New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 5: Select Solutions (Tripadvisor Case Study)


NITID-Select_Solutions

See also:

After brainstorming, simplifying, organizing and evaluating all the ideas, finally it’s time to select the BigData solution in which to invest.

Thanks to the QFD matrix, the key parameters  and competencies that are required for fulfilling the customer needs have been identified.

Moreover, the QFD assesses how the development of a new idea will change the strategic position of the company in the market through a gap analysis.

Anyhow, which idea to choose among all the bigdata IT initiatives?

The question can be addressed by using the Pugh matrix in the table below.

Pugh_Matrix

In particular, in our PUGH matrix of TripAdvisor, all bigdata initiatives are the new functions (needs) to implement and putted into rows: facilitate the process, establish an integrated supply chain, create customer experiences, engage customers and provide statistics and reports.

Meanwhile, all the IT solutions (requirements) are putted into columns: WEB user interface, restaurateur interface, suppliers interface, social networks, visual charts, external company’s interface, data analytics and predictive tools.

In the PUGH matrix a final benchmark is accomplished by assigning for each interception a score that might be -1, +1 or 0, respectively if the solution proposed is worse, better or equal on satisfying the specific need to a solution defined as a reference (market).

The solution to use as a reference for the in the Pugh matrix should be either one of the best solution of the market (e.g.: Booking) or the solution AS-IS that is currently provided to the customer.

The Pugh result is given by the sum of all the scores into rows and it is representative of much innovative and useful solution is.

As an example, according to results in the PUGH matrix, the most innovative solutions are the creation of a social network and the external company interface (EDI).

However, within a strategy plan definition such solutions might be risky due to the investments involved, more IT complexity to manage and agreements with stakeholders.

On the contrary, WEB user interface and Visual Charts, that have the second highest score (3) might be easily implemented and ready to use by the users of TripAdvisor. Thus, these solutions might be developed in order to quickly get a competitive advantage.

Not necessarily, the highest Pugh score is the best solution must be choosen. In this sense, the Pugh matrix is useful, rather than univocally determining one IT initiative, to encourage and stimulate a well-defined strategy with a proper staging.

In particular, in a strategy plan based on Pugh’s results it might be stated that a social network should be created only when the customer engagement has been improved enough thanks to WEB user interface and Visual Charts. By doing so, it is possible to leverage the customer commitment for achieving the network effect when promoting the social network initiative.

Similarly, if becoming a platform for an integrated supply chain is one of the long-term objectives, a proper staging and pace of the related IT initiatives should be defined in a way that fits the company DNA (see A question about IT change management: does the DNA of the company fit your IT vendor?).

For example, if TripAdvisor is a “cautious adopter”, it will better to first implement restaurateur’s interface IT initiative in order to engage them and then involve also suppliers with supplier’s interface.

Furthermore, as an example, specifically for the data analytics and predictive tool IT solutions (requirements), the KPIs to adopt are linked with the key performances evaluated in the QFD matrix through the need “providing statistics and reports” (see Table in New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 4: Evaluate Solutions).

In particular, the key parameters are data redundancy, correlation, representatives, etc. as a measure of the quality of the data to gather and collect. In such a way, it will be ensured reliable information and insights by considering all the relevant aspects: information theory, statistic, control theory and psychology (see Caution!!! BigData S.L.I.P.S.: five tips when using analytics).

With the Step 5 (Select Solution), the N.IT.I.D method for developing new business model thanks to BigData is accomplished.

So… Would Tripadvisor adopt new BigData initiatives?

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What Logistic, Supply Chains and Telecommunication have in common? (part 2) Mr “Lean” Hartley-Shannon!


In the previous post:

What Logistic, Supply Chains and Telecommunication have in common? Mr “Lean” Kendall!

the queue theory links together telecommunication and supply chains management (SCM) since both actually share the same issue: how to deal with queues?

In order to achieve a certain Time To Delivery, according to queue theory, there are two approaches:

  1. increase inventories in order to compensate demand volatility.
  2. increase velocity that means achieving low lead times (production, supplies, deliveries) in terms of material flows and information flows as well.

Anyhow, how to face market demand volatility providing to customers the same Time To Delivery (velocity) without increasing inventories (waste of resources)?

