Thursday Jan 22, 2009

It Blew into a Million Pieces

Japanese companies get dinged all the time for being risk adverse. Not these guys -- Failure: The Secret to Success. Some great stories of gigantic failures in this little video. I love the quotes going back to old man Honda, and it`s clear the culture of try-fail-try-again still pervades their message today. Sure, this is a corporate video, but it`s pretty well done. And how can you not love the guy talking about how his engine blew into a million pieces and splattered all over the track in front of millions of people? Failure. Disappointment. Rejection. On a grand scale. That very same team brought home the championship a few years later, though. And that`s the key. Failure is the secret to success.

Have you ever failed? How big?

I`ll watch this video a few times today. Especially today.

Tuesday Sep 30, 2008

Cross Cultural Engineering Panel

On Oct 11th, I'll be at Pasona Tech in Tokyo participating on a panel about cross-cultural engineering. Should be great fun and very educational as well. I love this topic and I live it every day. We'll explore how language and cultural issues affect Japanese engineers as they work and interact with other engineers from around the world. I'll be talking about my experiences in Japan, China, and India in particular, but I'll also probe some things I've learned from dealing with developers across many language and cultural barriers in other regions on the OpenSolaris project.

17:00〜18:30 エンジニア・グローバル・サミット2008

〜世界から見た日本のキャリア、日本から見た世界のキャリア〜

<パネラー>
サン・マイクロシステムズ
株式会社
東京ソフトウェア本部
Open Solaris技術部
主幹部長
Jim Grisanzio 氏

株式会社NTTデータ
技術開発本部
原田 季栄 氏

TLUG President
Edward Middleton 氏

株式会社paperboy&co.
事業戦略本部 副本部長
技術責任者
宮下 剛輔 氏

株式会社Cerevo
代表取締役
岩佐 琢磨 氏

<モデレーター>
櫻井 知之 氏

楽天株式会社
国際開発室
美谷 広海 氏

Sakurai-san will be monitoring the panel. Here we are together from a previous cross-cultural event.

Sunday Jul 06, 2008

Energy Efficiency and Economic Opportunity

Japan sees a chance to promote its energy-frugal ways: "According to the International Energy Agency, based in Paris, Japan consumed half as much energy per dollar worth of economic activity as the European Union or the United States, and one-eighth as much as China and India in 2005. While the country is known for green products like hybrid cars, most of its efficiency gains have been in less eye-catching areas, for example, in manufacturing ... Japan's strides in efficiency are clearest in heavy industries like steel, which are the nation's biggest consumers of power." -- International Herald Tribune

Seems that high oil prices are offering the Japanese new markets around the world for their technologies. China seems particularly interested. For obvious reasons.

Friday Feb 15, 2008

Cross Cultural Engineering

I had a great night tonight at an event in Tokyo at Pasona Tech right outside Shibuya. It was called Cross Cultural Engineer Party and was organized by Tomoyuki Sakurai. There were two technical presentations, a discussion of cross cultural and communication issues between Japanese and westerners, and some beer and pizza and open conversation. Wonderful experience. I met a lot of Japanese and western developers from various companies and from the Linux and BSD communities, and everyone mixed quite freely. The communication and cultural challenges between westerners and Japanese are pretty significant, so it's good to get together to specifically address them and move to new levels of understanding. The world is rapidly changing, and we need more cross-cultural communication and more diverse ideas. I hope Sakurai-san does this quarterly.

Cross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural EngineeringShibuyaShibuyaCross Cultural EngineeringCross Cultural Engineering

Flickr images here.

Wednesday Dec 12, 2007

Humanoids in Japan

Honda Robots Pair Up to Lend a Hand --  "'By the end of 2010s, we'd like to see these robots working at every street corner of the city,' said Tomohiko Kawanabe of Honda's Fundamental Technology Research Center." -- Associated Press

Humm. Interesting. I wonder if these guys have an operating system inside? There must be more than a little software running what is being called "one of the world's most advanced humanoids" right? And I wonder why the Japanese are leading in this area of technology?

Monday Oct 08, 2007

Never Fail

Really interesting article about software mimicking the process of trial-and-error and natural selection -- Don't invent, evolve. This reminds me how important it is to iterate on small things every day. You can't fail unless you stop. Thanks for the link, Gautam. Excellent find.

Thursday Jul 05, 2007

India: "Top Level Talent"

Is globalization starting to level the playing field? Perhaps in some segments of some markets it is. Check out these few paragraphs from a long piece in the Wall Street Journal -- Some in Silicon Valley begin to sour on India: A few bring jobs back as pay of top engineers in Bangalore Skyrockets:

\*\*\*
Several years on, the forces of globalization are starting to even things out between the U.S. and India, in sophisticated technology work. As more U.S. tech companies poured in, they soaked up the pool of high-end engineers qualified to work at global companies, belying the notion of an unlimited supply of top Indian engineering talent. In a 2005 study, McKinsey & Co. estimated that just a quarter of India's computer engineers had the language proficiency, cultural fit and practical skills to work at multinational companies.


The result is increasing competition for the most skilled Indian computer engineers and a narrowing U.S.-India gap in their compensation. India's software-and-service association puts wage inflation in its industry at 10% to 15% a year. Some tech executives say it's closer to 50%. In the U.S., wage inflation in the software sector is under 3%, according to Moody's Economy.com.

Rafiq Dossani, a scholar at Stanford University's Asia-Pacific Research Center who recently studied the Indian market, found that while most Indian technology workers' wages remain low -- an average $5,000 a year for a new engineer with little experience -- the experienced engineers Silicon Valley companies covet can now cost $60,000 to $100,000 a year. "For the top-level talent, there's an equalization," he says.

That means that for a large swath of Silicon Valley -- start-ups and midsize companies that do sophisticated tech work -- India is no longer the premier outsourcing destination. While such companies make up just a fraction of India's outsourcing work, they had been an early catalyst for the growth of India's information-technology business and helped the country attract other outsourcing clients. Their rethinking of India raises red flags for the country.
\*\*\*


So, the article seems to be articulating the position that maybe India is not the best place to grab your cheap labor anymore because the cost of top engineering talent is rising. Oops. Sorry, Silicon Valley. A funny thing happened along the way of globalization -- a new market was created and its beginning to assert itself. Better look elsewhere for your outsourcing needs. And the article points out that this is actually the case. Vietnam and the Philippines are now hot for cheap tech labor.

Don't get me wrong. This article is a pretty fair piece. I'm only criticizing mildly. But my perspective has changed significantly, and I read stuff like this very differently now. Ok, so wages of top engineers in Bangalore are rising, and as a result, some tech firms in the Bay Area are looking elsewhere to save some cash. Fine. That's part of globalization. But why is that considered a "red flag" for India? Why can't it simultaneously be considered a "green flag" demonstrating the growth and increased value of the top engineering talent in India? That's exactly how an American would view it had we been discussing Silicon Valley. But I don't see that context expressed in this article. It's all one way -- saving expenses by outsourcing in far away places so one side benefits. But you can look at it another way. Since these Indian engineers are worth more they must be putting out better stuff, so what new innovations will they create in the future that will transform India's economy and make it even more competitive? Isn't that a perfectly reasonable perspective as well?
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