Communication Metrics... new science for a new era
New World Order Needs "Old Time Religion"
By: Rod Welch
1. Aristotle Has a Powerful Message; But, is There Time to Listen?
2. Limited Span of Attention Makes Communication Fragile
...Common Sense is Neither "Common" nor "Sensible"
3. Welcome to the New World Order of Information Overload
4. New Realities of 21st Century Require New Science, Tools and Roles
...Understanding, Follow Up Need Leadership with Broader Vision
5. Communication Metrics Empowers Leadership with a Broader Vision
6. Meaning Drift is the "Devil" in Murphy's Law
7. Law is a Slow, Costly Metric of Business Communication
8. Feel Good Management, Guess and Gossip Crashing on Information Highway
9. Communication Methods Must Transcend Human Mental Biology
...Technology Positions Meaning in Knowledge Space
...Knowledge Space Empowers Understanding and Follow Up
...Mental "connections" Form Organic Structure of Human Thinking
10. Back to the Future: "Religion" as Management Science
11. Automated Thinking: Leveraging the Capacity of the Mind
12. Intelligence New Way of Working Integrates Locality and Complementarity
13. Intelligence Tools Enable Practice of Knowledge Management
14. Intelligence Scope Outline Roles Responsibilities for Knowledge Management
15. Changing 5,000 Years of Management Practice Takes Leadership
16. Anytime, Anywhere Intelligence Makes the Internet an Asset
17. Clear, Concise Complete Communication Enables Due Diligence
18. Cognitive Overhead Knowledge Dilemma Resolved by Proactive Management
19. Business Intelligence Brings Creativity and Skill
20. Better Communication Saves Time and Money
21. Rework, Problem Handling Offer Income Potential
22. Transformation to Culture of Knowledge Takes Time, Commitment
....Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
....Alphabet Technology Namless Giant on Which Civiliaton Stands
....Prometheus Galelio Rewarded with Banishiment for Advancing Faith of Civiliaton
....Stealing Transformed to Cooperation and Production Innovaton of Civiliaton
....Farming Investment Strategy Experience Grows Faith in Deferred Rewards
....Socratic Skepticism Resists Alphabet Technology Talking and Listening Fast and Easy
23. Religion Keeper of Flame for 1000 Years Accuracy Authority Grows Faith Spreading the Word
24. Democracy Foundation of Literacy for Responsible Self-rule
25. Air Force Resisted No Requirement Until Experience in WWII Grew Faith
26. Personal Computers Augment Intelligence Economies of Scale in Vastness of Microcosm
....Edison Launched the Utilities Industry
....Nikola Tesla Operating System for 20th Century - Alternating Current
....Genie in the Bottle Powerless to Open the Bottle
....Cannot Give Away Solution Without Faith
....Westinghouse Releases the Genie in the Bottle
....Chicago World's Fair Open World's Eyes to City of Light
....Tesla Configured Light Bulbs to Turn Switches On and Off
....Eccles Jordon Digital Circuit
....Counting and Calculation Core Requirements of Civilization
....Leibniz Plants Seeds of Binary Mathematics Tilled by Boolean Logic
....Von Neumann Brought to America by Veblen to Advance Mathematics
....Turing Planted the Seeds of Software Programming
....Shannon Connects Electrical Circuits with Boolean Logic Design
....Binary Mathematics Empowered by Speed and Precision of Electricity
....World War II Accelerates Evolution of Calculating to Computers
....Atanasof Builds First Electronic Digital Computer
....Military Builds Big Computers for Intelligence and Ballistics
....Aikin and IBM Build Harvard Mark 1 for US Navy
26. ENIAC Case Study Collaboration and Collapse of Social Forces
....ENIAC Case Study Collaboration and Collapse of Social Forces
30. Taking the Quantum Leap into the 21st Century Takes Courage
Aristotle Has a Powerful Message
But is There Enough Time to Listen?
In 400 B.C., Aristotle complained that the youth of his day
lacked diligence and respect for their elders. This generational
worry came to mind recently when visiting a museum in Salt Lake
City. The curator explained that in the late 1800s a farmer,
untrained in the arts, created a series of magnificent tapestries
to depict the story of the Mormon trek across the continent. He
was inspired by complaints that the youth of his day did not know
the heroic effort by their elders to build a new community. The
farmer-turned-artist traveled the territory showing his
tapestries at public events. People awed by artful pictures, also,
listened to stories of hard won experience, as diaries of those
who had accomplished the feats shown in the tapestries, were
read aloud at these events.
This powerful story illustrates how the lessons of life take time to
Today, we call the work undertaken by the farmer-turned artist....
Getting everyone on-board!
...and more simply, just.....
Powerful technology enables people to tell their story farther
and faster than in earlier times. Yet, despite constant calls,
meetings, email, movies, television and radio, indeed an...
...communication remains the challenge of the
CEOs, managers, political leaders, engineers,
pundits, educators and experts from every field daily cry out the
classic line from the 1970s movie "Cool Hand Luke."
What we have here is a...
Failure to Communicate!
Why hasn't a quantum leap in information improved
Why doesn't more information result in better performance instead
of misunderstanding, mistakes, frustration and
made another observation in 400 BC
that offers a powerful solution, if only we have
time to listen...
The least initial deviation from the truth is
multiplied later a
Stories Drive Reasoning from Sensory Perception
Common Sense is Neither "Common" nor "Sensible"
Limited Span of Attention Makes Communication Fragile
The human mind builds meaning by summarizing details from the chronology of
events into related blocks of information, called "stories," that have a
beginning an end and a lesson or rule about cause and effect. Human mental
metrics synthesize new information into stories linked
with prior experience to
understand cause and
effect for making decisions. Professionals research and
assemble disparate stories to construct compelling and cogent
lessons learned from
The market for history satisifes the innate process of continual learning
that constantly constructs and tests lessons, paradigms,
and rules for survival.
Jeremy Campbell explains in his book,
The Improbable Machine
reviewed on March 3, 1990, how the brain "stores" information
chronologically that is encountered through
sensory perception from experience performing tasks. Reading a book,
digging a ditch, observing a sunset the
process of mental biology connects daily experience into
patterns that associate cause and effect based on the context of human needs,
generally described in the work place as objectives, requirements, and
commitments. (see POIMS) The mind further
connects patterns of information into stories that are
communicated through oral narrative in meetings, conversations,
and formal speeches, and, also, through written narrative, sometimes called
reporting. (see POIMS).
Professional writers sift through and analyze targeted portions of
oral and written narrative to convert seemingly mundane experiences of
daily life into stories that enlighten and entertain.
The power of history to enlighten current decisions about future events
reflects human mental biology that understands life through stories, as
expressed by the common question...
What's the story?
The most common form of communication summarizes stories in conversation based
on first impression. When asked "What's the story," meetings that last hours,
even days, are summarized in a few words or sentences. Until the details are
written out and instructions are given with the weight of authority and
consequences, which occurs infrequently as the number of meetings, calls and
email rises, cursory impressions summarized through conversation, rumor, guess
and gossip, routinely become operational understandings that drive daily
work toward error. These familiar dynamics present a significant
opportunity to improve productivity with the POIMS process of
thinking through writing
by summarizing complex events, and adding
connections to relevant details that triangulate
accuracy with context, analysis, and precision
access to background and sources.
Writing a summary with links to details in the full record increases
and personal memory, even if nobody ever reads it. If the
record is distributed, then organizational memory and management are greatly
improved by communication that conveys accurate operational understanding for
taking timely, effective action under the rule that...
a little intelligence goes a long way in a
Since working intelligently requires reliance on the record, adding links
ensure that, if people read the record, they can quickly become familiar
with critical details that otherwise
escape notice until error occurs. While it's true that
people learn from mistakes, it is,
also, true that investing time to write a coherent summary and adding
links helps expand span of attention for learning how to avoid the
devil in the details
that cause mistakes. Proactive management to get the story right and empower
timely, accurate understanding with links to critical details,
converts continual bumbling into continual learning. Accordingly,
routinizing the practice of summary
connected to detail that makes sense of complexity is a powerful part of
Communication Metrics, essential for
clear, concise, complete communication.
Journalism reporting the daily news routinely applies practices of summary by
constructing headlines that convey the main points. Additionally, the first
paragraph expands on a headline with a few sentences that summarize the
entire story. Consumers depend on the reporter to accurately summarize news,
but only rarely do news articles impact our work and lives. On the job,
however, accuracy of summary for operational understanding is essential to get
things done correctly in order to save lives, time and money. This requires
practices and mechanisms for precision access that
empower people to quickly verify summary impressions, and expand span of
attention with context, correlations, implications and nuance that impact the
work. Thus, the first challenge in the new world order is to answer the
question "What's the story" with an accurate summary connected to relevant
When stories conflict with personal experience, when a story seems
incorrect, or when there isn't enough time to get the full story then
mistakes, frustration, anger, loss, pain, conflict, crisis and calamity cause
people to complain that...
Writing history reflects the value of experience that makes time and context
critical components of knowledge, as distinct from information acquired
through sensory perception, and is often expressed
by the introduction to a
Once upon a time...
The biological drive to survive by understanding cause and effect correctly
through an accurate chronology in stories can further be seen from the common
question people ask...
Then what happened?
Reporting the sequence of events in an accurate chronology enables continual
learning by continually correlating new information with prior experience that
refines understanding of causation, which drives
human reasoning, shown by research on March 19, 1990. Accurate
personal and organizational
memory of chronology therefore enables decision support for
working intelligently. (see POIMS)
People exercise judgement about the
veracity of a story based on faith from belief about cause and effect
established by experience and history. A story is not plausible nor
believable, and so Does not hold water, as the saying goes,
if the sequence of events conflicts with a lot of experience and with
credible history showing that events usually do
not occur in the manner conveyed.
Human mental machinery seems fast and easy handling experience, knowledge
and history because we don't have to stop and
puzzle about how information fits together. The subconscious mind makes
millions of calculations instantly
without bothering conscious attention (see
POIMS). The constant stream of information from daily life
automatically and miraculously accumulates into experience organized for
survival, and memory of experience is applied seemlessly and instantly to
fill in the gaps missed by the conscious
span of attention in order to
understand the "Big Picture." However,
truth is a moving target.
The mind routinely draws incorrect details from memory that seem to fit
the "Big Picture," but in fact conflict with prior experience;
and, even when memory of details is correct
the picture is often out of date, because circumstances have changed from prior
Moreover, "truth" moves much faster on the Information Highway of today. This
greatly increases the chances of deviations being overlooked that worried
Aristotle so long ago. In other words, unless used properly to leverage human
mental acuity, technology brings mistakes, disaster and constant crisis,
rather than better productivity by relying
on common sense.
As a result, truth needs an ally on the Information
Highway, and this need grows as technology increases the pace of life.