Nowadays markets are more volatile than in the past and customers are expecting short time to delivery (see the same day of delivery battle between amazon and Ebay).

How to be more reactive toward changes in market demand?

Market Volatility, Frequency and Shannon-Hartley sampling theorem

A market demand is commonly drawn in a chart and it may looks like in the picture below where:

  • T = is the reference period when measuring the market demand. Actually, with regards to S&OP (Sales & Operation Planning), is when customers’ orders are aggregated for defining the schedules for the next period. (es. 1 month).
  • Si = is the level of the demand (aggregated orders) at time i. For example S1 = 200 pz in January (i=1), S2 = 150 pz (i=2) in February and so on.

Signal_Sampling

Well, according to Shannon-Hartley theorem T is the sampling period. Intuitively, the shorter the period the better signal changes are tracked.

In particular, given T the sampling period and (bandwidth) the highest frequency that is wanted to be recorded, we have that:

T must be lower than 1 / (2*B)

And what does this mean in practice when dealing with demand volatility?

As an example, it means that if customers’ orders are aggregated once per month, no more than a change within a period of 2 months can be managed by the company.

No matter if MRPs, TQM, Lean Manufacturing and other tools are in place.

Batches, Queues, One Piece Flow and Lean Thinking

According to Lean Thinking (see to James Womack), the challenge is switching from batch & queue paradigm to one piece flow manufacturing. That is the philosophy for reducing waste: inventories and time.

Batch & queue paradigm is the main cause of waste, both in terms of high inventories (low liquidity for investments) and time (effectiveness).

Companies that are re-thinking theirs business model towards a one piece flow approach will achieve operational excellence and market effectiveness.

In practice, achieving one piece flow means being able to operate with high frequencies(*):

  1. processing customers’ orders once a day instead of once a week
  2. production planning once a week instead of once a month
  3. production scheduling once a day instead of once per month
  4. and negotiate with suppliers weekly instead of monthly deliveries.

…and here where issues come out.

Attempting to speed-up processes and activities along the value chain (production, order management, deliveries, supplies,…) it’s actually an opportunity for:

  • discovering unproductive tasks along the flow, both material and informational
  • useless complexity (product mix, BOMs,…)
  • technology legacy (machinery, IT systems)
  • the need for company training and personal engagement on continuous improvements

There are all constraints for improving velocity and TTD.

(*) point 1,2 and 3 are part of the S&OP (Sales and Operating Planning)

…So: can you guess which is the “bandwidth” of your company? Ask to Mr. Shannon and Mr. Hartley

Acknowledged that:

  • markets are getting more and more volatile
  • TTDs required by customers are getting shorter and shorter

why frequency and tack time are so important in lean manufacturing as well as the demand planning period for S&OP?

It can be inferred that, according to Shannon-Hartely sampling theorem, it’s because the demand planning period (S&OP) is strictly correlated with the ability of the company to react on changes in the market.

In particular:
T is the planning period so that only one change in the demand within a period of 2T can be handled by the company without safety stocks.

From another perspective, what if the company attempts to reduce the planning period T?

There is a T_limit, due to many constraints such as lead times (suppliers, cycles,…), set-ups, shipments,… where a further reduction of the planning period will not produce significant improvements in terms of inventory reduction and TTD.

Again, thanks to Shannon-Hartely sampling theorem, the T_limit defines a kind of company bandwidth, a KPI for measuring the ability of the company to mange market volatility without increasing inventories.

In particular:

T_limit is the shortest planning period where no significant improvements in terms of inventory reduction can be achieved by increasing the freguency planning, and the company bandwidth B is defined as 1 / (2*T_limit)

For example:

  • company bandwidth B = 1 changes / 1 month. That means that the company can react to demand changes once per month without increasing inventories.
  • the T_limit is equal to  1 / (2*B) = 1 / (2*1) = 0.5 month. Thus, lowering the demand planning period below 2 times per month does not produce any significant improvement and inventory reduction.

So, since  Lean Manufacturing implies achieving one piece flow and ability to operate with high frequencies (bandwidth),…

can you guess which is the bandwidth in your company?

