“The world of IoT and connected devices is expanding rapidly. We all carry super computers in our pockets and interact with everything from home automation, cars, consumer electronics, and healthcare devices.”
“In this complex hardware + software environment the product development cycle can be tricky. For example, you can’t just follow agile software practices by the book when you’re building a connected pace maker. So how do we approach product development when the stakes are high and the moving parts are many? During this discussion we’ll be tackling topics such as:”
“How do you roadmap a product which includes both hardware and software components? How does agile development fit in? How does the regulatory landscape affect how we approach development and iteration? How do you build teams around these integrated products? And how do you keep them in sync and working together?”
I’d first like to thank the team at DevMynd for their kind invitation. I am looking forward to joining the panel discussion in Chicago this coming Thursday, February 22. In the meantime, I will welcome any comments and insights as I gear up for this discussion.
I’m working on outlining some of the myths, dilemmas and trade-offs that I have encounter as an Industrial Designer and in Product Management.
From a design perspective, there are two topics worth looking at: Design Thinking as a Human-Centered methodology and its outcomes in terms of: (a) utility, (b) usability, (c) consumability, (d) affectivity and (e) the composite and differential value of the resulting digital experiences that involve software and hardware.
This “new brave world” equips us with the freedom to explore new form factors, cognitive models and, most impoartantly, the development human x technology networks. Some of the specifics come down to design semantics re-defining HMS, Human-Machine-Systems, in the context of multi-modal user interfaces and innovative interactions where Machine Learning and new visualization paradigms happen to surface.
From a Product Management viewpoint, there is a need for also pondering about how to best leverage Design Thinking beyond Industrial Design and Software Development to talkle product and service strategy. Here my focus gravitates toward addressing: (a) success factors and (b) limiting factors under control, as well as (d) other determining factors beyond our area of influence that can impact the difussion of innovations either possitively or negatively. Moreover, I like to couple business model innovation with behavioral economics and information network effects.
This construct really boils down to capturing the essence behind (e) stakeholders’ acceptance criteria and (f) the users’ engagement, adoption and growth rates. This means defining capability and maturity levels and how to best factor for the fact that they adapt and evolve over time. Obviously, this leads to taking a close look at how to best intersect Lean and Agile practies, but not only, so that we can lead and navigate constantly changing environments in “digital time.”
Let’s get down to a more tactical level: end-to-end system design entails a mix of loosely and tightly coupled elements, and a platform approach to operate at speed, scale and wider scope that what black boxes can match. A reality check unveils a hybrid world where decisions on capacity and performance levels, as well as serviceability and dependency levels drive decisions toward optimizing for distributed systems and, therefore, the rising value of end-to-end solutions vs. point solutions only.
In that context, inter-disciplinary teams involving creative technologists and domain experts make our organizations effectively diverse, smarter and innovative. Otherwise, self-defeating arrogance, conflicting silos and technical myopia can make pre-production and production be costlier by promoting unncessary friction and getting everyone to work harder and harder rather than smarter. Typically, that negates productivity, forces a number corrective actions, and significantly shifts and/or downsizex sought after results.
The beauty of the Studio’s human-experience-centered practice is a healthy obssession for delivering “meaning.” The definition of “meaningful outcomes” (rather than churning outputs) makes these organizations behave based on value and impact. We strive to foster not just customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, but measurable customer delight and network effects (superior and service-level performance indicators) which, in turn, set and streamline technical requirements.
Long story short, the Studio’s mindset (critical thinking / wonder & discovery / problem solving) and workstyle (collaborative / experiential / iterative / adaptive) help explain why creative technologysts are instrumental and serial innovation engines for the digital age.
Footnote: the term “team of creative technologysts” was first coined by Nokia Bell Labs back in the 1940s to single out the differentiated value of inter-disciplinary undertakings. In the late forties, Bell Labs’ Clauded Shannon pioneered Information Theory and John Karlin set up the first Human Factors Engineering in industry. That HFE team was formed by a pyschologist, a statistician (the father of quality control visualization,) an engineer, and a physicist.
