Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thoughts concerning a general theory of business 26: a second round discussion of general theories as such, 1

Posted in blogs and marketing, book recommendations, reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on November 19, 2018

This is my 26th installment to a series on general theories of business, and on what general theory means as a matter of underlying principle and in this specific context (see Reexamining the Fundamentals directory, Section VI for Parts 1-25.) I began this series with its Parts 1-8 with an initial orienting discussion of general theories per se, and then turned from there in Parts 9-25 to at least begin to outline a lower-level interpersonal interaction approach to businesses and to thinking about them.

My goal here is to step back to reconsider general theories per se, adding to the conceptual framework initially offered in Parts 1-8 as a basis for continuing my discussion of theories of business as special cases. And I begin this with a quote that is generally attributed to Bertrand Russell:

• “Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize until you have tried to make it precise”

My goal here is to shed light on at least some of the underlying assumptions that we all tend to make when thinking about businesses and how they do and do not function, and to do so with a measure of precision in analytical characterization and understanding. That approach applies, at least as a matter of intent in how I discuss both theories of business here, and general theories as a whole too.

I repeatedly make assumptions in what I write in this blog, just to step back and highlight them for explicit consideration. And I often and even usually do that in order to challenge those usually axiomatically presumed assumptions in order to expand the applicability of what I seek to offer here (and at least hopefully while at least marginally increasing its value and utility too.) So the first set of issues that I would address in this posting and in the progression of them that I begin here, is to reconsider axiomatic assumptions per se. And I begin doing so with the perhaps tritely obvious fundamentals:

• True axioms are underlying assumptions that are simply presumed to hold true as exception-free givens.

To cite an ancient historical source of examples for that, consider Euclidean geometry and its axiomatically presumed postulates. And consider Euclid’s famous (infamous?) fifth postulate in particular: often referred to as his parallel postulate. At least when considered within the dictates of Euclid’s system of geometric reasoning, this is presumed to hold true as an absolute given, but scholars began questioning its more general validity from very early on.

• Axiomatically based systems such as Euclidean geometry can be thought of as analytically reasoned presentations of specifically stated automatically presumed assumptions and their logical consequences.

That does not mean that axioms presumed in such a systematic analysis cannot be questioned or challenged at all. It just means that they remain unchallenged within the scope of the logically framed analytical reasoning that would explore their consequences, within the systems in which they are perhaps at least somewhat arbitrarily assumed to hold axiomatic value.

• What statements, realistically, should be considered as axiomatic and serve as such as a starting point for carrying out logical analyses that would not be burdened by what could become infinite regressions in background reasoning, foreclosing any more definitive attempted analysis going forward? What should simply be assumed as a collective starting point that all relevant logical deductive reasoning would be built from, in fleshing out an axiomatic theory?
• And how many such axioms should be presumed in any given logically developed axiomatic system?

A theory of business seeks to model and descriptively and predictively represent a very particular aspect of empirically grounded reality. So the What of that as touched upon in the first of those bullet points is empirically constrained in such theory systems, in ways that it might not be in more entirely abstract non-empirical systems. More specifically, axioms or rather proposed axioms that might be presume to be true and valid but that would posit as real, potentially observable states that differ from observable reality, would of necessity fall into question if used in a general theory such as a theory of business. They would not adequately, accurately serve to model empirically observable reality as presumably would be addressed in such a body of theory. And that certainly holds true if and when the observations themselves that would test and challenge those axiomatic assertions seem to be validly accurate and reliable. But what of the second of the above two bullet points? How many axioms should be included in any given system to adequately cover it for its intended scope of generality and inclusiveness?

This leads me to William of Occam and his meta-theory postulate: his axiomatic presumption as to how axiomatic systems should be framed and in this case constrained: Occam’s razor:

• The simplest resolution to any logically framed problem: the simplest solution to it, should be presumed to be true.

And when considering axiomatic systems and their best formulations as logically framed problems, this directly leads to an injunction dictating that these theories hew to a minimum possible set of axiomatic assumptions that can adequately meet their needs in supporting arguably valid conclusions (provable theorems) while invalidating arguably false ones.

Let’s consider my purposefully challenging wording there: “an injunction dictating.” One way that Occam’s razor can be, and has been pushed for its underlying logic to a reductio ad absurdum degree can be found in what is sometimes called Occam’s Procrustean bed. First some background: Procrustes (Προκρούστης) or the stretcher of you will, was a mythological Greek character, said to have come from Attica who was less than favorably known for his hospitality. It seems that he had a guest bed of his own construction that he reserved for visiting travelers, that was made of iron. And if a guest who fell into his hands was too short to perfectly fit his bed he had them stretched until they did fit it; if they were too tall to fit he had them cut down to size until they did too. Occam’s Procrustean bed arises when the same brute force approach is taken to enforce a specific set of axioms, with no additions, subtractions or reconciliations or adjustments between them possible, and exactly as arose in the “logic” of Procrustes’ iron bed and in how his guests were “adjusted” to fit its dictates.

Geometers who questioned the empirical validity of Euclid’s fifth postulate as an absolute, universally valid given, avoided or transcended if you prefer, the restrictions of Occam’s Procrustean bed by positing a geometry that held to all of Euclid’s other, unquestioned axioms as valid, but that left out the fifth, devising what is referred to as absolute geometry, or neutral geometry as it is also called. And going beyond that, geometers who questioned that fifth postulate also created non-Euclidean geometries that held as axiomatic, alternative postulates that explicitly deviated from and violated Euclid’s fifth, and in very specific and precise ways. They developed alternative geometries that simply set aside the issues of Euclid’s fifth postulate, or that explored alternatives to it and in precise analytical detail.

And this brings me to the issues of empirically grounded theories and the models of understanding that can be developed from them, as their axiomatic starting points are selected and logically explored for their consequences. I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will consider an empirically based approach to arriving at a meaningfully valid set of axioms for a specific general theory such as a theory of business. And I will base that conceptually on a set of approaches that have come to be known as reverse mathematics. For a reference on that field of study, which I will cite in that posting, see:

• Stillwell, J. (2018) Reverse Mathematics: proofs from the inside out. Princeton University Press.

I highly recommend that book as a fascinating read. I will also at least begin a discussion of the number of axioms that would best be pursued and included in any given general theory, where the reasoning behind Occam’s razor can only provide a lower limit to that. This will mean adding consideration of completeness and consistency to this narrative, and certainly for any significantly scaled body of theory that can be enumerably represented, as applies for essentially any theory of or modeling of business systems.

I conclude this posting by pointing out the specific title to this series and a phrase in it, that appears in each of its installments: “some thoughts concerning a general theory of business.” I approach and label this at least series-long endeavor that way, precisely because I do not start out presuming a finalized, absolutely valid, completely inclusively adequate set of foundational axioms in what I offer. So what I offer here is of necessity a step in what can only be considered a larger and more ongoing work in progress that neither I nor any other individual can be expected to fully conclude. I began this series with a discussion of compendium and axiom-based theories in its Parts 1-8. Those two conceptual approaches are of necessity related, where every basic compendium model element: every specific phenomenon that would be offered in it that could be descriptively and predictively represented through a body of potentially observable findings, carries with it is own axiomatic assumptions. There, developing a more inclusive and ideally more universal single rules based theory, means arriving at a single overarching set of axiomatic starting point assumptions and understandings that would apply to all compendium approach puzzle pieces that would be included and covered within it. And with this, I explicitly link this posting and what will immediately follow it regarding general theories per se, to Parts 1-8 of this series, as a single framework for developing and exploring general theories of business as a special case.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material about what I am attempting to do here at About this Blog and at Blogs and Marketing. And I include this series in my Reexamining the Fundamentals directory and its Page 2 continuation, as topics Sections VI and IX there.

Innovation, disruptive innovation and market volatility 44: innovative business development and the tools that drive it 14

Posted in business and convergent technologies, macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on November 16, 2018

This is my 44th posting to a series on the economics of innovation, and on how change and innovation can be defined and analyzed in economic and related risk management terms (see Macroeconomics and Business, posting 173 and loosely following for Parts 1-5 and Macroeconomics and Business 2, posting 203 and loosely following for Parts 6-43.)

I have been discussing the costs and benefits of innovation in a business in this series, focusing in large part on individual innovation development scenarios, while noting in passing at least, the more realistic prospect of developing and maintaining ongoing innovation pipelines. And I began taking this narrative at least somewhat out of the abstract in Part 43, with a very specific, real world example: the potential for developing, marketing and selling a new outdoor paint with a novel polymer base that would at least potentially challenge all current market offerings in use.

• The polymer base and its chemistry was developed in a university research lab, with that innovation offered to market in a business-to-business context through their university innovation development office as set up to manage all patent and licensing agreements that would arise there.
• And at least one paint company has shown a significant level of interest in buying exclusive use rights to this patent pending protected innovation as it seeks to remain innovatively competitive in its business sector and industry.

My goal here is to at least begin to discuss the decision making processes that would be carried out by a business developing and offering such an innovation, and a business that would consider tapping into and benefiting from such an innovation. And more specifically, I plan on discussing how these two businesses and their decision making processes, impact upon and shape the decisions and actions of each other. For purposes of this posting, I will reframe my Part 43 example to consider innovation developing and providing businesses in general, and not just restrict myself to the particulars of university research labs and their school-to-business innovation offering offices.

