Wednesday, 16 July 2014

When Habit Trumps Innovation

If you know me , you'll know I like quirky, non-mainstream tech. At home I still have a "Pick up, tap, tap, tap  and shout 'Operator' several times!" phone and a Bakelite phone (both still work!).

In the late 1980s I decided to "splash the cash" and buy a cordless phone.  I'd seen it for sale in Tottenham Court Road in London but the stimulus, as always, was when I described it to a friend.  They laughed at me impulsively and asked why on earth anyone would need a cordless phone?  As a rule I use derisory laughter at ideas I propose as a sure-fire acid test of innovative change.  So I bought it, took it home and installed it.

I waited patiently for someone to call me so I could experience the freedom of walking to the hall, answering, and walking back to the room I'd been in and continuing what I was doing rather than as usual, being forced to sit chained (or corded if you prefer) to the phone in a freezing hall!.

I waited.  Then it rang.  Joy!  It was my mum.  I picked up the phone, sat down and fifteen minutes later was shivering as I hung up.  Yes. I had done what I had always done picked up the cordless handset and sat down next to the base on the bench we always sat on to make calls. 

When the moment for innovation came, I simply forgot my opportunity to do something different.  My automatically learned actions kicked in. I didn't even consider not sitting down - it never came up into my conscious decision-making brain!  It took a pile of books on the seat and about a month of conscious hard work to create the habit of picking up and walking away.  (Developing the habit to put the handset back was far easier - I didn't have to unlearn anything.)

Despite my best efforts my habit subverted my conscious desire to innovate.

I was reminded of that story today when I came across a number of long email exchanges between several Pentacle tutors who've just joined the network.  Just like me, they had let habit overcome innovation.  As Pentacle tutors they now have access to QUBE the most powerful collaborative-social medium in the world - they could easily have resolved the discussion on QUBE with a meeting as qubot avatars or by working asynchronously or by leaving videos or snapshots to explain the details but instead they had resorted to multiple emails!

Despite our best efforts our habits sometimes subvert our conscious desire to innovate.



Sunday, 22 June 2014

How many fingers can you cross?

At the moment my record is eight fingers, four toes, two arms, two legs and a knitted brow!

I'm very excited about our work with the team at Wolters Kluwer (the firm that specialist advisers turn to for specialist advice!)   Led by Elisabetta Galli the WK/Pentacle team used QUBE to do the impossible.   Usually, I'm the one persuading and pushing for people to leave the Old World and move to the New but it was a real joy to work with Elisabetta whose vision and determination were enriching.  The team had to deliver a global project (which normally would have taken at least four months), learning and applying WAM tools and techniques to a challenge which required deep buy-in from very senior leaders from around the globe.  Not only was the project delivered in record time of less than a month.  the participants were left with some new, strong and deep working relationships.   Illustrating how working virtually on QUBE can often be more humanly enriching than traditional meet, squeeze hands and watch body language events 

So why are my fingers crossed?  Because we have been shortlisted for the prestigious Wolters Kluwer Innovation Awards!

There's more on the Pentacle New World Times Blog and please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me



Monday, 19 May 2014

Competition Please suggest whet my final message should have been...


Please suggest what my final reply should have been!

You need to read to the bottom. 
IMPORTANT: Don't forget the Topic of the Conference as you read...  



"IMETI/CITSA  2014"  <cfp-summer@mail.iiisconferences2014.org>

29/03/2014  10:25
 To:         <EDDIE_OBENG@PENTACLETHEVBS.COM>
         cc:         
Subject:        Last CFP - Joint  Events: 1)  Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and  Technological  Innovations

        
          



Dear    Eddie Obeng,

We would like to invite  you to  participate in the following related joint conferences  on:

•   Cybernetics and Information  Technologies, Systems and  Applications: CITSA 2014  (www.iiisconferences2014.org/citsa),  and/or
•   Engineering and  Technological Innovation:  IMETI 2014  (www.iiisconferences2014.org/imeti).

To be  held on July 15 - 18, 2014 in Orlando, Florida,   USA.

The deadline of papers/abstracts  submissions  and invited session proposals is *April 15, 2014*.
The deadlines   for notification to authors and camera ready upload can be found at the  events  web site.

