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All posts in Start Ups

Technological Disruption Is Evolving Beyond Our Control.

Technological Disruption has been on my mind for several months and yesterday it came to boiling point.

I wrote about this first in this post.

Technological Disruption: Truth and Consequences

Working backwards from yesterday we can see that unfettered disruption without testing and validation of the ramifications in the wild have major consequences:

The first death of a pedestrian by autonomous vehicle occurred yesterday in the US and while law enforcement are claiming that the car may not be responsible. Do pedestrians know how to interact with autonomous vehicles in the wild? Simple answer: NO. Especially as these vehicles fundamentally look just the same as your everyday vehicles. Where are the Asimov 3 Laws of Robotics?

Technology disruption - robotsImage courtesy of Microsoft Paint3D – Remix 3D library

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have made us all feel naked and vulnerable due to the massive exploitation of our collective social footprints, our digital identities being taken without knowledge and used to effectively socially engineer us all regarding the 2016 US Elections. Freemium apps mean just this, you are ceding control of your digital identity when you freely share things. Our mobile devices have evolved around this whole precept but we have strong expectations of how that data is used and the transparency behind its use.

Technological disruption - Facebook

A few months ago an acquaintance was talking about how Waze has changed their quiet street where kids can play into a dangerous bypass route that cars speed down, anytime the adjacent major roads are blocked. Speaking to Waze (Google) and their City officials hadn’t made dent in the issue at last check.

AirB&B & Uber along with other sharing economy startups have a huge issue with background checks for hosts, guests, drivers and passengers … and the list goes on, not even counting data breaches like Equifax.

The Warptest POV

So I’m asking again, how do these companies challenge themselves to explore or test the ethical ramifications of their disruptive products before and after they reach the real world? Or is the genie out of the bottle and we need to learn how to live with this modern-day Frankenstein’s Monster.

Video clip from YouTuber iiAFX
This takes a special kind of mindset able to see technology as a product, an ability to perceive its place in different cultures and environments and how it interacts with all kinds of people in different demographics. Ultimately it needs a fearless mindset, a willingness to ensure that as an agent of change, the change is positive and beneficial.

Reliance on legislators is not a solution, whilst the EU are counting down to the deadline for GDPR compliance, other countries will legislate different standards eventually but these will be based on a variety of factors, not least the ability of public servants and politicians to comprehend what technological disruption is, how it works and the impacts we can expect. We can reasonably assume that different countries laws might end up being contradictory or intentionally in conflict. Good luck with that.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – Who watches the Watchmen?

Facebook and others will need to police themselves better but ultimately freemium apps rely on us, our data, our willingness to exist in their virtual worlds. We are their fuel and their monetization.

I am not advocating like some a mass deletion of our Facebook profiles, remember the same company also owns your much loved Instagram and ubiquitous WhatsApp. Still Facebook, Twitter and others need to make this a priority. We are talking about a  fundamental comprehension that symbiosis beats mutually assured destruction.

Ironically, much of what is being suggested online to resolve these things is a symptom of the problem. Issues like this cannot be solved with a hashtag, 14 characters or a snarky meme going viral.

For years we have heard how important DRM Digital Rights Management is for music, movies etc. where is our personal DRM? Can we disrupt Technological Disruption without inhibiting innovation?

These disruptive companies need to be much more transparent about their practices but also about the ethical challenges their technologies face and how they are solving these issues.

So if you want to comment, share ideas on the subject or just chime in.. Feel free.

If you know of a company that has a Chief Ethics Officer or a team that tests the ethical impact of their products then for sure let me know.

One thing I promise, whatever you share.. I will only be using that data for good.

Deadpool Has A Lot To Teach Us About Startup Management

Yes, Deadpool. The hit NSFW superhero movie from Marvel. Actually, much of the incredible success of the movie is due to these 10 secret tips.

Pay attention because these habits need to be learned, internalized and applied. Superhero startup management here we go…

With thanks to Marvel & 20th Century Fox for the Trailer

SPOILERS AHOY!

If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want certain parts spoilt for you then turn back now.

