Thursday, June 13, 2024

Strategic Simplicity® is the Key to Business Success

As I've said before, we are in the Attention Scarcity Age and the key to business success today is streamlining the customer experience, and making it very quick and easy for people to accomplish tasks.

It's the secret to Uber, AirBNB, take out services, and AI.

The Lefsetz Letter touches on this while talking about how the best non-blockbuster/superhero  movies are 
now appearing on Netflix (https://lefsetz.com/wordpress/2024/06/11/hit-man/), bolding is mine:

"On Netflix, to paraphrase Mick Jagger, it’s just a click away.

There’s too much friction in going to the movies. You’ve got to look up the time, get in your car, park, pay, sit through a zillion trailers, and maybe commercials, and endure the great unwashed populace.

But on Netflix… It’s on demand, ready when you are. To watch straight through, to pause, to see again and again.

This is the modern paradigm. He with the most friction loses. Didn’t the music business prove this?"

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, June 7, 2024

Interesting Connection 2


Elon Musk launched a new AI company (xAI - he's fascinated by the letter X), and it raised a lot of money in a short time.  Why?

Because he also owns Tesla and X (nee Twitter), which gives his AI models a big advantage in training data (tweets, file from Tesla cameras, etc).
© 2024 Praveen Puri

Interesting Connection 1

Did you now that, outside the main bull fighting stadium in Madrid, there is a statue dedicated to Alexander Fleming?

Why?  His invention of penicillin saved countless bullfighters.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Mythical Man-Month

When a project is falling behind, beware the seductive idea of simply increasing manpower. Adding bodies doesn't scale for knowledge workers.

hashta work.
For example,

Adding more farm workers to pick wheat is productive because the work can be divided and they don't have to communicate with each other.

Adding more hashtagprogrammers to a project falling behind does not increase hashtagproductivity because they have to communicate / coordinate / share constraints.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Three Ways to Be An Innovative Leader in Your Field



1. You have to learn, learn, learn. If you don't have the passion to read and learn outside of work, you should find another field because you won't be an innovative leader. Also, learn in adjacent areas. for example, if your field is healthcare, also learn and be curious in technology and consumer care.

2. Use data. You don't have to be a data scientist. You can work with programmers and data experts, who can help you put together the queries. The main skills you need is the ability to think up the queries by thinking about cause, effect, and relationships between measures, and testing your hypothesis.

3. Set both clear (in pen) and "in pencil" goals. For example, if you're in health care, set the clear goal of identifying a way to kill a certain cancer cell. But, then you want to set an "in pencil" sub-goal, such as can substance X affect the cancer cell.  Because, then you want to test this hypothesis, and either pursue it further or quickly discard it (fail fast). "in pencil" means don't be wedded to it, and be willing to pivot based on the evidence.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Monday, May 27, 2024

Go Team Go!

The Economist had an article about how researchers are now working on building teams of chatbots.  These open up more powerful opportunities than single chatbots.

The bots can self-organize, assign each other tasks, and review each other's work.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Latest Fortune Cookie Advice


"Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it."

- From today's fortune cookie

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Actual Execution Should Be Thoughtless

You need to strategize and plan, so that you take the right action.  But, when you actually take action, you have to not think, and just execute, if you want to be successful.

I noticed this when I threw a crumpled paper into the garage can.  I made the shot because I didn't aim, or think about whether I would make it in.  My mind was a void, and I just tossed it in.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How Not To Do Projects


San Francisco built a single public toilet. The stats:

$1.7 million with a two-year timeline
$91,800 in project management fees
$90,000 in architecture and engineering fee

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, April 4, 2024

"My AI agent will be in touch with your AI agent"

In the future, I think we will have AI assistants who complete tasks and schedule things for us.  

For example, instead of booking travel yourself, you tell your AI. It knows your preferences, goes out to your favorite travel site, finds and presents to you 3-4 options, then books your choice.

