Archive for January, 2008

Making cars safely, efficiently, and high-quality — a look into organizational culture

January 29, 2008

Along with a group of MIT alums, one week ago (1/22/2008) I was fortunate to visit the automotive manufacturing plant in Fremont, CA that turns out the Toyota Corrolla, Pontiac Vibe, and Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The NUMMI auto plant is a joint venture of GM and Toyota. In North America, for Toyota it is the most efficient plant taking 19 hours of human effort per vehicle produced and seventh overall (GM and Honda have more efficient plants) — see the article “Most efficient assembly plants” in Automotive News. In 2007 NUMMI produced 407,881 vehicles — see “There’s a new No. 1 plant: Georgetown.” I have blogged about NUMMI’s high-trust workplace, and here are some notes that another MIT alum put together in 2003.

The first thing I noticed at the entrance to the plant was a rug on the ground titled “Safety Absolutes”

Safety is the overriding priority

All accidents can and must be prevented

At NUMMI, safety is a shared responsibility

Their mission statement posted on the wall is

“Through teamwork, safely build the highest quality vehicles at the lowest possible cost to benefit our customers, team members, community, and shareholders.”

What struck me was message of social accountability and interdependence being conveyed in both the rug and mission statement.

The plant is 5.5 million square feet (118 football fields or 122 Costcos), and workplace for 5,000 “team members” (they didn’t say employees). There are also 300 temporary workers who come in to help for seasonal variations in production.

The emphasis on relationship with team members and “community” comes out at every turn in the plant. The plant has had no layoffs in its 23 year history of operation. Wages start at $20/hr and go up to $35/hr in three years. The plant has 160 “team rooms” with refrigerators, lunchrooms, and lockers. Phrases I heard included “quality, pride, teamwork, job security, benefits, pay, family, successful year, looking out for my family, winning team, all about the family.”

There are five stages (divisions) to auto manufacturing at NUMMI.

  1. Stamping steel into body sheets — 1 million lbs of steel / day
  2. Body / welding
  3. Paint
  4. Plastics
  5. Assembly — the assembly line is 1.5 miles long producing 650 trucks / day and 900 cars / day. There hours per truck, one produced every 85 seconds.

Quality control involves random test drives and audits at the end of the production line. The quality philosophy really starts with the team members who are trusted with the authority to push a button that will raise an alert to stop the assembly line if they find a problem — an innovation from Japanese lean manufacturing. There was a time when auto plants did not allow their employees to do this. Once they raise the alert, the a red light goes on and they have 81 seconds to decide to clear the alert the before the line actually stops. Sometimes it gets cleared up within that time, and other times the line has to stop to fix the problem. After reading about it before coming to the plant, I was really curious and I actually saw it stop a few times. The line statistics are prominently displayed for team members to view on a scoreboard. They were reporting 2% downtime and the target is to remain less than 4%.

The NUMMI team members work in teams of 4-6 people, and they rotate their jobs throughout the day whenever they want to — this eliminates most of the repetitiveness and boredom usually associated with manufacturing. They usually spend 1 year in a division (like plastics) before moving onto other types of jobs in the plant, so that way employees learn about all aspects of manufacturing/production. Team members are encouraged to find ways to improve the process and implement these ideas. Using a “frame rotator,” the truck chassis were flipped upside down to aid team member ergonomics during assembly of the drivetrain. We saw several robots by Kawasaki, and automatically routed (guided) vehicles to transport auto parts.

If an auto plant can do this, what would it look like if we incorporated this philosophy into software development? Software programmers and test engineers would have the authority to raise alerts and hold up software releases instead of a manger having the final say in triage of bug reviews. People would rotate between software and test. What if the space shuttle launch could be delayed by any engineer on the team instead of being determined by launch managers? To make this work all engineers have to have sufficient system level knowledge and be “trusted” with the authority to make these decisions.

There is a hierarchy,

  1. skilled worker — several of whom are organized into quality circles
  2. team leader of 4-5 workers (tends to be nurturing)
  3. group leader of several teams (tends to be more disciplined)

Only the teams are evaluated for performance, not individuals. People can get fired, but they can’t get layed off. The plant operates in two 7.5 hour shifts for a total of 15 hours per day, five days a week so people have weekends off. According to the tour guide, job rotation was the big thing that drew employees to the plant, not work or guaranteed employment.

The big difference that comes out here is the relationship with team members and that trust turns into better results.

