Category Archives: experience

Why do New Ideas take Time to Spread ?

HBR Blog posted on Nov 27, 2012 by Samuel Arbesman : 

Just because a new fact or idea seems right, doesn’t mean it will spread like wildfire. Evolution, hand washing in hospitals, the inevitability that personal computers were the future of technology — none of these ideas were accepted immediately, even though they seem obvious today. Change takes time. But why?

The short answer is we’re intellectually stubborn. We don’t always weigh all the evidence before we make a decision, and this is especially true if a change of opinion requires a wholesale overhaul of our worldview. Usually, we’re defensive in the face of change, spouting alternative theories and contradictory data. Although this type of resistance can help keep everyone honest, it can also produce very bad effects.

Just take Ignaz Semmelweis — a physician who recommended doctors clean their hands prior to delivering babies — who was ignored and essentially driven mad by his colleagues’ refusal to accept the truth. But eventually, in the face of overwhelming evidence, the majority will generally accept the new theory, before their recalcitrance becomes too counterproductive.

Shifting from an old view to a new one is never a clean and seamless process. As numerous scientists have experienced, trying to get a new idea accepted is usually a messy process — and a long one. In fact, it could take until the retirement or death of the holdouts and the influx of younger and more open minds for the new idea to become accepted. The physicist Max Planck seems to have summed up the issue with this maxim: “New scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

This seems intuitively obvious. Since science and business are human affairs, we can’t expect the old stalwarts to change their minds when a new idea comes along. We just have to wait for them to die. Seems rational enough.

But here’s the thing: Planck’s Principle turns out to be wrong.

Consider Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Several decades ago, a study (PDF) examined sixty-seven British scientists from Darwin’s time and found that only about three quarters of them had accepted Darwinian evolution ten years after On the Origin of Species was first published in 1859. So evolution was not the rapid change we thought it might have been.

Why? If events had unfolded according to Plank’s principle, then young scientists would have rapidly accepted Darwin’s ideas while older scientists would have resisted them. But it didn’t happen that way. Although it’s true that those who accepted evolution were younger on average than those who still rejected it after ten years, age explained only 5% of the variation of acceptance or rejection of this theory. The younger scientists didn’t necessarily accept it rapidly; they accepted it at a rate similar to the older scientists who accepted it, over the course of a decade.

So it turns out we can’t even rely on common sense for understanding how this factual inertia works. This is encapsulated in the work of Duncan Watts, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research. Watts has demonstrated, in numerous studies that explore everything from how certain songs become popular to how marketing works, that we are very good at telling stories to ourselves that sound true (e.g. Plank’s Principle). But when we subject our “common sense” to the rigors of quantitative analysis, it doesn’t always pan out. So while our factual inertia is a big problem, we need to be cautious when we hear good stories about how it actually works.

Clearly, science and business, and others fields of knowledge are not abstract ventures. They’re human affairs, so they’re prone to passions and biases. Scientific discovery, in particular, occurs through hunches and chance recognition of relationships, and is enriched by spirited discussion and debate around the lab. But science is also subject to our baser instincts. Data are hoarded, scientists refuse to collaborate, and grudges can play a role in peer review. There’s a lot at play.

So new ideas take time to be accepted. And how they are accepted is far from common sense. But one thing’s for sure: Don’t write off the old folks. They have a lot to teach us.

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Understanding Universe & Our Place in it


Some great mind said,”Don’t be willing to embrace uncertainty, don’t live with mysteries and don’t celebrate ambiguities!“. 

According to Jonathan Harris, there are two phases:

1. The first one is one when you are just picking up the signals from the ether. Ideas aggregate over time and pop out one day when you are in shower.

2. This is the phase when you actually decide “Ok ! I am gonna do it! I am going to actually pursue this cool thing !”.


And once you have decided, it’s a different mindset altogether from that point of time for you have to become more rationale, logical and disciplined. It is less about receiving and more about synthesizing, distilling and ultimately producing. And a lot of creative people struggle with this because the former one is more pleasing way to live life but second phase is when you actually get things done. 

Distinguishing Doing from Thinking

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Creativity & Being Original

There is nothing like original thinking. So does creativity always have to be original content ?

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Former CNN head and noted biographer Walter Isaacson captured my attention from the moment he walked on the IBM Impact 2012 stage and announced his next book would be a history of the computer age.

Then, Isaacson launched into an explanation of what attributes great innovators shared throughout history — Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs.