Therefore, designing technology to improve management
begins with the question of how human mental machinery works? (see
also, POIMS on the
of human thought)
The automatic pilot of the human mind makes
connections to construct a plausible story without great effort nor
appreciable time, so that we can comprehend and cope with
evolving conditions moment to
moment. But, over time, stories fragment and disconnect in the mind, due to
limited span of attention. Our memory of truth
changes, but we are unaware of change because our attention is on other
matters. Each day, new information encountered, even on unrelated matters,
gradually changes the mind's perception of truth by evolving new belief that is
strongly held, yet different from what we previously knew. This continual
biological cognitive process of making connections makes truth a moving target
that escapes attention when small, seemingly inconsequential, details slip
quietly past our span of attention to change the stories stored in the mind.
Unless discovered and corrected, either by fortuitous accident or through
proactive management, to maintain alignment, this innate mental dynamic
launches a chain of events that eventually explode in error, failure, conflict,
crisis and calmity.
Alphabet technology evolved thousands of years ago
into a proactive practice of literacy to overcome
limitations of human mental biology by preserving history (our "stories"), so
that information can be used regardless of immediate conditions under the rule
"past is prologue." Writing expands span of attention, by readily alerting us
to forgotten "stories."
But, it takes time to write!
We have to stop talking and hearing long enough to invest time for
research, puzzle about organization and analysis of correlations,
implications, and nuance that make listening effective by accurately
understanding cause and effect, essential
to supplement, correct, and refine connections made by a busy mind
Museums and libraries are an investment to preserve important
history, so that an entire culture can accurately remember the
"truth," despite giving attention to immediate conditions in the
present, and to hopes and worries about the future. For
individuals who make up a culture, be it a nation, a community,
an organization, group or family, at each moment in the present,
the mind is using experience from the past to make plans for the
future. The viability of decisions, actions and plans in the
present depend on access to the truth about our past. It seems,
therefore, to follow, that technology must find a way to emulate
the mind's ability to integrate the past, present and future, in
order to provide useful "time management."
History alone, however, is not enough to overcome limited span of
attention. We need time to visit the museum in order to discover
and analyse relevant history. If there is not enough time for
discovery, then we need someone to bring the museum to the
people, as the storied farmer
did. This requires a proactive process of investing time to
capture, organize, analyse, identify and present the chronology
that gives meaning to current events in a convenient form showing
context and alignment with objectives, so that a manager,
burdened by constant activity, can quickly find information for
particular subjects at the time it is needed.
What then can be done to give truth an ally?
Who has the time?
The military has a long tradition using proactive
Why is intelligence needed in the military, but not
A major effort in military intelligence
is capturing information on
current and future capabilities, threats and opportunities.
(see outline on scope) Another aspect of
intelligence work is to organize, analyse, align, and verify the accuracy
of new information. Intelligence is summarized
to provide perspective for decision support on the "big picture." Links to
critical details are maintained that ensure action is supported by the record.
Analysis looks for patterns of cause and effect, from
alignment with prior intelligence and history, that reveal nuance, correlations
and implications, which support conclusions based on experience with similar
circumstances about capabilities, threats and opportunities.
History shows that, if relevant experience, i.e., the
story, is discovered in time, then mistakes can be avoided. If
not, time imposes a harsh penalty as small mistakes grow into
catastrophe under Aristotle's rule.
Why then isn't intelligence needed in business?
The military is charged with
preserving the life of the community, the nation, the entire
culture. When the risk of error is high, then front-end
investment to discover the truth in time to avoid loss
is readily justified. Nobody demands cost savings for military
intelligence that saves the nation. A business, however, that
drifts off course, that fails to use good management for
discovering the truth in time to
avoid failure, can be replaced. Moreover, it can often sustain loss,
due to lack of intelligence, and recover in time to avoid failure
thanks to the umbrella of the military that preserves the
cultural environment which makes recovery possible for a business
that drifts off course. Therefore,
the need for intelligence is relatively less in business
because the risk, size and pace of activity in business
is smaller and slower than for the military.
As a result, up until now, the advantage of
to discover the "truth" in time to avoid problems, crisis, loss and conflict,
and to capitalize on opportunities, has not been evident to business
leaders, as it is to military leaders. (see POIMS)
leadership with a
broader vision is
observing accelerated growth in the pace of modern life through globalzation.
Technology that compresses time and distance to enable economies of scale
necessarily increases information encountered by the mind through ordinary
sensory perception, primarily sight and sound.
Increasing information density beyond the limits of human
mental biology necessarily overwhelms people, and therefore requires investment
and training to use complementary technology for intelligence support to help "connect the dots."
Leadership that grasps Doctor Miller's exposition at
Harvard on mental limits cannot help but see that mind numbing complexity
dramatically increases error, loss, conflict, crisis and calamity under Aristotle's rule. The accelerated pace of information
technology presents an irreversable force. Leadership with a broader vision
diligently prepares for transformation to technology that converts information
from ticking time bombs into the power of knowledge. (see
We cannot afford to continue creeping toward a future that is rushing toward us
with overpowering danger of reaching critical mass from continual bumbling.
Increased risk of error, loss and failure necessarily adds urgency for
developing intelligence capability in the general population beyond
traditional military practice.
This new, emerging threat to the vitality of enterprise in a
faster paced world requires a better partnership between technology and
leadership at the dawn of the 21st century. Whereas military
success is measured in victories on the battlefield realized by
effective intelligence, success outside the military is measured
by productivity, earnings and stock prices that rise and fall on
the strength, i.e., quality of management. A direct solution to
increased threat of error due to exploding complexity that defeats
enterprise is adding
to management that enables proactive discovery of problems for
adjusting course before mistakes occur, and before opportunity is lost.
Since communication precedes action, intelligence can be
accomplished in enterprise by devising technology and support
for analysis that enables people to keep up
with the moving target of "truth" on the Information Highway of
new reality of the 21st century is that, without intelligence,
the practice of management implodes toward an
guess and gossip
causing continual bumbling, loss, conflict, crisis and calamity,
Fortune (June 21, 1999, page 69). The
of Future Shock, maintain that continual learning is the only
skill that enables people to meet the challenge of expanding
complexity wrought by expanding technology. Learning is a
mental process that integrates intelligence and communication in the
architecture of human thought
(see POIMS). As the 21st century unfolds, technology must aim to
avoid continual bumbling by strengthening
literacy through continual learning using a process of
that enables proactive concurrent discovery, rather than allow the future to
merely arrive with increasingly disastrous consequences.
People think of "communication" as dialog and documents perceived in the
moment for conveying information.
Communication training mainly covers
listening that use natural biological talents
for speaking, hearing, and
seeing information, because these capabilities are overwhelmingly
evident in life, and so seem to be the dominate force
for getting things done.
Visual images, icons and
pictures are viewed as simple, direct means to
acquire "understanding" as graphical expressions linked to basic values. The
goal of communication
is seen as "Winning people over," getting people to say
"Yes!" An example is the proverbial "big picture" which connotes an image that
critical information together with the "bottom line" of
important values, e.g., profit. Belief that talking and pictures are
adequate communication reflects the success of "talking pictures" in the movies
that seem to emulate daily life.
This is a false, albeit alluring, prescription, however, because
actual communication occurs in the human mind that processes
information from speech and pictures into
higher forms for decision making
which is the lifeblood of civilization, i.e., knowledge, wisdom, vision.
Convincing communication is crucial for leadership to make a
sale, to get someone to say yes. But, the harsh new reality for
the practice of management in the New World Order evolving from
advances in technology is that truth is a moving target on the
Information highway, and so now more is needed for effective
communication to supplement convincing speech in order to perform
the work resulting from leadership.
The rush to be convincing will not be enough to avoid the
that flows when the balance between
leadership, understanding and follow up is ignored. This reflects
the fact that communication is more than talking and listening;
it is more than giving orders and being convincing, that in
...similar to human mental machinery that uses a system of
processes for managing the torrent
of details encountered in a busy day.
For the short-term, here-and-now, emotional appeal is critical;
but, to get things done correctly and on time over the
accurate understanding and timely follow up
are critical. In today's world and the powerful
new realities of the 21st century, the
long-term components of communication now need daily directed
effort to bring the museum to the people, i.e., history,
chronology, causation, understanding.
A more robust model of communication then includes...
...for talking people into saying "yes" (see POIMS),
but must, also, include, in a faster, more complex world, support for...
In this model, communication is the bridge between past millenia of evolving
information technologies (convey a message with talk, literacy,
printing press, telegraph, telephone, television, wordprocessing,
email, Powerpoint), and the future that now demands a
culture of knowledge to connect the dots for
understanding cause and effect.
People are familiar with the leadership role of persuasion, talking people
into saying "yes," e.g., to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. However, until now, the
part of communication needed to build a
strong, timely bridge, has been hidden under the mantle of "common
sense." Executives are "common sense" people
who like to talk.
Talking and listening are here-and-now techniques for immediate
conditions that are within our span of attention. As more and
more time is devoted to talking and listening, there is less time
to think. Thinking is the engine of understanding and follow-up,
i.e., a mental process that links new information in the present
to the lessons learned from the past, and to plans for the
future. So, when people say they
not have enough time to think,
they are crying out for help in converting the ceaseless noise of daily
information into useful knowledge and ideas. The resulting loss of
vitiates the vitality of
intellectual capital that enables progress (see POIMS).
Thinking is a natural human process. Like breathing that
processes air to get oxygen, the mind
processes information to get knowledge
and ideas by connecting patterns of cause and effect that guide
decisions about actions. This constantly expanding
web of connections comprises the
"intelligence" that requires more attention in the New World
Order. (see also
Executives and managers feel they can make up for not having
enough time to think by relying on "common sense." Experts teach that only
20% of daily details impact 80% of management results. Therefore,
common sense says the "20-80 rule" enables relying on understanding
the gist of things, rather than
investing time to think that adds intelligence to information for
producing actual knowledge.
Conflicts between new patterns of information and what we already
know cause caution, such that "common sense" -- our knowledge
from past experience -- restrains taking new paths. Courage
ignores (rises above) mental conflicts, leading to actions that
defy common sense. Credible sources, authority figures (e.g., a boss,
commander), a charismatic leader, or salesperson, all encourage
actions which conflict with common sense.
Experience changes "common sense."
Bad results lead to fear of change, or impart wisdom, i.e., "been
there, done that," which restrains precipitous change, changing
for the sake of change, change in the wrong direction. Favorable
results broaden our vision to new possibilities that bring faith
in trying new ideas, willingness to experiment and discover.
Thus, common sense is unique to each individual. It is our life
experience, our history. Its lessons are in constant flux, as
each day, each hour, indeed each second, we gain new experience
(history) that the mind uses to process subsequent information.
