Copy, Copy, Copy… It’s a CopyCat World: Brilliant Imitators, Architects of Sameness– It’s an Economy of Impersonators…

We humans prize originality, innovation… yet we are natural-born copycat, imitator, impersonator… Many species of mammals can imitate the world around them, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being… Humans are natural-born rip-off artists and to be human is to copy. According to Christopher Sprigman; copying is the mighty force that drives many industries… It helps to create trends and helps to destroy them, then paves the way for new ones to take their place… and it’s hard to escape the copycat jungle…

Imitation might be the best form of flattery but it can also end-up in messy legal battles. More than 6,000 patent infringements lawsuits were filed in U. S. last year, where companies were locked in emotional corporate battles spending millions of dollars trying to prove that one poached the other’s– technology, product... Companies loss hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to copycats… Even though throughout human history, innovation has been fueled and sustained by imitation…

In the article Copycat Economy by Pete Engardio and Faith Keenan write: Competition is the essence of a market economy, but rarely has it been this brutal… In numerous industries, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a unique advantage long enough to make good profits on innovation. Time was, when companies could milk a novel product for years before cut-rate clones arrived… But now most industries have copycats knocking at their door before a product has even been released. It’s a ‘copycat economy’ and it raises some critical questions: How do organizations make money in copycat environment, especially when demand is flat?

There are many factors at work, e.g.; in pharmaceuticals, drug-makers are hyping derivatives of old blockbusters as their patents expire and generics swarm-in… In electronics, digitization makes hardware easier to copy… plus explosion of low-cost Asian rivals. Even many innovative strategies of the 90s are commonplace, e.g.; zero-defect quality, efficient supply chains, virtual design… To succeed, companies must constantly innovate products that fetch premium prices, or get costs down to mass-production levels… and do it as soon as a new product hits the market, rather than waiting months later…

In the article Different in a Copycat World by Jonas Ridderstróale, Kjell A. Nordstróm write: The rules by which business is conducted have changed. It’s an age of ‘karaoke’ capitalism– a philosophy of imitation, engrained into the corporate mindset… and the only way to survive is to chuck convention… According to Oded Shenkar; imitation gets a bad rap and imitating firms is seen as a me too? These players are often perceived as a pitiful lot– they have very little original thinking to offer… And so common perception is that this pitiful lot is left to lead a life of picking-up crumbs discarded by innovators…

But that perception is wrong because copying innovation is as critical to prosperity as innovation itself… Savvy imitators generate huge profits through efficiency, cost saving– they save not only on R&D costs but also on marketing and advertising costs. Also they avoid many costly errors by observing, learning from the first movers… Organizations are now forced to come to terms with the new reality; it’s not enough to create a product with groundbreaking design features, but the products must also be designed so as to make them difficult to copy from the very beginning. Organizations must focus on creating value and brands that are protect-able…

In the article Copycat World by Sarah Kauss writes: A glimpse into the copycat world exposes the challenges that the ‘first-to-market’ brands face in a globally manufactured and digitally driven world of innovative products and designs… Although you may be proud to have developed a product worth imitating, it can be very frustrating to see how easily patented creations (and brands) could be at risk of being tarnished by– fake, sub-par imitators… And even though you cannot avoid copycats or sub-par look-a-likes you must be prepared for when they start chasing your success (or literally trying to be you)…

But key question: Do knockoffs or imitations really harm business? Or, do they keep the wheels of industries turning? According to Helena Pike; knockoffs are so inevitable that they are ‘the ransom of success’… Multi-billion-dollar businesses are built on reproducing the latest creations for fraction of the original price. According to Susan Scafidi; calculating the financial and other loss, i.e., reputation… when a brand is copied is notoriously difficult to quantify but certainly, for iconic brands, the loss can be substantial…

In the article Brilliant Impersonators by Kat McGowan writes: A popular belief thinks of innovators as lone genius who with a flash of inspiration brings about a world-changing breakthrough: But that characterization is a myth… Most innovation is mundane; it’s a process of lots of copying and a little bit of creativity. The history of technology shows that advances happen largely through tinkering, i.e.; person(s) recreate, redesign, re-imagine, re-purpose something, which makes it valued differently...

