Oct 11

BIF and Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen  Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. His research and teaching interests center on managing innovation and creating new growth markets. A seasoned entrepreneur, Christensen founded three successful companies: CPS Corporation, Innosign, and Innosign Capital. Christensen is also author or co-author of five books and is presently completing two books concerning the problems of our health care and public education systems.  Books: The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, Seeing What’s Next

  • WM: I thought I’d start by getting a few reactions.   So, you’re Balmer, what would you do?
  • CC: the dilemma is that the business unit was not built to evolve. A profit model, processes were designed to do the same thing, better and better, over and over.  The org owns those intangibles.  The way that IBM evolved, the mainframe business unit died and others changed,  The corporate stayed, the unit dies.  If someone gets out of the gate ahead of you and you try and do the same the odds favour the first  you have to disrupt them by coming in underneath.  Sony and Nintendo are ahead and the xbox may not work, you have to disrupt them,  Looking at Google, that game is defined, so you cannot beat them, you have to disrupt?
  • WM Google?
  • CC: can’t think of a way now?
  • WM: and you are Apple, what are they doing?
  • CC I had student tell me I was like the Jewish mother in business there is always something going wrong.  what is disrupting Apple is the cell phones, the music, here you see the phones saying you can get the music on the phone
  • WM: I’m sitting here with an apple phone that can download music without going to the computer
  • CC: the handheld product platform is the one that is disrupting the computer.  Apple jumped right ahead of Nokia…but the research predicts that you will put in place massive creative energy in the others.  It is a sustaining innovation, they have stuck themselves right n the path of Nokia, my research would put the money on Nokia.
  • WM: you are working on 2 new books, they are about fixing public education and the other is about healthcare
  • CC: these are 2 very sick industries.  Those that have studied have only studied in the field education in education,  We have been looking at innovation and other things and are looking at the 2 industries from the outside.  On Healthcare, if you look at business history, in a lot of cases the first products were expensive and complicated,  healthcare is in the realm of a mainframe, very expensive and complex.  For a disruption there has been 2 things, one is a technological enabler and a distribution,  In computing the tech enabler was the microprocessor.  DEC did not create a process innovation and could not change the model, IBM did.   IN health, the tech enabler is precise diagnostics.  Molecular medicine is just opening up, what we called type 2 diabetes is looking to be 20 different things.  At the level of our genes, it is very precise.  Over the next 20 years, it will change, being able to say you have this gives you the ability to treat effectively.  And then we need a new business model.  There are 3 generic types of a model; the first is a value shop, this is like consultants or advertising agencies.  The 2nd is a value chain and the 3rd is a value network,  In a hospital it is a value shop, for the diagnosis.  Then you move into the chain activities, to get an operations etc.  a chain works well for a standard process.  As everything is in a hospital the value chain gets overpriced and the value shop gets underpriced.  We need to break the connection.   You would still have to have therapy in the diagnosis, because you still have to test things is diagnosis not there,.
  • WM: ie baby ear infections – they happen enough to make it pretty standard
  • CC: we have not allowed business innovation in hospitals to change things.  to make it happen, by analogy, if IBM wanted to rethink the mainframe they could have, they had the whole system,  If someone wanted to do the PC now, then it is impossible, no one owns it all.  The system is disintegrated that way.  For heath care, the system needs to be re-integrated to fix it.    People can work on their pieces and what is really required is a whole re-architecture.  The most innovative are the Veterans administration,  They use state of art electronic records, they are the most innovative in pushing things.
  • WM: education?
  • CC: the model of my research is about modular architecture or dependent architecture.  To customise something like windows is very difficult.  Modular make sit easy to change,   like a computer, or Linux.  In education, the teaching side is very interdependent.  You have to do this in 7th grade before you do this in 8th.  The interdependence mandates standardisation in teaching and testing.  This buts up against the reality that there are multiple types of intelligence and we all learn differently.  
  • WM: so how do we do this?
  • CC: one of a teachers job is instruction.  if we can migrate instruction from a teacher center mode to a pupil centered mode, then options,  This is computer based learning.  so we could individualise.    You put the great teachers to design the courses.  The software should be tuned to the type of the intelligence. 
  • WM: does the pupil not have a interaction?
  • CC: yes, but spends time 1 on 1.
  • WM: my wide spent 10 years as a learning disabilites tutor.  These kids were often high intelligence, she had to reteach in the way the kid learnt. 
  • CC the teachers would spend time to ensure students were connecting.  A tale about a girl who could not learn to read, until 5th grade.  a teacher noticed that she was a dancer, a teacher talked to her and asked her to choreograph the alphabet.  Asked her to dance a sentence and a paragraph,  her brain was wired differently, so in 8 months she learnt to read
  • WM: do we have to bust up schools for different models, or is it a tech thing that can change it
  • CC: we need to have schools within schools, like setting up different business units. Need flexibility to create new business modules. 
Oct 11