As a result, without intelligence that
connects summary to detail,
and adds analysis, organization and alignment to
information, "common sense" is an emotional roller coaster
pulling the mind in whatever direction the most convincing speech of
the moment happens to take.
Leadership uses communication to build common alignment that
filters out momentary sieches of impulse, doubt and division by
creating a common story about common objectives that empower
common action, called "cooperation," also, "collaboration." The result
of strong leadership is a successful community in the form of a project,
department, company, agency, city, state or a nation.
In this model, history and action make communication a bridge
between the past and future.
Since understanding history and planning follow-up improve the
long-term chances of a community, (i.e., team, department,
company, agency, city, state or nation) to succeed, these
processes must be key components of communication. Despite the
importance of understanding and follow-up, however, they are at
war with human nature, which focuses limited span of attention on
In today's world, a constant flow of information makes people
feel that communication is accomplished solely by talking and
listening, primarily in
and that understanding and
follow-up are achieved by more talking and listening, i.e. more
meetings, calls and email.
The need for dedicated processes of...
thinking and planning
...or what might be called...
...to organize and analyse information for alignment with
controlling forces, is hidden by the social and genetic power of
speech as the sole dimension of communication.
This dynamic requires strong
to ensure that intelligence is added
to information so that communication is a bridge between the past
and the future, rather than a mere purveyor of...
guess and gossip
Talking and listening evolved as unique human strengths to enable
cooperation for spontaneous and near-term decisions driven by
emotional needs to survive.
Communication enhances individual survival by leveraging common efforts that
yield "community." For example...
We are hungry and cold.
You get the food, I'll build a fire.
...reflects obvious advantages of spoken language to coordinate efforts by
conveying detailed human thought in a clear and unambiguous manner. The
ability to devise a system of sounds that consistently signify the same
objects, actions and ideas over time, and at a low enough level of detail for
people to grasp critical distinctions that impact survival, enabled humans to
flourish well beyond any other species. A system of consistent signals and
from the sound of human speech is so critical to maintaining community
that the process came to be called "communication."
Two key features of early communication were...
- Close relationship in time between speech and results.
Action provides feedback that shows communication is understood.
Thousands of years using speech to satisfy immediate needs, leads
to a focus in formal education, expert training, seminars and
self-help books on talking and listening skills to improve the
short-term, emotional component of communication for leadership and
The role of speech for human bonding in love, friendship and
association, reinforces the traditional feeling that
communication is a powerful, here-and-now function that is
accomplished by talking and listening. Much of this kind of
communication does not require understanding and follow-up.
Talking and listening alone build short-term relationships, and
so create the impression that talking and listening are adequate
communication in the more complex arena of management practice.
Welcome to the New World Order of Information Overload
The power and success of traditional communication that focused
on leadership and selling through dialog and documents
(i.e., pictures and sound) has created a new reality that will
increasingly need greater proactive
effort on understanding
and follow up, more commonly called....
l i s t e n i n g
At the dawn of the 21st Century, the success of civilization
from success augmenting human capacities (e.g., mathematics, alphabet,
printing press, science, ships, telegraph, trains, airplanes,
telephone, wordprocessing, email, etc) has spawned
new realities of technology that compress time and
distance. The degree of compression is now reaching a point that
makes civilization too complex for continued reliance on the
traditional practice of listening solely
by relying on innate mental biology for talking, hearing, and interpretting
with memory and common sense. Increasing the pace of activity causes
gist of the story to fall precipitously toward less than
about 10%, (see report on September 26, 2000), creating a constant
fog of war on the job.
urges people to prepare for growing complexity. He cites "planning" and
"analysis" as critical, and suggests that
growing pressures of limited time and attention can be met by
following lessons from cognitive science. (see
Atlantic Monthly, October, 1999)
Drucker is correct on both counts: the new world order is increasingly
complex, and the solution requires integrating management science,
computer science, and cognitive science.
Key new realities of this new world order are more...
More people talking, more things to talk about and more
technology result in more time devoted to spontaneous,
stream-of-conscious communication in meetings, discussions, email, fax
and telephone calls. People feel frustrated that everybody's
talking and nobody's listening. On the Information Highway,
there is not enough time to listen, to understand nor to follow
up, because information overload means there is...
not enough time to think
It's too noisy!
The result is less listening, i.e., less...
- Understanding, i.e., organization,
analysis, alignment, summary and feedback
- Follow up, i.e., planning, preparation, action
- Earnings, i.e., action aligned with objectives
How can we convert the growing cacophony of daily
"noise" into useful knowledge that is organized, analysed and
integrated into the work flow on a consistent basis. In other
words, how can we add
to information, not just once in awhile when the boss is looking, but rather,
as Drucker calls out: routinely? How can we make good management routine,
rather than sporadic and rare?
Any such effort must begin with some hard fundamentals, i.e.,
People like to talk, and are drawn to rely on pictures, because sight
and sound are powerful biological gifts. Evolution over thousands of
years has wired the human mind to overtly
rely on these faculties. Subconsciously, a different faculty --
thinking, intelligence, reasoning, analysing --
processes input from sight and sound.
But, there is little awareness of this task because it occurs spontaneously,
without evident effort, time or cost. People, therefore, tend
to consider investing time and money
to improve sight and sound, for example, buying
a telephone that leverages hearing, or buying a car that makes it
faster and easier to observe remote locations, or getting an email program
to see sooner what others write, and enable others to see sooner
what we write, or buying a wordprocessing program leverages our
information with convincing style and appearance that rivals the power of
professional publishers, as more critical than leveraging the power of
for understanding what to do by processing what we see, hear, say, write
and think more accurately.
Since this has not been done previously with technology, people are
reluctant to invest time and treasure to improve thinking that
doesn't seem to take any time, nor require any cost.
The desire to speak to get spontaneous action, rather than
invest time for thinking to understand, and planning to follow-up,
is strong because rewards from relationships are high, and common
sense from a lifetime of experience strongly indicates that
speech works. Common sense says that more people means more
relationships that require more time to build and maintain. If
rewards are based on good relationships and good relations result
from good talking and listening skills, then those communication
skills will be emphasized.
These dynamics skew rewards toward talking and listening because
every communication impacts personal relationships.
Higher rewards for talking and listening come at the expense of
thinking to understand and planning to follow-up, because there
is not enough time to both talk and listen in constant meetings, calls
and email, and, also, deliberate by thinking and planning.
Strong relationships mean
recognition, promotion and insulation from failure. At the
extreme, this is the "apple polisher," the sycophant, who is more
form than substance. Communication becomes a constant game of
"guess and gossip," as people move up by talking their way out of
accountability for mistakes, and talking their way into credit for
good results, despite lack of alignment with relevant facts that
support either conclusion. Population growth leads to
communication as entertainment that engenders belief in the
speaker to build relationships and provide relief from worry,
rather than understanding and follow-up to get the work done
correctly so that there is less to worry about.
As a result, the frustrations and harm of failed communication
from talking and listening, and its modern cousin, "email," will
increase, unless the balance is restored by better technology to
enhance understanding and follow-up, without impairing the
natural drive for talking and listening.
People are not going to stop talking long enough to understand
and follow up.
Why doesn't common sense work?
Why can't we just have another meeting so everyone understands,
send more email to follow-up, and then go home? That's what
everybody else is doing. It has always worked before? Why isn't
it good enough now and in the future? What is changing that
requires a change in the practice of management from traditional
reliance on the gist of things based on good communication skills to
talk and listen?
The answer lies in Aristotle's insight about the role of time,
and in cultural resistance to change where "common sense" flows
from ignorance, which becomes fear and denial of change in the
hope that talking and listening can meet the realities of a new
Ignorance can be overcome by work in Cognitive Science explaining
how meaning and understanding occur in the mind, so that
technology and management science can fashion a solution to the
time/information problem. Fear can be overcome by demonstrating
that better understanding and follow-up enhance productivity,
earnings, and prestige by increasing the rate at which
information can be converted into knowledge and ideas for
managing effectively in the modern era of the Information
Highway, similar to the way a backhoe is welcomed because it
processes more earth into excavations than can be done by manual
Denial can be overcome by leadership with a broader
vision that provides opportunity for the team to transcend common sense
by experiencing technology that lifts the capacity to think, remember and
communicate. Without courageous leadership to encourage and sustain
intelligence support, only hard won
experience from continued failure can overcome ignorance, fear and denial,
because common sense reliance on talking and listening to understand the gist
of things is a powerful force in human affairs.
The distinction between short and long-term communication can be
seen from familiar communication when a baby cries and gets...
...in the form of
a cookie. When the baby is calmed, the mother gets feedback
showing there was a correct, or at least sufficient,
understanding of what was intended.
Experience growing up using speech to express needs, and getting
feedback when people to take intended action,
reinforces the power of talking and hearing to satisfy
immediate needs, i.e., to command action from others.
As in ancient times, short-term leadership through talking and listening
(e.g., sharing knowledge and ideas, discussing options,
giving orders and direction) was successful, because
near-term action is a feedback metric of communication. Near-term
feedback loops make talking and listening effective communication methods
that encourage community, especially in hunter/gatherer
settings where near-term collaboration
enables a weaker species to pool collective strength and coordinate
action for defeating larger prey and predators. This genetic
benefit borne of a different time and circumstance, when immediate action
was important to survival, creates a strong biological urge, impulse and drive
to rely on speech for communication, and to assume that, having spoken,
needed action will occur.
But in modern times, most communication concerns action that occurs in the
future by people other than those involved in the immediate
discussion. Speech and correspondence affect a complex range of
actions by people and organizations at disparate locations; much of it
unclear at the moment, and most of it exceeds limited span of attention.
As a result,
today, once past the baby stage, there is less immediate feedback action
in the communication process that verifies understanding.
Impulse to express feelings is restrained in order to maintain
civility by appealing to common interests rather than impose
personal whim. Sensitivity and diplomacy in communication
empower community action. Hiring, research, planning, design,
finance, procurement, fabrication, marketing, distribution, and
so on, entail speech disconnected by time from feedback action
needed for effective communication metrics. This increases the burden
to obtain proactive feedback during the
communication process, by asking questions to clarify meaning and intent,
rather than waiting day, weeks, months and years
for action to occur that verifies understanding. These new realities
are opposed by social dynamics that impede feedback,
and thus reduce understanding,
which causes continual bumbling under Aristotle's rule.
of communication are...
- The passage of time between speech and action,
in combination with social dynamics
to understand cause and effect.
- More information increases complexity beyond human
span of attention, i.e., patterns of cause and
effect are obscured.
- There is
not enough time to think, i.e. to connect
information and preserve patterns of cause and
effect, because information flow is fast and
This fast emerging business environment spawned by success using
traditional management methods of the Old World Order, require
investing time in the long-term components of communication...
thinking to understand, and
planning to follow up
Why not leave thinking and planning to personal prerogative and simply perform
them on-the-fly as in the past?
