Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learning Leaders Breakfast

1. Learning to Change, Changing to Learn (video)
    a. convo
2. Who’s Here?
3. Stand Up
4. Bad Collaboration is Worse than No Collaboration
    a. Apple, m&a, 1 in 5 mgrs
5. Cynefin (image)
    a. convo
6. 3 problems
    a. Demographics
    b. Connect the dots (9/11, mars orbiter, challenger, Toyota)
    c. Decision advantage (ooda, time/attn)
7. ??-How long do you search?
8. ??-How many meetings/hours sharing status?
9. Solution Framework
    a. Who knows who (ona, Jeanne)
    b. Who knows what (profile, knowledge mkt, dir quality, unity, eureka)
    c. Who does what (portfolio mgmt, vna, talent mkt, vesp)
    d. Ppl > ppl; ppl>projects;projects>strategic objectives
    e. MEO – offshore, outsource, free agent
    f. Network of value
       i. Memories in brain
       ii. Living company (id, fiscal conservative, tolerance, environment)
10. ??-job title? Who do you go to for questions? How did you know? What if someones first day?
11. Wirearchy – 2 way flow of power, structure
12. Resilience
13. Stand up
14. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marian Liebowitz on 21 Century Skills

I had the opportunity to see and hear Marian Liebowitz speak about "what we can do as parents and students in the 21st century". I thought it was a great talk, so I wanted to share my notes.

She spoke to a group of [approximately] 30 parents of elementary aged students. She wrote a few notes on an easel as she spoke for visual reinforcement. She started with three main areas that she thinks parents/children should learn and practice:

- Self management
- Thinking (consider points of view)
- Problem solving

She further expanded into:
- Hypothesis (predicting)
- Creativity
- Communications
- Technology
- Collaboration (enhancing planning, thinking, and communicating)

She talked about "habits of mind" or "dispositions", such as persistence, reflection and self assessment.

I could immediately tell that she had great thoughts and I was interested in them. I felt my interest pique because it seemed as though we were very similar (in what we're trying to accomplish), yet coming from different perspectives....more on that below...

She then dove into specific examples (i.e. stories) and she recommended three books. Her first example was to give kids "a list" - i.e. "things I need to do". She called the items on the list "criteria" and she mentioned that we don't need to worry about calling these lists "criteria" (just know that they are).

She jumped back up to the abstract/conceptual and talked about:
- Time mgmt
- Priority mgmt

Then said something to the effect of "schools will look different in the future, not what we're used to, for example more online, some instructor-led and some learning with friends" (I of course loved these comments :) )

She then moved into one of themes that seemed to pop up from time to time - "you're not telling, you are asking" (as in, you should be asking more, looking for more conversation, and casting your thoughts/feelings less).

She jumped back to the example and talked about the importance of visual reminders - "kids like contracts, I used to buy gold seals, have them sign the agreement and then seal it, they said it looked adult-like". (I think there's a parallel to the project charters we create :) )

I think I forgot to write in my notes that she took questions around this point...which was good...made it interactive, dynamic, tactical...

Then she mentioned an interesting quote "Structure is not about 'what', it is about 'how'". (reminds me of the definition of is when the thoughts start popping up in my head about 'how do we find the balance between structure/process and creativity/innovation')

"Don't tell them what's important, but help them think about it" (variation on a theme)

She then recommended her first book - Miss Nelson. She said it helps children understand point of view, i.e. ask "how did miss Nelson feel". Then she gave the poignant example of the Rutgers student that recently jumped off a bridge (and how those other children probably did not consider other's points of view) (I'm not sure this is a new message, I seem to recall my parents saying "walk a mile in someone else's shoes", but maybe its taken more seriously/critically now?)

We should help children ask (and answer) "What could she have done differently?" (variation on a theme)

"We should raise questions, not answers" (variation on a theme)

Her second book recommendation was - Doctor de Soto by William Steig (which I sadly never heard of! :( ) She talked about how it helps children ask "How do we make judgments?". She talked about perceptions leading to problems which should lead to brainstorming of solutions (ah, the first time we've flipped from structure to creativity, I think?).

