reason that, for now, I keep my distance. There is no courage in that, but also no shame. I'm merely human, after all.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ken Thompsons a new paradigm from nature - The Bumble Bee Bio Teams

Bioteaming:Why virtual teams need more than internet technology to succeed

1. Introduction

Over the last ten years organisational teams have become much more distributed and complex. Despite the number of technologies available to assist team and group working it is still exceptionally difficult to manage such teams. In some ways these technologies can actually make things worse by distracting the team members into technology experimentation rather than the harder challenge of learning to work together.

I propose that even if we fully master the technology of teams there will still be something major missing which will stop our teams operating with the speed and agility we need. We need to look to natures' most successful teams to see what are the secrets of their longevity and dominance over millions of years of evolution. I will explain how they all share a small number of common natural principles which we can apply to our organisational teams.

I call this approach "Bioteaming" and I will introduce its main concepts in the first part of this article. In the next part of the article I will show you how you can begin to "bioteam-enable" your current team support environment to allow your teams to become faster and become more responsive.
2. The changing nature of organisational teams

It is now rare to find a team who all know each other, sit in the same work area day by day, work the same hours, work within the one organisation, have a common business culture and enjoy prior history of working together. Today's' teams are a complex alliance of staff members from different organisations, departments, professions, locations, using different technology platforms, with different technology backgrounds and engaging with varying levels of involvement from core member to part-time member to occasional reviewer. These are very different beasts to the kind of teams many of us grew up with. I believe that the difference is so significant that we need a new name for such teams - the Virtually Networked Team.

"Virtually" means that the team will be dependent on Internet technologies much more than before. Less obvious but equally significant is the fact that "virtually" also means that the team operates with "virtual capacity" where virtual is used in its original sense of "not physically present". This means the team constantly grows and shrinks its active membership throughout its lifetime which makes it much harder to maintain a coherent sense of team and purpose.

"Networked" means that the team is made of individuals who are not always part of the same organisation and even when they are, rarely share common reporting lines rendering a "command and control" approach ineffective

I define a Virtually Networked Team as a team pulled together by one or more co-operating organisations to achieve some important, urgent and specific objective such as the:

* planning and launching of a major event

* designing and running of a new programme or initiative

* developing and market testing of a new product

* running of a major campaign to open up a new market sector

* design and implementation of improved business processes

* planning and execution of a change management and training initiative

In today's organisations, supply chains, alliances and networks Virtually Networked Teams are now the dominant means for getting big things done!

3. The challenges and problems faced by these teams

So why is it more difficult to operate a Virtually Networked Team than a traditional team?

The Virtual Factor

It is very difficult to manage the involvement, commitment and trust building of a team operating "virtual capacity" because members constantly dip in and out of the team and some of them may never be present together in any physical meeting

The Network Factor

A Networked team does not share common accountability structures, business cultures and professional sensibilities. This makes it hard to agree standards, accountability structures and sanctions for non-performance.

The Technology Factor

It would be great if the team could take a week out to iron out glitches, play with and learn the team technologies before the project starts. This is rarely the case and new technologies show up as intrusive and as real obstacles to getting "real work" done particularly in the early stages of team formation.

The Business Factor

Today's rapidly accelerating business environment with its "Just do it - now!" business culture is not news to anybody. However when you overlay this on top of the complexity already there in Virtually Networked Teams due to the Virtual, Network and Technology Factors it just makes things all that more difficult. Doing a complex thing is ok if I concentrate and take my time. Doing something very fast is ok too if I can focus on it. But doing a complex thing very fast is altogether much more stressful

4. Statistics on Virtually Networked Teams

Virtually Networked Teams are a relatively young phenomenon in Management Theory terms so there is actually little hard evidence available for how well or badly they have been performing.

However one of the earliest forms of Virtually Networked Team was the IT Project Team. By its very nature such teams are cross-functional and thus Networked as they involve a mix of professions (e.g. IT, Change Management and Business Staff). They are also Virtual as they grow from small analytical teams through large development teams to medium size implementation teams adding and dropping members along the way.

