Musings: Listen

Listening at the Wall Image by Couleur of Pixabay

I think listen or listening is one of the most important words available in the language regarding conversations. 

I find that some people are not really listening. They are kind of hearing but they are not listening. They are listening to the point where they can make their counter argument by saying inwardly, “I need to say this in opposition to that point” or “I can top that story. Wait until they hear my fish story about the one that got away.”

I think conversations are in jeopardy of losing their importance in society as we all turn towards interfacing with our devices be it a phone or tablet or computer. When we go into a coffee shop, what do we all do there? We have our faces stuck in some electronic gadgets and do not look up to interface with other humans. We rarely smile or even acknowledge someone’s presence or existence. We are involved with another world of reality.

Now, I am not saying it is all bad. I welcome the incredible developments in technology. I am of that age that you only received information via books, encyclopedias, the radio, the television and more learned people like teachers or other wisdom holders. I am of the age where you really had to search for meaning instead of just having it at your disposal in nanoseconds.

Kids these days do not know how good they have it but they really do. I suppose that is the point and that we are to improve, grow and develop with each coming generation of people. I think we have to take the best of everything and work within those parameters until there are no boundaries or limitations at all of what is possible in our realm.

I sometimes long for the art of listening where conversations over a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of wine were meaningful in the most beautiful way of connectedness. I hope we connect even more especially since we are facing unprecedented change in our world. Smile to someone you do not know today and then enjoy that cup of coffee with your new found friend while you listen to their story. 

As a very good friend of mine, Ron Owens, says, “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

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Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks, Compares Poncho the Lion to Dealing with IT

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Founder of Dreamworks

Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke of how 18 years ago, he had made a mistake that was not something he could have prevented or known would even happen. He showed us a video clip from a conference he attended and spoke at. He brought out a live lion named Poncho but even though he was chained and handled by two trainers, the lion who was the basis on which the “Lion King” was featured and animated, took his love and adoration of Jeffrey to a close affection nearly knocking him off of his feet as the animal tried to get closer and closer to him.

Jeffrey brings up this lion to show how Poncho, like technology sometimes works for you and sometimes it does not as unpredictability can happen. Poncho pounced all over him but luckily he had the aid of two qualified professionals with him. In like fashion, Jeffrey speaks of his initial and ongoing relationship with HP. He first met the CEO of HP, Meg Whitman when they worked together at Walt Disney. He is so confident in the relationship and workability with Meg Whitman that when the company, Dreamworks, went public in October 2004, he invited her and some other prominent CEOs to sit on the Board.

Jeffrey showed an animation video where they started as hand-drawings of pencil, ink and zinc to colour animation to computer generated digital characters and then into 3D animation. In 1994, Dreamworks produced the Lion King. Soon afterwards, the company made Shrek which was the first animated film to receive an Academy Award. With each producing film, Dreamworks had to restructure so as to produce an exceptional line of animations. This meant retraining of staff in a massive effort and also a need for more data capability. In 2004, Jeffrey saw “The Polar Bear Express” and was very impressed with the 3D animation of Castle Rock Entertainment in association with Shangri-La Entertainment. This brought on yet another new stage of development with more complex demands. In 2009, they were now capable of developing 3D animation.

Jeffrey jokingly spoke of how Moore’s Law demands doubling computer processors in complexity every two years and with his version, Jeffrey’s Law, well he wants/demands/expects more than Moore’s Law. He detailed how it takes 3 billion integrations for a film that takes approximately four years to produce. He spoke of how an excellent animator can only produce 3 seconds of animation in one week’s amount of work. He spoke of how the character has to be built in components of the body, the face, the fur or the hair by separate animators. He told us how it takes 8 hours of rendering time once it has been modelled appropriately.

Now, another stage has commenced. Scalable multi-core processors has changed due to work with HP and Intel engineers. Finally, full resolution will be available in real-time. This expands the venture to a point where an animator can work at the speed of her or his imagination. This revolutionizing development will help to make films better, faster and cheaper. Not only the process but the product profits by this development. Dreamworks will be able to downsize from twelve departments to five or six.

Jeffrey speaks of calling on the bat phone to HP for help. They preferred the CRT monitors as they had better consistent colour validation than the new flat screen technologies. In fact, they held onto them until they were burnt out. Although great for the general consumer and office worker, it was not of a benefit for the animator or creative person. They worked with HP to develop a colour monitor that worked even better for them that the old CRT monitors.

For all these reasons, Jeffrey Katzenberg recognizes and appreciates what HP has done for them as they have grown to being the best and biggest state of the art animation studio. He reminded the IT group that is because of Meg Whitman’s 3 pillar vision of Cloud, Security and Information Explosion that they have been successful in developing and producing a collaborative working relationship. First, Jeffrey Katzenberg indicated that they were one of HP’s first Cloud clients due to the nature of their work around the world be it in American cities, to Bangalore and now Shanghai. Second, as the film industry is known for video piracy threats, it was extremely important to keep their files secure. Third and finally, he showed us how only 2 ½ minutes of animation took 6 terabytes of data storage. With this increasing need for information, Dreamworks has collaborated with HP to deal with these three major components.

With over 20 produced films, with 10 in production at any given time which on average takes 5 years to produce, Dreamworks relies on its partnership with HP. With the upcoming release of Madagascar 3, Dreamworks is able to produce high quality animated films that become an integral part of our culture with lines such as “Only penguins and people can drive!!!” When the movie comes out this Friday, you’ll understand this last line.

Meg Whitman, CEO of HP Addresses IT Professionals at Discover 2012

In a conference room filled predominantly by males in the Information Technology industry, a woman stands before the thousands of listening ears and looking eyes. This woman, Meg Whitman, has had a past of working for some of the best companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Walt Disney and Ebay. In some cases, the companies were already well established and well known but in the case of Ebay, she took the company from a smaller company making millions to now billions of dollars annually in revenue.

Meg Whitman as CEO of HP, has only been with the company for eight months, but already she has a vision of where to take the company. She told us of how HP makes a difference and this goes along with the Discover 2012 Conference’s slogan, “Make it matter.” She outlined how HP has helped the UK Ministry of Defence. Information Technology experts actually volunteer for this “mission” and put on bullet-proof vests to be in field operations with the soldiers such as they have done in Afghanistan. The purpose is to help the UK Ministry develop strategies on how better technology can serve the military. This HP difference makes them different as a corporate company and citizen.

Ms. Whitman spoke of the tectonic plates of the IT industry moving. With this in mind, she reminded the IT people that the industry needs to become more open and ubiquitous. From the cloud, to social media, to data storage, to security, to speed, to agility and to costs, these are all factors and considerations for this company.

Meg Whitman challenges the CIO to deal with the changing landscape. The market place and the current models are changing. To orchestrate the information flow and open the architectural systems, the CIO has to strategize and Meg Whitman points how HP can be the one to do this. She spoke of a four pronged attack of 1) Solutions 2) Service 3) Software and 4) Infrastructure. Meg Whitman gives another example where they helped the Bank of India over a 5 year period to return a 200% increase.

The CEO spoke of how IT is more than the sum of the parts but an aggregate of its resources. With the cloud, security and information optimization, HP can help companies capture the future. HP will help the company to pick a delivery model to help them deal with their changing needs. Meg Whitman finishes off with speaking of that in times of crisis, such as the flooding in Christchurch, the earthquake in Japan and other disasters, HP was there to help and continue to “make it matter.”

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