Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Partnership for Innovation in the Enterprise

Apple and IBM joining forces - oh really?  Will George Orwell be rolling over in his grave - will his 1984 become truth in 2014?

Well, one must follow the news to make sense of that gibberish... and the 1984 reference.... it goes back to the famous Superbowl Apple commercial introducing the Mac.

An IBM/Apple partnership to tunnel into the enterprise walled garden for devices is a great idea.  As a consumer it works for me.  I don't know of any enterprises that can pass the Starbucks Test (test for the ubiquity of access for the digital native).

In 2005 (years before the iPhone) Apple joined forces with Motorola to launch the ROKR, a cell phone and iTunes connected music player.

It took the world a few years to recognize that the Wright brothers had flown the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, NC (first flight in Dec. 1903 to 1908 public demonstrations). -- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough 

"Jointly developed with Motorola and made available on what was then the Cingular Wireless network, the iTunes-savvy Motorola ROKR may have been fugly, but Apple engineers learned as much as they could while developing it: lessons which helped them avoid the same mistakes in the iPhone..." -- Jonny Evans

The ROKR was a great "beta" success for one of the partners (Apple) and a market failure for the other.  The device was both a phone and a 100-song music player with iTunes integration.  I bought one for my wife and she didn't love it.  I (the geek in the family) found it intriguingly interesting but frustratingly difficult to manage the songs and syncing.

It was not the disruptive innovation that would come two years later.  For $250 and a two-year contract you got a 1.7 inch color display, stereo speakers, camera/video recorder and a phone with a few built in "apps".  What did Apple learn from the introduction of this device and the partnership with the leading mobile device maker?  One thing they learned was that without full control over the product it would be ugly!  It was not innovative - just an incremental mashup of the walkman with the cell-phone.  Jobs was after revolution.  Hence the 100-song limit on the ROKR.  The iPhone launch was only 17 months away in January 2007.  Of course Apple would want to cripple the device, yet slip their toes into the waters.  What a great beta test with real users and all-out marketing to see how the US would react.  The product launch and validated learning was quite beneficial to Apple, not so much for Motorola.

Will the IBM-Apple partnership prove beneficial to both?  Some pundits feel it is an indication of weakness in Tim Cook's leadership and that it is signaling a lack of innovation at Apple.

The deal according to the Wall Street Journal has IBM developing 100 iOS apps and supporting the business customers using those apps and products.

IBM will sell iPhones and iPads to its enterprises clients.  Putting thousands of IBM consultants peddling the new Apple mobile app development language Swift.  Along with apps that manage your enterprise.  The answer to everyones Jeopardy question... will Siri go out with Watson?

So what will be the outcome of this partnership - will it benefit both companies - will it crack open then enterprise to mobile devices?  All very good questions that we should be able to answer in two years or so.

Date Line:  October 2016      Well it's been a few years - how has this partnership worked out?  I've not seen any babies from the hook-up of Siri and Watson.  Can't see that this partnership actually exist.  So perhaps it will take a few years more - or it could be that no one at either company really wanted to work with the others.  So far I'd say the relationship was not fruitful.

Perhaps we need to look at this reason:

Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and Why He Still Has His Job at Apple


See Also:

Apples first ever iTunes phone
Apple Motorola Cingular Launch Worlds First Mobile Phone with iTunes
IBM partnership with Apple proves its innovation mojo
Apple IBM in deal to create apps


Monday, July 21, 2014

What's holding down your team's Velocity?

Is your "Agile Project Manager" driving the team to increase their velocity?  Has the Agile Death March begun?

Fred Brooks warned us of these dangers nearly 25 years ago in The Mythical Man-Month.

One antidote to the PM schedule crunching technique of throwing warm bodies at the problem is to remove the impediments that are known (or just under the surface) within the structure and environment that holds the team back from performing at more efficient delivery rates.  So many times the line workers (developers and testers) are well aware of these issues, and feel as if they have raised them many times and gotten little attention (mostly negative attention) from managers.  A classic game (Innovation Game) to expose these impediments is Speed Boat.

