Category Archives: Blatant self promo

Can We Agree on Something?

In  the old days, that question was not so important. If we could not agree, one could find a way to impose one’s will. So it was that kings, barons, etc. emerged on the scene. But as time went on, a strange thing happened. It became obvious that exchanged knowledge could generate innovation. Innovation led to increased value added. That made folks rich. And who doesn’t want to get rich?

Suddenly it became more important to figure out how to get to agreement. Flash forward today. We are still pondering whether negotiation skill sets can be transferred, except through experience.

And so it goes, that I toddle off to our first day of international negotiation training to find out if I can transfer what I have learned over the years.

Wish me luck!


Conflict Management, Anyone?

We finished the first day of our conflict management course yesterday and  had lots of fun doing so.

Err … conflict management, fun? Absolutely!

We tend to think of conflict in negative terms, but deeper reflection about it raises a few interesting ideas

  • it is everywhere – and while we live, cannot be elimiated
  • it may, but does not necessarily lead to crisis from destructive behavior
  • we can get better at handling conflict, as well as managing the stresses that it causes

You might think of this as the gamification of conflict. After all, do we not revel in the stresses that games (like sports or gambling) cause us? Looking at conflict from this  perspective enables us to take a more constructive and nuanced role in groups!

Onward to day 2!

Sunday Dinner Coconut Poached Salmon From Goop


Yeah, Goop. I know. You might have issues with Gwyneth.  Like getting the spelling of her first name right. And that obsesion with detox is a bit over the top. But she does offer a pretty simple recipe for poaching salmon in coconut milk.  And that comes in handy when your cooking has gotten into a bit of a rut. Like mine!

I thought I might try it tomorrow evening  — just for fun. That would mean a white wine. Yes! An excuse for buying some riesling! Stay tuned!

Along with the poaches salmon? Some steamed broccoli? roasted garlic mashed potatoes?.

Errr …  BBC food has a recipe for baking salmon in coconut milk  that might pack some more flavor!

Hmmm … choices! I will definitely get back to you on this one.

Estonia in 2035

We cannot know what the future will be. But we can and should maximize what the future will offer our children.   So how can we do that? Can we do it at all? Good questions!

Let’s think about Estonia in the not too distant future – 2035.  How could we maximize the opportunities our kids will have then? Estonia is a small country, with a tiny population and limited natural resources. Estonia also lacks widely shared prosperity. While some folks are well to do, many Estonians live poorly. What does our future look like? How could we maximize what the future will offer our kids?

I would argue that maximizing our children’s welfare means achieving more widespread – shared – prosperity. So how do we achieve that?  Given our tiny size, we will need to do it by producing and selling high value added products and/or services in global markets. Like what? Well, we can rule out natural resources (oil, gas, etc). We don’t have them. We can also rule out becoming an industrial or manufacturing giant as well (not enough workers).

So what do we have? We do have human resources. Smart and motivated people and a history of placing high value on education. We could use our education system, partnering with other institutions (private and public), to maximize what we can get from our human resources.  We can generate new knowledge that leads to innovation on a systematic basis. We can become a global innovation center. and generate shared prosperity by producing and selling that to the world.

Assuming for a moment that this is the way to go, how would we achieve that? Good question. The first step might be to ask, where does innovation come from? Are there any processes and institutional structures that can help us generate more and better innovation? In other words, are there models to use in prioritizing our investments to build and operate such a system?

We cannot be sure. But if such a model can be developed, we should experiment to make it happen. Or we should admit that our commitment to the future is less than we might want our kids to believe.  And the good news is that a lot of people are thinking and writing about this topic. We are beginning to understand more clearly where new knowledge comes from, how to match enhanced capacities and market demand, how to build prototypes and create business models that are “agile”. And technology offers us new ways to connect more easily and more effectively. And we are aware of the various skills needed to make such a system function smoothly. We do not have to come up with models to test from scratch.

I will be posting on this theme on and off over the next several months. And in these posts, I will lay out what I think is a reasonable strategy to build this model.

Stay tuned!

BTW, in certain respects, Estonia is already gaining attention as an innovation center — mainly in certain niches within the tech world.

Any Innovations in 2017?

Great Satell writes

2017 was a strange year, for many reasons. Politically, of course, it revealed things below the surface of our society that few of us realized were there. In terms of technology it has been seemingly quiet, with no real blockbuster launches of new companies or products, but under the radar big things are brewing.

Here are a few

IBM announced a 50 qubit quantum computer, up from just 5 a few years ago, promising quantum supremacy in 2018, at least in the lab. The steady success of Amazon Alexa and Google Home point to a serious shift to voice interfaces. JCESR came up with four prototypes for next generation batteries.

