Breakthrough Hybrid Car Technology

Saw this photo on Facebook.


Thought this was just too excellent. 


Yes, a new hybrid car.


– The chassis goes one way.


– The passenger compartment goes the other way. 


Was the engineer on hallucinogenics? 


Or perhaps, this is some super secret new technology for easy parallel parking. 


Think about it, if the car is driverless than what difference does it make anyway? 😉


(Source Photo: Facebook)

Change Everybody Loves To Hate

I thought this saying from a colleague was really astute.

“Everybody hates the status quo

but nobody wants to change.”


How’s that for a conundrum. 


The question is are we more unhappy with the dysfunctional way things are or are we more afraid to make the necessary changes in our life?


I think that when the pain and dysfunction of the status quo are greater than the fear and inconvenience of changing, only then will people quite resisting and adapt to the new reality. 


Welcome to change!  😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Rise Oceans Rise

Rise Oceans Rise

The polar ice caps are melting–does anyone believe it or care?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Antarctica alone holds 60% of the world’s fresh water “locked into millions of cubic miles of polar ice.”

NASA glaciologists states: “Ice is going to retreat in this sector for decades and centuries to come and we can’t stop it.”

In other words, we may have “reached the point of no return.”

Sea levels are seen rising 10 to 12 feet–that’s almost 1.8 x Magic Johnson across all our oceans!

The New York Times says that just a four foot rise would inundate cities like New York, Boston, Miami, and New Orleans.

WTOP reports that the impact will not just be in low-lying cities but even Washington, DC along the Chesapeake Bay is at great risk.

And while over time barriers may be able to be built up around DC to protect it, other areas like New York City is “almost unenclosable.”

Global warming has is changing our earth’s ecosystems, and like the National Deficit, we can try to prove it false, ignore it, or hope for a technological breakthrough or miracle to save us.

Yes, there are lot’s of doom and gloom scenarios, and it’s hard to know when to take catastrophe seriously and when it is Chicken Little.

While I wouldn’t go looking for high ground just yet, maybe that Miami oceanfront–as much as I love it–may not be the best long-long term investment around. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Looking Forward, Backwards

Looking Forward, Backwards

Farhad Manjoo argues in today’s Wall Street Journal that “there’s plenty” of innovation going on, despite the grumblings that their isn’t.

His main argument is that “the smartphone and the tablet ‘are’ the next big things.”

Manjoo tells us to “grow up” and calls us “spoiled children,” because we are not satisfied with these and simple future enhancements of this.

He would have us accept that there won’t be “anything as groundbreaking in a generation.”

Well, looking back at past innovation and calling that as our current and future innovation is like looking back at our past successes and simply resting on our laurels as good enough.

Unfortunately, no business can rest on their past successes–they must constantly innovate to stay relevant in the marketplace and meet their growth targets for revenue, profit, market share, and customer satisfaction.

As they say in financial prospectuses, “past success is no guarantee of future success.”

Similarly, as individuals we do not just settle for past success, but we strive everyday to make a contribution, to learn, and to grow as long as we have the strength to try.

When we stop striving, we may as well be heading downhill in the cycle of life, because as we all know, “if you are not moving forward, then you are moving backwards.”

Life is not stagnant, and yesterdays innovations are not todays creative breakthroughs or tomorrows leaps forward.

The rate of innovation is no longer measured in generations in the 21st century–and for those who think it is, they would have us accept defeat in this highly global, competitive marketplace.

While we should not be greedy, why are we so ready to say good enough, instead of really critiquing ourselves (e.g. calling a dry spell, a dry spell) and continuing the tough journey into the future.

At least Manjoo cites incremental work in privacy, enterprise technologies such as cloud computing, and robotics as tech trends – so maybe there is still hope. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Go Curly!

This was a funny picture hanging around a local eatery in D.C–at election season.

Curly for President–sort of reminded me of when I was in grade school and had a head full of curly hair and some of the other kids (especially the females in the class) fondly called me “chief curly chicken”–yeah, it stuck for about a year or two. 

Anyway, maybe this is something both Democrats and Republicans can agree on: the three Stooges–Moe, Larry, and Curly–were pretty darn funny. 

With the big looming issues facing America today (exploding national deficits, high unemployment, endangered social programs, declining global competitiveness–now 7th, and more), we can certainly use a little humor to get past it, along with a good dose of strong leadership and breakthrough solutions. 

Whoever you vote for–keep smiling!  🙂

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Innovation Echtzing and Krechtzing

Make_a_difference

It used to be that either you were innovative or not.

Either you came up with out of the box thinking, new paradigms for doing things, cool new designs, and products and services using the latest and greatest technology–or you would eventually be dead in the marketplace and life.

