Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 18: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 6

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 31, 2019

This is my 18th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership per se. And it is my 12th installment in that on Trump and his rise to power in the United States, and on Xi and his in China, as they have both turned to authoritarian approaches and tools in their efforts to succeed there.

I focused on Donald Trump and his legacy oriented narrative in Part 14 and Part 15 of this, and have continued from there to correspondingly consider Xi Jinping and his legacy oriented actions and ambitions too:

• In Part 16 with its focus on the mythos and realities of China’s Qing Dynasty during its Golden Age, as a source of visionary legacy defining possibilities,
• And in what has followed, leading up to the reign of Mao Zedong as China’s first communist god emperor, with that narrative thread pointed to at the end of Part 16, and with an initial, more detailed discussion of it continuing on through Part 17.

I began that second narrative thread in 1830’s China as the Qing Dynasty began what became a slow but seemingly inexorable decline that led to its end in 1912 with the abdication of its last emperor: Puyi. And I focused in Part 17 on challenges and responses to them that China and its leadership faced through at least the first decades of that period, that can for the most part be seen as endemically Chinese and as arising from within their nation and their system of governance.

That, I explicitly note here includes my Part 17 discussion of a source of challenge that in all fairness at least originated outside of the country and outside of anyone’s control there, and either individually (as for example through the actions or decisions of an emperor) or collectively (as for example through the actions or decisions of a state bureaucracy that would, or would not function in accordance with the dictates of a more central authority in creating a commonly held, unified response to larger scale societal challenges faced.) That source of challenge consisted of the twin stressors of climate change and of environmental degradation as they adversely impacted upon agricultural productively and the basic food supply that China’s many millions would turn to. The adverse climate changes that I wrote of came from outside of China, or at least from outside of any possible direct human control there, even as they took explicit shape there for how they specifically affected that nation and its peoples. But their government’s failure to effectively respond to this seemingly ever-expanding challenge and in a way that might have at least limited its negative impact, was in fact endemic to the nation and its leadership. That failure of effective systematic response was human created and sustained.

And a great many of the environmental challenges faced, and certainly in China’s agriculturally most important lands, were in effect home grown too and even more so than any climate level changes were. But that only tells one half of this story; I focused in Part 17 on endemically Chinese pieces of the puzzle of what happened to end the Qing Golden Age and bring China as a whole into decline, and I have continued addressing that side of this here too, at least up to now in this posting. But China’s history and certainly since the Qing Dynasty cannot be understood, absent an at least equally complete narrative of and understanding of their relationship with the world around them. And I begin addressing that set of issues with some demographics and with what for purposes of this series and its narrative flow, can best be seen as old and even ancient history.

The Ming Dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644, and it was the first ethnically Chinese led dynasty to rule that nation in centuries. And it also proved itself to be the last ethnically Chinese dynasty to rule there, at least if “ethnically Chinese” is construed to mean Han Chinese; the Qing Dynasty that followed it as China’s last hereditary dynasty was led by ethnically distinct non-Han outsiders as well. But this is not the type of outside influence that I would primarily write of here when raising and addressing the issues of foreign influence and impact upon and within China.

Still, officially, according to the Beijing government of Xi Jinping, China currently contains within it 56 separate and distinct ethnic groups as of their Fifth National Population Census of 2000, with Han Chinese accounting for approximately 91.59% of the entire population and with the remaining 55 ethnic groups accounting for the remaining 8.41% (and also see this official government release on China’s 2010 national population census.)

Yes, there are grounds for debate there, where a variety of smaller ethnically distinguishable populations are not afforded separate recognition in those demographics surveys and their accompanying official analyses. And that lack of official recognition means a lack of legal protection of those ethnically distinctive groups and their peoples, as such. But even so, China includes within it a range of ethnic diversity that it does officially recognize and that it does offer officially protected status to, for their unique cultural identities. And the non-Han peoples that emperors of earlier dynasties sprang from, that have in their days ruled over China, have for the most part been assimilated as recognized minority groups in what is now the official 56. And they can be and are seen as belonging to a larger single, overall Chinese citizenry. China’s current government certainly sees matters that way, as is recurringly indicated by their efforts to retain and control and mainstream any and all ethnic diversity within their country, and certainly where that might be seen as representing separation in self identity that might become a push towards some form of independence.

And with that all noted, I raise three crucially important points:

• For all of the official acceptance and inclusion of the official census in China with its 56 culturally and ethnically distinct recognized groups, the Han Chinese are still considered in a very fundamental sense to be the only “true Chinese,” and in a way that members of the other 55 have never been afforded. They have always been seen as being different and other, and even when members of those groups have gained hereditary dynastic leadership over the country as a whole.
• And even as the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party that leads it recognize a controlled measure of diversity in their nation and its overall citizenry, they still consider as a matter of paramount importance that all Chinese citizens and of whatever ethnicity or cultural persuasion must be Chinese first and foremost, and that they must believe and act accordingly and with their primary loyalties aimed towards China’s one government and one Party.
• But at the same time, Han primacy of place as representing the true Chinese people, places very real practical day-to-day and ongoing constraints on what members of the other 55 minority groups can achieve, and both as measured by Party membership and opportunity to join, and by opportunity to advance up the Party’s ranks if allowed in as card carrying members. And these de facto restrictions have impact on status and opportunity in general, and throughout Chinese society. For a particularly striking example of how this plays out in practice, and certainly as of this writing, consider the restricted status and the restrictions on opportunity faced in China by their Uyghur minority today.

I am not addressing the issues of ethnic diversity here as a primary source of us versus them of foreign impact on China. But I offer this discussion thread here in specific preparation for delving into that complex of history and ideas. And I do so because it would be impossible to fully understand that, let alone address it absent a clearer understanding of what “us” means in China with at least an outline awareness of something of the historically grounded nuances that enter into that determination. Are Han and Chinese synonymous? No, but there are contexts where they become close to that, even as Party and government calls upon all Chinese nationals to be Chinese, and effectively entirely so and regardless of ethnicity or local cultural self-identity.

I will come back to reconsider the complex of issues that I have raised and at least briefly touched upon in this posting, later on in this series and its overall narrative, and certainly in the context of Xi’s within-China legacy building ambitions and actions. But for what is to more immediately follow now, I am going to focus on what might be considered true outsiders, some of whom as national and culturally distinct groups are and will remain outsiders and foreign nationals (e.g. European and American trade partners and their governments) and some of which, at least for my earlier historical references to come here, were eventually brought in and assimilated – but with nothing like that possible during the times under discussion. And I begin addressing that by turning at least closer to the beginning in China’s early history.

China has faced challenges from outside peoples and foreign cultures that go back at least as far as the construction of the first sections of fortifications that were eventually incorporated into their Great Wall (their 萬里長城), that were themselves initially built starting as far back as the 7th century BCE. (Construction of the Great Wall of China itself is generally dated as having been started by the historically acknowledged first true emperor of China: Qin Shi Huang (220–206 BCE), expansively building out from those earlier more locally limited protective efforts.) I say “… at least as far back” here because foreign attacks and incursions and even outright invasions, were a scourge to the people of then China for a long time before the building of those early walls and their supporting fortifications.

Stepping back from this China-focused narrative for a brief orienting note: I have written in this blog of Russia’s long history of invasion and threat of invasion and from many directions. See in that regard, my posting Rethinking National Security in a Post-2016 US Presidential Election Context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 13, where I lay a foundation for discussing Russia’s current foreign policy and some of the essentially axiomatic assumptions that help to shape it from that nation’s past. Foreign invasion and threat of it have held powerful influence there for a great many centuries now. China is not unique in having faced foreign invasion and threat of it, any more than Russia is, or any of a wide range of other nations and peoples that I could cite here. But this history and this type of history is and has been an important source of influence in shaping China for its ongoing impact and persistence, and certainly over the years that I write of here, from the 1830’s on where threat and possibility became an ongoing reality.

I am going to continue this narrative in a next series installment where I will look at China’s international trade and other relations starting in the Qing Golden Age, and how they spiraled out of Chinese control for their side of all of that as the Qing Dynasty began to fail from its center outward and from its periphery inward. I will of course, continue that narrative thread with an at least brief and selective discussion of the first Republic of China, as formally existed from 1912 until 1949 with its final overthrow at the hands of Mao Zedong’s communist forces. And I will equally selectively discuss the Mao years of his Peoples Republic of China, as he developed and envisioned it as a response to what had come before, and that in turn helped shape Xi Jinping into who he is today, with his legacy goals and ambitions and with the axiomatic assumptions that he brings to all of that.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, and at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and Social Networking and Business 2.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 30 – the jobs and careers context 29

This is my 30th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-29.)

I have been working my way through a to-address topics list since Part 25 that addresses a succession of workplace challenges and opportunities that can and often do arise when working for a business for any significant period of time. And my goal for this posting is to continue that process, here focusing in its Point 5. To put what is to come here in clearer context, I begin by repeating this list as a whole, with parenthetical references as to where I have already discussed its Points 1-4:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there (see Part 25 and Part 26),
2. Salary and overall compensation changes (see Part 27),
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable you’re reaching your more personally individualized goals there (see Part 28),
4. Promotions and lateral moves (see Part 29),
5. Dealing with difficult people,
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and on its execution too as touched upon in Part 23.

