Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Business Value of Ethics

I recently had the honour to speak at the Ethics in Research and Innovation workshop organized by ADAPT Centre in Trinity College Dublin. The topic of my keynote was "The Business Value of Ethics", where I reflected about the need to practice ethics in research and innovation environments, and the benefits that these practices can bring to an organization or company. Here I leave some highlights from my presentation.

Why Ethics in Technology is a must?
  • Emerging technologies such as AI, Connected Home, Autonomous Vehicles or Human Augmentation have unprecedented levels of potential harm in our society if ethics are neglected.
  • The impact of these technologies can be spread from 0 to billions of people in a matter of hours.
  • High-tech is no longer a privilege of large corporations and organizations. Access, development and knowledge of cutting-edge technology is now affordable and available to SMEs as well, which account for 99% of the businesses in the EU. Practicing ethics in technology is everyone's job.

Where is the opportunity?
The main reason to practice ethics in R&I settings should be that it is the right thing to do, and our responsibility as human beings, but there are a bunch of other reasons that businesses can benefit from:
  • Ethically-informed solutions can be your core value proposition if you are targeting the growing ethically-concerned customer segment. For instance, a study claims that 70% of the American consumers are influenced to purchase products based on company's ethics.
  • Data breaches, AI biased algorithms, cyber-attacks,... they can ruin the reputation of a company within hours. Practicing ethics is a shield that does not only protect your business against future reputation damage, but it actually enhances it.
  • Ethics in technology practices are expected to follow the same path of the green business practices, that have become a legal requirement, an investor demand and a compelling competitive advantage.

Where do I start from?
You might want to check tools such as Ethics Canvas or Data Ethics Canvas, that allow teams to brainstorm about the potential ethical impacts of their projects. And you can always leave me a comment if you want to learn more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

8 proven techniques to have shorter and better meetings


Some weeks ago I published a post on Linkedin asking my connections for their best tricks to have more effective meetingsThis is a summary of the techniques that are being used successfully in world-class companies and institutions:
  • Invites. State a clear purpose, specific agenda points and share the slides upfront (if available). Make sure you have invited only the right participants by stating the roles and responsibilities for each one in the invite.
  • Set up. Prepare the context to start on time: room, tooling, material, connectivity, etc.
  • Be on time. Start your meetings at :05 to allow people to arrive from other meetings and grab a coffee. 
  • No devices. Mobile phones are not allowed on the desk or attendees' hands. Laptops are not allowed in the room except for the presenters.
  • Stand-ups. Meetings that are about status and decision making shouldn't be long. Chair-less rooms are ideal for this. Meetings about collaborative content review or training are longer by nature, and more suitable for desks and chairs.
  • Decisions. Open the meeting with the decision(s) that have to be made before the meeting ends.
  • Strict time keeping. In many cases, a 15-minute meeting is enough. Using meeting rooms that are booked when our meeting ends is a good way to make sure they don't last longer. Set the agenda with a strict time slot for each point and restrict each speaker's time to the allotted time.
  • ROI. Ask the participants to rate their Return of Investment (1-5) on a whiteboard at the end of the meeting. If the ROI is low, figure out why and what needs to be changed.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion! Do you have other tricks? Please share them as comments to this post.