Sunday, March 11, 2012

Innovation: Adjacency, Laterality or Something New - Part II

The convergence of knowledge in the 21st Century is enabling breakthroughs (not the incremental improvements) to come from sources not directly related to the area receiving the value.  This is further proof of one of my innovation principles that we must look in all directions for ideas and innovation for our needs.  Specifically in places that are ancillary or even obscure.

Here are a few examples I have come across:

(1) Mark Bear, a basic scientist, similar to a researcher involved in first principle scientific R&D, has made discovery about a system in the brain that regulates synapses.  The direct results is drug being tested on humans with autism that are producing results with one dose.  Read / listen to details here.

(2) I call this example "Adjacency To Be". This article here and here in The Economist (Sept, 2008) talks about how the Large Hadron Collider will provide insights into areas that were not planned. Yet the Economist also states, "The Large Hadron Collider, ... is a grand project that could yield all sorts of discoveries. Yet the easiest way to sell it to politicians was to frame it as a search for a single particle, the Higgs boson."

From Davos 2007 - Collaboration for innovation

This is interesting and entertaining to watch, five years ago seems exceptionally far.  The topic is Web 2.0 and collaboration, includes Bill Gates and a few other CEOs:

Collaboration - The relative of innovation in continual redefinition and the understanding of it being as expansive or as limited as the knowledge of the descriptor, currently enjoys large number of white papers, Web 2.0 applications, etc. written in its praise and dismissal.

This video from Davos 2007 is a good discussion to highlight some of the considerations associated with Web 2.0 based Collaboration.

State owned - The East India Company

State owned companies have been around since commerce began.  Today:

"State-controlled companies account for 80% of the market capitalisation of the Chinese stockmarket, more than 60% of Russia’s, and 35% of Brazil’s. They make up 19 of the world’s 100 biggest multinational companies and 28 of the top 100 among emerging markets. World-class state companies can be found in almost every industry. China Mobile serves 600m customers. Saudi Arabia’s SABIC is one of the world’s most profitable chemical companies. Emirates airlines is growing at 20% a year. Thirteen of the world’s biggest oil companies are state-controlled. So is the world’s biggest natural-gas company, Gazprom."

One to learn from is The East India Company, its opportunistic creation, its transformation, its impact on government and civilian life, and finally its demise.  The article "The Company that ruled the waves" here in The Economist provides valuable insights into what can be learned from the Company, both good and not so good:

"The Company was a model of economy and austerity that modern managers would do well to emulate. For the first 20 years of its life it operated out of the home of its governor, Sir Thomas Smythe. Even when it had become the world’s greatest commercial operation it remained remarkably lean. It ruled millions of people from a tiny headquarters, staffed by 159 in 1785 and 241 in 1813. Its managers reiterated the importance of frugality, economy and simplicity with a metronomic frequency, and imposed periodic bouts of austerity: in 1816, for example, they turned Saturday from a half to a full working day and abolished the staff’s annual turtle feast."

The article highlights the management techniques of the Company:

"It forced its employees to post a large bond in case they went off the rails, and bombarded them with detailed instructions about things like the precise stiffness of packaging. But it also leavened control with freedom. Employees were allowed not only to choose how to fulfil their orders, but also to trade on their own account. This ensured that the Company was not one but two organisations: a hierarchy with its centre of gravity in London and a franchise of independent entrepreneurs with innumerable centres of gravity scattered across the east."

Yet, with growing power the company and associated action, "Adam Smith denounced the Company as a bloodstained monopoly: “burdensome”, “useless” and responsible for grotesque massacres in Bengal."

I will recap The Economist's special report "State Capitalism" on this blog in the future.

What is the reality of "Made in China"?

Is your Apple iPad completely manufactured in China? "The trade gap between America and China is much exaggerated" says The Economist here.

"According to a study by the Personal Computing Industry Centre, each iPad sold in America adds $275, the total production cost, to America’s trade deficit with China, yet the value of the actual work performed in China accounts for only $10. Using these numbers, The Economist estimates that iPads accounted for around $4 billion of America’s reported trade deficit with China in 2011; but if China’s exports were measured on a value-added basis, the deficit was only $150m."

See information on Personal Computing Industry Centre here.

The article concludes, "Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organisation, has suggested that if trade statistics reflected true domestic content, America’s deficit with China might be more than halved."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Open Fields Driving Innovation

Though the online community has just come through a bit of a resolution on Stop Online Piracy Act, an article in The Economist provides a few interesting insights:

"Critics, who include big companies like Google as well as start-ups and all manner of geeks, argue that the law could put a heavy burden on smaller American sites, stifle innovation and enable censorship, and that DNS filtering could disrupt the internet’s addressing system, causing security problems."

The openness of the internet has allowed exploration and creation of completely new sectors, such as gaming and online gaming, which has for example furthered modeling and simulation in manufacturing by leaps and bounds, in visualization, massive storage systems, physics engines, etc.

Complete article here.