Today, I start a new adventure. I am joining the LENA Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado. LRF is a 501(c)3 with roots extending back to 2004. LENA stands for Language ENvironment Analysis. It is also the name of their "verbal pedometer" device that records speech and, most importantly, tracks the conversation turns of small children. 

LENA Research Foundation
LENA Research Foundation is focused on children aged 0 to 5.
The technology is being used to conduct ground-breaking language development research all over the world. It has also been used to detect, diagnose and support early treatment of language delays and disorders like autism. The deaf and hard of hearing community has embraced the little 'iPod" device and has achieved great results. And recently, the foundation has shifted focus toward using the LENA tools to do something about language deficits for disadvantaged youth.   

The critical, watershed project to begin making a difference is Providence Talks, the winner of this year's Bloomberg Philanthropies $5M grand prize. The focus is children aged 0-2 in low SES homes. It's an audacious project. 

I'm thoroughly excited because of our mission-focused team and the opportunity to make a difference. 

 
 
My latest article for LiDAR News is out and focuses on improving effectiveness for presentations to customers and stakeholders. I was inspired to write on this topic by the recent passing of Amar Bose and a couple lessons I learned during a talk he gave at MIT in the late 1980's.
  1. Before You Reach for the PowerPoint Icon, Pull Out a Pad of Paper. 
  2. Tell a Story, Don’t Just Rely On Facts and Statistics.
  3. Fewer Words Mean More Listening
  4. Fewer Charts Mean More Time for Discussion
  5. You Know Your Stuff: Have a Conversation

Read more here
Dr. Amar Bose
Dr. Amar Bose

 
 
Well, it should come as no surprise. Yesterday, Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets. A sad end to a long year. Why on earth the Jets decided to grab Tebow in March of 2012 is hard to fathom at this point. However, what is pretty clear is that Tim Tebow did not listen to Clayton Christensen. Well, not exactly.

Last March, I posted a tongue-in-cheek entry that imagined what advice Clayton Christensen, the czar of Disruptive Innovation, would give Tim Tebow as he assessed his path forward in the NFL. Despite assertions otherwise from the Tebow camp, the Denver Broncos reportedly provided Tim a limited opportunity to pick where he went next. A day after I posted the entry, an offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars (might have worked) was stiff-armed in preference to the opportunity to play for the Jets (not a prayer). The decision ran counter to every aspect of advice I imagined Clayton Christensen would have given Mr. Tebow. A miserable outcome was predicted, and a miserable outcome was had.

The robustness of Disruptive Innovation principles is amazing to me. Integrated steel mills. Disk drives. Personal computers. Health care. Education. And football? Yes, football too. Ignore these principles at your peril.

Okay, Tim. Clayton told you so. Rugby anyone?

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Tebow's Jets jersey has been hung up for good.
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Tebow may need to re-read piece of advice #4 - Consider Rugby.

 
 
Code.org is a non-profit foundation founded in the latter half of 2012 that wants to dramatically grow computer programming education at a global level. They are motivated by the worldwide shortage of computer programming talent. At the same time, less than 20% of the states count coding classes toward high school graduation. As an initial assault on the problem, the organization aims to reduce degree to which learning a computer language appears to many to be an daunting, intimidating challenge. The video they just posted is well done and does a great job of conveying their message. Read more about them at Code.org
Code.org™ and the Code.org logo are trademarks of Code.org.  

 
 
In mid February, the LiDAR News eMag published the first issue of its third volume. An article I wrote on Boulder-based 3D at Depth appears in that issue. Take a look. To learn more about 3D at Depth, a company focused on underwater mapping with green wavelength LiDAR, visit their website

 
 
Happy New Year! Those resolutions already broken? Worse yet, you didn't take the time to make any? Or, your company has a vision statement but no set of specific, actionable goals or milestones? Are the ones you laid out a couple years ago pretty stale and only loosely tracked?   

