Business Is Flow

November 20th, 2015

Business, for the most part, is about making money. Sure, the business might have a "higher purpose" attached to it, but hey, serving that higher purpose isn’t much use if you can’t make payroll.

And money, commerce, is this fluid thing that happens in between people and companies. It isn’t a solid, it’s a liquid.

The beginning of the end happens when the people in charge forget this, when they start thinking that their liquid is a solid. That things will never change.

And then some other liquid comes along and eats their lunch. Uber: liquid. Yellow Taxis: solid. You get the idea.

Stay in flow, people. Stay liquid.

Image and text by @gapingvoid

John Oliver’s “Moment Of Premium Cable Profanity”

November 16th, 2015

Sadly we must begin with a few words about France which on Friday suffered the deadliest attack on its soil since World War II.

Look, it’s hardly been 48 hours, and much is still unknown, but there are a few some things we can say for certain. And this is when it actually helps to be on HBO, where those things can be said without restraints. Because after the many necessary and appropriate moments of silence, I’d like to offer you a moment of premium cable profanity.

So here is where things stand:

First, as of now we know this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes. Unconscionable flaming assholes. Possibly working with other fucking assholes. Definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery.

Second, and this goes almost without saying: Fuck these assholes. Fuck them, if I may say, sideways.

And third, it is important to remember, nothing about what these assholes are trying to do is going to work. France is going to endure and I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good fucking luck. Because go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloise cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche. You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend. You are fucked, that is a French freedom tower.

So to the people of France, our thoughts are truly with you.


November 15th, 2015

A beautiful comment by Blackpoodles from Santa Barbara explains why Paris may be the favorite target for salafists:

France embodies everything religious zealots everywhere hate: enjoyment of life here on earth in a myriad little ways: a fragrant cup of coffee and buttery croissant in the morning, beautiful women in short dresses smiling freely on the street, the smell of warm bread, a bottle of wine shared with friends, a dab of perfume, children paying in the Luxembourg Gardens, the right not to believe in any god, not to worry about calories, to flirt and smoke and enjoy sex outside of marriage, to take vacations, to read any book you want, to go to school for free, to play, to laugh, to argue, to make fun of prelates and politicians alike, to leave worrying about the afterlife to the dead.
No country does life on earth better than the French.
Paris, we love you. We cry for you. You are mourning tonight, and we with you. We know you will laugh again, and sing again, and make love, and heal, because loving life is your essence. The forces of darkness will ebb. They will lose. They always do.

No need to say that the French won’t change because of a bunch of terrorists, as well illustrated by @SophieLambda.

Naturally, Paris is nervous these days, with most monuments closed and many fake alerts. But there is also this epic man, pulling his piano with his bike in order to go and play Imagine in front of the Bataclan.

Paris will mourn, despair of current "lost generation" of politicians… but also be very proud of the worldwide solidarity that was born from these awful events.

As the cartoonist @joannsfar nails it, please don’t #PrayForParis, open a bottle of French wine instead and enjoy it with your best friends (if you could find some French cheese and a genuine baguette, it would be perfect).

Are Unicorns Bubble Animals?

October 23rd, 2015

Love this comment by "retired@33" to an article that explains the skepticism about Theranos business model titled When startups go sour – what happens when unicorns run into trouble?

Don’t worry. All we have to do is keep saying "innovate", "future" and "agile" and the internet will magically disrupt us into a 21st century utopia where start-ups are mysteriously valued at billions without actually having ever turned a profit, and people will be able to spend on "services" even though they don’t have jobs any more.

Everything Stems From An Idea

October 23rd, 2015

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the "ideas don’t matter, execution matters" riff, I could buy a lot of beer for my friends.

Even if I think there are a lot of good reasons for thinking this (which I do), well, Congratulations! You’ve just dispensed with the need for Beethoven, Picasso, George Eliot and Einstein. Hell, you can say goodbye to Apple, Ferrari and The Boston Red Sox, while you’re at it.

The truth is that the silver bullet is talent AND execution – focus, determination and people who can help make all that talent shine to the outside world. Without execution the world doesn’t ever get to see the talent, and without the talent, there is just a check list.

Image and text by @gapingvoid

The gem in this text by Hugh MacLeod (aka gapingvoid) is IMHO "without the talent, there is just a check list".

Currently, probably because they fear innovators and the mess they induce in long organized systems, governments react by building checklists. Open your eyes and you will notice that, for example, most public health records, that were announced a decade ago, still remain checklists (often multi-billion bucks checklists, and counting).

Actually the opposition between "talent" and "checklists" work in both directions: if, as pointed to by Hugh MacLeod, checklists are what remains when there is no talent around, a checklist a day is also the best way to keep talent away.