SCM_and_Telecommunication_Part2

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New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 4: Evaluate Solutions (Tripadvisor Case Study)


NITID-Evaluate_Solutions

See also:

After brainstorming new idea and organize them, the next step of the N.IT.I.D. method is to evaluate the solution proposed for the TripAdvsor case study.

The KJ method in the Step 3 (Organize), it has been possible to organize the un-structured brainstormed ideas in a structure way. The next phase is to connect all the ideas grouped with KJ method with the key performances needed in order to satisfy new functionalities.

In order to evaluate the solutions, all the key performances must be measurable. For example, the “facilitate the process” BigData initiation needs a new WEB interface to develop in order to create a list of pending reviews. In this case, some key measurable parameters for the interface should be the delay and inconsistency between the pending reviews shown and the incoming new receipts.

In the Table below are shown all the BigData ideas, IT infrastructures required and the KEY parameters that should be considered respectively as:

  • new needs
  • requirements
  • and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

BigData_Initiative - needs, requirements and KPIs

By putting needs into rows and the list of KPIs listed in the Table into columns, it is possible to create the QFD (Quality Function Development) matrix (see Figure below).

BigData Initiative QFD Matrix

In this example it has been assigned a score for each KPI with values X (no relations), 3 (weak relation) or 9 (strong relation) and an importance rating (e.g. from 0 to 9) for each new need accordingly to the priorities and objectives of the company.

For example, the importance rating should be assessed by considering factors such as the customer value curve, opportunity to innovate for getting a competitive advantage or risks (e.g.: disruptive innovations from competitors). Finally, the QFD score for each KPI is given by the sum of the scores intercepted by weighting (multiplying) them accordingly to the importance rating.

The aim of the QFD matrix is to link in a structured way the ideas (needs) with the key performances. Moreover, by assigning a score for each KPIs that measure its importance in order to satisfy the need it is possible to obtain an indicator of relevance for each key performance.

In the example, KPI inconsistencies (fake reviews and Negative SEO) is the most relevant KPI to consider since got the highest score (117).

Meanwhile, according to the importance rating, the most relevant ideas are Engage Customers and Facilitate the Process.

However, are they the ones that should be really implemented by TripAdvisor?

To be continued…

Feelink – Feel & Think approach for doing life!

What Logistic, Supply Chains and Telecommunication have in common? Mr “Lean” Kendall!


In telecommunication engineering, queue’s theory is applied whenever dealing with design of telecommunication networks.

Anyhow, actually in our every day life we are all “victims” of queues. For example, when waiting to pay at the supermarket, when blocked in the traffic jam and when, as a customer, waiting the delivery of a purchased item.

Or, when dealing with Supply Chains, delivery delays and high level of stocks.

After almost ten years from University, it has been exiting for me discovered that the same principles behind the queue’s theory in Telecommunication can be applied in a totally different field where I work: logistic and supply chain.

Anyhow, which are the principles that telecommunication and supply chain management (SCM) have in common? They both could be described by using a specific statistical model “A/B/k”.

“A/B/k” is the so called Kendall’s notification A/B/k where:

  • A: it represents the statistical model of new entries (e.g. a new call phone, a new client at the bank agency,…),  in the queue that suit best the “real” world. For example, M stands for a Markovian (memory less) process, E an Erlang distribution process and so on
  • B: it describes how the entries in the queue are processes and thus theirs statistics. It could be the same model as for arrivals or different.
  • k: is number of places of the “waiting area”. If k=1 it means that new arrivals will be discharged if new entries occur. While if k=5, as an example, there are 4 places available for new arrivals till a new entry can be processed in the queue.

Apart from the statistical models characterizing arrivals and processing, when designing a simple telecommunication system there are mainly two constraint:

  1. the capacity of the telecommunication channel. How many calls per minute can be processed? Or how many Gbytes/s can be provided by a network connection?
  2.  the memory available that is the number k in the Kendall’s notification.

Statistics apart, there is and hidden rule behind:

Channel capacity and Memory Available are Link each other. Low Channel Capacity might be Compensated by Increasing the Memory Available.

So, what a telecommunication network described with a Kendall’s notification have in common with SCM?

