Archive for July, 2010

Adios, Civil liberties

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

This  phenomenon must inevitably lead to the further erosion of our civil liberties. The consequences of planned violent action for political effect, aiming at nothing more than chaos as a precondition for civil disorder, goes far beyond anything the founders ever conceived. The window of opportunity for democracy to have flourished is past I believe. We are far beyond the republic and well in to Empire

And while we are at it, this won’t end well either. And to think we have the amateurs at the helm is very disturbing. If they knee jerk something as trivial as the Sherrod incident, how will they thoughtfully respond to a nuclear threatening NK?

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Can the next Obama Beer Summit be far off?

July 21, 2010 1 comment

As I review the administration’s knee-jerk response to the Sherrod incident, I couldnt help but think that we are about due for another beer summit to make everything nice between the NAACP, USDA, and the Tea Party and the Black Panthers and the Governor of Arizona, and the CEO of BP, and the Gov of Louisiana…and

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Reflections on strategic leadership

July 19, 2010 14 comments

Free trade areas are a difficult subject. It i...
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This weekend I really enjoyed a podcast from a current strategic leadership text on the subject of emerging trends in global strategic leadership. Here are the slides: CurrentTrendsInStrategicManagement

I compared the discussion in slide 2 “new realities in the 21st century” to the military’s formal description of the “Operational Environment” which we use to frame all of our inquiries into requirements for a new warfighting concept, which in turn drives our analysis and assessment of a need for new doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities (which we have artfully named DOTMLPF)

This analytical framework I think is actually “pre-analytical”. It takes the form of an assertion which largely goes unchallenged or, more precisely, unverified. We take it as given with limited real discussion. This is important because it shapes all future discourse, because it creates a framework for understanding the world. When previous iterations of this framing cast the world in terms of digital technology and a belief in the power if information to define and contain the world, we pursued strategies that took these assertions as given, and we launched initiatives that valued technological solutions, and de-valued (therefore under-resourced) things like human intelligence, social networks, and war among the people. Much of our military difficulties of the last 10 years can be traced back to this decision on initial framing.

I say this simply to say that what we take as given becomes increasingly important in the way we choose and then evaluate our strategies. It is normal to decide that deviations from the plan are someone’s fault or a problem with execution, rather than a problem with the initial framing. This is why I find Dr Boje’s use of critical storytelling in narrative inquiry to be so rich with possibilities for understanding and/or appreciating our world.

Back to the comparison of the text to the military Operational Environment (OE). The OE description is the military way of approaching an integration of the elements of national power, which we describe as  DIME (diplomacy, information, military, economics).  We think of strategy as a way to understand and then integrate these sources of power in support of the national interest, which is essentially and ultimately a political decision.

I found that everything in Slide 2 was contained within the OE. What I find in the OE that’s not reflected in slide 2, includes these important pressures, and conditions:

  • The importance and reality of AIDS
  • The rising importance of Africa as sn engagement area for regional and global economic powers
  • The increasingly growing importance of commodities as economic leverage points
  • The growth in number, size, and influence of non-state, and quasi-state actors
  • WMDs and terrorism
  • Issues associated with immigration, free and partially free-trade
  • Human rights as a public relations
  • Nations developing their own competitive advantages
  • The increasing importance of sovereign wealth funds
  • Currencies as weapons and leverage points in increasingly tactical time
  • Reduction of slack in interconnected digital financial markets
  • The use of political events to achieve economic advantage
  • Financialization of the  US economy
  • Debt bombs in the G20
  • Combination positioning of Russia as simultaneously 1st and 3d world country
  • National autonomy in an era of Islamic emigration (Sharia law)
  • Evolution of mature counties to entitlement societies
  • Increasing urbanization of the world

