Posts Tagged ‘Technological Revolution’
Full disclosure part I: a month ago, while on my way to a business meeting, I saw a few OWS folks “camping” in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Market street in San Francisco. I did not even have the time to take a picture with my iPhone, let alone chat with someone. This is the closest I ever got to touching, or being touched, by anyone in the movement.
So, I do not even know whether folks in the movement will agree or disagree with my simple interpretation of their overarching message:
- Our financial system is badly broken.
- Rather than letting it continue with business as usual, the Federal Reserve Bank should take over the banking system.
- Many of the services provided today by banks can be provided (once the Fed takes over) through devices such as iPhone just as they do in rural India.
- Substitutes could and should be developed for the services that can’t be carried out through iPhones or similar devices.
- Developing such services is no different from developing alternative sources of energy or health care services.
- Once the government puts in the appropriate policies (to encourage development of such services), a ton of entrepreneurs will jump at the opportunity.
I have no doubt that there are zillion details that I am not aware of that need to be figured out. I am a software engineer, not a banker.
But, I believe that at a very high level bullets 1-6 above capture some aspects of the message folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to get across. Hence, I am really surprised at the question I see cited so often “But what do they really want?!” IMHO they simply want a major reform of the financial system. The details for so doing are better left to experts.
Full disclosure part II: I have to admit my blood boiled today when I saw the videos from UC Davis. As I said in a tweet an hour or so ago, it starts feeling like the brutality inflicted on the Bonus Army in 1932. Tim O’Reilly goes one step further in his post in which he brings up the loaded topic of Banality of Evil.
So, I might be writing this post with some strong emotions. But, I think the thesis I pose is directionally correct.
By now I have “touched” and been touched by dozens and dozens of participants in the O’Reilly Velocity conference. I did not meet any business executive (other than various CEOs/CMOs who pitched their companies from the podium).
No doubt, the O’Reilly Velocity conferences (this is the third one) are geek events. Having said that, IMHO these conferences are extremely important to the business executive. If you don’t attend you miss up on four value propositions:
- Getting a sense of what the future in web operation holds.
- Grasping what forthcoming advances in web operations mean to your business design. See for example my post Ops Driven Dev from earlier today.
- Understanding the needs of a growing demographic sector that your business might not be able to access today.
- Getting to know the kind of developers and sysadmins that probably work in the trenches of your company.
You owe it to yourself to consider attending Velocity 2011 if terms like “sysadmin 2.0”, “darkmode” and “devops” and do not resonate with you. I can’t give you “your money back” guarantee if you are not satisfied with the conference, but I will gladly pick the bar tab when we meet there.
Abstract: The presentation applies Agile thinking to critical aspects of strategy and execution at a time of uncertainty and disruption. The essential point is simple and logical: Agile values and principles are indivisible. To succeed, they must be applied not just to R&D, but also to customer and company, simultaneously. This requires reconfiguration of customer relationships, employee policy, software development, and the relationship that binds the three. The resulting paradigm shift could lower the cost of software and produce prosperity similar to the one induced by ultra-cheap oil in the 50’s.
Perspective: In addition to being a ‘think-piece,’ the presentation offers pragmatic recommendations for the Agile champion in three critical areas:
- It explains how the Agile champion can cross three chasms that tend to form in the course of large scale Agile rollouts.
- It explores how to apply Agile priciples to software deployment and operations.
- It shows how earned value management can utilize ‘real time’ customer feedback in companies that embrace end-to-end Agility.
Authors Hagel, Brown and Davison use an interesting metaphor in a recent Harvard Business Review article on strategy in time of constant change:
Today’s new Digital infrastructure in fact gives relatively small actions and investments an impact disproportionate to their size. To use a boxing metaphor, companies can now punch above their weight class.
Compare the Digital infrastructure with traditional infrastructures such as water canals, railroads or highways. Unlike these classical means of communication and transportation, Software is unique in being integral part of the Digital infrastructure as well as being a major piece of what gets transported over the infrastructure. Best I know no other entity ever played such a dual role in as meaningful a manner.
The metaphorical punch Hagel, Brown and Davison use as an illustration for the leverage provided by the Digital infrastructure is particularly intriguing due to to the malleability of software. Delivery methods for products and services over the Digital infrastructure could evolve the way product feature and functions do. If the product continues to evolve after initial delivery, the opportunity presents itself to do Agile in the deep sense recently proposed in The Lean Startup: iterative customer development alongside Agile product development that includes iterating on the delivery method.
Christensen’s post is largely about the automobile industry. It, however, ties nicely to an email exchange Jeff Sutherland and I had about Agile as a disruption inside the company vis-a-vis its intentional use as a disruptive methodology in the market. To quote Jeff:
We are starting to see organizations like yours that can use Scrum to disrupt a market. There is a tremendous amount of low hanging fruit out there. Dysfunctional companies that can’t deliver. I’ve been recommending a “Marauder” strategy to the venture group. Find a company who has a large amount of resources. Set them loose like pirates on the ocean and they seek out slow ships and take them out.
Carlota Perez, who has been often cited in this blog (click here, here and here), is a disciple of Schumpeter. I really like the way the “dots” are connected: Schumpeter –> Perez –> Christensen –> Schumpeter. Their theories of disruption and constructive destruction express themselves nicely in the business design proposed by Jeff.
Re-reading Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages by Carlota Perez, I was struck by the following paragraph:
So, once again, the amount of money available to financial capital has grown larger than the set it recognizes as good opportunities. Since it has come to consider normal the huge gains from the successful new industries, it expects to get them from each and every investment and will not be satisfied with less. So rather than go back to funding unsophisticated production, it develops sophisticated instruments to make money out of money. [Italicized and highlighted by IG]
Perez published the book in 2002. Her words of wisdom seem to be appropriate today even more than they might had been then.