Events being organized in the   context of IMETI 2014, with the same set of deadlines, are the  followings:
•    Computing, Communications and Control  Technologies: CCCT 2014
•    Optical Engineering and  Photonic Technology: OEPT 2014
•   Engineering  Education  and Educational Technologies: EEET 2014
•   Energy   Engineering, Economics and Policy: EEEP  2014
-----------------------------
Web pages of the collocated  events can  be found at http://www.iiisconferences2014.org/current-deadlines.asp where you  can also check for possible extensions of the submission   deadline.
-----------------------------
Submissions for Face-to-Face or  for Virtual Participation are both  accepted. Both kinds of submissions 1) will  have the same reviewing  process, 2) the accepted papers will be included in the  same proceedings,  and 3) authors of the best 20%-25% papers will be invited to  adapt their  papers for their publication in the Journal of Systemics,  Cybernetics, and  Informatics with no additional costs, i.e. the respective  Article  Processing Charge will be waived for  them.
-----------------------------
Details about the following  issues  have also been included at the conference web site (URL given  above):
•    Pre- and post-conference virtual  sessions.
•   Virtual  participation.
•    Two-tier reviewing combining double-blind and  non-blind  methods.
•   Access to reviewers’ comments and evaluation   average according to eight criteria.
•   Waiving the  registration fee of  effective invited session organizers.
•    Best papers  awards.
-----------------------------
With the purpose of fostering  *Inter-disciplinary Communications*  participants registered at any conference or  symposia can attend any  sessions of the collocated events. Registered  participants will also  receive a CD containing the proceedings of all collocated  events, and will  have a password to access any virtual session of the collocated  events, so  they can comment any paper presented at any of the collocated  events.

Best  regards,

IMETI/CITSA 2014 Organizing   Committee

If you wish to be removed from  this  mailing list, please send an email to remove@mail.iiisconferences2014.org  with REMOVE MLCONFERENCES in the subject line. Address: Torre Profesional  La  California, Av. Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.


Sent: Sunday, March 30,  2014  6:46 AM
To: IMETI/CITSA  2014
Subject: Re: Last CFP -  Joint  Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and   Technological Innovations
Importance: High


Dear   IMETI/CITSA  2014 Organizing Committee

Thanks you for  your invitation

I would be  delighted to participate in  the conference and to present a paper  on  Educational technologies an area  I have worked in for over 20   years

Unfortunately  I will not be able to attend the  conference - would it be possible to  deliver my paper using the platform I will  be discussing (http://QUBE.cc)

It is a fully  immersive platform and I will be able to combine  participation in my  presentation with an on-screen presentation for those not  logged in (I do  this often).

Please let   me know and if it is possible I will make a submission  of my  paper.

kindest   regards

eddie  

Professor Eddie Obeng
PENTACLE 
What's new?    Download Eddie Obeng's innovation  murder-mystery "Who Killed the Sparq?"  from   http://PentacleTheVBS.com/WKS_FreeDownload.htm
__________________________________________________________________________




"IMETI 2014  Secretariat" <imeti-sec@mail.imeti2014.org>

01/04/2014  14:23
 To:        <Eddie_Obeng@pentaclethevbs.com>
         cc:        
Subject:        FW: Last CFP - Joint  Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and  Technological Innovations


        
         


Dear Prof. Eddie  Obeng

 Thank you for contacting  us.

We have recently  implemented a new submission  type, the  Virtual Participation,  meant for authors  interested in participating  in IMETI 2014 but cannot  participate physically,  be it  because they cannot afford  the travel or because of health  issues.  You can  read more about it in our  conference’s website: 
 


 

Best  regards, 

IMETI 2014 Secretariat


Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:18 PM
To: IMETI 2014  Secretariat
Subject: Re: FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information  Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological  Innovations


Dear Sir/  Madam

Thanks for your  information about virtual participation but I am used to and had been hoping for  more "immersive" virtual participation.

I use QUBE http://QUBE.cc - which is what I would be presenting  the research about.  Do you have something similar?  If not I'd be  happy to offer to host your virtual activities on QUBE - it will mean that  although people can't physically be present they can actually participate.
 
I would  also wish to use this for my own presentation.