I initially mentioned Plan B approaches to jobs and careers planning and execution in that list in the context of its last, sixth entry. But this basic due diligence, and yes … risk management-aware jobs and careers approach can be just as important for consideration here in an explicitly Point 5 context too. So I begin this posting’s discussion by offering systematically organized references regarding Plan B thinking and execution, and about working with difficult people in general, as a starting point for what is to follow here:

• Finding Your Best Practices Plan B When Your Job Search Isn’t Working, as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development as postings 56-72, and
• Should I Stay or Should I Go?, as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 as postings 416-458.

I focused on a job search context in my above-cited Plan B series, highlighting this basic jobs and careers approach in terms that would perhaps more directly relate to Parts 2-12 of this series. But the flexibility of thought and action that that series discusses, and that Plan B approaches are built from in general, apply here too. And when you apply them in this type of context, where you are already working with a business that you would prefer to stay with, the negotiations options and processes of this series become particularly important there.

With that noted, I cite in particular, Part 2: interpersonal conflict and related challenges of my Stay or Go series here, though I in fact raise the issues of difficult, or at least potentially difficult people in other installments in that series too. Positing that series’ narrative in terms pursued in this series, best practices for working with difficult, challenging people are all about finding ways to forestall conflict where possible, where that can mean preventing at least avoidable difficulties from arising. And barring that possibility, it is about limiting and diffusing conflict and finding ways to constructively work with those difficult people where possible. And Plan B approaches enter into all of this, forming a third basic possibility for dealing with circumstances where such favorable resolutions might not in fact be possible.

That noted, let’s start addressing this complex of issues from the beginning and with the fundamentals:

• Really think through and understand what you seek to achieve here, and for your goals and your priorities and for what you would acceptably be willing to offer in exchange for achieving at least your core requirements there.
• And get to know and understand the people you work with, and seek to at least catch glimpses of the world around them as they see it, and certainly when they are at work. What do they seek to do and what do they seek to avoid? Where do they see opportunity and challenge? What are their goals and where can you see possible conflicts or congruences of interest as they might arise between you and them?
• Think of this as background preparation work for when you specifically have to negotiate an agreement with one or more of these people. The more clearly you have thought through your own position on matters of importance to you, the more clearly you can articulate it and present it. And the more clearly you understand the people who you work with, and certainly gatekeepers and stakeholders who you might have to gain some measure of support from, the more easily and effectively you can negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with them.

The key to effective negotiating is in understanding the people you would negotiate with, and any third parties who they might have to accommodate as they argue what would ostensibly be their case. And with that I add a new layer of complexity to this. Sometimes, the driving force behind the positions and the demands that you hear from the other side of a negotiating table, come from people who are not even in the room, who the people you are meeting with have to answer to.

That noted, if you know and understand something of who is involved in this, and perhaps from behind the scenes, and you know and understand them and the people you are actually meeting with, and if you can understand these people well enough to be able to predict how they might raise and promote their positions when negotiating, and how they would likely respond to you and your positions, the better off you will be.

What terms: what wording do these people use when discussing matters, and certainly where their preferences, needs and priorities are concerned? What are their hot button words and phrases that might elicit more of an emotional response than anything else, and a negative one at that?

• Know and understand the people you need to communicate with and particularly when and as you need to negotiate with them, with all of the establishment of common grounds that this can call for.
• And use the terms and phrasings that they would find more comfortable where possible, avoiding options that would raise extra, avoidable complications for you in this.

And with that noted as background for how I would address Point 5 itself, I ask an at least seemingly simple, basic question:

• What does “difficult people” mean?

For purposes of this discussion, I would argue that this means people who:

• You have, and are likely to have need to negotiate with and on at least some issues that are of significant importance to you,
• But who you are also likely to come into disagreement with over those issues, or even outright conflict if you cannot effectively negotiate a common ground with them,
• And where navigating your way to that point of agreement with them, would be difficult at the very least – and even particularly difficult.

Sometimes this means you’re needing to negotiate more effective and equitable ways of working with people who do not see value or significance in others in general, or their issues. But more often than not this means they’re not seeing areas of overlap where they would benefit, or at least not lose if they were to agree to anything that they would see as making a concession to you.

• Are they concerned that if they give ground to you in some way that might create a precedent that would somehow come back as a problem for them later on?
• Do they take a zero-sum approach where anything short of a total victory for them is a loss for them and any victory for someone else must be a loss for them too?
• Turning back to consider outside influencers here again, do they see themselves as being fundamentally blocked from making any concessions, and even ones they would otherwise agree to, because of outside pressures from other parties (e.g. their own supervisor and direct in line boss there, or with that pressure coming from other powerfully placed stakeholders?)

The goal in working with difficult people is to find ways to present your case, in ways that would bring them to see what you want to get done as offering value to them too, and in ways that they could favorably present to anyone else who they have to answer to as well, if needed. Or at least, your goal here would be to create grounds for these stakeholders gaining to value for themselves, and to see themselves as gaining such value, later from favors owed that will be repaid, and under conditions that would make them be willing to “pay it forward” for you.

• Do you have potential allies here, who could help argue your case for you,
• And either directly or from how they might influence outside decision makers who the people who you meet with would have to secure approval and agreement from: the involved parties who are outside of the room but still crucially involved in this as already noted here in this posting?
• Who are these negotiations enablers and how could you best negotiate their supporting you, or at least not hindering your efforts here? In this, sometimes remaining neutral can be supportive too.

Stepping back from the specifics as I have been discussing them here: all of the approaches and tactics that I have just raised here, and more that would be thought through and attempted might fail. You always have to start out and proceed from there with a very real additional outcomes possibility in mind: the prospect that all of your negotiation efforts might not work and no matter how you approach them or prepare for them or seek to carry them out. And this means you’re thinking through and preparing for a possible best alternative to negotiated agreement and a Plan B option that would at least reasonably work for you.

To be clear here, I am assuming that you have at least thought of and considered all viable negotiating approaches and tactics here, that might in principle help you to reach an agreement that would work for you. So for example, can you find an alternative to having to deal with a particularly difficult stakeholder who you would more normally seek to negotiate with here, due to their position or title, but who you do not see as being amenable to any offer or suggestion, no matter how presented? You have at least considered that too. (Note: If you do want to try this type of work-around here, do so first if at all possible so you do not avoidably put yourself in a position of burning future bridges by insulting and challenging that stakeholder with a probably public declaration that you are explicitly going around them, when working with them does not meet your satisfaction. If you try negotiating with someone and that falls through and you turn to others to bypass them, this will only create lasting animosity and resentment and from all parties involved in this – and even when and if they were responsible for the vast majority of the problems that you had with them in your attempt to negotiate with them in the first place.)

• But what happens if you do try negotiating with such a difficult individual and then find out this could not have worked and certainly with them,
• Or if circumstances are such that you have no choice but to work with them on this and even when you know up-front that your chances of success with them are slim at best?
• Then what is your best fall-back non-negotiated position?

The entire thrust of this posting can be summarized with a single piece of advice: think through what you seek to achieve, and how the people who you need to negotiate with on that will perceive matters and act. And do so with an open mind and both when thinking through your own position and how you would best present it, and when thinking through the options and tools that you have as you present and argue your case. And be prepared to be flexible and at all stages of this – and with the possibility of having to pursue a Plan B, best alternative to negotiated agreement alternative too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment, starting with a more detailed discussion of Plan B options as they arise in this type of context. And with that laid out I will turn to and begin to discuss the above-repeated Point 6 of the to-address list that I have been working my way through here. In anticipation of that line of discussion to come, this series installment and the next to come are going to be particularly pertinent for that.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Leveraging social media in gorilla and viral marketing as great business equalizers: a reconsideration of business disintermediation and from multiple perspectives 15

Posted in social networking and business, startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 18, 2019

This is my 15th 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 1-14.)

I began working my way through a to-address topics list in Part 11, that would apply to the analysis and planning efforts of a still resource-lean startup. And I repeat the first three entries in that list as I continue addressing them:

1. 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, and even for startups where that means building new with an awareness of past experience elsewhere.
2. Focusing on the business planning and development side to that, and more specifically on high priority, first business development and operations steps that would be arrived at and agreed to for carrying out, and setting aside more optional potential goals and benchmarks that would simply be nice to be able to carry through upon too,
3. Where exactly do those must-do tasks fit into the business and how can they best be planned out for cost-effective implementation (in the here and now) and for scalability (thinking forward)? Functionally that set of goals and their realization, of necessity ranges out beyond the boundaries of a Marketing or a Marketing and Communications context, applying across the business organization as a whole. But given the basic thrust of this specific series, I will begin to more fully discuss communications per se, and Marketing, or Marketing and Communications in this bullet point’s context. And I will comparatively discuss communications as a process, and as a functional area in a business there.

My goal for this narrative-continuing posting is to complete my discussion of the above Point 2, at least for purposes of this series. Then I will build from that discussion thread and from what I have already offered concerning Points 1 and 2 in earlier installments, to delve into Point 3 and its issues. And I add to that, in further anticipation of what is to come here, that I have been discussing those and related topics in general business planning and development terms and certainly in this series. But this is a marketing and communications-oriented series at heart:

• Even when I write in the starting paragraph to each of its installments that understanding Marketing and Communications in a business, and making them work for it, requires an understanding of the business as a whole and its contexts, so everything can fit together and work together.
• So I will begin offering a specifically Marketing and Communications focus here too, in anticipation of pursuing that approach in a Point 3 discussion.

I begin all of this with the above-repeated (and here simplified) Point 2 as carried over from Part 14, by reconsidering its set of issues from a strictly here-and-now implementation perspective. And that means adding consideration of benchmarks and of explicitly specified final goals to this narrative.

