As you all know (and thank you for your many kind comments and forwarding of my blogs) my objective is to open up your lens, get you to step outside of your comfort zone. To disrupt and innovate as we talk in ProVoke , we need to be mindful and think through how we are changing things. The utility analogy of Carr, firstly educates those who may not be savvy in cloud computing, then he explains the analogy of cloud to the utility business. This analogy often gets used, and I wanted to share this analogy with my readers. Below you will find a summary of The Big Switch.
Read the summary, send your thoughts over in social media , so myself and everyone can be on the dialog. Summary below. Enjoy!
In The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (2013), Nicholas Carr examines the cloud computing revolution, from its underlying causes to its implications for individuals, business and society.
What is the cloud computing revolution?
- Computing is turning into a utility, in which giant information processing plants use the Internet (cloud) as a grid for delivering services.
- Companies can now purchase what they formerly had to supply themselves, relieving the burden of private in-house computing.
- Economic trade-offs are driving this transformation; it is not really our choice. Centralized delivery over the Internet offers efficiency and flexibility at extremely low cost, which private data centers can’t match.
Why is it happening now?
- Previously, communication capacity lagged far behind processing capacity, preventing centralized delivery of computing.
- This has changed. Internet bandwidth has become plentiful and cheap, thanks to the millions of miles of fiber-optic cables laid down by communications companies during the dotcom boom.
- The full power of computing can be delivered from anywhere, because data can now stream through the Internet at speed of light.
- With the World Wide Web, all computers can be connected as a single network.
- Virtualization and additional technologies have been critical in enabling large-scale utility computing (i.e., one server can now run many applications with a single computer).
What are the implications for the IT industry?
- Cloud computing threatens to destroy traditional IT businesses like Microsoft.
- Eventually, PCs may be replaced altogether by simple monitors, or “thin clients.”
- As utility services are maturing, PCs are becoming a less and less attractive option.
- Private, in-house IT is unlikely to last.
Like the changes that swept through society when electricity became a utility, the advent of cloud computing will have massive implications for us all. Many are becoming visible already, and some of them are less positive than others. Here, I focus on some of the more interesting (and startling) consequences of utility computing.
Digitizing and unbundling of physical products
- Physical objects are increasingly turning into digital goods, thanks to the cheap price of computing and bandwidth. Losing physical form and turning into pure information.
- Whole products are being unbundled into discrete parts and fragments. For instance, newspapers are being increasingly replaced by one-liner headlines on Internet news sites.
- User-generated content is on the rise, because the means of production on the Internet are freely available to anyone.
- Some areas in the information industry are losing out. This is clearly evident in the workforce losses in publishing and broadcasting.
- Computerization is accelerating the wealth gap by unleashing powerful economic forces, giving rise to a very small number of massively wealthy “digital elite.”
- Companies can grow extremely quickly with few workers, where business is constructed mostly of software code and dependent on user-generated content.
- This economic realignment benefits a few individuals, not a few companies.
- Technology is amoral, and the Internet can be used by anybody, anywhere, for good or ill.
- The Internet has become our most vital commercial infrastructure, in all sectors, but it is not under national control or within national borders.
- Very serious danger posed by cyber terrorism, viruses, etc. on the new Internet battlefield.
- The Web is really a web of information about all of us. Information is stored permanently, and our Internet footprint never fades away.
- The Net puts power not just in individuals but also companies, governments, etc. that seek to control individuals. This reduces privacy.
- The computer is ideal for controlling information, even as it is empowering.
How we think, behave and relate to one another
- Cloud computing and the Net tend to exacerbate polarization of people with different beliefs and opinions, through filtering, personalization, etc.
- Encourages us to think more superficially, subjectively, immediately, and less deeply or analytically.
The Web as a possible perfection of the human mind
- Companies like Google are trying to perfect the human mind by detaching it from the body.
- Merging of computers and people, as the Internet’s computing web incorporates humans more and more completely.
- We are feeding human intelligence into the artificial computing mind. Computers will eventually not just take instructions from us and learn, but write their own instructions.