“Bell Labs created the very first industrial Human Factors Research department at an American company, back in 1947. The department was quite small, containing just one specialist: John Karlin. Human Factors Research is sometimes known as ergonomics, but the way a human interacts with a machine or a system goes beyond simply physical space.”
“Industrially, the practice of Human Factors Research combines psychology with engineering in order to refine a system and make it more usable, friendlier, more efficient.”
“Karlin headed the HFR department from 1951 to 1977. Charles Rubinstein, who appears in this film, took over the department in ‘77. Human Factors Research at Bell Labs went well beyond that minuscule core staff of the 1940s: by the 1970s, the department had a staff of over 200, and by the time this film was made, staffers numbered more than 400.” – Designing for People, AT&T Archives.
Nokia’s community fosters Bell Lab’s heritage by embracing Human Factors Engineering as an innovation engine. We are gearing up for this year’s company event on HFE, which will be held on December 6. This event is sponsored by the Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council and here is the agenda:
We would like to thank all of the speakers most sincerely for their contribution to this conference. This is a private event for Nokia’s worldwide workforce. The live webcast and the recodings will be made available on NokiaEDU, our professional development organization.
“At Nokia, we’ve always been excited by where technology will lead us. Our business has evolved to adapt to a changing world for 150 years, but what we stand for remains true. Our vision is to expand the human possibilities of the connected world. We continue to reimagine how technology blends into our lives, working for us, discreetly yet magically in the background. Today, we’re shaping a new revolution in how people, businesses, and services connect with each other, creating new opportunities for our customers, partners, and communities.”
“We’re weaving together the networks, data, and device technologies to create the universal fabric of our connected lives – where new applications flow without constraint, where services and industry automate and run seamlessly, where communities and businesses can rely on privacy, security, and near instant response times, connecting through the Cloud. Our distinctive Nokia approach to designing technology for people guides us as we prepare the way for the Internet of Things, and ready our networks for 5G. We create intuitive, dependable technology, to help people thrive.”
Introducing Lean Ops – Integration & Decision Support System
“Over the past year, #maketechhuman has featured debates about the exciting promises and ominous perils of humanity’s tech-driven future.”
“Leading thinkers, from technologists and academics to entrepreneurs and philanthropists, have shared their thoughts on how we can ensure that technology and society positively reinforce each other.”
“Now #maketechhuman is publishing an e-book to push forward the dialogue that’s unfolded in its articles, podcasts, videos, and events. Whether you’re new to the conversation or have been following along all along, you’ll find that debates around the future technology and humanity often center around five hotly contested fronts:”
- “Artificial intelligence—the most all-encompassing of all technologies;”
- “Privacy—how we’ll redefine it and protect it in the all-digital age;”
- “Security—how we’ll deal with an array of emerging digital threats;”
- “Equality—how technology can create and distribute this crucial element of human lives;”
- “Connection—the main reason any of this matters. We’re going to need each other, no matter what the future holds.”
“The #maketechhuman e-book breaks down these topics and explores the burning questions that technology presents in each case. Will artificially intelligent machines take our jobs? Is the Internet bringing us closer together as humans or further apart? Is safety from cybersurveillance worth the privacy tradeoffs? But the e-book doesn’t just ask questions, it also features solutions put forth from experts from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to Internet pioneer Vincent Cerf.”
“As we produce equipment that enhances digitalization, we believe it’s our responsibility to ensure our communications technologies are used to respect, and not infringe, human rights and privacy. We strive to apply appropriate safeguards to protect people’s personal data against unauthorized use or disclosure.” – Addressing human rights and right to privacy..
“We enhance the power of connectivity by creating product offerings that help overcome missing broadband connectivity, improve the resilience of communities to extreme weather changes and increase public safety. Our product offerings also support the battle against climate change.” – Improving people’s lives with technology.
