It Can Happen To Anyone

It Can Happen To Anyone

Life is unpredictable.

Today, at the pool, someone collapsed.

Looks like a heart attack or something serious.

Most of the people at the pool are in amazing physical condition.

The young folks on the swim team are fast as hell.

The older people, many seem like they never aged and can do still perform adroitly.

I find the whole crew generally quite competitive and if you can’t keep up…you may even get shove to the side.

When I heard the whistle blow this morning, it was unlike the usual stop running or horsing around–this time is was long and shrill.

Everyone stopped and pulled to the ends.

Instead of splashing water, you could hear a pin drop.

Lifeguards started running. One ran back to the control center and I could see him through the glass window dialing quickly on the phone for help.

Another young women was getting help from the pool supervisor–the young one ran, the older one strode sternly to ascertain the situation.

People started swimming in the main pool again, while the collapsed man was out of sight around the corner in another pool area.

The floating lady water runners were kibbutzing about what happened and is he going to be okay.

Eventually the swimming continued, but even then, people were looking around and had those worried faces on.

There was a realization that even with the dozens of people there, this person could’ve been anyone–any of us.

The ambulance and fire truck rescue came, the stretcher was brought in.

I asked the lifeguard with concern what had happened to the man and he said in a monotone, almost practiced voice, “The ambulance is here; everything is okay.”

It sort of sounded like don’t anyone panic and shut the heck up.

Anyway, it was upsetting to see someone up early, getting themselves to the pool, trying to stay healthy and fit, and struck down at the scene, while trying their best.

I’m a little shaken and am still hearing the whistle in my head. :-0

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Does A Robot And A Spouse Have In Common?

This is a pretty cool advance in robotics.

The robot doesn’t just perform tasks, but it interacts with the person–sensing his movements and thereby anticipating his needs.

According to Gizmag, this advanced robot was developed by Cornell’s Personnel Robot Lab.

As you can see in the video, the robot sees the person picking up a pot and moving towards the refrigerator, and the robot “understands” and goes to pull open the fridge door.

In another example, the robot first without anticipating the person moving his coffee cup, pours coffee, spilling it on the table, but then with the special programming, the robot “sees” the person picking up the cup to drink and putting it down, and waits to pour until the cup is in stably in place.

The anticipatory skills of the robot are based on 120 3-D videos in its database of people doing everyday tasks and extrapolating from it to what is occurring around it.

The robot’s predictions of the person’s actions are refined as the person continues to move making the robot’s response that much more in tune and precise with the person it is interacting with.

The less far out in time that the robot has to predict, the more accurate it is: for 1 second out, it is 82% accurate; 3 seconds out, 71% accurate; and 10 seconds out, 57%.

It is pretty incredible that we are able to program a robot to watch and sense similar to the way we do, and to react accordingly.

The challenge will be as in the show Lost In Space, where the Robot is often confounded by illogical or unpredictable human behavior, and frequently, repeats “Does not compute.”

People are not programmed like computers–they experience conflicting and complex thoughts and emotions, behave in unpredictable or seemingly illogical ways, may have difficulty making up their minds in the first place, or may change their minds, even multiple times.

Being a robot in a human world will by necessity mean being adaptable and understanding to changing human moods, whims and desires, and being able to respond quickly and appropriately–sort of like what being married is all about. 😉

>Embracing Instability and Enterprise Architecture

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Traditional management espouses that executives are supposed to develop a vision, chart a course for the organization, and guide it to that future destination. Moreover, everyone in the enterprise is supposed to pull together and sing off the same sheet of music, to make the vision succeed and become reality. However, new approaches to organizational management acknowledge that in today’s environment of rapid change and the many unknowns that abound, executives need to be far more flexible and adaptable, open to learning and feedback, and allow for greater individualism and creativity to succeed.

In the book Managing the Unknowable by Ralph Stacey, the author states that “by definition, innovative strategic directions take an organization into uncharted waters. It follows that no one can know the future destination of an innovative organization. Rather, that organization’s managers must create, invent, and discover their destination as they go.”

In an environment of rapid change, the leader’s role is not to rigidly control where the organization is going, but rather to create conditions that foster creativity and learning. In other words, leaders do not firmly set the direction and demand a “cohesive team” to support it, but rather they create conditions that encourage and promote people to “question everything and generate new perspectives through contention and conflict.” The organization is moved from “building on their strengths and merely adapting to existing market conditions, [to insted] they develop new strengths and at least partly create their own environments.”

An organization just sticking to what they do best and incrementally improving on that was long considered a strategy for organizational success; however, it is now understood as a recipe for disaster. “It is becoming clearer why so many organizations die young…they ‘stick to their knitting’ and do better and better what they already do well. When some more imaginative competitors come along and change the rules of the game, such over-adapted companies…cannot respond fast enough. The former source of competitive success becomes the reason for failure and the companies, like animals, become extinct.”

Organizations must be innovative and creative to succeed. “The ‘new science’ for business people is this: Organizations are feedback systems generating such complex behavior that cause-and-effect links are broken. Therefore, no individual can intend the future of that system or control its journey to that future. Instead what happens to an organization is created by and emerges from the self-organizing interactions between its people. Top managers cannot control this, but through their interventions, they powerfully influence this.

With the rapidly changing economic, political, social, and technological conditions in the world, “the future is inherently unpredictable.” To manage effectively then is not to set rigid plans and targets, but rather to more flexibly read, analyze, and adapt to the changes as they occur or as they can be forecast with reasonable certainly. “A ‘shared vision’ of a future state must be impossible to formulate, unless we believe in mystic insight.” “No person, no book, can prescribe systems, rules, policies, or methods that dependably will lead to success in innovative organizations. All managers can do it establish the conditions that enable groups of people to learn in each new situation what approaches are effective in handling it.”

For enterprise architecture, there are interesting implications from this management approach. Enterprise architects are responsible for developing the current and target architecture and transition plan. However, with the rapid pace of change and innovation and the unpredictability of things, we learn that “hard and fast” plans will not succeed, but rather EA plans and targets must remain guidelines only that are modified by learning and feedback and is response to the end-user (i.e User-centric). Secondly, EA should not become a hindrance to organizational innovation, creativity, and new paradigms for organizational success. EA needs to set standards and targets and develop plans and administer governance, but this must be done simultaneously with maintaining flexibility and harnessing innovation into a realtime EA as we go along. It’s not a rigid EA we need, but as one of my EA colleagues calls it, it’s an “agile EA”.