Big Ideas

I was reading an article about entrepreneur and Cliff Richard lookalike Michael Robertson’s work in trying to set up a more successful and social democratic way to help students pay for a college education in the US. In this article there was a link to the Idea Channel, the Idea Channel is a website where the public can purchase videos and transcripts from some of the brightest thinkers of our time. It was noticable that the smart people were using some older channels to deliver their messages: VHS video cassettes and printed books.Next, I received an email on the next big idea from Forrester Research – Innovation Networks, there is an interesting PDF to support the concept and the material can be obtained by registerig. Innovation networks are about bridging the gap between invention and commercialisation of the new, new thing. Much of the thinking here is pretty staid, but I do like the way Forrester has packaged it all up. Six barriers to effective innovation include:

– One way customer relationships yield market irrelevant innovations – basically the classic technology development scheme, the provision of WAP services to European mobile phone users

– Organisational silos prevent organisational collaboration – an easy target this one. Basically because much of the IT systems put in place to do knowledge management from intranets to running Autonomy don’t work. Email has allowed managers to sandblast peers with electronic memos but still hasn’t made the cultural impact to break down the silos

– Ivory-towered R&D labs dampen the rate of innovation – because the goals of R&D are very different to productisation of an invention

– Risk-averse top management eschews radical innovation – what do you expect when managers read about concepts like the innovators dilemma and are tasked with providing shareholder value, not building a dynasty of greatness. Business is ruled the 90-day plan

– Unskilled partners fail to keep pace with innovation – Microsoft has failed to secure computers, failed to be reliable and failed to provide innovations that business wants.

– Limited pool of local talent slow the innovation cycles – you don’t know all the smart people. To the more cynical it also allows companies to offshore R&D

The Thumb Drive Gospel

In the beginning there was memory, and it was called flash. It was small, expensive but convenient and the geeks saw that it was good.

What is a thumb drive?

Research done at Microsoft recently found that much of the time the most effective way of moving files around was via the sneakernet. Thumb drives are small pocket sized devices that have no moving parts and can store almost as much information as a CD-R. They use flash memory to hold the data and connect to a computer via a USB port. They generally can get on to all but the most locked-down computers and can be used to remove or transfer computer files. I use a 256MB Sony MicroVault

Why do I need a thumb drive?

Your work computer doesn’t have a CD writer and you want to move a presentation or work on it at home. You could run an FTP server and move the files electronically, but this could be hacked, is hard for a nebbish to set up and relies on your broadband service provider to not fall down at the wrong moment. Its cross platform, I can use mine on my Mac and PCs at work

Cover thy ass

A friend of mine recently ended up in court. The wrangle ended in their favour but it could have been avoided. At the time, redundancies were on the cards and they had developed a business plan in association with another friend regarding the possibility of setting up a new business. The time past and all that was left of the idea was a pipe dream on an spreadsheet that was stored on a network drive that had backed up their email account. Years later when their employer wanted to get rid of them, they used the file as evidence in a legal move to get them out the door. Anything like this, do on a removable drive if you have to use a work computer at all.