“A great idea is only the beginning. The Back End of Innovation provides a strategic road map to successful commercialization. Learn how to bring new products to market and commercialize them for maximum impact on the bottom line. Uncover new ways to solve problems we all encounter in today’s dynamic business world.”
Back End of Innovation #BEICONF
I am working on the talk that I will deliver at Back End of Innovation 2016 and just came across BEI’s banner on prominent sites, such as CNN’s Innovation section (left screenshot).
The organizers have made available a discount code, which I can share if you were interested in attending. If so, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn.
The conference’s agenda features speakers from 3M, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Fidelity, Johnson & Johnson, Keurig, Pepsi, Vodafone and Xerox among others and I will be there proudly representing Nokia.
My talk’s title is “Lean Ops Innovation: Dynamic Service Delivery,” which is scheduled on November 17 at 11:30. Here is the abstract:
“Network Operators in the telecommunications industry operate complex sets of technologies and environments. This sector’s future relies on furthering software defined systems supporting the next wave of pervasive digital services, which all of us come to rely on in our day-to-day lives.
Nokia’s Applications & Analytics (A&A) team has evolved and redefined Lean principles to intertwine advanced analytics, automation, programmability and human factors engineering, the four pillars of a new LeanOps’ framework. The outcome is effective service delivery enabled by highly efficient systems that remain nimble and agile at any scale and at any point in the life-cycle.
Join Jose for this session to learn:
- A new Lean Ops framework intertwining analytics, automation, programmability and human factors.
- How to effectively interweave Design Thinking, Lean, DevOps and Agile to deliver breakthrough innovation.
- Unlocking the value of Human Factors Engineering in the cloud age and, therefore, expanding the human possibilities of technology.”
Earlier in the year I gave a talk at IEEE Communications Quality & Reliability – CQR 2016 also on Nokia’s Lean Ops.
Back then, my focus was HCI, Human-Computer-Interaction and operational efficiencies. As an example, immersive user interfaces taking advantage of 3D data visualization coupled with autonomation and assisted automation, as well as continuous optimization lead to effective decision support systems (DSS) that mitigate human error and elevate value based tasks.
That was discussed in the context of the kind of complex operational environments experienced in the telecommunications industry by network operators. As shared above, my presentation at BEI will focus on the underlying construct instead.
This is my “75 word” bio for this event: “Jose is a Design Director at Nokia’s Applications & Analytics Group. His 15+ years of experience feature leadership responsibilities in strategy, product management, R&D, and marketing. Jose worked with Bell Labs and holds three patents. He is a Member of the Advisory Board at MIT IDSS and is the recipient of an MBA from Chicago’s DePaul University as a Honeywell Europe’s Be Brilliant Scholar. Jose holds a postgraduate degree in Human Factors Engineering from BarcelonaTech.”
This is the second time that I’m featured as part of BEI’s Speaker Faculty and I would like to take this chance to thank the team at Informa for their kind invitation.
I will be happy to meet at BEI and hope to see you there : )
Pervasive “software defined smarts” and “ubiquitous connectedness” are set to change how we design and interact with day-to-day objects as well as sophisticated enterprise systems. The fact is that the rise of (1) behavioral and social analytics, (2) machine learning and recommender technologies and (3) a new generation of context-aware adaptive interfaces happen to redefine and elevate how Human Factors Engineering, HFE, can effectively deliver User Centered Design (UCD). HFE’s end goal is to humanize tech. The outcome grows the user base by democratizing technologies, which leads to serial innovation.
Just a couple of weeks ago I participated in very interesting discussions on user profiling and mass personalization during workshops hosted at the IBM Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA. In subsequent posts I will keep that conversation going by outlining a framework addressing users, personas and identities, which are not interchangeable terms.
Back in Boston we also exchanged insights on ease of consumability from an end-to-end systems engineering approach. This reinforces HFE’s holistic principle around the user experience journey spanning complete lifecycles, all the way from discoverability and experimentation to decommissioning, repurposing and/or recycling products and services upon End of Life (EOL).