- With the expansion of Internet’s power and scope, we are increasingly cogs in its machine.
In sum, we are leaving the PC age and entering the age of the cloud. The Internet grid is connecting us all. Even Bill Gates recognized the magnitude of the disruptive potential of the cloud while he was still at Microsoft.
The dual nature of the cloud gives power to both individuals and institutions. It offers freedom and control. It’s neither all bad nor all good; neither the utopia nor the dystopia predicted by some. We have yet to anticipate the full consequences of cloud computing; these will take time to become visible. Our technological capabilities have raced ahead of institutional responses, leaving us with social and legal dilemmas. Privacy and security issues are just the beginning.
There is a lot of hype about the cloud today, but it will take time for utility computing to mature. The shift is still in its early stages, and its full effects will be felt as the young generation of today matures. Nevertheless, the cloud is where the growth is, and it is reshaping the entire information economy. Companies in the traditional IT business must commit themselves to adapting to these transformations in order to survive and thrive.
Image credit via MemeGenerator.net.
I echo Rosabeth’s views regarding the importance of zooming in and out, the importance of perspective and how leaders view the world. I extrapolate this to how leaders run their companies! I do however think we need to widen the lens, otherwise, we may be zooming in and out of a perspective that is too narrow. Let’s widen our lens and zoom in and out to be able to lead in a way that people want to follow and are inspired! I reviewed Rosabeth’s HBR article below. As always would love to hear your thoughts!
In “Zoom In, Zoom Out” (Harvard Business Review, Winter 2013), Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses the two major lenses through which leaders view the world: a close-up look at details (zooming in) and a broader view of the big picture (zooming out). Each viewpoint has its pros and cons, and being stuck on either zoom setting can have damaging consequences. Therefore, effective leaders must be able to flexibly zoom in on the immediate situation and zoom out to structural solutions. The key here is that we need multiple perspectives available to us in order to get a complete picture.
Zooming in: bringing the details into close-up focus
Useful in relationship-intensive settings, where human talent is key and/or you have to be an expert on a particular problem, product, customer, etc.
Signs of being too zoomed in:
- Lack of context.Any good-looking opportunity that comes along looks compelling, but lacks context. Miss important big-picture considerations.
- § Counteract by focusing on the larger context and asking, “what matters most?”
- Short-term.Focus on immediate benefits rather than long-term implications. Look for quick fixes to problems rather than seeking underlying causes or long-term solutions.
- § Counteract by asking, “does this fit with the larger goal or target of the company? What other opportunities might be out there?”
- Idiosyncratic. Treat every situation as unique, relying on ad hoc decisions and exceptions rather than policies. Policies become based on internal politics and private deals.
- § Counteract by considering whether the situation will recur, and how to frame a policy around it or systematize the current approach.
- Personal. Decisions are based on personal expertise, instinct, etc., rather than broader goals. Leaders take things personally and focus on the “me” angle first.
- § Counteract by considering the larger purpose being served and the stakes for others.
Zooming out: viewing the big picture from far out
-Useful in planning several moves ahead, situating events in context, and focusing on general patterns and principles. Critical for big-picture decision-making.
- Signs of being too far out:
- Disconnected. Dismiss deviations from theories and models as insignificant. Miss emerging threats and opportunities, and fail to recognize the value of competing theories in explaining new developments.
- § Counteract by considering whether the deviation challenges the model, how it can be understood, and whether the model needs to be adapted.
- Structural over situational. Avoid dealing with specific problems and prefer to focus on general theory.
- § Counteract by considering what actions are suggested by current theory.
- Static and over-generalized. Fit everything into a few broad categories. Forget that the big picture is flexible and may evolve as circumstances change. From far out, the picture can appear static and unchanging, which it most definitely is not!
- Counteract by asking, “which details matter? How might the situation change in ways we haven’t anticipated?”
- Change-resistant. Adhere strictly to established path and become inflexible. Hard to change course, because lengthy analysis or studies are needed before taking action.
- § Counteract by considering whether sufficient information is available to proceed, the costs of delay, and whether side routes and shortcuts are available.
