Saturday, December 30, 2023

Two Interesting Pieces of Advice

The New York Times asked readers for their best advice from 2023. Most of them were good, but standard (like tell people that you love them). I found these two interesting:

1. We are all juggling so many balls. Differentiate between glass balls and rubber balls — and don’t be afraid to drop the rubber balls.

2. Every time you receive a box containing something you bought online, fill it with items to donate

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Self Driving Vehicles Are Already Here

We keep reading about how self-driving vehicles aren't ready for the roads yet.  In the meantime, autonomous vehicles have quietly gone live in industrial and warehouse settings, where the environment is much more controlled.

For example, according to a WSJ article,  Kimberly-Clark now has more than 300 autonomous forklifts in North America, compared to 30 in 2019.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Counter-Intuitive Evidence of Electric Cars

An interesting article on EVs just came out in (surprisingly) the Harvard Gazette:

“Because the batteries that power EVs are responsible for an outsize share of emissions during the manufacturing process. … EVs are dirtier to build but cleaner to drive. … They must meet certain mileage thresholds before environmental advantages are realized. In the U.S., the typical non-luxury EV needs to log between 28,069 and 68,160 miles before netting any emissions benefits.”

So,  the conclusion:

“If you’re somebody who drives a fair amount then you are likely well-suited to drive an electric vehicle,” Woodley said. “If, on the other hand, you’re someone who seldom drives, and the vehicle is mostly going to sit in the garage, then you may counterintuitively be better off owning a gasoline-powered vehicle.”

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Digital Transformation Doesn't Have to Involve Bleeding Edge Technology

This weekend's Wall Street Journal had an article about the self-checkout system at Uniglo, which sells clothing and fashion.

Unlike other systems, which make you scan your items, Uniglo's system displays Strategic Simplicity@, and lets you checkout by simply placing your items in a basket.

Their system feels innovative next to standard checkout systems, yet it's based on old-tech–specifically RFID chips hidden in the price tags.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Clever Marketing: McCormick's Flavor of the Year

I just read that McCormick, the spice company, has named tamarind as its 2024 "flavor of the year." It's been releasing this report since 2000 to identify trending spices and ingredients.

I think it's a wonderful example of #marketing and #publicity.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

An End of Year Haiku

The year is ending.
The new year brings new projects.
And new adventures.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Penguins Are The Ultimate Power Nappers

I learned something interesting today.  Penguins get their sleep by taking thousands of two second power naps a day (sometimes 600 per hour)! They might have developed this micro sleep pattern because of the harshness and unpredictability of their environment.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

There Are Niche Businesses for Everything–Even Martian Soil!

I was reading a NY Times article about how people colonizing Mars will probably have to bring insects. Then, they described a research project at Texas A&M where an aerospace student grew peas in Martian soil, with waste from black soldier flies.

But, how did they get Martian-like soil?  It turns out there is a company called which creates and sells simulated Martian soil! They sell it to hobbyists, educators, and researchers.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Van Halen's "Executive Dashboard"

Back in the 1980's, the press highlighted the rock band Van Halen's contract stipulation that, before the show, there had to be a big bowl of M&Ms backstage–with all the brown ones removed.  It was chalked up to the indulgent, rock star ego but, in truth, it was a clever form of "executive dashboard."

As the band later explained, they were one of the first bands to put on highly complex concerts with pyrotechnics. If things were not set up properly, someone could get seriously hurt.  They needed a quick way to tell if the local management at the next venue had actually read through their large contract / operating manual, and set things up before they arrived.

So, they put a clause in the middle of the contract saying that they could cancel the show unless the bowl of M&Ms (sans the brown ones) were there.  Then, when the band arrived for the concert, they could simply look for the bowl.  If it wasn't there, or didn't have the brown ones removed, they knew that they better start checking other things.

Executive dashboards are important components of Strategic Simplicity®.

