Sharing my $70K+ , nine months “Learning” experience

The need to explore the uncharted

The world of tomorrow -the Digital one- will not be defined by templates. Think about it this way- if all the standard methodologies, frameworks and templates for Supply Chain “transformation” were as effective in last one decade as they were 30 years ago, companies would not have to go through the following cycle every few years:

Step 1: Leverage a “transformation” framework/advise to get out of sh** by doing standard things like reducing cost, increasing revenue blah blah

Step 2: Do Ok for next 5 years as a result of that

Step 3: Get into Sh** again because of operating exactly in the same way they were 5 years ago

Step 4: Leverage a “transformation” framework/advise to get out of sh** by doing standard things like reducing cost, increasing revenue blah blah

And it is an infinite loop.

“Unconstrained” thoughts under “constrained” environment

Over a period of 4-5 years, as I started chartering into Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence while being neck deep in the world of Supply Chain, I developed certain notions of how we could leverage advanced analytics NOT TO hammer how we do things but to do things different entirely. But like every other human being, my notions could have been wrong (which many of them turned out to be). Eventually, in April 2019, I decided to do something full time – Work on my ideas full time, try implementing them, with Industry scale hardware wherever feasible.

And so began the crazy expensive learning that has cost me $70K+ till date

At the core of my ideas were algorithms, but then all these algorithms theoretically  worked in tandem with hardware like cameras, drones, scanners, smart lights etc. (I even bought few cheap vacuuming robots and re purposed some of their functionalities with the help of a friend to mimic warehouse bots for few tests. Now I have six of them😕). If you follow me on LinkedIn, you would have figured out from my posts that I also leveraged many contract developers to develop aspects of algorithms that I could not build myself but had clarity on what I wanted.

The result ? Since May 2019 till date, I have spent $70K+. Not only is my study( home office) a mess, my garage and backyard have so much gear, that have already been tested, I don’t even know which specialized buyer will buy all that when I start getting rid of all that equipment.

But what exactly did I learn from my $70K+ learning experience ?

(1) When you are not in an environment that dissuades you from learning, and not restricted by “practicality and effectiveness” that leads organizations into the above mentioned steps every few years without suggesting a way out, you CAN develop a gratification from learning that NO formal education can give you. And the result of learning can produce few things that can actually be tried to change the current paradigms. Will they actually change ? Can’t guarantee but something will happen only if we try new approaches.

(2) Ideas on paper look much easier than developing a working prototype. I am pretty sure that industrial scale implementation will be much more challenging but isn’t that the thrill behind it all ? I started with 50+ different ideas and so far have less than 10 that I am confident can be effectively implemented

(3) Unless you are pursuing a formal credential because you don’t have one (like one I am pursuing in AI domain since my Masters is in SCM), no amount of formal education can match hands on, free mind, constraint less learning. Allows you to design your learning based on your own passion.

(4) I have been saving a secret stash since 2019, ever since I figured out that Land Rover is planning to relaunch Defender. I ended up spending all of that and more. Sure, I would have got gratification from buying the Defender. But the number of gratifications I got every time I was able to implement something successfully,  was a priceless experience. All that money spent was worth it !

In April (once the snow melts here in Boston), I can invite those interested to come and view how I have created a small reflection of Supply Chain of the future in my study, garage and backyard. Maybe they are just fancy toys to some but boy…I LOVE THEM ! Maybe I will do an event (My wife is suggesting that). Will share the details on LinkedIn if that happens.

And nothing…absolutely nothing that I have done in last few years would have been possible without my wife. As if providing all the much needed emotional support during last three years was not enough, she patiently allowed me to make a mess of most of our backyard, tolerated me being on calls at 2am helping a startup in India and all the other stuff I did to irritate her on a daily basis 😀 since April of last year.

Another big source of motivation and inspiration has been my LinkedIn family. Their love and support has been phenomenal and has kept me motivated.

But the learning journey for me will never stop….it never should.

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