Because technology has created a New World
where information flows too fast for old methods of management by remembering
only the gist of the story, i.e., relying on
whatever pops into the mind at the moment, to be effective.
The risk and the cost of error and of overlooking opportunity are
too high to ignore in the 21st century.
Things must fit together correctly, i.e., physical
objects and coordination of human effort must occur in the proper sequence
based on an evolving framework of
objectives, commitments, requirements, contracts, policies,
codes, regulations and laws. In the modern era,
this highly complex array of factors constantly
exceeds human span of attention that is limited to only about seven (7)
Professor George Miller's
research, reviewed on March 3, 1999.
When people are
engaged in the dynamics of dialog, which, itself, requires full
attention to speak and hear, limited span of attention causes error due to
oversight that is commonly excused by saying...
I don't have time to think!
Without effective listening to
understand proper sequence and follow up to
verify accuracy, then powerful communication skills for
talking people into saying "Yes!" causes endless
frustration, anger, loss, failure, conflict, crisis and calamity,
when little deviations in the beginning
cascade over time under Aristotle's
New Realities Require New Science, Tools and Roles
Understanding and Follow Up Need Leadership with Broader Vision
This paper explains a technology and science to leverage the
new realities of management
in a way that supports the innate mental
process of integrating time and information, commonly called
which organizes and analyses information to
create knowledge, wisdom and vision, i.e., the derivatives of
performs work using
plans for getting things done.
loops notify of perceived
errors and omissions in planning, communication, and other instruments
directing action, and further report experience performing work that guides
plans for future action, including making timely corrections. Follow up and
feedback are closely related intelligence support
processes that refine accuracy of knowledge by integrating new understandings
into the work flow in time to avoid mistakes, and exploit opportunities.
for follow up and feedback
occurs with correspondence giving written notice of perceived error,
and/or through personal briefings that sound the alert.
links feedback into Knowledge Space for clear, concise, complete
communication that builds shared meaning, essential for collaboration.
Without follow up and feedback linked to original understandings (see
example on Nov 26, 1996), action flows naturally along the
path of least resistance rather than align with objectives, requirements,
and commitments. Continual bumbling, delay, failure, loss, conflict,
crisis, and calamity occur when critical correlations, implications and
nuance are overlooked due to complexity of information density.
Skillful, convincing speech talks people into taking actions that conflict
with controlling forces which are outside
span of attention. Negative forces of
feel good management are reinforced by strong resistance against
timely feedback. As a result,
without intelligence support, seemingly inconsequential mistakes are
hidden by the fog of war and quickly compound over time under
Aristotle's rule. People are
led down the wrong path by the powerful enigma of
While it is no secret that
is the engine of
civilization, little consideration has been given to how
technology can leverage this process. People snicker
about Military Intelligence,
but at least they are trying.
Business, up until now, has ignored the opportunity to
improve earnings by adding intelligence to management. This worked
in the Old World Order
of small organizations and
information flow that was contained by geography and the
limitations of human capacities. Today, however,
technology has brought a
of unconstrained information flow that feeds the drive to manage by
crisis, by impression, by hunch and hope, by guess and gossip. This
requires intelligence support
for daily management,
which can be accomplished by adding properly designed business
metrics to communications, analogous
to cost and schedule controls.
The first step is distinguishing information from communication.
notes these are very different. This powerful
insight suggests the Information Highway may be leading us down
the wrong path. Shoving more information at people in a constant
stream of dialog and documents overwhelms
and follow up, i.e., true communication fails.
Leadership with a broader vision recognizes a simple fact: people
are driven by genetics, culture and training to rely on talking
and listening. These skills seem to offer a
fast, easy way to
achieve understanding. But, aligning new information to create the
connections with prior experience and values that
comprise true understanding
is too complex for the mind to perform under
of a faster-paced world on the Information Highway.
The solution is not
to get off the highway, not to slow down information, but to
speed up and support the process of...
i n t e l l i g e n c e
...that converts information into knowledge.
communication effective in building and maintaining shared
meaning over time so that people can work together effectively to
achieve common ends,
i.e., cooperate in forming a successful community. One part of
intelligence is organizing information into categories or
Communication must use common subjects on
which most agree; for example, everyone pretty much uses the
common subjects in education of reading, writing, arithmetic, art,
history and so on. Government has subjects of
politics, police, justice, transportation... These
long established subjects on which the community agrees
comprise a "culture." Another part of
Individually, people align their
plans and conduct largely with personal needs: food, shelter,
safety and so on. Community, also, requires common values. The U.S.
Declaration of Independence
lists life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These
basic values are supported by laws and regulations, and
they are pursued by common agreements called contracts. Daily
activity is guided by guidelines, industry practice, policies,
tradition and manners. Communication then requires alignment
with a huge, complex array of values and subjects held in common culture.
This is a big job.
Intelligence is critical to effective
communication that empowers the modern-day community by building
and maintaining shared meaning in a constantly changing
The Achilles' heel of communication is
limited span of attention
that is overwhelmed by an exploding universe of information and
complex details of cause and effect.
Span of attention varies between people. Some people focus well on only
one thing at a time. Others have a broader attention span that covers 2, 4
or more issues at once. But, like a
everyone's span of attention is
limited. When it is exceeded, things fall by the wayside. Everyone sees the
juggler's failure. Mistakes are a form of business metric that
to slow down, use fewer objects, or get help to handle the work load.
But, limited span of attention occurs within the human mind, beyond
human sight; it escapes notice. (see also
POIMS) When there is not much new information that requires attention,
there is time to think. Thinking, i.e., adding "intelligence" to information,
broadens our attention to recognize overlooked correlations, implications and
connections of cause and effect that impact objectives, cost and success.
As information flows faster,
cannot process it fast
enough to generate accurate connections with what we already know
about what was said and what it means, i.e., history. We get only
cursory impressions and overlook correlations, implications and
however, we cannot see overlooked
(i.e., failed "intelligence")
until we bump into them much later as mistakes.
The passage of time between mental oversight and its
manifestation as a mistake, and because the original cause
occurred outside our span of attention, results in there being no
awareness of the true cause of mistakes. Our attention is on
the here-and-now, so it is not evident that
truth is a moving target. Stress,
frustration and worry about consequences and accountability,
further constrain our attention.
We get mad, lash out at others, rush to apply
the quick-fix that feels good
at the moment;
or, we ignore and cover up, delaying and often transferring eventual
adjustment to another time and another person
(accounting, contractor, customer, judge, surety, stockholders).
We then move on until another overlooked factor is encountered,
that is compounded by the first one that has been forgotten.
Problems mount and reappear because neither ignorance, cover ups
nor the quick-fix address the cause.
Thus, limited span of attention compounds mistakes into crisis
under Aristotle's rule,
but reality is a feedback metric
that forces previously overlooked and erroneous connections of
cause and effect into our span of attention. This iterative
process of correcting corrections is commonly called
It is a continuous cycle of rework
that takes up most of management's time. Since executives
and managers spend most
of their time talking and listening to build and maintain
relationships in complex organizations, and since this form of
communication is vulnerable to limited span of attention. Lack of
awareness about the cause of the rework is excused as
If unchecked by strong leadership, rework grows into
"crisis management." The desire to avoid accountability leads to
fear of documentation. Lack of documentation reduces span of
attention, resulting in feel good management
that relies on guess and gossip, hunch and hope. Soon, there is talk of
"reengineering" and downsizing.
How can we break out of the rework cycle caused by limited span
of attention being overwhelmed by the
of information overload on the Information Highway?
Communication Metrics -- Leadership with a Broader Vision
The rework cycle
and crisis management can be addressed by
expanding span of attention through a powerful nexus of
technology with sound fundamentals that forms a new management
science of Communication Metrics. Adding a specially designed
business "metric" to the communication process supports
understanding and follow-up that together leverage the dominant
force of civilization:
Adding a new work role to
create intelligence and deliver it to the team in a manner that
is fast and easy to use, improves performance and earnings by
reducing mistakes and discovering opportunity. Expanding span of
attention makes information a powerful ally rather than an
To see how these new forces can shape a better world, we must
first look back at the Old World Order.
Legends, pictures, sculpture, poetry and song, even cliches and
homilies are simple but enduring means by which each generation
builds shared meaning and maintains it over time, despite the
propensity of our mental machinery to forget the past while
focusing on the here-and-now. Fundamental principles of survival
encoded in art, ritual and tradition comprise the "order" that
sustains culture. The evolution of writing provided another means
to capture and preserve shared meaning over time.
Writings in Commandments, the Magna Carta, constitutions, laws,
regulations, guidelines, contracts all preserve and instruct us
on implementing lessons of the past. The march of civilization
is marked by the struggle for better ways to capture, preserve
and apply intellectual capital, i.e., our knowledge and ideas,
our guiding principles for effective community. Seemingly, from
the beginning of time we have hungered for more and faster
information. But today, technology has opened an Information
Highway which for many has become a Pandora's Box of
information overload, because an incessant flow of information
overwhelms the mind's limited capacity to understand and
follow-up, due to limited span of attention.
Our short-term communication skills to talk and listen are strong
thanks to technology, training and culture, where movies and
television daily provide examples of how to speak effectively.
An article in
(June 21, 1999 p. 69) on why CEOs fail, illustrates
the power of innocent efforts and objectives that cause
talented people to cause harm, conflict, crisis, and calamity
by losing sight of time and context in the blur of daily work.
Critical details suddenly seem benign and inconseqential because
there isn't enough time in the New World Order for people to
accomplish long-term components of communication: (1)
understand context by "connecting the dots" showing cause and effect;
so, naturally (2) follow-up
looks like unnecessary overkill. As a result, individuals,
organizations, entire nations lose perspective. We cannot see the gradual
drift off course
as each day small deviations from the
true state of affairs go unnoticed due to the pace and turbulence
of near term events that occupy our span of attention. As a
result we cannot align new information with history and
objectives, essential to stay on course.
The tapestry that shows the right course is in the
law is in a book at the courthouse. The contract is on our desk,
but we are in the CEO's office, or on a plane. The letter is in
our files. Email is in the computer. We don't have time right now
to be prepared, i.e.,
go to the museum, check the law, the contract, the files or
the email, but intend to do so later. When later comes we are too
busy to check our notes, because, without
nobody can find relevant details on immediate needs.
Instead of checking the record, we recall that no one objected to
anything at the meeting, so it seems safe to assume everything
was accurate. Just to be sure, we call a
colleague and ask if he remembers anything different. He says
no; remembering the gist of the meeting is about the
same, but will check his notes and call back. We go to
another meeting. The colleague doesn't call back. Questions on
accuracy of the previous meeting are forgotten,
while concentrating on the current meeting, call, or document.