Quite a lot of statistics are available about IT Project Teams and they are shocking - here are a few typical ones:

* Only a third of change initiatives achieve objectives (OPP Survey May 2004)

* 74% of IT Projects are unsuccessful (Standish Group Report 2000)

* Only 1 in 5 IT Projects are likely to bring full satisfaction to their organizational sponsors (OASIG Study 1995)

These numbers provide early but solid quantifiable evidence that there is something significant missing or wrong in the way Virtually Networked Teams are operating in today's' organisations.

5. Are Internet Technologies a solution to these problems?

With the emergence and maturing of a vast array of corporate strength intranets, extranets, portals and a multitude of supporting communications tools there is a huge potential for technology to bring real gains to teams. - particularly those which are physically distributed or highly mobile. Few people would dispute the potential benefits of effective communications technology or a private asynchronous team room or a shared real-time whiteboard for a Virtually Networked Team. However, in practical reality these technology-led benefits have not been fully realised.

Typically teams trying to be more effective through technology run into the serious problems in trying to make it work for them including:

1. Technology adoption problems where the investment needed to learn the technology greatly exceeds the potential benefits

2. Accountability issues where the team find it much easier to break virtual commitments than verbal ones

3. Team mobilisation is effectively ignored by technology - although it could be immensely useful. Many team problems could be avoided by a more structured approach to initial team setup including goal setting, roles, risks, skills and accountabilities.

4. New Working Practices which are novel and unfamiliar and are just too difficult to adopt

5. Overfocus on Technology and Process and not on production of results

So I believe that Internet Technologies are certainly part of the solution and also part of the problem too. They may be necessary but they are certainly not sufficient!

6. What else is needed ?

The fundamental thing missing from Virtually Networked Teams today is recognition of the dynamic and living nature of the team itself separate from its members.

A networked business team is a living thing in itself. A Virtually Networked Team is more than the sum of its members. An ant colony, one of natures' best teams, has a life of its own - albeit intimately connected to the lives of its members. In organisations we treat our teams mechanistically. We think of our teams more like clocks, highly predictable as long as you keep winding them up, rather than colonies which must be carefully nurtured and are inherently unpredictable.

Interpretation of the team as a whole, living entity, allows more insightful selection of the best course of action. The team is in itself a super-organism and as such it needs to be treated in ways that enhance and support its complex and interconnected nature. If you can see the team as a whole, and not as the mere aggregation of the individual parts that make it up, you can discover how much more productive, reliable and efficient a virtual team can be.

Once you have this new interpretation it automatically forces you to rethink how you should nurture, organise and support such teams and implies radically new approaches to:

* Team Mobilisation and Change Management

* New Processes and Practices

* Team Support Technology

* Ongoing Team Coaching

7. What is Bioteaming

Bioteaming is about building our organisational teams on the natural principles which underpin the most successful teams in nature.

Nature's most successful teams, in increasing order of size, include:

* single-cells and multicellulars

* the human immune system

* the nervous system (including the brain)

* micro-organisms such as bacteria

* ants, bees and termites

* jellyfish

* geese

* monkeys

* dolphins

* big cats

* forests

* rivers

* ecosystems

* the earth

The most respected theories to have emerged recently on evolution [2] suggest that survival of the fittest is only half of the story with many species co-evolving together in a form of long-term collaboration known as symbiosis. A good example is our symbiotic relationship with the bacteria in our stomachs which help us digest our food!

Lets look at a few simple examples of natures' bioteams:


Ant colonies are arguably the most successful team on the planet - they are so dominant in nature that even despite their tiny size they make up 10% of all living things by weight on the planet. No matter where you are in the world, it is said, if you are outside and you look down carefully you will probably see an ant. Ants have no overall leader - the Queens role is simply to reproduce. Even with their tiny brains Ants use Swarm Intelligence to solve complex route planning problems as efficiently as our best computers [1]


Flocks of geese fly amazing distances constantly rotating which bird handles the extra responsibility and air resistance of leading. A goose can fly 70% further in a team than by itself due to the optimisation of slipstream effects through the "V" formation. If a goose falls behind two birds will automatically drop out of formation to care for it (or until it dies).

