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. 

 

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.