Baltic Boston

rickhutley.jpgWeek 6: 25-29 Feb: After the eventful weekend with Peter Davies it was time to head for Boston. But before departing on Tuesday morning I organised a lunch meeting with my internship supervisor at Cisco’s IBSG group, Rick Hutley, who is Global Head of the Innovations Team. Atfer lunch Rick brought me to Cisco City in San Jose. I couldn’t believe how immense their campus is – there’s something like 60 large building along one stretch of road! I got to meet David Evans and some other members of IBSG. I also got some insight into one of the groups projects – The Connected Bus. Dave recommended a few books for me to read:
– “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, by Malcolm Gladwell
– “The Wisdom of Cowds“, by James Surowiecki
– “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”, by Malcolm Gladwell

mit.jpgOn Tuesday we arrived in Boston and acclimatised quickly before a busy week commenced at Harvard and MIT. On Thursday 28th we went to MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center. Bill Aulet who presented to the global scholars in Kansas City during week 3 hosted us at MIT. Bill gave us a presentation on Business Planning which addressed every angle from writing an initial plan to various types of pitching them. Regards altruistic business approaches Bill suggested harvard.jpgthat “if you want to do good, do well first!” He also gave us a template for examining the value of a business proposition – which coincidentally was quite similar to that described to me previously by David Perry. Basically this consisted of analysing 5+ aspects of the business based on the opportunities and risks associated with each, including: Market (e.g. size), Execution (e.g. team, plan), Sustainable Competitive Advantage (value-add, gross margin %), Financials (e.g. ROI), Others/Misc (e.g. ethicaly, political). One very interesting statistic Bill quoted was that startups are increasingly likely to be successful for each member added to the team up to a total of 5, when the chance of success decreases again! regards business plans, he advised us to ask ourselves the following insightful questions before dedicating ourselves to a startup:
– Does it convince you?
– Am you happy spending the next 5-7 years working on the project?
– Does it convince your potential co-founders, family, customers?
– Can you explain it to your mother?!

ideo_logo.gif Bill introduced to IDEO, a design consultancy based in Palo Alto, California, that helps design products, services, environments, and digital experiences. In addition IDEO is reknown for its unique approach to innovation. In 2000, the firm was the subject of the “Deep Dive” episode of ABC’s Nightline; they redesigned a shopping cart in five days. Bill showed us a recording of this show and based a very interesting discussion on innovation around it. A couple of points to come from the discussion: 1) that IDEO’s appraoch is fine for design but not as a management technique; 2) heterogeneity is key in a team to facilitate innovation.

robinchase.jpggoloco.gifOn Thursday afternoon we were hosted at Harvard by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. They gave us a brief summary of their plans for us over the coming week. Following this we had a seminar with Robin Chase from GoLoCo, Zipcar and Meadow Networks. I’ve been a huge fan of Robin’s concepts ever since I saw a video of her presenting at the infamous TED conference series. We had a fascinating conversation about her startups, her business approaches, her views on congestion charging and green tech, as well as her concepts on mesh networks which I am particularly intrigued by!!

johnakula.jpgOn Friday 29th we spent the day at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences again. In the morning we had a talk with John Akula, a Senior Lecturer of Law at the Sloan School of Management at MIT. John framed an interactive seminar around the general issues of changing jobs, with particular focus on associated legal constraints including: 1) At-will employment; 2) Trade Secrets; 3) Duty of Loyalty; 4) Non-competition agreements. We analysed two case studies with these legal issues in mind.

rickharriman.jpgFriday afternoon was spent studying creativity with Rick Harriman from Synectics. He gave a seminar on an approach to creativity which uses random objects and trains of thought to come at problem areas from completely unique angles. This approach is something I’ve come across a few times previously during training with the Cambridge MIT Institute, and also with NICENT. The phrase I usually use to describe this method is “Reverse Invocation”. Rick highly recommended the TRIZ journal.

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