The Earth

The Gaia hypothesis states that all the different species on the earth work together as a team through mutually interacting ecosystems to maintain the climate and atmospheric composition at the optimum for life. For example vegetation contribute to regulating the earths temperature through the reflection of sunlight. Different types of vegetation survive better in different temperatures thus creating a self-regulating thermostat [4].

8. How does bioteaming work?

There are about a dozen characteristics bioteams have in common; here are three to start with:


The most well known trait of a bioteam is Self-Management or Autonomy. Basically each team member manages itself and does not need to be told what to do. This is different from most organisational teams which use "command and control" - wait till told and obey orders. So bioteams operate as "self-managed teams". This does not mean that there is no leader but that every member is a leader in some domain.

Application of this trait allows a team to successfully address the fundamental problem of accountability in a Networked Team Structure.

Non-verbal broadcast communication

Bioteams have superb communications, which do not rely on direct member-to-member communications. For example ants predominantly communicate through scent trails - different scents mean different things and the intensity of the trail determines whom the communication reaches [3]. Ants don't have to meet each other face to face to communicate and they don't wait for replies to their communications by the other members.

This is hugely relevant today in our teams with multiple locations and every one working different hours where members can't physically meet that often. It also shows us that whilst face-to-face communication has an important place a team can often achieve its goals without it.

Application of this trait helps us to design the team's communications in a way which eliminates communication bottlenecks and redundancies.


Another trait is that bioteams solve problems and learn by rapid experimentation and evolution. Bioteams have very concrete goals which are hard-wired into the members genetically but the members don't have any actual strategies or plans for achieving them. They work by rapid experimentation and feedback. If something works and solves the problem it gets reinforced within their collective set of responses for the next time - if not it dies. Bioteams are action-focused - they act first and ask questions later!

Application of this trait enables us to design simple team member rules of behaviour and feedback mechanisms to enable a team to rapidly evolve improved effectiveness

9. Summary

I have shown how teams in organisations have changed in the last ten years and suggested a new name for the kinds of teams we now see - Virtually Networked Teams.

I have highlighted the problems these teams face and shown that technology is both part of the solution and part of the problem. What is missing in these teams is recognition of the dynamic and living nature of the team itself separate from its members.

I have identified that this new understanding can be achieved by adopting a new emerging discipline Bioteams where we learn from natures' most successful teams.

I have introduced some of the principles of bioteaming and indicated how their application immediately addresses some of the major team problems we encounter today.

In the next part of this article I will further develop the characteristics of Bioteams and Bioteaming and show how you can immediately start to incorporate them into your current virtual team technologies and processes to make your teams more effective and more satisfying for teams members.

Dave Pollard Writes: The Personal Creativity Cycle and the Organizational Innovation Cycle

The Personal Creativity Cycle and the Organizational Innovation Cycle

Bengt Järrehult, the KM Director for Swedish paper & packaging company Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, has come up with a model for creativity that synthesizes some of the more analytical approaches with some more right-brain approaches like those in Creativity Inc, by Jeff Mauzy & Richard Harriman, and Presence, the book by Senge et al that I recently reviewed.

Creativity Inc outlines creativity practices that entail learning new competencies, establishing a facilitating environment, and offering creativity programs. The keys to creativity, its authors say, are intrinsic motivation, curiosity, making and breaking connections, and honest idea evaluation.

Bengt explains his cycle, diagrammed above, as follows:

* Draw Inspiration: You are challenged and/or inspired by something.
* Exercise Personal Courage: The healthy tension between curiosity (opportunity) and fear (risk), when appropriately encouraged and reinforced by healthy sense of self-esteem, drives you to explore the opportunities.
* Break Connections: You break the existing connections in your synapses to free your mind (using TRIZ, lateral thinking, meditation and other techniques) from established, limiting patterns.
* Open Yourself: You stay in limbo, i.e. with a completely open mind, and draw on input from outside sources, especially those that intersect and synthesize multiple disciplines, and add your own internal sensory, integrative and inductive inputs.
* Create New Connections: You draw on a balance of intuition, emotional intelligence and rational intellect to choose and make new and better connections to convert ideas into opportunities. These opportunities then drive the innovation process.
* Feel the Reward: The creative process is its own intrinsic reward, a much stronger motivator for more creative effort than externally-offered rewards. The joy you receive from the creative process strengthens your self-value and self-esteem and provokes even more creativity.