  1. channel capacity = velocity on handling both material and information among Supply Chain
  2. memory = level of inventory

SCM_and_Telecommunication

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New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 3: Organize (Tripadvisor Case Study)


NITID-Organize

See also:

A new business model for Tripadvisor has been developed thanks to BigData IT Innovations.

After brainstorming (Step 1) and then simplifying (Step 2) the founded new opportunities emerged from such a new business model, the next step for the N.IT.ID method is: Organize.

The purpose of organizing is to obtain a set of ideas and innovations that are structured according to a criteria that will be useful during the remaining two steps 4 and 5: Evaluate and Select.

So, after Step 2- Simplify, on the table there are the following opportunities for Tripadvisor thanks to BigData Innovation:

A) Facilitate the Process

B) Establish an Integrated Supply Chain

C) Create Customer Experiences

D) Engage Customers

E) Provide Statistics and Reports

 The Step 3 – Organize, consist on the following procedure:

  1. unify the remaining ideas into rational association of affinity group;
  2. rank the groups;
  3. group the unified ideas into a rational association affinity group (2nd level group) as it has been done at point 1;
  4. assign to each 2nd level group a general topic (avoid a list of ideas) or a common theme;
  5. identify relations among groups (correlations, dependencies,…).

In details:

1) Unify the remaining ideas into rational association of affinity group

In order to create affinity groups, it is necessary to define a criteria. Let’s assume as a criteria the function in the company (value chain), that would be involved for each idea.

With such a criteria the affinity groups are as follows:

Affinity_Groups

In particular, within the organization of Tripadvisor, A) facilitating the process and B) establishing an integrated supply chain are about its Operations’ activities.

While C) Creating Customers Experiences and D) Engaging customers they are responsibilities under Sales & Marketing department.

Finally, D) Providing Statistics and Reports might be considered as an additional Service (e.g.: after sales).

2) Rank the groups

As it has been done during the previous N.IT.I.D Step 2 – Simplify, it might be useful to further reduce the number of new initiatives by ranking the affinity groups and eliminating those groups that are less important.

For example, each team member should give a vote between 1 to 6 accordingly to its perception of importance (1 = low, 6 = very high) and then keep only the highly scored groups.

In this case, since there are only three groups, it does not make sense eliminate any groups.

Better would be to keep all the three groups for the next N.IT.I.D. – Step: Evaluate.

3) Group the unified ideas into a rational association of affinity group (2nd level groups)

In a similar way at point 1, group again the groups of ideas that are similar according to another criteria.

Using as a second criteria the Stakeholder potentially involved that are Customer, Suppliers (Restaurateurs and Hotels) and Collaborators, here below the 2nd level affinity groups:2nd_Level_GroupsIn particular, Customers & Suppliers are engaged in the idea A) facilitating the process and B) establishing an integrated supply chain.

While, Customers & Collaborators  are involved for C) Creating Customers Experiences and D) Engaging customers.

Finally, D) Providing Statistics and Reports might be considered as an additional Service (e.g.: after sales) for Suppliers.

4) Assign to each 2nd level group a general topic or common theme

As for N.IT.I.D Step 2 – Simplify, define a general topic or common theme that labels each 2nd level groups.

As labels for 2nd level groups just keep the stakeholder involved so that the general topics are:

  • Customers & Suppliers
  • Customers & Collaborators
  • Suppliers

5) Identify relations among groups (correlations, dependencies,…).

The last point is to identify relations among the 2nd level groups. In particular, as it is shown in the Figure below, there are two relations: one that is related to customers and one that is related to suppliers.

Precisely, the customer as a stakeholder create a link between “facilitate the process” and “engage customer” functionalities, while suppliers enable a connection between “integrated supply chain” and “provide statistics” ideas.

Groups_of_Ideas

An example how it looks like…

The Step 3 – Organize is actually the so called KJ Method developed by Jiro Kawakita.

Writing all the ideas into cards and using a whiteboard where to post them, it would be useful in order to have always the view of the “big picture” during the process.

Here below an example of it might look like a N.IT.ID process after Organize (Step 3).

KJ Method

To be continued…

Feelink – Feel & Think approach for doing life!