I organize this line of discussion in terms of two separate businesses: one an innovator and anther that seeks to access and make use of innovative potential. And I note here that when a single business has a more separately run and managed research and development facility within its overall system, as well as maintaining and running separate production facilities, the dynamics and the decision making processes that I will discuss here in this context, apply there too and with what can become a remarkable level of fidelity from the “us versus them” that can arise.

The primary focus in this series is on the innovation developing business, but for purposes of this discussion I will begin with the innovation acquiring one (or with the innovation acquiring facilities within a larger organization if you will, when negotiating with and working with an organizationally separate and distinct research and development facility in the same business, with its own management structure and ways and its own separately managed budget.) Think of that as offering a smooth continuation here from the narrative thread developed and offered in Part 43, where I ended that with a focus on the innovation acquiring business perspective too.

Why would I do this? Both of the businesses involved in this, have to meet their own needs and achieve their own costs and benefits financial management goals and their own risk management goals, while understanding and realistically accommodating the needs of the businesses that they might enter into these transactions with, if those agreements are to come to positive fruition. If they make unrealistic demands there, the transactions involved might fall through, or alternatively they might be completed but with money avoidably left on the table. So this is all about achieving a best possible trade-off resolution that both sides can accept and benefit from.

Note that I am writing here in terms of win-win solutions, as I presume that both enterprises that enter into such a transaction here will persist, and that both would see ongoing positive value for themselves in making further business deals and transactions possible too, moving forward.

I wrote of uncertainties in Part 43, and of both sides having to make their decisions in the face of limited, at least partly outdated and perhaps even error-prone data. So I explicitly repeat that point here when turning to consider the acquiring business side of these business-to-business dealings. Information availability and quality issues and communications limitations: business systems friction, can always be expected as a source of ongoing, if at least somewhat manageable friction in any business and in any business dealings. And with these opening, orienting notes offered here, I turn to consider the paint company of my Part 43 example, and its decision making processes.

• Let’s assume that a deal is reached with the innovation offering business, and this company does offer the buyer exclusive rights to this new polymer chemistry and to the specific products that it can lead to. If this polymer chemistry breakthrough is as disruptively novel an innovation as I have presented it to be, the acquiring business is going to have to set up a new facility for producing this paint base, and either from scratch or by retrofitting and rebuilding an already existing, but less cost-effectively productive facility that it already has in place, or that it can acquire for this purpose. Where and how would they do this, and at what costs? That question in fact hides a multitude of more specific and focused questions within it and the devil as they say, is in the details.
• If for example this business has an already existing production line that is manufacturing a different, older technology paint base that they might not be gaining any real profits from now, what parts of this older system would still be usable in this new context? What would have to be done to prepare these perhaps upgradable resources in place for this new task and at what costs and over what timelines? What would they have to develop and put in place from scratch and at what costs and along what timelines? And what of the employee training and learning curve issues that actually running this new production line would require? What would their new hire requirements be to make this work for them and cost-effectively and profitably? Timing is crucial in all of this, as an agreement to buy use of this innovation is going to mean accepting negative cash flow payments that would start the moment that this business signs its agreement with the innovation-sourcing business. But actually ramping up to produce these new paints, and marketing and initially selling them can be expected to take time, and even a significant measure of it.
• I have not raised the possibility yet, but should this paint company license use of this innovation in some way or should it make the perhaps larger up-front investment of purchasing it outright, and of their pursuing full patent protection for it themselves and at their added cost? I am at least attempting to restrict this narrative to big issue considerations and to a broad brushstroke view of the issues raised here, but even with that, I am only pursuing one of several or even may possible decision and action paths here.
• Returning to the decision and action flow that I have been focusing on here, simply establishing and preparing a pace to produce these new paints, and preparing in broad outline to staff this facility, is only one part of that larger picture. Setting up supply chain support for this new venture: producing and selling this new paint line, becomes essential and certainly for bringing in reliable sources of necessary raw materials, and on time and at sufficiently high quality and at acceptable cost.
• That adds another block of puzzle pieces to what is hopefully emerging as an at least relatively complete full cycle analysis of possible costs and risks points for actually carrying out this new paint initiative. But even here and with relevant production phase considerations added in, this still leaves some real gaps and ones that have to be included here too. I initially presented this scenario as one in which a research lab develops a new polymer base that can be used in creating and manufacturing an entirely new type of outdoor, weather resistant paint. So let’s assume that even the initial developers of this starting point polymer base for these paints, saw their innovation in those terms. And let’s assume that their in-house lab testing of their new chemical compound included stress resistance testing to determine at least something as to how well this new material stands up to environmental stress. The innovation acquiring company is still going to have to do at least some new product testing too, in order to verify how this polymer base works when combined with its range of color-providing stains if nothing else. And they might very well have to carry out at least some environmental exposure tests too, to verify how well these new paints stand up to the stresses they would face when used by real world customers. This all takes time and costs money too.
• And once you know the potential and likely costs involved in pursuing this action, and at least something of the timeline that would be called for here, that would be compared against market analysis-based calculations of price point that this new paint could realistically be marketed and sold at.
• How big is the market for this new paint type likely to be, given available market analysis data, and how big a profit margin might be possible if that market can be effectively reached? And how long a delay would the producing company expect for that to happen, with more customers buying in on this than just their early adaptors when their overall market is parsed out according to an innovation acceptance curve?

These and other calculations collectively lead to this paint company’s determination of how cost-effective and how profitable it might be for them to enter this venture, and what they could realistically afford to spend, and over what timeframes for acquiring usage rights to this innovation in making that happen. I will have more to add to this innovation acquiring side to these transactions in what follows. But I will turn in my next installment to this series, to consider the innovation developer business and its costs and benefits calculations, where they only begin with recouping their research and development costs per se, that led to their marketable breakthrough in the first place. Then after completing that side to this at least potential business-to-business transaction, I will connect the dots between them, laying out how an awareness of the decision making on the other side of a negotiating table here, would influence how those negotiations would proceed for both sides, and what might be arrived at as a transaction agreement. And then after that, I will return again to consider innovation pipelines, this time pursuing a scenario in which innovation source and innovation user are separate organizational units within a single business.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3 and that directory’s Page 1 and Page 2.

Planning for and building the right business model 101 – 40: goals and benchmarks and effective development and communication of them 20

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 13, 2018

This is my 40th posting to a series that addresses the issues of planning for and developing the right business model, and both for initial small business needs and for scalability and capacity to evolve from there (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 499 and loosely following for Parts 1-39.) I also include this series in my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory and its Page 2 continuation.

I have been discussing three specific possible scenarios that a new business’ founders might pursue for their venture since Part 33:

1. A new venture that has at least preliminarily proven itself as viable and as a source of profitability can go public and with all of the organizational change and all of the transparency and reporting requirements that this entails as they begin offering stock shares. (See Part 33 and Part 34.)
2. A new venture can transition from pursuing what at least begins as if pursuing an organic growth and development model (as in exit strategy 1, above) but with a goal of switching to one in which they seek out and acquire larger individually sourced outside capital investment resources, and particularly from venture capitalists. (See Part 35.)
3. A new venture, and certainly one that is built around a growth-oriented business model, might build its first bricks and mortar site, in effect as a prototype effort that it would refine with a goal of replication through, for example a franchise system. And there, licensing fees and ongoing franchise-sourced income going back to the parent company, would provide funds that could be used for further capital development, among other things, to keep a fiscal systems focus here on what I include in this list. (See Part 36, Part 37, Part 38 and Part 39.)

And one of my goals there has been to use these more specific scenarios as a springboard for discussing the more general issues of early business transition-stage decisions, and particularly for when young enterprises and their founders and owners enter their first real growth phase. My goal here is to go beyond the specifics of the three scenarios that I have been discussing to consider transition point decisions in general, as they arise when a business first exits its early development, startup stages.

I begin doing so by noting that everything that I will address here involves making decisions that involve tradeoffs, and ones that have to be addressed in the face of incomplete and even potentially faulty information. The three scenarios that I have been addressing here and others that I could have explored here instead, all involve making choices that can become binding and essentially irrevocable as decisions, at least if costs for moving forward with the business are to be kept within acceptable bounds. And they are all approached in the presence of business systems friction and uncertainty.

What do the above three scenario options hold in common and both with each other and with other similar-stage scenarios that I could have delved into here? Let’s at least begin to address that abstractly framed question with a briefly stated initial cut issues list of more specific questions and accompanying comments, beginning with:

• What are the respective costs and benefits that pursuing each of whatever set of alternative scenarios under consideration, might bring with them?

That question is still so generally stated so as to offer little if any real value as a planning tool. The value that can be found in it arises as it is restated in more specific and focused form and with a more precise awareness of the actionable issues in place, that are glossed over in it. To start out with, costs and benefits may begin with and end with cash flow and reserves considerations. But most entrepreneurs who seek to build their own businesses do not simply want to find a means for themselves of bringing in some measure of income but without their necessarily having a voice in how. “Middle ground” issues of decision making authority and voice enter into this too. And timeframe tradeoffs are crucially important here too, and they do not explicitly enter into the above question at all, at least as initially stated.