Not coincidentally, there is a lot of the 'suspending' and 'letting go' elements of the Presence model in Bengt's model. This is a personal creative process. Now let's put it together with the organizational creative and innovation process we developed for AHA!:


So, to reiterate Bengt's personal creativity cycle, we, as individuals, (1) draw inspiration, (2) exercise personal courage, (3) break connections, (4) open ourselves to input from without and within, (5) draw on intuition, emotional intelligence and rational intellect to create new connections, and (6) feel the reward -- the joy that this creative process gives us (outer circles of this chart).

Creative organizations invite us to apply this creative process to organizational creative and innovative tasks. In organizational creative work, we collectively (a) learn, (b) listen/observe, (c) explore, (d) understand, (e) organize, (f) imagine, (g) reach out, and (h) brainstorm (leftmost 8 boxes of the inner circle of this chart). In organizational innovation work, we collectively (i) canvass the 'crowd' for confirmation that our ideas meet a genuine need, (j) design, (k) experiment, (l) question/challenge, and (m) realize the idea into a successful offering (rightmost 5 boxes of inner circle of this chart). All six elements of individual creativity in Bengt's model are applied in all 13 aspects of the organizational creative and innovation process.

These are both cycles, and ideas and actions pass through their intersections and give them momentum dynamically, much as electrons are exchanged in chemical reactions. For example, you might be reading about a new type of plastic that dissolves inertly in water, and later about the problems with sorting and recycling of packaging materials (individual creativity cycle step 4). You connect the two learnings together (step 5), and get excited about the possibilities (step 6). You are inspired (step 1) to invent a packaging material that can safely be washed down the sink. You overcome the fear of being thought foolish for such a radical idea, the fear that someone has probably already patented it, the fear that nothing plastic can really ever be harmless to the environment (step 2), and are propelled by your courage to start thinking boldly about the possible applications of such a technology in all kinds of packaging (step 3).

At any point in this personal cycle, you may be drawn into, or create, an organizational group that can explore this idea and do what needs to be done to bring it to fruition. It might start with learning from a business colleague more about plastics, and sharing what you know so far (step a), or a casual brainstorming with trusted colleagues over lunch (step h). Someone in the organization may hear about your exploration and authorize a group to explore it (step b), or to design a prototype (step j & k). The personal creative cycle can thus intersect with and be propelled by the organizational creative and innovation cycle at almost any point, and vice versa.

Some of the articles I have been reading lately (notably this one by innovation guru Michael Schrage suggest that there may be three more steps in the innovation cycle between (i) canvass and (j) design:

* champion -- do whatever needs to be done to inform and persuade people in the organization that the idea makes sense, and overcome resistance to it
* obtain sponsorship -- find the person or people in the organization needed to get the project approved, and persuade them of its value
* obtain resources -- identify and get approval for the time of various people in the organization, the money and other resources needed to implement the idea

That would increase to 16 the number of steps in the group/organizational cycle. I welcome comments from readers on this revision to our model, and how to integrate it with Bengt's in a graphic way that is not overwhelming to understand.

Why is there so little innovation in most organizations today, when there is so much creative talent and so many ideas and so much information floating around? My hypothesis:

Organizations rarely invite people to apply their personal creativity to organizational challenges, so the available ideas and talent are largely unused and eventually dry up. This is because most organizations (a) are not set up to tap this talent, (b) don't really trust most of their employees to be able to apply their creative abilities and imagination in a productive, effective way, and (c) are averse to true innovation, as Christensen explains, because their intense focus on customers discourages them from doing anything different from what has satisfied customers to date -- i.e. what they're already doing today.

Organizations are not stupid. They have achieved success by effectively meeting customers' needs. They are not motivated to change what they're doing until something averse happens -- dropping revenues due to a competitor's disruptive innovation or a dramatic change in the economy, buying criteria or demographics. Too often, by the time this happens it is too late.