Let me take that out of the abstract with a very real-world example, of a type I have seen play out many times in real businesses that in general have been well managed – but not for some specific “this.” That anticipatory starting sentence, indicating what is to come here, is probably too general and open ended, as I could easily and realistically cite any of a very wide range of familiar strategic and operational blind spots to this narrative here, that I have seen and that I have had to work with and work through, and with that type of discussion still meeting its vague goals. For a more “business functionality” example, I could cite and at least briefly discuss an inventory management problem where there are at least contextually recurring disconnects between in-house employee end users of stock or supplies held in inventory, and the ultimate suppliers of these items. But I will set that and similar case in point examples aside here, and simply note that for purposes of this narrative they are probably too obvious – and I have to add too easy, at least in principle to both proactively prevent and reactively correct from. Quite simply, these are types of issues that would be closer to the hands-on and more routine management experience of the mid-level and more senior management there, so they should start out better understood, and both for any problems in place and for finding effective ways to prevent or resolve them.

So I will pick a Marketing and Communications example here, and more explicitly, I will pick gorilla marketing as a working example (with a few references to viral marketing too):

• In a standard business process or business systems example, everyone involved generally knows the precise starting points and end points that should parametrically define what should be done and how and when, and certainly at a task-by-task or set business process by set business process level. This certainly holds for processes and tasks comprised of them, that fit into specific planned-out business operations chains and with those functionalities serving as tightly connected links in them. In that context, these functionalities should begin and quickly pickup in activity carried out, starting from the point in the overall work flow that they get their initial performance requests from and with any material, informational or other input that they would work from, coming to them from already completed work in that chain too. And they should in turn pass on their output to other next step processes or tasks in that chain and to the people who would carry them out as needed and expected too.
• But now let’s consider a gorilla marketing campaign, or an effort to jump start and encourage market-sourced and supported viral marketing on the behalf of a business. What is the starting point that you would use and what end points do you seek to reach, and how would you best benchmark performance in between those endpoint defining marks?

In principle, this might mean reviewing sales and related data to set an initial starting point benchmark to measure the success of such a campaign from. And this would take seasonal and other predictable cyclical sales patterns into account as well as any observably known longer term (non-cyclical) directional trends too. And goals would be set (e.g. to at least triple the number of positive shared messages about the company’s premium, up-market oriented widgets on Facebook in the next six months, with that translating to at least a doubling of sales for them by the end of this period.) Then performance tracking benchmarks would be selected and measured during that trial period to see how this marketing campaign is working, and to provide input for course correcting it if needed.

That sounds both reasonable and doable, and it should be on all measures as touched upon there, and certainly in principle. But in practice, all of these measures and the metrics that would track them can get very soft and uncertain. For an obvious example of how that can happen, consider the above-cited “positive shared messages … on Facebook.” What type of shared comment or update note, qualifies here as meeting that criterion? Is it sufficient to simply name one of the company’s widget models in text format, as long as nothing negative is said about it? Does it qualify as a positive if one of those widgets is prominently visible in a shared photo, as a matter of viral marketing product placement? What if it is just sitting there as what amounts to background clutter? How would that compare to photos where a widget is being actively used, and appreciatively so? What of mixed message updates that might include images or text that involves the company’s widgets, but in a partly favorable, partly unfavorable way? And how would the company take into account issues of visibility for any of this? Should they consider how many direct contacts such a content poster has on the site, and score higher value to marketing references that show on Facebook pages of account holders with larger numbers of Facebook “friends”? And I have not even mentioned the issues of robo-accounts and fake friending connections here, even though that has to be considered when somewhere over two thirds, and even something over three quarters of all Facebook accounts are almost certainly automated fakes, abandoned and unmaintained ghost presences, or both.

My point in all of that is very simple. Look over my original “reasonable and doable” benchmarking and goals description as offered just before the above paragraph. What defining elements of it can legitimately be assumed to be clearly defined and unequivocal besides the six month duration of this trial campaign? And objectively and given the uncertainties in everything else noted there, how realistic can that be too, and certainly as a meaningful timeframe for gathering in actionable value creating information and insight?

Gorilla marketing is nonstandard in nature. And that means at least some of the types of metrics that would be used, and that a business would want to use for performance tracking it, are going to nonstandard too, even as others will be completely familiar and well understood. Viral marketing might be initially instigated by a company that seeks to benefit from it, and people from their Marketing and Communications might even in fact seek to in some way steer it by selectively sending out marketing updates that would fit into it as fuel for further consumer sourced messages. But viral marketing per se is outside created and maintained, if it actually is viral in nature. And that adds novelty and a measure of the nonstandard to it too, and from the lack of message shaping control that that brings with it if anything. Outside sourced messages amplify and fade, and mutate and in unpredictable ways.

What I am saying here, in both continuation of what I have already offered in a Point 1 and Point 2 context in this series, is that while it might be both possible and easy to set endpoint goals and performance benchmarks for standard processes and procedures, the more novel they become, the more uncertain all of this becomes too. I am going to conclude my discussion of that set of issues in my next installment to this series, where I will at least offer some thoughts on how to make them more rigorous and more definitively useful as a result. And that will bring me directly to the issues raised in the above noted Point 3. Then after completing my discussion of that, I will turn back to Part 11 of this series to continue addressing its topics list as noted above here.

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.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 17: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 5

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 14, 2019

This is my 17th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership per se. And it is my 11th installment in that on Trump and his rise to power in the United States, and on Xi and his in China, as they have both turned to authoritarian approaches and tools in their efforts to succeed there.

I focused on Xi Jinping and his story in Part 16 of this series progression, and on the first of two historically based narratives that I would argue fundamentally shape Xi’s image of the possible and the necessary for China, as he seeks to build his own personal legacy there as an historically significant leader in his own right.

That first narrative thread can be found in the history and the myth of the last hereditary dynasty to have ruled China: the Qing dynasty, and certainly as it held sway during its now recognized Golden Age as the Great Qing. This was a period of expansive reach and authority, when China as a whole reached one of its apex points of power, size and influence. And the other equally impactful narrative thread that I would cite here is one that in a fundamental sense came to a head during the reign of Mao Zedong as the founding leader of Chinese Communism and of the Peoples Republic of China as a nation.

The golden age of Qing greatness, and certainly as presented in its idealized form as outlined in Part 16, can be seen as representing a pattern that any modern leader of China with global ambitions would seek to emulate, and even hope to exceed. I briefly and I admit, very selectively outlined some of the defining-ideal features of this Great Qing myth (and something of its actual reality as well) there, as representing one half of the dynamic that drives Xi as he seeks to reach beyond his current self to become the center point of China’s next Golden Age mythos.

I also at least briefly began setting the stage for outlining what in many respects can be considered a model of dystopian possibilities there too, and of how China has both suffered from challenges faced, and risen above them. And that historically grounded narrative is one that I would argue has held at least as powerful an influence over Xi Jinping and his thoughts and actions as this positive image of Golden Age Qing greatness has.

My primary goal for this posting is to at least begin to outline and discuss this second side to the influence creating dynamic that I write of here. And as I noted at the end of Part 16, I will begin that at a turning point in history that arose during the same Qing dynasty that I have just written of in its Golden Age context. But for purposes of this narrative thread I begin in the 1830’s when the power and authority of that dynasty had already very significantly begun to wane. Some of the details that I will make explicit note of in what follows here, have direct counterparts in the China of more recent years, as have taken place under Chinese Communist rule, and I will at least briefly acknowledge that in order to highlight their relevance and as more than just details of academic historical note.

I wrote in Part 16 of the Kangxi Emperor, his son the Yongzheng Emperor, and his son the Qianlong Emperor, and of their collective reign as it lasted from 1661 through 1799 (counting five years at the end of that period when the Qianlong Emperor remained de facto ruler of China from when he formally stepped down from the Dragon Throne until his death. The China of 35 and 40 years after his death was very different than that of his lifetime, or that of his two immediate predecessors in power.

• The China of the Qing Golden Age was, as noted in Part 16, a nation of law and not just of men with most all legal and other matters adjudicated according to the Great Qing Legal Code. But the emperors who ruled over that China were directly involved, and they ruled through clearly defined lines of authority as validated from above, and ultimately from the Dragon Throne on down to local governmental levels. This system began to significantly break down in the years immediately following the death of the Qianlong Emperor and there were significant disconnects in what had been a more solidly dynastically, centrally controlled system of governance by the 1830’s and certainly by the end of that decade – just 41 years after the Qianlong’s death.
• This represented an at least damaging blow to the power and the longer-term prospects of the dynasty as a whole, and particularly given the way that local self-interest and the local accumulation of power outside of the Forbidden City (故宫) and throughout China at large, continued to expand and at the cost of the emperor losing both power and authority, and real understanding of the true state of his nation. The people who came to hold more significantly regional and local autonomy at the expense of the emperor, did not in general keep him or anyone directly reporting to him informed on what they were doing or how or why. And they did not share information regarding challenges faced and throughout China, as will prove important later in this posting.
• But this only represents one piece to a larger toxic puzzle. And I add a second piece to that here, noting that while it might sound unrelated to the first, these now-two puzzle pieces strongly interacted, and with a very damaging synergy. The overall population of China was dropping. The how and why of that are important, but I would set that narrative aside here, however interesting it is in its own right. Importantly for this narrative, that led to significant drops in the taxable revenue that government officials could collect as this population drop expanded out demographically to include Chinese citizens of working and peak working ages. This would have adversely affected the then sitting Qing emperors in place if tax revenues were following their expected, centrally mandated routes. But an increasingly locally autonomous, fissiparous bureaucracy with its increasing number of increasingly more and more independent local power centers, all took larger and larger amounts of what monies where going into government coffers for themselves, further bleeding and weakening the center.