Though Isaacson’s keynote at times seemed like an uncoordinated symphony, the words of wisdom and insight, and keen observations into the lives of his subjects, made his talk both compelling and inspirational.

Isaacson paid homage in his opening comments to IBM’s 100-year history of innovation and contributions to the information age, but it was his most recent biographical subject, Steve Jobs, that he let serve as the channel behind  the magic of an unwavering and driven innovator.

“Don’t be afraid,” Isaacson said in describing Jobs at his persuasive best. “You can do it.”

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Definitely I’m a Watson evangelist ! Couldn’t resist sharing !

Just Do It

Sometimes, too much thinking isn’t needed ! You just have to get on and do it !

Don’t run after money ! Really ?

“[My aspiration is] to change the world,” said Dennis Crowley, cofounder of Foursquare.  “If this turns out to be an amazingly big business at the same time, well, that’s an added bonus.”  This is hardly what you would expect to hear from a founder who raised $20 million in a Series A from all stars including Andreessen Horowitz.  Aren’t these guys supposed to be razor focused on monetization?  In a quixotic way, many founders of revolutionary internet companies begin with visions that have no component on monetization.  How can we explain this irony: some of the “best” and “most innovative” internet companies–and therefore those with the highest valuations–are often founded by visionaries who are supposedly indifferent to–you might even say disinterested in–monetization.

Consider Crowley, a dreamer who was fascinated by the idea of bringing a gaming layer to the physical world.  Indeed he even wrote his NYU thesis on the subject.  And it was this nearly-academic curiosity that shaped his vision for the company.  “We just want to get all these things built… and to put as many pieces in place as possible.  After we do that, then we’ll try to monetize,” he explained.  “And if we can’t monetize, at least we will have pushed the world forward a little.  We taught people about check-ins.  We taught them about location services and about life as a game,” he offered.  For Crowley, monetization is literally an afterthought.  It is secondary in sequence and importance to product and impact.  To understand Crowley and founders like him, it is critical to understand his personal motivations.  He values teaching society about a concept.  He values helping people build better relationships.  And he values pioneering sociological concepts that enable future companies to realize his vision.  His passion reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s line: “It is amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Yet this attitude–indifference to ownership and IP, a disinterest in monetization–would seem a poor fit for the model of venture-backed s-corps that nearly all of these companies pursue.  How do we make sense of the essentially communitarian, visionary disposition of innovative founders in the context of venture-backed companies with billion dollar valuations?  Would Martin Luther King have built a megachurch and charged for attendance?  Would Karl Marx have required a subscription for his podcast?  Would Mother Teresa have billed $500 an hour for a hospital visit?  Probably not.

Mr. Chris Cox, VP of Product for facebook, helped answer this question.  He said that in certain ways facebook should be a non-profit.  Facebook’s mission–“to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”–sounds like it could be the mission of the Reporters Without Borders or the Berkman Center.  So why not run facebook as a nonprofit?  They ran into a little problem: in order to realize the mission, they needed a few hundred of the smartest engineers, pedabytes of data storage, and world class infrastructure.  And to have this, they needed money.  And lots of it.

The essential tension is this: in order to realize revolutionary impact from innovative new technology products–even ones with social, communitarian purposes–the business must have a way to monetize so that it can finance the development, roll out, and support of the product.  Thus for facebook, monetization became a tactic to help realize the vision of the product–monetization was not an end in itself.

We might even go as far as to say that the success of revolutionary internet companies is partly explained by the absence of monetization strategies at their founding.  Monetization ought to emerge—but only as a supporting mechanism to realizing the vision.

2010-the year of mixed experiences

Humans were welcomed to this new year with a 7.0 Richter Scale horrendous earthquake in Haiti,a Caribbean country damaging the human spirit and infrastructure.The center of magnitude was Port-au-Prince with concrete pieces and bodies spread everywhere as if they were scattered like flowers.The Mother Earth again showcased her fury and anger against the growing human exploitation on the nature.The plea and cries for humanitarian needs were recognized by numerous countries and medical,financial aids were dispatched accordingly.

Then it was Mexican gulf oil spill caused by the explosion of the oil rigs causing huge damage to the hue of beautiful aquatic resources and life.The third largest energy company headquartered in London came into lime-light and was imposed with  $ 20 billion dollar fine for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.The Gulf of Mexico was affected with oil and its derivatives for straight three months.The explosion while drilling the rig caused 56 crores litres of crude oil to flow in the ocean.The samples of tar balls and oil were found at a distance as long as 230 kms.

