I'm a believer in continuous learning. It's one of the reasons I believe college is overrated (a finite education period doesn't seem all that useful in a world where you can fall
behind in a blink of the eye). In addition to continuous learning, I believe in experiential learning (learning by doing). Simple example, if you want to learn how to play basketball go play some basketball. You'll learn a little by reading a book about basketball, but you'll learn a lot more by actually doing it. The same goes for programming, construction work, running a business, or pretty much anything.
In an effort to accomplish my goal I am trying to instill continuous and experiential learning into my every day life. I plan to learn a new piece of technology every week and post it on this blog. It can be something very simple, but must benefit me in some way.
About a month ago I was in TX for our family Christmas. I noticed something interesting among the group - most of the learning was being experienced by the older family members and the teaching was coming from the younger family members. I literally watched my 11 year old cousin teach my 50 year old uncle how to use his iPhone. My little brother was teaching my parents how to use the video camera. And another cousin was teaching my grandparents how to connect to the wifi on their new iPad. This was intriguing to me on many levels.
I thought about how backwards (and cool) it would have seemed if my grandma was teaching her grandkids something new about technology. I developed a goal that when I'm a grandparent to stay on top of technology to the point where I can at least teach my grandkids something new about the technology of their time. Maybe not know more than them, but at least know a few things they don't.
Craigslist, by putting classified ads online, turned billions of dollars in print revenue into millions of dollars in digital revenue. Newspapers are only now starting to bounce back, but will forever be shadows of their former selves. Kodak, The Yellow Pages, Blockbuster, and of course, the entire recording industry followed like lemmings off the same cliff. These companies all sold access to information-and the internet suddenly and permanently changed the rules about how and where information could be purchased and consumed. Consumers were better off and enjoyed a lot more value, value that incumbents weren't able to capture.
As it turned out, these industries were only the first casualties as the internet reshapes parts of our economy. The real change is just beginning. Education, health care and-somewhat surprisingly - manufacturing will be the next to morph as innovation continues to delete, invalidate, and rewrite the assumed rules that govern business and society. Individuals, companies, and governments will need to respond carefully.
Since everything is about to change, it's great that the mechanism that teaches us how to deal with change is up first. Whether we like it or not, education is about to be rebooted. Education, like news, video rentals, and records, is about delivering information. It's just that in education, delivery needs to be more interactive and in-depth. Not to say that inventing the mp3 file format was easy, but it was a purely technical problem. Education has been waiting for the right mixture of technology, design, personalization, and social acceptance to begin its transformation. It appears that with the internet and digital technologies that mixture is almost here at long last.
Contrast that with a mom friend of ours, Jen. Growing up in a very small town in eastern Canada, she claims she believed in Santa Claus until SHE WAS 12. With her 3 boys, she's going all out every year to keep the Santa Claus story alive as long as possible. Maybe because I'm a clueless sitcom TV dad, but all of these were new to me.
For one, Jen's put an Elf on the Shelf in each of her son's rooms. Brought out by parents after Thanksgiving, these elves sit and watch if kids are naughty or nice, acording to the accompanying storybook. They then disappear right before Christmas Eve, supposedly to return to the North Pole and report back to Santa what presents you deserve. A great Behavior Modification arrow in the parental quiver, albeit only for one month a year.
Jen also turned us onto the Web site, Portable North Pole. Enter your child's first name and answer a questions about whether he's been good or bad, and the site will display a personalized video message from Santa to him or her. There's also Santa Claus Live, with its 'live' streaming video from Santa's workshop.
Here's one I had heard of, since it was around when I was a kid: the venerable NORAD Tracks Santa program. Now in its 57th year,NORAD Tracks still regularly tops lists of the best Santa Claus programs around. Last year, more than 100,000 children called the toll-free 1-877-HI-NORAD line (719-556-5211 for callers outside of the U.S.) to track Santa's sleigh around the world.
Your business is a Project Centric Business that constructs large assets, so you buy a business solution that was designed for making cars - Is there a better way? If you construct ships, buildings, oil platforms, bridges, infrastructure, complex equipment etc. then your business processes are very different from a company that builds high volume products like cars or computers.
I find it very strange that ERP systems that started life as MRP solutions for the car industry are now seen as the obvious choice by CIOs for all types of businesses. Somehow the industry has managed to persuade people that ERP is the best solution for all business sectors. How can this be true? There are an infinite number of different types of business out there with massive differences in their business processes. The processes required to manage very large construction-type projects are polls apart from the processes required to make computers.
I spoke on a webinar about this topic. The below webinar video explores the differences in these business process requirements and discusses the idea that traditional ERP solutions are the wrong choice for project centric businesses.