I just saw this image of the anvil holding the balloon down and thought it would make a great visual metaphor for the Speed Boat game.  See the article by Alan Dayley Velocity is Like a Helium Balloon to get a hi-res poster.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Factors that support Creativity

Many companies have initiatives to become innovative.  There are some companies that don't appear to need a leadership sponsor to get competitive innovation - wonder why.  Perhaps they have some fundamental aspect to their organization that allows them to be creative.  What would be those aspects?

Why It Feels Like We're Falling Behind It can take years to notice a life-changing invention. - Motley Fool
It took the world a few years to recognize that the Wright brothers had flown the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, NC (first flight in Dec. 1903 to 1908 public demonstrations).

Here's my research on the topic of creativity.

Predicting Creativity in the Wild-- a research paper on the use of sociometric monitoring of teams by Sociometric Solutions.

Actor John Cleese talks about creativity.  It's about the open mindset of play.





Play is More than Just Fun - Stuart Brown; TED Talk


Stuart Brown has studied play in animals and humans and argues that it is a natural tool used for creative problem solving.

Play by Stuart Brown
"We've all seen the happiness on the face of a child while playing in the school yard. Or the blissful abandon of a golden retriever racing across a lawn. This is the joy of play. By definition, play is purposeless, all-consuming, and fun. But as Dr. Stuart Brown illustrates, play is anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play."

"Dr. Brown has spent his career studying animal behavior and conducting more than six- thousand "play histories" of humans from all walks of life-from serial murderers to Nobel Prize winners. Backed by the latest research, Play (20,000 copies in print) explains why play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more. Particularly in tough times, we need to play more than ever, as it's the very means by which we prepare for the unexpected, search out new solutions, and remain optimistic. A fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology, psychology, social science, and inspiring human stories of the transformative power of play, this book proves why play just might be the most important work we can ever do."


Dr. Brown's 2008 three part PBS series on Play:
     PROMISE OF PLAY, Part 1: The Mother of Invention
     PROMISE OF PLAY, Part 3: The Heart of the Matter




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Impediment: Network down time

I'm working with a large networking (telecommunication) company on a mission critical new initiative to replace existing B2B account services functions that are siloed and separate with a new sexy UI where all the services are aggregated in one portal.  The development has been underway for over one year.  It is touted as an "agile" program.  Yet an interesting impediment has never been resolved.  That is the internal WiFi/Lan systems appear to be overloaded with the strain of development, over utilized with the number of people that are squeezed into the floor plan (I call the sardine can).  This system fails quite frequently, it is a well know impediment to sprints being completed, stories integrated into the build, builds tested, access to the QA server, etc.  Yet this impediment remains after months and continued growth of the program.

I wonder if the problem is that management feels that they can't do anything about infrastructure at one of the largest telecommunication companies in the universe.  Perhaps they believe that the cobbler's kids should have no shoes - that is is just the way of the world.

I frequently wonder if this program was a client of the company would they cancel their service for the networking products and seek an alternative supplier.  I wonder if that would be an option for this program.  I wonder if this is a case of having to eat your own dog food - imposed by some evil VP to make the teams understand just how bad the customers have it using our services and administering them using the system we have provided them - but then I realize - no that would take real organizational ability and if it could be used for evil - then surely it would be as easy to use that super power to organize for good.  And since I can feel little organization, I assume there is no super power in existence.

So perhaps one step in the direction of making this problem understood would be to calculate the cost of the frequent network down times and make this cost visible.  I've done this before with other such impediments - with varying levels of success.

I just saw this article:

How Much Does Network Downtime REALLY Cost Your Business? [Shocking]

It contains a link to a calculator - makes it easy... try it - you might like it.

What would you do?  Please leave me a comment with suggestions.