Archive for the 'Thoughts' Category

Apple Products = Commoditized

Apple products, more specifically the iPods and iPhones, have started to feel like a commodity to me. With this week’s $200 drop in price of the iPhone (I don’t own one and I don’t see a need to) and the new line up of iPods, I simply don’t get that “oh gosh” feel anymore. I think alot of people would agree that “the special feeling” about owning a brand new iPod or iPhone has dropped like the recent stock market.

As Apple pushes out new generations of iPods and iPhones in record breaking time and having their eyes on revenue dollars, it’s no longer fun to stay up to date with the latest Apple gadget.

The Janitor’s Wife

I found out today a close friend of mine at work, the janitor that comes by daily at 5pm to collect trash and recyclables, that his wife has recently passed away. From what I’ve observed in the past three years, he is an easy going guy with a quiet demeanor who utters the words “Hey Chief” every time I run into him.

Even though the number of words from our longest conversation is probably shorter than the previous paragraph, I think of him as a dear friend. When he broke the news to me, it felt as if he considered me as a good friend as well. I couldn’t begin to imagine what he’s been going through, having lost a love and a friend that’s been with him for 28 years in marriage. At that moment, tasks that was so urgently awaiting my attention didn’t matter much anymore…

As I stood there on the 4th floor balcony along with my friend staring at the ground floor, I found myself at a lost for words. I reminded myself from a recent article that sometimes you just need to be there for people who are hurting. Because, there is not much else you can do when words fail.

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader

How can you become a more effective leader for your team? I’ve compiled the following 5 tips based on what I’ve learned from different individuals and from simple observations during work and everyday life:

  1. Shut up and listen – I can’t stress this point more. How can you listen to your team when all you want to do is listen to yourself talk? Concerns and ideas from your team members are extremely vital to the success and overall functioning of the team as a whole. You have two ears and only one mouth, so spend more of your time listening then speaking.
  2. It’s okay to be wrong – From his talk at a TED conference, Sir Ken Robinson speaks of how we’re trained to be afraid of being wrong. Well, don’t be. Being wrong is always an integral part of achieving greatness. This is something we can learn from children. Children have wild dreams because they’re creative and aren’t scared to be wrong. So dream, try, and be wrong.
  3. a.k.a Facilitator – All leaders are effective facilitators. For example in meetings, the main job of the leader is to facilitate discussion. Using an agenda, the leader make sure the team stays on track and subdue irrelevant discussion. Most importantly, a leader asks the right questions. You team is able to and will make the right decisions, so just set the path and get out of the way.
  4. Create a safe environment – If your team members feel safe, they will work happily.  They will be more wiling to share ideas and thoughts, praise or criticize, and be willing to take risks.
  5. Don’t act like you’re the expert – The fact is, the most recent college grads will be more up-to-date and technically advanced then you are.  You’re the leader, your duty includes an ability to work with people and lead the team effectively.  Your experience and people skills are what’s valuable to the team.  So don’t let your ego get in the way and be open to learning new things from the younger “experts”.

Measurements

A great quote from Guy Kawaski from his talk,

A woman is often measured by the things she cannot control.  She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve.

By where she is flat or straight or round.  She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers.  But all the outside things don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside.

And so if a women is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become because as every woman knows, measurements are only statistics, and statistics lie.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t mean to be a sexist here by wanting to measure women.  I just wanted to point out what Guy says is completely contrary to what the society is doing.  And I think that society can learn to be less “shallow.”

WWAD?

What Would Apple Do?

Due to the universal recognition of the Apple iPod and the company’s incredibly design-savvy product line, a lot of people are asking the same question. Just this morning a friend of mine, Pete from datawrangling.com, emails me the following:

Had an idea for a blog post, you’re a design guy so maybe you could do a better job with it…

I was trying to put my spare tire back into my trunk last night, and it was a real pain getting it screwed in properly. So I thought to myself, how would Apple have made this differently? Heck, what if they design an entire car?

I’m flattered that Pete would refer me to a design guy because since I’m just a hobbyist. But I think Pete’s got a few interesting points there. iPod and the soon-to-be-out iPhone are both revolutionary devices. Apple takes an existing product type, the mp3 player or the typical cell phone, and revamp the whole thing through the integration of great UI, simplistic design, and smart marketing and branding.

So just What Would Apple Do differently with an ordinary thing like a car? An iCar. In the vehicle world, things have been dormant for the longest time. Sure, there’s focus on fuel efficiency, but what about the whole UI side of things? For example:

  • Why can’t we have the ability to change a spare tire without any tools except for our bare hands?
  • Can we reduce the number of buttons on the dash for controlling the hvac, radio, navigation system, etc…?
  • There are separate pedals for acceleration (gas) and braking, can we change that?

If you have any other improvements, leave a comment because I’d love to hear about them.

Faster Still

Aren’t people tired of the constant headlines of faster microprocessors? I mean, most personal computers nowadays have enough processing power to fry toast, and yet I can bet that 90% of the people out there don’t even need all that power. How about instead of focusing on speed, focus on things that actually matter like power reduction and lower heat generation?

Imagine a simple reduction of 1 wattperhour per computer at about 200 millions personal computers in the world, we’d save about 200 million watts per hour.

Friday Morning Thought

From the How Toyota Can Save Your Life… At the Hospital manifesto on ChangeThis.com,

Another major foundation of the Toyota Production system is “Standard Work.” In most non-lean nvironments, we observe and hear about employees each doing things their own way, because no standard has been identified or because there is no oversight to make sure standards are followed. This was true at a General Motors factory I worked in during the mid-1990’s and it’s true in every hospital this author has observed. The lack of Standard Work leads to waste.

I think the point that resonates with me the most is in last sentence, “a lack of standard work leads to waste.”  Having worked in 15+ different jobs (part-time, intern, and full-time) in my 25 years of life, I have seen and experienced almost every type of system at work.  And it is frustrating to me when I’m stuck at a place that does not value “standard work”, meaning that there’s no standard to reach for and everyone is left to fend for themselves.  I hate that.  In environment such as this, oftentimes your best workers will either quit or become influenced to the mediocre culture and become complacent due to a lack of accountability.