Would this be  possible?

kindest  regards

eddie

Professor Eddie  Obeng


PENTACLE 
What's new?   Download Eddie Obeng's innovation murder-mystery "Who  Killed the Sparq?" from  http://PentacleTheVBS.com/WKS_FreeDownload.htm
__________________________________________________________________________



"IMETI 2014 Secretariat"
19/05/2014 15:25
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
          To:                       
          cc:                       
          Subject:                   FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological Innovations

Dear Professor Eddie  Obeng,

Thank you for contacting us.

We are sorry to inform you that the virtual participation  included in the conference is, as announced in respective web site, an  asynchronous one. We are not logistically prepared for different virtual  participations not described in the conference web site. This is due to the fact  that the conference venue is a hotel and its bandwidth is not stable. We made  several attempt in the past and had logistical and connections problems. We  tried several times synchronous participation combining broadcasting via Ustream  and twitter but it was not effective because of the non-stable bandwidth at the  hotel. To contract a dedicated bandwidth with other providers is economically  not feasible in the present budget of the conference. Hopefully it will be  feasible in future conferences.

You suggestion has been delivered to the organizing committee  of the next conference in order to see the logistical feasibility of  implementing it.

Sincerely,

Conference Secretariat.

My final reply:


Eddie Obeng
19/05/2014 16:27

                    To:                                                            "IMETI 2014 Secretariat"
                    cc:                                                            
                    Subject:                                                   Re: FW: Last CFP - Joint Events: 1) Information Technologies & 2) Engineering R&D and Technological InnovationsNotes Link

Thanks for letting me know - your response tickled me a little.

Best wishes

eddie

Professor Eddie Obeng


PENTACLE 

Please submit your suggestions for what I shoudl have written as my final message...

Disclaimer:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What Typewriters Teach Us About Investing Billions in Digital Technology

First watch the video below - my friend Peter Hinssen shared with me this video about a woman returning to work after years of being away.  (It's not sexist, just illustrative.)



Did you laugh?  According to Peter, if you laughed you're an 'Oldie'.  Apparently people less than 25 years old don't get the joke.  If you didn't laugh, click here to discover what the 'Return' button (short for Carriage Return) - also now shown as 'Enter', with a strange, angled, backwards arrow key that still illustrates a physical Carriage Return - used to do.  (Enter what?)

I think the message is far subtler.  Yesterday I learned that a Great British institution had sold off its assets, buildings, offices etc to create a 'war chest' for updating its technology.  And now, armed with almost half a billion pounds, it is in the process of buying the shiniest kit and technology that is out there. I call this Process First.

What that video shows us, after we've stopped laughing, is that it is pointless updating or replacing technology without having first engaged people in changing their mindsets, habits and behaviours.  For successful change and organisational transformation to happen People Change MUST always lead technology change.

Then the second message is in the design of the monitor.  When I worked for Dell, a fact that stuck with me was that it is typical for the cost of a computer of a certain spec to drop by 50% in a year!  However shiny your kit, you must realise that if it takes you a year to define, procure, assess bids, buy and roll-out to all your people, then by the time you're ready to make waves in 18 months time, not only will you have spent twice as much money, you will have spent twice as much money as you could now on the 'old' specification.  Yes, it will be an OLD specification.

People First.  Mindset and behaviour change must lead - I simply cannot believe that the executives and senior managers of the organisation have got their hands dirty enough with tech and played enough with kit to understand it, or else they would understand the pointless folly of the decision.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

“I don’t want to interact with data, I want to interact with people”



I love swooshing and swiping my screens.  Somewhere inside my head I hear a god-like voice – or is it the voice of Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard? - commanding the device to “Make it so”.  And it happens!  Bigger, smaller, up, down.  It’s not natural, it’s not human, but it is fun and rewarding.  

And I think that’s where the mistake is with early 21st-century social media. 

We love broadcasting to the world and updating our timelines – somewhere inside my head I feel like a celebrity, imagining all the adoring fans who are following my every word, every tweet.  (In reality it's just one or two friends who I bug until they respond.)  And it sort of happens!  Diagnostics tell us the hits, people tell us their likes (and dislikes).  It’s not interaction, it’s not banter, it’s not a real emotional and creative discourse, but it is fun and rewarding.

