Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gorilla hiding in plain sight

It is proven fact that through training, individuals improve upon a particular type of learned behavior.  The learned behavior inherently disables the individual, the more they train, to not look at what is outside the boundaries of their learned behavior; it is not important.

Yet, that is where the breakthroughs exist today, just beyond the boundaries.  Technology has enabled the availability of knowledge that was created and retained within an individual over years.

Researchers at Harvard recently conducted experiments to further validate the above fact, and more commonly known as the Invisible Gorilla.

""If you watch radiologists do what they do, [you're] absolutely convinced that they are like superhuman," says Trafton Drew, an attention researcher at Harvard Medical School."

"He took a picture of a man in a gorilla suit shaking his fist, and he superimposed that image on a series of slides that radiologists typically look at when they're searching for cancer. He then asked a bunch of radiologists to review the slides of lungs for cancerous nodules. He wanted to see if they would notice a gorilla the size of a matchbook glaring angrily at them from inside the slide."

"But they didn't: 83 percent of the radiologists missed it, Drew says."

"This wasn't because the eyes of the radiologists didn't happen to fall on the large, angry gorilla. Instead, the problem was in the way their brains had framed what they were doing. They were looking for cancer nodules, not gorillas, so "they look right at it, but because they're not looking for a gorilla, they don't see that it's a gorilla.""

Read further details, videos, and references here.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Previous Procter & Gamble colleague Franz Dill writes about gamification here.  Collaboration and competition driving management of behavior to direct and produce specific results... magic, gold dust, music to the ears of corporate managers?

And here is a TED talk by Jane McGonigal on the subject.

The Economist's Schumpeter pipes in with some insights here, though it warns:

"Level-headed management types, meanwhile, say that many of the aspects of gamification that do work are merely old ideas in trendy new clothes. High-score lists for sales staff, for example, have been around for decades, as have employee-of-the-month contests. Airlines were giving points and perks to loyal customers long before anyone had heard of “Farmville”."

Needless to say, angel investors, and venture capitalists are jumping on the hype cycle.  Get ready to for gamification of cooking to shampooing of your hair to gamifying consumption of utterly repulsive food and that too for babies.  I am interested in seeing what do the management consultants come up with!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Prediction Markets and Elections

Rather than developing mathematical models for prediction and decision support, should organizations consider designing methods for managed betting!  It seems like betting has continued to predict the election outcomes in the USA correctly, and companies like InTrade may just set the next transformation driven by leveraging social behavior in how to think about the future.

Visit Intrade's website here, it is worth a visit.

Though do note from The Economist article here:

"It now appears that the spotlight may have done Intrade more harm than good. On November 26th America’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued the company for allowing betting on the prices of products, such as oil and gold, which trade on derivatives markets it regulates. (In 2005 Intrade had promised the CFTC not to offer such contracts.) In response to the suit, the firm announced it would no longer let Americans trade on its site."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Entrepreneurship in Healthcare

The health law passed in 2010, now come to be known more commonly as Obamacare, seems to have inspired a bourgeoning of health care centric entrepreneurial activity.

The Economist writes:

"Smaller companies are coming up with ways to help bigger ones cope. Venture-capital firms see at least two promising areas: companies that serve consumers directly and those that help hospitals provide better, cheaper care. For some firms, Obamacare is a direct boon. For example, Getinsured.com, which helps people choose health insurance online, is also helping set up California’s insurance exchange. Since the election more states have asked about its services. Peter Hudson of iTriage, which lets a patient tap symptoms into a mobile app and search for doctors nearby, thinks Obamacare will add to his firm’s growth. By directing patients to general practitioners rather than pricey specialists, iTriage may cut costs for ACOs."

I continue to keep an ear out to this sector to see if Obamacare does truly enable a resurgence of creativity where it usually comes from, the one or two man shop, the tinkerer, the thinker of impossible concepts, ... the entrepreneur.

Perhaps, here the political aisles are being crossed?

"The most interesting model may belong to athenahealth, which offers hospitals and doctors billing, electronic health records and other services. Start-ups pitch to athena’s customers at the company’s “More Disruption Please” conference. The winners get to offer their products to the 35,000 doctors in athena’s network, alongside athena’s own. HealthFinch and iTriage are both due to join. Jonathan Bush, athena’s boss (and a cousin of George W.) favours young companies that help hospitals work better by doing the jobs “that all doctors hate and suck at”."

Read the complete article here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Business Model: Tata Sons

The Economist publishes excellent articles.  Yet, at times, a disappointment does emerge.  While discussing the $100 billion conglomerate and the transition of Mr. Cyrus Mistry to the Chairman of the company, the magazine disappointed in completely missing the history of why Tata Sons' ethos are as they are, while complaining about it sustained growth rates of 3% to 4%.

Tata was founded by Mr. Jamsetji Tata, a Parsi (or Zoroastrian).  The core of Tata companies has always been social sustainability and ethical conduct.

A founder of one of the largest private equity firms in the USA told me recently that he will not work with any company in India, except for a Tata company.  He said simply, "They don't take or give bribes, and they don't lie."

The article states:

"The Jack Welch comedy club
This is the sort of approach that Tata veterans disdain. They see the “kill, cure or sell” philosophy of famous Western managers of conglomerates, such as Jack Welch of GE, as comically macho and short-sighted. One divisional head admits: “Return on capital is not at the centre of our business. Our purpose is nation-building, employment and acquiring technical skills.” This benevolence even applies to staff abroad. Embattled Tata Steel Europe has 33,000 employees."

Perhaps it is time for Capitalism driven on quarterly returns to have a longer term view for the health and well being of its employees and the society.  But then it may not be considered Capitalism with a capital 'C'.

Read the complete article here.  Read the "Purpose and values" of Tata here.