John Snow, Missing 4’s and War on Plastic

Another week, can you even believe we are half way through the year. I had set a reminder for myself today (30th June) to review some life goals – was happy to see significant progress on most of them.

There is something incredibly moving about crowds operating in unison. Mexican waves, lighters at concerts are great examples of the uplifting art form that large scale cohesion can produce. It’s probably the dramatic contrast of the everyday conflicts we see between people at large – to see them synergized is beautiful. I highly recommend you join the next opportunity to be part of “Crowd-Art”.

My good friend Warren invited me for a concert at the Madison Square Garden  this week at the Sapient suite. While the soulful crooning of Sam Smith was great, it was also fantastic to watch  the modern day version of lighters at concerts -apparently called lumies (sp?).


Interest Rates,Regulation and Technology…

If you have been following HTNW for the past few weeks, we continue to follow regulations/policies  and their (intended and un-intended) impact on the market and economy. We will continue to draw comparisons with pre-2008 and track the role technology will play.

I recently came across a great example of federal regulators using technology to track improper rounding. After using data science to study earnings reports, Fed regulators found the number 4 conspicuous by it’s absence in the tenth place of companies earnings report across the board. Essentially, anything with 5 in the tenths place can be rounded up ($5.5 becomes $6 while $5.4 goes to $5). This “rounding error” helps produce better EPS numbers. I was excited to see the role of regulatory tech in preserving checks and balances in the system.

With the interest rate, keep an eye on those credit card bills. But on the other hand, this might be a good time to open that second bank account – go get those incentives banks are offering to open accounts. Here’s a comparative analysis from Nerd Wallet.

Who blinks first?  For those of you following the stand off between US and China on tariffs, the news that the US back down from the harshest measures  should come as no surprise. Was it just goodwill or was it influenced “slightly” by the yuan devaluation (at it’s 6 month low).Devaluation of yuan increases competitiveness of exports, off-setting the tariff hikes.

This is a chess game worth following in the next few months.

Design Thinking (No, it’s not connected with technology)

Which toolkit makes it easier to detect missing parts and locating them easier?

Do we apply the same thoughtfulness to our work – making it easier for ourselves and our colleagues, and clients?



Frightful Five – The World’s Next Oligopoly

We have been tracking the world’s next oligopoly – a pervasive and and ubiquitous rule which will make OPEC look like perfect competition. Open any business publication and half the page is usually about the Frightful Five (Alphabet, Apple, Amazon,Microsoft, Facebook).

Here’s some food for thought on that topic –

June 19th Article in WSJ “CVS Adds Home Delivery With Help From Post Office”

June 23rd Article  in WSJ “Trump Looks to Privatize the Postal Service”

June 28th Article in WSJ – “Amazon drives deeper into delivery”

Great move by CVS to counter Amazon. But if Amazon (eventually) ends up owning the entire postal service network on (say) the East Coast, not sure how effective the CVS strategy will be. The rules of strategy are changing and how…

Blast from the Past

Often conversations with clients circle around emerging technology and start with data and visualization concepts. It’s interesting to explore body language and their interest levels perking up as we move away from data to AI, Machine Learning, RPA (the sexy stuff).

I’ve often had conversations with our Data Practice lead, Gavin Kaimowitz around the need to create consistent organizational data framework in order to leverage technology.  Increased interest from clients on the Sapient’s data visualization tool (Synapse) is a sign that the industry is increasingly focused on the view point that “Unless you see it – you can’t fix it” .

I thought it worthwhile to share this great story around data and visualization.

Circa 1854 – London is in the grip of an outbreak of cholera. Dr. John Snow (no connection to Winterfell – might be worth a check with starts plotting out all the individual cases on a map of London.

To cut a long story short, the visualization provides a pattern and eventually it is discovered that the outbreak is the result of a specific incident involving a a nearby cesspit where a baby’s nappy contaminated with cholera had been dumped. Are there such data problems (opportunities) in your organization and can visualization help solve these?

cholera map

Last week we spoke about the impact of liberal arts on technology. Morphing that idea into the corporate world – I believe that the best technology ideas are actually sitting outside the technology department. And data visualization will be one of the forces that will unlock that creativity.

Might be worthwhile spending the next few minutes to think about how well we understand the systems, processes, stewardship and structure of that lifeline of our business – data.

Musings on Leadership…

Last week included thoughts about challenging ourselves as leaders – pushing boundaries and not worrying about the occasional failure. Of course, writing about leadership and spartan discipline to that covenant are two very different things. For all of you following Tesla’s production deadline challenges, here’s an article on Elon Time.

A couple of thoughts – the first, that article is the answer to my question from last week. Do we fear failure too much as leaders (even at the cost of success)? And the article is a grim reminder of the price of failure as leaders. It got me thinking that one of the must-haves for leadership (also happens to be my favorite  word in the dictionary) – “F-O-R-T-I-T-U-D-E”.


The ability to push the limits and back yourself and your team’s belief is critical (we will circle back on the role of the team).  Even if it leads to many sleepless nights – below is the effect of the CEO being at the factory for a straight 72 hours.


My second thought. As a visionary leader, how do you balance vision (and passion) with pragmatism?  Are you listening to your team – do you respect their opinion? Hit pause – think about that for a second. Do you really respect them and their opinion or is it just a farce? This applies to a team leader, a business unit head, a CEO or even a President of a country..

If you don’t – change your team but better still, spend enough time to get to know them. And if you don’t know the guys you go in battle with – make sure your checklist includes a gigantic white flag.

Carrying on with thoughts on leadership and diversification, I recommend reading my friend Jeremy’s latest post on problem solving, diversification and risk taking. His posts are always good – this one in particular is a powerhouse.

…Nowhere in particular

I mentioned last week India’s drive against usage of plastic with multiple states working on banning plastic products. I read about another related initiative to clean up the existing backlog of debris – a great example where vision, design thinking, resource management are combined with social and environment goals. Here’s a must watch video

In short – plastic debris gets collected all over the country, shredded and processed in factories. The product is then used as raw material in enhancing the roadways system (something which the country needs desperately to keep up with the demands of industry). Oh, and did I mention it provides millions of man days of employment.

While it’s no silver bullet (there are challenges with the technology) – the government’s backing combined with reducing demand for plastic through effective policy and alternatives is a great start on the war with Plastics!!

App of the week:

Keep this handy this weekend when you go do your groceries. Wear those stains of multiple use with pride – each one is a notch on the war on plastics!

whole foods

Citius, Altius, Fortius!!

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