GAIA Program’s Blog
Master in Decision Making & Innovation
First of all, I would like to thank all the groups their involvement and work during these two weeks. As we said at the beginning of the module, it is difficult to teach (referred to us) about innovation and creativity, but we think that it is possible to learn (referred to you) about these topics.
Surely you have realized that…during this Activity, almost the 100% is learnt with one of my favourite methods: Discovery Learning (not to be confused with trial-error). During these two weeks you have discovered interesting things as your Basadur profile, the different kinds of innovation, several methodologies, the importance of users’ feedback and of prototyping as well as the difficulties of coordinating a team in an innovation work and mostly of all, the arduous task of prototyping and testing ideas that are defined step by step.
I also hope that the “invisible learning” that you have had during this module, helps you in the future (I mean Crowdfunding, Apps Prototyping, Microgrids or whatever you learnt).
What I can guarantee is that this process, launching an idea + prototyping + testing and re-prototyping (which in innovation is known as PIVOTING: leaving a foot aligned and change the direction of the other), can be done in the timeframe that we proposed.
I also learnt a lot about how you guys can really make the world a better place, awesome ideas and nice implementations that, in some cases, you should consider to follow up as we recommended to some teams (please read particular feedback in the community).
So, change the world is hard and the weather is still hot, but some of you chose to try it and you really deserve an applause.
The FIVE most important things here were:
1) PROTOTYPE in order to validate your assumptions. As we have told you during these two weeks, it was really important to show the divergent and convergent processes that you have been facing to get your prototype.
2) TEST your PROTOTYPE, but with real users (iteration) developing REAL INTERVIEWS in THE REAL WORLD (lazy surveys are not the best thing to learn because people answer WHAT YOU WANT, NOT WHAT THEY WANT!!!)
3) GET OUT OF THE BUILDING
4) GET OUT OF THE BUILDING
5) GET OUT OF THE BUILDING ….
As a summary, I realized three kinds of teams (teams without a prototype are not included in these feedback):
1) I want to prototype but I validate my own prototype and invent some potential feedbacks for the future –> You should be a sci-fi writer, but that´s not an innovation methodology my friend.
2) I want to prototype and I want to test it, but It´s too hot outside and streets are dangerous, maybe with a survey it´s ok… and our friends and family will answer that “everything is good honey!!” and we will rule the world. –> This is a good exercise to firm up your social network and your family ties but it´s not and innovation methodology.
3) Ok, I have a prototype and I know that the truth is out there, I want to find it and I will try to be creative to find some neighbor (NGOS, Experts in my company) to gather some feedback. I don´t need to go to Africa to test my prototype. –> You really understood what innovation is about and you should apply for the contest we told you in your personal feedback.
Let me show you some examples of people really solving these challenges:
Rafiki Power acts as a rural utility company, building decentralized energy solutions in regions that lack basic services like running water and electricity. The company’s renewable hybrid systems are packed and standardized in recycled 20-foot shipping containers, and they’re currently powering over 700 household and business clients in rural Tanzania.
Aspire Food Group believes insects are the protein of the future, and that technology has the power to bring the tradition of eating insects that exists in many countries and cultures to the rest of the world. The company uses technologies like robotics and automated data collection to farm insects that have the protein quality of meat and the environmental footprint of plants.
Loowatt designed a toilet that uses a patented sealing technology to contain human waste within biodegradable film. The toilet is designed for linking to anaerobic digestion technology to provide a source of biogas for cooking, electricity, and other applications, creating the opportunity to offset capital costs with energy production.
Hala Systems, Inc. is a social enterprise focused on developing technology-driven solutions to the world’s toughest humanitarian challenges. Hala is currently focused on civilian protection, accountability, and the prevention of violent extremism before, during, and after conflict. Ultimately, Hala aims to transform the nature of civilian defense during warfare, as well as to reduce casualties and trauma during post-conflict recovery, natural disasters, and other major crises.
