Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a good life

a good life

Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “Be considerate in your private life, diligent in your public affairs, and loyal in your relationships with others. Even when you’re among the Yi and Di tribes, don’t deviate from these principles.”
樊遲問仁。子曰:「居處恭,執事敬,與人忠,雖之夷狄,不可棄也。」

There are no big secrets to leading a good life. If you treat people kindly, work hard, and build close relationships with others, you will have a great time no matter where you are and who you happen to be with. As much as some would like to accentuate our differences, the core values all of us live by are very much the same. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a good life

Notes from the field: magic lanterns and Edge AI devices

Edge AI devices

One way of thinking about an Edge AI device is as a magic lantern that lights up whenever it is triggered by a specific event. When an AI video security system identifies an intruder entering the building, for example, it could potentially set off lights flashing, alarm bells ringing, and urgent messages flying to make sure that the individual is apprehended before he does any serious damage.

The same principle applies to Edge AI devices for industrial, transportation, and other vertical applications. No matter whether it’s a defective product on a manufacturing line or an errant driver surreptitiously checking his smartphone for the latest sports news, the magic lantern will shine a bright light on it and issue a call for action. Continue reading Notes from the field: magic lanterns and Edge AI devices

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: what are your blind spots?

blind spots

Lord She declared to Confucius: “Among my people, there is a man of unwavering integrity. When his father stole a sheep, he informed on him.” Confucius said: “Among my people, people of integrity are different. Fathers watch the backs of their sons and sons watch the backs of their fathers. Integrity can be found in this.”
葉公語孔子曰:「吾黨有直躬者,其父攘羊而子證之。」孔子曰:「吾黨之直者異於是,父為子隱,子為父隱,直在其中矣。」

We all have our blind spots: people and ideas that we elevate so highly that we lose all sense of reality when evaluating them. Even Confucius had his with (possibly) Yan Hui and (definitely) with filial devotion. What are your blind spots? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: what are your blind spots?

Notes from the field: emerging Edge AI market trends

2021 Edge AI market

The term Edge AI has slipped seamlessly into the high-tech marketing lexicon over the past couple of years thanks to the convergence of a number of trends. The most notable ones are the integration of cameras into just about every new electronics device and the development of increasingly sophisticated algorithms that give these devices the intelligence to recognize a person or object and issue a call to action whenever they are triggered by a particular image or type of behavior. Continue reading Notes from the field: emerging Edge AI market trends

Notes from the field: new technology trends in 2021

new technology trends in 2021

I’ve been asked by one of our PR agencies to prepare a series of articles for their national media about the new technology trends in 2021. This is generally a task I plan to work on every year but somehow never seem to get around to. Perhaps this year will be different. After all it has already been different in so many other ways thanks to Covid-19.

Ironically, I don’t actually see any major new technology trends emerging in 2021. The key metric to watch will, rather, be the speed with which the now-familiar digital transformation drivers such as Machine Learning, AI, IoT, and Cloud are being adopted. While there has definitely been a great acceleration in remote working this year, for example, we are already seeing growing resistance to the idea that it is some sort of panacea. Continue reading Notes from the field: new technology trends in 2021

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: don’t try to rush things

don't try to rush things

When Zixia was governor of Jufu he asked about governance. Confucius said: “Don’t try to rush things. Ignore matters of minor advantage. If you try to rush things, you won’t achieve success. If you pursue matters of minor advantage, you won’t succeed in major affairs.”
子夏為莒父宰問政。子曰:「無欲速,無見小利。欲速則不達,見小利則大事不成。」

Don’t try to rush things. That’s not just the easiest way to make silly mistakes. It also increases the risk that you’ll miss what’s really important. Take some time to analyze the situation and talk to everyone involved. Look behind the numbers and reams of emails and reports to find out what’s really going on. By rushing in to show you’re in charge, you’ll more likely make things worse than better. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: don’t try to rush things

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: beating down the doors

beating down the doors

Lord She asked about governance. Confucius said: “If you make the people near to you happy others will come from afar.”
葉公問政。子曰:「近者說,遠者來。」

If you make your organization an attractive place to work for, you won’t have to pursue aggressive recruitment strategies to attract the right people. They’ll be beating down the doors to join you. Strict enforcement of petty regulations to impose greater discipline will just as easily drive them away again by causing resentment and resistance. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: beating down the doors

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: one single saying

one single saying

Duke Ding asked: “Is there one single saying that can ensure the prosperity of a state?” Confucius replied: “No single saying could have such an effect. There is a saying, however: ‘It’s difficult to be a ruler; it isn’t easy to be a minister.’ A saying that could make the ruler understand the difficulty of his task would come close to ensuring the prosperity of the state.” “Is there one single saying that can ruin a state?” Confucius replied: “No single saying could have such an effect. There is a saying, however: ‘There’s nothing I love more about being a ruler than never having to be contradicted.’ If you’re right and nobody contradicts you, that’s great; but if you’re wrong and nobody contradicts you, wouldn’t this come close to being a case of ‘one single saying that can ruin a state?’”
定公問:「一言而可以興邦,有諸?」孔子對曰:「言不可以若是其幾也!人之言曰:『為君難,為臣不易。』如知為君之難也,不幾乎一言而興邦乎?」曰:「一言而喪邦,有諸?」孔子對曰:「言不可以若是其幾也!人之言曰:『予無樂乎為君,唯其言而莫予違也。』如其善而莫之違也,不亦善乎?如不善而莫之違也,不幾乎一言而喪邦乎?」

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room just because you’re in charge. Your role is to bring the best minds together and listen to what they have to tell you. It’s only by hearing different perspectives on issues from people who aren’t afraid to challenge your thinking that you’ll be able to come to the best decision. Creating an open and trusting environment in which everyone feels comfortable about sharing their expertise and opinions is vital for ensuring the continued prosperity of your organization and preventing it from falling into ruin. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: one single saying

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: conflicts of interest

conflicts of interest

When Ran Qiu returned from court, Confucius said: “What kept you so long?” Ran Qiu replied: “Government affairs.” Confucius said: “Surely you mean private affairs. If it had been government affairs I would have heard about them, even though I’m not in office.”
冉子退朝,子曰:「何晏也?」對曰:「有政。」子曰:「其事也!如有政,雖不吾以,吾其與聞之!」

As technology blurs the boundaries between functions, disciplines, and businesses, how are you going to manage the conflicts of interest that will inevitably arise from this? What if a supplier decides to move into a market that you’re already active in based in part on the insights it’s gleaned from working with you? Or if an online distributor leverages the sales data it’s capturing to develop a product that competes directly with yours under its own brand? This is a murky new world that technology is moving us into with levels of ethical complexity that have never been seen before. Make sure you’re ready for it. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: conflicts of interest