Things & Thinks V

Taiwan and Operational Competence

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not COVID-19 can be considered as a ‘black swan event’. The ‘black swan’ concept, developed by renowned scholar Nassim Taleb, describes events characterized as outliers with extreme impact, that in hindsight are totally explainable. While for a large section of general public, Covid-19 may fit the definition, several experts incl Bill Gates, Seth Godin and others had always warned about high possibility of pandemics ravaging the world.

  • However even this rational thinking falls short for long drawn problems. Mere strategic planning is not enough esp for the kind of challenges we face in ‘black swan’ish situations-they are either too complex to fit a straight narrative, too unpredictable to fit usual planning timelines or a combination of both.
  • Finally, such challenge can’t be fixed by short term fixes.

Moving into the shadows

Matt Beane brings an important perspective for ideas getting into reality in a WIRED article -‘To Adapt to Tech, We’re Heading Into the Shadows’. The framework is quite intuitive- ‘critical innovation and adaptation is mostly achieved in the gray areas near the edges of what’s normal or appropriate.’

Source: WIRED
  • Reduce the feeling of pressure from compliance activities.
  • This sounds clichéd but help increase trust in teams and organizations so that it becomes easy to experiment (and fail!)

Journey of a medical innovation in India

Source: HuffPost India
  • Pivoting is a great idea that’s often sold time and again in tech innovation. But it most probably will not be as straightforward as it may look on paper. In this case, pivoting from low-cost breathing assisting devices to full-fledged mechanical ventilators seems to have been messy to say the least!
  • Role of government procurement can play a fantastic boost for any start-up but will almost certainly bring in additional scrutiny on product standards, possible conflicts of interests as well as financing.


  • DARPA is the famed US agency for its role in such innovations as compute networking, internet and GUI; Verne Lynn, DARPA’s director from 1995 to 1998, says he successfully lobbied Congress to shrink his budget after the Clinton administration had boosted it to “dangerous levels.” (Source h/t @Ben_Reinhardt)
  • ‘I think this crisis is the worst thing that could have happened to Ed tech. People can now see just how impractical and inferior it is to face to face classrooms. It can’t pretend anymore to be the next big thing. The world tried it, for months. Game over.’ Tom Bennett, ResearchEd, @tombennett71
  • This great tip, amongst many others, to appear smart in meetings-



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Santosh Shevade

Santosh Shevade


Healthcare Innovation | Outcomes Research | Implementation and Impact