• Who gets to decide what, and with what outside constraints in place that would shape and even limit the decision making powers and authority of the owners and founders who are in fact taking any real overall risk from entering into this new venture?
• And turning back to consider financial costs and benefits, all three of the above scenarios and others that I could have raised instead involve costs and risks, and benefits and profitability. But they do not all play out in simple lock step and along a same simple timeline. Scenarios 1 and 2, above, both involve what can be large early-arriving cash infusions: with the risks and debt obligations that they carry with them. And to be realistic, looking beyond the strictly cash-flow of that, both also place constraints on what decisions can be made by the business’ founding owners too. This cash influx might arrive early and even essentially all at once, or at least according to a settled and agreed to funding payment schedule and with agreed to benchmarks for that (for Scenario 2.) But the debts due, and both in specific terms for Scenario 2 and in principle if investors were to lose faith in the business and sell and sell, are longer-term. What is the best way to plan out and build and run this new venture so as to minimize costs and risks, and maximize at least the likelihood of benefits and profits, when the first more general question that I am building this line of discussion from is expanded out to explicitly address these issues?

And this brings me very specifically to the issues of uncertainty and of having to build and decide and continue building in the presence of incomplete and at times faulty information.

• How can the founders of this enterprise build for resiliency and flexibility and adaptability, so as to be able to weather challenges and capture unexpected opportunity too?

I briefly noted in Part 39, a set of related issues that would logically enter into this narrative at this point and then set aside, at least there. I will turn to consider them in light of this posting, in the next installment to this series:

• Fine tuning products and/or services offered,
• Business operations and how they are prioritized and carried out, and
• Branding and how it is both centrally defined and locally expressed.

I will at least begin discussing these three specific topic points there, and will continue from that to discuss how a new, young business begins to build for flexible adaptability. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And you can find this and related material at my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory too and at its Page 2 continuation.

Building a business for resilience 32 – open systems, closed systems and selectively porous ones 24

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 10, 2018

This is my 32nd installment to a series on building flexibility and resiliency into a business in its routine day-to-day decisions and follow-through, so it can more adaptively anticipate and respond to an ongoing low-level but with time, significant flow of change and its cumulative consequences, that every business faces in its normal course of operation (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 542 and loosely following for Parts 1-31.)

Essentially every business in operation of any significant scale and for headcount and level of business activity carried out, has at least an informally laid out table of organization in place that graphically depicts its functional systems and subsystems, and its management structure as that oversees those functionalities. The goal in that, is to formally lay out and codify, or at least to formally acknowledge who is responsible for what and who reports to whom, in the overall management and running of the enterprise.

I have variously challenged the standard tree structure table of organization model, as usually presumed and followed in that type of exercise, in multiple places in this blog, offering alternatives to it that would adjust it in part, and at least occasionally substitute for it in whole. I have, as one aspect of that larger effort, been pursuing a relatively complete alternative to that business modeling and planning tool here in this series, and certainly since its Part 28, where I have been offering and discussing a communications pattern-based alternative to it. And I begin this posting by stepping back from the more detailed line of discussion that I have been pursuing up to here in that posting progression, to in effect reconsider the forest as a whole rather than focusing on the more individual trees, to express this metaphorically; I step back here to consider modeling approaches for visualizing and understanding a business as a whole here.

One of the places in this blog where I have challenged the more traditional tree structure table of organization, has of course been my series: Best Practices for Building a Better Table of Organization, as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 2, as postings 219 and following, for its Parts 1-5. But I have more fundamentally challenged this traditionally pursued business modeling approach elsewhere too, as for example in my series Intentional Management (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations, postings 472 and loosely following for its Parts 1-51, and see in particular its Part 3: the matrix management model and its variations for an at least brief discussion of a business model where the traditional tree-like table of organization fundamentally breaks down.)

So I offer my communications-flow and connectedness approach to modeling a business and its functionally significant structures here, both as a didactic tool and for purposes of this series and its narrative, and as a more fundamentally useful tool in its own right; this approach does more effectively describe a matrix management organized enterprise than a more traditional table of organization can, for example, as well as describing a more traditionally structured and managed one. And it also can be used to map out and better understand what from an overall strategy and planning perspective, would be seen as systemic breakdowns where expected operational processes and management patterns are not always followed, and even systematically so (see Intentional Management for a more lengthy and detailed discussion of that complex of issues.)

This noted, I turn to the intended topics points that I said I would at least begin addressing here in this posting from a communications oriented business modeling perspective, as offered at the end of Part 31. And I begin this continuation of this series’ more ongoing narrative by explicitly noting an assumption that I have been making here, and very specifically so in Part 31: an assumption of organizational scale where, for purposes of this communications-oriented discussion I presume that any business that might come under consideration here, has either:

• Reached an overall headcount that exceeds Dunbar’s number, or
• It is so geographically dispersed that no one there can reasonably expect to actually know, and know well everyone else at the business, and even if the overall headcount there is low enough so that in principle might be possible (e.g. where the headcount is less than and within the networking connectedness limits imposed by Dunbar’s number.)

That is when the inter-communicating tiles of the organizational model that I present here, become crucially important and both for mapping out a business and for understanding its effectively realized day-to-day operations, and the decision making processes that actually inform them (as expected and planned for by the executive leadership in place, or not.)

I initially offered a to-address list in Part 30, that I laid a foundation for discussing in Part 31, and that I repeated there, with some rephrasing as follows:

1. Even the most agile and responsive and effectively including communications capabilities can only go so far. Effective communications, and with the right people involved in them have to lead to active, effectively prioritized action, and with feedback monitoring and resulting reviews included in all of that too.
2. I am going to turn to that complex of issues in my next series installment, and note in anticipation of that, that I will consider both reactive and proactive approaches to change and to effectively addressing it.
3. And I will at least begin to discuss corporate learning, and the development and maintenance of effectively ongoing experience bases at a business, and particularly in a large and diverse business context where this can become a real challenge.
4. In anticipation of that, I note here that this is not so much about what at least someone at the business knows, as it is about pooling and combining empirically based factual details to assemble more comprehensively valuable and applicable knowledge.
5. And more than just that, this has to be about bringing the necessary fruits of that effort to work by making essential details of it accessible and actively so, for those who need them and when they do.

My goal for this posting is to at least begin a discussion of Point 1 from this list, doing so in terms of the social networking and communications connectedness taxonomy model that I offered in my earlier posting: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy. And I set an organizing reference point for doing so here, by pointing out a specific detail that I offered in Part 31, and by putting that in perspective. The majority of the official communications in an organization, and certainly in one that meets the scaling criteria noted here, might be top-down and even vetted in some manner by management and even by senior management. But the more under the radar communications that flow in all directions within these organizations, and even in more explicitly top-down authoritarian ones, can be just as important and even more so – and certainly if that organization is to show any real resilience and agility in the face of the novel and unexpected, and certainly where top-down communications would be more delayed-reactive. That is where the value of networkers and communicators who can and do connect between tiles in this organizational model become both significant and vitally so, and certainly of the novel and unexpected are to be responded to in anything like real time.

• This can mean networking between supervisors and supervisees, but just as importantly this can and does mean peer-to-peer networking too, and the bringing together of resources and capabilities needed to address these challenges and opportunities.

I made note of feedback in Point 1 of the above list, and will address that, completing my Point 1 discussion at least for purposes of this series, in my next installment to it. And I will do so in the context of addressing Point 2 and its closely related issues. Then, after that, I will proceed to consider and address the remaining points of that topics list. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory.

Reconsidering the varying faces of infrastructure and their sometimes competing imperatives 4: the Marshall Plan and the Molotov Plan

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning, UN-GAID by Timothy Platt on November 7, 2018

This is my fourth installment to a series on infrastructure as work on it, and as possible work on it are variously prioritized and carried through upon, or set aside for future consideration (see United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID), postings 46 and following for Parts 1-3.)

I began this series narrative with two admittedly negative examples, focusing in them on what should at least be their more arguably avoidable shortcomings:

• The failed US government led recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after the disaster brought on there by Hurricane Maria in 2017 (see Part 1 and Part 2) and
• The mismanagement of the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as a political football, caught in the middle between New York City and New York State politics (see Part 2 and Part 3.)

My primary goal for this series moving forward, is to follow that here with consideration of a positive example of how infrastructure systems can be built or in this case rebuilt: the post-World War II European Recovery Program: commonly known as the Marshall Plan. And then I will step back to address the topics and issues of this series in more general terms. As part of that, I will explore and discuss the questions and issues of what gets supported and worked upon and why in this, and what is set aside or postponed in building and maintaining, or rebuilding infrastructure systems. And as a key goal in all of that, I will at least offer a perspective as to how and why some infrastructure programs succeed or fail. That, ultimately is the overall goal that I have set for this series. And in the course of developing and presenting that line or argument, I will of necessity at least shed light on a few other large-scale infrastructure projects and programs as working examples too.