The most widely followed sport on the planet captured the year by its mid life.South Africa was selected over Egypt and Morocco to become the first African nation to host the finals of the World Cup.An ecstatic period of one month,Spain earned the name of the fame with a goal in 116th minute of the final game against Netherlands,three time finalists.Paul,the octopus, who later retired after the tournament and died,made seven correct predictions in the tournament.A legacy to be unfolded like every time,it boosted the sport spirit and brought many cults and cultures together to envisage the oneness and integrity of humans and eliminate the evilness from the Mother Planet.

17 days straight were spent in a coal and gold mine by 33 workers in Chile.The mental and physical mettle of the workers were tested by the depth of more than half a kilometer.A constant supply of food,water and oxygen was arranged through a shaft.But before that,a note was carried to the ground saying”all 33 of us are fine in asylum” thus triggering a ecstatic wave among families of miners.

Finally,a shaft was lowered down to rescue all of them.While the operation being successful,the concerns over safety norms of mining were raised and made stronger.The miners were accoladed for their valor and mettle.

The year that was of disclosing secret cables,the year that was of opening Governments,the year that was of “Wikileaks”.A non-profit organization relying on the secret sources worldwide to publish material of political,ethical and historical significance.The Times magazine quoted that Wikileaks could become as important a journalistic tool as Right to Information Act.Julian Assange,founder of the entity which was targeted by many Governments and public institutions,was trialled in court of London on the allegations of Swedish national of sexual assault on two women.

It has released around 1.2 million documents from it year of launch 2006.Lately,the companies which withdrew their support to Wikileaks have been the target of hackers and furious supporters of the organization.Their sites were victims of Distributed Denial Of Services(DDoS) which is a way of making a website crippled through large number of requests of its web-pages.It has been into limelight for its disclosure of Afghanistan war related cables.Since then,many Govt. have been opened.Consequently,its infrastructure has been constantly targeted and founder threatened.On which,the website’s blogspot noted that any one who sent out threat emails will be tracked down and trialled upon.Actually,it has been the strongest forces of the year.

With consistent rise of tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul,the issue was mostly on the head page of the newspapers in the late life of the year.The clashes and warships dating back to 1999 and 2002,North Korea has been focussing on nuclear warheads.The North Korea’s leader Kim Jong II has been sick and his heir Kim Jong un is believed to be establishing his reputation as a leader.The rising tensions and conflicts around nuclear ambitions of North Korea has been a major cause of South Korea panicking and making it think that its northern geopolitical frontier is set to have a war close in the future.The countries have been noted as saying to be prepared for the war and the ambition of crushing down the other seems no poor.Many foreign help has been sought with China,Russia,US trying to calm the issue in vain.The human wrath is not seeming to end among each other.

While it is only the rule of the nature that evil if overflown from the bottle of earth,has to be emptied a bit to maintain the balance of the stability.And that is where the earthquakes,tsunamis,human clashes,tensions over nuclear warship take place.The quality of human life has to find its way for  a cleaner and greener earth.But for that quality,it is never gonna be a cake walk because egoism continues to be the covering of the human psyche.Hence,nothing can be perfect,to make things perfect is the ultimate goal of the life,to succeed,to prosper,to be happy and good.With this hope,we welcome the year 2011 with great aspirations to make things perfect,the way they are wanted.Because it is what you leave behind for the next generation and if that is not the case,wont you be called selfish?

The choice

Its our choices which show what we truly are…far more than our abilities – J.K.Rowling

so true! The choice has to be made at every junction,divergence to fetch the best out of results.The choice has to be made in order to make this life happy and filled with a smile.The choice has to be made to provide the parents and elders with what they have been expecting.ITS ALL ABOUT THE CHOICE!

The intellect of the man is forced to choose,
Perfection of the life,or of the work,
If it take,the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion,raging in the dark.

When all the story’s finished,whats the news?
In luck or toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
or day’s vanity,night’s remorse.

-William Butler Yeats (The Choice)

If you smoke,shows you made a choice of being weak.If you drink,proves you made a choice of being in unconscious and not acting.If you abuse your parents,you made a choice of failure.If you dont work,you made a choice of spending your life in toil.

After all,this life is just nothing but way of filling smiles to your loved ones by finding meaningful work with a purpose.And that has to be chosen.The status of present us shows the quality of choices that we have been making.

choose wisely !