The Case Against Preparedness

By Guy Higgins

The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is “Semper Paratus.” For those of you who did not take Latin from Sister Mary Attila the Hun and therefore don’t remember your Latin, that translates as “Always Prepared.” I think that’s an excellent motto and one that we should all embrace as leaders and as individuals. I suspect that most people will agree that preparedness is a good idea – until they contemplate actually preparing. It’s the old saw about alligators and the swamp. Over the past several years, we’ve encountered a number of reasons for taking care of the urgent business of today before taking care of preparing for tomorrow. I’m going to take a look at some of those reasons – at the case against preparedness. Continue reading

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

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

The Solution to Data Breaches – Technology?

By Guy Higgins

Data breaches have been making headlines on a regular basis over the past couple of years. Target, Home Depot and the Federal Government Office of Personnel Management are just three of the organizations that have experienced massive data breaches. The Ponemon Institute reports that there are hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks annually. Obviously data breaches are a major and growing problem.

I recently read a blog titled, “Turning to technology to prevent data breaches.” I was intrigued by the title because I don’t believe in “silver bullet” answers, and this seemed to imply that some technology would be a silver-bullet answer to the problem. Continue reading

Small- and Medium-size Businesses: What is Your Cyber Risk?

By Guy Higgins

With the massive data breach created by the recent hack into the sensitive records of the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), cyber risks are receiving significant media attention. The question for small- and medium sized businesses is, “Am I vulnerable?”

In a word, yes. Small- and medium-sized businesses are right in the sweet spot for malicious hackers, and perhaps even more at risk for IT system “glitches” and “employee-caused” data breaches. These are three very different categories of problems: Continue reading

Knowledge Continuity

By Guy Higgins

The knowledge that resides in your company – both in your people and in your processes – is one of your most important assets. The loss of this knowledge at a critical time could cripple your company. It is extremely important to plan for Knowledge Continuity.

Knowledge Continuity planning needs to be done from an integrated perspective – covering both planning to maintain company knowledge assets during times of normal operation (business as usual) and during disruptions (business as unusual).

Knowledge Continuity also needs to be considered along three distinct “dimensions”: Continue reading

Marijuana in the Workplace

By Guy Higgins

The states of Colorado and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, have enacted laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Those jurisdictions and twenty-one other states have also legalized the use of medical marijuana. Meanwhile, U.S. Code still outlaws the use of marijuana, and programs funded by or under the direction of the federal government mandate drug testing that includes testing for marijuana.

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published an article on the use of marijuana in the workplace in the April 2015 issue of the journal. That article presents a good overview of the issues associated with the use of marijuana – with a focus on the potential effects on workplace policies and plans. Continue reading

Predictive Intelligence

By Guy Higgins

The world of intelligence (in the military, business or preparedness sense) is, quite literally, millennia old. Sun Tzu’s extant writings emphasize the importance of knowing about your enemy, and his assertions about the importance of intelligence have been echoed down the intervening centuries by military and political authorities.

The general process is:

  • Collect data by all means available
  • Assess the quality of the data
  • Integrate the data into “Information”
  • Integrate and analyze the “information” to create “knowledge”

Continue reading

Commodities – Do They Still Exist?

By Guy Higgins

Is your company or organization at risk of being forced to close or reduce operations because a “commodity” that is crucial to your operations suddenly becomes unavailable? Before exploring that question, it’s important to clearly define what we mean by “commodity.”

The definition of the term commodity I am using describes a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market. A commodity has full or partial fungibility; that is, the market treats its instances as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. (Wikipedia) Continue reading

Normalization of Deviance –Impacting Your business

By Guy Higgins

The Royal Air Force (RAF) of the UK recently reported on an inflight incident that could have resulted in the loss of an airplane and the deaths of almost 200 people on board. Luckily, it did not. The incident was caused because the pilot, after using his personal SLR camera to take photos of the cockpit, place the camera between his armrest and the side-stick controller (The airplane was an Airbus tanker, and all new Airbus airplanes use a “joystick” located beside the pilot rather than a more traditional stick or control wheel located between the pilot’s legs). When the pilot adjusted his seat, the camera became wedged against the side-stick controller and caused a sharp nose-down pitch. Fortunately, a fatal accident was prevented by the built-in safety systems of the Airbus airplane, but only after twenty-four passengers, all seven cabin crew, and the copilot (who was taking a short break) were slammed against the passenger compartment ceiling.

The subsequent investigation identified the proximate cause but observed that the basic problem was a normalization of deviance from standard procedures. This is an important observation and one worth exploring. Continue reading