Let’s began all of that with the Marshall Plan and with an at least brief consideration of the levels of damage that Europe endured from going through World War II on its soil, and what both the war itself and the Marshall Plan cost. I have read figures of up to the equivalent of some four trillion 2018 US dollars when adjusted for inflation, for the overall cost to the Allies for carrying out this war and certainly when both the cost of conducting that war itself and the costs of all that was lost and the costs of recovery or at least replacement from that damage are included.

It is of course, impossible to put a cost on the loss of the truly priceless in all that disappeared in that war, from Europe’s cultural heritage. And how could a costs-based number be meaningfully arrived at for all of the pain and suffering and loss that was faced by the people caught up in this conflict, individually and in their millions? So on the recovery and rebuilding side of this global war as it played out in Europe, I can only address funds raised and approved and expended, and with a goal of restoring a more functional and capable Europe that could “stand on its own feet” again.

According to that criterion, the Marshall Plan: the United States government’s backed and supported recovery plan for rebuilding at least Western Europe, cost some 13.3 billion US dollars counting just United States funded support directly provided. That total funding support expanded out to some $40 billion for total actually spent and from all sources by the time this program was functionally ended in early 1953: when Western Europe was declared to actually be “back on its feet” again. Those numbers translate to approximately $108 billion and $322 billion respectively, when rescaled for inflation to their 2018 dollar equivalents. But for purposes of this narrative, that is probably only really significant when considering how inexpensive this overall program actually was and certainly when compared to the overall cost of the war itself.

More importantly, the Marshall Plan and its recovery efforts were only made available to areas of Europe that were placed under Western ally control after the formal end of the war. Soviet controlled European territories, encompassing essentially all of Eastern Europe were explicitly excluded from participation in this program as a direct and explicit Soviet Union decision. So I have written here of my addressing the Marshall Plan (in Western Europe) as a working infrastructure (re)development program. But to put that in perspective, I also have to specifically address how the countries that Soviet Russia controlled in Europe after the end of the war, that were organized into their Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (Договор о дружбе, сотрудничестве и взаимной помощи): their Warsaw Pact were rebuilt and restored. This means my writing about Russia’s Molotov Plan too: their counterpart to the West’s Marshall Plan, which was later expanded to become the USSR’s economic side to its overall program for achieving positive global influence: their Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Сове́т Экономи́ческой Взаимопо́мощи) or Comecon.

Western European nations were rebuilt through the Marshall Plan, and regardless of whether they had fought for or against the allied forces that proved victorious in the war. That included Marshall Plan rebuilding of Italy that had fought alongside Hitler and his Nazi forces, and it included West Germany too, as Germany as a whole was essentially cut in half geopolitically with the eastern half falling under Soviet control. And as noted above, Western Europe was essentially back on its feet by the end of 1953, even if there was still a great deal of work to do in repair and reconstruction, in addressing the scars of war that were still in place. Entire cities were all but leveled all across Europe by this war as were towns and smaller communities, and Europe’s basic infrastructure systems were thoroughly disrupted too: West and East. But by 1953, Western Europe was essentially back on its feet again.

Eastern Europe was rebuilt through a Soviet led and controlled program, the Molotov Plan. And when the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and its vassal nation members broke away from Soviet control in 1989, there were still area in them that bore the scars of World War II conflict, and certainly in East Germany: the nation under Soviet control in this group that they exerted the most direct and immediately ongoing control over.

And this brings me to the basic questions of how and why some infrastructure programs work and others do not. I will in fact circle back to consider my first two, US-based examples in addressing that complex of issues. But I will begin doing so by comparing the Marshall Plan and its Soviet counterpart. And I will begin addressing them in this context by flatly stating that both in fact succeeded – in achieving their own particular goals, which were very different from each other.

The goal of the Marshall Plan was to rebuild Western Europe and quickly, and under conditions that would lessen the likelihood of another World War breaking out there. World War I began in Europe and so did World War II. And a consensus of understanding was already in place in the West that one of the key reasons why a Hitler was able to rise to power in Germany, leading to World War II, could be found in how the allies of World War I crushed a then struggling post-war Germany with overwhelming reparations demands after their victory – and at a time when a defeated Germany was actually attempting democratic reform under their Weimar Republic. Rebuilding and under terms and conditions that would prevent the rise of another Hitler and in any of the countries involved in this program, was a key goal of the Marshall Plan.

And another goal for the Marshall Plan, was containment, and the prevention of further spread of an actively emerging Soviet empire. And that point of detail brings me directly to the Molotov Plan, and its goals and its prioritized actions. And that brings me back to historical considerations and historical lessons learned, too.

I just mentioned one of the key lessons learned that informed the development and shaping of the Marshall Plan in the West, when citing the received wisdom in place as to how a failure to rebuild and a failure to support a more favorable post-World War I German government led to the rise of Hitler and Nazism. Russia had its own lessons learned: a fear of invasion, and of invasion from the West in particular. And that shaped how the Molotov Plan was designed and carried out in Eastern Europe, and that program influenced and even fundamentally shaped how Western Europe rebuilt too, and both through the Marshall Plan and related efforts and for how NATO arose as a unifying Western European defense capability.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment. Then after completing my discussion of these two post-World War II redevelopment projects and offering an initial analysis as to why some infrastructure projects succeed and some fail, I will discuss China’s efforts at rebuilding itself, and at globalizing its influence through infrastructure initiatives in what it sees as its client states. I will use those lines of discussion, as well as notes offered on other infrastructure initiatives, to refine and develop my basic success or fail model, as a possible predictive resource. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. I also include this in Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and also see Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And I include this in my United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID) directory too for its relevance there.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 19 – the jobs and careers context 18

This is my 19th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-18.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in its Part 14, and day two and following for that in Part 18. More specifically, I offered a to-address list of topics points there, adding one more entry to it towards the end of that posting, which I repeat here (as so augmented) for purposes of smoother continuity of narrative:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in.
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them.
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected.
4. Networking for success in the workplace.
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
6. Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

And I offered at least a preliminary response to the first point of that list in Part 18 too. My goal for this posting is to continue on from there and offer at least an initial take response to Point 2 of this topics list. And I will also expand a bit on what I offered there regarding that first topics point too, while doing so. And I begin doing so by repeating and expanding upon a point of contention that I offered towards the end of that installment, that serves to connect Points 1 and 2 of this list together.

I briefly wrote there of how Point 1 of the above list, addresses communications and negotiations issues at a business from a more micro interpersonal level, while Point 2 addresses them from a more macro, overall organizational level. The two cannot in fact be separated from each other in practice, even as they seem to divide out relatively cleanly and clearly as conceptual understandings. Communications and negotiations always take place in at least significant part, on an interpersonal level and even when this involves bringing in and securing at least working agreement with several or many others through the same more widely broadcast and shared initiatives and communications. And when this takes place in a business setting with the systems of processes and expectations in place, and the systems of rank and hierarchy that are in place and in the context of the corporate culture that is in place, even individual to individual communications and negotiations that are explicitly entered into “under the radar” of those shaping constraints still have to at least acknowledge them. And the group dynamics of cliques, and of who routinely communicates with and works with whom enters into all of this, and certainly when these conversations and negotiations cut across what would more generally be considered the usual lines of affiliation and in-group alignment that are in place.

Start out by actively and proactively learning as much as you can about the community and the culture that you now work in. You should have at least begun learning about these issues and thinking through their implications during your job search that led to you’re working with this business, but actually working there opens up whole new avenues of opportunity for gaining insight into this workplace community and how it does and does not function.

The formally spoken and written rules of the business as laid out in its official policies and practices, and along its table of organization only contain a part of this crucial knowledge. But it is the tacitly accepted but rarely if ever stated assumptions that all real insiders there, carry with them and work from that can really matter here. And that set of assumptions and that set of all but axiomatic presumptions underlie and inform the corporate culture in place.

Some of this is going to be as overtly obvious as the basic dress code that is followed. And to be as clear as possible there, an intentionally informal dress code as for example might arise in a high tech startup can become as rigidly enforced a uniform-requiring standard as any conservative suit and tie, white shirt only standard might be in a corporate executive setting. So violate either at your explicit peril – and then, only if you have specific contextually important reasons for doing so (e.g. for when meeting on-site with a supply chain partner business or a business-to-business client, where dressing according to their accepted and expected standards would increase the chances of you’re reaching a more favorable agreement with them.)

That said, I am not writing about the often unwritten and unspoken expectations and standards of the workplace as if they constituted a minefield, as much as I am writing of them as a source of understanding and opportunity. What are the basic assumptions in place where you now work? How can you best navigate them and even thrive in them, turning them to your advantage?

Let me take that out of the abstract. I have cited in this series, and in Part 18 in particular of working collaboratively with your colleagues, and on tapping into their expertise and experience as you carry out your own work. How, and even when and if you can do this, depends on what types of interpersonal relationships you can build with others around you and on an individual to individual basis. But just as importantly, you need to plan and act in terms of how effectively the corporate culture permits and supports collaborative help within the organization per se, and you need to plan and act in accordance with how supportive collaboration is defined there. A corporate culture that is based on everyone there performing as a rugged individualist, is not in general going to be as openly supportive of peer-to-peer collaborations as you might expect in a socially connected and collegial atmosphere – as a general broad brushstroke rule. But even there, what works best and what can be done would depend entirely on how you frame and present what you seek to do and how and why.

