As an engineer in training I attended many short courses during the first few years in my new job. One of the most valuable courses was a two day problem solving workshop. It remains one of the few courses that to this day that I remember clearly; and that has over many years helped me analyse complex problems and find the optimum solution.
Our technical training as engineers and the nature of the work results in us becoming automatic problem solvers. It is difficult for engineers to not attempt to tackle any complex problem. We tend to see a nail and then look for a handy hammer close by to hit it with.
Perhaps a better solution in some situations is to simply remove the nail?
Our technical training enables us to see our own “obvious” solution clearly, but in many situations, particularly in business this is not the best solution. (more…)
Much of the discussion I am witnessing around big data seems to be missing the point. We understand that something significant is happening in the technology arena. Mobile, cloud, the internet of things, data, analytics are all converging on something. But what? In order to see the true potential of big data and analytics requires you to be able to predict what disruptive changes lie ahead for your industry. Did the publishing industry see Amazon coming? Did the advertising industry see Facebook coming? Did the gaming industry predict the surge in online gaming? Did the travel industry foresee the success of online booking portals?
There is probably nothing more important in any venture than a vision of what is possible and what the future might hold. This holds true in business as well, particularly in technology companies who are seeking to stay relevant in a world where the cloud continues to change the game. The lack of a clear vision that is easy to grasp and which resonates with people on the ground is why many lumbering IT corporates (and even some smaller ones) find it difficult to innovate and develop next generation business models necessary for moving into the cloud.
There are certain pertinent comments in life which you will remember for a long time. An observation by a friend, a quote you read in a book, an acknowledgement of the fruits of years of work, each of these contribute to our own fabric of consciousness that determines how we perceive the world.
One such comment was by a colleague who looked at me in disbelief when I revealed that I was going to form a software company. “But all software will one day be free…” he offered. I have not forgotten this comment after many years. It was perhaps understandable because in his world view, you had to invest millions in equipment before you could make anything of value (he was an engineer). Software was too easy, no significant upfront investment, no barriers to entry in comparison to starting a manufacturing business. “You could start up in a garage” – you could sense the disbelief. This venture to make money from software was in his mind destined for failure. (more…)