Artificial Intelligence Rule of Thumb

Here’s one rule of thumb that speaks to its disruptiveness:

If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.

A lot of valuable work currently done by humans — examining security video to detect suspicious behaviors, deciding if a car is about to hit a pedestrian, finding and eliminating abusive online posts — can be done in less than one second. These tasks are ripe for automation. However, they often fit into a larger context or business process; figuring out these linkages to the rest of your business is also important.

Harvard Business Review

I don’t actually know a lot about the real life application of AI, but this article was very helpful for me to understand the direction of innovation.  Definitely something to keep in mind as part of a long term product strategy.

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Chains Raise The Quality of Whole Industries

This is a great article about the value of substitutes in different industries.  As a product manager you should always thinking about what products are a substitute or a compliment to your product.  Even if the primary substitute is non-consumption, how do you have to build your product to get people off their couch and to make them take an action.

It is worth remembering that many unfashionable large businesses create value in ways that are often under-appreciated. No one will ever write gushingly about McDonald’s or Starbucks or PremierLodgeExpress. But what these large chains do is valuable, even if you never use them. They effectively raise what I call the ‘threshold of crappiness’ in the sectors in which they operate. To operate successfully as a coffee shop or a sandwich bar or hotel (or a minicab firm), you have to be at least as good as a chain or else you fail. This raises the bar for everyone. You can get better coffee in a truckstop now than at Claridge’s in 1990.

Spectator

Elephant Question – How to Find Entrenched Problems

This is a great article on how to be a patient change agent:

  • People don’t like hearing that entrenched problems are “totally fixable” (none of us do — not just those “other” people).
  • To you, the fix is “common sense”, but to outsiders it may be counterintuitive.
  • By definition, a problem that remains entrenched is not “totally fixable” (without a change in context, actors, intent, etc.) On paper it may be fixable. In context, it is not.

At a minimum, ask someone:

Can you describe an elephant in the room that I will quickly encounter, will think is totally fixable, but will be wrong? Why is the status quo difficult to change?

Hacker Noon

Sustainable Sources of Competitive Advantage

A great article from Collaborative Fund about 5 sustainable sources of competitive advantage.  My favorite was number 2 – Eat Your Own Dog Food.

Forty-seven percent of mutual fund mangers do not personally own any of their own fund, according to Morningstar. That’s shocking. But I suspect something similar happens across most businesses.

What percentage of McDonald’s executives frequent their own restaurant as a legitimate customer interested in the chain’s food, rather than a fact-finding mission? Few, I imagine. How many times has the CEO of Delta Airlines been bumped from a flight, or had his bags lost by the airline? Never, I assume.

The inability to understand how your customers experience your product almost guarantees an eventual drift between the problems a business tries to solve and the problems customers need solved. Here again, a person with a lower IQ who can empathize with customers will almost always beat someone with a higher IQ who can’t put themselves in customers’ shoes.

Innovation Strategy Presentation

I would be excited to facilitate a innovation workshop for your team or organization.  The material can be customized around your industry and challenges.  We will work together to explore multiple innovation techniques and add them to your strategy toolbox:

  • The subtraction technique
  • Big unsolved problems
  • Disruptive innovation

Check out my Innovation Strategy Deck and feel free to send any questions or requests to public@jayfisher.info