Look for ways to collaborate as a matter of exchanging equal value, in a rugged individualist setting, and not in terms of going into a colleague’s debt where any repayment would only come later and under still unspecified circumstances. Frame your effort to secure active support in terms of what you can and would offer in return, and in terms of building mutual benefit. And in contrast, look more in terms of building community-supportive collaborations in a more socially interconnected workplace community, where longer-term obligations held and honored can become the ties that bind them together. In either case, to pursue these two briefly sketched out example situations:

• Chose who you would approach for such help on the basis of your emerging understanding of them as individuals, and not just in terms of their particular skills and experience held.
• And approach them, if you do, with an awareness of their work schedules and the pressures they are currently under too, and their needs and not just your own.

The six topics points of my above-offered to-address list are all closely interconnected, so I will of necessity have more to say that would be relevant to Points 1 and 2 as I continue on and begin delving into Point 3. I will turn to that point in my next series installment:

• Dealing with and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And for relevant background and a systematic discussion of the new hire probationary period as a whole, as organized from day one on, see : Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation, as can also be found at Page 1 of that Guide (as its postings 73-88.)

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 41 – the issues and challenges of communications in a business 8

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 1, 2018

This is my 41st installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-40.)

I offered two to-address topics points in Part 39 and again in Part 40 that I have been preparing to discuss in at least some detail for several months now, through a succession of series installments:

1. Offer an at least brief analysis of the risk management-based information access determination process, or rather flow of processes, as that arises and plays out in a mid-range risk level context (where I sketched out and used a simplified risk management scale system in Part 39 for didactic purposes, that I will continue to make use of here and in what follows.)
2. Then continue on from there to discuss how this type of system (or rather a more complete and functionally effective alternative to it as developed around a more nuanced and complete risk assessment metric than I pursue here), can and in fact must be dynamically maintained for how the business would address both their normative and predictably expected, and more novel potential information sharing contexts as they arise too. I note here in anticipation of that, that when innovation is involved and particularly when disruptively novel innovation is, novel information sharing contexts have to be considered the norm in that. And that significantly shapes how all of the issues encompassed in these two numbered points would be understood and addressed.

And I posed a simple-seeming question and briefly sketched out two case studies in Part 40, that I would address those topics points in terms of, in order to keep this series in focus here. The question itself was:

• Is a business under consideration here, that faces at least a potential for developing and capitalizing on some new innovative possibility, new to addressing innovation as a possibility, or is it a business that has developed at least something of a genuine research and development capability already?

And the two case study examples that I would address that and the above-repeated topics points in terms of, to take this narrative at least somewhat out of the abstract are:

• ClarkBuilt Inc.: a small to medium size business by head count and cash flow that was initially built to develop and pursue a new business development path as built around its founders’ jointly arrived at “bold new innovative products” ideas. The Clark brothers, Bob and Henry came up with a new way to make injection molds for plastics and similar materials that would make it cost-effective to use injection molding manufacturing processes with new types of materials, and cost-effectively so. They have in fact launched their dream business to do that, and have developed a nice little niche market for their offerings, providing specialized-materials parts to other manufacturers.
• And Kent Enterprises: a larger and more established business that in fact has at least something of a track record of supporting, or at least attempting to support innovative excellence within its ranks and on a larger, wider-ranging scale.

I briefly discussed that question in Part 40, and certainly as far as making note of how different organizations could construe innovation readiness differently. But going beyond that, and the timeframe issues that I also noted in that Part 40 context, I raise this question here for its relevance in how different businesses and different business models that underlie them might prepare for innovation.

I raise two possibilities here, to further characterize this basic question itself. A business might intentionally prepare itself for innovation, and as an explicit part of its business model DNA. Or a business can in effect be preadapted for being able to innovate more effectively, from its more general efforts to be agile and adaptive in the face of change and its possibilities: positive and negative. To keep the two of these possibilities clearly identified and understood, I will refer to them as preplanned innovative potential and preadapted innovation potential respectively. And I would argue that in practice, these represent what amount to end point idealizations that represent benchmark point extremes along a preparedness continuum, and that real world businesses that are more readily capable of innovation, generally contain elements of both within them – or they are more readily able to develop them.

And that brings me very specifically to the two business model examples that I would address here. And I begin addressing both of them by noting that even just given their brief single bullet point descriptions, it should be fairly obvious that both include in them elements of both preplanned innovative potential and preadapted innovation potential. So my discussion of them, at least for purposes of this series, will hinge in large part on the details as to where they are and are not so prepared, and by either of these mechanisms. And it will be about where they are not ready to innovate and by either of these mechanisms too.

I am going to explicitly address those points of consideration as they would play out for these two specific business case study examples, beginning in the next series installment. And when I have completed that level of analysis and discussion, in preparing to address the two information sharing risk management questions that I repeated towards the top of this installment, I will finally turn to address them too, also in terms of the case study examples. I compared the overall analytical process that I have been pursuing here in this series, to peeling back the layers of an onion (in Part 40.) This is where I will begin examining its core.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 12

Posted in social networking and business, startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 29, 2018

This is my 12th posting to a series on disintermediation, focusing on how this enables marketing options such as gorilla and viral marketing, but also considering how it shapes and influences businesses as a whole. My focus here may be marketing oriented, but marketing per se only makes sense when considered in the larger context of the business carrying it out and the marketplace it is directed towards (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 278 and loosely following for Parts 1-11.)

I have been developing this series, since Part 2 in terms of case study examples, primarily focusing up to here on what might be a less intuitive example of how disintermediation can play out in an enterprise, and certainly when a Marketing and Communications context is considered for it.

The basic example that I refer to there, and that I have primarily focused upon in this series, at least up through Part 10 is, as briefly summarized in single bullet point format:

• A larger, established business that has become at least somewhat complacent and somewhat sclerotic in the process, and with holdover systems and organizational process flows that might not reflect current actual needs or opportunities faced.

I would argue that this is a less intuitive example than my other, startup-oriented example, because businesses that are so solidly and I have to add inflexibly established so as to fit the pattern of that bullet point, are more likely to resist change than they are to embrace it – and particularly where that would challenge the power and authority of entrenched managers and their more individual fiefdoms, as any organizational simplification and of any type would compel.

I raised my other working example in Part 2 when first posing the above one. But I did not begin to actively consider and discuss it until Part 11, when I offered an at least somewhat detailed to-address list of topics points that I will successively delve into for it: starting here and in following series installments. That case study example as also outlined in single bullet point, simplified format is:

• A new, young, small startup that seeks to leverage its liquidity and other assets available as creatively and effectively as possible, and from its day one when it is just starting to develop the basic template that it would scale up and grow from.

My goal for this posting is to at least begin a discussion of the issues raised by the first point of my Part 11 to-address list, and I will do that here. But before I begin that, I want to at least briefly explain a point of at least seemingly presumptive conclusion that I offered in that posting. I stated without reference or explanation that it is intuitively more obvious and certainly in broad brush stroke outline that the simplifying disintermediation approaches that I address in this series, and options such as gorilla and viral marketing that they would enable, would more readily apply in a startup setting. An at least brief analysis of that statement and of how I arrived at it, would serve as an effective starting point for considering the more specific-detail oriented topics points listed in Part 11, that I offered there as a means of fleshing out its above-stated single bullet point description.

Startup founding entrepreneurs are often all but automatically presumed to be people who are driven, and for whatever combination of reasons, to break out on their own and build their own businesses – where they would make all of the key decisions and where they would live with the consequences of them, while garnering an owner’s and founder’s share of any cash profits and any other sources of value created from that effort. And startups begin small and simple, and both for resources available and for organizational structure. Critical resources definitely include both available cash liquidity and available personnel in this context, and both for headcount and for range of expertise available where personnel limitations are considered. And simple and direct organizational structure of necessity also includes simpler and more direct communications too, and certainly when the headcount of a new enterprise is still small enough so that everyone involved could meet together around a member’s dining room table.

Startup founders are also often, if not usually viewed as being more break-away mavericks by nature than they are complacent followers of standard processes and understandings in place. Couple that presumption with limited resources and of all types, and disintermediated communications patterns, and I have to add disintermediated lines of authority and oversight in this descriptive mix too, and a basic stereotypical pattern begins to more fully emerge.

Disintermediated lines of authority and oversight, to pick up on one point of detail in that last sentence, can even become largely inevitable in this type of context. Note that I did not include a word such as “egalitarian” there and I did not write of participants holding anything like equal say or equal authority there either. I have worked with startup founders who take a very top-down approach to working with others and to leadership at their new ventures, and even when their overall teams are still very small and all included in them are essentially certain to become C level officers there if this new business really takes off. And this can hold with equal force when all of the core founding team members that a founding owner brings in, are people who they personally know and trust too. But setting that set of considerations aside, and certainly as a source of within-the-business issues, startups and even top-down organized and run ones, can be seen as naturals for seeking out resource use-magnifying options such as gorilla and viral marketing to get the word out and even actively help drive early business success.

I offer the above as an intentionally simplistic cartoon depiction of what in reality tends to more complex and nuanced realities. And one of my goals in addressing the list of topics points offered in Part 11 will be to identify and consider areas where real world startups cannot be contained within the constraints of that type of depiction.