I noted above, that I would draw points of comparison between the China of that era and the China of Mao’s time and of post-Mao China as well. And I will begin doing so with those two challenges. I have in fact been writing of local control and autonomy in China, as masked by proclaimed loyalty to and adherence to centrally controlled Party rule, for as long as I have been writing about China at all in this blog. See for example my 2010-2012 series: The China Conundrum and its Implications for International Cyber-Security (as can be found at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, as postings 69 and loosely following there) for its discussion of China’s open “white” market, its “black” market and its vast “gray” market, each effectively supported by its own entire economy. Even a cursory study of rare earth minerals mining in China as discussed there, should suffice to justify my assertions as to the power disconnects that China still faces, where the vast majority of that globally impacting industrial effort has been black market and black economy in nature.

I have written of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and of his Great Leap Forward. And both of those ultimately self-destructive initiatives, and more of what he started and led as well, can in fact be seen as attempts on his part to assert centralized authority over a vast system that was if anything more disruptively disconnected from central control than could be found in the Qing dynasty and even at its ultimate weakest. And it was self-interest, plus fear on the part of more local rule that held China together under Mao’s rule, and certainly under the rule of his Party chairman successors.

That only notes one area of similarity between one fundamental problem that wracked the late Qing dynasty, and a more recent iteration of it that is fundamentally built into the current Peoples Republic of China of Mao’s days and of today as well. The Mao era and its more recent counterpart to my second, demographic implosion puzzle piece as drawn above from the late Qing era, is the stuff of nightmares for today’s China leadership. And it stems from their disastrously failed one-child policy, as I have written about in detail in earlier series here.

But those two puzzle pieces to understanding the late Qing and its downfall, only begin to address a larger set of issues that collectively made that dynasty’s failure essentially inevitable. I continue this narrative by citing one more out of many possible puzzle piece entries here that added to the toxic synergies that I noted above: climate change and environmental degradation.

• China can be roughly divided into two large regions as far as climate is concerned: its vast northern plateau and plains that tend to get too little rain even as they are a major source of food supplies for the national as a whole, and their vast southern reaches that tend, if anything to get way too much rain and certainly in their agricultural areas. Their North is always challenged with the possibilities of devastating droughts, and their South with floods from the overflowing of their many rivers. Good years, and even challenging years can yield good harvests – at least if those challenges are limited enough in scope so that irrigation in the North and flood control in the South can be made to work. But the decades of the late Qing were marked by climate challenges that could not be so controlled. And at least as importantly, very challenging problems began to emerge that could not be ignored or glossed over, coming from inefficient and even directly environmentally damaging farming practices in place, that in good climate years had reliably put food on China’s table, but with growing, accumulating damage consequences. And these agricultural practices as handed down from generation to generation from when China was more sparsely populated, began to more overtly fail as climate shifts continued and good farming years became rarer.
• I mentioned drops in both population and taxable revenue sources that might go towards government funding. Those changes in China’s circumstance and this are related. And modern China’s counterpart to that, and certainly where damage to it environment is concerned, is more extreme than anything faced by the Qing dynasty or any of its predecessors in power. The possibility of climate change and a sudden succession of years with significantly reduced agricultural crop yields is another nightmare for China’s current leadership as that, like the climate shifts of the late Qing, could push their country over the edge into unrest and societal instability. And with global warming as a general global issue facing every nation on every continent, this is a prospect that today’s China has to address, if it is to avoid the type and degree of decline that led from the end of its Qing Golden Age and to the end of the Qing dynasty itself.

I have only considered three pieces to a larger and more comprehensive puzzle here, and all of them have been China-sourced, arising for the most part from within the nation itself. That perspective, I would argue, largely applies to my climate change puzzle piece as offered here too. The fragility and instability built into China’s essential agricultural base and related critical infrastructure systems, leading up to and continuing during the years of the Qing dynasty, were all China-sourced; climate change per se that the late Qing faced was not endemically Chinese but their failure to in any way prepare for it or deal with it with any real overall national response was.

I am going to look outward past China’s borders in my next installment to this series where I will discuss challenges and resulting breakdowns in China and its rule, as coming from their contacts with the outside world. And after discussing how this played out in the late Qing, I will at least briefly outline some of the relevant history leading from the abdication of the last Qing emperor: Puyi in 1912, up through Mao’s rule as China’s first communist god incarnate. And I will reconsider both of these influence-defining historical patterns for how they shape modern China and its leadership and for both the positive aspirational possibilities they bring and for the cautionary notes they bring too.

Then I will more directly discuss Xi Jinping and his legacy aspirations. In anticipation of that, and with the issues arising from my here-noted historical puzzle pieces in mind, I will among other details discuss three recent developments in China as they enter into Xi’s own emerging puzzle:

• Xi’s campaign against crime, and particularly against crime that has a significant politically challenging element to it at that,
• Xi’s Little Yellow Book and his collected thoughts: his counterpart to Mao’s Little Red Book, and
• China’s new cult building and reinforcing, indoctrination as online game app: Study the Great Nation.

I will also, of course discuss his inwardly facing China rebuilding ambitions and his foreign policy-oriented Belt and Road Initiative too.

Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, and at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and Social Networking and Business 2.

Rethinking national security in a post-2016 US presidential election context: conflict and cyber-conflict in an age of social media 15

This is my 15th 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 1-14.)

My goal for this installment is to reframe what I have been offering up to here in this series, and certainly in its most recent postings up to now. And I begin that by offering a very specific and historically validated point of observation (that I admit up-front will have a faulty assumption built into it, that I will raise and discuss later on in this posting):

• It can be easily and cogently argued that the single greatest mistake that the civilian and military leadership of a nation can make, when confronting and preparing for possible future challenge and conflict,
• Is to simply think along familiar lines with that leading to their acting according to what is already comfortable and known – thinking through and preparing to fight a next war as if it would only be a repeat of the last one that their nation faced
• And no matter how long ago that happened, and regardless of whatever geopolitical change and technological advancement might have taken place since then.
• Strategic and tactical doctrine and the logistics and other “behind the lines” support systems that would enable them, all come to be set as if in stone: and in stone that was created the last time around in the crucible of their last conflict. And this has been the basic, default pattern followed by most and throughout history.
• This extended cautionary note applies in a more conventional military context where anticipatory preparation for proactively addressing threats is attempted, and when reactive responses to those threats are found necessary too. But the points raised here are just as cogently relevant in a cyber-conflict context too, or in a mixed cyber plus conventional context (as Russia has so recently deployed in the Ukraine as its leadership has sought to restore something of its old Soviet era protective buffer zone around the motherland if nothing else.)
• History shows more leaders and more nations that in retrospect have been unprepared for what is to come, than it does those who were ready to more actively consider and prepare for emerging new threats and new challenges, and in new ways.
• Think of the above as representing in outline, a strategic doctrine that is based on what should be more of a widening of the range and scope of what is considered possible, and the range and scope of how new possibilities might have to be addressed, but that by its very nature cannot be up to that task.

To take that out of the abstract, consider a very real world example of how the challenges I have just discussed, arise and play out.

• World War I with its reliance on pre-mechanized tactics and strategies, with its mass frontal assault charges and its horse cavalry among other “trusted traditions,” and with its reliance on trench warfare to set and hold front lines and territory in all of that:
• Traditions that had led to horrific loss of life even in less technologically enabled previous wars such as the United States Civil War,
• Arguably led to millions of what should have been completely avoidable casualties as foot soldiers faced walls of machinegun fire and tanks, aircraft bombardment and aerial machinegun attack and even poison gas attacks as they sought to prevail through long-outmoded military practice.

And to stress a key point that I have been addressing here, I would argue that cyber attacks and both as standalone initiatives and as elements in more complex offensives, hold potential for causing massive harm and to all sides involved in them too. And proactively seeking to understand and prepare for what might come next there, can be just as important as comparable preparation is in a more conventional warfare-oriented context. Think World War I if nothing else there, as a cautionary note example of the possible consequences in a cyber-theatre of conflict, of making the mistakes outlined in the above bullet pointed preparation and response doctrine.

Looking back at this series as developed up to here, and through its more recent installments in particular, I freely admit that I have been offering what might be an appearance of taking a more reactive and hindsight-oriented perspective here. And the possibility of confusion there on the part of a reader begins in its Part 1 from the event-specific wording of its title, and with the apparent focus on a single now historical event that that conveys. But my actual overall intention here is in fact more forward thinking and proactively so, than retrospective and historical-narrative in nature.

That noted, I have taken an at least somewhat historical approach to what I have written in this series up to here and even as I have offered a few more general thoughts and considerations here too. But from this point on I will offer an explicitly dual narrative:

• My plan is to initially offer a “what has happened”, historically framed outline of at least a key set of factors and considerations that have led us to our current situation. That will largely follow the pattern that I have been pursuing here and certainly as I have discussed Russia as a source of working examples in all of this.
• Then I will offer a more open perspective that is grounded in that example but not constrained by it, for how we might better prepare for the new and disruptively novel and proactively so where possible, but with a better reactive response where that proves necessary too.