And there is one more innovation that popped up on the radar screen that may become the one we remember from this year. Want to hear the story? Here we go!!

Going back to the 1920’s a basic fact of human inclination was proven. People want to participate in creating value. During the 1920’s that translated into buying publicly traded shares of stock. Errr … as we all know, that came to a rather bad end. There was a bubble and crash, followed by rather onerous but effective securities laws that put a damper on things.

The added expense that securities laws imposed on the market was ok for the 120th century. After all, the trick was to get big, and so it made sense that only big firms would be raising capital on public stock exchanges.  It took huge work, lots of capital and time to get to the point of doing an initial placement offering (IPO) on a public exchange.

But things began to change in the 1990’s. With tech, one could get into markets without a lot of capital. “Startups” went from fad to mainstream. We saw 2+ something millionaires and then billionaires. With that came a new class of investors — seed and early stage investors who pick winners form pre-prototype ventures. We all read about it, but relatively few folks played this game. It was mainly for rich people — because of securities laws.

Then along came crowd funding (Kickstarter etc.). Lots of people thought this would be a fad. But crowdfunding opened the door to participating in value added processes. Remember that basic human urge? Crowdfunding was a step forward to satisfying it. And it took off. Kickstarter now has a platform in Tokyo.

But crowdfuning has a limitation. If you pitch in a few bucks, you can get a reward. But it is a one off reward. You do not get ongoing participation.. And we know from the 1920’s that people want to participate.

So it is no huge surprise that with crypto, initial coin offering (ICO) markets are exploding. Are these scams?Most are. Will the ICO market crash? It is highly likely to see a serious correction. Will it disappear? I think not.

I think not because ICO’s meet a basic human demand — to participate in small but exciting new ventures. For that reason, I see the ICO explosion of 2017 as one of the biggest innovations of the year. Stay tuned on this one!

And that illustrates a funny thing about innovation. We won’t know if I am right for a few years. So it goes!

Are You Innovative Yet?

This is an eye opening bit of data

Corporate entities as noteworthy as Disney, Ogilvy, Microsoft and Coca Cola have shuttered their innovation labs in recent years. Why? They simply don’t work. In fact, according to a CapGemini report from 2015, an expert predicted 90 percent of innovation labs fail.

Innovation labs don’t work for the simple reason that they do not understand innovation as a process. Rather they equate innovation with coming up with a great new idea (GNI). But GNI’s have no value unless they plug into an ongoing exploration of what people want to do, and how to help them do it better.

Bitcoin Went Nuts. Should You Follow?

My adventure with crypto took a wild urn over the last several weeks. And it is the wildness of this market that I find to be entertaining.

To recap. Just six months ago, when I told folks that I was interested in “ICO’s” most looked at me like I was nuts. The concept and the market was very obscure. Now it seems that there are major conferences around the globe every day where all sorts of folks gather to try to figure out what the hell ICO’s are and how to use them. A major global market popped up, seemingly out of nowhere. That is wild!

Meanwhile, for years, crypto currencies were for geeks only. They were too weird and complicated for anyone except the Winklevoss brothers. Back  in November 2014, I was given .03  BTC as a promotion, which was worth around $10. I forgot about it. Now my digital wallet says that .03 BTC is worth around $118. And most of that appreciation happened over the last 6 months. My exchange says that 1 BTC is worth around $16,000 — and that is after its value fell around a thousand dollars or so.  Ethereum and Litecoin have also appreciated from near nothing to hundreds for one coni. And there are many other digital coins out there that are going nuts as well. That is wild!

Most people I know are saying that this is a bubble. Bitcoin will come back down to earth. Regulators will strangle the ICO market. Things will go back to normal. But will they?

One thing is for sure. Bitcoin is not acting at all like it was supposed to. It was supposed to be used for peer to peer transactions. Forget that. It is now mainly just a store of digital value. And why is it valuable? There is no reason except that enough people — for the moment — believe in its future. They have no idea what that future is, but they believe in it. If that belief cracks — and it might — BTC will suffer a sudden drop in price.

That might happen. It might happen today. And it might not. No one knows. And that is pretty wild too. So I am not putting any big money in crypto. At the same time, I am not taking my tiny investment out either. It is too much fun to do that! And I am involved in working out several ICO ideas. Not “get rich quick schemes”, but ICO business models that enable ongoing user participation in a digital ecology.  The first one may launch in the new year. And I am thinking about building an ecology myself.

So hold on to your hat! The wild world of crypto, fueled by irrational belief in something that no one really understands, has gone mainstream. And the real driving force behind it is that at the end of the day, we all want to participate in value creation. We don’t want to just be consumers.

So are we in a crypto bubble? Probably. But I do not think that crypto will disappear even after the bubble pops. It is too much fun!