Iris.AI is an artificial intelligence system that reads scientific paper abstracts and extracts key concepts for users, presenting concepts visually and allowing users to navigate a topic across disciplines. Since its launch, Iris.AI has read 30 million research paper abstracts and more than 2,000 TED talks. The AI uses a neural net and deep learning technology to continuously improve its output.
LuminAID makes portable lanterns that can provide 24 hours of light on 10 hours of solar charging. The lanterns came from a project to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, when the product’s creators considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and realized light was a critical need. The lights have been used in more than 100 countries and after disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, and the earthquakes in Nepal.
Thanks for your effort and best regards!
Luis González Lorenzo
After you have submitted the activity from the Corporate Law unit I want to give you some feedback and mostly I want to thoroughly answer the questions that we proposed so you can learn more about Corporate Law.
In QUESTION 1, we asked you to analyze whether there was a contradiction between honoring valid subpoenas and warrants and refusing to comply with a court order to unlock a phone. Well, the first thing you needed to do was to analyze what subpoenas and warrants are. Many students did it but many limited their answer to personal insights, guys! Subpoena: Is a request for the production of documents, or a request to appear in court or other legal proceedings. It is a court-ordered command that essentially requires you to do something, such as testify or present information that may help support the facts that are at issue in a pending case. Under state and federal civil or criminal procedural laws, subpoenas offer attorneys a chance to obtain information to help prove or disprove their client’s case. Criminal attorneys, for example, often use subpoenas to obtain witness or lay opinion testimony from a third party that may lead to someone’s guilt or innocence at trial.In this case, Tim Cook stated, “When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we have offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal”. In the case of warrants and subpoenas, Apple extracted available information from the iPhone but did not unlock the phone. Also, there is a distinction between extracting or providing specified, limited information as directed by a warrant or subpoena versus building software that hacks into.
Warrant: Is a court order that authorizes a legal representative (usually law enforcement) to search or seize property. A warrant will be issued only if there is already reasonable evidence that a crime has been committed and the search or seizure will provide information relevant to the crime. A warrant cannot be used to determine whether relevant information exists or be used for a fishing expedition with the hope that something relevant will be discovered that will prove a crime has taken place. For example, because the police had reasonable evidence that the terrorist was using a cellphone to speak to others (e.g., his wife) about his planned attack, a warrant could be issued to seize and search the cellphone. The court order directing Apple to build the backdoor software was the kind of fishing expedition prohibited by a warrant. The legal authorities had no idea whether there was any relevant information on the phone, especially because the phone was issued for work. Further, the court was ordering Apple to do something special that would make otherwise unavailable information available for search or seizure.
For the above reasons, Apple’s refusal to unlock the phone while following valid subpoenas and warrants may not be contradictory after all…
Regarding QUESTION 2, you had to apply the Badaracco’s Four Spheres of Managers’ Commitment in order to know what Cook’s primary responsibilities were. This approach was useful to understand the ethical dilemmas of management decision-making, it is important to examine whether Cook’s different spheres of responsibility pose colliding or conflicting claims. Some of you based your answers on this framework but did not create new questions to extract enough information from the case.
1.- The Commitments of Private Life (As a Person)
Commitments to private life are the commitments to one´s basic values and principles.
From this point of view let’s consider the following questions:
- What are Cook’s basic values?
- What are the virtues or principles by which he tries to live as an individual?
- Are Cook’s personal principles conflicting with what is a stake in the present situation?
Two arguments suggest there is congruence between Cook’s personal principles and his commitments in other spheres, leading to his decision to refuse to acquiesce to the government’s demands.
One, as Cook’s commencement speech to the 2015 graduating class of George Washington University highlights, he believes personal values do not exist independently from the workplace, which has to be an arena where you can apply your values by fighting for injustice. Further, Cook exhorts the graduates not to be silent but to speak out against injustices. He believed in his own responsibility to give back.
Two, Cook had followed these principles and was acquiring the reputation of being “one of the world’s most outspoken corporate executives” in recent times. He had used the spotlight created by his role to focus attention on societal issues and issues of importance to him and the company. Cook believed he merely represented Apple’s long-standing culture of caring for these issues, even if these issues hadn’t previously been openly discussed. Cook declared, “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.