Some recent readings that I found pertinent to this presentation include Nicholas Taleb’s discussion of the Fourth Quadrant (available upon request) which discusses the region where conventional statistical and probabilistic reasoning breakdown and become harmful. I also found Clay Shirky’s discussion of societies that have evolved a degree of complexity that cannot be rolled back to simpler times. Reminds me of the problem of growing a business too fast, to the point where it cannot “un-scale” effectively in a world of increasingly volatile conditions. I have been thinking of this as a need for a strategy of modular scalability

Finally, I like the idea of leadership and visioning as an offer to “subscribe” to a potential future, which can provisionally attract capital, loyalty, customers in waves with degrees of commitment and confidence. Apple seems to be built on this model; we’ll see how important “Antenna-gate” is to their core constituency, and the degree to which Apple is a cult of personality vs a robust business model

Overall I really liked the podcast and think it gets a lot of things right in the speculations about the importance and consequences of the rise of complexity and uncertainty

Obama thinks we are “out” of the mess, thanks to his policies

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

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If there were ever a case of not knowing where you are or what’s going on around you:

[Obama]….But he also says the midterm congressional elections could come down to “a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and my policies that got us out of this mess.

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Bob Probert remembered

July 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Weyburn Red Wings logo
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Mickey Redmond, as always, hits exactly the right note in remembering Bob Probert (#24):

“He came to play hard every night, he was blue-collar and he came to embody the spirit of the city of Detroit,” longtime Red Wings broadcaster Mickey Redmond said. “I think that’s why the people forgave him for every little downfall he had. They realized nobody’s perfect. They loved the way he played the game.

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1.8T in cash on the sidelines in corporate coffers

July 6, 2010 2 comments

Why is this a jobless recovery? a recovery?!  ha!

Still, Fareed Zakaria offers some damning insights. This really shouldn’t take you by surprise

One CEO told me, “Almost every agency we deal with has announced some expansion of its authority, which naturally makes me concerned about what’s in store for us for the future.” Another pointed out that between the health-care bill, financial reform and possibly cap-and-trade, his company had lawyers working day and night to figure out the implications of all these new regulations. Lobbyists have been delighted by all this activity. “[Obama] exaggerates our power, but he increases demand for our services,” superlobbyist Tony Podesta told the New York Times.

Most of the business leaders I spoke to had voted for Barack Obama. They still admire him. Those who had met him thought he was unusually smart. But all think he is, at his core, anti-business. When I asked for specifics, they pointed to the fact that Obama has no business executives in his Cabinet, that he rarely consults with CEOs (except for photo ops), that he has almost no private-sector experience, that he’s made clear he thinks government and nonprofit work are superior to the private sector. It all added up to a profound sense of distrust.

Obama: killer of jobs

July 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Here are two perspectives:

Obama’s record on job creation:

The current occupant of the White House claims to know how to create jobs. He claims jobs have been created. But so far the score is Great Obama Depression 2.2 million lost jobs, Obama 0 — a blowout.

The always perceptive Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on the feeling of 1932 all over again:

“Home sales are down. Retail sales are down. Factory orders in May suffered their biggest tumble since March of last year. So what are we doing about it? Less than nothing,” he said.

California is tightening faster than Greece. State workers have seen a 14pc fall in earnings this year due to forced furloughs. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is cutting pay for 200,000 state workers to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to cover his $19bn (£15bn) deficit.

Can Illinois be far behind? The state has a deficit of $12bn and is $5bn in arrears to schools, nursing homes, child care centres, and prisons. “It is getting worse every single day,” said state comptroller Daniel Hynes. “We are not paying bills for absolutely essential services. That is obscene.”

Roughly a million Americans have dropped out of the jobs market altogether over the past two months. That is the only reason why the headline unemployment rate is not exploding to a post-war high.

Let us be honest. The US is still trapped in depression a full 18 months into zero interest rates, quantitative easing (QE), and fiscal stimulus that has pushed the budget deficit above 10pc of GDP.

The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June actually fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. This is the real stress indicator. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Eight million jobs have been lost.