The 2nd Law (part 3) – The Missing Linkage Between Economy and Ecosystem. Mankiw’s Ten Principles and Thermoeconomics


Recalling the previous post about ecological sustainability [1],

The 2nd Law (part 2) – My Issue with Ecological Sustainability and World Economy (Mankiw’s Ten Principles)

what is missing is strong linkage between the world economy and the limited biocapacity of the planet Earth.

The missing link between economy and ecosystem has been already pointed out by many researchers [2].

World Economy and Ecosystem: Mankiw’s 10 Principles and Thermoeconomics

Both, natural ecosystem and world economy are complex system and theirs outcomes are not easy to define analytically, to predict and to manage.

Briefly, world economy have been described by Mankiw’s Ten Principles and outcomes are mainly due to [1]:

  • Decision Making and Supply-Demand’s law (invisible hand)
  • Regulation by Government and Policy Makers

Regarding the ecosystems, the Global Footprint Network is attempting to provide a measure about the biocapacity of each country as well as for all over the world. This year (2014), human activities have consumed all the biocapacity available on 19th of August [3].

A possible link between the world economy and the ecosystem might be established thanks to Thermoeconomics [4]: that is Thermodynamics applied to Economy.

Without touching topics such as, thermodynamics, information theory and cybernetic, briefly, both ecosystem and economy are two environments that are accessing to the same resources (biocapacity, energy,…) available in the “system” Earth as shown in the Figure below [5]:

Economy and Ecosystem

Ecosystem

The ecosystem, thanks to photosynthesis and Krebs cycles, is efficiently using the resources in the Earth (mass and energy) without producing any waste.

The variables of an ecosystem are its biocapacity (mass: forests, animals, soil, water,…), energy, temperature, etc. and they are regulated by physics’ laws.

Economy

On the contrary, human activity is evolving and economy is growing because of energy dispersal without re-integrating biocapacity consumptions (deforestation, species’ extinctions, water, natural resources, etc) [6].

Values (money), regulations, prices, interest rates, etc. are the variables of the economy. Human behaviors and outcomes of the economy are governed by Mankiw’s ten principles [7].

What economy produce as an exchange for growth is mainly waste and pollution: something that neither the economic nor ecosystem environments are able to use as a resource.

How to Link World Economy & Ecosystem?

Since the beginning of the 19th century, many scientists, biologists, physics and economists, have conducted several studies and developed theories as well in order to address the missing link between economy and the entire ecosystems [2][8].

The same researches, inferred that (thermoeconomic):

Assumption 1: to each money transaction correspond a flow of energy or biocapacity.

Meanwhile, in the economic environment (from Mankiw’s ten principles):

Assumption 2: to each economic interaction among economic actors corresponds a transfer of value that is represented by a monetary flow.

Common economic interactions are:

  • selling\buying: a transfer of money from the consumer to the retailer
  • issuing a loan: a transfer of money from banks to households\firms.
  • transfers of money from central bank to national banks;
  • taxes and subsidies: transfers of money between households\firms and governments.
  • the act of printing money by the central bank incentivize the volume of the economic transactions since more money is putted into the system.

While:

  • producing goods\services means adding a value in the economic environment that is equal to the (price – cost of production).
  • consuming goods\services means decreasing the value in the economic system that is equal to the price paid for the goods\services.

The missing link… at least in theory, in two new principles

How Economy and Ecosystem Interact: Principle N.11

Putting assumption 1 from thermoeconomic and assumption 2 together, here below one missing principle to add at the previous Mankiw’s ten principle that might link World Economy with the Ecosystem:

Principle N.11

To Each Interaction among Economic Actors Corresponds both a Monetary Flow and an Energy Flow.

 

How Economy and Ecosystem Interact: Principle N.12

The new Principle N.12 is about how to deal with complex systems as both economy and ecosystem they are.

In a complex system mostly of the times something strange, new and unexpected happen that is called as “emergent phenomena“.

An example, is the human body. A body is actually a mass o billions of one-celled organism like bacteria.

Well, would a unicellular organism exist without human bodies? Of course, Yes. There are even bacteria that infect our organism.

On the contrary, would human bodies exist without unicellular organisms? No!