Successful organizations should be anticipating such averse events and bringing either sustaining innovations or disruptive innovations of their own to preempt such events. They should be putting in place an environment that encourages their employees and others (including customers) to apply their personal creative skills to help in that effort. And they should trust their employees and customers to be a vital force in the organization's innovation efforts, and put in place programs to demonstrate that trust and tap that creative talent.

Failure to do so represents not only a squandered opportunity and a waste of talent, but also guarantees that most of your employees will be bored, disengaged and disinterested in the organization's success beyond their own personal interest, and likewise guarantees a largely indifferent and unloyal customer base.,

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Hindu: Bangalore Book Festival

10 lakh books to be on display

Bangalore Book Festival opens on Friday

# Fair to be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
# Entry fee fixed at Rs. 10
# M.S.S. Murthy to be felicitated on Friday
# Several programmes scheduled during the fair

Bangalore: With 270 stalls, 10 lakh books and the presence of leading international and national publishers, distributors and booksellers, the third Bangalore Book Festival, which opens on Friday, promises to be a treasure trove for book lovers.

Balaram Sadhwani, President, The Bangalore Booksellers and Publishers Association, who is organising the fair, said last year there were one lakh visitors and twice that number were expected this year during the festival which will be on till November 20.

The covered venue is Palace Grounds with entry from the Mehkri Circle underpass. It will be open on all days from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. with an entry fee of Rs. 10. "Schoolchildren coming in groups will pay no entry fee," Mr. Sadhwani said.

Governor T.N. Chaturvedi will inaugurate the event on Friday morning with Minister for Irrigation and Transport M.Mallikarjun Kharge as chief guest. Kannada poet Chandrasekhar Kambara preside over the function.

The association has given special attention to smaller Kannada publishers this year, realising they cannot afford normal stall rentals. They will be accommodated at a separate Kannada Mantapa where table space will be provided courtesy of the Kannada Books Authority.

The stalls themselves will have books from publishers in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Urdu besides the latest English publication. A number of cultural and competitive events have been arranged on most days. These will be at an audtiorium named after K.V. Subbanna.

On November 11, a senior bookseller, M.S.S. Murthy, will be felicitated followed by a music programme by the Prayoga Range troupe. On November 12, there will be a talk on "The media and reading habit" by Ravi Belagere of "Hai Bangalore" and Vishweshwar Bhat of "Vijaya Karnataka." November 13 will see a quiz conducted by N. Someshwar, quiz master of doordarshan's "That Antha Heli". The next day being Children's Day will have a talk for children on personality development, given by author and counsellor B.V. Pattabhiraman.

Dave Pollar writes: The Atomization of Software

Reader Bill Burcham talks about one Open Source phenomenon that had not occurred to me: Just as business is likely to atomize into a World of Ends--
many small specialized, networked businesses each doing one or two things really well, self-organized collaboratively with their customers to produce integrated, customized, even Peer-Produced goods and services perfectly attuned to each customer's need--

it is very conceivable that software offerings could atomize into a World of 'Microapplication' Ends --

many small networked software developers, each designing small pieces of code that add useful functionality that can be plugged into existing Open Source applications.

There is no reason why these microapplications couldn't also be Peer-Produced -- co-designed by the customers who need them.

So, for example, it would be nice to have a microapplication that would add wiki functionality, or maybe podcasting functionality, to blogs. The wiki 'plug-in' to a blog would produce what is called a bliki. It would allow any reader of the blog to add his two cents to an article right in the body of the post (instead of in the comments thread below it) -- to become in effect a co-author of the article. The miniapplication would have to allow the original author some simple control e.g. the ability to tag readers' additions and changes and 'inline' comments in another colour, or to display them only as pop-ups or scroll-overs, or to remove them if she thinks they detract rather than add to the article.

This opportunity to create atomized software only arises as a result of (a) open access to the code of existing applications so that designers can add in or plug in in a simple, modular way, and (b) emerging standards and protocols like Ajax that make modular design simple, so add-on/plug-in miniapplications need not be tweaked for each similar application they are adapted to. For example, a wiki miniapplication for one blog tool would ideally work for all blog tools without the need for additional coding.

This would require that the basic functionality of core applications (like blogs) evolve quickly to a single, simple set of standards with a stripped-down or modularized set of functionalities. This probably won't appeal to designers who like to design an elegant and complete product, and it will essentially destroy 'brand', but it offers the promise of immensely more value and flexibility to customers.