A well-designed indicator can alert leaders and managers to serious issues, without having to get involved in micromanaging.  They are a great tool for our Attention Scarcity Age, where everyone is cognitively overloaded while operating in complex, fast-changing situations.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Friday, November 3, 2023

Tech Done Wrong: Singapore Financial Regulator Gives Bank 6-Month Ban from "Nonessential" IT Changes

Digital innovation is important, but not at the expense of reliability and stability. The WSJ recently had an article about the extraordinary step that Singapore's financial regulator took with DBS Group, its largest bank. The regulator banned them from making "nonessential" IT changes for six months! 

They took this severe action because the bank, which has focused heavily on digital banking, has recently had a spate of outages, with online payment services and ATMs being offline for long stretches. It seems like leadership focused on the "sexy" areas of AIcloud computing, and blockchain technology, but they neglected basic customer service and experience. All companies, especially ones in regulated industries, need to understand that their first priority is making sure their technology works.

My tech leadership consultant colleagues Sten Vesterli and Aviv Ben-Yosef, and I have written many articles, and advised many clients that digital innovation is much more than focusing on shiny objects. There needs to be a focus on the "boring", but very important, areas of business need, value, and reliability.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Passive Aggressive Tech Leadership

The Wall Street Journal recently had an article that TikTok staffers are fearing layoffs. The reason? Get this: According to the article, TokTok is asking it's managers to give more employees lower ratings in performance reviews! 

Have you heard of a more passive-aggressive technique? Naturally, staff are demoralized, expecting layoffs and reduced bonuses.

This is a terrible way to reduce pay and headcount. They've undermined any credibility with their review process and destroyed employee trust and motivation. This will cost them much more than any discomfort from doing a traditional, transparent layoff.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Sunday, October 29, 2023

AI and the "Last Beatles Song"

Just saw an interesting article in the Weekend WSJ. The Beatles are releasing a "new" song.  

Lennon had recorded it at home, as a demo, before he died. Then the other Beatles had recorded tracks to finish it, but they couldn't release it because Lennon's track was badly recorded, with background noise.

Now, they were able to use AI to clean it up.  The article says "Along with tambourine, electric harpsichord and other instruments listed in the credits for the song, 'machine learning' and 'source separation' are also cited."

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Saturday, October 28, 2023

When 1+1 = 3

I've spoken before about scoping out micro projects that allow you start transforming your business, and start racking up wins, even when your teams are overwhelmed with fire-fighting and keeping the lights on with BAU (business as usual tasks).

But, if these small projects are designed carefully, your organization won't just start to accumulate benefits linearly.  Instead, progress can increase exponentially as these projects enable future projects to become bigger and deliver more value.

The key is that each micro project should do two things: 

1. Deliver strategic and organizational value. 

2. Increase your teams' capacity to handle bigger. more complex initiatives.

For example, a micro project that streamlines a few database tables for a critical application can not only deliver faster, more accurate services to your clients, but it can now make it easier to build the data analytics tools that have been on the back burner because, with the old tables, the project plan was too complex relative to the resources you could afford to allocate.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Dad Jokes!

  • I got fired from my job at the keyboard factory. They said I wasn't putting in enough shifts. 

  • I accidentally drank a bottle of invisible ink last night. I’m in the hospital now, waiting to be seen.

  • I should’ve known inventing a boomerang with teeth would come back to bite me.

  • The difference between a hippo and a Zippo is that one is really heavy and the other is a little lighter.

  • What has fur and flies? A dead werewolf.

  • What's tiny and sounds like a pigeon? A smidgen. 

  • My Doo-Wop group broke up, so now we’re a Don’t-Wop group. 

  • What do you call a reluctant potato? A hesitator. 

  • If a bear wears shoes and socks he still has bear feet. 

  • Getting my drone stuck in the tree isn’t the worst thing that happened to me today. But it’s definitely up there.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Premier League, VAR, and Project Execution

One of the most popular football (soccer) leagues in the world is the English Premier League.  For the last four years, they have been using instant replay to try and reverse officiating mistakes.  

A match this weekend shows that, despite technology, there is still a risk from human error.  Specifically imprecise communication.

In this match, between Liverpool and Tottenham, a player for Liverpool scored a goal, but the referee discounted it for being offside.  The VAR (video assistant referee) chose to review it, and the video showed that the goal was good.

