Monday, December 28, 2015

The Future of Auto Transportation

Big news over the past week concerning the future of auto transportation with Google and Ford pairing up.

According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California. Google has 53 test vehicles on the road in California and Texas, with 1.3 million miles logged in autonomous driving. 
By pairing with Ford, the search-engine giant avoids spending billions of dollars and several years that building its own automotive manufacturing expertise would require. Earlier this year, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company was looking for manufacturing partners that would use the company’s self-driving system, which it believes could someday eliminate the roughly 33,000 annual deaths on U.S. roads.

 This is terrific news, as it is indicative of the kinds of partnerships needed to create the supply ecosystem for the future of transportation, and the speed at which this is happening.

We continuing our work to pull together all the stakeholders from public and private sectors so as we can all work together to orchestrate the design, develop and delivery of the best possible transportation solutions and experiences for urban regions and their constituents.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

From Firms--To Platforms

The Evolution of How We Organize Production and Distribution

Technology and the culture of work is rapidly evolving to allow us to organize our work and our production much, much differently than was the norm during much of the twentieth century. It is becoming a growing consensus that much of the world's production will shift to platforms in the coming decades.
This is a continuation in my ongoing series for orienting the builders, backers and connectors that will belong to the Glia Revolution of the Future of Regional Auto Transportation.
This post looks at platforms as the new organizational structure.

What Is A Platform?

At its simplest, a platform is digital medium which lets others connect to it. Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, Amazon, are some examples, there are many more that are allowing a high scalability, and meritocratic approach to getting things done, that also removes the bureaucracy and hierarchy that is crippling  many firms, and their necessary ability to adapt and innovate. 
As Lee McCabe, the new head of travel and education strategy for Facebook puts it, in this excellent interview with McKinsey & Company:

 Well, first I should say that I understand it’s not easy. It won’t happen overnight. For the first time, technological capability is actually exceeding organizational capability. Companies now have the technological capabilities required to take better advantage of big data, which really just means better targeting. But organizationally it’s challenging because most traditional players are siloed. And then there’s the issue of data science. If a big travel company—an airline or a cruise company or a hotel—doesn’t have a really good data-science department, it’s missing out.
If you look at a typical OTA, it has a pretty clean organizational structure. There’s one department looking at supply data and one department looking at demand. These two departments work together very closely, and mobile is now the backdrop for everything they do. The groups talk to each other every day, and they are constantly looking to decrease friction. But in typical travel suppliers, there’s far more ambiguity in the organizational structure. They often have multiple brands, and those brands are split into different regions, and those regions have different departments. Sometimes there are several people with the same title—head of commerce or head of mobile, for instance. It can become ambiguous and cumbersome. So a clean organizational structure is paramount. You need to be able to move fast and build things and move things around because the mobile environment itself is fast.

McCabe is comparing the difference between the speed and agility of the platform enabled OTA (online travel agencies) and that of the traditional structure of old travel companies.
Platform based organization are bred to cross-fertilize knowledge and data, to be learning platforms, whereas the culture of too many old style firms, is that of hoarding and politics around knowledge, information and data.

In a business landscape where the ability to use mobile and apps to compete, it's increasingly difficult for these old organizational structures and cultures to compete with the agility of platform driven business models.

Acclaimed complexity and organizational theorist +Esko Kilpi , in a Medium post from last summer, From Firms, To Platforms, To Commons, writes:

Work systems differ in the degree to which their components are loosely or tightly coupled. Coupling is a measure of the degree to which communication and power relation between the components are predetermined and fixed or not. Hierarchies and processes were based on tight couplings. The new post-industrial platforms are based on loose couplings following the logic of the Internet. Some people will work on one platform every now and then, while others will work simultaneously and continuously on many different platforms. The worker makes the decision about where, with whom and how much to work. The old dichotomy of employers and employees is a thing of the past.

This allows a much different, more rapid approach to problem solving and value creation, with leaner transaction costs, than that of the bureaucratic firm. 

Looking further still, into a seminal post, The Hacker Ethic of Work, we get an ever deepening look at the "case for non-bureaucratic organizations:
Clear signs tell us that, today, organizations that embraced a post-industrial transformation and defeated the bureaucracy and rigidity of linear business models are the masters of the market. According to Javi Creus (the passage is taken from PentaGrowth report) these companies “integrate more resources from different origins in their processes, they take better advantage of their users’ capacities, and share tools and resources to enable others to develop their own businesses and lifestyles” and “the value of these organisations is not their volume, but the amplified view of what is available for them […] their advantage is based on scope, not on scale and […] generate value beyond what they need to capture in order to sustain and evolve”.
This also hints at my own Smart Swarms approach to orchestrating value creation, as innovation, team work, and customer experiences.

"Design Thinking" is baked into the networks DNA, better clarified here from the same article:

In the first place, the hacker attitude should be applied to the discovery and understanding of the market. In this sense, companies must be very careful not to fall into the trap of the protection of competitive advantages and incremental innovation. These safe havens cannot last long at today: it will be more important to focus efforts on continually creating tangible value for users. As the “Lean Startup” method can provide a good starting point, “The Four Steps to The Epiphany“- the seminal book from Steve Blank which is a bible for  frugal and effective entrepreneurs – provides guidance for the so-called “Customer Development” process, that wikipedia effectively defines as: “a scientific approach that can be applied by startups and entrepreneurs to improve their products success by developing a better understanding of their consumers. Primary to the concept is a balanced relationship between developing a product and understanding the customer”
A complement of the customer driven innovation point of view can come then from Design Thinking: an approach that is aimed at designing products and innovations around problems and needs of real people (herean old post in which I tried to clarify how Design Thinking and Lean approaches such as Customer Development can coexist).
Such an approach will increase the ability of the company to design and truly understand the needs and objectives of users and, ultimately, will help companies design services that are more meaningful, appreciated and adopted.
Within the context of re-inventing how we "supply transportation" to cities and regions, and moving away from the culture of mass production fueled traffic congestion, the platforms and culture, bringing together the complex array of technology, data and services, becomes all the more important.

