The Calorie Count Cookie

Fortune Cookie Calories
So we were out with family at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. 



And at the end of the meal, of course there were fortune cookies to be had.



As someone opened the cookie, and was about to plop it in her mouth, she said, “Ah, there goes another 100 calories!”



Then I thought for a moment, and said, “wouldn’t it be great (for those of us watching our weight), if every food had an edible embedded chip and display that would flash the calorie count as you picked it up and were about to put it in your mouth. 



Rather than those esoteric calorie counts on the side of packages for G-d knows what serving sizes, you get a play-by-play count every time you reach, pick up, and are about to ingest the next big gulp.



I think having calorie counts tied to real portions and having these in your face in real time as you are eating could have a huge impact on portion size and weight control. 



It may not be sexy to see the calories in your face as you eat, but boy could it be healthy. 😉



Copyright to Andy Blumenthal



(Source Photo: Me)

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>Leading Through Planning

>Recently, I was reminded of two pointers in developing an effective IT strategic plan:

  1. Strategic planning is about leadership and setting direction—There is an interesting saying with respect to this that the manager ensures that you do things right, and the leader ensures that you do the right things. The strategic plan, including the vision, mission, and value statements are about leadership establishing and communicating what the ‘right thing’ is. An effective metaphor for this is that the manager ensures that you climb the ladder, but the leader ensures that the ladder is up against the “right” wall.
  2. Strategic planning goals, objectives, and initiatives have to be aligned and actionable —that means that you need to set the strategic plan elements at an appropriate level of detail and in cascading fashion. One way to do this is to navigate up and down between goal, objectives, and initiatives in the following way: To navigate to a higher elements of the plan hierarchy, ask why. Why do we do XYZ? To navigate to lower levels of detail and specificity, ask how. How do or will we do XYZ.

Together, these two guidelines help to develop an IT strategic plan that is both effective in terms of goal setting and organizational focus as well as at the appropriate levels of detail and alignment to be truly actionable.

>Enterprise Architecture Plans that Stick

>I read a great little book today called Made to stick by Chip and Dan Heath about “Why some ideas survive and others die.”

As I read this, I was thinking how very applicable this was to User-centric Enterprise Architecture in terms of making architecture products and plans that stick—i.e. they have a real impact and value to the organization and are not just another ivory tower effort and ultimately destined as shelfware.

The Heath brothers give some interesting examples of stories that stick.

Example #1: A man is given a drink at the bar by a beautiful lady that is laced with drugs and he finds himself waking up in a bathtub on ice with a note that tell him not to move and to call 911—he has been the victim of a kidney heist and is in desperate need of medical attention.

Example #2: Children Halloween candy is found tampered with and there is a scare in the community. The image of the razorblade in the apple is poignant and profoundly changes people’s perception of and trust in their neighbors.

Now, you may have heard of these stories already and they probably strike a deep chord inside everyone who hears them. Well, surprise—neither story is true. Yet, they have lasting power with people and are remembered and retold for years and years. Why do they stick, while other stories and ideas never even make it off the ground?

Here are the six necessities to make ideas have lasting, meaningful impact and how they relate to enterprise architecture:

Simplicity—drilldown to essential core ideas; be a master of exclusion; come up with one sentence that is so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it. In enterprise architecture, keep information products and plans straightforward and on point.

Unexpectedness—violate people’s expectations; surprise them, grab people’s attention; I call this the shock factor. In architecture, we can use principles of communication and design (for example identify critical relationships in the information) to garner people’s attention, and help them come away with actionable messages.

Concreteness—use concrete images to ensure our idea will mean the same thing to everyone. In enterprise architecture, we can use information visualization to make information and ideas more concrete for the users (i.e. “a picture is worth a thousand words.”)

Credibility—promote ideas in ways that they can be tested, so that they are credible to the audience. An example is when Reagan was running for president and he asked Are you better off today than 4 years ago. This brought the message home and made it credible with voters in ways that pure numbers and statistics could not. For architects, the roadmap provided to the enterprise must be credible—it must have the level of detail, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and currency to garner acceptance.

Emotions–make your audience feel something; people feel things for people not for abstractions. In architecture and planning, we need to inspire and motivate people in the organization effectively influence, shape, and guide change. Remember, there is a natural resistance to change, so we need to appeal to people intellectually and also emotionally.

Stories—tell stories that are rich and provide for an enduring mental catalogue that can be recalled for critical situations in later life. Often, architects create isolated products of information that describe desired performance outcomes, business processes, information flows, systems, and technology products and standards; however, unless these are woven together to tell a cohesive story for the decision makers, the siloed information will not be near as effective as it can be.

These six principles spell out SUCCES, and they can be adeptly used successfully by enterprise architects to hone information and planning products that enable better decisions. These are the types of architectures that stick (and do not stink) and are truly actionable and valuable to the organization.