However, at the same time, there may be some conflict between Cook’s personal values and his commitment as a company leader. For instance, Apple employees have not been consulted on their views whether or not to build a backdoor to the iPhone. Similarly, the ‘backdoor’ issue also brought to the forefront a potential conflict between Cook’s personal values and his commitment to those outside the firm’s boundaries. Cook’s stance was in conflict with and ignoring the values of, freedom and justice for humankind.
2.- The Commitments of Economic Agents
These commitments are those Cook owed to the company’s shareholders. Cook’s commitment to shareholders may be analyzed by posing the following questions:
- At this specific time, when iPhone sales are slowing down and Apple’s stock prices are declining, what can we say about Cook’s ability to serve the shareholders of Apple?
- Is Cook in a strong position with the shareholders and investors, given Apple’s current financial results?
- Are these commitments conflicting with his responsibility as company leader or with commitments beyond the firm’s boundaries?
Two arguments can feed the debate:
One, Apple, under Cook, had remained fundamentally sound and emerged as the world’s most valuable company. Apple stock prices had soared until March 2015, although the prices had begun to decline as of July 2015. Apple, under Cook, had also managed to please the financial markets with impressive profitability, dividends, and buybacks, and yet managed to triple its cash reserves as of 2010 to more than US$150 billion. Cook’s relationship with his shareholders stood in contrast to that of Steve Jobs, which was tumultuous, with Jobs often opposing dividends and buybacks.
Two, despite the impressive financials, Cook had the courage to stand up to his convictions, even when it meant displeasing his investors. As the case mentions, Cook had defended Apple’s non-business initiatives, which investors perceived as contradictory to the company’s bottom line. Cook had defended these initiatives by saying Apple would continue to do things that were “just and right.”
Thus, Cook’s commitments as an economic agent, up until this point, had not been colliding with his commitments of private life; however, his commitments as an economic agent do seem to collide with his views on responsibility beyond the firm’s boundaries, and also with his responsibility as a company leader. For instance, Cook’s firing of two high performing individuals, who were responsible for creating the iOS and improving Apple store profitability was in keeping with his responsibility as a company leader and his own personal values of fostering a culture of collaboration. Yet, it was contradictory to his responsibility as an economic agent.
3.- The Commitments as Company Leader
These commitments pertain to the lives and welfare of company employees. The following questions will help us to analyze this point:
- What is Apple’s culture?
- What values do Apple employees embody?
- Is Cook aligned or in conflict with this culture?
- Would Apple employees support Cook’s stance against the FBI request?
These are Cook’s commitments as a company leader:
- Cook valued the company culture and believed there was harmony between his personal values and the values Apple embodies.
- He sought to build a culture that fostered collaboration, which he believed was the key for innovation.
- He sought to build a culture of transparency and openness.
- He did not believe in hogging the limelight, but rather in sharing it with his senior managers.
- He believed in corporate philanthropy, and he encouraged employee giving.
However there’s no evidence that Cook had internally checked with Apple employees before refusing the FBI´s demands, employees might have their own private values in this case so they might be approved the company’s stance, or they might though differently. So in this particular case, there is a conflict between Cook´s commitment to private life and his commitment as a company leader.
4.- Responsibilities Beyond the Firm’s Boundaries
Let’s think of Apple’s (and Cook’s) responsibilities beyond the firm’s boundaries by posing the following questions, each relating to a different stakeholder in Apple’s external world:
- What is Apple’s mission? What does it stand for?
- Is Cooks decision to refuse to cooperate with FBI reflective of Apple’s new mission statement?
- How will the public react to Apple during adverse times?
- Can such public opinion affect Apple’s image and, therefore, its sales?
As we saw in the case, Cook has been demonstrating responsibility beyond the firm’s boundaries. He has been defending a range of human rights and using the platform provided by Apple to influence and affect the lives of millions of people.