Neither perspective alone is sufficient
- Learning requires self-reflection, which in turn demands taking a step back and viewing one’s actions in context. Zooming out fosters self-awareness, whereas zooming in can reinforce self-obsession.
- Some dangers are common to both perspectives, such as missing emerging threats and opportunities. Thus, we need to be able to move in between the two extremes.
- Problems arise no matter which end of the scale we get stuck at, when we are unable to gain a different perspective. Not about choosing one viewpoint over the other, but learning to move dynamically across multiple perspectives. Agility is key!
- By zooming, we can deal with developments before they turn into crises. We can pursue promising new opportunities, while simultaneously working within a framework that builds sustainable solutions in the long-term.
What to you think!?
Please email me at info@StraTerraPartners.com or talk to me on social media channels!
A challenge for executives with large teams is how to be ‘effectively productive’, to not feel overwhelmed, and interact with and give attention to what is necessary. And, it’s not just ‘how to be productive’ but also what to be productive about?! I wanted to share Robert Pozen’s article, “Extreme Productivity,” with you. For me, what’s missing on the list is the importance of surrounding yourself with extremely bright people who think out of the box and are not there to echo your idea, or to be a mini-you, but rather, those who bring genuine perspective and can help direct the executive to where focus is missing. A CEO spending the bulk of their time with the investors may be tons of time spent, but is that what is most productive for the company? A senior executive has to loosen the resistances to change, and not rely on their direct reports to interact with their teams, but rather mindfully determine what to focus on and how to achieve extreme productivity. So, I think Pozen’s list starts the dialog but we need to expand on it with enthusiasm!
Review: As executives, time is one of our most valuable assets, if not the most valuable. We all recognize the crucial importance of being productive in our work. So, how do we make the most of our limited time in practice? Robert Pozen offers some insightful thoughts on this subject in his article “Extreme Productivity,” published in this winter’s issue of Harvard Business Review. Having worked in academia, government and the financial sector (he was formerly a top executive at investment giants Fidelity and MFS Investment Management), Pozen proposes six principles for how you can be more productive.
1. Know your particular strengths
- Don’t try to do everything that you can possibly do in the company. Delegate, and do those tasks that only you in your position can do. Bring your strongest skills to those projects that most need you.
2. Not about the time you spend but the results you achieve
- More time does not equal more value. Instead, when we measure success by our results, we free ourselves to become more efficient.
3. Think before you read or write
- Whether you’re trying to absorb lots of information or convey it to others, start by thinking, “Why am I reading/writing this?” Know what you’re looking for ahead of time; don’t just hope to stumble upon it somewhere down the road.
4. Plan ahead but remain flexible
- Planning saves us time, but we run into snags when we book our schedules too tightly. Leave a small window of time open each day for the unexpected developments which invariably arise.
5. Let others work independently
- Allow people to own their own space. Provide guidance, resources and support, but give employees autonomy in how they implement the priorities you lay out. This keeps them interested and encourages creativity and disruption.
6. Keep personal habits simple
- Stick to a simple daily routine: wake up at the same time, eat the same thing for breakfast, etc. Have a travel routine as well. Be boring in the small stuff; this makes it easier to simplify your work life. E.g., keep meetings short and to the point – do not waste time lecturing for hours!
In addition to these useful tips, it’s refreshing to hear Pozen talk about the importance of healthy living and work-life balance. We are at our productive peak when we live healthfully, with healthy eating, solid sleep and regular exercise. These become even more important when we are on the road. For example, Pozen encourages sleeping a solid seven or eight hours a night, plus taking a midday power nap. Lastly, by limiting our work time, a work-life balance can help us to be more productive with the time we have – and keep us happier in the long run.
What to you think!?
Please email me at info@StraTerraPartners.com or talk to me on social media channels!
