The Dilemma of Invention and Systems Framework


I want to start with stating a simple and profound poem by Shel Siverstein,

I’ve done it, I’ve done it! 
Guess what I’ve done!
Invented a light that plugs into the sun.
The sun is bright enough,
The bulb is strong enough,
But, oh, there’s only one thing wrong…

That cord ain’t long enough.

This poem articulates the way people think about working on their ideas without focusing on the key element that will facilitate the complete system. I am fortunate enough to take my Innovation Class under Prof. Max Shtein , who has written this book Scalable Innovation  at University of Michigan. This book clearly demonstrates how ideas can be articulated into a systematic framework that will lead to an innovation. There are two types of Entrepreneurs in the world: Inventors and Innovators, and the second ones are generally the ones who foresee a problem, get into the customer’s mindset and design the product that will solve the particular need. From the poem, we understand that there is a missing cord when Inventors work on a problem, and innovators are the ones who fill that missing cord to create a customer-centric solution. From all we know, it takes 3000 ideas to have one success. But not all of us are bestowed with 3000 different ideas in our life, maybe it’s too late, too early or too complicated to pursue.

The key for entrepreneurs today is to fit into one idea and see it in terms of System design framework that has five simple elements: Source, Distribution, Packaged Payloads, Control and Tool. In his book, Prof. Shtein has worked on an underlying premise that the economy is built where goods and services are exchanged. This exchange involves three basic flow parameters: Mass, Energy and/or Information. These parameters have to be originated somewhere say Source and is used or transformed somewhere say Tool. The parameter has to flow in a path comprising space and time, lets say Distribution and to be able to reliably process these parameters, they are packaged appropriately say Packaged Payloads and the Control element to ensure a robust, interactive and a sustainable mechanism between these elements. This is the System Design Framework and a system can be a part of other system to create a network effect that generates a multitude of solutions in the existing technology and create a solution for a new one. 

Ultimately, to build a better world is all about finding that ‘missing cord’ and the Innovators are the ones who achieve that earnestly through series of iterations, experiments, research, patents or getting the elements together. 

 

Advertisements

Why we buy what we buy and sell what we sell?


I have been in a lot of situations with my friends where I have debated about my craze and love for Apple products. And I always tell them it just doesn’t feel right to buy some other competitive products, no matter how good the specification is or value of money it be. I invest into buying the products thinking about the long-term and intrinsic value it creates. I came across this video at the Bootcamp session in the first week of the Master of Entrepreneurship Class and it just iterated and explained exactly how I feel about products I buy and the services I have subscribed to.

The idea of Golden circle: Why, What and How should exactly be the criteria of thinking about growing your business or buying products and services from other businesses. And that makes all the difference!

Sorry for irregular posts, I have never dealt with such a crazy schedule before. And that is my learning curve in gaining the social, developmental, technical and managerial skills all in one go!

And coincidently, one of the missions of Ross School of Business is Action based Leadership! Enjoy this awesome video.

[http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html]

How to Ideate and Go lean!


As Victor Hugo remarked, There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

The Idea: The idea is an iterative process of the mind, which develops over purpose, utility, imagination and design. Each raw idea goes then to the concept of validity and its feasibility in the marketplace. The idea then goes to the design thinking mind mapping process, where the idea is distributed like algorithmic process and enhances connections between the idea stage to the development stage to the product-market fit stage to customer acquisition stage.

Ideation Platform: One of the finest ideation platform is designed by Silicon valley serial Entrepreneur and founder of Lean Startup movement, Steve Blank. Steve Blank has proposed the LeanLaunchPad (www.leanlaunchpad.com) for educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to track down the complete ideation to customer ready prototype process in the Business Model Canvas platform, which questions the effectiveness of the static business plans that ends up as on-paper forecasting mechanism and fails to move ahead to create real business impact.

Customer Development/Pricing Model: As Mark Tyson said, Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, it holds true for startups that meet their customers for the first time. So, a set business model till the end without any tweaks and feedbacks will mostly result into a disastrous and not disruptive business model. The customer development process requires start to end iteration over their product launch and from valuable feedbacks from friends, relatives, suppliers, manufacturers, designers to the end customers. The economics of these feedbacks will then result into a better product and holds up the competition between players in the same industry over innovation and tweak-to-ready business models. As we collectively decide the market forces that affect us, the pricing model should also be the result of these feedback amplification process. A right pricing model determines largely the revenues over year per unit/service sold and the first 48-hour launch sales will introduce how the product is positioned in the market and in the social blogosphere. The pricing models should be varied and ranked with the different features the product provides and the value it creates in the end. The human tendency to react to several products with variable features make the product-market fit more predictable. The distribution channels and more affordable customer acquisition strategies are to be tweaked according the responses and interactions directly with the customer.

Lean Development: The ‘going out in the crowd’ approach will help rebuild and re-enhance the product development process using those customer feedbacks and will help in building the distribution channels and more effective and affordable ways to acquire more customers. According to the Lean Startup, the small tweaks in the product are referred as ‘iterations’ and larger, significant tweaks are referred as ‘pivots’. The value proposition of the startup/project has to be defined keeping in mind the larger impact the product is envisioned to make, like the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of any organization. A scalable, repeatable hypothesis of the business models is the foundation of the Lean Startup movement.

Here’s the Lean Launchpad Methodology proposed by Steve Blank for educators and entrepreneurs.

Other articles related to Lean Startup: 

Silver lining endings, always?


Today, I saw a finest connect in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, and a quote struck me. Thought of sharing it here, think about it.

The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday, that’s guaranteed. And I can’t begin to explain that, or the craziness inside myself and everybody else, but guess what? Sunday is my favorite day again. I think of everything everyone did for me and I feel like a very lucky guy.