 The 10 Successful Startup Habits of Deadpool:

  1. To quote the merc with a mouth, “Maximum Effort”. A successful product will not invent, build and launch itself. Get ready to work hard.
  2. Compromise can be the most R-Rated phrase you’ll hear. There was major pressure to tone down the movie but the cast and crew stuck to their guns. When people tell you to compromise, ask yourself if this matches your vision or product values.
  3. Break the 4th wall. Deadpool is notorious for his often hilarious conversations thru the 4th wall. In your case this is all about knowing what your customer expectations are.
  4. Testing, testing, testing. Our hero starts off in a white hooded romper, moves to spandex and chooses “Deadpool” over “Captain Deadpool”. Whether A/B, beta or product testing, it’s crucial to apply the results to building your best product. TESTING = SUCCESS.
  5. Give your fans what they want. The movie delivered everything the fans wanted and they loved the movie for it.
  6. Superhero team-ups rock! Deadpool encounters Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead of the X-Men and later asks for their help. You can’t do everything yourself. Get help when you need it.
  7. Have a plan. Eat, breath and live it. Our hero wants payback from Ajax for his disfigurement and various other evil acts. He hunts his way up the bad guy food-chain with an enviable clarity and purity of purpose. Build your roadmap for delivering your product. It may change on the way but can you implement as decisively as Deadpool?
  8. Count your bullets. One of the two big fight scenes in the movie sees Deadpool with only twelve bullets and counting down as he goes. In your case, resources. Plan how you are going to use your resources and expect the unexpected.
  9. Branding. Is your product branded in a distinct manner? Deadpool chooses a red costume,” … so the bad guys can’t see him bleed”. Also the product marketing for the movie was almost too much with special clips for Australia Day (for Wolverine star, Hugh Jackman), Valentine’s Day, post-production clips and an ingenious billboard emoji ad. How will your product stand out?

    Deadpool - emoji billboard

  10. Own your mistakes. Wolverine (X-Men Origins) gave us a different Deadpool and it was awful. The new movie had several jokes mocking the earlier interpretation.

 

The Warptest POV

The merc with a mouth has a lot to teach us, if we are willing to listen and learn. Remember though, this is R-Rated so choose carefully who to see this with.

Make sure you have a pen and paper to take notes for your startup because it’s not every day you encounter a guru / sensei / ninja of startup wisdom like Deadpool:

Deadpool - the tem tips summarized

If you catch anymore Startup tips from Deadpool, I’d love to read about it in the comments.

(Disclaimer: no mercs, super-villains or henchmen were harmed in any way while writing this post.)

Startups By Their Nature Are On The Cutting Edge…

… Some get acquired and in my previous post I mentioned Waze and their acquisition by Google. I suggested that Google could leverage drone technology to enhance the real-time geo-data provided by Waze.

This led to a fascinating conversation on Twitter with one of my favorite tweeps
@AWSOMEDEVSIGNER on the controversy and challenges related to drone usage in the civilian domain.

 

Real World Tech, Real World Consequences

When people create new technologies or find new uses for existing tech, especially in our daily lives in the real world there is a question that has to be asked,

What are the ramifications of releasing our idea into the world unfettered?

In a lot of cases the legislature is not able to keep up with the need for new laws to address these issues. Google Glass is a classic example, should it be legal to drive whilst wearing and using Glass? Should the law require all wearable technology that requires user interaction (read distraction) to have a Driving Mode?

In the case of Glass a user in California was already issued with a ticket for driving whilst wearing Glass (the ticket was allegedly contested and thrown out on a technicality) meanwhile, NYPD are beta testing Glass , but under what constraints and conditions?

A hat tip to the awesome @OrenTodoros for directing me to Google’s Do’s and Don’ts for Glass.

In some cases just how easily can certain innovations be weaponized or used for malicious intent? Foursquare had to contend with privacy and stalking concerns and seems to have done so admirably.

You don’t have to look hard to see that cutting edge technology will always be ahead of legislation. Several TV shows have made the issue of technology and ethics a core part off their story e.g. Intelligence or Almost Human.

Intelligence - Startup Ethics
Almost Human - Startup Ethics

With thanks to IMDB for the images for each show above.

