Guest AuthorPavan Soni

Inflexion Point, September 2023

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist 

Welcome back to Inflexion Point.
In this edition, we look at the insights from the 100-year-olds on life, how open offices are killing creativity (and productivity), ways of being an innovator in this AI age, how the mistranslation of Newton’s First Law is finally discovered after 300 years, and the ways of transforming culture through narratives. 
Do you want to live long? Why won’t you? Here’re useful insights from some 100-year-olds on how they achieve it: 1) Find your purpose and your people; 2) Do some work to keep your mind engaged; 3) Surround yourself with family and friends; 4) View life through a lens of positivity; 5) Walk as often as you can; and 6) Value your mental and physical fitness. Roslyn Menaker, 103, shares, ‘I love to look at beautiful clothes and eat out. I have an amazing caregiver. She gives me manicures and pedicures, and colors my hair.’ It’s never too late. (Source: CNBC)
It’s evident that open offices support extroverts more than introverts, but does it impact creativity. While extroverts are more creative when it comes to interpersonal relationships and group dynamics, the introverts are better while dealing with technical problems and systems. Research by neuroscientists and organizational psychologists show that open plan offices not only don’t increase productivity but also make it very difficult for introverts to be creative. It denies the introverts peace and quiet and privacy they require to be creative. So design your office carefully. (Source: Inc)
Andrew Ng, one of the authorities on AI, explains the recipe of being an innovator. Two simple pieces of advice: 1) be optimistic and dare to fail, for every failure is a stepping stone to something new, a new learning; and 2) take responsibility for your work, and be appreciative of the risk-benefit tradeoff. He identifies three key developmental areas of AI going forward: prompting, vision transformers, and AI applications. In addition, check out the 35 Innovators Under 35 to get a closer look at how they are shaping our future. (Source: MIT Tech Review)  
How would you react if somebody told you that Newton’s First Law was misinterpreted, or worse still, mistranslated from its original Latin to English. That ensued a major debate between theories of Newton and Einstein, and only now we understand how the original genius was not that farther from the modern. Writing in Latin in his 17th-century book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Newton said, “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by the forces impressed.” The translator replaced the phrase ‘except insofar’ with unless, and that caused all the confusion about imaginary bodies and circularity in Newton’s theory. Now sorted. (Source: Scientific American)  
How do you bring about a cultural transformation? Not by dishing out ppts, HR policies, or conducting workshops, but by engaging in compelling narratives. Based on interviews with 60 business leaders from different industries around the world, the authors offer that change happens by creating stories that highlight that the past actions were inconsistent with a firm’s established culture and by reinforcing an alternative strategically aligned culture. They follow six rules: 1) be authentic, 2) feature yourself in your stories; 3) break with the past and lay a path to the future; 4) appeal to hearts and minds; 5) be theatrical; and 6) empower others to create their own stories. (Source: HBR)
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