Therefore, the questions above suggest us that a human body is an emergent phenomena of unicellular organisms as well as there is also clear hierarchy of existence among complex systems.

What about Economy and Ecosystem?

By answering to the same questions:

  • Would Ecosystem exists without Economy? Yes, as it happened before humankind.
  • On the contrary, would Economy exists without Ecosystem? No way. Economy is an emergent phenomena created by humankind, and humankind is an emergent phenomena of Ecosystem as well. As a matter of fact, human beings can not exist without the support of the Ecosystem: mainly food, water and energy.

Such a reasoning leads to Principle N.12:

Principle N.12

The Economic Environment is an Emergent Phenomena of the Ecosystem.

So, once acknowledged the new Principles  N.11 and N.12 that link Economy and Ecosystem:

what does they mean in practice, both for economic activities and enviroment sustainability?

To be continued…

Feelink – Feel & Think approach for doing life!

Resources

[1]: I. Gruer, “The 2nd Law (part 2) – My Issue with Ecological Sustainability and World Economy (Mankiw’s Ten Principles)”. Posted Sept. 10, 2014, http://www.ivangruer.com.

[2]: Peter A. Corning. “Control Information Theory: The Missing Link in the Science of Cybernetics”. System Research and Behavioral Science. n.24, pp 297-311, 2007.

[3]: Earth Overshoot Day. “Global Footprint Network“. http://www.footprintnetwork.org

[4]: Peter A. Corning. “Thermoeconomics: Beyond the Second Law”. Journal of Bioeconomics. Vol. 4 – Issue 1, pp 57-88, 2002.

[5]: M. Gong, G. Wall. “On Exergetics, Economics, and Optimization of Technical Process to Meet Enviromental Conditions”. International Conference on Thermodynamic Analysis and Improvements on Energy Systems. 10-13 June 1997. Beijing, China.

[6]: A. Annilla, S. Salthe. “Economy Evolves by Energy Dispersal”. Entropy. 11-2009. http://www.mdpi.com/journal/entropy/

[7]: N.Gregory Mankiw. Principles of Economics 6e. South-Western, Cenage Learning.

[8] Peter A. Corning. Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution. University Of Chicago Press. 2005.

[9]: N.Gregory Mankiw. “A Carbon Tax that America could Love with”. New York Times. 01. Sept. 2014.

[10]: Buttonwood’s Notebook. “Energy use and Growth: an Optimistic View”. The Economist. 26 June 2013.

New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 2: Simplify (Tripadvisor Case Study)


NITID-Simplify

See also: New IT Innovation Development (N.IT.I.D) method Step 2: Simplify (Tripadvisor Case Study).

Thanks to the new data available for Tripadvisor, it has been applied the N.IT.I.D. process, and after the first step (Brainstorming), there are on the table the following opportunities:

1) Facilitate the process of the reviews for users by updating a list of “pending reviews” to fill once a new bill in a restaurant\hotel has been recorded.

2) Create “customer experiences” through new visualization charts such as a map of visited restaurants and hotels and\or a social network that connect users together in order to share the experiences.

3) Engage customers by creating synergies with loyalty programs.

4) Provide statistics and reports that might be useful to restaurateurs and hotel managers.

5) Establish an integrated supply chain by providing further additional services to restaurateurs and hotels.

All these ideas required investments, in terms of IT infrastructures, human resources and agreements with stakeholders or third parties. Will such investments have a return?

Hard to say now. Better first to jump at the second Step of the N.IT.I.D. process: Simplify.

A brainstorming session usually produce a redundant, inconsistent and  sometimes irrelevant set of ideas. Thus, a rough simplification could be done as follows:

1. Give to each idea a senentence\image

The idea\image should identify briefly the concept. In this case, simply let’s keep as images for the opportunities mentioned above the words in bold: facilitate the process, create customer experiences, engage customers, provide statistics and reports, establish an integrated supply chain.

2. Remove redundant ideas

After giving a simplified sentence, some ideas might be redundant. In this case, no redundancies emerged and thus all the idea should be kept on the table.

3. Rank each idea

With a set ideas that are unique (no redundancies) a vote among all the team members should rank the opportunities. For example, each member can give to each idea a score between 1 to 6: 1 not relevant at all and 6 extremely relevant.

