Monday, April 12, 2004

Party Stuff

As visit time approaches, thoughts are centered on what best to bring to the party. In the USA, business matters are now quite stable. The regulatory circus has left town and business as usual prevails. Nothing is on the agenda between now and July 2004. While the issue of business operations is far from resolved, we are in a quiet time of several months before the civil law wave (tort) begun by Enron begins to settle the score. The collision between hierarchy and "transparency" will happen but not this year. The same three subject areas initially proposed are still appropriate. Nobody is better at objective situation analysis than the English and little time is needed to summarize what everyone there knows anyway.

No doubt, a collision between business as usual and the benchmark of corporate liability will occur. One side of the balance stays the same whilst the other grows day by day. There is no way for a hierarchy to be in compliance. It is a cultural Chernobyl. The reckoning can be deferred by not avoided. This setting is the first subject area.

One realm important in the future of commerce is the limits of hierarchy, rule-based operations, and the chain of command. These limits are set by a confluence of natural laws and not by any particular cast of players. Regulatory law is saddled with these limits as well and it allows reliable predictions of success/fail outcomes. Business as usual is being hammered with risk-informed management decision making. Experience shows, as with any blasphemy, it takes a few hours of focus with the information to get the reality of this barrier. The heresy is developed from the experience of the participants, not mine. That is the signature of natural law in any case. This is regulatory, statutory and contract law.

The other realm that has already quietly entered the dominion of commerce is the new capability of the process of engineering to design the future you want. This is classic Ashby "intelligence amplification" of 1965 - now empowered and in the service of those that know how. The only societal advocate of this new capability is tort trial lawyers for the plaintiff. Experience shows it takes a few hours of focus with the information to show how to align with and leverage this amplification genie for profit. While the path to take genuine capability and systematically turn it to advantage is narrow, slow and non-linear, the path does exist!

What the combination provides is some bright lines for avoiding the pursuit of the impossible and a prescription for using professionalism to conduct business so that no matter what clients choose, you win. There is no objective rationale that will encourage a business client to choose to do what is best for his company. It will prove just as valuable in the long run to learn what cannot work as it will be to adopt the prescription. I am well aware that snake oil would sell better and that nothing technical will surpass the art of the shmooze. But, it's too much fun leveraging Ashby and professionalism to stop now.