Spaceship One, Spaceship Two

January 24, 2008

According to news this week, for $200K you will be able to fly up into space in a few years, “Entrepreneur Unveils New Tourist Spacecraft”

On October 8, 2006 in San Carlos, CA at the Hillier Aviation Museum, I had the good fortune of listening to Burt Rutan speak about breakthrough innovation, aviation, spaceflight, and aviation safety—totally inspiring. Some of it is very big picture, but here are a few of the highlights,

  • Technical progress and the ability to take big risks has been what sets humans apart from animals
  • Children make the decision to be innovators during the age of 3-14, usually due to some events that occur during that period.
    • Most of the aviation pioneers that people recall (Von Braun, etc.) were growing up during the time when the airplane was invented early 1900. Most aviation since then has used the same basic principles they discovered
  • Next major wave of innovation occurred WWII and after when he was growing up.
  • Third wave was when Sputnik made Americans feel they lost to the Russians, which kick started the space race of 1960s.
  • Since then, we have been using essentially the same space technology for last 30 years.
  • His SpaceShip One is now housed in the Smithsonian right next to the other major plans of the last century
  • Commercial & military airplanes have stagnated in their altitude and speed because the technologies have not been pushed by the organizations that develop them. Space Ship One pushes the envelope by orders of magnitude, representing the next wave of innovation in aviation and space travel. Space Ship Two will be for commercial travel—Virgin airlines may be accepting orders for the first flights.
  • Safety and stability have been the barriers to entry in commercial space flight—that’s what he’s out to change. One of his first jobs out of college was to understand why the F4 had so many failed flights and engineer a stability control system.

Below is a photo of him telling me what he thinks about the Columbia accident report: “if you read it carefully, what they are saying is not to take risks. NASA as an organization will never take risks.” Also asked him what he thinks is the difference between his small 130 person company and NASA is. He replied that he never puts his engineers and factory personnel in the position of defending safety, i.e. never to be in a defensive position, or allow an aviation regulator do that to them.

  • I read this to mean this places full responsibility in the people doing the work to ensure safety.
  • Safety has to be so obvious to the people doing the work that there is never a need to be defensive—they understand exactly why their aircraft is safe.
  • My interpretation is that this nurtures a culture which outperforms regulated safety—he claims he has built some 40 research aircraft with an excellent safety record he claims

Also see, Larry Page on how to change the world: Breakthrough ideas are around the corner, says the Google co-founder.  But most of us are failing to take a chance on them.”

Trust, nation-building, and development

January 22, 2008

The article “How Technology Almost Lost the War: In Iraq, the Critical Networks Are Social – Not Electronic” is very longwinded but informative in the end. The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan illustrate that using network-centric warfare, the US military has demonstrated its mastery/superiority of identifying and destroying targets anywhere on earth and invading nations using conventional means with both small numbers of troops and minimal troop losses compared to earlier wars. As the battlefield shifts from invasion to nation building, it looks like the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the military to learn a completely modern version of fighting Internet-enabled insurgencies amidst civilian populations (COIN/HTT) – a capability it lacked going into Iraq, and one of the reasons GHW Bush apparently stopped short of removing Saddam in 1991. The next war of preemption whenever it happens may turn out a lot different if the Pentagon plans ahead.

Blaming the protracted war in Iraq to insufficient troop numbers or technology is a bit simplistic. A recent documentary “No End In Sight” was filmed pre-surge and so it did not incorporate the progress/changes as a result of Patreus’ new strategy. However it points out that post-invasion planning for Europe during WWII began two years before the invasion, and in case of Iraq the DoD planning apparatus for post-invasion was almost nonexistent even though DoD was placed in charge – excluding the State Department. This wired article doesn’t quite address the strategic planning failures at the pentagon pre-invasion that might have contributed to some of the Iraqi security problems we see today. The piece “Who Lost Iraq?” in Foreign Affairs tries to expose that more clearly.

In failures of postwar planning, the root issue is local institutions and (absence of) social capital needed to build them. There is a book (2006) called “Nation Building beyond Iraq and Afghanistan”. I read the introductory chapter by Fukuyama “Nation Building and the Failure of Institutional Memory” (pages 1-18) which explains how politics between the defense/state departments got in the way of post-war planning, and it tends to corroborate the picture painted by interviews in the documentary “No End In Sight.”

“the frequency and intensity of US and international nation-building have increased since the end of the Cold War…there has been roughly one new nation building intervention every two years since the end of the Cold War… What is remarkable is how little institutional learning there has been over time; the same lessons about pitfalls and limitations of nation-building seemingly have to be relearned with each new involvement. This became painfully evident after the American occupation and reconstruction of Iraq after April 2003.”