She then moved into her second main point - "we need to stress Thinking skills". "Get away from our concrete way of dealing with kids". Her second book recommendation was
Alexander's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. She said it helps kids to ponder "Not is it right to feel that way, but why does he feel that way?" and "What could have been another ending?" as well as a series of "What if?" questions.

Her third book recommendation was "The man who walked between the towers". She talked about "How do you make dreams come true". "We have a tendency to dash our kids dreams, especially too early". "Greatness comes from dreams". We should embrace and childrens dreams and ask "So what do you think you have to do that?". I loved this line - "Once a kid develops discipline (read: passion) they can translate that to anything they do, so we should encourage kids to dream and dream big"

If I recall correctly, she "ended" there and took questions for quite awhile after that... here are a few quotes from my notes of the q&a time...

"Ask them - What do you think it takes to get there? [when they set goals]"
"We're living in a world that has far fewer boundaries, create your own boundaries"
"If you have a dream but no persistence [then you probably will not achieve that goal]..."
"How do we encourage persistence?"
"Try again, stick with it, try new ways"
"Spend time reflecting"
"Ask - If you had to do it again, what would you do differently?"
"The most powerful tool we have is modeling"
"We're always projecting our feelings [better to ask]"
"You might consider being careful to not bury the answer in the question, such as - Do you think this is going to be hard?"
"Practice flexibility"
"Aim for intrinsic rewards not a trophy culture"
"Don't kill their curiosity"
"Don't [always] be linear thinkers"
"Help them to deal with [and realize] ambiguity"
"We have the potential to have our kids be more flexible, and be thinkers"
"Help them learn to problem solve in a group"
"We have a tendency to over protect"
"Let kids have choices"
"Let the child do the planning, see if it works [referring to days, events, etc.]"
"Even if it was successful, ask how could we done it even better"
"We think were helping by structuring everything"

=== As I was listening, several comments sparked ideas, here are a few===

-John Seely Brown tells a great story about his neighbor. A young man that had a dream of becoming the best surfer in the world. He and his friends practiced, practiced, studied, studied and eventually became the greatest surfers in the world.
-The concept of "follow your passion" - and the question she asked about "what would be the impact if we all did that" - made me think of our recent trip to Italy. To me, that is a culture based on everyone following their passions - its a beautiful thing.
-Dr Randy Pausch says "Follow your passions, believe in karma and you wont have to chase your dreams, they will come to you"
-I heard a lot of questions/comments about specific individuals, I wonder [just like she asked] what affect these kinds of thoughts/approaches have at a macro level [like Italy]
-"Precision Questioning and Answering" is a phenomenal approach for asking great questions and giving great answers - I think it has value in this conversation
- video games - I thought Marian would be interested to see all of the TED talks that mention how video games provide an excellent way to learn, practice and improve -- very quickly.
-There's a great book that I'd recommend "Relax, it's only uncertainty"
-When we go on vacation, we like to each take a day and call it "our day", which simply means that person is the "leader" for the day (i.e. its up to them what we do, including a day led by our daughter)
-I read a great article recently that talked about the "ability to say no" (and HOW to say no - I think this relates to the time/priority mgmt issue. It can be exceedingly difficult to say no to opportunities.
-This was a key point for me - and a question that I really wanted to ask - Doesn't it seem tricky to find the delicate [shifting] balance between structure and ambiguity?
-I was surprised that personalities didnt come up as a topic - I could have easily seen any of the personality assessments popping up in this conversation...
- A line I've heard before in this kind of conversation is "we need to move beyond [read: add to] the 3 r's of the 20th century - reading writing 'rithmetic...and into [list all of the qualities we discussed]"
- If I were to list the skills of the 21 century, and I'm sure I'll forget a few, I might list reflection, problem solving (individual and team), retracting, strategic and critical thinking, finding information/knowledge, validating information/knowledge, synthesizing information/knowledge, connectivity, accessibility, innovating, creativity, artistic/design, multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural, communication, technology, research, experimenting, observing, networking, practicing/repeating, questioning, curiosity, leadership .... I think she covered most of them...
- "We have a classroom system when we could have a community system"
- Another related book would be the innovators dilemma
- One last question I would have liked to ask, even though she somewhat indirectly answered it throughout her talk was "How did you arrive at this kind of thinking?" (i.e. was it through life experiences, books, mentors, friends, physical locations/events... I'm sure it was a combination, but it would be fun to hear her perspective of the combination - a thread of pearls, if you will)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For Real, Make Believe

