Sunday, February 11, 2018

One Minute Blog: Does Your Decision-Making Style Sucks Energy Out of You?

Sometime back I read about why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same t-shirt to work every day and the reason he gave has stayed with me. He does so to avoid something called as decision fatigue.

All of us have limited will-power during the day. An engrossing event like decision-making sucks up the will-power. And a routine event like deciding what to wear, often consumes the diminishing will-power. Not only Mark Z, but the likes of Barrack Obama, Satya Nadella and many successful personalities have such tactics in place to cut-the-decision making crap and focus their limited energies on the right areas.

As the fastcompany article revealed, Jeff Bezos is a big believer of streamlining the decision making. He has even instituted a 4 step process:
  1. Decisions that are reversible, can use a light-weight process.
  2. Don’t wait for 100% information before making decisions. 70% is just-about right. Waiting for 90% information to be available usually slows down decision-making.
  3. Stakeholder alignment is important to achieve the results from the decisions. However alignment is also harder to achieve. In those cases, it’s helpful to say, "Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?"
  4. To avoid energy drain, escalate misalignment issues early, and immediately.

What is your decision making style? Does it return you energy or take energy out of you? While you ponder over this questions, do catch-up with this sketch-note.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

One Minute Blog: What Really Separates Best Performers from the Average Ones?

India recently won the ICC U-19 Cricket World cup. Like with the various moves India U-19’s legendary coach Rahul Dravid makes (being his huge fan), I followed his post-tournament interviews with much admiration. One of the things that struck with me was this quote of his-
"It was interesting because the 2012 final featured India and Australia; the result of the final will tell you that India beat Australia. Six years down the line, while only one of those boys played a couple of one-day games for India, four-five Australians have gone on to play for Australia. So, more of their guys have gone on to play first-class cricket. The debatable point is actually who won that final, if you look back six years later. So I think those are interesting chats and conversations to be had."
Most people choose only failure as a credible source of learning. Here,Dravid brings a very refreshing perspective on performance. Not only is he insisting to learn from success (by choosing to look 6 years back) but also rather than choosing to bask in the glory of current achievement, he chose to take a larger view of time. 

I was recently reading this mind-opening book- Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. One of the chapters did talk about how best performers choose to look at life so differently than the rest, like Rahul Dravid does.

Do observe, assimilate and apply the below learnings I have organized from the book-

Monday, February 5, 2018

One Minute Blog: Marathon Running- A True Metaphor For Life

In the last 4 weeks, I endured and completed:
1. Ultra Marathon: Bengaluru (50 Km) [7th-Jan]
2. Mumbai Full Marathon (42.195 km) [21st-Jan]
3. Oxfam Trailwalker: Bengaluru (100 km) [2nd-Feb]

With many marathons over the years, i have deciphered that-

"Runs end, Running doesn't".

Each run teaches you something about life. Here, I am sharing this reflection from my recent runs.

Following are usually the phases one goes through while going through the marathon-

0 km: I know I can do it.

21 km: It's getting painful. Did I make the right choice choosing to do it?

30 km: Why the hell did I start?

38 km: I am close to giving up.

40 km: I think I can push a little

42.195 km: Never experienced a high like this.

Does this cycle sounds familiar with anything insurmountable you have attempted?

The cycle begins by taking a high risk, bringing in high energy, dealing with (often) self-created doubts, questioning the very reason to start, almost giving up, and while on the verge of giving up- putting in that additional 1% effort (baby steps) that gets you closer and eventually embracing glorious and glittering medals of success.

The path to eventual success in high risk ventures was never linear, will never-ever probably be.

Realized that Oprah Winfrey was bang on target when she said-

 "Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."

Here's a sketch note about this experience:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

One Minute Blog: What Could Google’s Acquisition of Redux Mean for Future?

Redux builds technology that uses vibrations to turn surfaces of phones or tablets into speakers or provide haptic feedback. Haptic as an adjective means "related to the sense of touch."

Simply put, this technology-
  • could potentially turn phone surface to speakers
  • could eliminate the need of having any buttons on the phone.

The technology uses signal processing algorithms to direct tactile sensations at specific touch points throughout a device's display. Actuators then deliver different effects to different fingers simultaneously, with the result being a "feeling of pressing a mechanical button or moving a slider control underneath your fingertips on the screen with button click effects coming directly from the display."

What this could mean for future is-
  1.  Future phones could be even more compact. No need for micro-speakers and releasing valuable internal space for extending battery or other components.
  2. Google gets the lead when in future instead of wifi sound will be used to transfer data. Yes, there’s already a buzz around such tech
  3. Potential for future phones being speakerless and button less and bringing new experience including making phones truly water-proof.
Blog #SketchNote

Referenced/Simplified from the below sources:

In One Minute or Less

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word- Simplicity.