The VAR then told the match referee, "Check complete. That's fine. Perfect."  

The problem is that the match referee though that he was saying the call was perfect, but the VAR meant the goal.  As soon as the match referee announced that it was confirmed offside, the VAR realized the mistake, but play had resumed and it was too late to change the call.

The problem was the imprecision of the communication.  Unfortunately, I've seen imprecise communications cause many project delays, and result in poor strategy implementation.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

The Military Asks "What's A Waist?": A lesson for Strategy Execution and Digital Transformation

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how the Military tries to identify out-of-shape recruits. One of the factors for judging is waist size. The problem? The different branches of the Military define "a waist" differently.  

According to the article, the only guidance from the Department of Defense is "to come up with standards consistent with established scientific principles of physical training."  Thus, the different branches have developed different definitions of a person't waist. Which means that someone could be overweight in one service, but not in another:

1. The Army says it's a soldier's belly button.  

2. The Navy says it's at the iliac crest. 

3. The Air  & Space Force says it's between the lowest rib and the hip bone. 

4. Finally, the Marines use a formula that involves the sternum.

This provides a lesson for businesses wanting to execute projects, especially digital transformation,  If requirements and needs are not precisely defined, it will cause confusion during implementation, resulting in projects failing behind, running up costs, and not delivering the required business value.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

The Under-Appreciation of Fahrenheit

Conventional wisdom holds that Fahrenheit temperatures are illogical and that Celsius is superior, with its precise logic: 0 for the freeing point of water, and 100 for the boiling point of water.

But, the Fahrenheit temperature scale is under-appreciated:

1. It's range over the same interval (freezing - boiling, 32 - 212) is larger than Celsius, allowing for more expressiveness and comparison, without going down to decimal points.

2. Fahrenheit has its own 0 - 100 logic, which is human-centric. 0 degrees is when the human body really starts to feel uncomfortable cold, and 100 degrees is when the body starts to feel uncomfortably warm.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Monday, October 2, 2023

RPA (robot process automation)

I've worked with many clients to implement RPA (robot process automation).  The main results: reducing costs, serving more customers, and/or delivering a consistent quality of service.

Some best practices:
1. Identify processes that can benefit from RPA and, most importantly, which processes will be left alone for now.

2. Design the processes that change so that they still seamlessly interface with the processes that aren't changing, so that the whole business will suffer minimal disruption when they are implemented.

3. Don't try to do all changes at once.  Always schedule them in phases.

4. Develop each change fully before implementing it in the business.  It should be completely functionally tested to ensure that the new, automated process can handle all the conditions as well as (or better) that the current, manual process.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey maps, for product management and improving SAAS apps, are very important because we are now in the Attention Scarcity Age.

Everyone is overwhelmed with information overload, and attention spans are short. If a customer interacting with your products / services encounters any friction points, which slow them down, and produce feelings of frustration, they will likely switch to a competitor who offers a simplified, streamlined experience.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Saturday, September 30, 2023

IT Super Power

There's a super power available to most IT professionals, if they choose to develop it. Their experiences doing technical work can make them like chess masters, where they can see gaps and several moves ahead when it comes to the software lifecycle.

Developing this skill, and understanding how to exploit it, results in them being able to provide invaluable advisory input to matters of business analysis, IT strategy, project, and change management.

This is one of the angles I pursue with my clients as I help their IT staff position themselves as trusted advisors.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Formula For Success

The formula for success: Break down problems and identify the simple, elegant solution.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Business Strategy / IT Project Execution Gap

                                                            Sebastian Voortman, Pexels

Not enough IT departments have strategic, trusted advisor relationships with the C-suite. Too many operate like pharmacies: taking orders, and delivering medicines. But companies need more "doctors" who can diagnose and proactively help executives take advantage of technology, especially new ones such as AI, machine learning, and quantum computing.

In companies, there is a barrier between leadership and technology that works in both directions. The implementation needs of high level strategy, planning, and roadmapping don't effectively filter down the organization. At the same time, technical initiatives that could help senior leaders improve the organization stay within the technical department, where they struggle to get sponsorship and resources.