BIF and Irving Wladawsky-Berger by Walt Mossberg

Irving Wladawsky-Berger   Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM
www.research.ibm.com/  Blog: http://irvingwb.typepad.com/

Wladawsky-Berger is vice president of Technical Strategy and Innovation at IBM, responsible for identifying emerging technologies and marketplace developments that are critical to the future of the IT industry. He has led a number of companywide initiatives like Linux, Grid Computing and, in October 2002, IBM’s On Demand Business initiative. He is visiting professor of Engineering Systems at MIT and adjunct professor in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Imperial College Business School. Wladawsky-Berger was born in Cuba and came to the US at the age of 15, in 2001 he was named Hispanic Engineer of the Year.

  • WM: how did you change the way IBM worked with research; 15 years ago there was little happening
  • IWB: IBM came very successful with mainframes, but companies that are great do not always stay.  As the environment changes the leadership may not adapt to it.   The mainframes were so profitable; there was all this innovation in the labs that was not been noticed.  Even the PC business was treated as a toy, the profits were so low it did not get the attention.  IN the early 80s we had a prototype of a multithread system, we wanted to do the OS but the message from MSFT was that Billy would be pissed. So we did not do it
  • WM: so how did it get well?
  • IWB: I went through that as I’m not sure that a company can reinvent it self without near death
  • WM: so apple were within 90 days of bankruptcy
  • IWB: so that may be why.  for us, we got a new leader, the internet was a lifeboat.  We had lost the franchise for the mainframes.  so we clutched the internet like a lifeboat and I do not know if you can do great in business without that fear
  • WM: I want tot talk about virtual worlds as a business environment,  but before, Steve Balmer was at my conference in spring and he said he had 2 main businesses, both gifts from IBM, one was the desktop software the other is the enterprise business and he had come to realise in the last 2 years, that the business model they had was not the model that could apply to all products, so needed a multiple one.  One new one was search and advertising and the other was consumer electronics., to go after Apple,\.  So here is the question, when you did not want to make MS unhappy, he had about 100 employees.  Balmer has 72k employees, he’s trying to go after the nimble..so how?
  • IWB: once the near death clears out the brain, we switched fro  being inward facing to be a much more market facing company.   MS does not Linux, have been fighting open documents.  I wonder if the real fight is in MS it self.   When you are doing this in the market you are setting culture, if your people see that your culture is to attach Linux or ODF then how can the people believe that you want to be this innovative company in other places.  I do not know if it can be done, IBM could not.
  • WM: Bill has bragged about the labs, researchers
  • IWB: the labs are the back office, but the game is won in the field not in the back office
  • WM: IBM embrace these things and the latest is virtual worlds, so how do these worlds got to do with business?
  • IWB: if you are smart in a company like IBM, you watch what your smart people are doing and see where we should move.  In 2006 there were ore and more people having meetings in Second Life, on their own.  No one had told them  they found the experience of dealing with each other than a conference call.  an in person meeting is better but if the are all over the world there are only so many meetings.  There’s more chit chat in the SL meetings.  We saw this as an evolution in the social networks, the killer apps are meetings and learnings and training.    We went to see what our clients are interested in.  So much of what people do in business is collaborative, this is becoming a major collaborative platform, these are complementary things
  • WM: there are other ways, with conference calls there are no visual queues, so Cisco and HP etc are working on these video conference
  • IWB: the are missing 2 things-  one their costs is really high, SL is cheap.   And their technology does not scale, 2-3 places only,  In IBM we have built classrooms in the worlds and it is more scaleable.
  • WM: so looking ahead, the number of gestures etc in SL is limited, you would not get the full set of gestures
  • IWB: did you see Happy Feet?  It is possible.
  • WM: in 5 years?
  • IWB: we need to do a lot of research, on what people do,.  At MIT the media lab is doing a lot of research on the digital world.  Hybrid real and digital world.  The tech is cheap, the innovation comes from looking how people are using it.  At IT we look at a global university, the courses are on the web that is the passive content but if they want me, then there is more to do.  Everyone in business can have meetings in virtual .  This is the evolution into a collaborative space.
  • WM: the web, is still mainly text
  • IWB: yes.  but as the visual things take over it will just be one more chance to collaborate and the potential is enormous.
Oct 10