The above noted, I turn to consider the first topics point of my Part 11 startups example topics list, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative:

• What types of change are being considered in building this new business, and with what priorities? In this context, the issues of baseline and of what would be changed from, become crucially important. I assume here that change in this context means at least pressure to change on the part of business founders, from the assumptions and presumptions: positive and negative that they might individually bring to this new venture with them as to how a business should be organized and run. So I will consider change as arises here in how the business is planned and run, at least as much as I do in what would be developed there and brought to market. I will mostly just cite and discuss the later for its contextual significance in all of this.

I begin addressing that complex of issues by explicitly advising that anyone reading this, stop and read Part 11 first. This may the first time that I have recommended that type of preparation in this blog, and certainly so strongly and directly as I do here. But I do so here, and even given my intention to write postings that can stand alone for offering value to a reader, because of one other narrative element that I wrote into that installment: a set of what turned into seven basic assumptions bullet points that I offered there, that can be viewed as laying out what I axiomatically presume when writing and offering this case study example. If you read through and at least understand them as I offer them, you will at least understand what I more fully mean here and how I arrived at that. And that review of perspective taken will probably help you bring any points of disagreement with me that you arrive at, into clearer, sharper focus too.

One of the keys to understanding the first to-address topics point of this now-unfolding startup-oriented case study example, can be summarized in three clarifying bullet points:

• I wrote in that topics point of individually arrived at perception of change and its necessity. Whatever is arrived at there, arises as what amounts to a conclusive summary that might still remain at least somewhat fluid, as the people involved think through what they would preserve and continue from their professional past, and what they would change from that if given a deciding voice. Prioritization becomes crucially important there, where an individual might see it as worthwhile for example, to put up with a more minor irritant of a problem from how things have been done in their prior work experience, if that is a necessary cost to reaching consensus on what for them is a more important change-driven issue.
• And I have just oversimplified the overall point that I would raise here with that bullet pointed statement. It is complete and fully considered individuals who have lives outside of work, as well as professional lives, who make these nuanced decisions. The decisions and the choices that arise from them do not and cannot take a work life only vacuum. Outside, non-work issues and considerations can and do shape workplace decisions too, and certainly where desirability and importance evaluations enter this narrative. This can also mean making workplace decisions and pushing for workplace approaches and resolutions that meet larger family needs too. Such needs in fact can become the most powerful drivers in this type of decision making process, and certainly when workplace decisions can impact on all else in a founding team member’s life.
• And finally: I have written the above two bullet points in terms of the individual and their decision making processes, without and with consideration of larger family contexts. And I have already at least posited the prospect that individuals involved in this, would think and act in negotiating terms when developing and presenting their case and arguing their preferences and priorities for how things are to be done in this new venture. Team participation always means negotiating. I made passing note of top-down managing, authoritarian leadership a bit earlier in this posting as a possible working example approach. Even then and even when a single owner business leader would make any final binding decision, that does not or at least should not mean that they cannot and will not listen to others and gather in feedback and insight that might inform or even shape their own decision making processes. This last point goes directly to the seven assumptions points that I offered in Part 11, as to what I mean and assume in the above-repeated startup case study. I assume here that everyone involved is actively and effectively communicating and that they are all at least listened to. Founding team members who are not listened to and consistently so, simply leave and fairly quickly as a general rule, so that can be a fair and valid assumption.

Bottom line, the first topics point of this to-address list, hinges upon participants arriving at their own particular balance points, juggling what they do and do now want and prefer according to all of the possible prioritization combinations that can arise for them. And it is all about who can most convincingly negotiate their perspectives on what, as an overall working consensus is developed and arrived at for the founding group and for the newly forming business as a whole.

I am going to continue this discussion of this first to-address point in a next series installment. And then I will proceed from there by addressing the rest of the topics points of the Part 11 list in what follows it. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. You can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1. And I also include this posting and other startup-related continuations to it, in Startups and Early Stage Businesses – 2.

Pure research, applied research and development, and business models 15

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 26, 2018

This is my 15th installment to a series in which I discuss contexts and circumstances – and business models and their execution, where it would be cost-effective and prudent for a business to actively participate in applied and even pure research, as a means of creating its own next-step future (see Business Strategy and Operations – 4 and its Page 5 continuation, postings 664 and loosely following for Parts 1-14.)

I have been successively discussing each of a set of possible approaches for funding the early capital development and growth of a new research-oriented business venture, since Part 8. And for a variety of reasons I have pursued that narrative in what many would see as a reversed order. More specifically, I began this line of discussion by successively raising and considering four possible approaches to more rapidly building out and expanding a new venture, that would all center on bringing in specific sources of outside funding. And I have held off on discussing what for many if not most would be the basic default alternative to them, until last in this narrative progression: organic growth that is based upon and benchmarked by the actual cash flows that the business itself generates, and on liquid reserves that the founders and owners of this business would be able to bring to the table themselves.

The outside funding-sourced options that I have considered up to here are:

1. A venture capital-backed one,
2. An angel investor-backed one,
3. A crowd source-backed one, and
4. A friends and family-backed one (elements of which might also apply to the basic default model scenario.)

And after addressing them in turn, and in the above-listed order listed, I began to pivot my overall discussion here towards the more standard default one in Part 14. My focus there was the need to prepare for a more endogenously oriented, default growth and development model, in the event that outside funding cannot be secured, at least under terms that a new business’ founders and owners might find acceptable. And my goal here is to more explicitly discuss this organic growth option itself and in explicit detail, and as a viable and even preferred business development option in its own right. But why have I taken this approach, and certainly if it is as contrarian as I suggest that it is, as I outline what I have been doing here?

I at least begin this posting by addressing that question, in order to more fully put the organic development model in perspective. That has traditionally been the most commonly pursued approach to early stage growth and development for a new business venture. Why not start with it and offer alternatives to it as alternatives, and with a more traditional game plan laid out here and in place, as a starting point for considering them?

My primary reason for this reorganization of approaches and option prioritizations can be found in Option 3 of my above list, and certainly in an age where online social media and social media-supported businesses and business activities have become so important – and so routinely expected.

• How many new business founders see themselves as building a new venture that would grow and function in an explicitly online and social media-driven context?
• And how many of these entrepreneurs see it as both necessary and inevitable that they would build their new businesses with this type of market context firmly in mind?
• How many would see it as both necessary and inevitable that they would plan and execute their businesses with the strengths and opportunities, and yes the weaknesses and limitations of this type of environmental context firmly held in mind?

New entrepreneurs, and certainly any who have grown up in an online connected world and who see themselves as living in a social media connected world, would essentially automatically answer those questions with the power and ubiquity of social media as a given, and with its relevance to them and their planning assumed as an axiomatic truth.

Venture capital and angel investors remain important and will continue to be so, as will family and friend-supported funding. Option 3, however, has changed both the dynamics of business development and the expectations as to what is and should be possible from that. And that can essentially axiomatically be presumed true because:

• Crowd sourcing can in principle, raise large amounts of liquid capital and very quickly,
• And because individual investors who enter into it do not hold significant equity in the ventures that they would help to fund in this way. As such, they do not come to hold large voices in the businesses that they invest in either. That, among other things means that this funding can come with few strings attached, beyond an eventual requirement to pay back what was raised to those investors, which might mean cash repayment, repayment in the form of products or services offered, or repayment through any of a variety of other mechanisms as might have been loosely outlined in an initial crowd sourcing pitch.
• And this is also true because crowd sourced funding is also a powerful tool for getting the word out and for developing crowd sourced marketing and sales opportunities. In that, social media driven fundraising becomes social media driven gorilla marketing too.

Entrepreneurs who see online social media-based and enhanced connectedness as part of the essential framework that they would build their business into, see social media and the options and opportunities that it can create, as essential drivers of all that they would do. If they do not do social media as well as their competitors can in this, they will lose as a result and in any competitive struggle that they enter into with them. If they can find ways to use and to leverage social media better than their competition can, they will win and their business will grow and thrive as a result.

Option 3 cannot and will not always work, and even for ventures that would seem in prospect to be naturals for it. I discussed that in Part 14, in the course of reconsidering all four of the above listed outside funding options. But regardless of that, the existence of this option, shapes expectations, and business planning and the business development processes that come out if it.

With this note of observation and expectation added, I (finally) turn to consider my admittedly conservatively positioned default option: organic growth. And I do so by stating that simple prudence would dictate that a true default option approach here should be a conservative one and regardless of how it is viewed in any particular new business venture context. And I begin that by repeating part of the lead-in text that I offered at the end of Part 14 in anticipation of this posting:

• “I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will delve into some of the basic details of the organic growth model. And I will do so from both a strategic planning and prioritization perspective, and from a second approach as well that is inextricably connected to it if it to offer value: a bookkeeping and accounting perspective.”

I in fact begin this discussion from that bookkeeping and accounting perspective, and by citing a basic resource that I have already offered here in this blog as a more generally applicable startup and early stage business resource: my series: Understanding and Navigating Burn Rate, as can be found at Startups and Early Stage Businesses as postings 67-78.