“Nation-building encompasses two different types of activities, reconstruction and development. Although the distinction between the two is often blurred, it was always present to nation-builders and earlier generations dealing with post-conflict situations. The official title of the World Bank is, after all, the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, and most of its activities fell under the first heading. Reconstruction refers to the restoration of war-torn or damaged societies to their preconflict situation. Development, however, refers to the creation of new institutions and the promotion of sustained economic growth, events that transform the society open-endedly into something that it has not been previously… Development, however, is much more problematic, both conceptually and as a matter of pragmatic policy. The development phase by contrast requires the eventual weaning of local actors and institutions from dependence on outside aid… it is seldom the case that local institutions are actually strong enough to do all the things they are intended to do.”

After reading Fukuyama’s book “Trust” (1996) where he explains the role of social capital in the world’s economies (in addition to intellectual capital, financial capital, or natural resources), the lack of social capital in these nation-building efforts explains why completely new local institutions in Iraq and Afghanistan take decades to gel and become productive.

Trust-based lending by the inventor of microcredit

January 19, 2008

This week we got to see the founder of Grameen Bank, Mohammed Yunnis speak in person at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown SF (Commonwealth Club). He pioneered a new form of banking that can be called “trust-based” or “community-based” lending, which is contrast to the worldwide banking system based on “collateral” and “credit-histories.” For this he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. See this FAQ http://www.grameen-info.org/bank/GBGlance.htm

    In 1976, he was a economics professor an Dhaka university where he found the theories he was teaching had little practical applicability to the poverty he was seeing outside the university. So he decided to do what he could. He lent small amounts of money (~$500) to poor people and they became very happy. Then he asked, why doesn’t the bank do this?

    For months he struggled to get banks to lend to the poor, but found them to be uncooperative. Since poor people didn’t have credit histories + collateral the banks were unwilling to lend money. His insight was to turn those assumptions on their head by lending to people with no money and history of taking loans. He sought out poor women who were afraid of taking money, and tells his employees that those are the people they should loan to.

    No lawyers. By challenging all the “assumptions” he came up with something completely new. He said that the current banking system has lots of money and is setup to loan large amounts of money to people who already have money. That architecture doesn’t scale down to vast majority of people who need it. Using the analogy of ships, he said the modern banking system is like a large supertanker. For poor people you need a system more like a dinghy boat, and if you scale down a supertanker architecture to that size it would sink.

    Grameen Bank does not require any collateral against its micro-loans. Since the bank does not wish to take any borrower to the court of law in case of non-repayment, it does not require the borrowers to sign any legal instrument.

    Although each borrower must belong to a five-member group, the group is not required to give any guarantee for a loan to its member. Repayment responsibility solely rests on the individual borrower, while the group and the centre oversee that everyone behaves in a responsible way and none gets into repayment problem. There is no form of joint liability, i.e. group members are not responsible to pay on behalf of a defaulting member.

    Social business. Yunis described the concept of “social business” intended simply to help people, which can exist alongside profit-maximizing businesses and often work in synergy.  Related, see January 24 front page article on Gates speech at Davos, “Bill Gates Issues Call For Kinder Capitalism”

    “If we can spend the early decades of the 21st century finding approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce poverty in the world,” Mr. Gates plans to say.

    Everyone is an entrepreneur. Yunis explained that all people are entrepreneurial by nature, and it is the system that either brings it out in them or not. Grameen Bank has been able to convert tens of thousands of beggars into door-to-door salespeople who earn a living – since they visit those house anyways, why don’t they take along something to sell and make money? It turns out beggars have unique knowledge of when particular people are home, and and household demographics that is useful in selling.

    Begging is the last resort for survival for a poor person, unless he/she turns into crime or other forms of illegal activities. Among the beggars there are disabled, blind, and retarded people, as well as old people with ill health. Grameen Bank has taken up a special programme, called Struggling Members Programme, to reach out to the beggars. About 98,500 beggars have already joined the programme. Total amount disbursed stands at Tk. 102.27 million. Of that amount of Tk. 69.74 million has already been paid off

    There are many other programs (scholarships, cell phones, loan insurance, etc) described on the website. Some facts,

    • Total amount of loan disbursed by Grameen Bank is US $ 6.55 billion
    • Loan recovery rate is 98.35 per cent
    • Total number of borrowers is 7.34 million, 97 per cent of them are women
    • Grameen Bank finances 100 per cent of its outstanding loan from its deposits. Over 58 per cent of its deposits come from bank’s own borrowers. Deposits amount to 139 per cent of the outstanding loans
    • Ever since Grameen Bank came into being, it has made profit every year except in 1983, 1991, and 1992.
    • Grameen Bank has 2,468 branches. It works in 80,257 villages. Total staff is 24,703.