BIF and Richard Wurman by Walt Mossburg

Richard Saul Wurman, Author, Architect, Founder of TED, www.wurman.com  http://www.192021.org/

With the publication of his first book in 1962 at the age of 26, RSW began the singular passion of his life: making information understandable. He chaired the International Design in Aspen in 1972, the first Federal Design Assembly in 1973, followed by the National AIA Convention in 1976, before creating and chairing TED (Technology/Entertainment/Design) conferences from 1984-2002. He is the current Chair of the TEDMED Conferences. A B.Arch and M.Arch 1959 graduate with highest honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Wurman’s nearly half-century of achievements includes the publication of his best-selling book Information Anxiety and his award winning ACCESS Travel Guides. Each of his 81 books focus on some subject or idea that he personally had difficulty understanding. Presently, he is working on his latest project 19.20.21. which he created and chairs with his four partners: Larry Keeley, Jon Kamen, Michael Hawley, and Robert Friedman.

  • WM: Richard started off as an architect; ended up as an information architect.  he has published 81 books. he invented and conducted the finest conferences I know of, the TED conference.  He sold it for a lot of money…did a good deal there.  It’s not the same conference now.  It was like going to college for 3 days.  You got the best, all speaking for 15mins.  The dinner party he always wanted to have.  He did this for 18 years.  So. with refs to virtual worlds, avatars, online community, I’ve been online almost everyday since 1983.  So why is everyone here?
  • RW: we live in an age of also, we do this, we’re also online, we get snail mail etc.   we choose the best…i could not live without email
  • WM; he sends everything in caps!
  • RW: I can’t type nor spell, so just do caplock.  I make lots of phone calls, but email has advantages.  Nothing is better than face to face.  Conversation is the best…go to school you are not taught communication.   In the last lot of books, I’ve tried to capture how to do a conversation.  It’s not as good as a face-to-face. We look at making the connection.   Matt talked about piracy…I did a conference, created a fable, ‘what if could be’.   First thing was to change copyright to the right to copy.  A book I did in 2000 I did not copyright, I put it out there.
  • WM: I’ve stolen lots of things from you,  I called him up and asked him what to call it – he said call it D so we did.  
  • WM: we are talking about leadership and how ideas stick.  I’ve been a reporter for almost 40 years.   When I started, the first place I went was Detroit, 1970, the auto industry was like the tech business today.  The CEOs of the companies, they did not talk to press, customers, they did not talk to anyone.   I drove across the state to catch the head of GM for 5 minutes.  The CEO was nothing to do with the message and brand.  Now, Jobs could be the quintessential CEO, he’s a public figure, he is the brand.  Is that good for business?
  • RW: I don’t care if they should or should not.  I know that I never had a politician nor a head of a company speak..they cannot tell the truth in public, I want people to tell the truth and they can’t.  We were all surprised at the Police Chief candour, because we do not expect.  Jobs does not tell the truth, he can’t be.     I tell the truth, I may not be factual but it is my truth! 
  • RW: last December I was thinking about what I was going to d.  I picked up a business week, all these companies were calling themselves Global.  I spent time with Fedex and National Geographic etc.   There is not directly comparative data.   So I started 192021, so 19 cities, will have 20million in the 21st.  we are usign the same way of collecting data, this is what I’m starting to do.  we are going to do an exhibit, live, one for each city, it will change as the city does.  It’s going to be online, on a memory stick going to do 40 books, slices of the data
  • just starting on that; last night we received our fund raising DVD, it explains about the project.  it’s a complicated thing to get the data with reasonable accuracy and to understand it.  There’s a group in Maryland that collects medical data everyday for all over the world and the countries call them for info (except for the US as the CDC won’t let them).
Oct 10