My goal in that will not be to second guess the decisions and actions of others, back in 2016 and leading up to it or from then until now as of this writing. And it is not to offer suggestions as to how to better prepare for a next 2016-style cyber-attack per se and certainly not as a repeat of an old conflict, somehow writ new. To clarify that with a specific in the news, current detail example, Russian operatives and others who were effectively operating under their control for this, hacked Facebook leading up to the 2016 US presidential and congressional elections, using armies of robo-Facebook members: artifactual platforms for posting false content, that were set up to appear as coming from real people and from real American citizens in particular. Facebook has supposedly tightened its systems to better identify and delete such fake, manipulative accounts and their online disinformation campaigns. And with that noted, I cite:

In Ukraine, Russia Tests a New Facebook Tactic in Election Tampering.

Yes, this new approach (as somewhat belatedly noted above) is an arms race advancement meant to circumvent the changes made at Facebook as they have attempted to limit or prevent how their platform can be used as a weaponized capability by Russia and others as part of concerted cyber attacks. No, I am not writing here of simply evolutionary next step work-arounds or similar more predictable advances in cyber-weapon capabilities of this type, when writing of the need to move beyond simply preparing for a next conflict as if it would just be a variation on the last one fought.

That noted, I add that yes, I do expect that the social media based disinformation campaigns will be repeated as an ongoing means of cyber-attack, and both in old and in new forms. But fundamentally new threats will be developed and deployed too that will not fit the patterns of anything that has come before. So my goal here is to take what might be learnable lessons from history: recent history and current events included, combined with a consideration of changes that have taken place in what can be done in advancing conflicts, and in trends in what is now emerging as new possibilities there, to at least briefly consider next possible conflicts and next possible contexts that they might have to play out in. My goal for this series as a whole is to discuss Proactive as a process and even as a strategic doctrine, and in a way that at least hopefully would positively contribute to the national security dialog and offer a measure of value moving forward in general.

With all of that noted as a reframing of my recent installments to this series at the very least, I turn back to its Part 14 and how I ended it, and with a goal of continuing its background history narrative as what might be considered to be a step one analysis.

I wrote in Part 13 and again in Part 14 of Russia’s past as a source of the fears and concerns, that drive and shape that nation’s basic approaches as to how it deals with other peoples and other nations. And I wrote in that, of how basic axiomatic assumptions that Russia and its peoples and government have derived from that history, shape their basic geopolitical policy and their military doctrine for now and moving forward too. Then at the end of Part 14 I said that I would continue its narrative here by discussing Vladimir Putin and his story. And I added that that is where I will of necessity also discuss the 45th president of the United States: Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia’s leadership in general and with Putin in particular. And in anticipation of this dual narrative to come, that will mean my discussing Russia’s cyber-attacks and the 2016 US presidential election, among other events. Then, as just promised here, I will step back to consider more general patterns and possible transferable insights.

Then I will turn to consider China and North Korea and their current cyber-policies and practices. And I will also discuss current and evolving cyber-policies and practices as they are taking shape in the United States as well, as shaped by its war on terror among other motivating considerations. I will use these case studies to flesh out the proactive paradigm that I would at least begin to outline here as a goal of this series. And I will use those real world examples at least in part to in effect reality check that paradigmatic approach too, as I preliminarily offer it here.

And with that, I turn back to the very start of this posting, and to the basic orienting text that I begin all of the installments to this series with. I have consistently begun these postings by citing “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. To point out an obvious example, I have made note of the internet of things 15 times now in this way, but I have yet to discuss it at all up to here in the lines of discussion that I have been offering. I do not even mention artificial intelligence-driven cyber-weaponization there in that first paragraph opening text, where that is in fact one of the largest and most complex sources of new threats that have ever been faced and at any time in history. And its very range and scope, and its rate of disruptively new development advancement will probably make it the single largest categorical source of weaponized threat that we will all face in this 21st century, and certainly as a source of weaponized capabilities that will be actively used. I will discuss these and related threat sources when considering the new and unexpected and as I elaborate on the above noted proactive doctrine that I offer here.

And as a final thought here, I turn back to my bullet pointed first take outline of that possible proactive doctrine, to identify and address the faulty assumption that I said I would build into it, and certainly as stated above. And I do so by adding one more bullet point to that initial list of them:

• I have just presented and discussed a failure to consider the New when preparing for possible future conflict, and its consequences. And I prefaced that advisory note by acknowledging that I would build a massive blind spot built into what I would offer there. I have written all of the above strictly in terms of nations and their leaders and decision makers. That might be valid in a more conventional military sense but it is not and cannot be considered so in anything like a cyber-conflict setting, and for either thinking about or dealing with aggressors, or thinking about and protecting, or remediating harm to victims. Yes, nations can and do develop, deploy and use cyber-weapon capabilities, and other nations can be and have been their intended targets. But this is an approach that smaller organizations and even just skilled and dedicated individuals can acquire, if not develop on their own. And it is a capability that can be used against targets of any scale of organization from individuals on up. That can mean attacks against specific journalists, or political enemies, or competing business executives or employees. It can mean attacks against organizations of any size or type, including nonprofits and political parties, small or large businesses and more. And on a larger than national scale, this can mean explicit attack against international alliances such as the European Union. Remember, Russian operatives have been credited with sewing disinformation in Great Britain leading up to its initial Brexit referendum vote, to try to break that country away from the European Union and at least partly disrupt it. And they have arguably succeeded there. (See for example, Brexit Goes Back to Square One as Parliament Rejects May’s Plan a Third Time.)

If I were to summarize and I add generalize this first draft, last (for now) bullet point addition to this draft doctrine, I would add:

• New and the disruptively new in particular, break automatically presumed, unconsidered “axiomatic truths,” rendering them invalid moving forward. This can mean New breaking and invalidating assumptions as to where threats might come from and where they might be directed, as touched upon here in this posting. But more importantly, this can mean the breaking and invalidating of assumptions that we hold to be so basic that we are fundamentally unaware of them in our planning – until they are proven to be wrong in an active attack and as a new but very real threat is realized in action. (Remember, as a conventional military historical example of that, how “everyone” knew that aircraft launched anti- ship torpedoes could not be effectively deployed and used in shallow waters as found in places such as Pearl Harbor – until, that is they were.)

And with that, I will offer a book recommendation that I will be citing in upcoming installments to this series, adding it here in anticipation of doing so for anyone interested:

• Kello, L. (2017) The Virtual Weapon and International Order. Yale University Press.

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.

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 15

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 9, 2019

This is my 15th installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-14.)

I began working my way through a briefly stated to-address topics list in Part 12 that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative, as I continue addressing its issues:

1. Reconsider the basic issues of communications and information sharing and their disintermediation in light of the trends and possibilities that I have been writing of in this series, and certainly since its Part 6 where I first started to more explicitly explore insider versus outside employee issues here. (See in particular, Part 12 and Part 13 for an initial orienting discussion of this set of issues.)
2. Begin that with a focus on the human to human communications and information sharing context (and address that complex of issues itself as a separate, emergent topic with the following Point 3 in mind as framing its context.)
3. And then build from that to at least attempt to anticipate a complex of issues that I see as inevitable challenges that we will all come to face as artificial agents develop into the gray area of capability that I made note of earlier in this series (n.b. in Part 11). More specifically, how can and should these agents be addressed and considered in an information communications and security context? In anticipation of that line of discussion to come, I will at least raise the possibility here, that businesses will find themselves compelled to confront the issues of personhood and of personal responsibility and liability for gray area artificial agents, and early in that societal debate. And the issues that I raise and discuss in this series will among other factors, serve as compelling bases for their having to address that complex of issues.

I began addressing Points 2 and 3 of this list, and Point 2 in particular of it in Part 14, with a primary focus on human-to-human communications barriers and restrictions. More specifically, I noted there how these challenges can and do arise in the midst of what in principle could be a freer exchanges of ideas and the basic factual information that would support them. And I wrote there of how this type of friction can skew the intent and the possibilities implicit in Point 2 as here stated, when that topic point can be taken as representing an achievable goal through systems and processes improvements. (Note: in a more strictly business context, I collectively refer to communications limitations and information development and sharing challenges and their consequences as business systems friction, offering that as a more micro-scale counterpart to the macro-scale phenomenon of economic friction.)

• Implicit in my Part 14 narrative was the possibility that if humans can behave in ways towards other humans that are limiting and controlling over their having a voice, and even when that would be essential if they are to represent their own causes and needs,
• And if they can seek to dominate those others and control them in this way,
• It has to be assumed that occurrence of this basic approach will be at least as likely when artificial general intelligence agents enter this narrative too. What recognized autonomy and what voice, and what basic rights will they have, unless specifically and explicitly discussed, defined and championed for?