We all know Steve Jobs was a hugely successful visionary and innovator. But what exactly made him so? Of course, leadership is not like a recipe, you don’t add a bit of this and a bit of that, nor are we all the same. It is in fact that difference that makes leadership special. I do, however, believe that some of the items below are learned and some you are born with. Paranoia in particular is one missing from the list below [Read more about paranoia and leadership here.] and to know where not to go OCD on the traits below which can kill teams. Knowing how to inspire while driving teams is essential. So, let me know what you think?
In “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs” (Harvard Business Review, winter 2013), Jobs’s bestselling biographer, Walter Isaacson, distills the keys to Jobs’s success for us to take away and apply to our own executive practice:
- Channel your energy into a few great products, instead of a lot of average ones.
- Overcome complexity by really understanding the underlying problems and finding creative ways around them.
3. Integrate all aspects of customer experience
- Be with the customer from the beginning of the process to the end (i.e. hardware, software, associated devices, and everything in between).
4. Jump ahead when you’re behind
- See being behind not as a failure, but as an opportunity to leap ahead of others and fundamentally transform the industry in unexpected ways.
5. Prioritize product over profit
- Making an innovative product should be your primary motivation, and then profits will follow. Focusing primarily on profits will get you to mediocrity, not innovation.
6. Intuit (rather than analyze) what customers want
- Use your instinct – based on professional and personal experiences – to gauge what customers want before they even know it themselves.
7. Believe the impossible is possible for YOU
- The rules don’t apply to you or the amazing people you work with. Use empowering self-delusion to unlock your creative potential.
8. Take presentation into account
- The cover matters as much as the book when it comes to people’s impressions of a product.
9. Strive for perfection
- Push to make the product perfect on all levels, even those unseen by the customer.
10. Tolerate only the best from the people you work with
- Push people to their peak potential, but remember that it is loyalty – engendered by inspiration and passion – that keeps people around.
11. Connect face-to-face with people
- True creativity and collaboration comes from spontaneous personal encounters and discussions, not dry conference calls.
12. Combine grand vision with detail orientation
- Be able to hone in on the details and step back to the big picture
13. Bridge the humanities and the sciences
- Connect the arts to engineering: make technology poetic. This is the direction technology is headed.
14. Maintain a non-conformist, rebellious edge at all times
- Always challenge the established ways of doing things. Remember, it’s when people start labeling us as “crazy” that we know we’re truly disrupting.
Some of these principles may be more imitable or relevant than others. We may not agree with all of them. It’s up to us to decide how we choose to learn from the story of Steve Jobs and Apple. But, it’s indisputable that all of these components were necessary for Jobs’s distinct personality and path to success.
Would love to hear what you think. Please email me at info@StraTerraPartners.com or talk to me on social media channels!
The two ingredients which I think GREATLY enhance a leader’s (CEO or senior executive) ability to win are:
- Constant and Uber paranoia, combined with:
- Unconventional (unobstructed) thinking
However, I DON’T think paranoia alone is enough. That used to be Intel’s weapon — constant paranoia. A significant weapon, but not enough on its own.
Key in Bezos’s behavior is complete unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking. Such thinking is innovative, unparalleled and usually considered impossible. I have many examples to share with you, but the twothat come to mind regrading Amazon are:
1. Define and own a market when people don’t think it is possible. Start by selling books and then sell everything from all over the world. ‘Limitations’ are simply boundaries in one’s head and that is it!
2. Break conventional thinking. Why not deliver packages on Sunday? Why not use USPS versus only UPS? This is win-win for Amazon and the USPS. USPS is bleeding money, has halted Saturday delivery. is laying off thousands and closing hundreds of centers. Why not develop a win-win strategy? Many would think that USPS is a federal agency, hence you can not negotiate with them or other delivery companies would not respond, as Sunday is an impossible date to deliver mail.
Impossible to many become ‘options’ to a few, those who do not let conventional obstacles stand in their way.
Combined with incessant paranoia, that is a huge competitive differentiator.
On the downside, executives with such behavior (Paranoia + Unconventional Thinking) are very intense, often lack the ability to motivate employees and drive very hard, sometimes too hard! The ability to have these ingredients PLUS a keen ability to motivate staff, now that is the killer winning formula!