A social network for midsize to large organizations to keep tabs on what’s going on. Email is unstructured, exclusive, and demands action. Intranets require administration, taking away valuable staff time. There has to be a better way.

Chatter. A new way to share and keep tabs on what’s going on. Write as much as you want. The first ‘X’ characters or newline will be the title, anything after that will require a click to see. Add a hashtag (#public is default) and off you go.

Hashtags with recent activity will appear in an ‘Active’ list. Tap to quickly view related posts and either check to keep tabs or swipe away to ignore.

Organize your tabs using cards/screens and swipe between them. Tap a hashtag to see all posts or tap a post to see more details.

DMs, user tagging, and group-only posts need more thought. It might not be in the best interest of Chatter to allow private conversation as it will diminish public chatter. Inclusive, not exclusive, but within the bounds of a trusted organization. Maybe a suggest function to suggest a user to check out a hashtag they might have ignored? A Psst? (too hard to pronounce)

Edit: This post was random notes I jotted down while at a PM retreat. Very soon after, I learned about a fairly new product in market called Slack.


“But Mostly Sunny”

“But Mostly Sunny”, the weather app with attitude.

Today’s forecast for Holland, MI:
Mostly cloudy and cold and miserable.
Sunrise: “If a tree falls in a forest…”

Smartwatch Job Description

The announcement of the Samsung Gear, Samsung’s attempt to one-up Apple in the innovation area IMHO, brought up some interesting questions about the design of a smartwatch. Most notably, what is a smart watch hired to do? What are its limitations and how can it be used best to take advantage of its differences to a smartphone?

To me, the Galaxy Gear seems to me like a typical feature-rich device. The 1.3MP camera is what stood out the most. Is there really a need for an even crappier camera than the one you have on your phone? It’s faced outwards from your wrist, meaning it’s not even for video calls a la Inspector Gadget.

I could go on about my thoughts on the Galaxy Gear, what Samsung should do, what Apple should do, but those are my opinions and not worth much salt. So here’s what I personally want my watch to do. The list is pretty intense so get ready for it.

  1. Tell me when.
    This could be many things. Tell me the time and date. Tell me when I get a call, a message, an @ mention. Tell me when it’s going to rain. Tell me what I’m listening to. Tell me when I should start mosey-ing over to my next meeting. Notifications, short and sweet. Keep individual apps to a minimum.  I don’t need an entire RSS reader on my watch. I’ll do that on my phone/tablet/computer. Keep out the clutter, and only show me what matters to me most, when I need to know about it.
  2. Act on them.
    Let me act on notifications quickly. Input methods would be simple taps and gestures, or voice control. An acknowledge or a remind me later. A quick reply. The Mailbox app’s gestures are really handy for simple action items like archive, delete, or remind me later. That would be perfect for a small touchscreen. Skip to the next song or podcast.

That’s it. The rest are bells and whistles.

* Update: I just noticed that this post was exactly a year from my previous post regarding critics urging Samsung to be a first-mover. How fitting.

Data for the Future (Updated)

I’ve been listening to this episode on The Talk Show on with John Gruber while working on KPIs for my day job and something hit me.

Why smart people make dumb decisions, especially regarding technology and the future.

There is no data for the future. The data that they have doesn’t support decisions for the future either. The data they do have shows how to milk additional revenue or profits from existing sources, but can’t pioneer new sources.

While reading the Auto Blog, I learned that any car that BMW makes needs to make a good business case. There needs to be data showing that a certain product will be successful in order to pursue it. But where is the data for innovation? If there is market data showing a certain product will succeed, it means somebody already did it. Just the fact that you have data means you are already late to the game.

Innovation comes in the lack of data.

Usually, a company will form with a visionary, an inventor, and idealist as the spearhead. They become successful and hire good managers to keep the company well maintained. When the innovator leaves the head position, usually it is filled by one of the managers below. But their entire success is based on maintaining and growing somebody else’s innovation, not on creating new ones. They might have some of the roots if they’ve been there from the start, but managers replace managers and innovation is lost. The organizational structure stifles innovation.

What seems like a better organizational structure is to separate the existing and growing products from the innovators. A team of innovators will pioneer a new product and grow it, hopefully to some degree of success. Some of the team will remain, along with existing managers to help grow the product. The rest of the innovators will create(or acquire) a new team to pioneer new products and then pass them off again. The executive board should have managing experience to grow existing products, but the focus should be on the future, not the past. That requires more innovators on the board, not managers.

Followup: Clay Christensen, How to Pick Managers for Disruptive Growth

One of the most vexing dilemmas that stable corporations face when they seek to rekindle growth by launching new businesses is that their internal schools of experience have offered precious few courses in which managers could have learned how to launch new disruptive businesses.  In many ways, the managers that corporate executives have come to trust the most because they have consistently delivered the needed results in the core businesses cannot be trusted to shepherd the creation of new growth.