On the other hand, let’s read Apple’s New Mission:
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
The new mission statement can be interpreted to mean that Apple merely cared for its own customers in the sense of providing them with the best product lines, rather than its earlier focus on “humankind” at large, and advancing its cause.
We also know that American Tech companies, in order to protect their reputation improve their privacy policies, especially after what happened with the NASA and its program PRISM, so building back door could mean probably that the public won’t feel secure and won’t give up privacy and freedom in exchange for safety, and the company might lose a significant market.
In regards to QUESTION 3, you had to think about consequences. The question was “Which course of action (i.e. whether to cooperate with the FBI to build a backdoor to the iPhone or not) will do the most good and the least harm?”, so let’s analyze this dilemma from different points of view:
- Apple: Apple may lose or gain as a result of the decision not to build a backdoor to the iPhone. It may gain stature as a company willing to stand up for customer rights. However, any negative outcome arising from such a decision that may be traced back to Apple may lead to a reputational loss for Apple. The company would need to weigh the short-term consequences of brand building to the long-term consequences of reputational loss.
- Nation (United States): There is a genuine threat to national security due to the use of the Internet and social media by terrorists to plan and coordinate international terror attacks. The use of secret, private chat rooms and encrypted Internet message boards created a need for surveillance programs like Prism. In a world faced with growing threats of terrorism, the nation stands to lose as a result of Apple’s decision to not accede to the demand to build a backdoor to the iPhone.
- Global community: The global community stands to lose as a result of Apple’s decision, since the effect of international terrorism would not be limited to the United States alone.
- Technology sector companies: Apple’s competitors may gain or lose, depending on how Apple’s decision is perceived by the American public. If public opinion is in favor of Apple’s decision to protect customer privacy rights, other technology companies that cooperate with the U.S. government may be seen as compromising such rights. On the other hand, if Apple’s decision is perceived as negative, other technology companies stand to gain.
- Internet rights activist groups: Such groups will welcome Apple’s decision to refuse to build a backdoor to the iPhone.
If we look at Apple’s U.S. customers as being a subset of the U.S. citizens group, which itself is a subset of the global community. In this scenario, a decision to refuse the FBI demands can be seen as myopic, serving only a small group, not the entire community. Moreover, as claimed by Apple itself, national security-related requests from the U.S. government over the first six months of 2015 had affected just 0.00673 percent of Apple’s customers.
Apple holds a leadership position in the industry. Hence, a decision to go with the government’s request could set a precedent for other technology companies, enhance Apple’s stature, and win public admiration, possibly resulting in a win-win situation.
Based on the analysis of consequences, it appears that complying with the government’s demands may be seen as doing greater good for a greater number of people. Apple should cooperate with the government.
The more personal approach could be used in QUESTION 4 since you had to imagine what you would have done if you were in Cook’s shoes, these were some of the possible options:
- Since it was a one-off case, I would choose to build the backdoor. I would, however, remain committed to customer security and privacy.
- I would seek the views of my employees as well. If my team expressed dissent with my decision, I would honor their opinion and build a backdoor.
- I would choose to cooperate with the FBI since national security is a larger concern than the reputational risk associated with unlocking a single iPhone.
- I would continue with Cook’s decision since the FBI could always use other means of getting information. Unlocking the iPhone may yield no tangible results.
- Unlocking the iPhone by compromising my customers’ personal data leads to the risk of reputational loss. I shall not do so unless the government forces me. In such a case, I shall no longer be held responsible for any of the consequences.
- The phone did not belong to Farook but belonged to the San Bernardino County — Farook’s employer. The County gave permission to unlock the phone. As Apple’s CEO, this point of ownership helps me resolve the ethical dilemma of being true to my customer.
None of these answers was right or wrong. The idea was to understand the moral and ethical dilemmas of such decisions and to highlight how, in hindsight, it may appear that a different decision could yield a different outcome.