Now as things seem to slow down a little on the innovators front–we’re echtzing and krechtzing (hemming and hawing) about what is innovation anyway?

The Wall Street Journal (5 October 2012) wrote about “The Innovator’s Enigma”–asking whether incremental innovation is real innovation.

For example, when P&G took the sleepy, drowsy part of the medication of NyQuil and made it into it’s own medicine called ZzzQuil–was that innovative or just “incremental, derivative.”

The article notes that big periods of explosive upheavals in innovation are often followed by “period of consolidation and then by valuable incremental innovation involving the same product.”

It’s almost like a lets face it–you can’t have the equivalent of the iPhone created every day–or can you?

When after the iPhone, people now ask for an iFighter (WSJ, 24 July 2012) and the real iRobot (like envisioned in the movie with Will Smith)–aren’t we talking about applying real breakthrough innovation to every facet of our lives?

With Apple coming forward with the integration model of innovation bringing together hardware and software –the bar has been raised on the expectation for innovation not just being functionally excellent, but design cool. Now, Fast Company states (October 2012), “good design is good business”

But even then innovation is questioned as to its real meaning and impact with Bloomberg BusinessWeek (2 August 2012) stating that “it’s easier to copy than to innovate” and “being inspired by a good product and seeking to make even better products is called competition.”

Here’s another from Harvard Business Review (April 2012) called “Celebrate Innovation, No Matter Where It Occurs” that calls out “adjacencies” as bona fide innovation too, where an adjacency is exploiting “related and nearby opportunities.” since inventions are often so large that “inventor’s can’t exploit them alone” and there are associated opportunities for other (think of new cool iPhone cases for the new cool iPhone).

One more thing I learned recently is that innovation isn’t just the great new product or service offering, but how you use it.

With Newsweek (17 September 2012), calling into question the iPhone’s “awkward invasion of the lavatory” with “not just phones, but tablets and e-readers and even our laptops” replacing the good ‘ol Reader’s Digest in the bathrooms around the world, then things have truly changed deep culturally and not just superficially technologically.

This message was brought home last year, when a friend told me how they dropped their iPhone in the toilet leading to a speedy drowning death for the smartphone, now not looking too smart anymore.

So innovation come in all shapes and sizes and can be mega big, incremental small, derivative, or even adjacent–the important thing is that we keep our thinking caps on and working towards better, faster, and cheaper all the time. 

Sometimes, I do look back and miss things or ways of doing them from the past, so innovation isn’t always–just by definition–a good thing, but what we really come up with and how we apply it perhaps can make all the difference. 

The perfect example for me is carving out some genuine space and quiet time to really think about life and innovate in what has become a 24/7 now always-on society that demands innovation but that often squashes it with incessant noise.

Turn down the noise, let innovation thrive afresh, and be sure you make a genuine difference, and whatever type it is that it is not just as they would say in Hebrew school more dreck (junk) or another narrishkeit (foolishness) in the making.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Head Over Heels For Technology

This is really a very cool video called iPad Head Girl.
The girl is covered with 4 iPads–each with an image of a different angle of a headshot (face, back, and sides) making it look almost like her real head.
You’re thinking–what is this: a robot, a person, an alien?–it’s really up to your imagination, but you’d better get a closer look.
I understand from Coolest-Gadgets that this is actually part of an advertising campaign by Thinkmodo for a racy iPad magazine called “Cosmo for Guys,” and No, I am not promoting this in any way!
However, the advertising with the walking head iPads and the images of the girl is definitely making heads turn, but for very different reasons and it has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with technology. 
My view is that we are fascinated by the “latest and greatest” use of technology–and are basically ready, on the lookout for the next great amazing breakthrough.
Technology while obviously amazing feats of science, engineering, and design–also borders on the magical for most of us as we watch and see what the new technology can do, even though we don’t really know how it does it.
Like the lady walking around with iPad head–we see it, but can’t really believe what we’re seeing.
The miracle of technology–keeps us all at the edge of our seats with hope, wonder, and awe for what magic is going to walk down the street next and leave us mouths agape.

>The Cost of Underestimating Technology

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While research is important and I respect the people who devote themselves to doing this, sometimes they risk being disconnected from reality and the consequences associated with it.

From the Wall Street Journal, 2 April 2011–two economists calculated that “$1,700 is the benefit the average American derives from personal computers each year.”

They call this the “benefit we get from computers above and beyond what we pay for them.”

To me, this figure seems inconsistent with common sense and the realities on the ground.