The Situation

My friends and I had a problem last week. We wanted to have all 10 of us in the same room at the same time for our fantasy baseball draft. We tried to find a time that we were all available on the same day at the same time. We emailed each other. We called each other. We texted each other. We even got fancy and used to ‘vote’ for the best time to get together. Apparently, we’re all very busy people and it just wasn’t possible to all be in the same room at the same time (before the baseball season started).

So, we dropped the requirement of being in the same [physical] room at the same time. We said, “there must be a way for us to get online and FEEL like we’re in the same room – we’ll share our webcams or at least audio.” Being that we’re technology savvy folks, I expected this to be an easy task. I thought “we’ll just use Second Life, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Telepresence or something like that”. The team offered ideas like,, Vonage, CamFrog, Savorchat, etc. We even reached out to our networks through Facebook, Google Buzz, gtalk, aim, and twitter to ask for ideas. Apparently, even through our networks, the technology just doesn’t exist – at least not in the format we wanted (and, of course, the [free] price we wanted :) )!

The draft HAD to happen, so what did we do? We failed to meet our expectations. We all sat at our own homes, on a weeknight, and we used chat. No audio, no video, just chat – as if it were 1997.

This failure doesn’t bother me – we still had a great draft and we’re looking forward to a great season. What WOULD bother me is if we didn’t take a moment to reflect upon this failure and learn from it.

Find A Solution

The simple solution would be to find or create an application that allows for 10 simultaneous webcams. I think this solution already exists, but it comes with a cost. Maybe it will be free someday, but until then, I took the opportunity to let my mind wander and consider all possibilities (especially if I have to pay, I want to think about what I want to pay for). In order to consider all possibilities, I tried to remove all the barriers of reality and I thought about synthesizing a number of related ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’.

Imagine… (The Craziness Begins Here)

Imagine a blend of social media, geospatial awareness, virtual worlds, webcams, interactive holograms, touch tables and Project Natal.

All of these technologies already exist, but it seems to me that they are currently progressing down separate paths – it seems like there would be tremendous benefit in blending their value.

TechnologyWhat is it?[Some] Examples
Social MediaConnecting people to people in a 2-d, textual way (on a screen)Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, etc.
Geospatial AwarenessSharing/awareness of physical locationFoursquare, iPhone
Virtual WorldsConnecting people to people in a 3-d way (on a screen), greatly increasing the ‘feeling’ of being in the same room at the same timeSecond Life, World of Warcraft, Active Worlds, etc.
Interactive HologramsRealistic 3-d objectsinteractive holograms
Touch TablesAn interactive, touchscreen tabletop that recognizes and interacts with standard objects (cell phones, credit cards, cups, etc.)touch tables
Project NatalInteractive artificial intelligence on a screen, with NO controllerProject Natal
WebcamA device to share videoLogitech QuickCam, Microsoft LifeCam

There is already a way for a webcam to be put on a car, and while the car is driving around taking video, a virtual world is simultaneously being created. That virtual world mirrors the real world – and its online, so we can interact with it. It seems to me that it is only another small leap to project that virtual world into a 3d hologram, as opposed to a 2-d screen. Then, if we can have connected, online, interactive holograms – wait a minute, woah! Imagine the fun – talk about connecting people to people, sharing non-verbals, ‘feeling’ like you are face to face! Maybe I can be in my living room, sitting on my couch, watching tv – and I can have a live hologram of my best friend “sitting on my couch” right next to me (looks like a hologram to me, but he’s sitting on his couch at his house, 1000 miles away – and he has a similar experience while sitting on his couch at his house).