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of the following infographic from The Education Database Online. The statistics are pretty powerful motivators for taking the time to define goals and write them down. Whether it is for yourself or your company, it matters. A lot! 

Setting Goals Infographic
Graphic created by OnlineEducation.net.

 
 
Bob Johnson, Founding Chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, strikes you as an unassuming, humble executive. He is. Earlier this month, after hearing him tell the story of how the memorial and museum were developed, it was abundantly clear to me and fellow Wisdom Community audience members that he's also an exceptional, and I really mean exceptional, servant leader. Beginning in 1995, Bob led an incredibly diverse team to defy all sorts of odds to define and develop a somber, beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking experience for those who take the opportunity to visit the site. 

The Memorial opened on the 5th anniversary of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The Museum opened a year later. A summary of this history is found here
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Bob Johnson speaking on October 4 to a group of Wisdom Community leaders in Oklahoma City.

 
 
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The latest edition of LiDAR News is out.  I contributed an article espousing some of the lessons learned from Eric Ries' bestseller The Lean Startup.  While the book's principles certainly lend themselves best to web-based software products, there is plenty that can be applied to those having significant hardware elements. The three best practices I highlight are: 
  1. Deliberately define 'Leap of Faith' Assumptions.
  2. Apply the Build-Measure-Learn construct with pre-planned Pivot meetings. 
  3. Shrink your batch size to improve efficiency and extend the runway. 
See the article for more details.  Also please read Eric Ries' book and great blog for a myriad of other valuable insights. 


 
 
I finally got around to reading through a great report jointly published by the Center for American Progress and the Innosight Institute. Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education was published in February of last year and was authored by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, Louis Caldera and Louis Soares. For those of you that enjoy anything written by Clayton Christensen and team, this is a must read and addresses an important topic. However, I do believe the report glosses over a key job that colleges and universities are hired to perform. That job is to provide an environment where students gain wisdom through the college experience,  a critical piece to the transformation to adulthood. It is far from clear how that job is or will be disrupted. However, if and when an enabling technology begins addressing that job even feebly, the pace of disruption will accelerate tremendously and all but the most prestigious colleges and universities will be overwhelmed.  

Disrupting College Report by Christensen et al
The Disrupting College Report was published in February of 2011.

 
 
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Rod in the field on one of his kite adventures with Ben Balsley's team.
I'm sad to post that Dr. Rod Frehlich, lidar phenomenology and signal processing guru, passed away last Friday in Boulder, Colorado. Rod finally lost his long and hard battle that had been a great ordeal for him and his loving wife Ilana.

It is sadly ironic that Rod's demise originated with a brain tumor, given that his extraordinary mind was what set him apart from his peers in the niche communities that are wave propagation, turbulence measurement, and lidar and radar signal processing and data analysis. A major portion of Rod's career work focused on coherent Doppler wind lidar and he provided breakthrough clarity on the underpinnings of those systems and how to optimize their performance, optimally assimilate their data, and apply them to challenges in meteorology and boundary layer physics.

Rod was kind enough to include me as a coauthor on a few of his numerous journal and conference papers.  We would dole out a small bit of data from one of our development or production lidar systems, and Rod would 'lay hands' on it, generating important new insights and results. Through the many years of his support to several CTI programs, I knew Rod to be perpetually upbeat and enthusiastic. It was often a challenge to wrap up our phone conversations. Those of you who ever discussed a technical topic on the phone with Rod know exactly what I mean.  He was a positive energy guy with unmatched skills and insights who always gave more than he received.

Rod spent most of his career with the University of Colorado at Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and since 1998 simultaneously served as a Scientific Visitor to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While he made important contributions to both these institutions, he really was an asset for the greater coherent lidar community, as well as several related communities. And as such, the world has experienced a notable and significant setback with his passing.

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Rod sitting in front of some lidar data.
A dance party will be held in Boulder sometime in the near future to celebrate Rod's life. Rod and Ilana's passion for dance was legendary, so such a memorial is most fitting.

Godspeed, Rod Frehlich.