Then I ended Part 14 by stating that I would continue its line of discussion here by considering a more functional approach for at least thinking about this set of challenges, that might serve as a basis for addressing it in action. And to put a specific case in point focus to that, I proposed fleshing it out by way of example by pursuing a more strictly business systems and business communications context for the issues I have raised here. And I will do so, considering how communications and information sharing can be improved and for all. I added that I would more fully explore this set of issues in its Point 2 human-to-human context, noting in anticipation of a fuller Point 3 discussion to come too, that:

• It is never going to be possible to achieve a freer or more open and enabling reality when dealing with and accommodating the needs of true artificial general intelligence agents, than we can achieve and maintain when dealing with other human people. (Here think of gray area agents as discussed in Part 11 and as noted again above, as being akin to special needs people for both their capabilities and their limitations. And I posit this point of perspective, in this manner to orient all that will follow here as being predicated on an assumption of intrinsic personhood for any genuinely intelligent beings – or any arguably gray area, general intelligences: human or artificial. No, this perspective is not offered to challenge humans for their personhood if they are cognitively challenged; it is offered here strictly to more widely include, and with a presumption of personhood taken as a safe default if there is any gray area doubt.)
• And I added as a point of warning that any limiting (stultifying) restrictions that we impose in this in a humans acting upon other humans context, will most likely come back to haunt us with time, and certainly when and as artificial general intelligence agents arise and begin to work out how best for them to deal with human intelligences and our needs.

So I will continue and complete my discussion of the Point 2, human-to-human context side to this complex of issues. Then I will address Point 3, as noted above. And I will focus for the most part on a more business-specific context for both the Point 2 and the Point 3 side of this as a source of clarifying and discussion-expanding examples.

I begin discussing this loosely organized to-address list of issues and topics by noting that while I cited psychopharmaceuticals and other overtly interventive mechanisms and their use/misuse in Part 14, “softer” forms of manipulation that might seek to control the dialog by controlling access to information and opportunity to share it, can be more acutely challenging here. Psychopharmaceutical and other overtly interventive mechanisms can be and are used to manage overt mental illness and they can also be and are used for political and other more manipulative purposes too, and certainly on a more individual basis. The now former Soviet Union employed this approach as a means of controlling dissidents, and on a regular basis, to cite one possible example of that. But overall control of the availability and quality of publically visible information can effectively control entire societies. And it can do this in a way that is difficult to even see, because information of the What and Where and How of this type of society level manipulation can be among the most tightly controlled information of all in such a system. (I find myself thinking of the People’s Republic of China’s Great Firewall – their Golden Shield Project as I write this. And I find myself thinking of how so many small town communities in the United States have single sources of news, with just one news network: Fox, the only one available, and with just one equally ideologically skewed newspaper, if any available too. Unfortunately, the world of today is replete with possible matching examples of this, and for both of the basic forms I have touched upon here too: individually directed and more-societally controlling.)

It may be seemingly impossible to address this overall challenge on a larger societal scale, but I take it as an axiomatic truth (or perhaps as a matter of faith if you will), that smaller organizations that are bound together by at least some measure of shared purpose can do better. And that leads me to what might be one of the key questions for this series as a whole and for large parts of this blog as a whole too, that I could raise now:

• How can we make human-to-human communications and information sharing as open and inclusive as possible while still allowing for information security when that is genuinely required, in order to limit risk and harm to those that that information might concern?
• More particularly, and certainly in this context of this narrative, how can these communications and information sharing processes be opened up to become as fully inclusive as possible when such information sensitivity and the risk that particular information might carry with it, is not an issue?

I offer a perspective here in response to that Point 2-oriented question that will in fact form a significant part of the foundation for how I would address Point 3 and its artificial general intelligence issues too:

• The inclusively democratic principle of presumed value and significance of all people, and with an openness to accepting different from the realization of that, that humans and human societies can and too often do find difficult to achieve. And in a business context, this is where an affirming and supportive corporate culture enters this narrative.

I am going to continue this discussion from that opening point in a next installment, and will proceed from that and the Point 2 issues that I have been reframing and expanding upon here, to consider Point 3 extensions of them. 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 also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

It’s not just who you network connect with, it’s how you network with them

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on May 7, 2019

I initially offered a brief, four installment series on the basic principles of effective online professionally oriented social networking in this blog in early 2010, soon after starting to write to it at all (see Jumpstart Your Networking, as can be found at the top of Social Networking and Business. And I know that at least some of my readers still at least occasionally turn to that for ideas on how to more effectively strategically network. But I decided to add at least one more piece to that initial discussion here and now, on top of that series itself, and related material that I have also posted on this general topic. Think of this posting as an updating addendum to that series and to the rest of the brief orienting text that I also offer at the top of that posting directory page, and to other series that I have already added here and through several of its directory listings since then.

• Why would I do this now, and certainly when I have been at least periodically addressing this same complex of issues over a span of just over nine years now?
• My answer to that is simple; I see how both businesses and individuals who would want to work with them, post online and certainly where that means online social media participation. And I see how many of the people involved in this, approach these resources for purposes of social networking and marketing and both when representing hiring businesses and when reaching out to connect as potential new hires for them, but doing so through sites such as Facebook.

I do not generally begin a posting here with an explanation as to why I would write it. I am much more likely to begin with an orienting note as to how a new posting fits into the larger context of what I have been developing up to there as an overall ongoing narrative. But I offer here, what might be considered something of an apologia pro vita sua for this posting, as an intentional exception to that day-to-day practice, ongoing momentum-based rule. And I add that I probably need to offer this type of posting here and now precisely because of some of my earlier writings on how I use and recommend using online social media sites for background research and planning purposes.

I begin this brief note with my bottom line conclusion:

• The ultimate function of online social networking, and certainly as it is carried out with an awareness of our work lives and as a tool for advancing them, is to connect with and developing active relationships with the people who we need to know if we are to enhance our chances of success.

This is a two way street; people who offer value to others too, are more likely to gain the types and levels of success from their networking that I write of here. People who take and only take and who gain reputations for that type of behavior in the networking communities that they would gain from, pay a price and certainly longer-term for doing so.

My Jumpstarting series as cited above is all about best practices for reaching out and connecting. When I write in this blog of key networking participants and the value that can be gained from actively engaging with centrally active and involved networkers in reaching those right people, I have simply expanded upon that message (see for example: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy.) And then I see the flow of what can perhaps best be considered anti-professional content on sites like Facebook, as showing on the pages of people who I know are looking for jobs and career advancement opportunities and I have to wonder what they are thinking.

To repeat a point of detail that I offered above in passing, I just said that I am writing this note here and now at least in part in response to some of the online social networking-related content that I have added here since writing my initial Jumpstarting series. I summarize and repeat some of that here when I note that sites such as LinkedIn can be incredibly useful tools for gaining knowledge and insight, about specific businesses of interest that other LinkedIn members work for now, or have worked for. And that definitely includes opportunity to learn very significant facts about the key people at those businesses that you would at least potentially find yourself dealing with, with that including your possibly working there too. See my series: Using Social Media as Crucial Business Analysis Resources as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 507 and loosely following for its Parts 1-7, and Using Social Media as Job Search and Career Development Business Analysis Resources as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 as its postings 397-415.

You have to assume that any hiring manager who you might meet with in an interview, has already checked you out online for what you post there and for how you present yourself, and that someone from their Human Resources department or service has already prescreened you and other candidates for possible red flag warning issues there too. If you come across as being unprofessional or as being at least potentially unreliable for how you would represent a business as an employee there, you start out in any attempt to gain a new job with a business with strikes against you. And yet so many people present themselves online, in ways that would limit if not stymie their chances for career advancement as they seek next and hopefully better work opportunities and jobs.

I am not saying here that party oriented online postings can and will prevent you’re getting a next job. What I am saying is that postings that present you as being unprofessional and that raise questions about your judgment can limit the types of jobs that you would be a stronger candidate for. So if you have longer-term goals that would take you up a table of organization to more senior management and leadership positions, or if you have political aspirations or other goals where your online history could prove important, those photos of your heavy drinking at that wild party with your friends might not help. That of course, only notes one of many possible career challenging scenarios that can and do visibly, publically appear on Facebook and every single day.

• I will be blunt here: Facebook and similar online social media pages, all too often present themselves as jobs and careers poison, for what they can and do convey that can come back to haunt you.

And that certainly holds true if you have jobs and careers, goals and expectations that would call for a strong and solid professional image on your part if you are to realize them. And looking to Facebook as a particular example of the problematical here, this is not just about what you yourself post online. It is also about the stuff that people who have “friended” you there, post too, that would show on and through your page on that site too. And unfortunately, this at least potentially applies to what your friends and associates post on that site too, that contains information (e.g. photos, etc) with you in it and even if you are not actively on the site yourself.

So no, you cannot stop the possibility of less than positive content going online through social media about you. And that is going to become an even more pressing matter as automated, artificial intelligence based facial recognition becomes even more common and prevalent in use than it already is now, with the identities of essentially everyone shown online becoming visible. But you can chose to actively avoid adding to this, and certainly where that means not posting to sites that by their very nature create longer-term jobs and careers risks. (And you can actively seek to avoid getting yourself into situations in public, and in front of other peoples’ smart phones that you would not want your mother, or your boss to see. But that is another matter.)

I am going to conclude this note with that final point, simply adding that I am certain to return to this basic topic area again. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1. And you can find still more related to this in several other posting directories on this blog as well.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 29 – the jobs and careers context 28

This is my 29th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-28.)

This is also my fifth consecutive posting to this series to specifically deal with issues that can arise at essentially any point during a professional’s tenure while working with some specific employer. And several of the basic topic points raised here are in fact most likely to arise for people well after their initial new hire onboarding and their initial probationary period there, and after they have largely settled into a job there. For smother continuity of narrative, I repeat this topics list as a whole as I continue addressing it, here focusing on its Point 4:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there (see Part 25 and Part 26),
2. Salary and overall compensation changes (see Part 27),
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your more personally individualized goals there (see Part 28),
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people,
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

The above repeated Point 4 is one of the two shortest ones offered in this list by word count, and even if it were to be expanded out to include the possibility of demotions too. And it is also the most emotionally loaded and the least analytically thought through of all of them as well, and certainly for many people. We all tend to get caught up in the emotional baggage that understandably surrounds the key words involved there, and particularly when words like demotion are involved. So I begin addressing this topics point by stepping back from it as a whole and considering those two (and now three) key words in it for what they do and do not actually mean, and certainly in a practical real-world context: promotions and lateral moves … and demotions as well.