Rather than imposing such standards using some ISO-type oversight organization, I'd like to believe these standards could evolve naturally using methods to capture the Wisdom of Crowds. Customers would first have to realize they have the power to demand such standards. They, we, need not settle for sloppily designed, bloated, buggy, over-engineered, proprietary, memory- and processor-hogging applications.

If we could achieve such standards, incorporating modularity, flexibility, openness and organic design in the software domain, this might serve as a model for the future design of physical objects, like cars and houses. Instead of cars being designed to discourage 'non-factory' improvements, wouldn't it be great if we could design (intentionally create) our own car, by simply selecting a chassis and engine from a standard set, and then adding whatever additional functionality we need, from a million choices offered by a million lean, adaptable entrepreneurial companies? And then when our needs changed, wouldn't it be great if we could simply 'pop out' and resell the modules we no longer require, and add new ones that meet our new needs?

It's all possible.We just need to flex our ingenuity and our consumer and voter muscle to make it happen. The Internet, a freed market and the imaginative possibility of Open Space Business will look after the rest.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

HBS: the art of leadership

by Sharon Daloz Parks

The phrase "the art of leadership" is certainly well worn. But consciously recognizing the practice of leadership as artistry has received little attention.1 For now, I simply suggest that art, artist, and artistry be given a more prominent place within the lexicon of leadership theory and practice.

Affirmation and resistance
The image of artist, cast as a metaphor for those who provide acts of leadership, immediately evokes two primary responses—affirmation and resistance. Those who think of themselves as artists in the conventional sense of the word—for example, painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, architects, photographers, and some athletes and gardeners—may pick up the metaphor with ready enthusiasm, recognizing that incorporating their artist-self into their practice of leadership opens into a horizon of powerful possibilities. But those who suffered through their last required art project in school, or who hold the stereotype of an artist as nonrational, asocial, marginal, or soft—may cast a more jaundiced eye upon this metaphor.

It is highly likely, however, that the jaundiced eye belongs to someone who in some aspect of his or her professional or personal life exemplifies the power and qualities of an artist: the ability to work on an edge, in an interdependent relationship with the medium, with a capacity for creative improvisation. (Entrepreneurs and some politicians, physicians, and educators, for example, are akin to artists, seeking to bring into being what has not yet taken form.)

Working on an edge
Within any profession or sector, one of the primary characteristics of the artistry of leadership is the willingness to work on an edge—the edge between the familiar and the emergent. Harvard University professor Ronald A. Heifetz honors this edge when he speaks of the capacity to lead with only good questions in hand—and that acts of leadership require the ability to walk the razor's edge without getting your feet too cut up—working that edge place between known problems and unknown solutions, between popularity and anxious hostility. Artistic leadership is able to remain curious and creative in the complexity and chaos of swamp issues, often against the odds. As we have seen, those who practice adaptive leadership must confront, disappoint, and dismantle and at the same time energize, inspire, and empower. The creativity that emerges from working on this paradoxical edge is integral to adaptive work, building out of what has come before, yet stirring into being something new and unprecedented—the character of leadership that is needed at this threshold time in human history.

Interdependence with the medium
Artists work within a set of relationships that they cannot fully control. In regard to the practice of leadership, one of the most potent features of thinking like an artist is that the artist necessarily works in a profoundly interdependent relationship with the medium—paint, stone, clay, a musical instrument, an orchestra, a tennis court, a slalom run, or food. Artists learn "everything they can about the medium(s) with which they work . . . what they can expect from it and where it will fall short."2 A potter, for example, must learn that clay has its own life, its own potential and limits, its own integrity. The potter develops a relationship with clay, spending time with it, learning to know its properties, how it will interact with water, discovering that if you work it too hard, it will collapse, and if you work with it, it will teach you its strength, your limits, and the possibilities of co-creation. "Even in drawing," notes an architect, "though we think of the artist as imposing something arbitrary on the page, when you draw even a single line on the page, it begins to speak back to you. The kind of pencil you use and the tooth of the paper will affect the message. The design emerges in the dynamic interaction of the relationships among architect, pencil, paper, client, site, building materials, budget, and contractor."3