Isaac Newton talked about standing on the shoulders of giants, but he should have said that– innovators are dwarves, standing atop a vast heap of dwarves. Credit should be given where credit is due– the mighty machine of innovation turns out to be powered by an army of– small minds, thinking unoriginal thoughts… According to  Robert Boyd, Peter Richerson; when lots of imitation is mixed with a little bit of individual learning… outcomes can outreach the abilities of any individual genius.  According to Kat McGowan; creating something new is the easy part: What’s really difficult is maintaining a base of knowledge done through copying, and shared for future innovations. Luckily, humans are very good at it…

The usual explanation of why humans are so successful as species is simply that humans are smarter than all other species– humans have huge brains, uniquely intelligence… and that allows them to figure things out through sheer force of logic… However, according to Michael Tomasello; many other species besides humans– copy, learn from each other but only humans ‘over-imitate’– they copy everything even things that are– irrelevant, wrong, unnecessary, illegal… humans are compulsive about it. Copying seems to be part of the human DNA

Smart Leaders Know When to Shut Up, When to Listen… Before They Make Stupid Decisions: When to Dial-In, When to Dial-Out…

The world is ever-changing and filled with high risk, uncertainty, crisis, disruptions… and often many leaders are just out of touch with realities. They don’t know what is happening because they don’t listen, they are too busy talking, lecturing, pontificating… Researcher found that most leaders spend 75% of the time talking, and less than 30% listening to what people have to say… According to OpProf; in a rapidly changing world, smart leaders are those who listen to the world around them; and they make better decisions, find more business opportunities, are more successful… than those who continually talk and won’t shut up.

Many leaders insist-persist in dogmatic soliloquy, and often they are unaware that most supposed listeners are uninterested, unengaged, unimpressed… Yammering; that’s what stupid leaders do, they ramble on about everything while most colleagues, employees, customers… just quit listening… On other hand, smart leaders quietly listen to what the world has to say; they listen, learn, and put the lessons learned into action… According to Graham; leaders who get caught-up in their non-stop ‘self-a-thons’ are driven by various subconscious agendas, e.g.; anxiety to prove their self-worth, or need to convince others that they are significant, or desperation to justify themselves as leaders…

In the article Leaders Need to Shut Up, Listen by Mike Myatt writes: Smart leaders are great listeners, they talk less and listen more. They recognize that knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking but by listening. Being a leader should not mean having license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather, smart leaders know there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by dominating it. In this age of instant communication everyone seems to be rush to communicate– what’s on their mind, they fail to realize the value that can be gleaned from listening to the minds of other people…

It’s simply not possible to be a smart leader without being a great communicator, but most leaders fail to understand that the purpose of communication is not the ‘message’ but the ‘engagement’… and that requires listening… Almost universally the smartest person in the room is not the one doing all the talking, but the one who asks a few relevant, engaging questions, and doing most of the listening… In essence, smart leaders are about taking action and that means; more listening and less talking… Great talkers are a dime a dozen but great listeners are a rare commodity

In the article Three Words that Can Save Business by Mark McIntyre writes: Get your head out of the sand and look around your world, and not through the corner-office window but a close-up view of customers, employees, partners… What do you hear? Listen, put your ear to the ground… It’s a recurring theme– companies get blindsided, they are toppled by stealth disruptive forces they could not have seen coming… It’s a great story line but it’s almost never the truth. Instead, many leaders in high-performing companies are deeply addicted with their own success that they are unable to overcome cognitive blinders, they fail to react in a changing world, because they didn’t stop taking, or they stopped looking, or they stopped listening…

In the article Are You Listening or Just Waiting to Talk? by Daniel Newman writes: Is listening a lost art? In a world full of so much to say, it can be very hard to really listen… But if you want to be a smart leader then you must listen… Smart leaders start with the phrase; Are you listening or just waiting to talk? Have you ever caught yourself actively brainstorming, i.e.; carefully planning your next clever response amidst conversation, which means that you are not really listening but rather thinking about your next response…

Some people struggle with being a good enough listener because their mind tends to play chess… Constantly thinking about what is next or what else needs to be done… It’s the act of focus on what a person is saying rather than what you want to say next… When you truly listen you gain more knowledge and a better understanding of other people… It’s simple; just stop waiting to talk and start ‘really’ listening…

In the article Science Of How To Shut Up by Lydia Dishman writes: Humans are programmed to use communication as a vital tool to survive, thrive… But unfortunately humans also have the propensity to pontificate about themselves; even though the ideal conversation to survive, thrive requires– give and take, i.e., being silent half (50%) of the time… According to Peter Bregman; silence is a greatly under-estimated source of power, knowledge, influence… In silence, you hear not only what is being said, but also what is not being said. In silence it’s easier to reach truth, to better understand, to make better decisions… 