A week later the
president asks about key understandings from the meeting. Since the
president asks, everyone now invests time to find the notes.
After much scurrying and consternation, a
secretary finds a Powerpoint presentation filed in a "fax" folder
of the Microsoft Outlook program (example on April 6, 1996).
The secretary remembered her boss faxed out
a copy to someone, and so creating a "fax" folder for the file seemed like
common sense at the time. Initially,
we're all relieved to satisfy a request by the president. However,
looking through the Powerpoint file the meaning of pictures
and cryptic comments is not at all clear without the commentator's
narrative, and the context of participant questions. Looking further,
several people find
handwritten notes on what was actually
said (see example on October 23, 1996),
but key phrases jotted down with arrows pointing here and there
are not as clear today, because there wasn't enough time to write down the
connections to prior events, memos, commitments, calls and email
that seemed clear to everyone at the time. An attendee was assigned to
prepare meeting minutes for understanding connections to
context, but there wasn't enough time.
The colleague apologized for not calling back, as promised. He found
his notes, but the meaning wasn't clear, so he hoped everyone
would forget about it.
Still, no one has checked the law, the contract, and the files for "connecting
the dots" to understand cause and effect. Life goes on, because the
president has forgotten his request for assurance on accuracy of
understandings from the meeting, because the customer, who
asked about it, did not call back either. Everyone wants to be told about the
tapestry of events that control success, but nobody makes it to the
fact, nobody has time to be prepared, because
there is no repository of "knowledge," nor other
source of organizational memory, to consult with precision access
for guidance and wisdom in meeting the exigencies of daily management.
There is no repository of
intelligence (also, intellectual capital, analysis,
organizational memory, history)
to guide daily management, because
there is not enough time in the New World Order
to "connect the dots." As Drucker notes, a constant stream of impressions
from dialog and documents
does not yield knowledge essential for
communication (see review on November 30, 1994). Instead, nearly all of
the connections for understanding cause and effect occur solely in the
minds of people (executive, manager, engineer, doctor, lawyer, carpenter,
mechanic, salesman, seaman, beautician, administrator, politician,
i.e., everyone), and are in constant flux reacting to each new
crisis of the moment. Limited span of attention
necessarily avoids investing time for
Many good reasons drive failure to check the
files. People get tired, falsely confident, or feel
there is not enough time to verify accuracy of personal memory, because
authenticating knowledge of cause and effect takes a lot of hard work
using traditional information technology (see review on March 7, 2000).
Reliance on assumption seems fast and easy. Risks of error in the future
are out of sight and out of mind, i.e., beyond span of attention. However,
as time passes, variance from ambiguity remembering only the
gist of the story grows dramatically distant from the truth, leading to
these days more commonly called "Murphy's Law."
As the saying goes: Paperwork never catches up to actual work.
Meaning Drift is the
in Murphy's Law
Strange as it seems, common, ordinary management
scenarios played out every day, all day long, create a kind of
meaning drift where the disconnect between summary impressions and
relevant details widens until understanding cause and effect is lost due to
sole reliance on short-term sensory components of communication using sight
and sound. Talking, hearing and seeing things
in constant meetings, calls and email
become a frenzy of "guess and gossip," as information management devolves over
entropy. More talking means less analysis, less review, so decisions
are founded on mere hunch and hope, because there is no proactive means to
maintain alignment. Deviations from good practice that make people
feel good in the near term give the appearance of success
because consequences are deferred well into the future, and often are borne by
others from continually transferring and compounding little deviations, as
originally observed by Aristotle,
until suddenly, and without evident warning,
people encounter the...
Devil in the Details
occurs in the details of business
meetings, calls and discussions, when people are working hard to
talk things out, listen, expedite, and avoid paperwork so that
everybody feels good? It is the inherent and involuntary
that occurs within each human mind, compounded by limited span of attention,
that makes communication the biggest risk in enterprise (see
measures to maintain alignment under new realities of information overload.
In other words, the power of human intelligence that
connects summary to details
is fragile. Cognitive science explains
the mind recodes new information into convenient "chunks"
that facilitate remembering by connecting
chains of chronology that indicate cause and effect. Paraphrasing is a common
practice of overt recoding that greatly
aids memory by understanding new information in relation to personal paradigms
and experience, which is necessarily unique, and so at variance from
momentary context. As a result,
recoding to aid memory, causes connections to original context to gradually
slip away over time. Initially, we remember most, then some, and later
we can recall only the gist of the original story.
This is not a problem if action is taken
before meaning slips away.
"Turn the heat down" has clear meaning to
take immediate action
standing at a stove with a pot boiling over. However, most communication in
daily business occurs through meetings, calls, correspondence and reports
that do not require immediate action. Effective business communications
actually delay taking action for
days, weeks, months, even years in the future, because management is a
forward-looking process of planning to be prepared
for success. This delay between describing
action in a plan, and later taking previously planned action breeds
meaning drift in what is described in the plan. Additionally, the
normal gradual "slipping away of meaning" is accelerated by encountering a lot
of information, because continual recoding in the human mind
changes the meaning of what is already understood.
The ability to quickly process a lot of information that changes perspective,
and to deftly adjust course according to evolving context is
a huge advantage in an environment that requires immediate response to danger.
A mind that can maintain alignment for only a minute-or-so can survive under
the rule that
separates the quick and the dead, because danger and opportunity arise quickly on the
African savanna, where humanity is thought to have originated and formed the
modern brain. Information from sensory perception of sight and sound
in communication (see situational awareness)
enables snap judgements essential for immediate action to survive. The biology
of human memory instantly constructs assumptions
connecting cause and effect associating
life experience within contextual boundaries of current perceptions.
Historically, the pace of bucolic life affords time for the subconscious mind
to form connections of cause and effect. Accurate memory from mentally
reporting past events makes experience a valuable asset using the power of
knowledge to predict the future through planning. Command and control
performing present events in the order determined from experience yields
control of future results by following the plan. This plan, perform, report design of the human brain that forms
connections of causation gradually through the experience of time makes
seem free and mysterious. The subconscious mind is not aware of expending
energy to connect cause and effect that yields the power of knowledge.
The complementary power of consciousness uses sensory perception to form
situational awarness for reacting to momentary events. Conscious awareness of
time and effort to gather information has naturally spawned technologies that
feed and leverage sensory capacity for taking immediate action.
Gathering food, arranging shelter and securing safety are examples
of the human brain using sensory information immediately to meet biological
necessities. Stream-of-conscious mental effort for email, and speaking and
listening in conversation and dialog that occurs in discussion, meetings
and calls, also, entails immediate use of information. Long pauses
in speech are socially discouraged, because spontaneous speech connotes
power to react, which is useful for meeting danger, and for
which is useful for relieving worries about danger.
Speech is the dominate force of human life because communication enables
cooperation that leverages individual powers to form civilization. The role
of human speech for communication creates a strong drive for more information.
Alphabet technology, mail systems, printing,
telegraph, telephone, television, email all enable faster communication for
talking, hearing and seeing information. As a result, information technology
(IT) has created a civilization in the modern era, where most immediate dangers
that drove the evolution of the human brain have been eliminated. The
new danger, the new risk to human endeavors, is information overload that
overwhelms limited span of attention, and changes the meaning of verbal
communications in ways, large and small, that impact action in the future.
The fragility of human memory that can maintain meaning and alignment
for only a minute is a growing risk, as communication becomes a larger share of daily
work. This risk increases as people spend more time consuming information in
constant meetings, calls and email, because that leaves less time for
the mind to create connections with past experience that form understanding
of cause and effect. In other words, constant consumption of
information, crowds out time required for mental biology to exercise the
process that grows new knowledge. Like a zebra grazing in a
Garden of Eden with endless pastures that satisfy immediate needs, when people
forage on a continuous diet of information from meetings, calls and
documents, there is no time, nor evident need,
for adding organization, analysis,
alignment, summary and feedback that converts information into knowledge
of cause and effect. Without time for deliberation, and without fast access
to an accurate record to make deliberation effective, then
gaps and errors in understanding both proliferate and are overlooked, i.e.,
mental errors remain a secret until a physical conflict occurs that
gives visibility to the conscious mind.
Fortunately, culture helps overcome limited span of attention. Culture
informs the farmer that planting the next crop is necessary to ensure a
bountiful harvest, because that is what father and grandfather did, and that is
what all the other farmers are doing. Similarly, culture guides parents
to arrange for their children to invest time in
education, essential for raising a rich crop of productive
citizens. When problems occur, people go to a meeting, have discussions, make
calls and send documents because information is the dominate force in
human culture. No matter how busy we are, culture guides conduct.
What is less well understood, however, is that the character of
civilization is changing from being enabled by technology for using information
in the moment, as taught in school and practiced on the job,
to a new environment that requires technology for a
culture of knowledge.
Time is a critical factor for converting information into knowledge, when
fog of war
permeates meetings on the battlefield and in the
For example, when the
commander yells "charge!", most everyone will take the appropriate action
upon seeing the enemy approach in the field of vision. In that case,
the time between communication and using information is negligible. There is
little danger of conflicting interpretations. If the commander gathers
the troops and says "In 10 minutes the enemy will attack. When I say
'charge,' A Company will attack the left flank, and two minutes later, after
the enemy turns to meet that challenge, then B Company will charge
from the rear," this presents a risk of error, because communication has
to be relayed to the troops by intermediary leaders, who have some time for
interpretation based on personal experience. Generally, communication that
has immediate utility for shared experience is successful because
situational awareness of context triangulates accuracy in real time.
However, as time and intermediaries increase, the risk of error
increases dramatically due to the influence of interceding
activity that impacts interpretations of meaning in relation to diverse
experience. This accelerates recoding,
explained above. Instead of carrying out communication immediately, or
in 10 minutes, as in the military example, above,
if information is for use in 10 days, 10 weeks, 10 months
or 10 years, there will be widening disparity in accomplishing original
objectives, absent proactive measures to maintain alignment.
As time passes, some will respond to a common instruction
by charging a battery; others will charge the cost of a vacation, while others
will charge ahead with a new initiative of the moment, wholly unrelated to
objectives from the original source.
The fog of war is now a growing
new reality that places daily communication on the job at constant risk of
error, because, like the battlefield, the flow of information is
if five (5) people attend a meeting, the meaning of information presented
is different for each, because it has a different relationship to what they
already know. During the meeting, context and feedback can draw people toward
shared meaning to plan complementary action that greatly leverages
individual skills and strengths. Indeed, collaboration for planning and
carrying out complementary action on common objectives is the essence of
community that makes communication the most powerful asset of humanity. After
the meeting, each person will have different experiences that impact original
meaning in different ways, because it is hard to remember context, i.e.,
connections of summary to relevant details. Since knowledge is fragile, over
time people only remember the gist of original information, about 5%. The rest
is forgotten or mis-remembered by re-construction that commingles unrelated
events based on near-term needs. The degree of deviation depends on the amount
of new information received, absent reinforcement of original context. This
correlation between time and information from rarely getting new information,
to regularly getting some information, to constantly getting a lot of
information, commonly called
causes people to take conflicting rather than complementary action, because
alignment with original meaning drifts away.