The Warptest POV

Do the Startups have a moral responsibility to consider the ramifications of their innovations before opening Pandora’s Box? Will a failure to do so eventually result in more draconian legislation in reaction? As a result of my conversations (as mentioned earlier) IMHO Startups should be considering then need for a senior member of the company, even a VP of Ethics to research these ramifications and raise concerns early in the design stages.

By working with the Product Manager, even guiding the Testing team to include tests to ensure not just functional but ethical quality a Startup that is launching a technology into the real world and our daily life is more likely to find best practice and prevent privacy invasions, data leaks, malicious abuses and other ethical problems.

So if you are reading this and you are building a Startup, do you have role in your company to confront the ethics behind your innovation?

Don’t be shy now, let me know what you think.

 

MESH – The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub Is Open For Business

Modiin one of Israel’s newest cities, formerly branded as City of the Future and historical home of the ancient Maccabees has up until now been best known as a dormitory community. On a daily basis you see traffic congestion resulting from the techie population heading to bigger cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hertzliya and Raanana.

Modiin is situated halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but until now has had no major hi-tech or Startup companies.

Several entrepreneurs teamed up to launch the local Hub as a place for Startups and an open, shared workplace for others to use.

The resources are priced well and the location in Modiin’s slightly off the beaten track Ligad Industrial Estate keep those prices down.

Modiin MESH 4sq Map

The Hub, just outside Modiin (Foursquare link embedded in the image)

MESH Launch

My first impression was the amazing layout of the open space and offices at the launch party. I was overwhelmed by the number of attendees at the launch indicating the potential of the Hub.

Modiin MESH Launch Event

Clearly a lot of thought had gone into the look and feel of the place.

Modiin MESH Clocks

Modiin MESH Hub Logo

Modiin MESH Hub

I managed to chat during the event with two of the founders who I know, Moshe Porat and Daniel Morris about the Hub.

I am given to understand that many of the offices have been been rented out already but the shared space is still available with WiFi, phones, a Nespresso coffee machine and other resources.

The variety of Startups already with office space there ranged from a Facebook based app for party suggestions, an enterprise IT oriented company and several others.

One of the founders of the Hub told me of the strong sense of community felt by them and the Startups and the collaborative atmosphere felt there on a daily basis.

The founders are looking at addressing challenges as they arise with creative solutions ranging from: –

  • How to matchmake the employment needs of the Startups with the vast pool of local talent.
  • Working on creating a car pooling service to help people who want to work at the Hub but find it difficult to get there themselves.

The Warptest POV

The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub is a golden opportunity for the city of Modiin, an opportunity that begs to be grabbed with both fists,

The Hub is a stimulus package for the city just waiting to happen: –

  • If X people work locally that is X people less commuting in and out of the city.
  • The business of Hitech requires many tertiary services ranging from finance, IT, office supplies, transport, logistics, legal and more.
  • Startups live and breathe on free-flowing caffeine and take away food / restaurants. Especially for those late night coding / testing sessions.

All of these local businesses will benefit and flourish as demand for their services increases thanks to the Hub.

I left feeling the launch had clearly demonstrated that Modiin Hitech is a force to be reckoned with and big things can be expected from our great city.

If you want to visit the Hub or work there then you can contact them through their site www.modiinhub.com

A huge bravo to the MESH Founders for their hard work getting this launched.

Guy Kawasaki the founder of several Start-Up companies including the great Alltop and his blog How to Change the World has been busy.

My Photoimage image

He is one of those people I make a big effort to pay attention to and frankly would love to meet in person.

When he’s not blogging or rocking the world of the Web, he finds time to write books and for his latest he offered a competition to designers. In addition to a cash prize of $1000 the best cover design for his new book will be selected to be the cover for his new book.

I thought that was pretty cool. Some undiscovered talent was going to suddenly be thrust into the limelight and have a great credit to their portfolio.

Apparently though this competition caused a wave of unrest and anger even with cries of "exploitation", folks quoting the rules and regulations and so on.