Finally, you were required to search what happened with Vodafone Germany in 2013 and see whether a backdoor could have put in risk cyber security and open a door to cybercriminals (QUESTION 5). A right approach was that creating a backdoor would not be technologically difficult for companies such as Apple. However, protecting the Key would be a significant challenge. Cybersecurity experts stressed that no backdoor for one government could be fully protected from others. In this context, any key to a backdoor will need to be carefully protected from hackers and would have to be constantly monitored. This will not be cheap and would constitute a big risk with potentially terrible consequences and probably make easier the job for cybercriminal hunting personal data from companies such as Vodafone and some other more around the world.
On the whole, you did a good activity and we hope you have learned from it. Let’s continue with the Corporate Strategy activity!
Master in Decision Making and Innovation
We are very proud to say how well you guys have been working on the Transmedia Storytelling activity.
As human beings, we are used to tell and heard stories along the way since childhood. No matter what culture we come from, we all grew up hearing stories. Storytelling is a powerful tool to transmit values and information with a strong emotional charge. The main goal of the activity was to create a story based on the content generated by Influencers helped by Advisors, followed by the rest of students looking for inspirational content.
Well, let’s start at the top reviewing hot spot and fundamental ideas we have seen through your work!
1- The most important thing is the information management you did it and a complete understanding of the activity from all of you: Advisors, Influencers and Followers. (flexed arm emoji)
You showed us through your work the important components of a (great) story, the nature of Storytelling. 😉
One of the influencer created a very good content, bearing in mind that Space Race is not an easy topic. She has achieved to communicate it in a comprehensive way and outstanding the value of women and animals in the Space Race, showing a great sensitiveness to the merit of these astronauts.
2- You finally made it! You made it a story using different story formats, resources and tools.
Other influencer considered to separate content by paragraphs. ( wise choice)
The use of the hashtag #MisteryDay, to identify all your publications and differentiate them from the rest of the themes.
Use more visual resources. Such as video, music, gifs, to make it more attractive to the target.
Link the publication with another blog or contents that provide more complementary information to the publication theme.
Close and friendly tone.
Encouraged followers to interact.
3- Skills that matter
You now know better the meaning of the expression “let your creativity flow”, the ability to use a language that evokes emotions and connects with others.
When you learn storytelling skills you are able to drive your conversations, presentations and business communications to the top of mind of people creating emotional connection. In the marketing and branding realm, storytelling has always been important, but not only in this fields, moreover, in all aspect of professional and personal life.
4- Extra info ( Nerd face emoji)
You became aware of the importance of such as topics like water crisis, pollution and climate change.
Make a story is like to make a cake, we have many ingredients and we are going to mixed everything, adding emotions, charming characters and at the end people involved have to be very happy with the result. 😉
Great job, #Gaians!
Social Networks Team.
Master in Decision Making & Innovation
I would like to give you some general feedback about the activity of Personal Branding unit: Elevator Pitch. The objective of this activity was that the students learn how to present their Personal Brand in a video of less than one minute. The perfect elevator pitch should consist of 3 elements that complement each other.
Elevator pitch elements:
1. Who are you? Present yourself shortly: share your name and give some information about the school that you attended, your studies and your current work.
2. What are your major accomplishments, passions, and unique skills? Talk about your unique selling point and your skills in the interesting and engaging way.
3. What do you want/ where are you going career-wise? Finally, you should talk about what you look for professionally.
These 3 parts are very important and together give the complete information about us, our unique skills that differentiate us from other candidates and our career aspirations. We can also mention our passions and what is important to us, which would tell a recruiter what kind of person we are and if we match with the company philosophy and its values.
Watch the next video about creating impacting elevator pitches in real situations, which could help you in the future:
After watching your elevator pitches, I have noticed that many people have included only the minimum information. It is important to include all the information required in the 3 elements that together compose the elevator pitch. Other important factors, which weren´t taken into account in some recordings were: tone of voice and voice speed, body language, sound, lightening and video background. Please keep these things in mind for the future.