Most likely you get an image of something that's uncluttered, doesn’t require much effort to understand and retain.
Martin H Fischer once said-
"Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification."

Simplicity is more a need of hour now than it was ever before in the history of mankind. We as human beings are biased towards complexity for some reason. We tend to find "complex" more credible than "simple". 

In our worlds dominated by technology and always alluring screens, we gulp content from all the sources at a pace that is never-ever experienced by generations before us.

We are at a dire need to uncomplexify our lives more than ever. And to do my bit towards this, i intend to stand this short blog series called as "In One Minute or Less".

My mission with "In One Minute or Less" series is to present seemingly complex topics while embracing simplicity. Human beings can read close to 250 words per minute on an average and my intent is to keep the content i produce just within that range.

Been always inspired with this immortal quote from Leonardo da Vinci:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." 

And to achieve that sophistication is my mission with this series. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Panel Talk on Resolving Technology Transfer Conflicts

I recently moderated a panel talk at a unique conference with Academia and Industry leaders as a key Unicon. The focus of this conference was enabling collaboration between industry and universities and do justice to the role this partnership has as an imperative for disruptive leadership. This blog is dedicated to give a bit of a glimpse into this panel talk and some thoughts that emerged from speaking with some amazing people in this conference-

Setting the context:
I wanted to start by bringing forward 3 points about this exciting and relevant panel discussion.
Few years back, I used to encourage my team to be well-versed with dealing with change, and staying ahead of it. In today's times, the narrative has evolved from being just change to that of "transformation", which is orders of magnitude higher degree than change. Bringing change is rather easy, but bringing in transformation requires a large scale of innovation. 
Most progressive organizations cannot innovate by being confined to the 4 walls of the organization. They need able partners. Universities are often perceived as major resources in a company's innovation strategy.

Second point is more of a conversation that I having with one of the high profile patent attorney and his views of the university relationships. His view was that it really hasn’t been all that helpful for larger companies in the tech space to partner with universities from an IP development point-of-view as it has been for hiring and the PR development activities. Given that this person had worked with large corporates and with large universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), i couldn't simply ignore the point of view he as bringing forward. One of the data he cited was around a study MIT did with ~25 companies running close to 100 projects with university. The data suggested that though 50% of projects were thought of as having major outcomes but only 20% could really lead to major impacts on the company that participated in collaboration. So there is a certain outcome-impact gap that exists in the way university and industry relations are being executed at the moment.

My third point is around expectations from this panel talk. To keep things simple, as a captain of this ship (panel talk!), I was really targeting 2 outcomes from this panel talk-
1. Acknowledgement of key issues around Technology Transfer Conflicts.
2. Design the way forward

Focus of the talk:

Given the outcomes expected from the 30-40 minutes of conversation with esteemed panellists (which included a Senior Technologist from NetApp, a Senior Patent Engineer from Texas Instruments and a seasoned legal counsel), the talk really focused on these questions-
1)      Why is Technology and IP transfer policy important in today’s context?
2)      What are the key challenges faced by Industry and Universities with respect to Technology Transfer?
3)      What are the reasons for tussle between inventors and universities ?
4)      How do the Technology Transfer policies change between Tier 1 and Tier 2 institutions?
5)      How do you compare these policies to those in developed economies such as US, Europe etc?
6)      How can organizations and academia set up a structured program to handle technology transfer conflicts – what are the best practices?
7)      Can Industry and Universities collectively create a standard policy to handle technology transfer conflicts?

Key takeaways:

1)      University and Industry relationships usually consists of many dimensions. In order of popularity, the most obvious dimension is that of hiring the talent. Next up is Branding. And arguably the most complex dimension is that of building a successful technology oriented relations.

2)      There are real, on-the-ground issues that exists (some of which are covered in below points) that discourages both universities and industry to pursue partnership with each other.

3)      There is a good deal of difference between what motivates universities and industry and this difference plays a huge role in ensuring the eventual success of the relationship. For universities, publishing research papers and producing intellectual property assumes higher purpose. For industries, its largely about business outcomes.

4)      In one of the arguments, universities (not all, but selectively) were equated to be playing the role of patent trolls. For starters, as dictionary defines, a patent troll is “a company that obtains the rights to one or more patents in order to profit by means of licensing or litigation, rather than by producing its own goods or service.
a.       Progressive universities focus a lot on research and one of the common outcomes from research is an intellectual property, which often takes the form or a patent or copyright or a publication right. Universities can then choose to exercise their right on the intellectual property in many different ways. One of the business-oriented ways to find the buyer companies for the generated IP with the sole intention to maximize the profits. There is nothing grossly wrong about universities thinking about profit but this act becomes debatable when larger societal implications takes backseat. One may argue that universities aren’t the sole protector of societal interests but being originator of research comes with a certain responsibility.