Simply talking ad-nausea is counter-productive… and the greatest form of discourse that takes place in a conversation is the give and take, not a lecture, or monologue, or ramblings… When leaders begin to understand that knowledge and insight is only gained by constant listening and not by constant talk… then they have taken an important step to becoming a smart leader, skilled communicator…

When people, at all levels of leadership, get to share opinions, ideas, information… they become much more relevant, engaged, valued… Smart leaders know– when to shut up, when to listen… and more important, they know the correct– ratio of ‘talk to listen’… So, after each conversation ask ‘yourself’: What have you learned? If the answer is: You’ve learned ‘nothing’… then you probably talk too much and not really listened…

Lost Art of Great Speech– Power of Oratory, Words Move People: Don’t Under-Estimate the Power of a Speech…

The power of a great speech is undeniable… Words can move people to risk life, shed tears, laugh out loud, recommit to virtue, feel patriotic… By weaving and spinning words into a well-crafted speech, a person can wield an almost god-like power… According to Richard Dowis; persons don’t have to possess– loud sonorous voice, or pearly white smile, or wild, charismatic stage presence to give great speech; all the fancy packaging and confidence in the world is rendered useless if speech itself is illogical, boring, poorly conceived…

What ultimately stays with an audience long after the event is over– is the content of what is said… A great speech is about the audience; establishing rapport, common ground, trust, such that; the message is– interesting, relevant, inspiring, e.g.; John F. Kennedy’s memorable speech in Berlin at the height of the cold war; ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ (‘I am Berliner’), which expressed solidarity (however symbolic) with the audience…

There are no big ‘secrets’ in preparing a great speech, only proven techniques that makes the speech– interesting, meaningful, dramatic, e.g.; the ‘rule of three’ used by speechwriters as a  rhetorical device where ideas are grouped in ‘3s’ which makes them more memorable; plus it adds drama, interest, rhythm to a speech, e.g.;

  • Abraham Lincoln: [T]hat a government– of the people, by the people, for the people–  shall not perish…
  • Julius Caesar: Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)…
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: I see one-third of a nation– ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished…

In the article Inspiring Speeches in Business by zillidy writes: What makes people successful? Some business leaders are inspired by people telling them they can’t do something (negative motivation)… Some find inspiration in solving big problems (sense of accomplishment). Others find motivation and inspiration in words that are well-crafted into a great speech (positive reinforcement)… Here are brief excerpts from three inspiring speeches:

  • JK Rowling’s ‘Harvard Commencement Speech’ was about dealing with failure: She said: Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default…
  • Steve Jobs’ ‘2005 Stanford Commencement Speech’ was inspiring, yet helpful speech about– keeping focus… He said: You have to trust in something– your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever; because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference…
  • Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘TED Speech’– was about too few women leaders and inspiring women to do more… She said: Don’t leave before you leave. Stay in. Keep your foot on the gas pedal until the very day you need to leave […] Don’t make decisions too far in advance…

In the article Give a Good Speech by Paul Shoebottom writes: Every good speech has two main aspects: ‘What’ you say (content): ‘How’  you say it (delivery)… But the most important parts of a speech are; ‘the beginning’ and ‘the end’: A strong first sentence captures the attention of the audience… And a strong last sentence– makes them laugh or gives them something provocative to think about… Golden Rule 1– ‘Keep it short and simple’: Keep sentences short, grammar simple, and don’t get diarrhea of the month and ramble aimlessly… stay focused on the message! Golden Rule 2– Use ‘rule of 3’, the human brain responds to things that come in ‘3s’…

Golden rule 3: Metaphors make great speech openers, because they– surprise, conjure images, appeal to emotions… According to Anne Miller; speaking without metaphors is like running marathon barefoot. Yes you can finish the race but not without pain… Metaphors surprise the audience– it’s something other than what is expected, but also link the metaphoric to the message… A great speech– lifts hearts in dark times, gives hope in times of despair, inspires courage, honors the dead, changes the course of history… Great speakers have three components: Style, Substance, Impact…

But the fact of the matter is that most people hate to give a speech… Most  people (i.e., leaders) would rather hide than get-up in front of a group and give a speech… But an ability to craft, deliver a great speech is very important for leaders’ effective communications… According to Portent; here are few tips that might help:

First remember– different people listen at different speeds, but you are only speaking at one speed. That means you are not ‘getting through’ to 66% of the audience, and frankly you run risk of annoying a lot of other people, as well… Remember not everyone processes information the same way… some people prefer to hear a speaker talk quite fast, others prefer a speaker talk quite slowly, and still others prefer a more medium voice speed… Hence varying voice speed periodically during the speech ensures you reach all listening types in the room.

