Wednesday 26 October 2011

Finallly, 787 Dreamliner Takes Off

This is a project which I have been following for quite a while. Not so much because it resulted in a brand new plane which consumes less fuel but more because of the concept of innovation behind this project. I have been excited about network-centric innovation for a long time and the Dreamliner project is one of the show cases that deserves recognition.

No doubt this project has it's fair share of challenges and did not complete on time. However, the collaborative concept, where competitors were able to collaborate, would certainly be further refined in the future and hopefully enabling more innovation which will make this world better.

Network-centric collaboration is about recognising that there are more smart people outside your organisations. The idea behind this concept is to co-create and leveraging on talents and brainpower that would have not been tapped, had the innovation remains within the typical corporate boundaries. This approach has been applied in many other industries. Perhaps this old presentation of mine would clarify the concept further.

Let us pray and hope the first flight of the Dreamliner today would be the beginning of many more success stories which will offer us, you and me, better way of living and ensure the generation of the future would inherit a planet earth  which is livable.

Saturday 22 October 2011

What a Week!

I was attending an annual dinner when I checked my iPhone for latest news. There it was, Col. Gaddafi is dead

By now, many of us may have seen many videos and pictures surrounding the dead of someone who has been running Libya for more than 40 years. His conducts affected many lives, within Libya and abroad. Even in this part of the world, I am sure he will be remembered. When I was a little boy, I met many Malays from Southern Thailand who were given scholarships to study in Libya. I believe such handouts were accorded when Gaddafi was already in power. I wonder how these people who benefited from such gesture would feel at present?

At the same time, the movement "Occupy Wall Street" is gaining momentum. It has spread to many other capitals, symbols of capitalism. The dissatisfaction of people on the "main street" over the conduct of those calling the shots at the "Wall Streets" of the world could influence many move events to come. Given the US is going into a Presidential election next year, this movement could be turned into another vote bank. Oh, the people in the US are lucky that election dates are not as mysterious as it does in some country.

Then we have debates in Malaysia regarding the role of academicians and how far they could share their views and thoughts. I am not going into details of this. However, there was also report on state of our higher education by the World Bank. I have not seen the report myself yet but I understand there was a case study of 2 universities, one in Malaysia and another in Singapore. Both universities started from a common root but evolved with different philosophies and approaches. Where there stand in the eyes of the world is now quite obvious. Hopefully, we could also learn something from this as well.

So, there we are, in a week many events could occur, in many parts of the world and with different relevance and implications to many of us. Not everybody will understand and interpret these events in similarly way. How these events are understood would be influence by our own views, philosophies and values. What is important is how honest we are in looking at these event, to ourselves.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Giving meaning to our lives

I am not surprised many of us are sad with the passing of Steve Jobs. Why? He managed to touched our hearts in many ways through innovations inspired by him and his colleagues. Although it took me long years before buying my first Apple product which was an iPhone 3G, looks like I am not buying anything but Apple from that point onward.

The death of Steve has sparked discussions about him as a person. His commencement speech at Stamford is one of the most quoted after his death. It is all about life from his perspective, given who he was as a child and realising his future would be influenced by the cancer he suffered.

By taking death as a game changer, Steve focused on giving meaning to the balance of his life, from his own perspectives, as determined by him, not others. Ironically, that meaning comes from making a difference to others, through products and services which shape the lives of many people and industries. While some may sense some sort of arrogance in the ways Steve and Apple behaved, it is clear now that such conducts was premised on the thought of living life as he saw it then.

When the technology industry was moving strongly towards open architectures, Apple stood it cause and maintained it's own ecosystem religiously. The essence of this stand is about being able to shape the future rather than the reverse. It is interesting to note that this model has been adopted by many of Apple's competitors lately.

So, who shape the lives we live?

Many of us want others to change so that our lives will change for better as well. Does this make sense? Well, such attitude generates societies which demand a lot but do less. As a result of this, they get exploited by people who are in the position of power or influence. Instead of trying to change the way they think and behave, they expect the exploitative people with power to change, what a wishful thinking. Off course once a while, they will be given goodies and handouts, especially when big major decisions are to be made.

I suppose the meaning of our lives is determined by ourselves based on our beliefs, values and desire to decide how we will be remembered when we are no longer around. While it could be ironic that to have more meaningful lives we make meaningful differences in others, achieving such a state requires strong personalities and desire. Steve did.

Will our lives be more meaningful when Steve is no longer with us? 

Saturday 1 October 2011

Right Vs Popular Decisions

We make many decisions in our daily life. From deciding whether to step out from our beds early in the morning, the food that we eat for breakfast and decisions that we make at work. None of us are free from deciding things for ourselves. In all cases, deep in out hearts we also know exactly why we decide what we decided. Whether or not we share those reasons with others could be a different matter.

When we make decisions which will affect others or more people, things could be more challenging. Some people fully understand how our decisions would affect them, some don't. Sometimes, we ourselves may not be able to exactly project those implications.

If we could agree that people are inherently selfish, it could be easily assumed that people will react to the decisions we make based on their self interests. For example, if our decisions provide them with better benefits, I am sure nobody would complaint. If however, our decisions restrict their behavior or require them to make more effort, some may not support our decisions. 

The higher we are in the hierarchy of our society, the wider the impact of our decisions would be. Naturally, the response to such decisions would be stronger, especially when a larger segment of the society are unhappy. Another challenge is about balancing the immediate needs of people with a more sustainable future i.e. ensuring our children and theirs would not suffer from the consequences of the downside of what we decide today. From experience, we tend to look at a shorter time horizons and may let the future be dealt with by others. This is perfectly selfish.

The impact of any decision is also influenced by the values of the decision maker. If we as a society could not be bothered about corruption and abuse of power, we would not give much attention towards governance, rule of law and justice. I ma sure we could look at many other part in the world where compromise on values and ethics, at the societal level, eventually lead organisations or even countries towards bankruptcy, both financially and values. Without the pressure from the society towards good governance, it would be very difficult for the rule of law and justice to prevail. So, we decide the kind of environment that we live in, by deciding who should be making decisions on our behalf.

This is where leadership comes into the equation. A leader would have to decide what is in the best interest of the society and balance the needs and demands of many pockets of people with different interests and wants. A leader who is weak would normally be indecisive, as balance those needs, as his personal needs and wants, would not be easy. For every decision, many people would be unhappy. So, a weak leader tend not to decide, prolonging the problems rather than taking responsibility for his decisions.

If we could accept that not everybody would support any decision, the guiding principle for any decision would be what is in the greater good of the society at large. For example, if by sharing more opportunities, we as a society would be more competitive, then a more merit-based system should be preferred. Off course, those who are benefiting from any golf-liked system where some are given "handicap" would not like to compete more to proof their worth. A great leader would recognise this challenge and would proceed doing the right thing.

In essence, a right decision need not be necessarily popular and a popular decision need not be necessarily right.