February 2015


I received my Amazon Echo in the mail on Tuesday and have to say I am mildly excited about it. I’ve set it up in the kitchen where I can ask Alexa (the personal assistant personality in Echo) to play the radio, play music, look up the odd fact, and read me the news. My morning routine now involves asking Alexa for the forecasts and the news. I like the recorded stories from NPR and the BBC – and the ability to easily skip through them. I’ve also enjoyed the response I get to saying “Alexa, good night”. I like the shopping list feature. I would like the ToDo list, but I already have one of those. This is where the Amazon eco-system is going to be problematic. I like Echo, but I already use my Android phone for my ToDo list, for reminders, for alarms.  I want Echo to do all of these things, but without creating a separate, Amazon-specific solution for each. That doesn’t seem likely to happen and so I’ll have to continue to decide who’s eco-system I want to live in for specific capabilities: Amazon’s or Google’s. I’m stuck in a bifurcated world.

One of my employees came to me with a problem. The solution is not obvious, but there is a path we can follow to get to a solution. I helped identify that path, but then ended the conversation saying “I don’t know, I’m not a genius about these things”. I was trying to express humility and let my employee take the lead for solving the problem, but I what I really did was project doubt upon the very path to a solution I had just suggested.  It would have been much better to simply say “that sounds like a plan, let’s go forward with it”. We both would have felt confident the problem was going to get resolved.