Left of X – Reprise

By Guy Higgins

At a recent meeting of the Colorado Preparedness Advisory Council, I mentioned that I had posted on “Left of X.” The council chairwoman observed that, “We call than left of boom.” Well, that got me to thinking. It really isn’t left of boom.

X is when something “starts” that will result in boom (that would be bad things happening). There is an interval between X and boom – and that interval needs to be considered. In my original post on Left of X, I emphasized the importance of being prepared and able to act before the archer shoots the arrow (Left of X), but I also mentioned that it remains important to be able to “shoot the arrow.” That’s right of X but left of boom. Granted, there may not be too much time between the two. Continue reading

Supply Chain and “Madam President”

By Guy Higgins

First, this is not about politics or even the recent election, but immediately after the election, hundreds of thousands of copies of Newsweek magazine, with a picture of Secretary Clinton under the title, “Madam President,” were distributed. Oops.

Newsweek immediately went about recalling those copies and issued a press release saying that a licensee had released the erroneous edition. “Not my fault” was the obvious assertion.

Well, this isn’t about politics – it’s about supply chain. Newsweek licensed printing and distribution of their magazine to this supplier (you can call them a licensee or anything else, but they are a supplier). Newsweek outsourced printing and distribution. But they didn’t outsource their brand or the ultimate responsibility for the error. They couldn’t! You can only outsource the activity. You cannot outsource the responsibility. Continue reading

KBO on the Shoulders of Giants

By Guy Higgins

Early in World War II, when Great Britain was facing the might of Nazi Germany alone, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, had a meeting with the King. They discussed all the things that were going wrong and the very few things that were moving in the right direction. The King, George VI, told his Prime Minister, “Well, Winston, KBO. Just KBO.” KBO – Keep Buggering On. When faced with seemingly insurmountable problems (and who could not view Great Britain’s problems in 1940 as insurmountable?), I think that the first thing is to show up every day and work on surmounting those problems – just keep buggering on. In doing so, he cajoled, inspired and led Great Britain through years of devastating defeats and horrific turns of fortune, all the while building the capability to win. Continue reading

Fun with the English Vocabulary

By Guy Higgins

This post is different and intended to be fun. In writing these posts for the Noble Reader, my gracious editor and I have encountered numerous typos that have turned out to be candidates for some future version of the Oxford English Dictionary. A set of those “wordisms” (all of which adhere to the Washington Post’s rules for wordisms – each one of these additions to the vocabulary of English can vary from a standard English word by only a single letter, added, deleted or juxtaposed) follows:

  • Integreate – the process of putting things together in a wondrous manner
  • Neew – something that is original and disgusting
  • Poeple – avid fans of Edgar Allen’s works
  • Statistoics – people who really don’t care what the numbers tell you
  • Regorganization – the introduction of Medusa principles (looks that turn people to stone) into a company or team.
  • Robnot – an automated, possibly humanoid, machine that refuses to work
  • Informaton – a quantum particle of data or knowledge. Not to be confused with a Boltzmann or Shannonian “bit.”
  • Washingtoon – how the rest of the country views the national capitol
  • Competiton – the minimum quantum unit of competition
  • Comminication – dialog involving only very small words
  • Innappropriate – those things that belong in hotels
  • Aargument – a disagreement among pirates
  • Observaton – a quantum unit of sensing or detecting an event
  • Eclectricity – The power that is generated by bringing different thoughts, ideas and preferences together

Who wants to add more to the list?

Non-deferred Gratification

By Guy Higgins

Okay, I’ll admit right at the start that the title is cheating. This post is not about gratification, but rather about goal attainment. I just finished reading a post on “The Goal Gradient Hypothesis.” The idea behind the hypothesis is that we work harder to achieve the goal as we approach it. I can, personally, attest to that. Just over a week ago (as I write this), I achieved a personal goal in my running (as a motivational technique, I have been maintaining a running log since March of 1978). As I got to within a hundred miles of that goal, I more and more consistently ran longer distances – to achieve my goal. Continue reading

Ethics and Leadership

By Guy Higgins

I just read an article in Inc. online. The article looked at leadership failures at Wells Fargo, Samsung and Chipotle and what they had in common. In a short, online post, the author did a good job of pointing out that the recently published problems at those three companies did not spring full blown like Athena from Zeus’ forehead but were preceded by earlier problems or internal warnings that weren’t heeded.