+Rawn Shah , writing in his Forbes Magazine article, Moving From Mass Production Supply Chains To Market Networks, observes that:
The successful future organization is one that excels in its strategic capability to orchestrate networks or ecosystems, whenever needed around the context of a job to be done, and to deliver sustainable value creation for all partners involved.  On the micro scale, this is the capability to build dynamic teams that collaborate as needed around a job activity or project. On the macro scale, it is about many individuals and organizations partnering to solve large-scale problems in dynamic multi-stakeholder ecosystems.
Which is as perfect a description of the Glia mission as there is!

+John Hagel , Co-Chairman of Deloitte's Center for the Edge, writes in this recent Wall Street Journal article, Manufacturers Reassess Role In Value Chain:

Some manufacturers are rethinking products as platforms, with each platform the center of an ecosystem in which third-party partners can build modular add-ons. Platforms are often thought of as software, such as computer operating systems, but platforms can also encompass nondigital objects, such as thriving aftermarkets that exist to customize and personalize automobiles for both utility and aesthetics.

This is all the more important, as the automobile continually evolves into autonomous operation, a complex compilation of hardware, software, design and data, to become a component in Transportation as a Service, rather than that of an end unit in mass production sales.

As Glia, and our mission to "Design, Develop and Deliver The Future of Regional Auto Transportation, building from the 'ground up' off of a platform, to organize the third party partners in our transportation ecosystem become the only logical, and business wise way to start and grow our social-business venture.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Orchestrating and Leading the Future of Regional Auto Transportation

The Future is Auto Transportation Ecosystem Solutions

The Glia Transportation Revolution

Our Mission

To design, develop, and deliver the solutions and experiences of the future of regional auto transportation.

Our Vision

As a society, we are at a turning point for our future. We believe it is crucial for the health and vitality of our cities--humanity's greatest creation!--that we move beyond the constraints of the 20th century economic models and means of production in order to create and develop a new era of distributed  wealth and prosperity.
As Glia,. our collective purpose is to be the premier organizational platform in bringing together the multitude of skill and passion that exists across the variety of public and private sectors, and together with our regional stakeholders, co-create the elegant solutions and experiences for the individual and the collective transportation needs of our cities and regions. 
Our passion leads us to provide more than the future of our transportation needs, we want to collectively provide the inspiration and show the way on how the private and public sectors can work together to create a beautiful and distributed economic future. 

Our Business Synopsis

This is currently a two trillion dollar business (the auto industry) that is unquestionably going to go through a tectonic shift. There is a tremendous economic and social gain to be had in providing cities and regions with the platforms, business models, expertise and vision in creating the future of auto transportation.  
  • The past cannot build the future (the Innovators Dilemma)
  • Technology is rapidly evolving to deliver personalized hardware/software products and experiences, at a "network scale" for affordable costs. 
  • The consumer is evolving rapidly to expect these services and products. 
  • The very nature of the individually owned auto as transportation is changing. 
  • The mass production and growth sales of the auto legacy model, is creating ever increasing congestion and infrastructure costs for cities and regions. 
  • The traditional auto industry's growth model, and the needs of cities/regions and their citizens are at odds.
  • Organizational and business models are rapidly evolving and emerging, that when combined with evolving technologies and consumer trends and needs, allows for a much different framework for the auto industry, and its relationship to needs of consumers and city-regions. 
  • These new models should be predicated on providing "auto transportation solutions and experiences" rather than gross sales of individual units.
  • The necessary ecosystem exists to provide the new model for personalized transportation solutions and experiences, but it needs to "Gravitate" around a new platform model
  • Cities and regions can be at the forefront of developing the platforms and "gravitational pull".
  • Glia is to provide the "operating system", expertise, leadership and vision for the platforms and ecosystems. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Envisioning How We Organize For The Future of Transportation

From the Drucker Society Europe Blog, The Moment of Truth, by Isabella Mader. 

While a Glia platform for the Future of Regional Auto Transportation may not operate as described in Mader's blogpost, what we can take away from this for our purposes is that we have now recognized ways to radically re-imagine and design our organizations. This is part of what we called "Network Capitalism", as a next generation of capitalism, and how we create and distribute wealth, and how platform organized ecosystems can solve problems and create value in ways the traditional public corporation can not. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blockchain and the Smart Contract

Blockchain and the Smart Contract

A neat piece on how IBM is developing their own version of the blockchain, and smart contracts. 

Smart contracts are computer programs that can automatically execute the terms of a contract. In 2001, legendary cryptographer Nick Szabo spoke of smart contracts that solved the problem of trust by being self-executing, and having property embedded with information about who owns it. For example, the key to a car might operate only if the car has been paid for according to the terms of a contract. Now, Szabo expects emerging “Bitcoin 2.0” smart contracts platforms like Ethereum to have a disruptive impact on financial and legal systems, comparable to that of Bitcoin itself. “[E]ventually more so, since Ethereum’s more flexible and general language can facilitate a much wider variety of commercial and other formal relationships,” said Szabo.

This is just a glimmer of how the  blockchain will be an important building block to the future of auto transportation as we're envisioning.