Our imaginary five (5) people communicate with others, who in turn tell
others and so on across a wide matrix of complex relationships leading to
people somewhere eventually performing the work planned in the original
meeting. Each time the story is told, the people hearing it construct a
to aid memory, that is necessarily slightly different based on
As with the popular, after-dinner
re-telling stories through conversation and email accelerates meaning drift,
unless proactive measures are taken to maintain alignment
Like a virus spreading through an organism, communication infected by
meaning drift degrades into mere guess and gossip, hunch and hope that relies
on momentary feelings of common sense,
rather than facts, which greatly increases the rate of error. Poor
productivity from lack of understanding and follow up escalate costs and
delays performing rework to correct continual bumbling. Without proactive
alignment, communication metrics for accuracy fails because meaning drift
is multiplied by information density driven by the irreversibility of time.
quickly transforms complexity from a powerful asset into a crushing
that overwhelms span of attention. Mistakes cause loss of life,
time, and earnings. (see review of complexity theory on March 12, 2004)
For example, in
an analyst might write a pathology report on image
testing (e.g., MRI, CT, PET) that describes symptoms of a rare, aggressive
disease with high mortality that requires immediate treatment, but omit such
warning in the report, and instead simply say that "symptoms present similarly
to known cancer, corrleate clinically." If such an
alert is presented in the
middle of a long paragraph with other language that offers an alternative,
benign theory (e.g., reaction to radiation, surgical scar tissue, etc.),
and further if prior reports from months earlier (now out of
sight and out of mind) describe the same problem with different terminology,
then a busy physician (engineer, executive, customer, mechanic, etc.) will
likely fail to "correlate clinically" without tools and support that make
working intelligently fast and easy to check correlations.
Due diligence performing hard work for
reality monitoring that verifies accuracy
fails, when there is not enough time using familiar tools and methods
for situational awareness to "connect the dots" showing alignment that
points to diagnosis in time for taking effective action.
These dynamics devolve communication from the strongest asset
for leveraging productivity through complementary action into a devastating
force of conflict, crisis and calamity, under the
second law of thermodynamics.
Every meeting, every call, every email sows the seeds of error, absent
proactive efforts adding energy to maintain alignment under the
that converts information into the power of knowledge.
A strong culture from shared experience and training, along with diligence and
hard work help maintain shared meaning to keep the team on course, acting like
the rudder and engine of a ship. However, information overload overwhelms hard
work, just as the most powerful ship is blown off course by incessant winds at
sea. The only solution is to strengthen the rudder by adding
that maintains alignment, so that understanding and follow up get things done
correctly and on time.
beginning about 700 BC in Greek culture evolved a tradition of literacy that
uses an external, objective method to arrange pictures that represent the
sounds of language (i.e., symbols) in order to replicate, assess, revise,
improve and preserve internal thought processes. This new way of working with
language, using external objects (i.e., symbols) to craft and improve
innate thinking, significantly augments natural
intelligence by strengthening human
memory, which previously had relied on oral communication methods, like poetry,
parable and exaggeration, to prevent connections of important stories from
slipping away over time. About 300 years later, around 400 BC writing
evolved to do more than merely record what was said. A practice of adding
emerged to craft a coherent story, summarize and organize information,
align it with related past events and objectives to yield correlations,
implications and nuance. This new practice of writing
placed new information into context that enables discovery of
patterns and trends which reveal, through implication and inference of
causation, future consequences. As a result, analysis
adds value to understanding the past, by enabling action in the present, and
planning for the future. This strengthened prior
practice of oral culture that used legends, strident language and awe
inspiring embellishment to gain attention and preserve memory by conveying
memorable information to guide decisions for taking action.
advantages of literacy that improved prior sole reliance on
oral communication for collaboration, also, leverage
for understanding that enables effective action.
This powerful cognitive aid has been the core engine of civilization
over the past 2,500 years, particularly since the time of
in 1455, when the printing press and related technologies made
reading and writing (again, literacy)
widely dominate in the culture by making it cheaper to create,
distribute and maintain information.
information overload in the modern era now presents a new threat of
reversing two millennia of culture. Limited time and
endemic to organizational life, encourage oral communication and aver
literacy, leading to management
by guess and gossip, hunch and hope, that relies
on remembering the gist of things, rather than the actual record of events.
Since oral communication is inherently error prone,
absent proactive methods to create and maintain
that is aligned with objectives, commitments, requirements,
policy and law, then mistakes, losses, failures, recessions, and wars,
are the calamities that result under
Aristotle's rule that reality is the
ultimate metric. This leads to a modern corollary...
Communication is the biggest risk of enterprise!
Management standards have long recognized this risk, as seen from the
original meaning of religion
to avoid false knowledge by maintaining alignment.
Law is a Slow, Costly Metric of Business Communication
Lawyers are the Only Source of Intelligence in Business and Industry
Today, we call Aristotle's point about small deviations being
multiplied by time, Murphy's Law.
We use litigation in place of
physical combat to adjust performance that drifts off course or
does not measure up. Litigation requires a showing that original
understandings were followed, for example the requirements of a
What did we say?
What did we intend?
What did we hear?
What did we see?
What was considered?
What did we do?
When did we do it?
Where was it done?
Why did we do it?
What should we have done differently?
These are the simple questions asked in a lawsuit for which
no one knows the answer,
because everyone is too busy on the Information Highway of constant
meetings, calls and email to capture the record of organizational memory
and create the connections of cause and effect that yield accurate
knowledge about the context of daily details. As a result,
the legal process is the only
role for the practice of management where the web of connections is at last
stitched together to reveal correlations, implications and nuance from
understanding context. (see also discussion in
Of course, we all feel bad when the microscope of the law discovers
the critical mass of errors everyone had earlier attributed to Murphy's
Law, as a complement to the worry about the Devil in the Details.
When there is not enough time to discover that communication is not aligned
with requirements, the
go on the march. Most losses caused by
bad management are absorbed. Managers prefer to
buy-off mistakes through reduced earnings,
because intelligence, required by contract notice provisions for
to create a record of organizational memory that enables
discovery in time to avoid mistakes, also, brings
accountability. When problems are ignored to save time and money,
because, in the moment, fixing inconsequential details seems like overkill,
people want wriggle room to avoid accountability, rather than feedback for
to mitigate damages. These personal and cultural dynamics spawn an
official view of reality that spirals into ignorance and then
cover up, as managers maneuver to avoid accountability, while gaining credit
for success through good communication skills.
Written records are feared and averred in favor of
reliance on talking and destroying records in hopes of providing latitude for
deniability, commonly called
Limited time and culture reward
facile verbal skills to tell a plausible story so that people can talk
their way out of accountability for mistakes, and talk their way into credit
for success. Formal management systems, traditionally called "documentation,"
are pejoratively dismissed as "paperwork," because they are
expressly aimed at accomplishing management accountability.
Instead of earning 10% - 20%, management accepts 3% -
5% by arguing that intelligence is overkill, so there is no budget
for proactive problem handling under the excuse of saving time and
accountability can be attributed to others, a lawsuit is filed.
A lawsuit can be seen as a highly focused, very expensive
metric of management quality. It usually shows that nobody
follows an agreement because management lacks an
process, an internal
metric, to discover miscommunication before it impacts
performance. Therefore, the law imposes an external metric to
force a course correction, an adjustment called adjudication.
How does the law determine the correct course? How does this
differ from daily practice on the job by executives, engineers, salsemen,
accountants, and mechanics? Can these methods be brought closer together
in a manner that avoids mistakes, and thereby reduce the
need for adjustments by outsiders called "lawyers"?
In court people tell their side of the story. They talk about
understandings of what was said, intended, agreed and then actually
listen. Writings are examined. Experts testify and standards of
practice are presented from papers, books, magazines and other
sources. Witnesses are questioned about differences between what
is said by different people at different times and with what is
written that is conflicting on important matters.
So far, this is pretty much the same as daily management practice
of dialog and documents. Managers talk and listen, consult
experts and ask questions in order to avoid mistakes in deciding
what to do. Managers ask about planning, budgets, schedules,
policies, indeed everything that affects an organization. They
ask why actions were taken, and investigate whether a different
course would have been better? This inquiry is often in the
"Tom, what's the
story on widget delays?"
When managers and executives don't like the story, they
regularly adjust course by changing employees, vendors,
policies, products and so on. In the courtroom, the
information that management relies
upon to discover needed adjustments is called "evidence."
When these decisions are adjusted in court, managers, executives
and engineers often complain about being "second-guessed."
If managers are gathering evidence and making adjustments
everyday, why is there fear about similar "second-guessing"
in the courtroom?
Here is a difference!
In court, people are sworn to tell the truth, and the judge is
paid to hear the truth. Penalties for lying encourage getting an
accurate record. This helps overcome emotions of embarrassment,
hurt feelings, fear of reprisals and accountability that conceal
truth on the job. Accurate, comprehensive understanding enables
analysis to discover the root cause of problems that justify
In court, someone writes down what everybody says in a "transcript"
to compare, align and contrast testimony. Writing things
down and connecting things up in court reveals more conflicts than
can be recognized by conventional management practice that
relies on personal memory and cursory notes hurridly scribbled in notebooks,
and email during and after meetings and calls on the job.
Another difference is that a lawsuit is focused on a few narrow subjects,
whereas a manager has to consider all of the subjects
that impact the work. The players and the process in a lawsuit
are not impeded by limited span of attention
because they are paid to devote the time and attention needed for
everyone to be carefully questioned about what was said and intended,
and to check the record on what was actually done.
Adjudication of legal disputes in court occurs many years after
events have transpired. Judgement rests on discovering evidence of
causation, i.e., discovering cause and effect, by assembling an
accurate story from a multitude of complex and conflicting stories.
At trial, evidence from testimony and documents
is organized into a
well ordered record
that shows causation based on the chronology of events (see scope for working
intelligently). The trial record enables
precison access for uniform reference by everyone involved.
Each line of text in transcripts and briefs is assigned a number
for efficient navigation and communication using citations to the record.
Citations link cause and effect into
an "audit trail" that reduces the time to verify accuracy and understand
context. Accuracy understanding chronology
enables analysis to discover the root cause of
problems that justify adjudication.
