Archive for April, 2011

Changing Paradigms…of all sorts

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Is it the subject matter or the animation talents that I find so provocative? And the message or lesson could be applied to many of our institutions including education, every form of customer engagement whether further developing a science park or striving to build a more intelligent planet.

In the current economic mess, there is much discussion about a revitalization of the manufacturing base as being essential to the security of the nation. Certainly, our educational system’s foundation is predicated on the training of such a factory workforce with its emphasis on the three Rs and standardized testing as a means of developing the individual. I agree with one of the Ken Robinson’s points that students today are bored by the pace and variety of the teaching curriculum. Given the plethora of learning aids on the web and the variety of social media and mobile devices, teachers and managers and organizational strategists have to perform more like coaches and mentors than founts of the final word.

At some point, we going to have to start over in the reconstruction of the educational system. Pouring good money, and nearly all of the money, to maintain a system that does not keep-up with the needs of its constituents will collapse under its own weight. Hesitant to say so and I feel that this is true of our political structure and health care system. These organizations no longer control the message. It is imperative that they find ways to reorganize with their constituents as the center of the decision process. After all, it’s a matter of education.

P.S. RSA offers apps for both iPhone and Android with info here.

Blue Pane Studio’s 2nd Android app: Environmental Biology 2011 Conference

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Learning that Android apps require much more production work than do apps for Apple devices, mainly because there are several versions of Android devices, i.e. 2.1, 2.2, and each view on an Android device requires a little modification to the lay-out. There is a rich supply of related articles, rants, pleas for a common development platform or solution to this matter as clients cannot be aware of the increased complexity compared to design for an Apple device. At first, BPS calculated that it will build for Apple devices and work on the Android version as the Apple build worked its way thru the associated 10 day approval process. The thinking was that converting from Apple to Android would be about 50% of the effort. Not so fast! Ultimately, Android design costs more and has to be priced accordingly in the future. The hidden victims of this complexity are the other device manufacturers such as RIM and Nokia-Microsoft. Until their market share increases, design studios will discourage clients from deploying apps on such devices due to the poor return on investment in design effort. We are all learning this new game.

Social Media Adoption by the Enterprise

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Related point of view by IBM’s Institute for Business Value

Certainly, an enterprise cannot turn on a dime, but it was six years ago that my then 15 year old son informed me that “email is for adults.” In my father’s Merrill Lynch office, now part of Bank of America, their advantage in the brokerage business was access to and adoption of technology. Now these sorts of outfits are among the last to adopt. Outlook and Notes are not the answers for the enterprise; will it be Facebook? Doubt this as well. If change does not occur in an orderly manner within the business, it will be induced from without.

I see this at the radio station, WXDU, where I am a volunteer DJ and have been for seven semesters. The new DJs are different this year. In my opinion, this is the first freshman class who was introduced to music via the iPod. Their music comes from others and is shared with others and is played on their own devices in any order and format that they want. It’s second nature. Who would listen to a seemingly random selection of someone else’s music, someone that you don’t know. And this attitude manifests itself in reliability at the station. DJs back-out or call in sick or don’t show due to an exam, not because they are not responsible people, I feel that it is because they cannot imagine that whatever audience is out there would really mind if they didn’t hear someone else’s music played at a particular hour. Ditto for information sharing at work. If they don’t get the tools and access to information that they think that they need, they’ll get it somewhere else and from somebody else and not even realize that there is a difference.

Graduate Schools of Business, Public Policy and Military Heritage

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

This past week I joined the occasional and informal gathering of the Vets Club at Duke University. Attendees included Marines, Rangers, Medics, Artillery, a couple of Destroyer sailors- including yours truly – and a Hungarian sky-diver.

I don’t write much here about my position as the President of the local Naval Academy Alumni Association even though my military affiliation has become an important factor in my life even these many years after my own service. My participation renewed once my elder son joined the Naval ROTC at his college and flowered as I met a variety of military types who live, work and pass through our region. Because of the university population here, i.e. UNC, Duke and NC State, I meet a fair number of the more accomplished junior officers who earn billets here. An element of my personal goals within the Alumni Assoc. is to encourage and to help these JOs remain in the area. Several of these young men and women have become among my favorite people and most wished for social partners. I hope that they feel this way about me. On the other hand, as they search for work and expand their families, I am reminded vividly that I am many moons past their stage of life. In an uncertain economic time, with its shadow of organizational mistrust amidst a whiff of desperation, I am invigorated and motivated by their company. Plus, they make me laugh with their candid assessments of circumstance and insights into human foible.

Two threads of conversations with the Vets, over beers, caused me to post. As we discussed their post-graduation plans which range from Fellowships in St. Petersburg, Russia to financial management with JP Morgan Chase (the Army infantry sergeant) to non-profit work in Colorado, we wondered how our training and their combat experiences would translate to the current civilian sector. We agreed that one challenge of military transition is that the armed services are entities consumed by focus on mission. Civilian employment survives by process measurement of profit and loss statements. So, military types have to adjust and rightly so, but you have to know why you belong or affiliate with a revenue-focused entity or else we get what we have, namely, too-busy people running in circles feeling that someone else needs to solve ‘this problem.’ The second thread of conversation addressed management styles. Of course, amongst this well and roundly educated tablet, no one contended that the command and control style of the military makes sense in the civilian sector – even though there are the wannabees. After a round or so, we agreed that one aspect of military management would make a positive impact in the civilian sector. When is the last time, the first time, the any time that your manager asked you what the Marines, particularly, make evident from day one of training: “Do you know what you have to do? Do you have what you need to get it done?” These phrases won’t be found in any handbook of leadership and they are the essence of mission accomplishment. One cannot always know and one does not always have all that one needs. However, without addressing or asking these two questions, the mission cannot be accomplished because it lacks collective understanding and agreement.

Here’s to the young, the brave and the future.