The practice of adaptive leadership requires the same awareness of working within a dynamic field of relationships in which the effect of any single action is not entirely controllable because in a systemic, interdependent reality, every action affects the whole. On the other hand, if one learns to understand the nature of the system that needs to be mobilized (the underlying structure and patterns of motion), he or she can become artfully adept at intervening in ways that are more rather than less likely to have a positive affect in helping the group to move to a new place, creating a new reality.4
Those who practice adaptive leadership must confront, disappoint, and dismantle and at the same time energize, inspire, and empower.

Linda St. Clair, who served as a highly successful personnel manager for manufacturing in a major technology firm, is keenly aware of how her earlier experience as an artist-director of theater productions informed her practice of leadership within a corporate context. "When I was at my best in the corporation," St. Clair tells us, "I helped the people who reported to me get what they needed to be effectively creative. Over time I got to help select a talented team, but it remained my responsibility to be clear about what we were supposed to be doing as an organization and enable every person within the system to know how the work of each one contributes to the whole!"5

Heifetz and his colleagues regard giving the work back to the group as a hallmark of adaptive leadership, and recalling her experience in the theater, St. Clair confirms the same: "More even than a captain of a team or the conductor of an orchestra, in a theater production at some point the director has to let go and know that the cast will make critical decisions." But the director isn't the only one who has to learn how to give the work back. There is a whole constellation of artists who are giving the work back to the group, within a system in which no one is fully in control. The playwright gives the play to the producer, who gives it to the director, and thus, St. Clair contends, the director has a sense of stewarding something. "You are not the playwright, the producer, or the actors. Something came before you and will come after you. It doesn't mean that you don't have a critical contribution to make and gifts to give. The same is true in a corporate context."

"A part of your role," she continues, "is to practice an anticipatory imagination, asking the question: 'What will be needed to get there with comfort?'" Which means, in part, attention to timing—or to what Heifetz refers to as 'pacing the work.' There is a set date for the opening night. "By the time dress rehearsal arrives," says St. Clair, "the director has given the work away, becoming an observer, taking notes, but talking about it later—becoming less 'a director' and more a coach, guide, mentor, companion, ally."

In Heifetz's terms, a director in a theater production must exercise both the functions of authority—maintaining equilibrium within the social group—and the practice of leadership—mobilizing the social system to create a new reality. "One of the vital tasks of the director," St. Clair continues, "is to comprehend a dynamic complex of interactions." This includes appreciating the artistry of many others: set design, lighting, casting, acting, costuming, makeup, sound engineering. Each and all must create something new. While helping each part to move in a common direction, the director needs to be mindful that every part needs to be as creative as possible, honoring everyone's artistic power—and all the conflict thereof. Tough decisions have to be made, and the director (authority) must be willing to do so—jointly when possible—which means a lot of interaction and process.
In the corporate context, this concept of rehearsal and practice remained central.

"Rehearsals can be a dynamic, creative time," she says, "and good directors hold back from making 'world-without-end' decisions early on so that unforeseen possibilities have room to emerge." Good directors dwell in a significant measure of ambiguity—again, that edge between the known and the unknown. "We have to play a bit—practice," says St. Clair.

Later, in the corporate context, this concept of rehearsal and practice remained central. She continually reminded her people, "Try it out. We aren't making decisions yet, we can try out 'what ifs.'" The day came when the sign on the corporate "war room" was changed to "music room." "You have to get the metaphors right," she insists. "We are trying to create something, not destroy something."

Theater, leadership, and teaching are all communication arts requiring constructive feedback in a demanding, consultative mode. St. Clair sees parallels with jazz. "As you are playing, you are listening to one another, intuitively modulating into new possibilities, a more effective product, and a more successful organization."

Excerpted by permission of Harvard Business School Press from Leadership Can Be Taught by Sharon Daloz Parks. Copyright 2005 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation; all rights reserved.

Sharon Daloz Parks is director of leadership for the New Commons, an initiative of the Whidbey Institute in Clinton, Washington. She has held faculty and research positions at the Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Business School, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.,

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