Carteret Islands Transformation

The Carteret Islands Project is an innovative community development project. It provides a holistic solution to the plight of the Carteret islanders. The project incorporates a School of Life that comes with a fishery workshop that teaches the islanders how to make a living within the business of making life. | Project Blog


Two approaches to Business-Google and Apple

I am putting excerpts of this article into my post today because I want to record the transformation of mobile internet as we know it today.

In my opinion, Apple as a company has brought mobile internet to a different level through its iPhone. With Google setting its sight into this market, we now have two amazing companies who have been blazing the way forward in their own respective fields, giving their best to be the winner in the mobile internet market. I will be waiting to see the unfolding of best ideas and innovations coming forth from this competition.

Its also interesting that the writer highlighted the two approaches to business that Apple and Google represents. This is food for thought.

Google’s half-open battle with Apple
By John Gapper, Published: January 7 2010 (FT)

We are only just into the new year and the battle to dominate the mobile internet is joined.

Google this week launched the Nexus One , its challenge to the Apple iPhone as the leading device in this vital growth area for consumer technology. Later this month, Apple will strike back with its new tablet device, a larger and more versatile cross between an iPhone and a MacBook.

Apple and Google used to co-exist in harmony, with two directors on both boards. But the rivalry between the fourth- and fifth-most valuable US companies – both are nearing $200bn in market capitalisation – is sharpening as they skirmish at the new internet frontier.

The contest appears to pit not only two companies but two approaches to business. On one side is Apple, a secretive endeavour that is seemingly wedded to old, closed ways of competing; on the other side is Google, a champion of open source software and open systems.

“A well-managed closed system can deliver . . . well-designed products in the short-run – the iPod and iPhone being obvious examples – but eventually innovation in a closed system tends towards being incremental at best,” wrote Jonathan Rosenberg, a Google executive.

Yet Apple is not as closed as Google portrays it, and nor is Google as open. Instead, like the proverbial half-empty glass, Google is best regarded as half-open and Apple as half-closed. That is significant because it shows how such companies need to compete in a networked industry.

Google is fighting for its own interests as hard as Apple does. That is, at one level, obvious since they are both public companies that try to maximise revenues. Yet its insistence on not doing “evil” and its dismissive view of Apple and Microsoft obscures this.

The Android operating software that Google uses for the Nexus One and other “Google phones” is indeed, unlike Apple’s OS X or Microsoft’s Windows, open source. But the search advertising technology from which it makes money is as closely guarded as the recipe for Coca-Cola.

Mr Rosenberg came up with a laughable justification in his memo about openness (most of which is worth reading). He wrote that giving away Google’s proprietary search code would “not contribute” to openness and “would actually hurt users”. Oh, please.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with it keeping a few secrets – most businesses do and that hardly makes them “evil”… The point is that its openness is selective, being intended to expand the universe of fixed and mobile internet users, and thus its revenue pool.

The significance of Nexus One is not the phone, but its open source software and Google’s direct sales model. It wants to make mobile devices and software more accessible to raise demand for advertising, the segment it dominates…

This is, of course, like Microsoft’s drive to commoditise hardware during the 1970s and 1980s – putting a computer on every desk – in order to charge for software. Some of Google’s tactics, such as bundling free navigation software with Android phones, are eerily familiar.

Apple has not pursued a fully closed strategy with the iPhone, but has been tactically pragmatic. The clearest example is the App Store, which Apple has opened up to rival software developers with great success. Apple disclosed on Tuesday that iPhone and iPod users have now downloaded 3bn applications.

Apple’s iPod revival was achieved with a mixture of closed technology – proprietary software such as iTunes – and open content. Mr Jobs turned the iPod into a must-have device by signing deals with music labels, a tactic he is repeating for the tablet with publishers.

Carteret Islands Tribal Chief in Singapore

I had the pleasure of meeting Bernard Tunim, a chief of the Carteret islands in Singapore (17 Dec 2009) on his way home from the Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009, Dec 7-18. He was the sole representative of his island at the Summit. At the Summit, Bernard was given the privilege of speaking on behalf of his people to highlight the challenges facing them in the face of climate change. Watch The Sea is Killing Our Island Paradise by telegraphuk where Bernard shares more of his thoughts on this.

Fresh from the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Bernard is really excited about Project LiveFish, a transformation project that provides a holistic solution to the plight of the Carteret Islanders that combines making a living within the business of making life.

When I did a Google search on the Copenhagen Climate Summit, it produced 20,900,000 results. Climate change is a hot topic but for the Carteret islanders, it is not just a topic discussed over coffee but a reality with consequences that may mean losing the only home they have.