Whilst I was digesting all this, watching my Twitter feed, scheduling appointments for an impending trip and dealing with tasks on my To Do list all this percolated thru my cerebellum. It reminded me of an article that I read several months ago on Rodale Publishing’s Men’s Health Magazine (don’t judge me) http://www.menshealth.com/men/best-life/life-lessons/the-hazards-of-cynicism/article/2d63f48b03776210vgnvcm10000030281eac 

image

Mike Zimmerman, the author and a pretty good writer (to understate the case) writes about "Why Men Fail" and shows from some of the successful men in business, entertainment and sports he has met and interviewed a common trait that none of them exhibit – cynicism.

This article spoke to me on many levels at the time and since and in this case with Guy Kawasaki’s competition it popped into my head again. I don’t want to rail on the folks criticizing the competition as I don’t know you all. I assume some of you are sincere in your comments but at least some of you have fallen into the cynical trap of assuming the worst here and to my mind YOU’VE MISSED THE POINT!!!

There are times even if you are on the top of your game, a big name in your field that you are going to want to indulge a bit and do work for little if not any monetary reward (short term).

I’m a QA / Testing Professional, often a manager, team leader or consultant. I have joked recently that I should start a company and call it the QA-Team and get permission to use the A-Team logo and theme to brand myself. (Yes I thought of this prior to the reboot of the TV series)

qateam

The point is that there are times when it is in your interest to think that the value of the recommendation you get or improving your exposure virally are worth more in the long term than the money itself. Now don’t get me wrong, I try not to refuse payment for my work but I’m imagining someone like Guy Kawasaki opening his contact list and letting all the relevant contacts know they should be hiring me.

At the end of the day the folks who want to see this for what it really is, a tremendous opportunity for exposure and a virally raised profile, will do so. The others won’t. I know which camp I would rather be in.

There are many different organizations, start-ups amongst them where the transfer of knowledge between teams or individual can be akin to pulling teeth; difficult, messy and painful.
The classic example in development is when the QA or Test team has to begin defining tests for the next release but has no clear idea beyond terminology on a Gantt or various emails what they have to test.
Getting documentation at this stage can be frustrating and even ultimately counterproductive in terms of the conflict or friction it raises between the person who has to produce the documentation (in our case specifications) and the person who needs the documentation to continue working and not become a bottleneck.
In SCRUM during the daily meeting this issue would be raised as an impediment to the testing progress and the Scrum Master would help the team in resolving this.
However as an experienced QA Manager I can state that this issue is a function of corporate culture. Normally this occurs where VP of R&D and or the CTO continues to make statements committing to full knowledge transfer but actually the real concept being maintained is that writing code comes first and if you are lucky we might get to writing spec down the line.
This truly demonstrates a Waterfall methodology regardless of the methodology that the organization claims to be using.
How do we resolve this? Perhaps this is something you just have to live with and realize that this is an organization that will never embrace Kanban, Lean, Kaizen, and Agile – SCRUM or any variant thereof without a true management commitment.
There are different personality types depending on which theory of psychology you adhere to; I’m a tools and techniques guy, I try to identify the problem and knowing it will recur find the correct tool or technique that allows everyone involved to keep a smile on their face and get the job done.
I encountered this kind of problem myself several times and it occurred to me that if the core of the problem is finding the time to write stuff down, then why make people write at all? The written medium is tiresome to create an often just as difficult to read and learn from. So why not use a different medium?
Ideally, you would introduce the use of Digital Audio or preferably Video recording and get the relevant knowledge owner to speak freely explaining the (in our example) spec. Diagrams, charts and slides could be added later making this “living document” or work in progress. (I re-heard this idea at the Israel Scrum Users Conference, earlier this month; many of us confirming that a good idea is something others thought of at the same time as you).
This is the easy part; there will still be a need for post-processing, review/ approval, document control and much larger storage/ backup than if these were simple textual documents.
Users would have to learn to be comfortable with being filmed, cameras would have to be readily available and seated on a stable platform. The video files would need some form of tagging which could be used for creating a searchable index in the Document control database but ultimately the ROI would be enormous in terms of reducing the friction and frustration in dealing with this impediment.