At first, site connections for your agent may need to be cobbled together, but I think standards will emerge.  AIs will have access to directories listing APIs for different websites so that, when your agent needs to interact with a site for the first time, there is little or no initial setup required. 

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

You Can't Fail At Innovation

You can't fail at innovation. It's not "success or fail"–it's "success or iterate." If you give up on innovation, your business will fail. If, instead, you pivot, review what happened, and adjust, you can always grow your business, add value to your customers, and increase the value of your business.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Airbnb for Dog Parks


If you're creative, there is no end to the apps and services you can come up with to satisfy people's wants and needs.

Today, I was reading Crain's Chicago Business and saw an article about sniffspot, which is an "Airbnb for dog parks."

It lets people offer their property for people who want a safe, private place for their dogs to run around unleashed.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, March 22, 2024

The Frenchman Who Ended Use of The Guillotine Died Last Month


Whenever I thought of France and the guillotine, I always thought of the French Revolution in the 18th century.  Imagine my surprise when I saw, in a recent edition of The Economist, the obituary of the man who ended its use: Robert Badinter, who died on February 9, at the age of 95.

It turns out that the guillotine was used into the 1970's, and he got France to end the death penalty in 1981.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

AI is a Complement, Not Replacement, for the Human Touch


AI will complement, but not replacement human touch. 


It will be a valuable tool for companies that want to empower their customers and simplify the user experience. However, like any tool, AI has its limitations.


For complex and stressful situations, clients will still want to talk with humans, who can provide empathy and flexibility.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Medical AI to Screen for Diseases

If you're developing AI to screen for diseases in health care, it would probably be better to think analog instead of digital.

Instead of making the AI respond "yes" or "no", have it rate the likelihood of having the disease, on a scale such as 1-5.

If your AI only responds "yes" or "no", it would probably be useless because of false positives and negatives.

With using a scale, however, the screening could actually prove useful.  For example, after running clinical trials, it might be found that:

1. Ratings of 1 don't need follow-up.
2. Ratings of 2-3 require follow-up, but not urgently.
3. Ratings of 4-5 should be a priority follow-up.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, March 1, 2024

Innovation Isn't About Hard Skills


Innovation isn't about hard skills (data analysis, programming, project management, design thinking, etc.). 

All of the hard skills listed above are superseded by curiosity. You could be an expert in all those skills but, if you don't have the curiosity to play with concepts, try new things, and go down dead ends, then you won't reach your potential for innovation. 

Conversely, if you are weak on the hard skills, but are curious and playful, you'll succeed.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Monday, February 26, 2024

Venture Capital Company to Buy Hospital System



that a General Catalyst, VC company, plans to spend billions of dollars to buy a health system.

The strategy is not to gut it, load it up with debt, and sell it.

Instead, their plan is to own it for the long term, and use the hospital system as a proving ground for the innovative health startups in their portfolios.

They think this will solve two problems facing digital health startups:

1. It can take months or years to get deals signed with hospitals.

2. Healthcare AI systems needs a lot of medical data to train on.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, February 23, 2024

CIOs Complain About Tech Bundling


Consumers have been "cutting the cord", and switching from cable to streaming, because they don't want to pay for bundled channels they don't watch.

Now, according to a recent WSJ article, CIOs are having the same issue with tech vendors.

There have been an increasing number of business technology acquisitions, and it's resulting in fewer, but large-bundled, offerings.  For example, the article mentions that, after VMware bought Broadcom, it "went from more than 160 individual products to two primary bundled offerings."

The CIOs don't like it because, in many cases, they are just searching for products to fill gaps in their IT systems.  By having to buy in bundles, they end up with more complex systems with redundant functionality.  As one CIO described it: "I now end up with overlapped Venn diagrams...very hard to manage."

To simplify their IT, thus promoting robustness, reliability, and better security, CIOs need access to streamlined, modular products that let them better customize for their needs.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Tech Product Has to Add Value

Did you ever hear about the Juicero? 

