Maslow And The Key To Being A Futurist

Thinking Like A Futurist

I’ve always thought like a futurist. Which leads me to make some pretty bold assertions about technology, and its impending impact in our lives. Much of this stems from a career in technology, across 4 continents and 3 decades. Foreseeing the impact of the Internet when you led inititatives like automatic, remote, backup services before the web in the ’90’s, or the impact of Cloud, after building one of the world’s first Application Services Provider in 2000, becomes automatic.

But there are plenty of technology initiatives, many of which have failed to take precedence, like 3D TV’s and WAP. Others that succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination, like SMS texting.

How Did Texting Go Viral?

Remember when you had to learn a new language because you only had 160 characters and a numberpad to send a text. When you could only text people on the same phone network, in the same country. And then when you had to pay more to send across networks.

How is it that financially strapped young people could suddenly afford inordinate amounts to buy a mobile phone, and deal with this cumbersome technology?

Maslow

Here’s one of the keys I use to evaluate nascent technology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Particularly the need for self-expression, connection.

I first learned the power of this when I was in the Air Force. We would be back from an exercise, exhausted and starving, in the meal queue, when mail arrived. To a man, anyone would leave sacrifice their place in line to get a letter from home.

Information and Communication Technology

This primal need drove language, writing, the printing press, the telegraph, and broadcast media like the radio and TV. It is the key to the rise of Mobile Phones (despite unwieldy SMS), to the Internet, to Smartphones, to YouTube, to Social Media. This is what drives Wearable Tech, IoT, Augmented and Virtual Reality.

3D  adds no connection over and above television, whereas SMS enables people to connect in a way unprecedented in history.

If you want to determine whether a technology will take off, pay heed to Maslow.

Thoughts of a Father: You Should Become Who You Want To Meet

One of the accusations levelled against me when Lucy and I got engaged was that I, an itinerant beach-bum, just wanted to marry her because she had a house. Despite the fact that she also had a mortgage, and two children, was entirely besides the point. There was, is, a perception that we marry someone because of what they bring to us.

My observation is that this is insidiously embedded in our culture. In the way we socialise our children. In gender discrimination. And ultimately this becomes the criteria we use to choose our life partner.

One of the most important things I want my daughters to learn is a healthy way to approach long term relationships. I remember my father advising me “Kissin' don't last, cookin' do.”

And that's the last advice I'd ever want to give. Not that we shouldn't value practical care over sex(ual attraction). But that we should care for ourselves rather than needing it from others.

Emergency Oxygen

Speak to any relationship counselor and they'll quickly get to the principle of 'You need to be happy in yourself, before looking for happiness from another.' What I call the 'Emergency Oxygen' principle. You know, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a fellow passenger.

Personally I've found this advice to be pretty unhelpful.

I fear there are far fewer people with healthy self-esteem than there are relationships. And mostly, self-esteem isn't an absolute as in, you have it or don't. Rather it's contextual, there are contexts where you can have great self-esteem, only for someone to walk in the room and shatter that.

So to only enter into a deep relationship when you achieve a unicorn state of permanent self-worth is an impossible ask.

The nugget of the principle is true, of course. That's why it's so popular. My experience puts some practical legs onto it though.

Not Why But What…

Ask yourself the question, “What do you want from your partner?”

Is it financial security? A house? Dare I say it, some form of status, like religious, or social, wealth or class status? Do you want someone to keep you safe? Someone to care for you, or (one day) your children?

Whatever that need is (or those if more than one) figure out how to provide that for yourself first.

That's it.

Anything you want, figure out how to get that yourself.

Independence

The first step to interdependence is independence.

If you want a husband (or wife) so you can buy a house, figure out how to buy your own house.

If you want a wife (or husband) to cook for you, figure out how to cook yourself.

If you don't believe that you want a partner for any of these things, get honest with yourself 🙂

Admittedly this is an incredibly hard ask when you're young, poor, lonely, and wired for your sexual peak. But if you can figure this out, you'll be in a far better position to navigate life in a partnership. Especially if you're a woman (unfortunately).

Independence empowers you to bring your full self to the relationship. To give rather than take, or the ultimate route to mediocre disaster, 'give and take.' To add to your partners strengths. To become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It frees you up from insecurity, fear, jealousy.

The Challenge

Of course there's a challenge of bringing 2 fiercely independent people to a relationship. But that's a far healthier and ultimately easier challenge to overcome than bringing one or two needy people into a relationship.

21 (and a half) Years And We Still Have The Heat

Picture of Roger and Lucy in Hot Air Balloon
Not just full of hot air

Regular readers will know that Lucy and I alternately treat each other to a Romantic Week-end Away without the kids for our wedding anniversary. Whilst (usually) the dates are known, the destination and activities are always a surprise to the non-organising partner.