Foiling Imocas

October 15th, 2015

New foiling IMOCAs will be the boats to watch during the Transat Jacques Vabres race to start October 10. Thanks to Voiles et Voiliers we can have a preview of these exhilarating sailboats.

Scott Waters’s list

October 10th, 2015

Scott Waters is a 66-year-old commercial artist and photographer from St Augustine, Florida. A few weeks ago he visited England, and he decided to share his observations on Facebook. The post became viral.

I was in England again a few weeks ago, mostly in small towns, but here’s some of what I learned:

  • Almost everyone is very polite
  • The food is generally outstanding
  • There are no guns
  • There are too many narrow stairs
  • Everything is just a little bit different
  • The pubs close too early
  • The reason they drive on the left is because all their cars are built backwards
  • Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.
  • You’d better like peas, potatoes and sausage
  • Refrigerators and washing machines are very small
  • Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter
  • People don’t seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government
  • Their paper money makes sense, the coins don’t
  • Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare
  • Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
  • Pants are called “trousers”, underwear are “pants” and sweaters are “jumpers”
  • The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling
  • “Fanny” is a naughty word, as is “shag”
  • All the signs are well designed with beautiful typography and written in full sentences with proper grammar.
  • There’s no dress code
  • Doors close by themselves, but they don’t always open
  • They eat with their forks upside down
  • The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars
  • They don’t seem to use facecloths or napkins or maybe they’re just neater then [sic] we are
  • The wall outlets all have switches, some don’t do anything
  • There are hardly any cops or police cars
  • 5,000 year ago, someone arranged a lot of rocks all over, but no one is sure why
  • When you do see police they seem to be in male & female pairs and often smiling
  • Black people are just people: they didn’t quite do slavery here
  • Everything comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them
  • Cookies are “biscuits” and potato chips are “crisps”
  • HP sauce is better then catsup
  • Obama is considered a hero, Bush is considered an idiot.
  • After fish and chips, curry is the most popular food
  • The water controls in showers need detailed instructions
  • They can boil anything
  • Folks don’t always lock their bikes
  • It’s not unusual to see people dressed different and speaking different languages
  • Your electronic devices will work fine with just a plug adapter
  • Nearly everyone is better educated then we are
  • If someone buys you a drink you must do the same
  • There are no guns
  • Look right, walk left. Again; look right, walk left. You’re welcome.
  • Avoid British wine and French beer
  • It’s not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don’t, everyone knows you’re an American
  • Many of the roads are the size of our sidewalks
  • There’s no AC
  • Instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper
  • Gas is “petrol”, it costs about $6 a gallon and is sold by the liter
  • If you speed on a motorway, you get a ticket. Period. Always
  • You don’t have to tip, really!
  • Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall really are different countries
  • Only 14% of Americans have a passport, everyone in the UK does
  • You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in
  • Walking is the national pastime
  • Their TV looks and sounds much better then ours
  • They took the street signs down during WWII, but haven’t put them all back up yet
  • Everyone enjoys a good joke
  • There are no guns
  • Dogs are very well behaved and welcome everywhere
  • There are no window screens
  • You can get on a bus and end up in Paris
  • Everyone knows more about our history then we do
  • Radio is still a big deal. The BBC is quite good
  • The newspapers can be awful
  • Everything costs the same but our money is worth less so you have to add 50% to the price to figure what you’re paying
  • Beer comes in large, completely filled, actual pint glasses and the closer the brewery the better the beer
  • Butter and eggs aren’t refrigerated
  • The beer isn’t warm, each style is served at the proper temperature
  • Cider (alcoholic) is quite good.
  • Excess cider consumption can be very painful.
  • The universal greeting is “Cheers” (pronounced “cheeahz” unless you are from Cornwall, then it’s “chairz”)
  • The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, then-£1-£2-£5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
  • Their cash makes ours look like Monopoly money
  • Cars don’t have bumper stickers
  • Many doorknobs, buildings and tools are older than America
  • By law, there are no crappy, old cars
  • When the sign says something was built in 456, they didn’t lose the “1”
  • Cake is is pudding, ice cream is pudding, anything served for desert is pudding, even pudding
  • BBC 4 is NPR
  • Everything closes by 1800 (6pm)
  • Very few people smoke, those who do often roll their own
  • You’re defined by your accent
  • No one in Cornwall knows what the hell a Cornish Game Hen is
  • Soccer is a religion, religion is a sport
  • Europeans dress better then the British, we dress worse
  • The trains work: a three minute delay is regrettable
  • Drinks don’t come with ice
  • There are far fewer fat English people
  • There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching tv
  • If you’re over 60, you get free tv and bus and rail passes.
  • They don’t use Bose anything anywhere
  • Displaying your political or religious affiliation is considered very bad taste
  • Every pub has a pet drunk
  • Their healthcare works, but they still bitch about it
  • Cake is one of the major food groups
  • Their coffee is mediocre but their tea is wonderful
  • There are still no guns
  • Towel warmers!
  • Cheers

Brain Recording

October 9th, 2015

Little comment needed… this cheerful lady will probably have many people to tell what she sees to. All others are broadcasting… mainly for themselves only!

