Rethinking Beyond the Box Itself

Almost all of us know the puzzle where you have to connect the nine dots with four straight lines … and the only way to do that is to go beyond the edge of the box itself.  The facilitator will often summarize this as “thinking out side the box” and it has become synonymous with creative thinking.

Well, Toyota has just recently taken that to a new level.  Autonomous vehicles have largely been extrapolations of what we already have the cars just driving themselves.  Jeff Bezos at Amazon startled everyone with his drone delivery ideas last year… everyone thought he was nuts because we all assumed the drones would start at the distribution center… not launched from the delivery van using a hub and spoke concept.

Watch this video and think about how disruptive this idea really is.

Then, please go back to some of my earlier blogs and ask yourself: “Why are we so afraid of the future?  Shouldn’t we be thinking beyond the box we think we are in?”

 

Just because you can … should you?

Watch the WSJ Video

You have to admit, the choices we consumers have in the United States can make us the envy of the world.  I am aghast at the choices in the supermarket and of course online for whatever I am looking for.

And, when what otherwise might seem like a commodity can be presented as a choice, prices reflect that.  We now have organic this or that … and at times I am just a bit puzzled why I should care about whether “that” was organic or not.

Obviously low fat and no calorie must cost more … they had to remove all those ingredients to make it that way … so it should cost more … or should it?  Read what they do put in the food to achieve those goals and be afraid … be very afraid.

Well, in the Wall Street Journal a restaurant that has yet to serve its first meal was declared the best in the world.  So, of course I had to watch the video proclaiming why this was true.  Here is the link if you have the time to watch the full five minutes: WSJ Video

If you are like most people, here is what I consider the key takeaway:  Just because you can safely serve these foods, does that make it the right thing to do?  Personally, I don’t think so.  When you want to be the best in the world you don’t serve things people are intrinsically afraid to eat in a culture.  Try serving octopus in the US and see what you find.  You serve what people normally might eat but in a way that makes them appreciate why they are in the restaurant having you serve them what they could prepare at home.

I can’t wait to see what happens to the menu in this restaurant after being open for a few months.  I suspect a drastic change … and the chef who had this dream will probably move on in disgust that people have no appreciation for fine dining.

It reminds me of a Christmas dinner I had when my wife Susan was invited to an officer’s party at her firm.  Since I was the spouse I sat next to another spouse.  In this case, she was a playwrite.  So, after asking her what plays she had done and was working on, I just commented that I was amazed at the prolific success of Andrew Lloyd Webber and she scoffed at that saying: “He was just pandering to the masses!”  I then asked how her plays were going and she remarked that attendance was just awful … people just don’t appreciate fine theater.

I rest my case.

Big Data is no Substitute for Good Data

It seems like everyone has now included the buzzwords of artificial intelligence, machine learning, business analytics, and energy insights … but they still have no idea what good data really looks like.

They run around bragging about what they think they can do with smart grid data using fancy talk about Hadoop and other big data engines.  But, as my professors always told me about energy modeling: garbage in – garbage out.

Noise doesn’t get any better when you have more of it and smart grid data is about as noisy as you can get.  The key to energy analytics and artificial intelligence is noise reduction … not just signal processing that shows you can quantify the noise.

Plus, let’s stop talking about disaggregation as if that were the end game.  What matters is not just where the energy is going but what a customer can realistically do about it and how they can make cost effective changes in their homes.

If you really want answers to these questions, ask us about our noise cancelling techniques… we can show you real results for all customers that goes way past just telling them where you think their energy dollars are going.

Customer engagement is more about a pretty face.

Seeing is Not Believing … or is it?

I thought this was going to be another boring morning with LinkedIn reminders of this or that, but this one got me going.  LinkedIn posted a rant from Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary about a video promoting a technology for funding.

View the video here. 

The comments quickly debunk what appears to be a compelling video of a university professor making himself invisible.  If you were not aware of how green screen technology works in broadcasting, you might be fooled.  Or, you might think this was another edited video.

So, the cynics quickly dismiss this as a stunt.  But a critical thinker might ponder: Clever!  Now this is a great way to defeat all those surveillance cameras we think help us defeat crimes.

I remember my father telling me that criminals were often amazingly intelligent individuals who use their intellect for no good causes.  Well, I am afraid this video is going to inspire exactly this type of outcome.

Death Spiral? Hope is on the Horizon!

It is easy to get depressed when your business metrics look worse and worse.

Wall Street wants you to show growth and when you measure that as increases in traditional sales metrics, you can lose hope.

This was the case as Thomas Edison’s electric lamp replaced natural gas in home

and street lighting.  The gas industry decided that investing in Edison’s was better than simply sitting on the sidelines moping about bad numbers.  They got a wonderful outcome of course when Edison had to generate the electricity for those lamps as a fuel for that instead of the lamps themselves.

We are on a stunningly parallel course with the electricity industry today.  You would have to be living under a rock not to see how Tesla has changed the Electric Vehicle landscape despite his critics.  And, when you read articles like the one shown here, the future is clear … read: Light Bulbs and Electric Cars: A Time for Change. 

The key question for electric utilities today is the role they are going to play.  Once again, remember the warning of Jim Rogers, past CEO of Duke Power.  “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu!”