Generally each person in the audience cares about one of the following; ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘how’, or ‘what-if’ information ahead of all else… For example, ‘why’ people want to hear about ‘what’ and ‘how’, but they badly need to know ‘why’ they should care, because all of ‘what’ and ‘how’ information will have no purpose, no meaning, no context… Similarly, ‘what’ people want the data and facts, and are less interested in the big picture or exactly how to use the data. The ‘how’ people want to know ‘how’ to make things work; they don’t much care about context or the raw data…

The speech structure should include data & facts for ‘what’ people; steps and procedures for ‘how’ people; and big picture context for ‘why’ people, and simple Q&A covers ‘what-if’ people… Always start with ‘why’ it sets context, since ‘how’, ‘what’ people don’t mind waiting through that. As for visual slides; scale way, way back on visuals and  only put 2 kinds of things on a slide:

  • Something that will visually explain something that otherwise would take many words to explain, e.g.; chart, graph, photo, image…
  • What you absolutely want the audience to remember: Repeat– Only, what you absolutely want the audience to remember...

A great speech must have a single, concise, clear call to action– one and only one thing… A great speech can launch a decade-long quest for man on the moon, or inspire people to compete for a prize, or find new ways to make processes more efficient… A great speech throws down the gauntlet to find new solutions to difficult problems, or conveys an inspirational and motivational sentiment… A great speech can change the world…

Ransomware– Pay-Up or Else– Billion Dollar Nightmare: Everyone is Vulnerable to Cyber– Extortion, Ransom…

Ransomware is one of the fastest-growing trends in cyber-crime: A clicked URL here, an opened file there, and suddenly your computer is infected with malware that either prevents you from accessing your machine or, worse, encrypts your work documents so you can’t access them… By the time you recognize something is wrong, it’s too late. Cyber-criminals have kidnapped your data and want you to pay up to get it back…  Estimates from the FBI put ransomware on pace to be a $1 billion dollar source of income for cyber-criminals…

The average ransom demand is now about $679. That’s more than double the average demand of $294 observed during attacks in 2015… And more troubling is that less than 50% of victims fully recover data... Ransomware propagates itself as a Trojan, e.g.; fake emails are the most often used distribution method, ahead of– websites, social media, attached infected Word documents… Ransomware is different from other malware and viruses because it’s nearly impossible to break it… In many cases, even the most accomplished coders can’t break the complicated algorithms to get access to the files without paying ransom…

In the article Ransomware a Top Threat by Lucian Constantin writes: Ransomware increasingly hits– businesses, hospitals, public utilities, public transit systems, and even police departments… According to Ed Cabrera; over the past two years there has been a dramatic shift in the type of ransomware being used by attackers… In 2014, 80% of ransomware attacks used traditional techniques, e.g.; locking desktop screen and telling users that they needed to pay fines… However, in 2015, the statistics flipped and 80% of attacks involved malicious malware programs that encrypt files…

Still another evolution is the transition from targeting individuals to organization and enterprises… This change in target is not entirely unexpected; after all business records are much more valuable than personal documents… and organizations can afford to pay higher ransoms than individuals… According to Liviu Arsene; ransomware are now focused on small and medium businesses, since they are more likely to pay larger ransom than the average individual, e.g.; a hospital paid $17,000 when hit by a single ransomware infection… which makes organizations and enterprises much more valuable targets for cyber-crime… 

Ransomware attacks can be devastating; they can cripple day-to-day activities… common entry points in many organizations are; human resource and financial departments, because it’s easy to disguise malware as, e.g.; resume, invoice… And when target are critical infrastructure provider, such as; hospitals, transportation services, communications… impact on these organizations can be catastrophic; unfortunately in these situations there are few realistic options aside from paying the ransom… In these devastating attacks, victims are usually redirected to ‘exploit kits’ via compromised websites or through malicious ads…

Unlike phishing emails these are drive-by-download attacks and it’s difficult to avoid them, since they are launched from trusted websites and are usually completely silent… These are hard decisions; security experts and law enforcement typically recommend that victims do not pay ransoms because it rewards criminals, and there are no guarantee that the attackers will fully recovery the data or provide an decryption key… According to Kaspersky Lab; one in every five organizations that pay ransom never get full-data back… However, for most organizations the decision is simply financial; it’s cost-based, e.g.; comparing– ‘costs lost’ (i.e., lost revenue, reputation, customer support, intellectual property…), versus ‘pay ransom’ (i.e., accepting unintended consequences)…

Incidents of Ransomware on the Rise: Hospitals, schools, government, law enforcement, small business, large corporations, individuals… are all targets for ransomware… It’s  an insidious type of malware that encrypts and/or locks valuable files and demands ransom to release them… According to James Trainor; paying ransom does not guarantee anything– it’s no win situation– even when victims pay they may not get full recovery… plus it emboldens criminals to target even more organizations… In addition, criminal/terrorists use the funds obtained from ransom to engage in other illegal, immoral activities.