Brian Solis (@briansolis) nails it in a slightly different way:

IBM Watson : Comment l’informatique cognitive va changer notre vie quotidienne

September 24th, 2015

Conférence de Jérôme Pesenti, vice-président Core Technology chez IBM Watson, le 23 septembre à Télécom ParisTech.

The Mini Transat just started

September 19th, 2015

These boats look obviously small (6.5 meters) to cross the ocean from Douarnenez to Pointe-à-Pitre (via a pit stop in Lanzarote).

Small but actually amazing when you think that most innovations now common in large racing boats were live tested there first, on the sailing equivalents of Minimum Viable Products.

The race can be followed from the race official site thanks to a Géovoile cartography.

Via Twitter: follow @MiniTransat2015 and hashtag #MiniTransat2015

Innovation is just a code word for Leadership

September 15th, 2015

Having spent a good part of last week at the Dpharm Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials Conference, in Boston, we came away with some insights about innovation – a subject that we’ve given a lot of thought to over the years but is endlessly fascinating.

More than ever, we believe that true innovation is first and foremost a cultural issue. Most big organizations are so invested in minimizing risk, that truly disruptive ideas can never take hold.

Strategically, pharma should build completely separate incubator type functions that are independent from the structure and cultural baggage of the parent. Then, integrate the success of those businesses back into the mother ship. Probably with the entrepreneurs as leaders (an idea certain to make most execs not want to innovate).

Like the image above says, Innovation is really about leadership. An acceptance of risk, and the personalities that are actually disruptive to the status quo. Learning to live with the idea that if you aren’t feeling uncomfortable, then innovation isn’t happening.

Which leads to a related thought. I couldn’t help but compare this to some work that we’re doing for Peter Lee, Head of Microsoft Research who spoke eloquently about the role of research and innovators in this video. Peter’s ideas about innovation apply to all industries, but pharma seems to be so risk adverse that it feels like innovation will only come in the vanilla, good tasting variety.

We also published a mini-book called "Disrupting R&D, 20 Ideas to Foster Innovation and Disruption in Drug Development" for the conference attendees. The book was written for the pharma industry, but it applies to all businesses. It’s a ten minute read. Feel free to download and share.

Image and text by @gapingvoid

The Basic Unit of Work

September 1st, 2015

The new rules

  1. Work in the future is still going to be solving problems, but in interaction with customers
  2. The solutions to problems are more contextual
  3. Work, then, cannot be based on preconceived competences, but work is learning
  4. Work should be understood as interaction between interdependent people
  5. The basic unit of work is not a task or a role, but interaction

The lucky ones

August 28th, 2015

From this article by Serene Assir (@SirenaAssir), we quickly understand that the lucky ones are simply those who survived.

That so many of them drowned is the truly ugly face of the current challenge Europe must address. It is high time we decide to treat it as a humanistic opportunity and now consider the pretty face of what happens, as embodied by the light of hope on this migrant girl’s head.

A migrant child gets assistance to remove her life jacket after arriving in Kos on August 13, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

Evolution and the Selfie Stick

August 27th, 2015

Before and now

Evolution stops


August 27th, 2015

Je viens de passer la soirée avec ma (seule et unique au demeurant) copine de fac.

Après qu’on ait vu le chef du resto maltraiter sa serveuse pour pas un rond, on a causé.

Au bloc, genre en 3ème année de médecine, sur une bartholinite.
Son chef lui demande "Tu sais à quoi servent les glandes de bartholin ?"

Elle hésite.
Elle sent bien que si elle dit "À lubrifier" ça va faire rire.
Elle choisit ses mots en silence.

Le silence est coupé par son chef. (Son mentor. Sa référence. 3ème année) "Ça sert à mouiller ton con, chiennasse." #TonConVirguleChiennasse

Elle me raconte qu’elle a ricané, qu’elle a dit "Ahah merci, j’aurais pas retenu sinon."
C’était la seule chose à dire.
Fallait valider.

Dans le bloc, hein.
Devant tout le monde. L’anesthésiste, les deux internes, les trois infirmier/ères, les externes.