Daily work on the job, including for lawyers and
judges not considering a specific lawsuit, does not enjoy
the luxury of a well ordered record with uniform references
using granular control of each line, because events are
still unfolding. Documents and conversations in daily life
are scattered in computers, filing cabinets, rooms, buildings,
sometimes cities and countries, desk drawers, the back seat
of the car, and mostly in the minds of a great many people.
Since business technology is designed to make documents
to make a sale, rather than enable
good management (see POIMS),
nobody has command and control of the record, until a
lawsuit is filed, and very high-priced people are paid to slow down long
enough to use technology that organizes a
well ordered record for accurate understanding.
"Meetings" in court use communication experts, called "lawyers," to
write a story that makes sense of complicated problems and complex events
based on objectives, requirements, and commitments. Legal briefs (the
lawyer's "story") select relevant portions from the "well ordered
record" developed during trial to explain, argue, and advocate
chronology shows causation for subjects (also "issues")
in dispute based on alignment of particular facts with requirements
and commitments, such as a law, regulation, contract, a letter, etc.
This Hansel and Gretel root cause analysis process of writing
and discussing a story with many paths of alignment cites precise
that control location of text. People can quickly find their
way back "home" to original understandings
in a well ordered record for checking accuracy and expanding
understanding of context. Accurate understanding of complex stories is an
additional step in legal practice that takes more time and
costs more money than daily management on the job that relies on
conversation and remembering the gist of the "story" in hopes of
expediting to get things done.
Of course, in court, an impartial
judge hears everyone's "story" on the witness stand. This is
different from the way things are done at the office, where
most everyone is partial to the story they are telling, and so
colors both the story and judgements based on personal experience
In management, people, who get good at telling "stories," move up.
Strong "people" skills use conversation to "communicate" that expedites
the work with feel good management
practices that avoid accountability for mistakes,
and maneuver to gain credit for success. Since people
only remember the gist of things, the story is shaped in re-telling
to emphasize different aspects of agendas for different audiences
with different objectives in different meetings, calls and
correspondence, all directed at getting people to say "yes!" As
noted, re-telling stories causes meaning drift.
But, in court, everyone's story is analysed for alignment with the
controlling forces in commitments, contracts, laws and
regulations. Despite assiduous efforts to destroy the record under
management practice (see POIMS), information is discovered from
vendors, staff, customers, agencies and other sources. As a result,
merely being good at telling stories is not sufficient for success in
court. This may be one reason why managers fear the courtroom, and
decry second guessers. The extra time and expense of analysing
the story by adding alignment uncovers conflicts that need
adjustment, which are overlooked in the practice of management that
predominately relies on stream-of-conscious communication through
precipitous action based on
conversation and email. Executives are disappointed and frustrated
that the intent to save money and expedite by relying on conversation
and email, rather than invest time for aligning organizational memory
with controlling forces, turns out to cost thousands, or millions, of
dollars more than the cost of analysis needed to improve the
first-guess, so that there is less need for
Thus, the courtroom objective to reach an impartial, objective
decision by analysing alignment of evidence for root cause analysis,
conflicts with the common sense of "feel good" management that
relies on "guess and gossip," and "hunch and hope," from remembering
the gist of the story, rather than developing a "well ordered
record" of organizational memory that supports decisions. As a
result, practitioners of conventional management practice
Since people are not going to stop talking, Communication Metrics
says use technology to improve the first-guess so there is less
need for second-guessing in order to get the "story" right, under
about the cost of errors in our
What should the technology do?
Since the full story can cover a lot of details, and since judges
have limited span of attention
like everyone else, legal briefs
summarize related bodies of detail into headings, similar to
headlines in a newspaper or magazine.
Headings are summarized at the beginning of the brief so that the
meaning of a vast amount of detail, including months of
testimony, endless exhibits and hours of argument can be
absorbed quickly for initial, cursory understanding. These
headings provide a link or pointer, like a table of contents in a
book, to the details that support the meaning of each heading.
This practice is an analog of the human mental process that connects
summary to detail.
Mental pointers of summary understandings, however, become disconnected over
time from relevant details of original sources, due to commingling in the mind
of intervening events that have similar elements of fact patterns. This
creates ambiguity in the mental state alternatively called "cursory,"
"seat-of-the-pants" or "snap" judgements. Top
managers have learned that a lot of money is saved and earned by
investing time for analysis to avoid ambiguity that causes mistakes due to
This lesson takes time to learn. Most managers are too young to have
discovered the secret of investing intellectual capital. They and their
organizations pay a heavy price in lost revenue, legal expense and adverse
judgements that underscore another difference between standard management
practice using "guess and gossip" for making snap judgements, and the legal
In court, people are paying for carefully weighed judgements.
The law does not guarantee a "correct" decision, but the process
is designed to enable the decision maker to carefully weigh all
of the facts, correlations, implications and nuance that bear on
reaching a "correct" decision.
Therefore, legal briefs use an organizing system that essentially
"hard wires" the connections of summary to details so that the
details can be quickly retrieved for analysis of alignment with
original sources and controlling authority, in order to verify
the correctness of understandings drawn from a heading and
thereby improve the chances of getting a correct judgement. It is
more accurate than cursory, seat-of-the-pants methods, but it also
takes a lot of time, expense and expertise.
Finally, when everyone is satisfied that the facts are
established, a carefully prepared history of similar subjects is
used to determine an appropriate adjustment. This history is
called "case law." It is like case studies used in management,
except case law is linked back to original sources so that
alignment of meaning is easier to recognize and to maintain for
use in future cases.
The crucial difference then between legal practice and management
practice can be summarized in the concept of "time."
Executives write things down, ask questions, listen to experts,
and apply company policy and case studies. Their focus is on
getting things done in a cost-effective manner. They do not
overlook conflicts on purpose that are later exposed in court.
But managers in the New World Order
not have enough time to think,
much less to write
everything down and create the links that expose conflicts, nor
to consider the full range of subjects that impact performance.
They do not have enough time to link daily cursory,
seat-of-the-pants decisions to the details that justify a course
of action, or point to a different, more strongly supported
Limited time causes limited span of attention, the Achilles heel of
communication. Only when a lawsuit occurs, is there enough time to
the legal process forces everybody to slow down
and invest in experts, called "lawyers," to align communications for the full
range of subjects that effect performance. Lawyers spend endless hours
linking the record with contract provisions and authority in laws, codes, and
professional practice; they spend a lot of time talking to people
in depositions getting feedback
on relevant documents. This meticulous
intelligence process of communication metrics is a microscope of
that verfies accuracy by adding
organization, analysis, alignment and feedback to the record handed over
by the client. Legal "intelligence" discovers
many correlations, implications and nuance that reveal little
deviations, which previously were overlooked by everybody due to
limited span of attention on the job, and so escalated into loss, crisis, and
calamity that requires adjustment by the court. (see
Thus, legal adjudication is a slow, costly metric that enables people
to discover critical
understanding long after events transpire, when it is too late to
avoid mistakes. It provides "lessons learned" for next time, but
only if there is enough time to align the daily flow of
information with the relevant lessons that fit within limited
span of attention.
Traditional legal practice is therefore not conducive to daily
People on the job need a system of dynamic intelligence support
to capture a well ordered record of personal
and organizational memory that enables accurate understanding
in time to discover cause and effect, and follow-up to adjust course
before mistakes are made, and at a time when
adjustments often cost little or
nothing. Usually it costs the same or even less to do things correctly,
as to do things wrong. Lack of awareness separates serendipity from
calamity. Many elements required for
intelligence support are already available to provide
A system of
is analogous to "concurrent engineering" that avoids conflicts
in schematic details by cross-checking between engineering
disciplines, as design progresses, rather than wait to perform all
of one discipline, then hand off completed drawings to
the next team. In the same way, the "metric" methodology
in legal practice can discover
the "truth" while communication in meetings, calls, documents occurs,
rather than wait for errors to become painfully manifest,
when work collapses, causing loss, tragedy,
and conflict, then hand off the project record to a lawyer
for discoverying what went wrong.
Using "metrics" to support leadership is gaining currency in
professional standards. PMI's Guide to the
PMBOK (reviewed on July 21, 1995)
"leadership" as aligning people through communication. (see
section 2.4.1) "Aligning" entails measuring accuracy. Lawyers routinely
use Communication Metrics
of accuracy when documents and testimony
are compared with what was written and said previously. The
PMBOK standard suggests that alignment should be maintained
concurrently, otherwise work
drifts off course into bigger and bigger problems.
(see POIMS) Clearly, truth needs an ally in the modern era of
information technology (IT) that overwhelms human memory.
Concurrent Discovery makes technology
a powerful ally for proactive leadership to
Without Concurrent Discovery, people are forced to rely
on personal experience and short-term communication skills for
talking and listening, because it is
fast and easy to rely on what we already "know" by using "common
sense." In daily business, people spend hours in meetings, have 5
or 6 calls and receive 10 email, then summarize meaning in a few
comments to the boss, a colleague or customer. These routine exchanges
become input for conveying cursory impressions to third
parties, resulting in a daily "communication" process of guess
and gossip, because there is not enough time to connect summary
to details. There is not enough time to check the contract, the
policy, the regulation, lessons learned inventory,
and on and on... When there is not enough time to check the record,
error creeps into the work stream, causing continual bumbling.
Feel Good Management, Guess and Gossip
Crashing on Information Highway
Often direct experience on a current issue is not available, so
managers go by what
at the time. The "warm, fuzzy"
feeling, that the literature says is the basis for most management
decisions, is simply a heuristic link in the human mind to
disparate events that seem to apply at the moment because we do
not have enough time to investigate, listen and learn. At
another moment, we may feel less confident about the warmth and
fuzziness of a key decision. But the next meeting, call, seminar,
or plane trip crowds out careful consideration of the painful
prospect that a decision deviates from original sources, e.g.,
law, regulation, contract, policy, a meeting with the customer,
or professional guidelines.
A heavy schedule makes it easy to believe that the next meeting
is more important than fixing mistakes from the last meeting.
Speeding on the Information Highway heightens the slippery slope
of "feel good" management. We don't have time to use good
management practice from MBA class, the seminar, and company
policy on traceability to original sources for an audit trail
to verify accuracy and discover context. Without a
well ordered record,
looking up sources to align understandings takes a lot of
time, so shortcuts and fudging on principals seem helpful to
"expedite" action. Limited time forces reliance on what "feels"
right at the moment, and limited span of attention conceals the
need for careful consideration. However, lack of alignment
causes deviations from the truth to take root. Things fall
through the cracks. Soon, the team is guided almost entirely by
guess and gossip. Mistakes are overlooked, then ignored, followed
by cover-ups, conflict, lawsuits, losses, reengineering,
recessions -- as Aristotle
warned so long ago.
This is fertile ground for improving management. Projects and
organizations are a "community" of skills, interests, capacities
and perspectives, shaped by genetics, education and culture.