Because of our careers, me travelling a lot so racking up Frequent Flyers etc, and Lu working as a Public School Teacher, she has found it challenging to surprise me. Recently, however, she’s managed to change all that.

A couple of years ago she surprised me by booking a Cruise. Given her prediliction to motion sickness, this was huge. This year was even huge-er.

As we were on holiday in South Africa with 2 of our daughters (and their boyfriends) over our recent anniversary we decided to have the week-end away during the year. Hence the Gold Coast last week-end. Where Lu pulled out all the stops.

Now you have to understand, Lucy is frightened of flying, and terrified of heights. So to book the both of us on a Hot Air Balloon Ride, was spectacularly outside of her comfort zone.

And as ever when you’re outside your comfort zone, magic happened.

5 Key Steps To Success With IoT

Image of a ball of light generated by data
The Promise and Possibility of Systems of Foresight. Credit: Forbes

Are you considering the Internet of Things? Do you subscribe to the promise of 26B (Gartner) to 50B (Cisco) devices connected to the Internet by 2020? Have you thought about the Optimisation of Assets, the Differentiation of your Services, or the way you can Engage with Customers using IoT?

Despite the current hype, well over 99% of devices are still not connected to the Internet. Organisations are yet to reap any material return on IoT investments to date. Very much like Cloud computing was 6 or so years ago.

Working with customers as a Chief Technologist in HPE, and in my role on IoTAA with partners and competitors in the industry, I observe 5 clear principles that predicate success with IoT:

1. Robust and Transparent Partnerships

Unlike Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, or Social technologies there is no one vendor in the marketplace that provides everything from ‘Devices to Insight.’ So it is key to have strong partnership governance, and understand how technologies from different vendors integrate.

This is important not only for the vendors, but also on the buy side of the equation. IoT solutions transcend single buyers, and in some cases, vertical industries.

Consider a smart building, the architects, builders, developers, utilities, councils, and consumers all have a stake in the solution. Data needs to be protected, yet is the primary asset for sharing.

Getting a complete, transparent partnership model in place for all vendor and purchasor stakeholders is a strong predictor of success.

2. Agile Delivery Model

The scale of a typical IoT solution is too great, interdependencies too complex, and outcomes simply unknown for legacy delivery models to work.

Companies that begin small, then iterate rapidly in an agile manner, achieve quick wins that are critical to ongoing sponsorship. By the time you have gathered all of the requirements for a smart lighting project, the technology and business landscape will have changed.

Importantly, the Agile Delivery Model is key throughout the organisation, procurement, governance, security, recruitment etc. Not just for the IT development teams.

Indeed the funding model for a city or nationwide implementation is often derived from savings gained in the iterative nature of implementation.

3. Strong Analytics and Data Management

An outcome from any IoT deployment is unprecedented deluges of data. Companies that can scale data capacity accordingly, with defined tools and processes to analyse the data, lead the way with IoT implementations.

Typically these organisations have well run Cloud architectures, and the steps in place to transform to a Data Driven enterprise.

A hospital that can’t analyse current patient records, or co-ordinate a Discharge Summary, is in no place to cope with the tsunami of data that connecting every medical device within the hospital produces.

4. Mature Asset Management

One of the consequences of the ‘Post-PC’ era, the consumerisation of computing is a proliferation of assets throughout the enterprise. BYOD further complicates this with various ownership models: Corporate owned and controlled, corporate partly owned, individually owned and corporate secured, etc.

Organisations that don’t have a handle on the HW and SW assets connecting to and operating within their enterprise can not begin to appreciate the complexity of managing an IoT Asset Lifecycle.

5. Robust IT Security

The emergent nature of value and risk in an IoT implementation brings an evolving set of IT security challenges. From cars vulnerable to hacks over the air, to Nuclear Power Stations attacked by state based organisations. Even the meta-data, i.e. Data about a device that can be used to infer other information. E.g. Your garage door opening and closing correlated with Social Media information inferring whether you’re at home or not.

Organisations that have performing IT security functions, that evolve with the business and technology advances over time, are most likely to progress with successful IoT implementations.

Clear Roadmap to Success

The promise of IoT is great, but there are clear indicators of success evidenced in the maturity of organisations wishing to adopt these solutions.

There is also a race condition, where start-ups, unencumbered by legacy architectures can implement solutions quicker than enterprises can restructure. The best thing organisations can do to maintain competitiveness and benefit from the opportunities of IoT, is to appoint an executive tasked with leading the IoT function; continue with Digital Transformation to achieve maturity in the areas above; and begin with small scale PoC’s and Pilot implementations.

If you are considering IoT and would like to discuss this further, run an education session, or envision a strategy, please contact me.