Moi, je lui ai raconté qu’une fois j’ai croisé mon chef et mon interne dans l’ascenseur après une nuit particulièrement difficile de garde.

Une morte, une annonce de bientôt mort, une autre morte à recoudre, un mec qui avait frappé l’infirmier : des trucs durs.
Je récupérais.

Le mec, pour cette fois, ne m’avait pas dit que j’avais une bouche à pipe.
Ni qu’on ferait La Moore demain ahhaha.

Ni que "J’avais l’air sauvage après une nuit de garde et que je devais être très belle après l’amour".

Dans mon esprit habitué, je vous jure #LaVieDeMaMère que je m’étais paniquée.
Pas de blague de cul, j’avais sans doute fait une connerie.

Vraiment, alors que je faisais partie des dures à cuir, je m’étais dit “Merde, j’ai pas bien travaillé. J’ai tué un patient ? Seigneur !”

On en était rendues là.
"Héhé t’as trop une bouche à pipe" = "T’as vraiment fait du bon boulot cette nuit".
Sans avoir ça, je paniquais.

On a recausé, beaucoup.
On s’est rendues compte d’à quel point l’hôpital tel qu’on l’avait connu ne passerait pas 15 minutes aux prudhommes.

Le pire, c’est qu’au fond de nous, quand même, on avait une petite voix qui disait : "Hey, tu l’as vécu comme ça, c’est pas la mer à boire."

On était malgré nous d’accord pour dire que les filles qui râlaient aujourd’hui, c’était des mijaurées, parce que hey, ça va quoi.

Yep, le lavage de cerveau va jusque là.
Deux féministes qui trouvent que "pour mouiller ton con, chiennasse", c’était presque le bon temps.

Robots Read News

August 25th, 2015

Maybe the best Dilbert ever…

… even if, as an engineer, I might be a little partial.

Do’s and Dont’s For Executives

August 19th, 2015

Advices to business executives from @FT circa 1957 (via ‏@markhillary)

  1. Don’t travel too often or too far.
  2. Have at least one week’s clear break in the middle of long tours.
  3. Never fly both ways on a business journey.
  4. If possible, come home part of the way by boat. If not, have three or four days at home before going to the office.
  5. Never travel over week-ends except for pleasure and then never more than 100 miles.
  6. Keep your week-ends completely to yourself.
  7. Cultivate outside interests and hobbies.
  8. Try and take some physical exercise – gardening and fishing recommended.
  9. Have a medical check-up every two years until age of 50, and then every year.
  10. Learn to relax.

Pretty up to date… except, unfortunately, for the advice to "come home part of the way by boat"!

The wall

August 6th, 2015

It is a 10 by 3 meters bramble branches wall. A tightly woven set of thorns, an impenetrable and intimidating vegetal universe.

I attacked it like a giant Mikado game, initially securing a corridor to the roots, then heading laterally. It is a game one seldom wins unharmed; the thorns come through the thickest gloves and there is always a rogue creeper to lash your face when you are getting rid of its neighbour.

Léo is 9 years old. He first hits the wall with a rake, to "bust it all" then, considering the lack of efficiency of this frontal burst of energy, he decides to pull branches in order to ease their removing. Finally, when I have a break, he wears the heavy gloves, get the branch clippers and gets himself immersed in the vegetal mass to gain access to its roots.

Step by step he became aware of the way a complex system should be addressed. The wall is condemned.

Le mur

August 6th, 2015

C’est un mur de ronces de dix mètres de long et de près de trois mètre de haut. Un entrelacs d’épines, un univers impénétrable et intimidant.

Je l’ai attaqué comme un Mikado géant, sécurisant initialement un couloir d’accès aux racines, puis progressant latéralement. On ne sort jamais complètement indemne d’une telle confrontation ; les épines traversent les gants les plus épais et il y toujours une liane plus retorse pour vous cingler le visage lorsqu’on dégage sa voisine.

Léo a 9 ans. Il commence par taper sur le mur à grands coups de râteau, « pour tout dégommer » puis, constatant le peu d’efficacité de cette débauche d’énergie frontale, il décide de tirer les ronces pour en faciliter le dégagement. Enfin, au moment où je fais une pause, il enfile les gants de travail, se saisit de la cisaille et s’immerge dans la masse végétale pour accéder aux racines.

Il a compris étape par étape comment gérer un système complexe ; le mur est condamné.

L’Homme augmenté – Notre Humanité en quête de sens

July 27th, 2015

Le septième cahier de veille de la Fondation Télécom a pour objectif de faire le point sur la thématique de l’homme augmenté et les travaux de recherche qui y sont associés.

Une archive est disponible en cliquant sur l’image.