Why stop there? :) If we, as regular human beings, can interact with a blended ‘real world’ and ‘virtual world’, then maybe we can add in the phenomenal artificial intelligence of Project Natal. We could have many, many Milos running around. They could learn from us and we could learn from them – in a blended reality. Add in the concept of touch tables, where we can interact with [real or virtual] objects.

Can you picture it? What are you picturing? I think it is an environment. It is an environment with many potential applications.

Imagine the Applications

A few possible uses of this environment might be:
1. Education system
2. Healthcare
3. Business
4. Entertainment

Education System: Used as an education system, this blended reality provides tremendous opportunities. Real people can find and interact with other people in real-time, in 3-d. Virtual Worlds could be built to look like anything, so you could have a holographic rendering of any period/place in time that you’d like to study (while walking around it – with other people).

Healthcare: In healthcare, this could be a way to have any person meet with any doctor at anytime that they are both available (without any travel costs). I’ve even heard about ‘remote surgery’, so I think this could be an environment to have as many doctors (and protégés) available to operate and ensure that remote surgery goes well.

Business: Of course we have to consider the financial application. This could lead to extremely efficient business operations. Employees could ‘meet’ with any other employee in the world at any time – sharing all non-verbals as if they were in the same room. No more scheduling conference rooms, no more travel costs (or at least, less worrying and travel costs J).

Entertainment: Think about the next generation of tv shows. There could be 25 “Survivors” all going on at the same time – like a tournament (think about how quickly people would become Survivor experts – that’s a perfect example of learning agility). The cast with the most interest would make the best revenue because of ads (which makes me think about entire new ways to sell advertising – experiential ads)

In general, we’re talking about sharing of resources – anyone in the world with a minute, passion, priority – can help or share a dialog with anyone else. Maybe we even build-in automatic language translation as Phase 2 J??

Let’s play Devil’s Advocate – Why is this a terrible idea?

If we were to share spaces, what does the combined space look like? Lowest common denominator (i.e. whomever has the smallest room, blandest colors is the design of the shared room), or do we need certain physical boundaries/markers?

The obvious problem of privacy – and the related problem of folks just wanting to be offline/disconnected/local. There would be normal resistance to change, not ‘getting it’, or just pure ‘wanting to watch – why would I need to connect to others?’.

The artificial intelligence of this connected world – as avatars are out learning on their own, it could be possible that they do harm in the virtual world.

What about the true physical characteristics – ie my daughter asked if we could have a virtual, holographic Yoshi that she could actually ride around the house. Or I thought of surgery, what if I needed surgery, could the physical changes be made in a virtual environment – could a team of doctors from around the world work on me if I were in a special physical building that automatically made corrections or at least allowed them to operate from anywhere in the world? (similar to remote surgery?).

Recap – In a Nutshell

Come home, put on your webcam, you can see 3d holograms in your room, you can interact with them – touch them - some of them are real people, some of them are avatars, some of them are just objects. Picture watching a 3-d, live, interactive, holographic version of your favorite sporting event – with all of your best friends standing “right there” with you – laughing and loving every second!


I’m sure there are movies about this concept. It’s exciting to think the technology is already getting close to this holographic, 3-d rendering of blended reality and virtual worlds – with automated, intelligent avatars and interactive objects. Will it happen? How soon might it happen? How can we leverage it? Is there a reason to get there “first”?

I wrote this fairly quickly, so I hope it is interesting and makes sense.

My daughter dubbed this idea “for real, make believe”.

“Don’t believe everything you think about.” -Wayne Dyer

“We already have all the answers, we just don’t have the right questions” - not sure, heard it somewhere, can’t find a source through Google

What do you think?