It was a startup that sold a $699 (later $399) wifi-connected juicer and then you subscribed to get bags of pre-pulped fruits and veggies that you used in the machine to make cold-pressed juices.  

Bloomberg put them out of business with one video:


Turns out, you could just hand-squeeze the bags into your glass and didn't need the wi-fi enabled juicer...


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, February 16, 2024

Chat GPT Can Be A Good Interface to APIs

I read about how Open AI will let developers and users add APIs to Chat GPT.  

If I added an email_to function, here is how simple it would be to get ChatGPT to use it (and I did this using the less powerful, free version of GPT 3.5):


me: given a function api called email_to(subject, body), if I tell you in English to email someone about something, can you take my sentence and tell me what the api call would be?

ChatGPTOf course! Please provide me with the sentence you'd like to use to email someone about something, and I'll convert it into the corresponding API call.

me: can you email Fred and ask for last week's sales figures?

ChatGPT: Certainly! The corresponding API call would be:

email_to("Request for Last Week's Sales Figures", "Hi Fred,\n\nI hope you're doing well. Could you please provide me with the sales figures from last week? It would be greatly appreciated.\n\nThank you!\n[Your Name]")

meCan you amend the function to first include the person's email?

ChatGPT: Sure, here's an updated version of the function email_to that includes the recipient's email:

def email_to(recipient_email, subject, body): # Logic to send email to recipient_email with given subject and body pass

And here's how you would use it to email Fred and ask for last week's sales figures:

email_to("fred@example.com", "Request for Last Week's Sales Figures", "Hi Fred,\n\nI hope you're doing well. Could you please provide me with the sales figures from last week? It would be greatly appreciated.\n\nThank you!\n[Your Name]")

Replace "fred@example.com" with Fred's actual email address.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Programming Fun With Fibonacci Numbers






When you are learning about recursive functions in programming, two examples from mathematics are used to teach the concept: calculating factorials and the Fibonacci sequence.

Let's look at Fibonacci.  The sequence starts with 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, ...

So, the first two values are: fib(0) = 0, fib(1)=1

After that, the next fib number is the sum of the previous two,  So, fib(2) = fib(0) + fib(1), fib(3) = fib(2) + fib(1), etc.

I saw an online discussion of someone wanting to sum the first N Fibonacci sequence, and looking for an efficient recursive program.


I wondered if you even needed recursion for the sum since, when you are summing integers, you can do it without a loop or recursion.  The sum of the first N integers is N(N+1)/2

So, I dug in and found that you can sum the first N Fibonacci numbers without loops or recursion.

1. First, we can define the constant phi =  (1 + sqrt(5))/2   #1 plus the square root of 5, divided by 2

2. Next, we can create a function to calculate the nth Fibonacci number without loops or recursion:
fib(n) =  int_round_up {[ phi ^ n - (-1 / phi) ^ n ] / sqrt(5) }  # do the calc in decimal and round up to int

3.  Finally, the function to find the sum of the first N Fibonacci numbers:
Sum_fib(n) = fib(n+2) - 1  # The sum of the first N Fib numbers is just the N+2 Fib number - 1

So, it turns out finding the sum of Fibonacci numbers is actually a simple, elegant process.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, February 8, 2024

We Are Truly Living in a Multicultural World

My wife sent me to a Polish bakery this afternoon the pick up some homemade Paczki, which was only for sale today.  

The Polish bakery was inside a Polish grocery store, that had a small restaurant inside, that was advertising authentic Mexican food, made from 100% halal meat!



© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Breaking The Democrat-Republican Duopoly.

Many voters aren't happy to only have a choice of Trump vs. Biden.

We will never break the duopoly unless we either get ranked choice voting, or even something simpler such as being able to vote a second choice (so that, if your first choice isn't in the top two, your second choice counts if it's one of the top two). 