Let’s start this line of discussion by considering that third, newly added word: demotions. And I do so by posing a somewhat stilted appearing workplace scenario that I have in fact seen play out exactly as I will present it here, phrasing what follows in the second person in an attempt to prompt you the reader to think this through as if you were facing this situation yourself:

• You like your job a lot and you and your family really like the community that you live in, and the fact that your workplace is a short commute from your home, and from your children’s school and from where your spouse works too. All of the key places that you and the members of your immediate family would routinely go to in the course of your day-to-day lives are in fact close by to each other. And you and your spouse and children have friends there and have made this community yours.
• Now suddenly your direct boss at work: your immediate supervisor there, is starting to talk about you’re taking an at least temporary position with this company at a much more distantly located facility. And this new position with the company is being offered without any end point or overall duration included or even mentioned. You have always gotten very high performance scores in your annual reviews. You have always gotten along very well with your colleagues at work and with business clients and others who you have had to deal with there. But suddenly your boss is coming across as pressuring you into making this move – and on the face of it, this is not going to be a promotion per se insofar as it would not give you either a higher level job title, or higher level compensation aside from financial support in the relocation that this would call for and related temporary allowances.
• As just noted, you have liked this job, and the people who you have worked with there seem to like and appreciate, and value you too. So is this a lateral move? Is this a demotion, insofar as agreeing to it would mean you’re losing a lot of the sources of value that you personally see as significant that you have in your constraints box, as discussed in Part 28 and its cited references and as touched upon in the third bullet point here?

An initial and perhaps immediate gut reaction response to this, and particularly as I have proposed it as being offered to you, would be to see this as more of a demotion than anything else. But let me add in one more bullet point to this scenario to at least add context to what I have just related about this proffered job change:

• Your immediate boss there: your direct supervisor at this business does in fact value having you on their team, and very much so. And they are not entirely happy with this turn of events. But their own immediate supervisor: the C level officer in this business who runs the functional area that you both work in, makes a habit of reviewing the performance reviews of the people who their direct reportees supervise: your supervisor included there. They do this as a means of better understanding how these lower level managers who they supervise manage so they can more fully know how effectively they carry out those types of responsibilities. And incidentally, your supervisor’s supervisor also uses this as an opportunity to search out and identify people in their overall department who show real potential and who might be good candidates for career advancement there – with proper professional grooming and training. And one more detail: while this practice is not always followed, it is not uncommon in this business to explicitly give possible candidates for this type of promotion, wider experience in the business as a whole so they can have wider ranging hand-on experience there and better understand how everything there works and fits together.

So is this a lateral move and a perhaps somewhat unfavorable one, or is it a demotion? Or is this a stepping stone career change that if it works out would lead in all probability to a real and very definitive next step promotion? If the last of these possibilities holds real likelihood, and this move succeeds with you’re getting really positive reviews from your supervisor in place at this temporary assignment and from anyone else there who might be turned to for more wide-ranging 360 degree input, then you will find yourself negotiating terms in a promotions and advancement context. And in all likelihood, given the circumstances outlined here, that would mean you’re meeting with and negotiating with people who have already bought into your succeeding and who want to see that happen, and under circumstances where you would be in a stronger position than any outside candidate would be, and certainly for arguing the case for your being offered accommodations for any constraints box requirements from your time at this business up to here, that still hold significant value to you. Or the new possibilities that this type of promotion might open up for you and your family, might mean your arriving at a new and reprioritized constraints box list that would actively support your making new types of changes and even happily so –where that might even include you’re agreeing to a longer term workplace relocation.

• Job changes of the types that I address here, whether promotions, lateral moves, or even demotions can all arise in a business as a means to keeping good people onboard. And yes, that can include demotions and pay cuts and certainly when a business and its owners find themselves forced to take those types of steps during a lean period if they are to survive it. So these events can be and often are complex and certainly for how and why they come up as issues and for how they are carried out.
• And just as importantly, they are often and even usually looked at as here-and-now jobs level events by the people caught up in them. But they are always career level events and they should be thought through in those terms, and at least as carefully as they are for their here-and-now, jobs-of-the-moment impact.

The basic point that I raise here of taking a longer career perspective and certainly when facing impactful change, in fact informs everything that I have offered in this series up to here. And it will continue to inform all that follows in this series too. We work at specific here-and-now jobs but we have to continually keep that and them in perspective too: in a wider and longer-term career-level perspective too.

I am going to offer some further thoughts on Point 5 and its issues in a next series installment, and add in anticipation of that, that this is a place where Plan B considerations of necessity have to enter this overall narrative. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century 16: some thoughts concerning how Xi and Trump approach and seek to create lasting legacies to themselves 4

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 28, 2019

This is my 16th installment in a progression of comparative postings about Donald Trump’s and Xi Jinping’s approaches to leadership per se. And it is my 10th installment in that on Trump and his rise to power in the United States, and on Xi and his in China, as they have both turned to authoritarian approaches and tools in their efforts to succeed there. I began this line of discussion with three postings on cults of personality. And I continued from there to more fully address an approach to leadership that holds such cult building as one of its most important tools, in what I refer to as the authoritarian playbook. Then I began to put all of this into a larger and longer-term historical perspective by turning to consider legacies in this type of authoritarian system. See Social Networking and Business 2, postings 367 and loosely following (there labeled with accompanying tagging text that identifies these postings for their more Trump-related significance. I also offer links to them with corresponding China and Xi-oriented tagline text attached at Macroeconomics and Business 2.)

I have focused more recently on Donald Trump and his approach to both authoritarianism and to legacy building. And I have discussed Xi Jinping and his approach to all of this, in those installments from a more comparative perspective. Then I laid a foundation for more explicitly discussing Xi and his story at the end of the immediately preceding installment to this one in this narrative progression: Some Thoughts Concerning How Xi and Trump Approach and Seek to Create Lasting Legacies to Themselves 3.

I began that anticipatory note by identifying two very powerful but conflicting sources of influence that I would argue have both significantly shaped what Xi does in his here-and-now, who he seeks to be and become, and what he seeks to accomplish longer-term as his lasting legacy. And both of those sources of influence very clearly serve to shape his vision and understanding of how he will be remembered, at least insofar as he succeeds in his authoritarian ambitions and in his authoritarian legacy building objectives. Both can be seen as playing significant and even defining roles as Xi seeks to both develop and realize his more personalized understanding of his overarching China Dream: the defining core of his more publically stated Zhōngguó Mèng (中国梦.)

• One of those sources of ambition-defining influence can be found in the myth and history of China’s last hereditary dynasty: the Qing Dynasty, and particularly as it achieved what is now thought of as its Golden Age under the rule of the Kangxi Emperor who ruled from 1661-1722, and the Qianlong Emperor who ruled from 1735-1795 and who remained in power as a de facto “emeritus emperor” after officially stepping down from the throne and until his death in 1799. (The Yongzheng Emperor: the third Qing emperor to rule over what was seen as China as a whole, who served during the interregnum between his father and his son: the Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors, primarily sought to achieve effective government as a continuation of what his father had built, and as a legacy that his son who would follow him on the Dragon Throne would inherit.)
• And the other seminal source of influence on Xi and his thought and action that I would cite here can be found in the imperial, and even seeming god incarnate rule of Mao Zedong, as he founded his at least proclaimed proletarian empire under his Communist Party rule, and more importantly, under his own personal direct all powerful rule.

And I proceeded from there to divide my discussion of Xi and his ambitions into three admittedly tightly interconnected aspects: three faces of his Zhōngguó Mèng as he would make it his, and China’s, and the world’s reality:

• Xi’s effort to reshape China through massive infrastructure changes within the country,
• His effort to reach out to the world, using infrastructure development among other political tools to make his China a globally recognized superpower,
• And his effort to reshape China’s culture and its societal perspective, and with a cult of personality that is built around his story and that is of his creation, serving as a defining linchpin that all of this ongoing New would be built from.

My goal for this posting is to begin preparing for a more detailed analysis of these three pieces of Xi’s Zhōngguó Mèng: his China Dream, by more fully outlining and discussing those two defining sources of influence that he has acted and reacted in terms of: his perhaps more idealized understanding of the Golden Age of the Great Qing and his equally idealized, or at least stereotypically reshaped understanding of Mao as he served as god emperor of China in his day. And I begin with the Great Qing and by pointing out one of its defining details. The Qing was a dynasty of outsider rulers, of Manchu descent. And they brought new ways and new ways of thinking to China as a whole. Cutting ahead of myself here for a moment, I would note that the Communism that Mao Zedong claimed as the supportive justification of his rule, was even more outsider in its origin, coming initially from Karl Marx, a German European who lived for many years in Great Britain and who developed much of the theory behind Communism there. But the basic narratives that I would build from here, in at least briefly discussing those sources of influence diverge from that seeming point of similarity and on many if not most of the key points that I would raise here. And those points of contrast will prove significant.