    I expect the Commonwealth Club audio transcript should be available in a few weeks. Here are some funny short clips from where is interviewed on the Daily Show (2006) right after recieving his nobel prize where he uses the phrase “trust-based lending.” He was also interviewed a few weeks ago by Steve Colbert (2008). Speaking to Colbert, Yunis remarks that the current home loan default crisis in the US was caused not by the people who took the money but rather by the banks who didn’t understand how to lend money.

    Why we love — the actual chemistry

    January 14, 2008

    there is a book on this called “Why We Love” by helen fisher. see “First flush of love not emotional”

    It’s based on research/experiments with hundreds of subjects over several years involving psychological surveys, fMRI, blood tests, and the like. Also seems this applies to mammals of all sorts. Fun to read all the way through.

    1. Three stages (lust, love, attachment)
    2. Lust is characterized by sexual attraction to the opposite sex, and driven primarily by testosterone regardless of gender
    3. Love is defined by focus/obsession with one mate in particular, mediated by dopamine and norephrenine. when the “mate” is not present the rise in dopamine/norephrenine causes a drop in serotonin, just like an addiction/depression.
    4. Attachment is creates the sense of peace/solace/trust in a long term relationship and occurs primarily due to oxytocin in females and vasopressin in males.

    According to the book there are interactions between these three effects (for example attachment may suppress lust), with evolutionary explanations.

    Neuroeconomic research shows that expressions of “trust” increase oxytocin in people (men & women), while expressions of mistrust create a rise in testosterone only in men (not women).

    Update on 9/2/2008: “‘Bonding Gene’ Could Help Men Stay Married”

    A study of Swedish twin brothers found that differences in a gene modulating the hormone vasopressin were strongly tied to how well each man fared in marriage.

    “Our main finding was an association between a variant of the vasopressin receptor 1a gene and how strong bonds men reported they had to their partners,” said lead researcher Hasse Walum, of the department of medical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. “Men carrying this variant scored on average lower on a scale measuring the strength of the bond compared to men not carrying this variant.”

    Women married to men carrying the “poorer bonding” form of the gene also reported “lower scores on levels of marital quality than women married to men not carrying this variant,” Walum noted.

    Vasopressin activates the brain’s reward system, and “you could say that mating-induced vasopressin release motivates male voles to interact with females they have mated with,” Walum said. “This is not a sexual motivation, but rather a sort of prolonged social motivation.” In other words, the more vasopressin in the brain, the more male voles want to stick around and mingle with the female after copulation is through. This effect “is more pronounced in the monogamous voles,” Walum noted.

    They found that men with a certain variant, known as an allele, of the vasopressin 1a gene, called 334, tended to score especially low on a standard psychological test called the Partner Bonding Scale. They were also less likely to be married than men carrying another form of the gene. And carrying two copies of the 334 allele doubled the odds that the men had undergone some sort of marital crisis (for example, the threat of divorce) over the past year.

    Trust in the workplace: hospitals, manufacturing plants, and engineering organizations

    January 4, 2008

    this week one of my friends asked the question,

    are companies/hospitals with a high degree of interpersonal relationships and trust more efficient and do they have better quality outcomes?

    francis fukuyama describes the cultural foundations of toyota’s lean manufacturing operations in “the high trust workplace” chapter of his 1996 book “Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity” and compares it to auto manufacturing in other companies like GM with its highly contractual relationship between management and labor unions. he reports that toyota experiences far fewer defects and the lowest labor hours required to manufacture a car in the world. to understand the difference, see the section on “labor relations” described by the website for the joint GM/Toyota manufacturing plant in Fremont, CA — this is one of the case studies that fukuyama looks at in that chapter.

    it took me a while to connect all the dots but it there is evidence from multiple sources that high (low) trust in organizations is linked to fewer (more) errors, failures, and mistakes in all kinds of highly technical industries such as hospitals, beyond just auto-manufacturing plants. the opposite — a lower level of trust/relationships among doctors and nurses contributes lower reporting rates of medical errors, and hence more mistakes in practice.

    first dot. the fun short 2007 book called “the no asshole rule” by sutton (from stanford business school) — on p. 39,

