Friday, June 27, 2014


Leapfrogging is a technology concept, where countries (typically) skip a development mode of an developed country and directly reach the next level.

So, if one takes the case of India - India never really achieved landline connectivity in phones and leapfrogged into the mobile phone age - and achieved far greater connectivity and much faster. Most likely, the power revolution will go the same way - we may achieve far greater green power reach without the intermediate step of dirty power.

Extend that to the personal world. Sometimes, refusing to upgrade to a new technology immediately, assures one of a technological leapfrog later. For example, if one had skipped purchasing a high end DVD player - the door is open to invest in a streaming device - which is what the world is moving to. Waiting a little longer for a new technology to emerge may result in some benefits later on.

Organizations typically invest in a big ticket technology or system and then are saddled with it for a while. Is there an optimal solution there? Perhaps not. 

Filed under useless posts, I suppose!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Making users do remarkable things...

The little one was talking with passion about the Lego bricks that he has. He has a ton of them - and enjoys playing with them. The things he makes cannot be imagined by anyone - like it is for any other child. Every child goes into his or her own world when they play with these blocks. No other toy ever has sustained his (or any other childs) enthusiasm for such a long time. Lego knows - after all it has been in business for nearly a hundred years. There are new toys, fads, gimmicks, extensions, but Lego rules the roost.

Yes, Lego is a consummate marketeer - they create new bricks, new themes, new ideas and they are as consumerist as they come - after all, kids WANT Lego. And Lego is a premium brand. But think about it, what makes them tick?

For one, it is a premium brand - their products do not fail. They deliver what they promise - often much more than that. So, customer delight is almost a given.

Second, their customer service is exemplary and I have experienced it myself - it is clearly not hearsay.

But beyond all this, the biggest thing that Lego does is about 'what it makes the user do'. Lego is very little about itself - the power that it gives the user is what it gives it so much credence. It is all about letting the user fly in his or her imagination. The worlds that children get into with Lego is amazing. It is all about giving power to your users.

Now think about this from a Learning and Development perspective. Do your trainings and offerings and educational things  - put power in the hands of the user or are they designed to put the user in their place? Think about putting power in the hands of the user and your entire perspective changes. Of course, a traditional HR person would not want to empower people - because of the nature of control  - but these days, nobody wants gatekeepers - they want enablers.

This is what Kathy Sierra had spoken about, many years back, and it has remained in my head ever since. It is all about making users remarkable...

Friday, June 13, 2014

When neurons fire

I recently had the good fortune to meet a number of people who are the pioneers in their fields. As part of this, I met someone who is working on some pioneering things in gamification. And maybe gamification is a buzzword today like social media was yesterday and web 2.0 was the day before, but meeting with this person was an absolutely inspiring meeting.

I call these meetings, neuron firing meetings. You come away with the neurons in the brain firing on full capacity.

What happens?
One, they discover a common passion
Two, the passion for a particular idea is passed on from one person to another.
Three, one person says one thing, the other builds on it and like building blocks, they keep building on and on until something emerges.
Four, the conversation moves forward, relentlessly.
Five, there are no barriers in sharing - like this is my idea I cannot share it and so on.
Six, contrary to the above, there is a lot of sharing of ideas, potential and 'change the world' topics.

At the end, one comes out all neurons firing and a whole world of possibility opens up. How often has this happened to you?

Tesla gives away patents

Tesla, the electric car company is planning to make its patents open source. This is a counter intuitive move. On the one hand there are big firms that spend tons of money maintaining a troop of lawyers who fight patent infringement and scientists who are, really patent trolls, but spend time creating layers of patents so that nobody can use anything. Sure, both sides are justified in their own way and they may have legitimate reasons for doing so, but from a learning standpoint, the latter course of thought appeals to me.

 A few years ago while heading a learning team, I had told the team to give away their content. This simple proposal was met with a howl of protest.
How could we give it up, they argued.
We have spent hours doing this work, they said, indignantly.
If we give away our content, what will become of us, they asked, ever more insecure.

And I was able to convince the team that they need to do exactly that. Give up their content. They finally, reluctantly, agreed.

And guess what, some of their best work came after they gave up on all the old content, created new content of different types, innovated and took their team a few levels up.

Giving stuff away makes one do more, much much more. Now, I know comparing patents from a high tech company to creating learning courses is not the same thing, but if innovation is your forte and you continue to innovate and do great work, giving away stuff is a great idea.