Ransoms are profitable enterprises, and it’s very easy for cyber-criminals to organize and manage attacks when they represent themselves as legitimate enterprises… According to McAfee; cyber-criminals have figured out that they can hide/disguise themselves as legitimate enterprises… hence they make much more money, more easily, more safely with cyber ransomware, than with, e.g.; dealing drugs or other illegal activities… But key question; Should victims pay ransom?

Ransom amount vary (it’s market based system): It can be few hundred dollars, or $5,000 or more... And unfortunately victims are in no win situation– it extremely unlikely that the victim can break the malware or encryption… Hence, the decision to pay, or not often comes down to just a few limited options, e.g.:

  • No backup? Pay the ransom: If victims lack any form of file backup, they have no choice but to pay the ransom and hope they get files back. (According to survey of 300 experts; 19% of victims that paid the ransom still didn’t get their files back.)
  • Try restoring from backup: If victims have backup, they should try restoring a clean version, though in many situations customers will be down during the hours and days it takes to restore files.

Third option: Business continuity– it’s the ability for an organization to continue operations even in a disaster situation… Many organizations have plans in place for, e.g.; natural disasters, power outages, other disruptions… But few organizations have– ‘e-crisis’ response plans for cyber threats… Organizations (and individuals) must take cyber-attacks serious and develop effective contingency ‘continuity plan’ to protect themselves…

Dystopian Nightmare of Knowbots– Knowledge Robots: Changing Role of Knowledge Workers in a Knowledge Economy…

A decade ago, it was vampires. A few years ago, it was zombies. And now it’s all about– knowbots, knowledge robots, smart robots… and worries over the future of work… Why the concern; What is different this time around? According to Roy Bahat; the difference is that the jobs threatened are– yours, the elite knowledge worker– the highly educated, mobile professional who has reaped the gains of technology for the last five decades… For the first time, the chattering class might get out-chattered by– ‘knowbots’ (knowledge robots)… According to McKinsey Study; it’s estimated that knowledge work automation, tools and systems, could take over tasks that would be equal to the output  of 100 million to 140 million knowledge workers… This could have an economic impact  of between  $5.2 and $6.7 trillion by 2025…

The face of knowledge work is changing… knowledge  cognitive robotic technology, and AI is transforming the role of knowledge workers… According to Sue Troy; smart robotics will have a major impact on the knowledge labor market by shifting the knowledge worker framework from one of labor arbitrage, which reduces costs for relevant functions by anywhere from 15% to 30%, to one of labor automation, which reduces costs by 40% to 75%… According to Cliff Justice; smart robots will eventually create more career opportunities, but it’s also highly likely to be much disruption for many knowledge workers…

In the article Beyond Automation by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby write:  Knowledge work is loosely defined as work that is more mental than manual, involves consequential decision-making, and it has traditionally required a university education… Knowledge work accounts for a large proportion of the services industry jobs… and it’s the ‘high ground’ to which human have retreated as smart machines have taken over less cognitively challenging work… According to experts; knowledge workers must continually invest in learning… and ever-higher-levels of formal education to keep ahead of invading smart machines…

However many experts also overstate the extent of smart machine replacement of human knowledge workers and ignore the strong complementary nature of humans and machines working together to increase productivity… Knowledge workers will come to see smart machines as partners and collaborators in creative problem-solving… and this relationship between human workers and machine workers do have deep implications for how organizations are structured, managed.