That way, people will get comfortable voting third party candidates.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Three Keys to Technology-Based Innovation


1. Value simplicity. If your solution is not the simplest and easiest to use, it will lose in the marketplace to the one that is.

2. Recognize the power of iteration. It's not "succeed or fail", it's "succeed or iterate". Failure only occurs if you give up.

3. Embrace analog over digital thinking. Digital thinking is all or nothing, while analog thinking recognizes that result is a spectrum, and a partial success is often very valuable.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Monday, February 5, 2024

Today, Owning A Product Means You're Responsible For The Full Life Cycle

Today's Wall Street Journal had an article about Whirlpool re-designing their fridges to make them easier to recycle.  

Why would they go to all the trouble, when it does not improve the product's functioning?

Because, today, customers are more environmentally conscious and they expect product creators to be responsible for the complete lifecycle of their products.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Strategic Simplicity® Takes Work

It takes work to make the hard & complex simple. Ironically, simplicity first requires diving into the noise.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Strategic Simplicity® in Advertising

Companies need Strategic Simplicity® in advertising because customers are busy, and you need to break through the noise!

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Operational Simplicity vs. Strategic Simplicity®

Operational Simplicity - Minimizing the amount of work done. This equates with Agile Software Development, Lean Manufacturing, etc.

Strategic Simplicity® - Minimizing the number of non-strategic goals pursued. This results in Agile Management, Innovation, etc.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Facebook at 20: The Changing Nature of Social Media

To commemorate Facebook turning 20 this weekend, the latest edition of the Economist has an interesting take on the changing nature of social media.   

As its article points out, "social" media is now no longer very social.  Their algorithms make it more likely that we will see posts from strangers than friends.

This is leading to two results: first, people are engaging (commenting, likes) less than in the past.  Second, businesses are now turning to email, because there is no one “sitting in California deciding whether or not we get to email people, and whether people get to open those emails”

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Crossing the AI Weapons Taboo


I'm predicting that, in the next year or so of the Russia-Ukraine war, we will see autonomous AI drones, that target and strike without being operator controlled.

Autonomous AI weaponry, where the AI kills humans on its own, have always been considered in the realm of science fiction, and considered a "Rubicon" we shouldn't cross.

However, with the nature of the war (WWI trench stalemate, with increased reliance on drones), I see this as being an almost progressive certainty.

This weekend's WSJ had an article about how the Ukrainians, running low on ammo, are now depending on tons of start-ups that are developing cheap $300, in-house designed, drones that carry RPGs, and are flown as FPV (first person view, with the pilot wearing VR goggles).  Their goal is to start making 1 million drones a year, and they are working on incorporating AI, in case the signal gets jammed.

Meanwhile, the Russians are converting shopping malls into drone factories.

In the future, this war will be known for drone innovations that changed the nature of war forever.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Words are important

Words are important. NPR’s website has an article titled: “Nearly 25,000 tech workers were laid off in the first weeks of 2024. Why is that?”

At the bottom of the article is a note: 'Correction Jan. 28, 2024: The headline for this story has been corrected to add the omitted word "off.”’   :-)


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Infinite Craft


Here is a fun, little website where you start with four labels (air, earth, fire, water) and continuously drag labels on top of one another to create new labels.

It never ends. Some labels take you back to previous ones, but you create new ones by mixing tags. I've created a whole bunch of weird ones like Siren, merlot, Tarzan, Aphrodite, phoenix, etc.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Business Lesson from a Dream


Last night, I was in the middle of a dream, which was realistic up to that point.  Then, in the dream, I came across two dogs who suddenly, as a synchronized pair, swooped into the air, did a loop, landed, and repeated it.

At that moment, some part of me realized I was in a dream, and I woke up.

The business lesson? Everything may appear to be fine but, with discernment, you can spot inconsistencies.  This is how you troubleshoot complex issues and identify points for improvement / innovation. 