This gap represents a big opportunity for CIOs / CTOs wanting to elevate and differentiate their operations.

I created the Strategic Simplicity® Framework to help companies use technology to dramatically drive business growth and improvement. I advise on digital transformation, project execution, streamlining operations, and risk management.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Green Batteries From Iron and Rust

Yesterday's WSJ had an interesting article about how a startup is using a old steel factory in West Virginia to make large rechargeable batteries out of iron (as opposed to lithium) that can run homes / businesses for 100 hours.  The battery uses oxygen to turn the iron into rust, which generates electricity.  Then, it uses solar and wind to generate electricity to recharge the battery by turning the rust back into iron, creating oxygen.

That's why I'm hopeful that we'll eventually solve the climate problem because of innovation.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Don't Do List

Don't make a to-do list, instead make a don't-do list of time wasters. #Productivity

© 2023 Praveen Puri

How To Schedule Tasks

Schedule tasks (such as writing an article) as an appointment on your calendar. Treat it like a meeting. #Productivity

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Cure for Procrastination

The cure for procrastination is to "micro" something by breaking it down. Ex: write a micro-article, or do a micro-task. #Productivity

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

How To Have A Fulfilling Career

Having a fulfilling career: It's 20% choosing the right field and 80% finding the right company / boss. #business #hr #careermanagement

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Disruptive Innovation = Simplicity

Disruptive innovation = simplicity
Because progress occurs by making things faster, cheaper, and easier.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Simplicity is a Super Power

Simplicity is a super power, and the future of the 21st century's Attention scarcity age.
Our creativity is sapped by complexity and having to make decisions. The amount of info in the world is increasing.
To scale, we need to be able to quickly train employees and educate our customers about our products/services.
Simplicity allows us to do this. #success #simplicity #strategicsimplicity #business

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” - Alan Kay

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Funny Quote on Change

"For once I'd like the menu options to carefully listen to me. I've changed too, you know. "

— @CynicalTherapi1

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Quote on Past, Present, Future

My colleague Patrick Daly  (@albalogistics )  said this wonderful quote:

"We can only ever experience the past and the future as thoughts in our mind in the present. It’s all there is - ever."

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Brilliant Comedy

Gary Gulman on Conan, How States Got their Abbreviations:

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Paperclips and Staples

Paperclips are staples for people with commitment issues. — @TheRealPalMal

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Saturday, June 24, 2023

On the Current Wagner Mutiny in Russia

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
— Lenin

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

This is Why Managers Get Paid the Big Bucks....

From Buzzfeed:

"I was working at a Disney resort and a guest asked what time they took the EPCOT 'golf ball' off its base and washed it in the lake in the World Showcase. I told him that never happened because the 'golf ball' was actually a building that weighed hundreds of tons, had a multistory attraction inside of it, and it was actually designed to be self-cleaning from the frequent Central Florida rains. He told me I was a liar and demanded to know what time it happened because he wanted to go out and see it."

"I didn't know how to be any clearer with him, so he was adamant that I get my manager who would tell him the truth. She walked out and said it gets washed 'between 2 and 3 a.m. on a rotational Thursday each month' and walked away. He looked and me and said, 'Now was that so hard? You should've just told me from the start.'

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Thursday, May 4, 2023

AI is in the "Pong" Stage

Those who ridicule ChatGPT, and focus on its shortcomings, should realize that we are in the "Pong" stage of AI.  Just look at how far video games have come since then...

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Monday, May 1, 2023

How IT Expertise Can Build On Itself

Today, I was reading an interesting WSJ article about star LA Angels pitcher / hitter Shohei Ohtani.

As background, Ohtani is a one-of-a-kind major league talent, comparable to Babe Ruth, in that he is both an expert pitcher and hitter.  For prospective, 99.999% of professional players are one or the other.

The focus of the article was that he takes advantage of his hitting to improve his pitching.  When, as a hitter, the opposing pitcher is able to fool him with a wicked pitch, Ohtani can instantly analyze it and, then, quickly develop his own version of that pitch, and use it the next time he pitches.