I focused there on the issues of fiscal prudence and building a new business within the constraints of the resources that are available. Think of that series as being default, organic growth-centric and as holding that business development approach as an axiomatic assumption. That was very intentional, and I have cited that series since then as a basic grounding approach that would only be deviated from as a matter of planned out and carefully considered decision. Think of this posting, and certainly this second half of it as representing a specific case in point consideration of how and why a business’ founders would in fact deviate from the accounting and bookkeeping, and cash flow approach offered there.

One of the core elements of any fiscal resources analysis of business options, has traditionally been a three scenarios modeling approach. Business planners simultaneously consider:

• An optimistic possible path forward in which everything proceeds smoothly and cost-effectively,
• A more pessimistic one in which at least some significant delays and other challenges arise that would add friction and cost to a new business’ growth and development,
• And a normative development scenario that would generally fall in between the first two as listed here.

I would argue that long-term, the most important benefit of this type of exercise can be found in just identifying in at least foreseeable detail, the problems and challenges, and the possible favorable opportunities that might arise, and with an at least first-cut awareness of their likelihood and of how they might specifically arise.

Carrying out this budget and finances-oriented exercise, at least potentially increases the possibility that the founders of a business would build within their means and in ways that keep their new enterprise solvent and running. But just as importantly, the more clearly they see and understand the issues: good and bad that they might face in this venture, the more proactively effective they can be in avoiding the adversely challenging possibilities that they see as potentially coming, while increasing their chances of capturing the positive value of the more favorable opportunities that they might face.

To pick up on one possible adversity here, to take that point out of the abstract, consider a new business that would manufacture and sell an at least relatively disruptively new product to a New-demanding market. And one of their potential choke points, as considered in this tripartite fiscally framed analysis is the fact that they will have to be able to secure a steady and reliable source of a specific part that would go into their finished product, that would not be cost-effective for them to manufacture themselves, because that would require their developing and supporting a specialized assembly line just for that one part. But this is a specialized part and only so many potential supply chain partner businesses are even prepared to be able to provide it. What happens if they enter into a contractual agreement with one of them, to meet this to-them essential need, and then this supplier suddenly finds itself either unable or unwilling to meet this commitment? I write here of what is sometimes referred to as a single point of failure problem, where all of a crucial business flow, goes through a single option bottleneck – and that bottleneck might close down.

Simply thinking through and seeking to quantify the likelihood and the consequences of possibilities like this: here a negative but the positives too, can bring into focus the wider range of options that might be faced. Really thinking through that complex of issues, in the case of my working example here, is where the founders of this enterprise would at least know enough to more fully consider the merits of seeking out alternative sourcing for this special part, and from before this would become a problem: not just reactively and when their own assembly lines might be in danger of shutting down too.

I have referred to the organic growth model here, as a more conservative approach and it certainly can be, and because of how it takes ranges of possible risk-creating variables off of the table for this type of analysis. But it also takes sources of possible benefits off of the table too. If growing a business within its means and as an enterprise that can stand on its own feet is conservative, when would deviating from that approach make the most sense? My answer to that is simple as a matter of abstract principle, while anything but that when addressed in any specific real-world instance:

• When realistically anticipatable risks are more likely to exceed anticipatable benefits if an outside funding source is considered, it makes more sense to follow an organic growth model.
• But when the benefits faced from breaking away from the organic development model exceed the potential costs and risks that might be anticipated from doing so, it would make sense to seek outside funding and break away from the organic growth model as a working approach.

Let’s consider a specific case in point example there, to take that out of the abstract. It is true that a single innovator might be the only one who sees all of need and opportunity and way, for arriving at New and particularly for a genuinely novel, disruptively new innovation opportunity. But if the underlying problem: the underlying need that it would address, is at all known and if it is something that others see positive potential in resolving too, then any would-be innovator has to assume that they are in a race to complete and bring their New to market first. And they should assume that this is a close race and that if they allow even just slight avoidable delays in what they do, they will lose it.

And this brings me back to the outside funding options that I began this narrative thread with, as means of accelerating the pace that a new venture be able to bring its New to market, and hopefully first and with enough of a lead time over its direct competitors for that, so as to be able to build a first mover advantage there. And this brings this narrative from the outside funded alternatives that I have considered here to the default organic growth model and now back to them again.

I am going to continue this narrative in my next installment to this series, building from here, and very explicitly so, from the lines of discussion offered in Part 14 of this series. More specifically, I briefly outlined in Part 14 how outside funding as assumed in those four scenarios might not come through. My goal for the next installment here, is to at least briefly look into the there-black box of What might happen (or not), to consider the underlying mechanisms in place that would suggest the Why and How of that.

My goal for this series has been to at least briefly sketch out a set of issues that would arise for a research oriented business venture as it seeks to develop from its initial planning day one through at least the beginning steps of its first real growth phase. And in this, I have at least tacitly assumed that the boundaries between the key phases of this development process as discussed here, can be at least somewhat fluid and uncertain. When, for example, has a new business really become consistently profitable? That might be easier to determine if for example, a new venture of this type were to land a large and long-term contract with a major client, and particularly if that client did not insist on exclusivity of service from them, leaving them further room and opportunity to grow. But few businesses find themselves facing that type of secure business flow possibility, and certainly without facing real pressures to their simply becoming a new venture acquisition by such a larger and more established business. I will develop my next posting with uncertainties in mind and as realities that would have to be accounted for in any business development planning.

I have already included in this blog a relatively lengthy series on business scalability per se, that begins with consideration of startups and business beginnings, but that ranges far beyond that in scope (see: Moving Past Early Stage and the Challenge of Scalability, as can be found at Startups and Early Stage Businesses, postings 96 and loosely following, for its Parts 1-35.) My goal for this series and for where to go in it from here, is to conclude the more entirely-early business development phase of this discussion as I have been offering here, and then move on to offer a more long-term scalability perspective on these enterprises: one that focuses more specifically on research-oriented enterprises with their particular issues and as they seek to grow into successful enterprises per se, than I pursued in my above-cited scalability series.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory.

Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 12

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on October 23, 2018

This is my 12th installment to a series on cyber risk and cyber conflict in a still emerging 21st century interactive online context, and in a ubiquitously social media connected context and when faced with a rapidly interconnecting internet of things among other disruptively new online innovations (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 and its Page 3 continuation, postings 354 and loosely following for Parts 1-11.)

I have been discussing three sets of interrelated issues in this series up to here, leading up to this installment:

1. A basic if perhaps simplistic outline of a problem that we are all increasingly facing as new technologies and new ways of using them, are turned to societally disruptive purposes, and in ways that are seemingly impossible to address proactively – leaving only more reactive, catch-up alternatives,
2. An at least preliminary approach to addressing that challenge, which I have already indicated to be inadequate and certainly for moving past reactive responses, and for how it limits consideration of the levels and types of organizational involvement that might be required
3. And a list of working example case studies that I have proposed discussing. My goal in offering them is to more fully analyze and discuss the precise nature of the basic problem faced here (as per Point 1 of this list), and ideally in operationally meaningful terms that would suggest better ways to deal with them (as per Point 2) – improving on the first take cartoon remediation approach that I have offered up to here in this series, for doing so.

I offered Part 11 of this narrative as a briefly stated summary of the core ideas and issues addressed in this series up to here, and as a transition posting that is intended to lead this overall discussion towards more satisfactory approaches to understanding the first two of the above topics points as summarized above. Think of those three numbered points, in fact as a brief explicitly stated summary of Part 11 and of what I offered there. And with that noted, I turn to consider the first of my case study scenarios as also offered there, at least as a to-address topic:

• Stuxnet and how the US and Israel set a precedent with its development and use that has subsequently been proven problematical – and with an update that includes some current news references that would indicate that even the gains hoped for from that effort have proven short-lived, and even as negative consequences arising from it have proliferated.

Stuxnet and its then still actively unfolding story, was the first case in point example that I really delved into in this blog, of the challenges to security and to national security that have been emerging from cyber-threat sources. See Part 1 of that series: Stuxnet, Cyber Warfare and the Challenge of the Intelligent Infrastructure, as first posted to go live on September 29, 2010 and the 13 installments that follow it, as can be found at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time as its postings 58 and loosely following.

I discussed the more specific issues and the uncertainties of Stuxnet and of how and where it was developed and deployed, and by whom then. And I recommend you’re reading that progression of thought pieces and news updates, and for the limitations that it presents as to what could be unequivocally publically proven regarding this use of a cyber-weapon in late 2010 and early 2011, if for no other reason. My primary reason for raising this by now very old story again, is one of consequences, and unexpected longer-term ones at that.

