Story of the First Digital Camera

In this short 4 min video, the inventor of digital camera, Steven Sasson shares how the first digital camera that he developed worked.

He also shares his insights on how to present a novel idea to an audience, so as to not confuse them.

He also shares a very important insight that as inventors and makers of products, we should not forget that there is a lag of time between the time that we concieve or invent something and the time we are able to actually bring it to market. During this time, there are other inventors who are also working to invent new technologies and better products. Also, during this time period the customer might have moved on and the need that we try to satisfy no longer exists for them.

Very nostalgic and insightful 3:42 mins. Thanks David for creating the portrait. You can find more such portraits here.

For a much more in-dept discussion on the entire story of how he invented the digital camera in an interview he did for the Internet History Podcast here.

 

Be a Better Leader and have a Richer Life

 
I came across this wonderful video on HBR Video’s that is based on a HBR article by Steward Friedman. He shares some great ideas about how we can go about integrating our professional lives with our personal lives together so that we not only achieve balance but also do better in both aspects of our lives. 
The short 7 min video explains the premise and covers all the topics that he covers in the article. 
I have always believed that we have now entered a time when having separate personal and professional lives is getting more and more difficult. There is a lot of overlap of our personal and professional space, goals and time spent. This means that we need to quickly learn a way to manage all three of them to ensure that not only do we get good at managing all of these but also are able to use them to develop ourselves in a way that both our personal and professional lives continue to improve. 
I do have a plan for myself. Do you have one?

PBTO56: The Inevitable – Technological Forces that will Shape Our Future with Kevin Kelly

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Who is on the show today:

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first seven years. His new book for Viking/Penguin is called The Inevitable, which is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He is also founding editor and co-publisher of the popular Cool Tools website, which has been reviewing tools daily since 2003. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers’ Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. His books include the best-selling New Rules for the New Economythe classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control, a graphic novel about robots and angels, The Silver Cord, an oversize catalog of the best of Cool Tools, and his summary theory of technology in What Technology Wants (2010).

Why is he on the show:

In his latest book “The Inevitable“, he talks about 12 trends that will shape the way our society will evolve. This is already a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

What do we talk about:

In this free-wheeling conversation, we talk about:

  • His interest and curating non-fiction films. He has a curated list of some of the wonderful documentaries on his site here.
  • The 12 trends that are directions that technology is going to move towards, that seem to be inevitable. He lists them as verbs (Becoming, Cognifying, Flowing, Screening, Accessing, Sharing, Filtering, Remixing, Interacting, Tracking, Questioning , Beginning)
  • Trends are inevitable, the form and function is not.
  • Technology vs Societal view points of view to look at the future..
  • How Technology has its own agenda..
  • Have these trends have been behaving since the time the book was written..
  • How Moore’s law would have served you really well if you believed in it..
  • Artificial intelligence and how this is going to play out..
  • How can entrepreneurs make use of these trends and place themselves at the fore-runners when these trends play out and become mainstream
  • How can we stay relevant in the future where these trends are becoming mainstream?
  • What do these technologies and trends mean for us as a society and culture? How do we prepare for the future that is coming?
    • Access vs ownership
    • Products vs services
    • Tangible vs intangible
  • A 1000 true fans and how this coupled with the trends that we are talking about provides a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to profit from.
  • What are some of the most important skills that we need to learn in order to stay relevant:
    • To learn how to learn (Meta skill or the super skill). Figure out how we learn best or our own kind of learning.
    • Learn how to ask questions.
    • Techno-literacy and critical thinking
  • How he learns and stays up-to-date with what he sees happening around him?
  • What he thinks is obvious but no one sees it yet (A very surprising answer)..
  • Documentary he recommends – Becoming Warren Buffet. You can watch the documentary below:

How can you connect with him:

You can find his blog here. You can subscribe to his weekly newsletter here and buy his latest book here.