The sum of the votes than will rank all the opportunities by theirs relevance.

An important recommendation: when ranking, each team member should evaluate ideas with a score between 1 and 6, without providing any justification. The vote should be only about perceptions, intuitions, and feelings. As Edward de Bono would say: “wear the red hat!” (see 6 Thinking Hats).

4. Keep only the most relevant ideas

After ranking all the ideas, the group might decide to keep only the most relevant ones (e.g.: first ten idea). Anyhow, do not throw away the removed ideas. Keep them in a temporary basket because they might be useful during steps 4 and 5 (Evaluate and Select solutions).

In our case, since there are only five items, all the ideas will be kept as important for the next step: Organize.

To be continued…

Feelink – Feel & Think approach for doing life!

The 2nd Law (part 2) – My Issue with Ecological Sustainability and World Economy (Mankiw’s Ten Principles)


ABC_Towards_Ecological_Sustainability

Global Footprint and Ecological Sustainability

19th August 2014, planet Earth: humanity has exhausted all the biological resources provided by nature in one year [1].

According to Global Footprint Network, last 19th August was the Earth Overshoot Day 2014. That means, from 20th of August till the end of the year 2014, in order to support world consumptions and human activities, the world economy has to exploit natural resources, such as water, soil and gas, that nature is not able to recover back as usable as well as all the carbon dioxide emissions will not be assimilated by the ecosystem anymore.

Till 70s, human activities where below Earth’s biocapacity. From 80s, the world economy has always overshoot the biocapacity and it’s getting higher and higher every year. Financially speaking, is like withdrawing from a bank account more money than incomes: It’s not sustainable in the long run.

Way towards ecological sustainability (Mankiw’s Ten Principles)

According to Mankiw’s ten Principles [2], there are manly two ways\approaches that might promote ecological sustainability:

  1. Regulations
  2. Decision Making and Consumer Awareness

1. Regulations

Recalling the so called “invisible hand” of principle n.6, markets are a good way to organize economic activities:

Households and firms that interact in market economies act as if they are guided by an “invisible hand” that leads the market to allocate resources efficiently. The opposite of this is economic activity that is organized by a central planner within the government.

Meanwhile, Governments and policy makers can fix market inefficiencies, as stated in principle n.7:

When a market fails to allocate resources efficiently, the government can change the outcome through public policy. Examples are regulations against monopolies and pollution

Therefore, according to principle N.7, Governments and policy makers can regulate market ecological inefficiencies towards sustainability as well. For example, through incentives in renewable energies (see also principle n.2), taxes or regulations.

As an example, with regards to climate changes, Mankiw himself suggest (see A Carbon Tax that America could love with, New York Times [3]) to put a price (tax) on carbon emissions. In such a way, Governments, by charging a fee for each carbon emission, will “internalize the external costs” due to climate changes (hurricanes, global warm,…).

Prices of Product\Services with higher carbons emissions will have higher prices and thus people will be inactivated to buy other products with less carbon emissions (see also Principle N.2), look for alternatives, or even not to buy it (see also principle N.1).

2. Decision Making and Consumer Awareness

Since people have a limited amount resources in terms of time and money, behind each consumptions there is always a tradeoff.

That means, People Face Tradeoffs (principle n.1):

To get one thing, you have to give up something else. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another.

As an example, in the same post concerning climate changes [3], Mankiw’s pointed out that people might decide to:

  • buy a smaller, more fuel-efficient car;
  • use public transportation;
  • eat more locally produced foods, which need less fuel to transport;
  • ….

as a trade-off for introducing in the ecosystem less carbon emissions and waste.

Therefore, people decision-making and how much people is sensitive toward sustainability issues when consuming, have an impact on the ecological footprint.

My issue about economic activities and (bio) sustainability

In order to achieve ecological sustainability, there are two approaches argued among economists, activists, biologists and mathematicians. One is through regulations (tax, incentives, agreements,…) and the second one through more responsable decision-making by consumers and firms.