I primarily focused on the emerging Stuxnet news story itself and on its developing details when I first wrote of that unfolding event. But I have continued to think of it and from that point in time on, for a very different reason and one that is just now really coming into toxic fruition: the lessons that were and have been learned from it. Simplifying a much more complex narrative into short text message form, the United States and Israeli governments came to view the prospects of a nuclear weapons holding Iranian government as run by its extremist clerics, as offering so great a threat to stability in the entire Middle East, as to merit essentially any weapons development-blocking response on their part. Israel tried thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions through targeted assassinations of key personnel in Iran’s nuclear weapons program and through more directly overt military action (see for example, this piece on their Operation Opera.) And also see How Israel, in Dark of Night, Torched Its Way to Iran’s Nuclear Secrets. I consider it likely that American sourced intelligence from satellite imagery and intercepted messages, helped inform and shape these actions. Stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been a long-standing goal of the American government, and was certainly one leading up to 2010 and beyond. It is, however, unclear if and how the United States might have more actively participated in these actions. It is now clear, however, that the United States did play a very active role in developing and deploying Stuxnet, as a more readily deniable alternative approach for thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Operation Opera was a military attack launched out of Israel against a uranium enrichment facility that Iran was still building, and it was carried out before this facility could be put into operation. That, crucially importantly meant that blowing it up did not immediately lead to a lethally dangerous environmental contamination that would impact upon a neighboring civilian population.

Consider for a moment, the price that would have had to be paid for this more overtly attributable type of military action, if a uranium enrichment or plutonium production facility was up and running when attacked, with all of the environmental contamination that would bring, and especially if that facility were located near a heavily populated urban setting – or near or even in a particularly revered holy site.

Political and I add diplomatic backlash against Israel’s more conventional military and special forces attacks against Iranian interests were severe, and from some of Israel’s allies as well as from their more expected adversaries. And by the time that Israel and the United States knew of the uranium enrichment facilities that were suborned through cyber-attack with Stuxnet, they were already up and running. So any effort to stop their programs and activities called for a more stealthy and even deniable means of attack, and one that would be contained for its damaging impact within the hardened walls of those facilities, limiting if not preventing collateral civilian damage from radioactive fallout and toxic chemical exposure.

I repeat here, my last bullet point from my briefly sketched out Part 11 definition of our current predicament as cyber-weapons have in effect become mainstreamed into conventional use and into the thought and planning that would define that:

• And crucially importantly here, given the nature of cyber-weapons it is possible to launch a cyber-attack and even with a great deal of impact on those under attack, in ways that can largely mask the source of this action – or at least raise questions of plausible deniability for them and even for extended periods of time. That, at least is a presumption that many holders of these weapons have come to assume, given the history of their use and of resulting consequences from that.

Stuxnet and the air of plausible deniability as to attack source that it created, at least for a period of time, has in fact helped to shape that point of detail as a significant part of the cyber-conflict equation. Who actually developed and launched Stuxnet? No one not actively involved in this attack actually knew, and certainly at first. Who had reason to see Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a threat? Who had the capability of carrying out that type of attack, and who might have both capability and motive there? The lists of possible sources for this attack were fairly lengthy and included sectarian conflict-based adversaries to Iran from within the Islamic world as well as outsiders to it. Wealth can buy expertise and action that is based upon it, so a suspect national government need not be known as a font of cyber-technology excellence to be included on a suspects list there.

• But what were the long term consequences of this action, when other nation states have seen weapons of this type used as key elements of a proactively, overtly offensive act, in blocking what an attacking nation would see as a dire threat to themselves? What lessons would other nations take away from watching this transpire, and with essentially no negative consequences falling on attacking nations as a consequence of their having taken this type of action?

I would argue that the development and use of Stuxnet went a lot farther than simply demonstrating as a proof of principle, that cyber-weapons can and do work and even as effective political and diplomatic weapons. The use of this cyber-weapon, in effect legitimized the use of cyber-warfare technologies per se as an alternative to more conventional diplomatic means and as a more standard course of action in seeking out what would otherwise be more political ends. I intentionally paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz there, where he is known for having stated that “war is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” von Clausewitz would have seen cyber-warfare as a perhaps ideal addition to that “admixture of other means,” and both for its potential effectiveness and for its capacity to mask the true identity of an aggressor deploying it.

• What is to keep others from applying the same basic logic where and whenever they see themselves facing a “sufficiently dire” threat or need, too?

I write this while thinking of China and North Korea and their use of cyber-weapons. And I most definitely find myself writing this posting while thinking of Russia and how it has become the preeminent user of cyber-capabilities and globally, in coercively and forcefully seeking to achieve its political and diplomatic ends by cyber means. I will discuss those examples, among others in upcoming installments to this series, as noted in Part 11. And I end this installment by repeating and updating my basic risk and threat definition as preliminarily offered in that posting (here simplified for the retelling):

• The underlying assumptions that a potential cyber-weapon developer (and user) holds, shape their motivating rationale for developing and perhaps actively deploying and using these capabilities.
• The motivating rationales that are developed and promulgated out of these weaponized capabilities, both determine and prioritize how and where they would be test used, and both in-house if you will, and in outwardly facing but operationally limited live fire tests.
• Any such outwardly facing and outwardly directed tests that do take place, can be used to map out and analyze both adversarial capability for the (nation state or other) players who hold these resources, and map out the types of scenarios that they would be most likely to use them in if they were to more widely deploy them in a more open-ended and large scale conflict.
• Given the nature of cyber-weapons it is possible to launch a cyber-attack and even with a great deal of impact on those under attack, in ways that can largely mask the source of this action – or at least raise questions of plausible deniability for them and even for extended periods of time. That, at least is a presumption that many holders of these weapons have come to assume, given the history of their use and of resulting consequences from that.
• And need and justification for pursuing a course of action of the type that is outlined here, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. And crucially importantly for this, that means that what is and is not sufficient justification to merit the development and use of cyber-weapons, ultimately rests on the judgments of those who seek to hold such capabilities, and rests in their hands – at least until after the fact and until such actions can be responded to reactively.

In anticipation of discussion to come, and in anticipation of case in point examples of how the above defining points play out, a great deal of what I will discuss in this series will hinge for its meaning, on how differing parties would variously evaluate possible actions, and actions actually taken in light of that last definitional bullet point. And with that puzzle piece to this threat definition included, I add one more such point that will also become crucially important in discussion to follow:

• And given the uncertainties involved in threat and attack source, among other considerations, and the novelty of the threats faced from cyber-weapons, nations not under direct attack and even nations that have been so attacked can find themselves facing a great deal of uncertainty as to how to respond and both for the types and for the levels of response that they would offer. At what point, to pose this in stark terms, would an act of cyber-attack rise to the level of impact and significance as to qualify as an act of war per se, and when (as a large and largely amorphous gray area of consideration) would it fall short of that, leaving open the issues of what an appropriate response would and should be?

As a brief addendum to the above posting, I stated in my first to-address examples point as repeated above, that I would include here “an update that includes some current news references that would indicate that even the gains hoped for from that effort have proven short-lived, and even as negative consequences arising from it have proliferated.” I offer the following with the above-added definitional bullets point in mind, and as a point of historically significant irony.

Both Democratic and Republican party leadership in the United States made a real, concerted effort to convince the Iranian government that it would be in their own best interests to forego a nuclear weapons future, doing so through a combination of trade sanctions and treaty offers to lift them. And this led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework. This was not a perfect resolution to the challenge of nuclear proliferation, and even just in the specific case of Iran and its nuclear ambitions. But for all of its flaws and gaps, it was working. Then a newly elected US president Donald Trump decided to scuttle it, potentially throwing the door open to an angered Iran recommencing its weapons development program and with a vengeance.

President Trump has in effect thrown out the bilaterally gained benefits of that treaty framework, for partisan political reasons at home, and as part of his ongoing attacks on the legacies of those who he sees as his political enemies (see for example: Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned.) And also see this sobering news analysis piece too: Without Nuclear Deal, U.S. Expects Resurgence in Iranian Cyberattacks.

Consider for a moment, the consequences that this treaty pull-back have made more likely, and particularly from a country such as Iran that the United States and Israel are known to have attacked with a significantly damaging cyber-weapon: Stuxnet, and that has both reason and means to similarly strike back against, and certainly given the increased sanctions that Trump has imposed against them when reneging on that treaty. My second here-cited news reference discusses how Iran’s military unit devoted to cyber-warfare: their Unit 8200 has been war gaming cyber-attack scenarios against Israel. And I would expect that country to be a major target for them. But I fully expect that they are also gaming possible action against soft targets at the very least that would very directly impact up and disrupt cyber-systems in the United States too, and as a direct retaliation for president Trump’s recent and ongoing actions against their country. Stuxnet specifically attacked industrial Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems in Iran. Right now, the United States Department of Homeland Security and private sector participants there, should be on heightened alert to threats to US based SCADA systems too, and from Iran and I have to add Russia and other sources too.

I am going to turn to the second topics point of my Part 11, to-address list in the next installment to this series:

• NSA cyber-weapon leaks and the consequences of unintended (though with time at least inevitable) loss of control of even just defense-oriented weapons development here. This, I add here will serve as a basis for fundamentally questioning the first of four points raised above, as to the overall nature of the threat that cyber-weaponization of information technology poses, and that will in turn lead to a reconsideration of the basic remediative response model offered here too. As part of that, I will challenge the assumption that defensive and offensive can be meaningfully distinguished between in a cyber-weaponization context, just as I will question the assumptions that I made in my cartoon resolution as to the organizational levels that would have to become involved in effectively addressing all of this.

And after completing my discussion of that complex of issues, at least for purposes of this series, I will turn to directly consider Russia and its cyber-activities as carried out by the Putin government there. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 3, and at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And you can also find this and related material at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

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