    “Edmondson did what she thought was a straightforward study of how leadership and coworker relationships influenced drug treatment errors in eight nursing units. she assumed that the better the leadership and coworker support, the fewer the mistakes people would make. yet edmondson, along with the harvard medical school physicians funding her research, were at first bewildered when questionnaires showed that units with the best leadership and coworker relationships reported the most errors: units with the best leaders reported making as many as ten times more errors than units with the worst leaders. after Edmondson pieced together all the evidence, she figured out that nurses in the best units reported far more errors because they felt psychologically safe to admit their mistakes. nurses in the best units said that mistakes were natural and normal to document and that mistakes are serious because of the toxicity of the drugs, so you are never afraid to tell the nurse manager. the story was completely different in the units where nurses rarely reported errors. fear ran rampant. nurses said things like the environment is unforgiving; heads will roll, you get put on trial, and that the nurse manager treats you as guilty if you make a mistake and treats you like a two year old. as the late corporate quality guru w. edwards deming concluded long ago, when fear rears its ugly head, people focus on protecting themselves, not on helping their organizations improve. edmondson’s research shows that this happens even when lives are at stake.”

    second dot. in 2004 i started reading a book about medical errors called “internal bleeding” by wachter & shojania (at ucsf), p. 216

    “in one survey of more than seven hundred nurses, 96 percent said they had witnessed or experienced disruptive behavior by physicians. nearly half had pointed to fear of retribution as the primary reason such acts were not reported to superiors.”

    p. 222

    “one study compared the attitudes of flight crews regarding teamwork to those held by surgical teams. the surgeons themselves thought the team functioned well (three quarters rated teamwork as “high”). the other members of the team begged to differ. only 39% of anesthesiologists, 28% of surgical nurses, 25% of anesthesia nurses, and 10% of anesthesia residents agreed that the level of teamwork was good. nearly half the surgeons felt that junior team members shouldn’t question the decisions of the senior physician. in contrast 94% of airline pilots reject this sort of hierarchy– possibly because when the captain makes a mistaken everyone else goes down as well.”

    watcher discusses an example of what they are doing to address this in an article

    “At my hospital (UCSF Medical Center) and several other centers around the United States, we have enlisted the help of commercial airline pilots to teach us how to communicate better, how to dampen down hierarchies (so that a young nurse feels comfortable questioning a senior doctor when something seems awry), and how to debrief participants after an operation, just as crew members are debriefed after a flight.”

    also see a piece on medical ethics and reporting of errors. a piece on transforming hospital culture from secrecy to safety oriented, explains it well

    Focus on Safety, Rather than Secrecy
    In the current climate, hospitals often deny that mistakes exist. When they do happen, they react as if the event is an anomaly. The popular approach is to find the person responsible – the “bad apple” – and issue a punishment. Typically, the first question workers ask when they hear a mistake occurred is “who did it?” followed by “have they done it before?” The focus is on the individual rather than the system.

    The reality, Dr. Pepper said, is that human beings will always make mistakes. “Human beings have flexibility. This is what distinguishes us from a computer, but it is also what makes us error-prone,” she said. “If we didn’t make errors, we couldn’t be creative.”

    A safety culture has a different assumption: It says that errors are common and they are made by good people in a flawed system. It distinguishes between blame-worthy and blameless mistakes (those that are made out of vindication, carelessness or recklessness versus those that are unintentional).

    In a safety culture, the discovery and reporting of errors is rewarded, not punished. This doesn’t mean health professionals are not accountable. Accountability is not being perfect, but rather it involves acknowledging the error, apologizing, repairing the harm, discovering the causes of the error and fixing the system or process.
    Initiating this kind of safety culture does work, Dr. Pepper said.

    A five-year study in a variety of industries demonstrated that a behavioral safety initiative resulted in 29-percent improvement in safety practices in one year, which rose to a 69-percent improvement by the fifth year.

    third dot. it turns out that hierarchy, secrecy, and underreporting of errors was a major factor that led to the poor safety record of the soviet nuclear industry and in particular the poor designs/operation of the chernobyl reactor according to richard rhodes in “Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race” in his first chapter on chernobyl, p. 7

    “unknown to the soviet public and the world, at least 13 serious power reactor accidents had occured in the soviet union before the one at chernobyl”

    after reading “internal bleeding,” in later 2004 i started studying case studies of the largest technological disasters and found that “system understanding” was missing in all of the accidents and a good portion of this can be avoided with effective team reviews where trust already exists between team members. if trust does not exist might as well forget the reviews.

    in the end, the lesson is simple. in highly technical industries where corporate success depends on every team member, hire and work with teammates whom you can trust and can be completely open with. otherwise, you can expect failures at all levels that you won’t know about until it’s too late.

