Monthly Archives: May 2005

Prelude for a flattening world

I often enjoy turning on PBS during my lunch time break to see, hear and understand those interviewed by Charlie Rose. In my opinion, Charlie Rose is one of today’s top interviewers, and I find his work broadcast on PBS to be both insightful and thought-provoking. Recently he interviewed Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times (e.g. his columns at India Express – via Twenty Onward) and author his most recent book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.

Outsourcing has been a hot issue for awhile now, especially in the high technology realm I occupy professionally, and its debate won’t be going away until it’s assumed. Nevertheless, outsourcing can be a source of anxiety and concern as most change is capable to generating–if not for you and I, for the people we may work with and/or for. So, as I observed the optimistic response from Mr. Friedman to Mr. Rose’s questions, I wanted to get a firsthand, deeper sense of the author’s perspective. (Thanks, Costco, for the great hardback price.)

The global competitive playing field is being leveled; the world is being flattened. There seems to be little to dispute in these statements; however, there is less constructive discussion about how to response progressively and effectively to this reality. Mr. Friedman closes his opening chapter saying, “It is the ambition of this book to offer a framework for how to think about it [i.e. ‘the great challenge for our time…to absorb these changes [from a flattening world] in ways that do no overwhelm people but also do not leave them behind’] and manage it to our maximum benefit.”

Here are some of my initial takeaways:

  • Globalization agent: country (1.0), company (2.0), individual (3.0 – present)
  • Division of work forming: grunt (execution) vs. creative (strategic design, service)
  • “Everyone has to focus on what exactly is their value-add.” -Jaithirth “Jerry” Rao
  • “There is no real end to what can be done by whom.” -Vivek Kulkarni
  • Organizations need to flatten, too, and rapidly in order to source decisions and work optimally.

As noted in my post title, this is just a prelude–after all, I’ve only finished the first chapter (“While I Was Sleeping”). Indeed, I get a keen sense that I’m about to wake up and receive a large portion of effective hindsight. Googling “‘Charlie Rose’ ‘Thomas Friedman’” suggests that I’m a bit late to the review party (e.g. Slate). Nonetheless, prepare the fire house!

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

Men in Black

In his book Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, Mark Levin lays out a compelling case for why: “It’s time for a serious national debate about the role of the judiciary in modern America.”

  • Why a balance of power as our founding fathers declared is vital to each person’s freedom, regardless of personal political views
  • Why intent and its clear expression are crucial–in their absence interpretation (right, wrong and very wrong) is inevitable
  • Why being wary of actions (or lack thereof) that secure “the right not to feel uncomfortable” is important
  • How diversity can be synonymous with reverse discrimination
  • How significant the price of nebulous terms and subjective analysis can become over time

I found Mr. Levin’s comment about working on the inside (e.g. siding with a majority to limit its scope) to be insightful in other business contexts–an active take on “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” (but don’t be a lemming!).

When Mr. Levin got to discussing “right to privacy” issues (his chapter, “Death by Privacy”)–something I’ve been mulling over in the context of desktop search and search in general–I was intrigued by the following passage that talks about Justice Hugo Black’s dissent in the 1965 decision in the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut : “One of the most effective ways of diluting or expanding a constitutionally guaranteed right is to substitute for the crucial word or words of a constitutional guarantee another word or words, more or less flexible and more or less restricted in meaning…’Privacy’ is a broad, abstract and ambiguous concept that can easily be shrunken in meaning but which can also, on the other hand, easily be interpreted as a constitutional ban against many things other than searches and seizures.”

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

Maui never disappoints

Last week my wife, son and I, along with my brother, celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Congrats, Mom and Dad!! We did so on the island of Maui, staying in the Kaanapali region in a luxury condo high-rise next to the beach. It was our second time to Maui, but the first for my folks; so extra attention was paid to ensure they got the most of their vacation. My son was content to swim in the little, and sometimes, big, pool and to make “sand castles” (read my brother and I feverously build while my son destroys, smiling from ear to ear) on the beach. However, everyone enjoyed the luau, the catamaran-based snorkeling excursion–actually snorkeling in general, and the visit to the Maui Ocean Center. We saw most all of the tropical fish varieties that one can see, sea turtles (red and green), dolphins and even breaching humpback whales.

Among my Dad, my brother and I–each of us armed with a Canon Digital Rebel SLR, we shot 2.5 GB of pictures–nearly 900 maximum quality images of family, landscapes, animal life and plant life. Back to back, I probably shot an additional solid 60 minutes of video; so, we’ll have plenty of memories for years to come.

On the road to Hana we discovered the innovation irrigation system on that part of Maui, which includes a series of diversion feeds, dams and canals that collectively serve to capture runoff water that would otherwise simply return to the Pacific Ocean and to divert it to the Taro, Pineapple, Macadamia and other fields. This got me to thinking about other useful systems of resource diversion to avoid waste and to enrich others (e.g. poverty and food, old electronic components and systems like computers).

While I was absolutely disconnected during my vacation, I did read as I like to do in general, but especially in this state–again, no technology or technical books allowed! My first read, Prince of Fire (the fifth book in Gabriel Allon series by author Daniel Silva) was purely for entertainment and to effect a rapid de-tox/disconnect from the previous week’s work efforts. Effective, indeed! My second read, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, dealt with the current state of our judicial system and therefore was far more thought-provoking, if not disturbing. More on Mark Levin’s book in my next post.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

Quotables

Occassionally I hear original statements or original reactions worth quoting. My saved list of these gems is far longer than the few I’m about to share; nevertheless… Lately, I’ve been contemplating how to effectively influence (i.e. re-ignite) resources behind a product line vision of mine–whose initial incarnation is in the market today–and this thought process caused me to recall the following quotes:

  • “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.” -M.C. Escher
  • “The early word may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” -John Klassen (coworker)
  • “Today’s ceiling is tomorrow’s floor.” -Unknown (memory fails me)

Just because a vision of the future is crystal clear to me, doesn’t mean that it’s clear or as clear to my stakeholders. Just because it may have been a mountain stream yesterday doesn’t guarantee that tomorrow won’t bring unforeseen business to muddy up waters.

The same is true in reverse as well, fortunately. Tomorrow may yield events that bring clarity, urgency and interest to bear on vision.

Note to self: Influencing is hard business, but certainly worthwhile if your vision is greater than your own limited capabilities no matter how bright or skilled you might be.

Until WP 1.5.1, Entity2NCR

Prior to today, subscribers to my RSS 2.0-based comments feed may have encountered breakage due to the presence of » character entities. Googling for a solution led me to Kaf’s WordPress plugin, Entity2NCR. (It looks like Kaf is a fairly prolific plugin author.) This plugin, once I dealt with my initial activation hickup–thanks again to Kaf, did the trick. Handy!

Update 5/14/2005: Per Kaf’s own advice, I’ve removed Entity2NCR, since I’ve just completed my upgrade from WP 1.5 to WP 1.5.1.