Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Electric School Buses and Transformation

The new infrastructure bill provides money to school districts for purchasing electric school buses.

Targeting school buses to convert to EVs makes sense because:

1. Daily student ridership in the U.S. is four times the ridership of the NYC subway.
2. Kids are exposed to diesel exhaust every time the buses idle in traffic.
3. Buses drive short, fixed routes and spend plenty of time in bus lots where they can be charged.

This means that focusing on electrifying school buses is low-hanging fruit, compared to electrifying cars or trucks.

That provides a lesson for businesses on transformation and strategic project management.  Can you carve out similar low-hanging fruit (high benefit, low effort)?

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Waste and Inefficiency

My insurance company needed to let me know that my premium changed. They sent me an email AND mailed me THREE different letters. Their software needs to be more efficient.  

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Bankruptcy: Silicon Valley vs. Europe

How can Europe make itself more like Silicon Valley, with disruptive companies?

One way is to de-stigmatize bankruptcy.

As "The Economist" points out, in Silicon Valley someone with one or two failed start-ups is seen as an experienced entrepreneur.  In Europe, a single bankruptcy can derail you career.

Recently, France found that they could successfully increase entrepreneurism by no longer publicly listing the managers of bankrupt companies for three years.  Banks would use this list to deny them funding. 

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Rio Tinto: The Price of Mismanagement and Unhealthy Culture

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article about how Mongolia commissioned a report to investigate why a copper mine being developed by global mining company Rio Tinto suffered delays and a $1.4 billion cost overrun.

Rio Tinto had blamed unfavorable rock conditions, but the report found that the rock quality was fine and the real culprit was an unhealthy culture and lack of coordination between teams: "People were working in silos with one group blaming the other for any failings."

While most failed projects and change initiatives don't suffer losses of this magnitude, unhealthy culture and silos are, unfortunately, all too common in business. They result in missed innovative opportunities and negatively impact performance and bottom-line results.

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Lessons From Lake Michigan

In 2013, Lake Michigan was at a historically low level, and people talked about a "new normal".

In 2019, the Lake was 6 feet higher, at record highs, and people were worried and upset because beaches and piers are missing and getting destroyed.

Some lessons:
1. Things in life and nature are cyclical.
2. There's always someone complaining: too high or too low.
3. The scale of nature is awesome: The lake went up 6 feet. To put it in perspective, to raise Lake Michigan by 1 inch takes about 780 billion gallons of water.

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Streaming 2020 Olympics: Confusion 1, NBC 0

Comcast's NBC Universal, which has been the exclusive broadcaster of the Olympic Games for years, has a ratings problem with the Tokyo Games.  

Here are the two reasons why I believe ratings are down:

1. NBC is not practicing Strategic Simplicity®.  The viewing choices are complex enough to cause people to experience paralysis by analysis.  There are too many options.  Some sports are streaming on Peacock, some are broadcast on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, etc.

2. The games are in a very far time zone.  In the old days, you could not learn the results until you watched the rebroadcast during American prime time.  Today, results are available instantly on websites, news feeds and, in many cases, pushed to your devices.  It's hard to be interested in watching a sport when you already know the outcome, particularly if the team/athletes you are rooting for lost.

These problems are not going away, because multiple streaming/broadcast options and instant updates are now part of life.

© 2021 Praveen Puri

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Problems With AI

A recent Associated Press article I read in the Chicago Tribune called attention to the AI problems faced by the moderator of a New York gardening group on Facebook.

Facebook's algorithm sometimes flags the word "hoe" as "violating community standards."  

Another post had commenting automatically disabled because of "possible violence, incitement, or hate in multiple comments."  This was because one comment talked about killing Japanese beetles.

The worry for the moderator is that, if there are to many violations, the whole group could get shut down.

The question for businesses: Is your AI and automation helping your customers, or making their life difficult?

© 2021 Praveen Puri