A reason (actually an excuse) that is frequently put forward for the failure of corporate leaders to take action before a crisis explodes is that they are under pressure to produce market-beating financial results. In fact, that was explicitly stated as a reason for the CEO of Wells Fargo to ignore internal warnings that the pressure to meet financial goals was pushing people to skirt (and sometimes cross) ethical boundaries. Continue reading

Measure – Matter – Measure

By Guy Higgins

Last week, I came across an aviation article that urged airlines to adopt AoA (Angle of Attack)* as one of the “metrics” monitored by pilots to ensure proper airplane performance. AoA is very useful because it is self-compensating for airplane weight and remains an accurate indicator of wing stall. In fact, for practical purposes, the AoA for maximum range airspeed is always the same even though the actual airspeed varies with airplane weight. The same is true for maximum endurance airspeed and stall airspeed. AoA is a seriously cool, real-time, self-compensating metric for pilots.

Okay, fine – what has that got to do with non-aviation (which is a very large domain – sort of like non-dandelions)? To answer that, let’s look at the title of this post – Measure – Matter – Measure. We’ve all heard that what gets measured gets managed, and I think that is certainly true. The question I want to explore is whether or not what gets measured actually matters. Continue reading

Left of “X”

By Guy Higgins

A long time ago, in the old days, when I was actively involved in considering things like ship defense systems, we would talk about the two options that existed to respond to an attack. You could “shoot the arrow,” or you could “shoot the archer.” In general, shooting the arrow is a hard thing – they’re small, hard to see and they move fast. Archers, on the other hand are easier to see, slower and easier to hit. The problem, of course is that you don’t always know if the archer is a bad guy until it’s too late and you wind up having to shoot the arrow. Continue reading

Words Matter

By Guy Higgins

I recently read an article on corporate preparedness that contained the following assertion:

“In today’s corporate governance climate, there exists an increased emphasis on corporate boards and directors as well as senior management to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to guarantee that their corporations have in place the required corporate policies and operating protocols that would be adequate when it comes to managing the affairs of the corporation.” Continue reading

A Note to CEOs – It Will Happen to You

By Guy Higgins

I recently read a short article on the understanding of US, UK and Japanese CEOs to prepare for and respond to a cyber breach. The bottom line of the article is that they aren’t! Ninety percent of the 1530 CEOs interviewed did not truly grasp the magnitude of the threat, did not understand their company’s cyber-security preparations, and did not understand their company’s plans to respond to an actual cyber breach. Appallingly, forty percent of the CEOs did not even think it was their responsibility!

Some basic facts:

  • Every company, organization and person is the target of hackers
  • Every 12 seconds (24/7/365), there is a cyber attack on a company in the U.S.
  • Your IT security team must succeed 100% of the time 24/7/365 – forever. One failure and you have been breached.
  • Two thirds of all cyber breaches are caused by your employees (including you) because:
    • They don’t update their software as your IT team almost doubtlessly urges them to do
    • They don’t pay attention to the basic cyber security tenets your IT team publishes (e.g. don’t use “PASSWORD” as your password)
    • They don’t password protect access to their computer or they don’t routinely turn it off or put it to sleep when they leave their desk
    • The allow access to their computer by a colleague, or (worse yet) a visitor
    • They open emails from unknown senders (one in three employees do this)
    • They click on links within suspicious emails (one in eight employees do this)
  • An actual cyber breach is not just an IT security problem (they have already done their best) – it is a business problem, a liability problem, a PR problem, and (increasingly) a legal

As the CEO, you are responsible for your company, including cyber security and cyber breach response – just as you are responsible for revenue and earnings. The buck does stop at your desk.

Since, as the CEO, you are almost certainly not the cyber-security or cyber-breach expert, what do you do? The same thing that you do for all of your other responsibilities – you find an expert and delegate authority and responsibility for cyber security and cyber-breach response to those experts. It is important to emphasize again that cyber-breach response is not an IT problem. It is a business problem, so you should not automatically delegate cyber-breach response to the IT or cyber-security folks. Pick the right person, empower her, support her and resource her.

It is irresponsible to behave as though your company will not be cyber attacked or that your cyber defenses will never be penetrated. A rapid, transparent and well conceived response to a cyber breach can enhance your company’s reputation rather than damaging it. The failure to be prepared for such breach will damage and may destroy your company’s reputation.

Predict your vulnerability to cyber attack – this is easy. You are vulnerable.

Plan your response to a cyber breach – as a business issue and not only a security problem.

Enhance your ability to Perform by exercising your cyber-breach plan regularly.