Modeling personas is a well known research technique. Though, let’s keep in mind that it entails a proxy approach and is just one tool in HFE’s toolset. My experience is that solely relying on modeling personas alone is not enough. In any case, I would like to take this chance to retrieve a couple videos from a project I worked on about 10 years ago. Here is the context:
- The first iPhone was released in mid 2007, which took the market by storm with a fast growing ecosystem of applications.
- The wireless telecommunications sector had mostly relied on business models and revenue from voice services instead.
- The advent of a “data tsunami” put significant pressure on 2.5G wireless networks and accelerated 3G and 3.5G deployments.
Long story short, delivering Mobile Broadband meant going beyond 3.5G to improve and scale infrastructure, delivery platforms and services in more effective and cost efficient ways, which became 4G’s opportunity, LTE, WiMAX, UMB being the competing standards early on.
These two videos were released in 2008 with the objective to discuss scenarios envisioning a short term 2010 horizon, as well as a forward looking outlook for 2015 for 4G. Note that LTE has become the prevailing worldwide network technology and that the standard was finalized by the end of 2008.
We defined two personas (fictional characters) to synthesize a selective set of research findings and assumptions, which helped us visualize and explore 4G’s opportunity: Zoe – Millennial, and Ethan – Gen-X. The stories in this narrative were structured as a succession of persona-based scenarios assembled as a “Day-in-the-Life” journey. The emphasis was placed on network effects depicting social interactions and collaborative behaviors engaging others in a variety of sessions.
By conducting a retrospective assessment ten years later, we can now spot hits-and-misses and what specific forecasting frameworks and techniques worked better. It is also true that this project was leveraged as “thought leadership” initiative seeking to influence future developments: prompting LTE adoption by network operators in this particular case. Research wise, that means factoring a “confirmation bias” (a self-fulfilling prophecy effect) and
In the spirit of full disclosure, our customers asked about the availability of these applications as soon as we discussed our vision with them. So, we went on to form an extensive ecosystem initiative known as ng.connect to collaborate with third party partners and research institutions to “make things real”. I was involved in ng.connect as an internal consultant in its early days, mostly supporting the University Innovation Program on a project basis. As PARC’s, Palo Alto Research Center’s, Alan Kay put it, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”.
By the way, there are other related quotes out there. I came across Alan K’s one when reading Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators”. My favorite take was written by Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet:
Wayfarer, the only way
Is your footprints and no other.
Wayfarer, there is no way.
Make your way by going farther.
By going farther, make your way
Till looking back at where you’ve wandered.
“Develop foresight, to sense and understand the context around the dilemmas that challenge you. The goal is not to predict what’s going to happen but to provoke your creativity and prepare you for your biggest challenges, many of which are going to come in the form of dilemmas (…) leaders are sense makers, and they help others make sense- often by asking penetrating questions.” Get There Early by Bob Johansen.
Situational Awareness (SA) involves sensemaking. SA deals with critical information on what’s going on with a project as well as around it. Know-how, past experiences, lessons learned and best practices are of the essence. These work well when addressing incremental innovation. Though, our perception is also shaped by motivation, expectations, filters as well as organizational behaviors (culture, workstyle, decision making, roles and responsibilities, processes) and, possibly, conflicting priorities.
Taking things to new levels, disruptive innovation gets us immersed in what turn out to be game changing environments. In this specific context, creative destruction takes place and so do errors in judgment. Dealing with uncertainty, ambiguity and rapidly superseding cascading events can quickly render one’s viewpoint out of focus and even out of place.
Those just sticking to what they know because relying on one’s “assumptions and belief system” has consistently served they well, might now suffer from complacency, myopia and tunnel vision instead… experiencing blindsiding denial in the process. Clayton’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and Taleb’s “The Black Swan” and “Antifragile” are worth understanding.