Practice, practice and practice!!! Remember that practice is the key to feel more confident and comfortable with your pitch. It is such a pity that we lose so many great opportunities, only because we are not enough prepared. Next time, when the opportunity appears, be prepared for it and take advantage of it ☺
Master in Decision Making & Innovation
It has been a pleasure to be your mentor during this project appraisal module. I hope you have enjoyed it as well. This master program is about decision making, so we want you to have all the tools you need to decide if a project is worth doing or not. Project Appraisal aims at finding the most efficient way to achieve the project objective with the limited resources we have at our disposal. For this purpose, we have several tools such the one introduced in this workout: Financial Cost-Benefit Analysis.
Financial Cost-Benefit Analysis rests in calculating the present value of the future flows of projects. Here are the keys points to remember about discounting future flows to present value:
- Costs and benefits accumulate over the life of the project. We cannot compare the cost of year 1 to the benefit of year 10.
- We must bring all the costs and all the benefits of the project during its lifetime to the present time.
- The discount rate reflects the risks of the project and the opportunity cost.
- Once we have discounted all the costs and benefits from all the years of the project, we can calculate the Net Present Value.
- Net Present Value is the difference between the present value of benefits and the present value of costs, and it is the main metric to evaluate project profitability.
Also, There are several dimensions you must consider when calculating a cost-benefit analysis.
1) We are talking about the profitability of a project; therefore, we need to identify all the revenues and costs to see if the project has positive net cash flows (profits) or negative cash flows (losses).
2) We are evaluating the profitability in a given time frame. Therefore, we must analyze if this project is profitable during a time frame, and for this purpose we use NPV, discounting the project Net cash flows to present. If NPV is positive, it means the project is profitable.
3) IRR is the Rate at which NPV=0. The internal rate of return is used to evaluate the attractiveness of a project or investment. If the IRR of a new project exceeds a company’s required rate of return, that project is desirable.
So IF IRR>Discount Rate, the project is desirable.
IF IRR<Discount Rate, the project is not desirable.
Finally, I would like to quickly summarize the keys of the workout. WifiMad was divided into two questions. One theory question regarding the steps to evaluate a project and a Cost-Benefit Analysis exercise.
You can find the steps to evaluate a project in your Project Appraisal Ebook: 1) project objective; 2) Identify alternatives; 3) Identify costs & benefits; 4) Assessing the cost & benefits of the project; 5) Calculate the Present Value; 6) Risk and uncertainty analysis; 7) Obtaining a measurement of profitability.
The main exercise in this workout was the Cost-Benefit Analysis. The 6 most common questions were:
- Calculation of replacement costs: You need to calculate the cost from year 1 to year 12 using the replacement rate over the accumulated number of kiosk deployed in the streets (722 in year 1, 1444 in year 2, 2166 from year 3 to year 12).
- Calculation of sponsorship revenues: Since it is a onetime revenue per kiosk, you need to calculate the revenue from year 1 to year 3 over the amounts of kiosks purchased every year (722 per year from years 1 to 3). They should be constant amounts every year.
- Calculation of Wifi Access, Electricity Consumption, and Sales Platforms: All these cost and revenue streams were presented in monthly terms, so you had to multiply by 12 to calculate yearly amounts.
- Discounting cash flows: Some of you asked about starting to discount at t=0 or in year 2. You must start discounting the cash flows in year 1. When we talk about year 1, it means at the end of the this year – one year from today (we do not use t=0 in this exercise).
- IRR calculation: some of you asked about calculating the IRR over the discounted cash flows instead of the net cash flows. Remember the IRR is the rate at which we discount the cash flows to get an NPV equal to 0. So we have to calculate the IRR over the original net cash flows of the project.
- IRR interpretation: Some of you stated that the IRR changes with a new discount rate. IRR does not change if we modify the discount rate because it depends on the original net cash flows of the project (that do not change with a different discount rate). In conclusion, IRR holds but our discount rate (opportunity cost) increases, so our discount rate gets closes to the project IRR meaning the project is less desirable than before.
The power point presentation I prepared for you to solve this exercise contains all the required details to complete the cost-benefit analysis successfully. Remember that it has been uploaded to Project Appraisal unit>Contents section>page 3.
Expert GAIA Program