Postcards from the Future – 10 Innovative Questions

October 22, 2008


I’m sitting here in 2020 reminiscing about 2008 and 2009 which were incredibly tough and uncertain years for business and the fact that those that survived and came out the other end in mid – late 2009 were business headed up by strong willed leaders that did not panic, but instead took careful considered steps every day, to ensure survival.

The thing I’ve learnt over and over again is that difficult times are when we have to go counter intuitive and continue to push hard on innovation and future thinking.

Great innovation and future thinking leads to efficiency and increased profits; to doing things better; to being more closely aligned with your customers; to refining work processes; and to using technologies that move you profitably forward.

But before you jump into making changes the first question has to be – “What gets changed?”

The easiest way I’ve found to figure out what needs innovating is to answer these 10 questions:

1. How do I do it?

How do I do things on the inside – process reviews, on line telematic engineering

2. What do I sell?

What do I sell and what other new toys are around that can be a part of what I sell – fax machines, Claytronics , epoc head sets, iphone, and gps

3. What else can I add to my offer?

New ways to offer services like on line airline bookings and real time parcel delivery tracking

4. What’s hot?

Wicked new ways to do business, like Skype, email, websites and cloud computing

5. What’s it cost?

Finding less expensive or more efficient alternatives, hiring in short term expertise, reworking staff rosters, using virtual services.

6. Who’s involved?

Get out of the driver’s seat and let someone else drive for a while – get your customers, staff, stakeholders, suppliers tell you what they want and how they see you.

7. How do I manage it?

Freshen up your hierarchy and management style – go flat, go open, trim out a middle layer, go virtual, have employee based appraisals.

8. Where else can I do it?

Change where you do business – go from bricks and mortar to on line, sell on, licence out your intellectual property, get affiliates.

9. How can I do it differently?

Shake things up so much that you change what is normal- forever; – Adobe pdf reader is free but the pdf creator costs

10. How can I change everything?

Create new industries – MP3, GPS, invisible walls, anti aging and more.

The trick now is to ask each of these innovation questions and discover tweaks in each that moves you closer to your customers, your best product and service offerings and continued profitability and viability.

The answers are not always obvious.

Often we’re too close to see the real advantages ahead that’s when you need to use collective wisdom.

Go on line, join a forum, a chat room or a networking site (let me know if you’d like some recommendations) and tap into the communal wisdom of the Internet community, or alternatively why don’t we form our own innovation community.

Step 1:

Tell me which of the above 10 innovation questions you want to ask and answer.

Step 2:

Tell me how best I can assist you in answering it.

Can I help by explaining it, researching it for you, doing it for you, talking more about it, reviewing what you’ve already answered, keep you on track, find you the people and partners you need, future think it for you, or something completely different.

Step 3

You set the budget. Tell me what you’re willing to pay to get it done.

Step 4

Let’s get moving on it, now!

Really, email me – and let’s get innovating.

Tell me what needs doing, how you want it done and what your budget is and let’s get going on it!

I know there are better times ahead and that even in these less than perfect times there are opportunities everywhere, let’s put our collective energy into changing what we can, not lamenting over what we can’t.

I’ll send you another Postcard from the Future soon, but until then take care and remember your future hasn’t been written yet and how it will look and what successes you will have, are entirely up to you.

Your friend in the future.

Morris Miselowski


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Coastlines could be protected by ‘invisibility cloak’

October 1, 2008

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have tested an ‘invisibility cloak’ that could reduce the risk of large water waves overtopping coastal defences.

Mathematicians at Liverpool, working with physicists at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille Universite have found that coastal defences could be made ‘invisible’ when water is guided through a special structure called metamaterial.

Metamaterial was first invented by Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London where scientists discovered that this unique structure could bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves – around a spherical space, making an object within this region appear invisible.

The new structure is cylindrical and consists of rigid pillars that help guide water along concentric corridors. The pillars interact with the water, guiding it in different directions along the corridors and increasing its speed as it nears the centre of the structure – similar to a whirlpool. The water waves, however, are never broken-up and exit the structure as though they had never been disturbed.

Dr Sebastien Guenneau, from the University’s Department of Mathematical Science, explains: “Defending land against flooding and tidal waves is a big issue for scientists and engineers all over the world. Coastal defences have to withstand great forces and there is always a risk of water overtopping or penetrating these structures. Water crashes against these defences, breaking the wave and causing a lot of damage to roads and property hidden behind them.

“What is unique about this new structure is that it interacts with the water, guiding it to a particular destination rather than breaking it up and sending it everywhere. It is as though the defences are invisible to the wave and as such it does not recognise the structure as an obstacle. This makes it easier to manipulate water waves.

“We now need to investigate how to replicate this effect in a ‘real’ life situation to protect land from natural disasters such as tsunamis, and defend other structures such as oil rigs in the ocean.”

The research is published in Physical Review Letters.
Source: University of Liverpool