• The Golden Age of the Qing marked a point in history in which China held as large and diverse an overall territory as it ever has with that including all of what is the China of today, along with all of what is now the independent nation of Outer Mongolia, areas of Manchuria that are now part of Russia and more.
• And while this was a nation ruled by imperial decree from the Dragon Throne, it was also very much a nation of law, with that firmly based and certainly for day-to-day decisions and actions upon the Great Qing Legal Code. This was based in large part on the legal code of the Ming Dynasty as it was held to at its peak of power and authority, but it was greatly expanded in scope and it was far more evenly and uniformly resorted to in developing what for most circumstances was more a rule of law than of man.
• And crucially importantly here, and certainly as a point of contrast to what would come under Mao’s rule, the China of this Golden Age was outwardly facing and outwardly engaged. This was a period in China’s history when that nation held wider ranging and more impactful hegemony over what we now think of as the South China Sea and the East China Sea and their nations and peoples than it ever has since then, and with the Dragon Throne and China’s governance effectively holding sway over most of South East Asia as a whole, as a part of that too.
• The China of this age traded globally, and held the strongest voice and the surest power in all of Asia for that, effectively leading all such Asian contact and commerce with the West.
• And the China of this age was a leader in innovation and in the development of new ways of thinking and with an allowance for diversity that would actively support and enable that.

Am I simplifying a more complex reality there? Yes, but that image is important as it maps out a great deal of what makes people look back upon this phase of dynastic rule in China as a true golden age. And here, perception is in fact more important and impactful than the messier details of the reality that this image seeks to encompass. Perception of the past as an idealized starting point, drives and even significantly creates our current reality here.

To take that point out of the abstract with a specific example of how it is currently playing out, the China of today: the China of Xi Jinping, claims direct historically justified ownership of the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands and beyond, extending all the way to the Philippines and their Scarborough Shoal. And his government’s claims there are based in very large part on China’s historical territorial holdings and claims, as can be found in early texts and on old and even ancient maps. And some of their most compelling claims there, at least from their perspective, date from the Great Qing and its Golden Age when China in effect owned much of that entire region and actively so. Yes, Xi’s China offers a much longer historical record as justification for many of their current territorial claims, going back to what are now presented as initial island discoveries that trace back as far as their Han Dynasty (of 206 BCE to 220 AD). But these islands were actually held as parts of China by the great emperors of the Qing Dynasty, and their more recent documents are more geographically precise and accurate, and their claims are more forcefully argued because of that. See Territorial disputes in the South China Sea and in the area of the Scarborough Shoal for more detailed if still selective accounts of islands, and atolls and coral reefs that have been built up to become islands, that Xi now claims Chinese ownership of, based on those historical records.

So the Qing Dynasty of the Kangxi Emperor and his grandson the Qianlong Emperor, and of the interregnum ruler of China who governed between them: the Yongzheng Emperor, serves as an expansive and outreaching role model for Xi, and one that validates all of his globally reaching ambitions. In a fundamental sense Xi seeks to be such an imperial ruler and the father of such a golden age: a new golden age that would realize the farthest reaches of earlier Chinese imperial ambition and more.

And what of Mao and the second defining source of influence that Xi labors under that I would write of here? I at least begin to turn to that here, with that earlier and with-time more idealized golden age image in mind. But more importantly, I begin discussing Mao’s influence creating legacy to Xi here by addressing the size of China and perhaps more importantly, its overall stability and hold on the territory that it could still claim, in the decades leading up to Mao and the years that he lived through. This will of course mean my discussing World War II and China’s experience of it, as a territorially ambitious Japan laid claim to much of their land and all of their resources and at the cost of millions of Chinese lives. That narrative lies at the heart of Mao’s personal mythos as he rose to power in the face of adversity and as a leader in rebellion against it. But I will set the stage for that so carefully developed a legacy story, starting in the same Qing dynasty that I have written of here in this posting – but as that once great dynasty began to grow tired and unravel. I will begin that line of discussion with China as it was in the 1830’s and leading up to the abdication of China’s last hereditary emperor: Puyi in 1912. And in the course of that I will at least briefly touch upon such searing events as the Opium Wars, as forced upon China and its government and peoples by foreigners. And I will write of the often chaos of China’s post-dynastic years leading up to World War II and the conflicts that Mao himself rose to power through. All of that shaped Mao and who he was, and it made him the type and source of influence that he in turn has become.

Mao Zedong was shaped into the man he became, and into the ruler of China who he was and who he is seen to have been, by a very different historical dynamic than would be found in the Qing Golden Age. And the points of difference between those two sources of defining influence make Mao’s story and his role model example a very different one from that of the Great Qing, setting up a second half to the conflicting dynamics that have made Xi Jinping who he is, as he seeks to find and pursue a best of both historically shaped worlds.

I will continue this posting’s narrative in a next series installment, as briefly outlined here and with a primary focus on Mao and his story, and on the history that more directly shaped that. Meanwhile, you can find my Trump-related postings at Social Networking and Business 2. And you can find my China writings as appear in this blog at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, and at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and Social Networking and Business 2.

Finding virtue in simplicity when complexity becomes problematical, and vice versa 16

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 21, 2019

This is my 16th installment to a series on simplicity and complexity in business communications, and on carrying out and evaluating the results of business processes, tasks and projects (see Social Networking and Business 2), postings 257 and loosely following for Parts 1-15.)

I have been discussing regulatory law, and the implementation rules and guidelines that would be developed from it in order to convert its more general principles into detailed day-to-day enforcement-level practice, in Part 14 and Part 15 of this. And I wrote Part 15 with a goal of at least preliminarily presenting and outlining a side to that story that can become a source of decision making and follow-through conflict for businesses and for collaborative partnerships of them (e.g. supply chains, etc) that have to effectively meet those regulatory requirements while still remaining as competitively effective as possible, and as flexibly and adaptively so as they seek to navigate change and its uncertainties.

• On the one hand, most any business, and certainly any that functions in a highly competitive environment, would seek to pursue business processes that are as lean and effective as possible so they can make the most effective use of the resources that they have available. And as a key part of this, they would seek to develop and use simple and direct communications channels and communications protocols, and with opportunity in place for people who need to directly communicate with each other to do so; they would in fact seek such direct and automatic communications between stakeholders on any given issue that a term such as “communications protocols” would never even cross their minds, leaving the de facto communications rules and processes in place for them and actually followed more ad hoc in nature than explicitly thought through and planned – at least unless and until problems arise from their following that approach.
• But on the other hand, those same businesses would see a correspondingly significant level of need to develop and pursue in-house communications and information sharing practices, and certainly where sensitive or confidential information might be involved, that would in-house implement all of the restrictions and all of the allowances for action that are codified in the regulatory laws in place and in their implementation rules.
• Think of this as an intentional attempt to balance agility and freedom of action against outside regulatory constraints on that, and think of this as an outside-imposed and an outside parametrically defined risk management balancing act on the part of these businesses too.

This simplistically stated dichotomy and comment point only takes on value, or even just the possibility of raising a measure of interest in a reader, when you consider at least something of the details that would go into shaping it and fleshing it out on a practical day-to-day level. And it is my primary goal for this posting to offer an at least opening step outline of some of those details, at least generically stated as would be applicable across a range of business model types.

I begin that discussion by drawing a distinction between accurately, consistently meeting the business process guidelines and regulatory rules in place, and effectively, clearly, consistently documenting that this is being done so as to meet the requirements of any likely compliance audit. And to take that out of the abstract, I propose two specific instances of how a business might, and in most cases would seek to meet this challenge: one on the implementation side and one arguably drawn from the documentation side:

• Setting up a regulatory law compliant office for managing and documenting information security access and use that is organized and operated in accordance with any and all pertinent law in place, and with court rulings if any that might have added new layers of enforceable interpretation onto that framework.
• And a largely automated rules-based system that would both serve as an access recording system for tracking the flow of sensitive information, and as a gatekeeper for matching access authorization with the security requirements status of specific data types requested access too.

The first point that I would make here would be to note that both of these points might arguably fit, and entirely so into the legally mandated implementation side of the bipartite distinction that I have just proposed here. But I offer the rules-based tracking and monitoring second bullet point example here, as an example of how a business can self-protectively address outside regulatory requirements by meeting and even exceeding the documentation component of their more operational-level rules, as a risk management and a potential liability minimizing exercise.

That said, this type of compliance plus risk management cushion effort can be expected to add in intermediating gatekeeper layers to any communications flows that are allowed, while challenging any possible novel sharing or use of information that might be restricted in this type of system. And it would be expected to add in delays too.

How and where can a business more effectively balance the trade-offs of the dichotomy of conflicting needs and pressures that I offered above, where a business would simultaneously seek to keep everything simple and direct, while at the same time protectively adding in complications to that too? Ultimately, any real answer to that is going to have to be built into, or added into the basic business model in place and certainly insofar as it seeks to translate a business’ mission and vision into action.

This series as a whole is all about finding and achieving a balance between simplicity and the direct, and complexity and the more intentionally managed and indirect, and both from an overall competitive excellence perspective in the face of change and its challenges, and from a risk management perspective where both internally sourced and externally imposed factors can intervene there. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will step back to reconsider the issues that I have been raising here, from a broader more overall strategic perspective, where I have been primarily focusing on a more operational level of consideration for this, up to here. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its Page 2 continuation. And also see my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, for its more generally applicable discussion of focused message best practices per se. I initially offered that with a specific case in point jobs and careers focus, but the approaches raised and discussed there are more generally applicable. You can find that series at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, as its postings 342-358.

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