In an information age, where we are connected virtually 24 x 7 and can download hundreds of thousands of apps for free, endlessly surf the internet, shop and bank online, get much of our entertainment, news, and gaming on the the web, and communicate around the globe by voice, video, and text for the cost on a monthly high speed connection, I say hogwash.

Moreover, we need to factor in that most of us are now information workers (about 20%) or depend on technology in performing our jobs everyday and earning our living.

Just yesterday in fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that more people work for the government (22.5 million–forget the private sector information workers for the moment) than in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining, and utilities combined!

Additionally, at work, we are using computers more and more not only for transaction processing, but also for content management, business intelligence, collaboration, mobility (and robotics and artificial intelligence is coming up fast).
Finally, technology enables breakthroughs–in medicine, energy, environment, education, materials sciences, and more–the impact of technology to us is not just now, but in the potential it brings us for further innovations down the road.
So is the benefit that you get from computers less than $5 day?

I know for me that’s the understatement of a lifetime.

Apparently by some, technology continues to be misunderstood, be undervalued and therefore potentially risks being underinvested in, which harms our nations competitiveness and our collective future.

As much respect as I have for economics, it doesn’t take an economist to think with common business sense.

>A Time To Remember

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Holocaust

Someone sent me this cartoon today and I was moved by it.

As much as we want to look to the future, it is important to remember the past and the many millions who perished in the most horrible and cruel way.

And as we continue to live in times of upheaval and extremism, the lessons of just 60+ years ago, of the Holocaust, are as relevant today as ever.

As someone who is always looking at technology as the answer to everything (understanding of course, that all true answers come from above), this is a pause for me to question what if any are the limits to change and innovation?

My hope, of course, is that we can rid ourselves of hatred, bigotry, intolerance, and extremism and instead work together for the betterment of all humankind.

As long as our minds are blocked by hatred, we (in the collective) will never be able to realize our ultimate potential.

I believe in a future where we will ALL together achieve technological breakthroughs that will surpass anything that we can imagine today; where we will indeed travel–perhaps to the stars–together as one, not divided by race or religion any longer, but united in our commonality and strength and desire to achieve a future of hope, health, peace, and success for all.

(Source cartoon: Wiley)

>Selfishness and The Paradox of Emotional Intelligence

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I was fortunate to be in a terrific leadership development class this week held in coordination with University of Virginia, and one of the instructors shared this interesting explanation about the four levels of emotional intelligence (EI), which I have put into the attached graphic (note: there are other variants of this).

Essentially there are three levels of EI that have to do with “me”:

1. Self-Awareness: Being cognizant of one’s own emotions, thinking and behaviors

2. Self-Management: Being able to control negative displays of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

3. Self-Direction: Being able to positively choose emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

These three levels are steps and maturity in the development of a person’s emotional intelligence.

Then, for those that are able to “breakthrough” to the next and forth level having to do with “others” (instead of “me”), there is a fourth level called:

4. Empathy: Being able to understand, share, and identify with the emotions and thoughts of others.

The idea here, as another instructor stated, is that we close the [emotional] gap with others through empathy and disclosure.”

However, in order to get to the stage where we can genuinely connect and empathize with others, we must first work on ourselves.

From a leadership perspective, I think this model of emotional intelligence is very valuable, because it provide us the framework for maturing our emotional self-development starting with basic awareness and advancing toward gaining control over ourselves and ultimately being able to have meaningful understanding for others.

It is only with such understanding of and connection with others that we can create the foundation for successful teamwork, innovation, and improved performance.

Where are we failing on EI?

  • Being so busy with “the daily grind” that we don’t have the time, energy, or capacity to do justice to the relationships in our lives.
  • Lack of mastery of the “me”—we lack self-awareness and are not in control of ourselves.
  • Narcissism that leads us to ignore the others around us and therefore leads us to have difficulty relating to them.

All of these, in a sense, represent a huge life paradox. We are taught that to succeed we must work on ourselves, and in turn we have become a self-focused society.

We have learned that success means being perfectly educated, thin, fit, married, earning a huge salary, and so on. But we are so busy thinking about these goals and looking at them as pure achievements to be marked off on a list that we lose sight of the process. And in doing so we actually become less effective at the things we are trying to do.

The process is about becoming emotionally intelligent—about learning the skills of self-control, self-management, self-direction, and ultimately empathy.

In fact, to succeed—and to find meaning in that success—we must give meaningfully to others in time and energy, rather than just taking for ourselves.

Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be a “breakthrough” event to empathize, give, and build healthy and productive relationships. Regardless of how much money or prestige we achieve in life, I believe that achieving the “us” rather than only focusing on the “me” is truly where the biggest payoff is at in life.