Early awareness takes continuous listening and monitoring. Lets first think of project sensors gathering data and probes strategically placed to explore and discover clues which might not yet be visible. Leading indicators form a set of metrics that change in advance to a given event taking hold and can be used to raise alerts. Lagging indicators signal conditions in place for changes to take hold and become the new pattern.
Defining a narrow set of key performance indicators (KPI) improves visibility, saving us from clutter and information overload. KPIs can correlate and synthesize need-to-see data and can work with high level abstractions. These are usually delivered as “dashboards” that we can easily work with. Here is a “6 R” framework on KPI quality to mitigate distortions:
|Relevancy: validity and utility level in context.||Resolution: meaningful detail and abstractions.|
|Range: scope (fields) and scale dimensions.||Recency: lifecycle – growth, decay and refresh velocity, ephemeral vs. durable.|
|Robustness: complete or sufficient to support the analysis, portrays what’s being measured.||Reliability: data integrity and error free, factors signal to noise rate, accounts for outliers.|
The above is based on a “5 R” version I first learned on an MIT course about big data and social analytics.
I would also like to share that perfect data might be elusive and different quality levels can be applied. Hence, we talk in terms of things being “directionally correct” or “good enough” to keep things moving. In some other cases, over-engineering data by going beyond what’s really needed (data overload) can shortchange focus, efforts and budgets, which would be better allocated to other priority and/or pressing tasks. We can also face crunch time situations when we need to operate without benefiting from more data since delays would trigger higher risks.
Nonetheless, acknowledging that we need to make those kind of judgment calls does not excuse giving up on perfecting how to work with data. But, data alone will not deliver SA: this involves intertwining analysis and synthesis cycles as well as fine tuning sensemaking, which is an iterative and continuous improvement process.
Keeping cognitive biases at bay is a challenge. Subjective statements supporting adversarial stances such as “been there done that, it just doesn’t work” (even if that experience happened in a different context and a distant past) or the “not-invented here” (NIH) “not-one-of-us” syndromes can be easy to spot. But, there is a wide range of logical fallacies and “devil’s advocate” plays which can be perceived as reasonable even though the underlying logic is flawed.
I designed the above chart drawing from the all familiar Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWAT) model. As far as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is concerned, the one I get the most is about the difference between “clash” and “shift”. Basically, the clash’s bucket is there to outline ongoing mismatches and adversarial confrontations. Those having reached critical mass can be plotted in the “clash x critical” quadrant.
The “shift” column captures game changing items that are still evolving, where a succession of disruptive believes and assumptions reshape the context and prompt new environments that can render a project obsolete… shouldn’t we gear up in advance or course correct as needed. Looking into impact levels, correlations, outliers and then sorting things accordingly is part of the thought process.
The next FAQ relates to how to best address “core” vs. “beyond comfort zone”. A core competence is an existing skill and capability. This refers to traits worth leveraging and further developing provided that they continue to make a difference. Though, asking any person, organization or system to just focus on what they already know and do well might not necessarily be the best approach in today’s rapidly changing and commonplace uncertain environments. Therefore, the need for assessing what and how to continuously grow beyond a given comfort zone, and at what point that new capability can be rolled up as a core competency.
One other thought, let’s keep in mind that being aware and alert are good things. Taking no action or seating tight while waiting for the dust to settle happen to be options available to us, though paralysis by analysis or paralyzing fear are not.
What about “organic” vs. “inorganic”? The former entails opportunities that can be approached with existing competencies and, possibly, scaling by growing resources. The latter talks to efforts that involve collaborating (collaborating with customers and partners, coopetition with competitors) and even acquiring other ecosystem players in the value chain, mergers being another example.
Last but not least, perspective is of the essence and the journey is comprised by experiences (where we come from) situational awareness (where we are) and foresight (where we are headed). Antonio Machado (Spanish poet, 1875-1939) stated that we make our path as we walk, which anyone working on innovation projects can relate to. Delineating and providing a sense involves the following “journey points”, which I will discuss on another post on agile project planning:
Hope this remains of interest. As usual, I will welcome your comments and emails to continue our discussion.