ThingsCon. Berlin. 2-3 May 2014

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ThingsCon, Berlin

ThingsCon is a two-day conference about the future of the hardware business ranging from Internet of Things, wearables and connected devices to 3D printing and new manufacturing techniques. In talks, workshops and intimate sessions, an international line-up of top notch speakers will cover everything it takes to grow a hardware product from prototype to scaling business – and help participants build the companies of tomorrow.

We will give a talk and small workshop on the topic “Solutionism is squared in the Internet of Things”.

The session will offer an introductory talk to the topic and then an hands on workshop in which we will try to identify the “Job to be done” for a certain category of products in the realm of the internet of things.

Here’s Why:

Solutionism is “building things because we can”. As it may sound ok to do that for tech guys, there is a danger in doing that. The danger is often more in the political / ethocal angle than in an economic sense. Economically it may be fine that startups build things that can be built for the sake of it, as it is the very hygenical function of startup in the economy to try things out and invalidate them as valid.

The problem is that we live in a highly connected complex world. In the compex domain a clear cause-effect relationship does not exist. Thus, we don’t have predictabililty of the effects that our solutions cause. This also means we can not be aware of the risk that is involved with whatever is technically possible. Not being sure of risk is fine for personal decisions. It is also fine when risk is contained. The danger of an internet service going haywire are real but limited. The risk of connected Things in the real world going haywire is of another dimension.

If the risk can be lethal or at least drastic, risk needs to be treated in a different way. While we will never be in a position to predict risk involved in the IoT for any solution, there is a simple mitigation strategy for risks like this.

Lets look at what doctors used to do. They had the simple rule in the oath of hippocrates which is a very clever rule: “Only do what needs to be done”. In fact, they came up with this ruke, as tehy had an understanding that the human body is quite a complex, resilient system. That means again, that on the one hand we don’t have clear cause-effect relationship and on the other hand, the human body is actually quite good in resisting heavy impacts to its health.We have great self cure mechanisms in place. So, the understanding was: Only do what definitely needs to be done, do as little as possible, as we only want to mitigate high risk when we know what we are doing. The basic principle is: Do something when the need is validated.

Lets forget for a minute that the medical sector does not comply to this rule anymore.

We have the same risk distribution in the IoT. So we should act accordingly. The problem is that
– we are trained in solution mindedness
– humans love to do things for the sake of doing things
– and we forgot to look for validated needs first

To round up the experience, we will go through the exercise of understanding unseres needs by identifiying the “Job to be done” for a group of Things. The job to be done is the resaon (underlying need) custmers have when they buy a product. When we understand that Job to be done well, we can come up with the right product solutions. By only serving the deepest need, we can make sure to comply to the rule of “Only do what needs to be done!”

Lets try that together!



When: 2-3 May 2014

Where: Betahaus (May 2) and Kalkscheune (May 3), Berlin

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