Ultimately climate change is not just about the science of it but involves the economics and therefore politics of rich and poor nations. This is where the dynamics of self interest, money and power will determine the issue of emission controls.

Not only were there reports of increasingly ill-tempered negotiations taking place but Guardian UK reported on 8 Dec that “The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN’s role in all future climate change negotiations.”

Meanwhile, Bernard Tunim, the tribal chief will not be waiting for global leaders to decide their future. The Carterets islanders have found the solution in their own backyard, the God-given natural resource of fish abundant in their waters. Project LiveFish provides the road map for the Carteret islanders, empowering them to find a solution for themselves through partnership with friends who will assist them. If you are interested to know more about Project LiveFish, click here.

New Wineskins Needed

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Powered by HISGA THREE-DAY MEETING of subject matter experts and thought leaders on how to build a better world. Passionate seekers from half way around the world meeting, coming together with such energy and synergy to relook, rethink, retool. The challenge – to discover “new wine skins,” new thinking and new paradigms needed to meet a world that is greatly changing. As we were also reminded, defining the problem accurately is 90% of the solution.

So at the Expo, in true HISG fashion, we literally grazed our way across tables while sharing ideas and building relationships. Is that fun or what. As the mantra goes among the HISG folks: Have fun or go home. If you weren’t there, you can catch some great stuff on video, click here. Alternatively, here are 10 thought gems from the Starfish Expo for community empowerment and transformation:

1• No. 1 – Grow People
2• The concept of poverty as broken relationships, not lack
3• Role of Change Agents: Restoration of relationships
4• Power of whole systems thinking – You can’t fix a part
5• Solutions must be holistic, integrated, sustainable for transformation
6• Social systems: How we interact locally and globally in the economic landscape
7• Partner resource owners to empower them as owners
8• Every unit in the chain should be self-funded and self-sustained
9• ABCD Model: Asset-based Community Development- policies and activities based upon capacities, skills and assets of the local community.
10• Relationship driven approach

Social Business Design

I’ve always found surprising parallels in the IT universe of ‘Enterprise 2.0″ talk by enterprise designers with the social aspects of enterprise as in business.

I think by way of benchmarking thoughts and see parallel ideas when reading different fields of knowledge, whether sociology, economics or history. I suppose the connecting point in all these is the human factor. The IT universe has more parallels to social design than what is immediately obvious. But when you can see that and realize the importance of the human dimension and therefore the relational structures, it changes the very way you design that technology because it becomes a part of the larger whole, not a thing in itself.

Likewise, we tend to have a myopic view of business. Peter Drucker was amongst the few who paved the way to a new thinking about business and management. Business, as understood by Drucker, is an organ of society. Its purpose does not lie in itself but outside. Management was seen as that core team of people who infused the business with a larger purpose related to the well-being of society.

Oliver Marks’ article below puts the right emphasis on the human factor and the need for a new type of manager and new design that recognizes this. If you dare incorporate some of the ideas he put there into your business thinking, I guarantee it will change how you see and do your business. All business in the end is really abut the business of people.

September 21st, 2009
Social Business in Action – Establishing Excellence
Posted by Oliver Marks @ 10:30 am

Human interaction is as old as humanity, and nothing beats personal contact. We can learn more from a few seconds of personal contact and get a ‘gut feel’ about someone or a situation experientially in person than we can from hours of research and remote contact.

The Tom Peters & Bob Waterman 1982 book ‘In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies‘ promoted the benefits of ‘MBWA’ – management by walking around’. The eight themes that form the core of that book are pre internet, but many of the ideas are at the heart of the current broad social computing revolution.

1. A bias for action, active decision making – ‘getting on with it’.
2. Close to the customer – learning from the people served by the business.
3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship – fostering innovation and nurturing ‘champions’.
4. Productivity through people- treating rank and file employees as a source of quality.
5. Hands-on, value-driven – management philosophy that guides everyday practice – management showing its commitment.
6. Stick to the knitting – stay with the business that you know.
7. Simple form, lean staff – some of the best companies have minimal HQ staff.
8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – autonomy in shop-floor activities plus centralized values.

What’s changed since the eighties is the world wide web, and while some of the data in the Peters Waterman book has since been questioned, the same business goals are applicable. Leadership for change professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s Harvard Business Publishing blog discusses the idea of ‘Management By Flying Around‘.

Where in the 80’s you could mostly walk around the cubes and offices, now it’s necessary to fly all over the world and have meetings in the air to get the same effect. Face time is a status symbol – ‘Showing up is still the number one key to success. In a world where anyone can have superficial contact with anyone anytime, face-time is the new status symbol. You can watch it on YouTube, but being there gets the juices flowing‘, says Kanter.

