A Paradigm Shift in Management

solar-system-11111_640In the 16th century, Copernicus shifted our world by postulating that Earth revolved around the Sun. Prior to the publication of this model in On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543, EVERYONE understood that the Sun revolved around the Earth. It was just the way it worked.  More than astronomy was impacted by his scientific work—we began to revisit many things in our culture when this shift occurred.

I believe something similar is happening in organizations today as we are moving to Management 2.0. For background, read Inventing Management 2.0 and watch Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment.

Management 2.0 is customer-centric and employee-centric. According to noted business thinker Gary Hamel, Management 2.0 challenges, “…the fundamental conventions of Management 1.0—the notion that authority trickles down, that tasks are assigned, that strategy gets created at the top, that control must be imposed and so on.” It addresses the question: How do we satisfy customer needs with service-oriented employees within a sustainable business model that provides returns to shareholders?

It’s a shift—a really big shift.

Steve Denning does an excellent job of outlining this (and hitting home with IT professionals) in Why Do Managers Hate Agile? He offers this definition, “For those managers who don’t know what the Agile is (itself a part of the problem), the horizontal world of Agile involves self-organizing teams that work in an iterative fashion and deliver continuous additional value directly to customers.”

Part two, More On Why Managers Hate Agile, also hits home (hard), given some of the current projects I’m involved in. On one hand, traditional organizations are built for predictability. Initiating “agile projects” flies in the face of this predictability, requiring a focus on the customer and allowing the team to innovate with the product owner representing the customer.

Am I part of the problem? Part of the solution? Or a mix of both?  Life is all a transition…I’m feeling this one.

A New Category of Device

apple watchEarlier this month Apple unveiled the Apple Watch and made several other announcements.  Here are a few tidbits before getting to my thoughts on the watch:

  • Doing good. Apple is opening up a tool called ResearchKit for opensource development that works across platforms. They have realized that medical research could benefit from wider participation and easy (don’t need to enroll in a research project) feedback, unencumbered by the barriers of a research. A lot of feedback can be gathered from an iPhone, such as the performance of motor skills by Parkinson’s disease patients. I’m excited to see where this goes.
  • The all-new MacBook is pretty cool. New screen, new keyboard, new touchpad, new USB Type-C (one cable for everything), new unibody case, new batteries and main processor board. This is an indicator of ultraportable laptops yet to come. There’s still no touch screen, but the operating system requires a revamp first.

Now, the Apple Watch. Prices range from $349 to $17,000 (18K gold). While I’m not going to be standing in line to buy one, I do see the promise of this new category. It’s a new form factor, data tracker, small display and smart user interface all rolled into a fashion accessory. Christy Turlington was on stage to prove that point (and not much else).

Let’s recall the trajectory of the cellular phone. Motorola was on the top of their game with the StarTAC. Then, there were a series of attempts that seemed to smash together a cell phone with a PalmPilot (before the advent of the wireless internet), resulting in various clunky devices. Eventually, with the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the package of features that we now recognize as a smartphone began to come together.

There is likely to be a similar evolution with smartwatches. Who remembers the Casio models from the 1980s? Wearables have also been around a long time for athletes, and are just now coming into the mainstream. Products like Pebble Time integrate notifications with your phone and other smartphone based applications. The Apple Watch takes it to a whole new level. It’s a multifunction, multi-sensory, customizable, touch and voice enabled, interconnected, watch-to-watch and watch-to-phone device. Plus it has its own app store.

Like all new technology, it’s not going to be about the hardware (although it is pretty spiffy)—it’s going to be about how it impacts our behaviors. I believe the package of functionality and variety of different uses will be pretty compelling.

Is it like a new iPod (another escalation of an entire category brought on by Apple)? After all, who remembers the Zune or Rio portable media players? Or is it destined to go the way of Apple’s MessagePad that ran on a Newton OS platform? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet against Apple on this one.

Weekly Download 15.5

download-150965_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

I like Indian food, and now I have scientific evidence to explain why. Scientists have figured out what makes Indian food so delicious. You have to look at consumer price sensitivity to understand Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

I have been hearing that data scientists are in high demand.  This past week at the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium, the cry reached a crescendo. Really smart people with amazing backgrounds bring tremendous value by mining mind-boggling volumes of data to provide predictive analytics.

Whether in architecture, product design, software design, or more generally, business. I firmly believe less but better is an effective strategy. Dieter Rams, the designer behind many of Braun’s most iconic product designs (among many things), outlines a handy 10 Principles of “Good Design”.

At a later date, I’ll  do a more complete review of Greg McKeowen’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, but for now, this article does a pretty good job of succinctly getting to the point.