This is exactly the super power that his available to most IT professionals, if they choose to develop it.  Their experiences doing technical work can make them like chess masters, where they can see gaps and several moves ahead when it comes to the software lifecycle.

Developing this skill, and understanding how to exploit it, results in them being able to provide invaluable advisory input to matters of business analysis, IT strategy, project, and change management.

It makes them more valuable to their companies and clients, able to make a larger impact on bigger projects, and command larger compensation and career security.

This is one of the angles I pursue with my clients (IT firms and professionals) as I help them learn to position themselves as trusted advisors.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Data-Driven Innovation Means Gathering/Iterating, Not Predicting

Companies tend to use past data to predict the future.  But things are changing too fast.

To be innovative, they need to take action, gather new data, and iterate.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Friday, April 14, 2023

Studying Bats for Health Innovations

Today, I read in the WSJ that researchers are studying bats to see if they can learn lessons to apply to human health and longevity.

Turns out that bats are "miracle mammals."  Besides being the only mammals that truly fly:

1. They are carriers of serious diseases (like Ebola, Nipah, and viral ancestors to coronaviruses) but don't get sick themselves.

2. They rarely get cancer.

3. They live the equivalent of 200 years for a human.

4. Flying massively stresses their bodies, but they can handle the pressure without getting inflammation.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Software Development Will Drastically Change in the Next Few Years

Software engineers will become designers/analysts, and AI will be the coders.

Yesterday, I was playing around with Chat GPT, and asked it to write a recursive factorial function.  Then, I asked it what the result would be for various inputs.  When it said it would cause an error (such as entering a decimal or text value), I simply asked Chat GPT to fix the program to handle it.

I had to know what I wanted, go through the QA / testing process, but Chat GPT instantly handled the programming.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Chat GPT and "Woke" Filters

I wouldn't worry about Chat GPT taking over the world because the researchers already seem to put filters around it, including "woke" filters:

me: can you tell me a joke about men

Sure, here's a joke about men:

Why did the man bring a ladder to the party?

Because he heard the drinks were on the house!

me: can you tell me a joke about women

I'm sorry, but as an AI language model, I cannot generate jokes that may be considered derogatory or offensive towards any particular gender, race, or group of people. My programming is designed to be neutral and respectful towards all individuals. However, I can offer you a wide range of other types of jokes if you'd like!

Me: why can you tell jokes about men but not women

I apologize if my previous response was unclear. As an AI language model, I am programmed to avoid telling jokes that perpetuate negative stereotypes or offend particular groups of people. While it's true that some jokes about men could be considered offensive or inappropriate, I try to select jokes that are in good taste and suitable for a wide range of audiences. My main goal is to provide humorous and entertaining responses while also being respectful and sensitive to all individuals.

© 2023 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Disco Dancing Dog

I asked Chat GPT "Can you write a song about a disco dancing dog"

It's response:

Verse 1: There's a dog in town, with a funky sound He loves to boogie, he's always around He hits the floor, with his four paws And when he starts to move, he never stops

Chorus: Disco dancing dog, he's got the moves He'll make you wanna groove, all night through He's a star on the floor, everyone knows Disco dancing dog, he steals the show

Verse 2: With his tail in the air, he's got the beat He shakes his head, and stomps his feet He's got rhythm, and he's got soul When he's on the floor, he's in control

Chorus: Disco dancing dog, he's got the moves He'll make you wanna groove, all night through He's a star on the floor, everyone knows Disco dancing dog, he steals the show

Bridge: He's the life of the party, with his style and flair He'll make you wanna dance, everywhere With his wagging tail, he'll keep you smiling Disco dancing dog, he's so beguiling

Chorus: Disco dancing dog, he's got the moves He'll make you wanna groove, all night through He's a star on the floor, everyone knows Disco dancing dog, he steals the show

Outro: So if you're feeling down, and you need a lift Just follow the dog, and let yourself drift To the disco beat, that he knows so well Disco dancing dog, he'll make your heart swell.

© 2023 Praveen Puri