Said by Pat almost at the climax in the movie.

Is there always a sunday to every story? Are there silver linings to all your endeavors? Something we have to think about while we try accomplish something so hard, that everything we could ever wish is to make it positive till the end and finally, after drenching out in sweat, mind and heart, we get there. That’s the feeling no one could ever want to miss in their life.

I have this same feeling today, while I am admitted to Masters in Entrepreneurship program at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Department of Engineering. And somehow, everything I did in the last 5 years connected the dots to achieve this. God’s been kind, and people supportive. All those good quotes I have ever heard makes more sense to me now and with that I am just enjoying my Sunday. A silver lining to a beginning of my journey. And I am sure, you had yours or waiting for it, believe in yourself and you will get a silver lining at the horizon. If not, a golden lining is destined for you. You are the Entrepreneur of your life. 

How Bitcoins changes the economics?


We must have recently learned about the virtual currency that is recognized in the digital community as the Digital Gold. We all must have come across online social games where collecting coins determines how well you have performed in the game like the recently popular game app TempleRun. With those coins, we could unlock other stages, players, equipments and other innovative features that helps us survive in the game and get addicted to it. Similarly, there are coins which are used to buy and exchange real products in a new currency form known as Bitcoins.

What is a Bitcoin? 

These Bitcoins are not controlled by any government or banks, but are algorithmically designed intangible, digital form of currency that efficiently controls the flow of money. Today, almost $750m worth Bitcoins are traded and stored through the digital wallets. One can get Bitcoins by a concept called Online Mining, like the concept in mining of gold. By running an online store that accepts Bitcoins, or by exchanging dollars, yens, pounds etc to Bitcoins or by mining bitcoins through computer generated problems, we can acquire and use the Bitcoins. The current value of 1 Bitcoin is almost $120 and the value is volatile like the stock markets. The maximum amount of Bitcoins that can be traded and stored has a cap of 21 Million and not a single Bitcoin more.

So how does this affect the economics? 

In the ancient times, different metals were exchanged to barter goods among different communities, which represented amount of grains stored. Then came the coinage, where metals were mined, weighed and stamped into different coins of gold, silver and copper. Then, the need for credit and a currency that was less burdensome to exchange led to the introduction of Paper Money from the Pre-modern China.

As Bitcoins are gaining more popularity by the attributes it showcases like acceptability, design, limited supply and easy transfer without processing fees, the economics of money will be altered in bits.

1. While some people in the US government feel that the government is excessively printing money, for the money circulation and its link to productivity and employment opportunities, they are devaluing the dollar. If Bitcoins are introduced and gains acceptability, due to its maximum cap of 21 Million, the excess printing of money will be discontinued, which alters the economics of money supply.

2. Moreover, if Bitcoins are introduced, the transfer of bitcoins through buying/selling products which are legal or illegal in nature cannot be tracked. This definitely excites the ones involved in money laundering, manipulating the black money and other illegal activities.

3. Bitcoins also eliminate the possibility of transfer of dollars by paying a significant sum of fees to payment portals like PayPal, CCAvenue etc. These middlemen companies have no role in the transfer of Bitcoins. Similarly, the processing fees charged through central banks will also be eliminated. And governments, individuals, companies can transfer money without the need of these middlemen.

4. In Bitcoins, the money supply is fixed by design, which is a limiting factor and thus will be highly volatile in terms of dollar exchange rates.

5. There is a possibility of hacking the digital wallets in which the bitcoins will be stored and hence one cannot recover the bitcoins once stolen, this excites the hacker community in general. There is no way to track these stolen bitcoins though Bitcoins are cryptographically designed.

Also, watch this video: 

Though, the new virtual currency is in the talks, the role of governments will be the most important factor in determining the life of Bitcoins. Till then in God we trust. 

Remembering Vivekananda


English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Today is the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda (1863-2013) and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. He was a spiritual leader, a man of principles and an avid orator in Interfaith Awareness.

I am sharing his speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago in 1893. which I luckily found on the web.

Here’s the full length of the speech, a must read.

Sisters and Brothers of America:

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

USA- Breaking the Global Mindset.


Lately, people have been talking, sharing and debating, of to where the world’s superpower is heading to currently and what will make them stand out and make a difference all over again nationally and globally?

There are few mindsets which I have to clear out in determining the US growth rate, they are the following,

1. There is a different way of judging US in terms of Corporate US and Political US.

2. Though the nation is scaling up and has gone to an all time low in 2008-09, the growth rate has increased in terms of employment opportunities, inflation is low, fiscal deficit is less than compared to before and currency rate is higher despite of the roll out.

3. Morover, there are companies which are growing and making record profits like Apple, Google, MasterCard, Nike, MacD, QualComm, CISCO, Ralph Lauren and many more, which have more than 50% revenues from other countries of the world other than US. So, these are companies listed on the global platform for which customers are of great importance.

4. The world has shifted its importance from nations to companies to individuals, and as the way US is progressing it is likely to overcome the bubble which let the banking sector down, which will still take a few years to cope up. Housing sector is slow, and inventories are being re-used from the past years.

5. Education and Research in US has always been the strength of US and its likely to tap sectors like Green Energy, Nanotechnology, Robotic Surgery, Cloud Computing, Satellite Communications, Manufacturing and Biotechnology, which is anyway the sectors of global relevance and innovation for the next 15 years.

The mindset depicts the growth, and US will play a pivotal role in Global Scenario for years to come. Not just because its smart, but knows the right thing to do and its people are of utmost importance.

To judge others, we first have to judge what we are doing. Like the markets, like the countries. 

#Things which I learned from a seminar on US Markets and Economy.