BIF and Euan Semple

Euan Semple

Independent Advisor on social computing for business

Semple is a well-known writer, thinker, public speaker and independent advisor on social computing for business. As the former head of Knowledge Management for the BBC, Semple pioneered the use of weblogs, wikis and on-line forums, enabling the staff to work more effectively. Semple’s unique experience enables him to provide inspiration on this wired-up world of work and strategies for how businesses can prepare themselves for challenges and opportunities that come with new technologies.

  • collaboration in the BBC – introduced blogs, RSS, wikis etc into the BBC
  • 15 yrs ago, had a serious problem that had been escalated all through the experts.  Got to the top consultant, very disengaged, did a lot of tests and told him there was nothing wrong!!1 
  • looking at the boards and forums, found information from people, and made some decisions that allows him to change the way he lived
  • evident that the gatekeeper role of the specialist was not good for him, there was more information out there that helped him
  • in the BBC, a lot of time in the World Service, 47 languages and there was more collaboration in that department than in the rest of the BBC
  • later ended up managing some of the editors, 2 groups – film editors and video editors.  Film were very arty and creative and video people were engineers, more ‘manageable’.  But the people who changed things were the film editors. 
  • I ended up running a unit called digilab – looking for new technology and how to use it in the organisation
  • some of us were playing on the web at the time, using their own servers…got some of these tools in the business – did not have to speak to IT!  had own servers
  • Got Chris Locke in to speak to a bunch of managers, to introduce them to the web.  CL started the talk about how his life was falling apart, how he was splitting from gf..and then he stopped and stated that this is how they talk on the web – it’s personal, not objective business speak
  • we used advocacy to grow the use of the tools.  Last yr there were 23k using the forums, 5k using the wiki.  Slow growth
  • Asking questions is often a problem, admitting you do not know things can be an issue.  Add on to that the feeling that managers feel they are in charge, in control, these tools were a challenge.  We encouraged the staff to talk about anything and some of the threads tested even me.  One of the threads was about being single..which turned into a dating thread!!   We let it go..and 3 days later one of the producers came in and said the thread had done half the research for a programme he was making. Being human and social had helped.
  • The BBC had done a number of attempts to get people to behave socially – lots of top down initiatives.  the forum had done more than those to develop the one BBC
  • One thing he believed was the content had to be collectively owned..avoided going in and ‘sorting’ it.  It would not change if it was always controlled.  They went in and asked questions…tried to get people to think.  There’s no one currently managing the system, but it still grows, it still has life.
  • at home there’s all this stuff that people are doing and then they come to work and get told what to do. 

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Sep 25

Halo XBox

I just won an Halo3 Xbox and a copy of the Halo 3 game at the MIXX IAB conference I’m at (put your card in the bowl and see what comes out). Whilst I’m keeping the game, I actually bought an XBox360 Elite about 3 weeks ago so do not really need 2 (at least I do not think i do). So I’m looking for creative ways to give this away or to raise some money for it in a way that is going to benefit someone/charity (Jayne..you can’t get it as it won’t work there!). Suggestions welcome in the comments or via email

Sep 23


Why would Firefox cookies on this machine (macbook) prevent me from accessing my blog.bibrik.com site and the admin tool behind it? Everytime I want to take a look at just does nothing unless I delete the cookies from the last time. Anyone know?

Sep 14

New York Times and Facebook

I like this new Facebook app from the New York Times, as described over at the Read/Write Web. New questions every day that then link back to the story in the online paper, driving traffic back to their site (and improving advertising impressions). They’ve been pushing the app out via email groups and the like, which is a great way of leveraging connections.