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Amazon's new AI Shop Assistant and Decision Simplicity

Amazon's new AI shop assistant is an example of "decision simplicity", which is a component of my Strategic Simplicity® Framework. 

Decision simplicity is about adding value to your customers by enabling them to make better decisions without being overwhelmed by choices and data. 

This is a very important competitive advantage in today's Attention Scarcity Age.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Disney's Minerva Mouse


I just found out that Minnie Mouse's real name is Minerva. How did I not know that?

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Friday, January 12, 2024

George Carlin Humor

"Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward."

- George Carlin

© 2024 Praveen Puri

"Evil" Baby Carrots

I saw an article today criticizing baby carrots.  The truth is that:

1. Sales of carrots (which are healthy) increased after baby carrots came on the market.

2. Baby carrots are cut out of flawed, misshapen carrots that grocers would never sell, thus reducing food waste.

It's that Puritan work ethic stuck in our subconscious: if something makes things easier and more convenient, there must be something wrong with it...
 
© 2024 Praveen Puri

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Developing Expertise as an Independent Consultant

This brilliant blog post from fellow consultant Tom Critchlow describes how an independent consultant can keep his/her practice fresh and interesting, while developing a unique expertise:

https://tomcritchlow.com/2024/01/10/compound-narrative/?utm_source=tomcritchlow&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=a-pop-up-newsletter-for-winter-of-word-craft

In fact, I think it's even useful for people inside corporations because, these days, things change quickly and organizations are flatter and provide less training.  Thus, even employees have to take control of their own career development.  

It's about focusing around an open-ended research question that greatly interests you.  By then exploring the question through your work, and writing about it, you develop an expertise, and keep yourself from getting bored.  Instead of feeling like your career progression is horizontal, you try to extract lessons from each engagement to try and advance your answers and understanding of your topic.  This helps you have an identity and makes you feel that you are advancing in your career, even if there is no formalized career ladder.


© 2024 Praveen Puri

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

NFL Coin Toss Twist

Turns out that the NFL coin toss has a bit of a twist.  Many fans think that, if you win the toss, it means you decide whether to kick or receive in the first half, and then the other team gets to do the same in the second half, but it doesn't.

Instead, winning the coin toss means that you get to decide whether you'll make the decision in the first half or the second, and the other team gets to decide in the other half. 

There's a subtle, but important difference. 

A good way to illustrate it is with the fact that a player recently got benched by the coach because he made a mistaken call after his team won the toss.  His team wanted to kick off to start the game, and get the ball to start the second half.  So, he said, "We want to be on defense", which is another way of saying "we want to kick off." 

But, because of the way the rule works, you should NEVER say you want to kick off.  You can say that you want to receive but, if you want it in the second half, you should say "defer".

"Defer" means that you will choose whether to kick or receive in the second half, and you'll let the other team decide now.  In other words, no team ever chooses to kick off.  

1. If they want the ball now, they say "receive."  Then, the other team will call receive in the second half.

2. If they want the ball in the second half, they say "defer."  Then, the other team will choose to receive, and they will choose to receive in the second half.

If, instead, you win the coin toss and say you will kick off, then the other team will choose to receive in the second half, and they will get the ball first in both halves.

In short,  the NFL coin toss rule is not an example of Strategic Simplicity®.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Animal Actors Are Already Being Replaced By AI


Human writers and actors went on strike earlier this year, partially in response to the risk that AI could replace them. In fact, I read an article in the latest Economist about how AI is already replacing animal actors.

For now, AI is mostly replacing exotic animals, like bears and lions.  Their trainers are starting to retire and/or cut back the number of animals they work with.

Dogs and cats are slower to replace with AI, because people are more familiar with them and can still tell the difference.  AI humans are even easier for audiences to detect–so far.

© 2024 Praveen Puri

Monday, January 1, 2024

Green Ahead of His Time


"I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen, which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light."

– Jules Verne, 1875

© 2024 Praveen Puri