When we began developing QUBE, I was adamant about many things.  Mostly that it replicated as much as possible the grown-up business environment with the Trojan horse of learning disguised at its core, so that we could achieve the vision of learning without boundaries.  I had in mind a Lloyds-style coffee house atmosphere (important to be able to breakout and have sub-conversations) mixed with a Leonardo da Vinci-style artist's studio,* with younger artists learning and applying the skills they needed, showing their sketches to each other, sharing their experiments with each other and surpassing their teacher.  

This is human, this is interactive, it’s banter, emotional and creative, and it’s fun and rewarding.

If you’ve seen my Google Zeitgeist talk you will know about ‘Time Travellers’.  The strange 19th century habit of commuting to and from an office.  (If you don’t, watch the video - it’s very short and very funny.)  As long as we continue to pursue the 19th century habit of moving atoms (our bodies) instead of electrons, we will have lots of boring, low-quality time on trains, in queues and in cars.  This boring time we will fill using our mobile devices to interact with data.  Why?  Because although it’s a lower grade experience than interacting with people, it’s better than getting bored.  And it avoids the potential awkwardness of social interaction or interrupting what a friend is doing (nothing, they are just composing a text to you!).  So we broadcast asynchronously.  And we read, and we watch cat videos selectively.  It’s not interactive, it’s not banter, it's not emotional and creative, but it is fun and rewarding.

I hope that Facebook 2.0, Twitter 2.0 and other early 21st-century social media platforms will begin to go the same way as QUBEfinding ways to allow people to interact over and above the data-driven activities.  The challenge for them will be the business model.  With the current business models we are the product, providing them with data and meta-data they can get revenue for.

But I do hope they will try to reinvent themselves. Because I for one don’t want to interact with data, I want to interact with people.

I'm launching a challenge to all involved.  Let's make Social Media really Social (with some new learning for our World After Midnight to help people cope and thrive in the 21st-century, hidden inside!)


* I’ve lost the link but idly browsing last week I came across a protest about social media. which is what inspired this blog

** I know Leonardo da Vinci didn’t really have a studio school like the one I’m describing, but I hope you get the point

Monday, 14 April 2014

Cabinet or Caprona - The land that time forgot ...

Yesterday I was flicking through a dead-tree newspaper and came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks. I believe the expression is "it was deja vu all over again".

As a child, one of the most exciting films I saw was set in Caprona, land of pterodactyls, dinosaurs and weird sea monsters.  Somehow, the world had moved on and evolution had happened but in some places time had stood still.

I used to use this analogy in a pictorial quiz I invented a long while ago.  The quiz was inspired by a picture of the British Cabinet in session in a newspaper.  

I would put the picture on to my visualiser and ask the course participants the question, "How long ago was the most recent thing in this picture invented?"  






Yesterday's picture is below, and I'm blowed if I can see any move or even nod towards the 21st Century.


So, "How long ago was the most recent thing in this picture invented?"  

Apparently, evolution happens because of the dynamic, continuous changes that influence the survival and co-dependence of different species.  Without external threats or with the ability to dominate the surrounding environment or ecosystem - there is no need to evolve.

For our world after midnight there are three choices: evolve, dominate or die. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Money making machine discovered in mine!


Perhaps I should get one?  Perhaps you should get one?  David Lomas, Pentacle's techno wizard, alerted me to a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

When I wrote Money Making Machine, I was looking for a way to align all the people in a business organisation to work together to collectively improve the performance of the organisation.  In a complex and fast-changing world, it is often really difficult to know whether the actions you are taking, the decisions you are making, and the conversations you're having are going to help your business make enough money to keep going.  The central idea is five Money Making Questions to align everyone.

But now there's almost no need.  Apparently, Avalon sell an ASIC machine that, for the small spending of $11,000, is capable of producing $50,000 in five months.  Over its useful working life of 31 months, it will make about $117,000!

If you've read Money Making Machine, you'll know that this is a fantastic answer to Question One.  Question Two - how fast you need to spend to run it - is all down to the amount of power it consumes: approximately 600 Watts.  We've already answered Question Three: it was $11,000.  As for Question Four, it depends on what you think of hashing and bitcoins.

But what about the most important question of all, Question Five?  Hmmm ... I think I'll pass on Avalon's offer and spend my time writing a blog instead.

You can discover your own Money Making Making for no money (no Question Three) here or buy one here to speed up mine.