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Thursday Complexity Post
May 8, 2014

When Flying Pizzas and Medicines Drop from the Sky  


When Jeff Bezos announced last year that Amazon was testing drones to speed purchased goods to Amazon customers, lots of people laughed. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wondered whether other alpha moguls would want their own drone fleets to provide their customers with instant gratification, and she worried about the dizzying logistics and hazards of thousands of delivery drones crisscrossing the nation's airspace. Netflix mocked Amazon with a fake ad.


Entrepreneur Andreas Raptopoulos scoffed when Domino's launched two pepperoni pizzas on a publicity-driven drone delivery last summer. "Why the hell would you do that," he asked, when perfectly good ways to deliver pizza already exist? But as a story by Shane Hickey in The Guardian explains, Raptopoulos already had his own vision of drones delivering medical supplies to places that roads don't reach. He founded Matternet, a company devoted to a network of stations for flying drones that could expand beyond medical applications to become the world's next generation transportation system. Matternet has tested drone prototypes for deliveries in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The technology isn't yet ready for long distances and mass development, but Raptopoulos believes safe, reliable drone systems are inevitable.


Bezos, the Amazon CEO, is serious too. Amazon's core business is selling and delivering physical stuff, and a Wired Magazine story by Marcus Wohlsen reports plans for drone delivery are well underway. According to the story, Bezos told shareholders in his annual letter that the Amazon "Prime Air team is already testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8."


It not as far-fetched as it sounds. An administrative law judge for the National Transportation Traffic Safety Administration ruled the Federal Aviation Administration has no authority to ban the commercial use of unarmed aerial vehicles. Amazon has said it hopes FAA rules for civilian drone flights will be in place sometime in 2015.


What if they crash or smash into things? What if people shoot them down? An Atlantic story by Alexis Madrigal explains why Raptopoulos thinks those are baseless fears and why drones are the transportation of the future.


Drones have been used already for a friendly gesture, with a little advertising thrown in. Singapore is a wealthy country, but it relies on a million immigrant workers from China, India and Bangladesh who get paid as little as $1.60 an hour for manufacturing and construction work. Fast Company reports that to cheer people missing their homes, Coca Cola asked Singaporeans to take photos of signs thanking the immigrants for building their buildings. The photos were wrapped around cans of Coke, and 2,500 cans of cold soda were delivered by drone to construction workers. The ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Singapore filmed workers happily getting their drinks and messages, and you can watch here. Well, that is nice, but don't forget scientists say soft drink consumption is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes, in wealthy and developing countries world wide.




Liberating Structures Workshop 

May 29-30 - Washington, DC 


Liberating Structures are novel, practical and effective methods to help you engage everyone and unleash innovation in meetings of any size. During this roll-up-your-sleeves immersion workshop, participants will learn and immediately practice 10-12 Liberating Structures while receiving tips on how to implement them in the workplace and traps to avoid.
Event flyer (pdf). 1-day, $150. 1 1/2-day, $200.  



Remember PlexusCalls!



Friday, May 9, 2014- 1-2 PM ET

Creating Change with Liberating Structures 
Guests: Henri Lipmanowicz and Liz Rykert           


In their new book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures, Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz, both experienced in business and skilled facilitators, describe what they term "simple rules to unleash a culture of innovation." Skyscrapers, bridges, and the operating policies and principles that organizations have designed for long term use are big durable structures that aren't easily changed. The routines and events in our daily lives-the meetings, seating arrangements, mealtime rituals, conversational exchanges, and the questions we ask are structures too. The authors call them microstructures. Everything we do takes place in some structure, and the Henri and Liz will discuss some quick and easy changes in microstructures that can have a powerful impact.  


Henri Lipmanowicz retired from Merck in 1998 after a 30-year career during which he progressed from Managing Director in Finland to President of the Intercontinental Region and Japan (The world minus the US and Western Europe) and a member of Merck Management Committee. In 2000 Henri co-founded the Plexus Institute and served as Chairman of the Board until 2010. Born in Carcassonne, France, Henri holds a MS degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Columbia University and a MS degree in Chemical Engineering from France. His career gave him the opportunity to live in seven countries and made him a perpetual world traveler. He resides in the US with his Finnish wife; their joy in their seven grandchildren is beyond their wildest expectations. Henri's previous passion was building organizations where people thrived and were successful beyond their wildest expectations. His current passion is the development of Liberating Structures and their dissemination across all five continents. One passion follows naturally the other since Liberating Structures make it possible for people to build organizations where they thrive and are successful beyond their expectations.


Liz Rykert is the President of Meta Strategies which she founded in 1997. Her company is a Toronto-based strategy group working in complex organizational change and digital technology. The consulting and technological services include: change work and innovation, large system transformation, coaching and facilitation; web work including strategy, online community, website design and programming; and network development, visualization and analysis. Liz is also an associate with Ignite Consulting Services at University Health Network - Canada's largest teaching hospital network. Liz is a practitioner of engagement methods such as Liberating Structures. She practices Developmental Evaluation on the highly uncertain and emergent projects she works on to carefully track and monitor progress and impact. Liz is a graduate from Ryerson's Social Work program. She works with health systems with a focus on culture change and human interaction as part of large systems change to improve patient safety. Liz was a member of the team for the Canadian research project on Positive Deviance and was a faculty member for the Canadian Patient Safety Institute - Stop Infections Now Collaborative. Liz also coaches four hospitals in the New York State based Bordering on Zero Collaborative sponsored by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Liz is a student of complexity science and a big believer in the power of networks.



Healthcare PlexusCalls

Wednesday, May 21, 2014- 1-2 PM ET

Practicing Complexity as a Leader and a Team 
Guest: Larry McEvoy            


Healthcare, always complex, is becoming even more complex as millions more individuals gain access to needed care. Complex situations call for adaptive responses, different ways of working together, new skills.


Larry McEvoy, MD, FACEP, is a physician, executive, and social entrepreneur interested in creating better results, better leaders, and better organizations, drawing on concepts of complexity science and his own experience.  


Friday, May 23, 2014- 1-2 PM ET

Improvement, Innovation and Lean 
Guests: Paul Plsek and Daniel Pesut            


Paul Plsek's  latest book, Accelerating Health Care Transformation With Lean and Innovation, describes the integration of creativity and innovation tools into the pioneering work of the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Donald M. Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, says "If you're in healthcare and this book doesn't scare you, you're not paying attention." Join the conversation with Paul and Dan to learn more.     



Audio from all PlexusCall series is available by searching the iTunes store for plexuscalls. Or, visit under Resources/Call Series. 


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