The parallel IT universe which aims to support and enable these core human interactions has made astonishing progress since the ’80’s, but as Phil Wainwright eloquently points out in his post ‘The democratization of IT‘, the Web 2.0 revolution, which has enabled browser applications to interact with the world as never before is misnamed the ‘consumer web’ in the enterprise world.

Consumerization’ is the trend of making unwieldy and complex enterprise software as easy to use as the applications and services ordinary people use on the Web. We dress it up in a long word that implies the industry is doing its customers a favor, but what’s so special about making software people can actually use? Isn’t that what the industry should have been doing all along?

Furthermore, I don’t think the word consumerization is an adequate description of what’s really going on here. It’s a mass media term, which makes it sound as though the IT department has bowed to popular demand and started beaming crowd-pleasing, populist software out to users’ desktops in place of the challenging, highbrow applications it used to offer. The unspoken undertone of the analogy is that the users are dumb couch-potatoes that have to be cajoled and tricked into engaging with their work.
But passive consumption is the last thing Web 2.0 is about. If the media barons of Web 1.0 had had their way, users would have sat in their walled gardens and meekly consumed whatever Yahoo, AOL and the rest saw fit to distribute. Instead, users seized control, told each other what they thought of online content and started generating their own blogs, videos and commentary. Web 2.0 was a grassroots revolution, not consumerization but democratization, and that is the trend that is now transforming IT.

The word ’social’ fits well with Phil’s thoughts since business is rarely truly democratic except for a few remarkable exceptions, such as HCL Technology, whose employees can vote their CEO Vineet Nyar out of office. Businesses are attempting to organize around social lines as never before, and there are countless technology enablers available which aim to facilitate this.

Like a sports team there has to be a catalyst which sets a business on the path to success – the new manager or coach instills confidence in the team with intense locker room nurturing, tough love and careful evaluation and selection of players. The follow through – the coaching staff making sure the team execute against strategy – is critical to success but secondary to that foundational success building innovation and growth.

Walking or flying around management is central to equivalent success in business, but there is much confusion about the broad use of the term ‘Social’. ‘Social Media’ is typically used to describe word of mouth marketing, public relations and informal customer relationship management online, where ‘Social Business’ is the intentional design of a dynamic business culture, using appropriate technologies as needed,

Online collaboration networks frequently enable strong relationships to form remotely along with voice communication, but the power of the in person kick off meeting or conference aligned with strategic direction typically trumps the power of typed interaction over time. Consciously designing a business to be socially adept form the ground up is the game changing equivalent to the 80’s ‘In Pursuit of Excellence’ revelations in management circles.

Alan Cohen of Cisco, a stand out company for large scale sophisticated international business collaboration. writes in his post ‘Getting to the new normal‘:

Despite the recent recession, the deconstruction of the traditional media model and the rapid increase in information flows – fostered by the Web 2.0 self-publishing models – changes how much data we use on a daily basis. While information overload is a real and present danger, others are rushing to take advantage of these changes. Or as the Billy Crystal character said in When Harry Met Sally: “ I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.”…

The ‘new normal’ of technology and business decentralization is arguably coalescing around an open knowledge model online. Cohen quotes this line from Thomas W. Malone’s book The Future of Work:

“But one aspect of the future is less certain: Will this be a world that is not only more efficient economically, but also better for the people who live in it?”

This sounds remarkably like a political call to action, democracy style. All great democratic parties rely on strong leadership and vision which instills belief and confidence – and to get there a core team has to design a system that will answer big questions like the one above. Answering that question with a highly specific strategy and roadmap of how to get there is the path for future great companies.

Oliver Marks provides seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on the effective planning of ‘Enterprise 2.0’ strategy, tactics, technology decisions and roll out. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Transforming Nations and Business – David Skews

Business people have a calling to be part of building and transforming nations. IN the article below, David Skews points us to the need to re-evaluate our attitudes to doing business. For some of us that will mean learning to do business on the other side of the coin. Read on, these are definitely thoughts worth chewing on.

David Skews

Chief Executive Officer of EDP, David Skews has recently published the following article on Corporate Responsibility and how company values are connected to the bottom line, despite many business leaders believing otherwise.

In recent months we have all seen confidence eroded in organisations as diverse as the Banks to the House of Commons. Businesses have been driven for decades by the hunger to increase their share price through cost reductions and fighting for market share by reducing prices. This has led to the diminution of traditional British businesses with the loss of jobs and a switch to a service economy. The City of London has grown fat on bonuses that did nothing to sustain employment, individuals like Madhoff allegedly earned millions by playing on investors’ desire to earn an extra buck.

