Today I wanted to expose you to a term that you may not be familiar with. Stacking. I attended an AI workshop late last year and was exposed to this term for the first time. And although I have been doing it for many years, I never really had a term for it. I’m pretty sure that after you read this article, you too will be thinking….. Yeah Ive been doing this to some degree also, in my career.
So in this article I will only be exposing you to the concepts and getting familiar with the terms used, but in future articles I will expand further and delve deeper into how to stack, what to stack and the different aspects of your life you can use it in.
Some may be thinking of stacking in many different ways for each reader.
For example when i was a lad, riding my bike, if someone took a stack, it meant they went over the handle bars and “stacked” their bike.
You can have a stack of pancakes, or flapjacks, or you can stack a deck of cards, which means to set the deck up in your favor so you have more chance of winning.
However for this article, we wont be exploring any of these above mentioned stacks, we are purely going to focus on the AI method of stacking, and then in subsequent articles, explore other stacks we can incorporate into our work and personal life, to make things easier, faster and give you some time back to focus on more proactive activities in your life.
As opposed to reacting to things that come along, the goal we want to achieve by stacking is giving us some breathing room, to ponder and consider ways to be more efficient with our time, and relieve a bit of stress even.
So in the workshop I attended, it was about how AI is influencing our worlds and what we can do to take advantage of it, to perform various tasks in our work life. As you may have read, Ive been writing many varied articles on AI, upon request from our members base.
If you have begun to explore AI, you may have only dabbled in a few that you hear in the news such as ChatGPT, or Google Bard, however there is Sooo many AI available at your fingertips right now that even if you were using 10 then you’ve only barely started to scrape the surface.
As stated in many other articles, we don’t like to promote any particular brand or service, and the following links we provide give us no kickbacks or referrals. We provide these purely for educational purposes.
- https://theresanaiforthat.com/ – Is an AI aggregator. It actually is an AI site that finds more AI sites. The rapid pace in which is grows is amazing. When i first found it there was only a few thousand, now at the writing of this article there are more than 11,000.
- https://gptstore.ai/ – is specific to Chat GPT and t use any of these AIs you need to have a chat GPT plus account which is $22 USD/month.
- https://topai.tools/explore?kw=Aggregators – a list of AI aggregators
- https://www.producthunt.com/ – not specific to AI but you can filter on AI applications, a great broad list of latest products and services in the IT industry.
Now If I were to create a stack of applications dedicated to AI, I might call it the “AI Innovator’s Toolkit.” This stack would consist of various AI tools, frameworks, libraries, and platforms to help HDAA innovate and excel in the field of artificial intelligence. The stack would be designed to empower users to build, deploy, and manage AI solutions effectively.
The concept of a toolkit that you stack is not dissimilar to an electrician or a carpenter. You wouldn’t expect either one to turn up with just a screw driver to do their work. They have over time created “stacks” of tools to create a toolkit, to provide a service that is professional and neat.
There is a slight challenge though when you start to get the concepts of stacks and setting up your toolkit. You have two options to go about, well possibly more, but lets focus on the two most common.
Make it up as you along, or have a plan.
Its easy to fall into the trap of just bolting on additions, we see this a lot with our consults. One individual has a great idea and brings in a tool, then they leave the organization and another takes over. They have their own personal opinions and needs/wants which they bring along the journey, the same thing happens again and again. The result, well you still have a stack, but its a crap stack. There are no integrations and automation is the last consideration.
The other option is to map out value streams, to best understand how the stack can compliment and or optimize your business goals, to achieve your outcomes.
The way we approach this in HDAA is the following:
First of all we use the continual improvement model, as we all have stacks already setup its the most logical place to start.
Remember the 7 step improvement process? Depending on the type of improvement you are planning, the steps of the improvement model can vary significantly. It’s important however to follow all the steps for each improvement.
The steps are:
What is the vision?
The improvement should support the organization’s goals and objectives at all times. It should also link individual actions to the future vision, in order that it really can be seen as an improvement.
Where are we now?
In order for an improvement to really impact, it should have a clear starting point. The step ‘where are we now’ helps you to assess your current situation, from a technical, human resource and user’s perception perspective.
Where do we want to be?
This step helps you visualize your improvement initiative. Here you set your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and the objectives of the improvement initiative.
How do we get there?
The fourth step helps you plan. The continual improvement model advises to work iteratively, however with some initiatives this might not be needed and another approach will suffice.
Execute the plan that you created in the fourth step. A measurement process is key in this step as it will help you stay on track. To execute the plan you can use any type of approach that you think fits best (waterfall, big bang or small iterations).
Did we get there?
Check and confirm the progress and the value of the improvement initiative.
If the desired result has not been achieved, additional actions need to be taken (often in a new iteration).
How do we keep the momentum going?
If the initiative is a success, use it to build support and momentum for the next improvement initiatives.
To do so, share the success both internally and externally. If the initiative failed to achieve success, make sure to use it for your ‘lessons learned’. This way the initiative did create value, even though it was not a success.
As a part of each of the steps for the CIM, we use the 7 guiding principles which are:
- Focus on value.
- Start where you are.
- Progress iteratively with feedback.
- Collaborate and promote visibility.
- Think and work holistically.
- Keep it simple and practical.
- Optimize and automate.
Using the guiding principles, keeps us aligned to each stage of the continual improvement model,
And lastly during the process of working through each stage of the CIM, whilst using the guiding principles to guide us, we use the deming cycle to perform the actions, as you know PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act).
Now before we can start smashing out the work, as a part of stage one, what is the vision, this is a key part to understanding the future state. This is what forms the basis of the value stream. IF we can understand where we want to get to, and the subsequent stage of where are we now? (Baseline assessment) it helps to identify the “gaps” also known as a gap analysis.
So by using the methods mentioned, we can start to map out a value steam, understanding what potential tools we will need to “stack” to be able to perform the tasks to produce the outputs, and achieve the overall outcome (vision).
Once we have built out a value stream, we can then start looking for the ultimate tools to build our stack. I suggest starting off with something small and not complicated, until you get the hang of it. Try building out a MVP (minimum Viable Product) to be able to create a proof of concept. Build it in a dev or non prod environment.
In this article, I wrote about what a stack is and how you can consider building your own stacks. Start off small for a simple task and then build them out from there. Key things to consider are DONT make it up as you go along, use the frameworks and methods to create a value stream and map it out, aligned to the business vision.
Stack your world and refine it over time suing the continual improvement model.
Good luck and Stack on.