 

Your First 100 Days

Premise:

I was teaching a set of people principles of intrapreneurship and at the end of the class, some one came up and asked me for help. He said that he has got a new role as a product manager in his current organisation and is not sure what he can do in the first 100 days to help put him on the path of success in his new role. Here is the advice I had for him.

Be a Visionary Leader:

This works if you are being brought into the role from outside of the organisation. One reason why this is done is to infuse new ideas and vision into an already mature or a struggling product. If you know that this is the case, then you may want to play the role of a visionary leader. You need to know enough about the product and its target market so as to come up with a bold new vision for the product. You need to be ready with a clear action plan for the first 30 days, 60 days and 90 days and communicate the same with confidence.

Be a Student:

If you know that you have not been brought in to shake things up, there are two approaches (Inside-out and Outside-In)that you can take to learn about your product and the people building, marketing and selling the product.
Inside-out approach to learn:
When taking this approach, you need to try to absorb all kinds of information about the following:
  • The product: What were the core decisions that made the product what it is today? Why were they made? Who made them? How is the product sold? How is development decisions being made? And everything else (technology, architecture, marketing, branding, etc)
  • The people making the product: Who are the key stake holders? What is each one of their traits? Are they data driven or gut driven or driven by customer feedback? How open are they for change? What are their aspirations? Who works best with each of them? What can you learn from stuff that these stake holders approve about their preferences?
  • The people marketing the product: How do they market the product? Do they highlight something specific about the product? How do they find prospects? Where do they find the prospects?
  • The people who sell the product: What aspects of the product do the sales folks use to position the product? Is it consistent with the way the product is marketed/created? If not, why? What kinds of conversations do the sales teams have with the customers? How long is the typical sales cycle?
Outside-in approach to learn:
Understand everything about the customer that the product is being made for.
  • What are they using the product for?
  • What delights/irritates them about the product?
  • What is the job that the product is doing?
  • How easy is it for these customers to discover/purchase/use the product?
  • Who is your competition – not just direct competition but indirect as well (using the jobs-to-be-done framework)? Where do they find their prospects?
  • Would they miss your product if it is gone? Why?

In Conclusion:

Ideally, you would need to do all three, but the sequence in which you do them may depend on a variety of factors. How customer centric is your organisation, how open it is for change, why have you been brought in (to disrupt or to maintain the status quo), how well aligned the organisational parts are and most importantly, where your comfort level lies. While I have created this for a product manager, you could use the same checklist if you were a CEO or a business unit head to plan your first 100 days in your new role.

Innovation = Finding New Problems X New ways to solve problems

 

I read a post “See differently, to solve differently” by Mike Shipulski. He argues that innovation is all about solving problems (new/old) in different ways (new/old). There is great potential in solving new problems in new ways. He also argues that in order to solve new problems, we need to identify the new problems and one way of doing that is to look at the problem in new ways.

He argues

Systems are large and complicated, and problems know how to hide in the nooks and crannies. In a Where’s Waldo way, the nugget of the problem buries itself in complication and misuses all the moving parts as distraction. Problems use complication as a cloaking mechanism so they are not seen as problems, but as symptoms.

Finding new problems:

He goes on to explain some of the ways that we could look at the same problem from a different lens. You can read the entire post here to find out his approach to looking at the problems differently.

Solving in new ways:

Once we have identified the problems to solve, we need creative ideas to solve them. In order to do this, I think there is great value in looking and learning from designers about how they not only view the problem but also their approach to solve the problem identified. One of the most sought after designers is Oki Sato, chief designer and founder of the design firm Nendo. He shared his approach in a talk that he delivered at an event. I recommend that you listen to the entire talk here.

In the talk he shares his approach of designing stuff, which I think is interesting and  very different from how a lot of us approach solving problems.  One of the things that is very clear is that the way we see things around us has a significant impact on how we solve problems.

Conclusion:

Combining new ways to look at our problems and new ways to use to come up with ideas gives us potentially interesting solutions that are both creative and different.