In the wake of this economic turbulence the time seems right to reconsider the most basic assumptions that underlie our response to the question, “why does a business exist?” We need to question the supposed criteria for success that the ‘market is king’ and that business is all about increasing shareholder value.

I see a whole new paradigm around doing business – a paradigm that sits uncomfortably with the leaders of many organisations, whether they are SMEs, Multinationals or Public Sector organisations.

In many respects, this paradigm supersedes widely held views that businesses have to be structured and operated with the sole goal of maximising financial profit. Instead, it sees profit, in the form of monetary surpluses or shareholder value, as the reward – almost a by-product – of delivering against your promises – namely producing great products and delivering great services that build a better world. It is a simple thesis, yet at the same time truly profound.

What we are proposing is not merely a new set of buzzwords that sound right but which in reality represent little more than a cosmetic makeover of the same selfish commercial drivers. Even the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can fall into this category. Although the term suggests that corporations have a responsibility to deliver benefit to the societies in which they operate, in reality it is viewed by many organisations simply as the latest marketing gimmick. As a result, the term loses credibility with the general population. Our new paradigm for business is far more than the latest fad. It focuses the effort of the whole organisation on the goal of unleashing Values back into the business community.

CSR, when rightly understood, is about more than “charity at work”, though it includes that. It is even more than doing business in an ethical way, though it also includes that. It is about transforming the way we do business in emerging global and local markets. It is a complete re-think about how businesses manage costs, increase revenues and retain staff by pursuing the principle of ‘Building a Better World’. It is about aligning Visions, Values and Behaviours with the expectations of ALL stakeholders – not only investors and customers. It demands a new accountability for managing social, environmental, economic and even spiritual impacts in a way that maximises the benefits and minimises the downsides.

The new paradigm is about more than getting people to work for you. It’s about attracting, winning and keeping the RIGHT people in the RIGHT places with the RIGHT motivation to build your business for the benefit of this generation and the next.

Smart companies are already on the march. We are already seeing the focus shift for many organisations.

One of the biggest mistakes any business leader can make is to believe that values are disconnected from the bottom line. Another mistake is to think that merely adopting “good business practice” will protect against a severe roasting.

It is difficult to represent the benefits that accrue from strong values in the financial balance sheet, but it is nonetheless true that neglecting values can completely wipe out your balance sheet. Strong ethics keep corporations healthy. Weak ethics make companies sick.

In a difficult economic environment, the challenge is to re-evaluate our attitudes to doing business and for some of us that will mean learning to do business on the other side of the coin.

Google Cloud – A Better Name for Chrome OS

I’ve been following the Google Chrome OS and Windows saga written from different perspectives. We are definitely at a juncture when the business landscape is being shaken and new paradigms are being shaped. The battleground is the consumers. I couldn’t agree with Bamm more on his choice of name for Chrome OS. A brilliant way to clear up the cloud for Google and get everybody into the ‘cloud movement.’ I hope Google picks this one up, a great idea.

Google’s Chrome Operating System: We’ve Got It All Wrong
Posted by: Rob Hof on July 11
Comment: BAMM
July 12, 2009 09:18 PM
I suggest a better name. Instead of ChromeOS, they should call it CloudOS, so people immediately know what it does.

It’s better to promote the cloud than to market the browser used to access it.

Better yet, call it Google Clouds, just like Microsoft called their operating system Windows (even though windowing systems existed way before Windows).

The Theory of Change and Entrepreneurship

I’m very interested in the theory of change as it relates to the transformational aspect of enterprise to significantly change the economic contexts of poor and marginalized groups.

It is important that at the onset, we acknowledge and agree that theories of change are necessarily value-based. Our challenge is to examine the assumptions that underpin our theories and concepts so that we align them to a biblical view of persons, human nature and growth. This so important as our theory of change will influence the way we design enterprises, shaping the dynamics and processes for transformation and therefore its social consequences.

In entrepreneurship for transformation, there is a great need to understand persons in a wholistic manner coupled with a belief in the capacity of individuals to change and grow, and within the context of a place, an environment where people are listened to and treated with honesty, openness and unconditional positive regard so that growth can occur. These must be translated into practical policies which will shape the dynamics and processes for positive transformation in enterprises that empower poor and needy communities.

There is also a great need to develop an understanding one another’s talents, capacities and calling within the entrepreneurial team context so that every person can function freely and be constructive. This is possible only if we truly believe that every person and even every group has the potential to develop in a unique and individualized manner. Management design should also take into consideration that persons have a need for affiliation, and communication with others. This intrinsic need will lead to realistic and natural socialization of a person and the discovery of behaviors which will most closely approximate the satisfaction of all his needs wholistically and communally.