The Selfie Generation


This is truly a new word to our lexicon, brought about by the proliferation of cameras in cell phones. It seems that much of the online world is preoccupied with pictures and some of the latest gadgets are designed specifically to enable people to take these pictures. And as if selfies alone aren’t bad enough, now there is an abundance of selfie enhancers including extendable selfie sticks, boom arms, and remote control shutter releases with self-timers… I don’t know about you, but the idea of me taking a picture of myself kind of bothers me. Guess it truly dates me.

My last blog talked about relevance. This Selfie Generation clearly cares about some things. On the surface, it seems to be “all about them.” I offer a link to an article in the New York Times that gives a fabulous overview of the challenges here. I especially appreciate this paragraph:


“The millennials’ skepticism of parties, programs, and people runs deeper than their allegiance to a particular ideology. Their left-wing commitments are ardent on a few issues but blur into libertarianism and indifferentism on others. The common denominator is individualism, not left-wing politics: it explains both the personal optimism and the social mistrust, the passion about causes like gay marriage and the declining interest in collective-action crusades like environmentalism, even the fact that religious affiliation has declined but personal belief is still widespread.”

– Ross Douthat, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times

Read the full article here.


That is quite a persona to fit into the mix now isn’t it? Maybe we really need to think differently about our agendas if we are going to engage this group. Maybe we need to actually ask them how we can be relevant. Are we asking the right questions? Are we really listening to their points of view?

And By Analogy


We seem to take a lot of things for granted these days, especially when we become comfortable and dependent upon technology to make our lives easier. For example, I will bet that you use Google Maps and real time traffic alerts in your daily commute. Why not? It is great and seems to magically update in very close to real time.

But, do you know how this works? Here is the explanation from Wikipedia:

Google Traffic works by analyzing the GPS-determined locations transmitted to them by a large number of cellphone users. By calculating the speed of users along a stretch of road, Google is able to generate a live traffic map.  Google processes the incoming raw data about cellphone device locations, and then excludes anomalies such as a postal vehicle which makes frequent stops. When a threshold of users in a particular area is noted, the overlay along roads and highways on the Google map changes color.

These GPS locations are a public source of information. Just think about the value created here if someone had thought through the value of this information and arranged to capture it ahead of anyone else in the market. Might there have been a competitive advantage? Might there have been a stream of others who would gladly pay to get this channel of information?

Some of you are aware that we have done precisely that for the energy industry with our precision temperature monitoring data channel. You will hear more about this over the next few months as this scales up to the same level that these GPS locations do.

I want you to think about this every time you now use your Google Traffic service … that right now you get free … or do you really? You are being watched friends … very closely.

Modern Shorthand

mom text

Some of my recent blogs offer thoughts about how easy it is to think we are communicating, but we are not. I am constantly reminded of the differences between the way engineers think and the way others think. We love to argue the fine points while we leave those around us wondering what on earth we are talking about.

The “Big Bang Theory” constantly points this out to me, and it is funny to most of us. Well, at least it is funny to me. However, it is probably not funny at all to people like Penny in this series. And, given that most Americans are closer to her point of view, we really should be paying closer attention to this.

This week’s blog looks at the word that comes to mind here: shorthand. When I was young, the ability to take shorthand was a key skill for secretaries. Back then, the skill itself was called stenography and it was extremely important when people wanted to dictate a letter or a note long before voice recording was practical and inexpensive. Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to a normal method of writing a language.

Now, with word processors so widespread, there are very few clerical positions like this anymore. But, we do have a new style of shorthand. Texting has created a whole new dimension. Texts like LOL, etc. are so widely used they are in the dictionary. Shorthand expressions are now viewed as words even though they are not.

I hope you enjoy the conversation shown here as a texting sequence. The clear warning is to learn to speak the language of the customer. This is not easy for us technical types to do.

The Tyranny of the “Or”

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
~F. Scott Fitzgeraldquestion

The book “Built to Last,” by James Collins and Scott Porras explores trends of business approaches and strategies that have been historically undertaken by eighteen “highly visionary companies.”  It discusses the “Tyranny of the OR” and describes it as a restrictive approach to decision-making that dictates a solitary choice between one of two seemingly contradictory strategies or outcomes — facilitating the necessary exclusion of the other. While frequently embraced by even billion-dollar corporations, this confining, restrictive approach is a tyrannical method of decision-making that can be avoided by individuals and companies alike.

It seems that the energy industry is struggling with this on almost all fronts, especially when it comes to engaging today’s energy customers.
The next time someone offers you or your management team a choice with the word “or” in it, stop and substitute the word “and” and see if it doesn’t indeed improve the choice. After all, why bet on one horse in a race? Why have only one power plant design in your portfolio?

And, for those of you with statistical training on portfolio management, remember that the advantage of portfolios ONLY exists when the members are negatively correlated to each other. They have to be contrary to offer risk envelope benefits. If they are positively correlated, you get no protection at all!


Portfolio theory is not something easily explained in a blog, but those of you familiar with it are all nodding your heads here in agreement.

You also might enjoy Jim Collins’ latest book as well … Why the Mighty Fall.” Pretty chilling.