Aug 23

Vegan Meals

Last night I had dinner with a few people at Red Bamboo, a vegan restaurant. This place seems to make it’s name from the fake food it provides – soy protein shaped and flavoured to pretend to be meat. We had ‘Chicken’ wings, ‘prawns’, just ‘meat’ in general.

Fake Prawns at Red Bamboo

There you see fake prawns, shaped and painted to look just like the real things. If that was not surreal enough, it got even weirder as the talk turned to Star Trek (it was a table full geeks) as one of the party discussed an out standing question he had about Wesley Crusher at the end of his tenure on the show (names and actual question hidden to protect them). Luckily, another guy had Wil Wheaton on IM and proceeded to ask the question. So our pondering friend finally got the answer to something that had bugged him for years.


Aug 02

Mahalo and Local Focus

I’ve said before, I like Mahalo, and Jason Calacanis’ latest push is for is How To pages, such as the How to Fly With Kids that he posted about today. But I have one thing to add:

Please remember that the English-speaking world is bigger than the USA, that flying takes place outside of USA as well and that the web reaches far outside the USA. So, when writing an article, however good it is (and this one is pretty good) that removing obvious local-only references and making an attempt to think globally will benefit all. There is more to flight guidelines than the TSA and diaper is a funny old word used first in Shakespeare but now only used in the US and Canada for nappy.

Jun 25

Mermaid Parade

Mermaid Parade, originally uploaded by RachelC.

Grace Piper and I, along with 1000’s of others, attended the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island on Saturday. A gorgeous day, not too hot conditions were pretty perfect for settling in and watching and contemplating whether body makeup provides enough protection from the sun for the nipples on display. There were a large number of kids in the parade, some enjoying themselves and others obviously wondering what the hell their parents were doing 😉

Many of the groups had taken the proposed closure of the amusements as their themes and protest was rife. A common comment in the crowd was that this was the last parade, although the official website states that they will be back.

Jun 16

Beach House

Beach House, originally uploaded by RachelC.

As the office did well in the inter-office review last year, it got some corporate money to reward its employees. Instead of throwing a party, it hired a house in Westhampton Beach for the summer and we get to go for a few days. So this weekend is my away time; along with another 6 employees and friends. It’s a huge 3 story, 7 bedroom, 6 bathroom, house, with pool, tennis court and loads of room to play football (both kinds).
I’m mainly lazing around, sunbathing (and burning a little), chilling out with the rest of the guests, all of us making heavy use of the BBQ grill. It’s interesting as none of us here actually know each other out of work, so we all on reasonably good behaviour despite the odd bit of moving furniture and late nights. The only thing missing is a hot tub 😉

Jun 06

NY Tech Meetup

I went along to the NY Tech meetup last night and had a good time. Five short presentations from companies in the NY area, plus a couple of extras from James Hing of Hot or Not (who I also met with on Monday at an IAB event) and Dave Weinberger who gave a 10 minute version of his book. However, Dave and Sanford have done a great job of blogging the actual presenations, so I’ll just add my impressions.

  • Goloco. After the success of Zipcars, Robin moves into shared journeys. Join and you can find friends who are going to the same place as you. Lovely implementation, aimed at existing groups rather than random strangers who meet online.
  • ExpoTV. I’d never seen this before but superb extension of the review space into video. The revenue share for the reviewers, at $5/video is a good idea. They are realistic about advertisers getting into the mix and provide a way for it to be transparent.
  • LiveLOOK. You can share screens via a browser without any downloads, so it can be an alternative to stuff like webex without a download. A paid service, especially useful for service agents, although I was uncomfortable with an answer to a security question (what’s to stop you just putting numbers in until you find a live feed). There are free alternatives to this, ie MSM share desktop, that will be useful for c2c usage but there is an attraction for b2c or b2b.
  • Adaptive Blue. I loved this, taking metadata from pages and extending them via contextual menus in the bowser or direct via links. Installed!
  • Mogulus. This got the biggest reaction of the night, with a vary cool demo. The service allows you to run video and do lots of cool overlay stuff, live broadcast, plan programming etc. Another entry into the lifecast area, but more focused towards linear programming

The other 2 sessions were a last minute overview of Hot or Not and how James is putting the service onto Facebook and a run through the ideas behind Everything is Miscellaneous from David; it’s a pity I’d already bought the book and read it, as I did not have it with me to get it autographed. One last aside, I found it strange that there was a cheer raised when it was announced that 4 of the presenters were women – if you have to bring attention to it, you need to work on doing it differently.

