I am a white, upper class American man. I won the lucky sperm sweepstakes. I’ve done my share of hard work, but so have many others. I’m where I am by providence, a random twist of fate. I was also fortunate to grow up in the 70’s and 80’s in Berkeley, California in a racially mixed cultural environment due to public school integration.[Read more…] about The Tragedy of George Floyd and the Path Forward
Stories to Remake the Future
These are uncertain times. While I’m not a fatalist, I do believe that as humans we have the ability to make our own reality. This reality comes in the form of stories that we tell ourselves. We are social creatures and our stories are the basis of our personal reality and the fabric of our culture.
I think it is interesting to consider how storytelling influences our ability to make our own reality, or perhaps more accurately, create the life we want for ourselves. When we tell ourselves stories that veer too far from our current reality we experience a strong sense of cognitive dissonance. This dissonance expresses itself differently in every individual, but common reactions include discomfort and anger, which are really just proxies for fear.[Read more…] about Stories to Remake the Future
The Return to Normal
I’ve recently been hearing a lot of people pine for an earlier time. A time when we weren’t isolated in our homes, could go about our jobs in a comfortable fashion, and interact face-to-face with our family, friends, and colleagues. When I ask people what they really miss, what a return to ‘normal’ might look like, it really comes down to the personal connections. No one seems to miss the commute, the traffic, or the pollution. People miss hugging their friends and loved ones. They miss the freedom of exploring. They miss a carefree sense of abandon. In a sense many of us are nostalgic for a time gone by. A sepia toned memory of ease and safety.[Read more…] about The Return to Normal
The Myth of Digital Transformation
The coronavirus crisis has forced unprecedented digitization of many previously manual processes. Over the past couple of months we have seen rapid adoption of new technologies as organizations move to remote working and learning, video conferencing, telehealth, virtual contact centers, and many other types of virtual services. The speed with which business processes have been remade is both remarkable and a testament to the power and flexibility of digital cloud technologies.
However, these transitions have not been without challenges. As is often the case, our ability to implement new technologies generally exceeds the speed with which we can create new processes, train employees, and implement appropriate governance procedures. Social and cultural changes almost always lag technical progress. It will be many months or years before the rapid digitization of many segments of our economy mature, so we should be prepared for a bumpy ride in the meantime.[Read more…] about The Myth of Digital Transformation
Renewal In The Face of Uncertainty
I was recently laid off from my job due to impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As a senior executive responsible for growth, eliminating my role was an obvious area to preserve cash in the face of an uncertain future and I would have made the exact same decision if I were the owner of the company.
My wife is an independent residential real estate agent and her income has effectively dried up as well. While there are signs that buyers and sellers who are less impacted by the global economic downturn may begin engaging in property transactions again, our overall financial outlook is uncertain at best.[Read more…] about Renewal In The Face of Uncertainty
Water Technologies for the Pandemic Era
It is clear that water supplies throughout the United States are not a source of real risk for coronavirus transmission. Advanced water treatment processes regularly include chlorination and other steps designed to prevent microbial and viral contamination. While there may be very modest risks for transmission in wastewater, the real threat to the water industry from the global pandemic is the impact on the people who are responsible for maintaining our water systems. Water utility management is labor intensive and many suppliers operate outdated systems that require manual intervention at numerous stages of the procurement, treatment, delivery, and meter-to-cash processes.[Read more…] about Water Technologies for the Pandemic Era
Water Shut-Off Suspensions and the Coronavirus Crisis
Cities and states around the country have announced temporary suspensions of all utility service shutoffs due to non-payment. As of this writing more than 90 cities have suspended water shutoffs. San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, St. Louis, Birmingham, and Pittsburgh are just a few municipalities that have publicly announced shutoff moratoriums for 60 days or more, as well as private water companies such as American Water. Government officials recognize the critical role that water and electric services play in maintaining public health, particularly in light of a global viral pandemic which has already infected hundreds of thousands of people.[Read more…] about Water Shut-Off Suspensions and the Coronavirus Crisis
Rethinking Water Utility Procurement
Water utilities and municipalities across the United States have a common process for purchasing goods and services. This typically involves publicly issuing a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposals (RFP) that outlines the purpose and goals of the project and details the technical and business requirements that qualified vendors are expected to meet. After receiving bid submissions, a committee evaluates the set of vendor responses across a number of criteria including experience, technical detail, cost, and other factors.[Read more…] about Rethinking Water Utility Procurement