Podcast 178 What Problem Are You Solving
It has been said that computers are great at generating questions. They just can’t figure out the right question. Engineers are problem solvers. That is 99% of their education. Thing is—are they solving the right problem?
Businesses have adopted the open office architecture for many years. It solves a business cost problem—get more people per square foot. They publicly justify it, though, as solving the people collaboration problem. But they create a people productivity problem. The signal v noise blog from BaseCamp called Library Rules
[https://m.signalvnoise.com/library-rules-how-to-make-an-open-office-plan-work-f9f6d69a2d4c] proposes an interesting solution. The open office has existed for centuries. And it works fantastically. It’s called a library. Check out library rules for your open office dilemma.
My grandkids naturally collaborate on iPads with Minecraft.
Solving technology problems is a lot of fun for engineers. They look at everything as a technology problem. But then there are problems that are not technology. Such as people problems. Take a look at Facebook’s problems right now. They are not technology; they are ethical.
A generation of engineers have worked hard at solving process control problems. I reflect on a chat I had with Schneider Electric process automation leaders Gary Freburger and Peter Martin about solving business problems in addition to technology problems.
What you fill your mind with is what you become. You can spend your life listening to bubble gum for the brain or stuff designed to stir up your emotions–or, you can fill your mind with positive thoughts and material designed to teach and expand you.
I listen to podcasts. At least an hour a day. I just finished one that is a must-listen. (Of course, other than mine 🙂
This is the podcast of Tim Ferriss (4-hour Work Week, Tools of the Titans, etc.). He just interviewed George Raveling in the most fascinating conversation I’ve heard in years.
Learn about his reading habits and how he takes notes. He gifted Ferriss with a number of books including one of my favorites–Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer-Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. I read it in the mid-60s and the ideas have formed much of my outlook. He wrote it in 1951, but it is just as relevant today.
Raveling was the first black basketball head coach in the PAC 8 (later PAC 10) at Washington State and then the first black head basketball coach in the Big 10 while at Iowa. Later he coached at USC. He became Global Director of Sports Marketing at Nike and was instrumental in signing Michael Jordan and beginning the Air Jordan dynasty.
He was born in Washington, D.C. and essentially orphaned at age 13. He tells the story of getting into a Catholic school, his many mentors, and how he wound up on the podium during Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.
For your own personal growth and development, you need to listen to this.
A couple of quotes:
“I’ve always had this theory that, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll always get what you want.”
“If it has to be, it’s up to me.”
Microsoft acquiring GitHub, the repository of many open source projects, on the surface appears almost as an oxymoron. However, as I’ve written previously about big companies and OPC UA standard big companies now find open source and interoperability to be sound business decisions rather than threatening to their proprietary hold on technology.
OPC and Standards
Two years ago in my Podcast Gary on Manufacturing 149 also found on YouTube, I asked the question why major suppliers of automation technology for manufacturing/production hated OPC UA—an industry information model standard. That is by far the most viewed YouTube podcast I’ve ever done. I followed up with Gary on Manufacturing 175 and YouTube to update the situation to current situation.
It is still getting comments, some two years later. Some guy (probably works for a big company?) even dissed me about it.
However, the industry witnessed an almost tectonic shift in the approach of these automation suppliers toward standards. First Siemens went all in on OPC UA. Then last November and following Rockwell Automation has had several deep discussions with me about the adoption of OPC UA.
Why? Users demand more interoperability. And using standards is the easiest way forward for interoperability. Suppliers have discovered that standards allow them to continue to push development of their “black boxes” of technology while allowing themselves and their customers to assemble systems of technology.
In my favorite news site, Axios, Ina Fried writes:
Microsoft announced this morning it is acquiring GitHub, the social network for coders as well as home to millions of different software projects, for $7.5 billion.
“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology. Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.”
— Satya Nadellla, CEO, Microsoft
Why it matters: This would further highlight the complete turnaround the company has already made in its stance toward source software.
Behind the scenes: While former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called Linux a cancer, the company has steadily warmed to open source, with Nadella embracing it with open arms.
GitHub plays into that strategy as it’s used by developers of all stripes to store their code projects. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2008 and is now home to 80 million software repositories. The company has been searching for a new CEO since last year.
Why it matters: Playing host to the world’s code doesn’t necessarily make Microsoft a more central player, but it could tightly integrate GitHub into its developer tools. Microsoft decided last year to shut down its own CodePlex software repository, bowing to GitHub’s popularity.
What about Windows? Though certainly a fan of its homegrown operating system, Microsoft’s main goal these days is to be in tight with developers and get them writing code that can live in its Azure cloud.
Microsoft even dropped the Windows name from Azure, reflecting the fact you don’t have to use Windows to work with Azure.
History lesson: Microsoft’s shift to embrace Linux is somewhat reminiscent of the earlier move IBM made to do so. Both companies are now seen as the mature veterans of the enterprise market, more interested in meeting corporate computing needs than pushing homegrown architectures.
This information was also posted on the Microsoft Blog.
Other Open Source Information
My other travels and interviews have yielded other companies who have invested heavily in open source.
Within the last two years I have had a few conversations with Microsoft about their open source code donations. While I am a little surprised at acquiring GitHub, perhaps this will lend financial stability to the platform (although we do have to note that large company investments do not always insure financial stability.
Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two companies I have more recently studied are both proud to be contributors to open source. A couple of years ago considerable time at one of the keynotes at Dell World to open source projects.
I think that some of these companies are realizing that they don’t have to invent everything themselves. Being good software citizens benefits them as well as the community.
I’ve published another podcast. Despite the many dystopian views of technology, automation, and robots in the future, it is human decision making and leadership that determines what will happen. Gaurav Bhalla’s “Awakening a Leader’s Soul” teaches a different perspective on leadership.
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The recent ARC Industry Forum attracted a record attendance affording writers and analysts like me more opportunities for meetings than there was time. Themes included collaboration, new edge devices, open automation, and many cool digital products.
You can catch my podcast or watch on YouTube.