5)      Following on from the last point, which ended rather inconclusively, there is an apt discussion around granting exclusive rights to IP or non-exclusive rights.
a.       In an exclusive licence, the parties agree that no other person/legal entity can exploit the relevant IP, except the licensee.
b.      On the other hand, a Non-Exclusive Licence grants to the licensee the right to use the IP, but on a non-exclusive basis. That means that the licensor can still exploit the same IP and he/she can also allow other licensees to exploit the same intellectual property.
c.       Being aware of these licensing types and with the intention of maximizing the overall impact of the invention, universities could choose to grant non-exclusive license that would further allow many parties to gain from the invention.

6)      There was also an interesting view on how companies are choosing to liaison with universities. From the business side, one straight-forward way is to leverage university originated invention. However, there are several other ways to engage. Some of the visionary organizations are leveraging research potential of universities to gain knowhow about the futuristic technologies and help them prepare many years into the future.

7)      Few more ways for industry and academia to engage include (but not limited to)-
a.       Sponsored Infrastructure/lab
b.      Training & Curriculum Design
c.       Consulting
d.      Sponsored Research
e.       Open Research

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Few Thoughts on Conversational Computing

We (at my organization) recently hosted a technology meet-up at my organization. The meet-up was focused on the topic- "Build Multi-platform Conversational Bots & Using Google API.AI". 

The topic of this meet-up took me back to the memory-lane and here is the synopsis of some points that i shared at the start-

During the early days of my career, I remember one of the conversations I had with an expert of different kind. Those days our perspectives around jobs was not as broad as it is now. We used to think of jobs in major categories- “Dev”, “Test” and “Management”. So when I came across this person who was an expert at “Human Computer Interaction”, I was intrigued. I gathered all the courage to approach him during his India visit and spoke at length about what he did. It was an educational conversation (obvious as I remember it till date) that gave me newer perspective around how (then) offbeat professions add value to the overall process of building software. Human–computer interaction (commonly referred to as HCI) researches the design and use of computer technology, focused on the interfaces between users and computers. At the time of this conversation, the primary interface for users to interact with computers was a screen.

Fast forward this conversation to a couple of  years back wherein I was speaking to a visionary leader of product and engineering. My organization was incubating in technology with a vision of automating some of the complex enterprise scenarios by leveraging IoT. And related technologies. A lot of interesting and futuristic work had gone into building compelling use cases, one of which was smart conference rooms. These meeting rooms were enhanced with iBeacons, smart motion sensors which enabled the channels between the what was happening room with one’s laptops, mobile devices, smart watches etc. This tech, in nutshell, helped to automate various common use cases. What I learned from this gentleman was that there was a fundamental shift that was happening in the way modern user interfaces were perceived and thought about. The Human-Computer Interface paradigm that earlier consisted of designing the interfaces by simply considering interaction elements such as a screen, keyboard and a mouse are now far evolved. We are apparently at fourth generation of the evolution of computer interfaces (summarized below, but explained in more depth here).

The first generation was in 50’s when computing was really considered as playground of a select few. When computers were bulky and the primary mode of interacting them included punch cards and checking outputs via printers.

The second generation, which is still familiar with senior folks in current working generation is the CLI- command line interface. Unix became popular as this stage.

The third generation, in 80’s, really had a far reaching impact. This generation’s user interfaces, pioneered by research done at Xerox and adapted by Apple and Microsoft, really revolutionized the reach of computers. The birth of graphical user interfaces (GUI) enabled an average user to embrace computing by hiding the complexities behind well designed UI. This was an era when computing really caught mainstream attention and people realized the enormity of what was possible with the machine.

The fourth generation really can be split into various forms. I would think it started with Apple’s iPhone launch in 2007 that further simplified the way users integrated with smart phones with swipe of fingers. This ease of use prompted users to offload many tasks they originally needed laptops for to their phones. This generation is further extended with the recent advances around IoT (spaces talking to computers), AR/VR tech (combining physical world with digital). Conversational computing further makes computing even more natural, as simple as talking to a few individual. The advent of Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana has clearly demonstrated that the user interfaces of the future are going to be more seamless, making access to computing more effortless.

Computing is well on the path of becoming more ambient and ubiquitous. I will finally leave you with this thought- Artificial intelligence is one of the foundational technologies of the conversational computing but what would make a good conversational computing system great is appropriately mixing Artificial intelligence with Emotional intelligence. For Conversational bots to be successful, they need to be a personality, they need to context aware, they need to be as much empathetic as they can be.