    Micro-enterprise

    January 2, 2008

    the US State Dept (USAID) defines a micro-enterprise as “a firm of 10 or fewer employees, including unpaid family workers, that is owned and operated by someone who is poor.” apart from the grameen bank type efforts, Congress supplies a good amount of money every year for small sized loans (~$500) and business development activities (BDA) to poor individuals worldwide – majority women – in the form of microcredit.

    in 2002 it was $170 million = $110M microfinance + $47M business development services (BDS) +… see review papers prepared by the US state dept (in 2004). this has been shown to bring families out of poverty — consistent with what we would expect from Dr. Krishna’s surveys on the causes for families falling into and rising out of poverty.

    the basis (or bias) of microcredit is a repayment rates of 95-97% ensured through social support groups who hold each other accountable, and which turn requires focus on businesses that the villagers know how to make money from and so many end up being agricultural based. examples cited here tend to indicate this (selling vegetables, food preparation, etc) while some are non-agricultural (sewing, kerosene lamps, handicrafts)

    1. Members must run successful businesses. This is at the heart of what we do. Our members create businesses around existing livelihood skills and provide simple services and products for which there is already a demonstrated demand. Their business plans must pass the scrutiny of their own self-guarantee groups, which have the power to reject loan applications.

    2. Perhaps counter-intuitively, even the poorest people (i.e., those earning less than $1 per day per capita) do not, in general, need formal training before launching a business supported by a microfinance institution (MFI). Their “survival skills,” honed in an environment where there is neither a safety net nor wage employment to fall back on, are well developed, though severely undercapitalized. Providing capital, in a structured format where peer accountability is emphasized, is the most efficient and respectful means of ensuring rapid progress. Costly business training and technical assistance programs can therefore often be dispensed with or used only in exceptional cases.

    so the success of micro-enterprises hinges on information that the villager already knows about and has access to. from these papers and the IIT-Madras analysis for india, it seems little to nothing has been done so far to expand the information available to villagers about higher paying opportunities in their village or region by exposing demand and reducing distribution costs in the local/rural economies – how do we close the information deficit?

    Dr. Jhunjhunwala’s Scorecard for IT in rural India

    January 1, 2008

    a take away from this IIT-Madras analysis is that Internet access infrastructure and basic apps are *not* the biggest problem in rural India today — the real gap is in apps for creating higher paying jobs, connecting buyers to sellers, and enabling financial transactions for rural economic growth. that’s where we need the heavy lifting.

    for decades Professor Jhunjhunwala (IIT-Madras) has been leading a R&D center focused on rural access for wireless voice + Internet and economic development in India. his slide deck which gives an overview of rural information and communications technology (ICT) including cell phones, fiber backbones, Internet kiosks, voice technologies — with examples of rural apps like financial services, remote teaching, telemedicine, e-choupal, weather, etc. his “dream” is to double the GDP of $140 billion for 700 million rural Indians from $200 to $400 per person annually. on slide 21 he asks “where are we?” and he rates today’s services in the rural areas on a scale of 0-5.

    Jhunjhunwala’s Scorecard:

    Infrastructure for ICT

    • 4 — rural fiber backbone
    • 3+ — broadband access (> 100 kbps)
    • 3+ PCs/Software/Power

    Capacity Building for ICT

    • 2+ — selection/training of operators, marketing of services

    End to End Services using ICT

    • 4 — Basic Services (email, browsing, games, DTP, astrology, matrimonial, photography)
    • 3 — Communication Services (3 VoIP, 2+ Mobile)
    • 3+ — Education
    • 2+ — Micro-franchise
    • 2+ — ITeS
    • 2+ — Telemedicine
    • 2- — Agriculture
    • 2- — Financial Services
    • 0 — Jobs
    • 1- — Buying and Selling
    • 1+ — E-governance
    • 0+ — Micro-enterprise
    • 0 — Online Games

    the slides are from http://www.comminit.com/en/node/243350 (2005)

    here is a more recent video Q&A with him (2007)

    there are some interesting perspectives at Microsoft’s site “Unlimited Potential” site, but the ideas are mostly PC/net centric. i didn’t find much in terms of actually connecting rural villagers to higher paying economic local opportunities

    also see interview with CK Prahalad “bottom of the pyramid”