In the article Smart Machines Redefine Knowledge Workers by Ivo Totev writes: More than three million workers will have a ‘robo-boss’ and nearly 50% of the fastest-growing companies will have more smart machines than workers by 2020, according to Gartner report. However, the manner in which smart machines impact knowledge worker productivity is another story… Trust is one of the big issues:  Yes, trusting a smart machine to deliver your Amazon order is one thing, but trusting autonomous vehicles is another, even though according to a study commissioned by Google found the company’s autonomous cars crashed 3.2 times per million miles, compared with 4.2 times for human drivers…

Hence, it’s realistic to assume that people are comfortable with smart machines where the outcomes are highly predictable and proven over time… In this sense newer smart cognitive technology takes on more of ‘augmentation’ role than ‘automation’. According to Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby; ‘automation’ starts with a baseline of what people do in a given task and subtracts from that… It deploys smart machines to chip away at the tasks that knowledge workers perform as soon as those tasks can be codified… In contrast, ‘augmentation’ means starting with what knowledge workers do, and figuring out how that work could be deepened rather than diminished by a greater use of smart machines…

In the article What Smart Robots Mean for Knowledge Workers by Zainab Zaki writes: We all know the smart robots are coming, cars drive themselves, floors clean themselves, food serves itself, clothes sew themselves… Smart robots have the potential to take over millions of tasks… but what about the traditional knowledge workers– the elite professionals who have university graduate degrees, experience, great skills– where do they fit, in the scheme of things:

Does that mean that– doctors, engineers, accountants… are in jeopardy of being replace by smart robots? According to Megan Beck; yes, knowledge workers will be disrupted, and all workers in the knowledge economy will have to retool themselves in order to compete with smart robots… But smart robot is still a robot, and it cannot connect, or interact, or empathize with humans like other humans… Hence, the new knowledge workers will require different skills to compete with knowbots…

In the article Get Ready for New Co-Worker, Smart Robot by Sharon Gaudin writes: Some experts predict that there is an invasion of smart robots, and it’s on the rise… According to one study; smart robots could take over 50% of tasks in both U.S. and UK work forces over the next two decades. That would mean the loss of roughly 80 million U.S. and 15 million UK knowledge workers… According to Tom Davenport; many knowledge workers’ tasks are vulnerable to be taken over by smart machines, e.g.; there are areas being targeted by IBM’s Watson and other cognitive technologies that involves– massive amount of data, highly complexity issues, and knowledge bases that can only be managed by smart machines…

According to Abhijit Bhaduri; cognitive technologies is reshaping, redefining the role of knowledge work, and the roles of knowledge workers. Hence, knowledge workers’ skill-set must also changes. According to Peter Drucker; every few hundred years throughout Western history, a transformation occurs in the nature of work… In a matter of decades a new world exists. And people born into that world cannot imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born…

The age of knowbots is such a period of transformation… it’s a new world that is dominated by ‘shift to a knowledge society’… it’s an age where people generate value with their minds more than with their muscle, and knowbots are becoming an important player in this new world… Increasing knowledge work productivity is the most important management issue in the 21st century– and that means organizations must determine, arbitrate, manage the task sharing between cognitive knowledge robots and human knowledge workers…

Think Metaphorically– Outside the Box, Inside the Box, Beyond the Box: Creativity is a Different Way of Thinking…

‘Think outside the box’ is an overused cliché… Nevertheless, it does capture the idea that creativity means trying and exploring different ideas… It’s heard again and again, an executive admonishing a team to ‘think outside of the box’… Of course, the intention is to inspire and to ‘think creatively’, but the problem is that it’s an uninspiring, uncreative, unencouraging way to say it… In fact, it can be darn right unproductive…

According to Tom Stevens; cliché is antithesis of creativity, and ‘out of the box’ is as cliché as it comes. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are– different, creative, breakthrough… The human brain does respond to metaphors but in very subtle and profound ways, e.g.; if a ‘box’ is a metaphor for your experience then ‘out-of-the-box‘ suggests that you trying to discover something new and totally outside of that experience… The trouble is that thinking about things outside of your experience is almost impossible… Asking someone to ‘think outside the box’ is like asking someone to list unforeseeable events…

In the article To Think Outside The Box, Go Outside The Box by Dileep Rao writesMetaphors can help make sense of the unfamiliar by comparing them to something understandable. By looking at the familiar with new eyes, you might realize that you are blind to the obvious, or you forgot an essential element, or you discovered something entirely different… Hence metaphor can change your viewpoint by forcing you to multiplicity, i.e.; looking at things from many points of view– by re-framing situations, metaphors help creative thinking… 

One of the  most common metaphor or cliché in business is to ‘think outside the box’ (OTB)… And even though many business cultures encourage employees to ‘think’ OTB… but they really do not ‘go’ OTB… For many organization, the reluctance or inability, to shake core business habits by going OTB, i.e.; from established behaviors to a more riskier ones– can be dangerous, especially when revolutionary trends can seriously disrupt the organization. Hence in order to ‘think’ outside the box, it helps to ‘be’ outside the box… Here are a few reasons:

  • No constraints: When you are on the outside you are not limited or influenced by established behaviors… hence your thinking can seek different ways to get things done…
  • Blank-slate thinking: When you are on the outside you have a blank-slate– relatively little extra baggage that can seriously influence your thinking… hence you can create new or different rules based on the reality of situation…
  • Revolutionary trending: When you are on the outside you can adopt new revolutionary advances to gain a competitive edge rather than seeking small, evolutionary changes… Small change is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…
  • Bottom-up analyzing: When you are on the outside you can work for the bottom-up to determine how to make customers happier without the constraints of existing practices…

In the article Think Outside the Box and Creativity by Douglas Eby  writes: What if you could boost creativity by taking metaphors literally, such as; ‘thinking outside the box’, or ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’? Here is where Angela Leung and her colleagues created experiments with people acting out the metaphors, literally: In one experiment, each participant was seated either, inside or outside of a five-by-five-foot cardboard box. The two environments were set-up to be the same in every way, and people didn’t feel claustrophobic in the box. Participants were told that it was a study on different work environments… Each person was given a widely used test for creativity; the finding showed that those who were ‘outside the box’ tested better, than those who were ‘inside the box’...

In another experiment, participants were asked to join two halves of a coaster that had been cut (before the test)– this representation was to demonstrate; putting ‘two + two’ together. People who acted out the metaphor displayed more convergent thinking– a component of creativity that requires putting together various scenarios, then settling on one that works… Another experiments found that walking around ‘randomly’ generated more original ideas than walking in a ‘preset-line’. And still another test found that there is truth in ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’…

All this suggests that there is some validation to metaphors that are used when talk about creativity… According to Angela Leung; having a leisurely walk outdoors or freely pacing around helps clear the mindset– it’s getting-up and walking away from your cubicle (the box) that can also create space for creative thinking…

In the article Thinking Outside the Box by Joycelyn Campbell writes: If you are stymied by the prospect of ‘thinking outside the box’, you may be relieved to find out that you cannot actually do it… The box is the mental model through which you view and interpret the world. You are always ‘inside the box’, in one compartment or another… The ‘box’ is a symbol of constraint– what you see, what you think, how you feel, what you do… The ‘box’ has implication of rigidity, squareness, and symbolizes constrained, unimaginative thinking… In contrast to the open and unrestricted ‘out of the box‘… Thinking  creatively is being  unimpeded by orthodox and conventional constraints…

The metaphor– ‘thinking outside the box’ has become so hackneyed as to be rather meaningless. The ‘box’ has come to represent all things that limit thinking, so ‘thinking outside the box’ means being able to transcend those limitations… Out-of-the-box thinking doesn’t require people to rewire their brains or take courses in creativity… To think outside the box requires only to ask: Is there a different way to think about an issue or thing?

It’s a myth: researchers have found that the conceptual link between ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘creativity’ fails to produce the desired creativity… And far from being hindrance– past experience, training can be a key to creative thinking… According to Frans Johansson;  instead of trying to think outside the box, people are better served by deliberately– stretching, expanding, learning, exposing… oneself to new situations, different viewpointsNew and different ideas are not spun from thin air, creativity involves; synthesizing, remixing, reenvisioning what’s already inside the box. Hence creativity is all about; building a better box, a different box…

Connecting the Physical Worlds– Smart Sensors Technology: Ubiquitous — Transforming Industries, Organizations…

The Internet connects people in a global-wide web of information– zillions of bits that are stored in computer memories, hard drives… But there is an emerging revolution occurring using highly miniaturized, wireless, networked ‘smart sensors’… these devises are connecting and transforming our ability to understand and manage the physical world around usAccording to several research reports: The global smart sensors market is anticipated to reach $60 billion by 2022, and growing at a CAGR of 19.2% from 2016 to 2022…

The market size and growth potential of smart sensors covers multi-industries and across many segments, e.g.; security, surveillance, energy-efficiency, consumer electronics, automotive, healthcare, automation, robotics, manufacturing… These smart devices are the connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT)… According to Gartner; the number of sensors needed to create the Internet of Things (IoT) is mind-boggling; some 26 billion smart sensors will be installed by 2020 in everything from– cars to conveyor belts, buildings to bridges, road signs to refrigerators, test beds to toasters, smart grids, smart cities, smart environments… The use of smart sensors is truly ubiquitous…