Regulation approach concerns “How Economic Work as a Whole” Mankiw’s principles:

  • n.5: Trade Can Make every one better off;
  • n.6: Market are a good way to organize economic activity;
  • n.7: Governments can improve economic outcomes;

While, Decision Making is about awareness on biological impacts of consumptions. “How People Make Decisions”  are explained by the following Mankiw’s principles:

  • n.1: People Face Trade Offs
  • n.2: The Cost of Something is what you give up on get it
  • n.3: Rational People think at the Margin
  • n.4: People Respond to Incentives

Regarding regulations, Mankinw’s himself complained how difficult is to convince politicians to put a fee on a carbon tax. Elections debates are about reducing rather than increasing taxes [3] and usually people is not willing to vote a candidate who promotes new taxes.

Concerning Decision Making, some researches applied thermodynamics principles (2nd Law) to Economics (Thermoeconomics) and theirs conclusion was that each money transaction as well as consumptions is essentially a flow of energy [4][5].

Thus, no matter if the decision is to buy a smaller and more, fuel-efficient car or use public transportation: an amount of energy will be dispersed anyway.

But, what happen in everyday life when a new car is bought? Actually, there is a money flow from the consumer to the retailer.

Thus, since for each consumption there are either  a money flow and an energy flow, my issue regarding ecological sustainability of economy is:

Why not considering money as a measure of energy and biocapacity flows?

People use money as a tool for exchanges, and such interactions are described by the remaining three Mankiw’s principles (How People Interact):

  • n.8: A Country’s Standard of Living Depends on Its Ability to Produce Goods and Services;
  • n.9: Prices Rise When the Government Prints Too Much Money;
  • n.10: Society Faces a Short-Run Tradeoff Between Inflation and Unemployment;

Some scientists already pointed out the missing link between Information Theory (Cybernetics) and social sciences (e.g. economy) as well as biologists have some concerns about sustainability of an economy based on endless growth.

Thus, how to create a link between human economy and the Earth biocapacity thanks to the achievements and researches in Economy, Physics, Biology and Cybernetic?

Decision Making and Policies have a key role for pursuing economy towards ecological sustainability, as described by Mankiw’s principles from number 1 to 7.

Nevertheless, till economy is not linked with natural environment and its limited biocapacity neither policies and more conscious behaviors towards sustainability will be effective since what is missing is how people interact: money flows and monetary policies.

With regardless to Mankiw’s principle n.2:

The Cost of Something is What You Give Up to Get It.

So, how much does it cost to give up to link economy with natural environment?.

There is an Optimistic View about a self-regulation of the world economy that, thanks to the supply-demand’s law, will guarantee an endless growth and energy efficiency as well [6].

However, relying mainly on the supply-demand’s law it is a reactive, rather than proactive, attitude towards sustainability.

Since economy is also a social science, having such an optimistic view it means forgetting what happened in the 18th century to the population of Easter Island: they dropped from 15.000 to 2.000-3.000 inhabitants because of an ecology disaster created by themself.

People of Easter Island realized supply-demand’s effect when it was too late for recovering their ecosystem and its biocapcity.

Economy, ecosystems and complex systems in general, have outcomes that are not predictable and controllable in the long-run.

Avoiding to consider the constraint of a limited Earth’s biocapacity, it means avoiding the risk of definitely compromise the entire ecosystem without any chance for recovering.

So the question is: would all humankind be reactive or proactive towards the ecological sustainability issue?

Feelink – Feel & Think approach for doing life!

Resources

[1]: Earth Overshoot Day. “Global Footprint Network“. http://www.footprintnetwork.org

[2]: N.Gregory Mankiw. Principles of Economics 6e. South-Western, Cenage Learning.

[3]: N.Gregory Mankiw. “A Carbon Tax that America could Love with”. New York Times. 01. Sept. 2014.

[4]: A. Annilla, S. Salthe. “Economy Evolves by Energy Dispersal”. Entropy. 11-2009. http://www.mdpi.com/journal/entropy/

[5]: M. Gong, G. Wall. “On Exergetics, Economics, and Optimization of Technical Process to Meet Enviromental Conditions”. International Conference on Thermodynamic Analysis and Improvements on Energy Systems. 10-13 June 1997. Beijing, China.

[6]: Buttonwood’s Notebook. “Energy use and Growth: an Optimistic View”. The Economist. 26 June 2013.