Jun 04

London 2012 Logo

Cost of the Olympics: 9.36Billion GBP
Cost of the New Logo: 400k GBP
BBC news (and website) displaying a goatse reference: Priceless

Jun 01

Maid of the Mist

IMG_7171.JPG, originally uploaded by RachelC.

I took a bus trip down to Niagara Falls today. A wet trip on the Maid of the Mist to get close to the falls, definitely a trip to take. An easy experience, no queues or anything for me, although I think I got there before the school groups as later in the day the place filled up with them.

The boat trip was fun, getting that close to the falls. Everything just got soaked – glasses and camera – but the blue macs they hand out do a good job. There was a moment as the boat tried to hold steady in the churning water and the mist and spray dripped everywhere and the breeze created by the force of the fall chilled that I thought enough was enough, but the time is well judged and the boat moves away before it gets too bad.

Next was a walk to the top of the falls; I was surprised at how shallow the river seems as it pours over, you can see the bottom easily. The roar of the falls is loud, sounding like traffic on a motorway, a steady drone.

Niagara itself just feels a bit of a mess. There are casinos there and tacky stores and museums, all neon and glitz but little substance. Even the guidebook despairs; makes me wonder how they make the money, who goes into them, but they do. Please stop, those who chose to go into them.

Three hours and I’m on my way back, on a full bus that takes 12 hours to drive from New York to Toronto. I’m returning the quick way on Sunday, a plane that takes a hop and jump. On the way up we flew over the falls and you clearly see the break in the earth and the maelstom of mist the boils off the horseshoe. If you are ever in the area, go and visit, it’s a site to behold.

May 31

Loren Feldman

loren Feldman, originally uploaded by RachelC.

Loren pulling a serious face at dinner last night. The photo where he was smiling was just a little too manic!

May 22

View from bar

View from bar, originally uploaded by RachelC.

Last night I went to 230 5th Avenue where they have a gorgeous rooftop bar with this view of the Empire State Building. In the open, comfy seats and you can get blankets if you are cold. The food and drinks were good, if rather expensive. However, the wait staff were not the best in the world, nowhere near competent. After initially being ignored, we ordered food and drinks and the drinks were not bought until the food was ready; we had to chase to get a refill (it’s a bar – sell that stuff) and on requesting the cheque, they ‘forgot’ to bring the itemised bill. We may have been unlucky with our staff – and it is a nice enough place to try again – but be aware.

Apr 09

Podcamp Report

I think you could describe PodcampNYC as a success. Not sure what the post-mortem will bring, but everyone I spoke to seemed to enjoy it. I’ve got sessions to write up and thoughts to process, but in the meantime, just take a read of the CNET piece which has also landed up in the New York Times.

Mar 27

Help on CSS and search

Can anyone take a look and see what I’m doing wrong. My search does not seem to search – if I use the term Twitter it does not pull up my recent post about Twitter.

And the site does not display correctly on IE7 (and I think 7) in that the rightest sidebar falls off and moves to the bottom of the page. Which I guess is to do with widths and I need to play with some relativity I think. Any help gratefully received. Cheers.

Mar 26

Me on the couch

Me on the couch, originally uploaded by RachelC.

On Saturday, Kleenex and the Let It Out campaign hit Times Square, New York. With the couch and a big box of Kleenex tissue for passers by to write all over, it looked like it was a good day for the brand. After having worked on it for quite a while, it was nice to actually see something outside the website and get to sit on the couch itself. I loved just sitting there and listening to the comments as people walked by and realised what we were doing – great brand recognition.