In the article Smart Sensors by 30mhz writes: It’s a new era where objects are embedded with sensors with ability to acquire, measure, and communicate information that can improve processes, reduce costs, minimize risk. Smart sensors (often wireless) offer organizations the opportunity to capture data from– anywhere, anytime, under all environmental conditions. Wireless sensors can be placed anywhere, even in the most difficult to reach places or extreme environments… They can track where assets are, monitor their condition and save time by predicting upkeep needs… They can capture just about any metric, including; vibration, heat, moisture, image, sound… and submit data for processing via the cloud or local processor…

It’s a new era with focus on sensor driven computing as a key area of innovation and growth from street signals, to manufacturing plants, to construction cranes, to jet engines… the massive amounts data that can be collected is both overwhelming and exciting… However, it’s crucial that organizations have complete solution that not only capture sensory data but refine it into actionable insights… Sensory data augments human capability for better decision-making, and that enables organizations to be more competitive, efficient, productive.

In the article Smart Sensors and Internet of Things by Jim O’Donnell writes: Internet of Things (IoT) cannot exist without smart sensors, and growing use of smart technology is already transforming how many organizations implement the IoT… Smart sensors bring more connectivity and analytics to the value chain, e.g.: Here are some things to consider:

  • Smart sensors are the indispensable enablers of the IoT… Smart sensors, including radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, serve three broad purposes; 1. identification, 2. location, 3. condition… All have major implications for a value chain and manufacturing… They are useful in plants or warehouses because they keep track of critical indicators, such as; temperature, humidity, data logs for quality control, triggers for alarms, and process management…
  • Smart sensors are embedded in products, which help improve the manufacturing process or the products themselves. Sensors are integrated within products to create ‘smart products’ and they provide many enhanced valued added features… They can also permeate the manufacturing process to– monitor, control, and improve operations… and added to logistics to streamline how products are delivered…

In the article Healthcare With Smart, Wireless, Wearable Sensors by MDO writes: There are strong indications in the marketplace that a digital healthcare revolution is coming (often referred to as wireless, digital, or mobile health). The basic idea is to wirelessly connect the patient with care providers to monitor their health and intervene as needed– ideally preventatively– as the patient goes about normal life. The enabling technology is a miniature, smart sensors incorporated around– deployable, wearable, implantable– the patient. Wearable are attractive, because they require no medical procedure and travel with the patient…

Miniature, smart sensors are based on micro- and nano-fabrication technology, often simply referred to as MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) and NEMS (nano-electro-mechanical systems). These devices augment the computational ability of microelectronics with perception (i.e., sensing) and control (i.e., actuation) capabilities…

MEMS sensors and actuators have over 40 years of commercial history behind it, and MEMS sensor design and manufacturing advances have enabled consumer electronics volume, pricing, and performance. The MEMS industry is bullish on the prospects for wide range of smart sensors, and there is gathering momentum to develop a trillion-sensors road map…

In the article Smart Mini-Sensors, Next Big Thing by Dror Sharon writes: The proliferation of smartphones, wearable, Internet of things… have heralded the age of affordable smart sensors… For example; imaging capabilities within smartphones has evolved rapidly since introduction of smart sensor technology, including;  new lens packs, new CMOS sensors and extensive image sensor processors in order to improve the capability and/or quality of images, photos, videos… Some smartphones and wearable even have a pulse-oxymeter for monitoring health… Smart sensors with embedded microprocessors and wireless communication links are changing the way systems are– monitored, controlled, maintained…

The changing nature of technology is disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do… In the past decade the Internet’s impact accelerated with the proliferation of; always-on, cloud-connected, and multi-sensory devices, such as; smartphones, wearable devices… It’s a digital shift being instigated by the forces of– cloud, mobile, sensors, social. The Internet of things  (IoT) drives massive numbers of smart sensor connectivity, and society  is putting unprecedented pressure to balance resource constraints and environmental sustainability concerns…

Hence to name just a few examples: consider the rapid emergence of ‘smart cities’, which are full of IoT devices, including; smart electric meters, smart street lights, smart sensors to monitor traffic flow… Also consider; ‘smart buildings’, which are full of IoT devices running; smart elevators, lighting, security, HVAC systems… Also ‘smart cars’, they too are full of IoT devices that manage just about all major functions in the automobile… Smart sensors are ubiquitous– more organizations, government, companies… are exploring how they can take advantage of the combination of– smart sensors, cloud, artificial intelligence… to improve customer value, competitiveness, better decisions, improve the workplace experience…

Subtle Shifts in Business, Leadership, Management, Organization, Strategy, Innovation– Bring Big Results…

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