A Culture of Helping

By making partnering the norm, innovators may unleash the technological power behind their products.

Making collaborative generosity the norm

It is about unleashing technologies, innovation and know-how.

UnRisk unleashed the programming power behind its solutions and provided UnRisk-Q.

The trickiness of this management challenge: stretch and extend the internal culture to clients and partners and even beyond (potential competitors). It is driven by the understanding that helping is two-sided. Help-providers and help-receivers need to change roles. At UnRisk, people have an array of helping networks.

Example: the UnRisk product manager and head of application development is also providing first-hand support and use trainings. In addition, he provides internal trainings for developers an conducts workshops with clients.

Help quants leverage their algorithmic strength and agility

The UnRisk Academy at the other hand provides views behind the curtain - about principles, approaches and critical implementations regarding financial modeling, computational finance, hybrid, domain specific programming, high-performace computing, …   in classes for quants, quant developers,   model validators, financial engineers, product controllers and risk managers, as well as the UnRisk teams.

A Workout in Computational Finance is a reference class of the UnRisk Academy.

The helping tango

In a dance one partner enables the other to move and synchronize. This is the secret behind a helping culture.

It's a matter of mutual expectations and sensitivity to each other's reaction.

There is a cold hard truth

Some have more talent than others.

I love Jazz and especially sax .. Once my  co-operators gave me a sax as a gift. And I was so enthusiastic, but I found out quite quickly: I could play sax but never play like gifted sax players: Archie Shepp, Julius Hemphill or John Zorn.

So, I returned to listening and discussing music ( I have not played for 20 years now).

But I know that those who play music understand their music better. What can I return to them? I listen to broad variety of genres and know a little about their interactions and interplay.

It needs some experience mapping help with respect to the organizational level and expertise of people effectively.

The Trap of Strategic Planning

A plan may let us sleep well, but it's not a strategy. A strategy is a framework of measures - not the measures.

The trap of time- and cost-based thinking

To build a strategy is a wicked problem. It is about taking risks and facing an unknown future. There are groups to consider you don't know who they are but will be affected by the decisions you make now ….. it is uncomfortable, consequently many turn into a more comfortable activity: strategic planning - visions and missions, initiatives and a map into the financials. Planning is usually based on time- and cost-baesd thinking -  it rarely contributes to company performances.

The trap of self-reference

If you have avoided the planning and cost trap don't forget to focus on the revenue decision makers that  influence your business most: clients. Don't overestimate your capabilities and resources.
This thinking often let see you great opportunities and encourage a bad strategy.

Get out of your comfort zone

It is comfortable to think everybody is your customer, so you just need a sales plan. But you better focus, make your strategy simple, without searching for perfection and explain the rationale and logic explicit. This usually makes you uncomfortable?

At UnRisk we decided to Arm David applying a kind of Reverse Innovation approach (make big systems for the small first and sell to larger market participants later) and provide Know-How Packages. We stretch and expand from core markets segments, where we became market leaders. We remove every barrier from usage, cost and operation. Our information policy is characterized by openness and transparency (there is enough risk in financial markets - operational risk of black boxes and hidden information must be removed).  

This leads to the UnRisk Brand Promise: with our offerings, small market participants can conserve capital, set the stage for successful investment and risk management, leverage technology and build quant finance skills.

Are Innovators Elitists?

Listen to focus groups, but do not become your clients slave - the market is not always right

If you listen mainly to the mainstream you will create mainstream

Producing innovation that does not need instructions may take away power from explorative learners

Popularity is not identical with importance - selling for popularity sells out yourself

Serving people with what they ask for, is not always what they want

Lowering the price at the expense of lowering fitness for  purpose, product or services quality is foolish

We need more curators, from places that are not so obvious

IMO, elites are people working on projects that counteract averaging down everything to become cheap and ubiquitous.

This post is inspired by Seth Godin's post: I'm an elitist

p.s. we, at UnRisk, made a few decision that one might find counterintuitive or even counter productive: we unleashed the programming power behind UnRisk. UnRisk Academy classes give full explanation on what is behind the curtain. This means we arm potential competitors of UnRisk solutions.

Edit: I recalled that I have written about one important aspect: without passion you may as well give up.

And good news is (from neuroscience): the human brain is well equipped to build innovation in communities of passion (deep inside our brain cells are neurons that will fire in reaction to anther's strong beliefs when they are transformed into actions).

10 Ideas for Reinventing Software Development

I will not only make a living from advisory for concrete innovators, but give advice here.

Disruption from new market regimes, the coming contextual age and technologies, may force innovators of technical software to reinventing development. Ideas range from finding new abstractions over  further productivity boosting to closing client feed back loops.

  1. Progress motivates - Developers working out evolutionary development cycles will have more best-workdays.
  2. Technology revolutionizes workflows - Integrated model building and quick demonstration will help to explain complex concepts to non experts. A declarative programming environment, document centered interfaces and several deployment options will help to do the right correctly 
  3. A bank of innovation - Establish a lab to design, analyze and "fund" innovations and boost dynamism by requiring alternative methods, models and solutions.
  4. Get the tools required - Enhance your platform and workbench for hybrid, multi-language, system development of platform-agnostic, inherently parallel software solutions that go where its users go 
  5. A fast path from lab to market - Remove deployment obstacles and close the client feed back loop.
  6. Support rule breakers - Standardization is good, but often new methods and tools will empowering our developments more. Software development is more lab work than industrial work.
  7. Spotting errors in early stages - Needs automated precision analytics and control, ease of cross model testing and other analytics of operational risk.
  8. Development cities - Teams of developers who do everything from design-to-testing, deployment and support.
  9. Independent from usual roles - Why pretend that only sales shape client relations? Developers daily interact with actors and communicate via the underlying technology
  10. Inside-out knowledge - Developers shall not only provide product use training, but also seminars giving full explanation on theories, models and methods
This principles are part of the development and services compass of UnRisk and applied when uni software plus conducted projects, for complex technical systems, with other industrial sectors.

Our programming tools range from OpenCL for massive parallelism to Wolfram Language and Mathematica building our proprietary domains-pecific languages for high-level declarative programming (code in one line that would need two dozens of lines in, say, C++ or Java, ..)

As a consequence, we compete major players although we are a comparative small outfit.