Communication focuses this diversity through leadership on common
objectives by creating and maintaining shared meaning over time
so that people can work together effectively, i.e., cooperate by
taking complementary rather than conflicting action.
Like sunlight focused through a prism, skills and efforts are
magnified through the synergy of effective communication.
New realities of faster information technology, globalized
dealings and increased regulation comprise a more complex
business environment that requires adding a "metric" to
supplement short-term communication skills of seeing,
talking and listening (i.e., sight and sound). The industrial age
brought tools to leverage human physical
strength to see, hear, lift and travel; thus, the telescope, telephone,
television, cranes and airplanes. So, too, in the emerging new
world order, long-term communication factors of understanding and
follow-up need a new kind of tool that leverages
mental strength for
by adding intelligence to traditional management processes.
Communication Must Transcend Human Mental Biology
The need for Communication Metrics comes from two fundamentals...
innately manages complexity using a
biology that is constant over thousands of years, but the...
- Complexity of human life is expanding exponentially due to
information technologies that overwhelm the mental process of converting
information into knowledge, i.e., information overload.
This conflict between the
that uses an involuntary, biological process of summary, called
at the conscious state of awareness, in order to avoid being overwhelmed by
that occurs in the microcosm of the mind, more commonly called the
"subconscious," means that an increasing share of information falls outside
the conscious span of attention (see analysis of
work on March 3, 1999). Decisions therefore increasingly reflect only the gist,
rather than the facts, and "gut feelings," "warm fuzzy feelings,"
"common sense" and other impulsive reactions
lead to stress, error, loss, conflict, crisis and calamity
for which there is no evident
explanation, because there is not enough time to discover
the connections of cause and effect. (see again
It seems, therefore, to follow that, since the biological capacity of the
human mind is relatively stable over thousands of years,
the expanding complexity of life
is a central challenge of the New World Order, where an
Information Highway now overwhelms limited span of
attention. Some authorities describe a knowledge management
dilemma, but few have focused on the core of the problem, i.e., a constant
mental biology that must bear the burden of
an exponential expansion of information.
People are forced to work from summary that gradually becomes
disconnected, and then grows into conflict with the
details of decisions. If unchecked, this is a recipe for
management imploding on itself, as seen from
lower management productivity
in the face of increased use of information technology (IT)
like email, fax and cellular phones, which greatly accelerate the
flow of information to the mind, resulting in less
time to think
about each new body of information.
Since the genetic capacity of the mind is constant over thousands
of years, it has become less able to deal with the accelerating
pace of its own creations. There simply is more to think about
than ever before.
In effect, the human mind is creating a world for which it is not
well suited. The mind is numbed and overwhelmed by a steady diet
of information; yet today every business is striving to make its
organization better "informed," frantically acquiring tools of
self-destruction, because there is no evident means to improve
so that information can be processed into what
people really need...
cause and effect
knowledge and ideas.
Recent work in biology indicates that real "thinking" occurs
the conscious mind. This is where information is
history, documents, people and time. These linkages settle into patterns of
understanding, called "knowledge," and are compared with innate paradigms
comprised of personal values, needs, and cultural influences that evolve
over time. Meaning is given to everything we experience, and information is
rightly or wrongly, for action. Paradigms are decision rules for various
patterns of action, like a model, or template, that trigger belief about cause
and effect. Comparing new information with patterns of our life experience
that match a paradigm, yields "meaning." (see also
Devil in the Details people draw different
meaning from the same information,
due to variations in life experience, that make
communication the biggest risk in enterprise.)
Once we settle on what information means, once we "understand" it
within our personal framework of paradigms, and patterns of experience,
then we have "knowledge."
"Understanding" in daily management practice essentially means
getting desired results.
If desired action is taken, the leader assumes that people got the
message, i.e., "understood" what was intended. Such assumptions,
however, sometimes turn out to be mistaken. Near term action can
align with leadership direction for reasons other than those put
forward by the leader, and those other reasons can later lead the
team off course. This suggests a deeper sense of what
"understanding" means. It seems related to the underlying
reasons for action and the connections or linkages to desired
results, i.e., objectives.
Technology Positions Meaning in Knowledge Space
Knowledge Space Empowers Understanding and Follow Up
The legal profession uses "causation" to describe the connections
between events, chronology, reasons and objectives that comprise
"understanding." Similarly construction people recognize the
importance of connections that support a structure.
"Understanding" is so critical in construction that specialists
are used, called "engineers" and "architects," to figure out the
right connections, and to carefully position the details using
dimensions of length, width and depth. Locating details in
dimensional space ensures alignment and provides a simple, direct
means to find specific details when needed. Architects and
engineers inspect the actual work against original objectives set
out in a data base, called "plans and specifications," to ensure
the connections are correct so that the building will stand up
under the loads it will encounter.
Similarly, lawyers inspect to see if testimony will stand up
under what they call "scrutiny." They use "discovery" to create
a data base of management details analogous to the architect's
data base of construction details.
Organization and control processes in construction, manufacturing
and in legal practice reflect the TQM notion of business
"metrics" to see how management measures up. Adding a metric to
the main activity of management, "communication," therefore leads
to a concept of...
... analogous to dimensional space used by architects. Just as location in
dimensional space is critical for understanding the strength of a building,
location in Knowledge Space yields understanding of chronology and
alignment of daily details with objectives, history, policy, requirements
law, commitments and history. Positioning information in Knowledge Space
through chronology and alignment provide context that enriches
information, based on nuance, correlations and implications, commonly called
"meaning." Technology that
manages context with organization, analysis, summary and feedback facilitates
that makes management strong enough to succeed in the
of a more complex, fast paced,
high risk business environment, cited by
in the management context can be grasped from its
root words that suggest a connection between something that
"stands under" or supports something else. In a building, a
column supports a beam. In management, "understanding" is a set
of facts and objectives that supports a decision for action.
Without adequate support, i.e., understanding, eventually a
structure of concrete and steel, or of decisions taken by
managers, will fail. Thus, leadership that convinces the team to
take action where there is no understanding of connections
between cause and effect will likely not achieve the aims of
communication to build a better community, but rather will
lead people down the wrong path.
"Understanding" in management is bi-directional with
respect to time. It looks forward and backward from the present.
The leader must grasp the correct connections between objectives
and the record of prior performance as support for setting
direction. The team must be helped to see the connections
between the direction set to reach specific goals in the future,
and their skills and awareness of constraints and opportunities.
This often requires conveying information about some of the
reasons for setting direction, i.e., sharing understanding, in
order to form shared meaning that can sustain conflicting
influences which arise over time.
What are conflicting influences?
When people leave the leadership arena, e.g., a call, a meeting,
they continue to be influenced by subsequent events and analysis,
which often is emotionally charged, causing lurches in varied
directions due to momentary crises. Therefore, maintaining shared
meaning requires building consistent "understanding" over time.
New information must be continually aligned in a manner that
either supersedes subsequent influences, or is seen to be
consistent with them, including personal goals. This means
associating desired action with goals commonly recognized to be
highly desirable, e.g., survival, promotion, higher earnings.
Leadership that fails to make this alignment will fail.
In today's environment,
go from meeting to meeting
and receive a constant barrage of calls, documents and email
throughout the day. All events impact the meaning of each event
and thereby influence, i.e., change, understanding about facts,
goals, strategy, methods and feelings which lead to ultimate
conduct. Information that is outside span of attention, changes
the meaning of what is occurring consciously. Since this change
in understanding occurs without conscious awareness, i.e.,
subconsciously, it must be resisted by a conscious effort to
How does what the leader said in meeting "A" align with what is
in our contract, or with what a different leader said in meeting
"B," "C," telephone call "K" and email "D." Since people are
email a day, how does each conveyance of
information impact the meaning of correlations and implications
that are drawn? How does this impact earnings due to mistakes
and missed opportunities?
Clearly, the more we communicate about a wide range of issues the
greater the web of connections becomes that requires alignment
for effective leadership. This
increases the chance of making a miss-connection. So leadership
must not only "align people through communication," it must also
have in place a continuous support process to build and maintain
shared meaning over time, as people are subjected to a constant
stream of other influences. Otherwise, initial alignment
drifts away. Organization, management, command and control
devolve toward entropy with the irreversability of time under the
second law of thermodynamics.
(reviewed on March 12, 2004)
This point seems to follow from work by Dr. Thomas K. Landauer in
his paper on cognitive science entitled....
A Solution to Plato's
The Latent Semantic Analysis Theory of Acquisition,
and Representation of Knowledge
Dr. Landauer describes a study showing that human mental
changes as a function of new information.
Initially, this does not seem very insightful. We all hope to
become more "knowledgeable" by getting more information. That is
why we go to school, read books, newspapers, watch television and
attend meetings at work and seminars. Dr. Landauer's point,
however, is that this change in knowledge state, i.e.,
understanding, often occurs without volition or awareness,
which normally accompanies our thirst for knowledge.
An obstacle to leadership then is that having motivated the team
through effective, short-term communication (i.e., dialog),
common understanding of the vision, strategy and tactics, at time
"now," will later, at time "now + t1," (a day, week, month,
year), drift off course, absent proactive effort to maintain
shared meaning. Since it occurs slowly and incrementally, people
are unaware of
that leads them down the wrong
path, into conflict where none should exist, and into loss that
was rightfully gain.
Executives are particularly burdened because they are less
subject to being questioned about what they know by the people
they encounter in daily work. The absence of a daily "metric" to
link communication back to original sources, and provide timely
feedback, reinforces belief that our knowledge is consistent when
in fact it is drifting off course under Landauer's finding of
induced meaning from the constant flow of information. Thus,
leaders and followers alike gradually float in circles of "guess
and gossip." Like a ship without a compass, the team drifts in a
sea of information, reaching its destination only after the most
Because meaning drift occurs slowly it is hidden from
the conscious mind. i.e., it is a
we have from ourself! Leaders are therefore drawn to the common
sense conclusion that
others have not told the truth,
or are less dedicated to working hard than they are. Only rarely do
executives get the chance to discover that their "knowledge" is
mistaken, as when being asked in court about documentation that
conflicts with testimony. Those occasions are often dismissed as
"blowing things out of proportion," and "second guessing,"
rather than recognized as
opportunities to adjust practices and technology
in order to avoid the
malady of false knowledge due to the mind's limited span of
attention that allows individuals and organizations to drift off
Clearly, if we make the wrong connections, then we are mistaken
about what we "know." Since the capacity to think is limited by human biology,
information technology that increases demand for intelligence to create
connections that convert information into useful knowledge,
means more connections will be missed that fall
outside span of attention. When understanding
connections of cause and effect fails,
more mistakes occur with less time to recover. Therefore,
drifting off course is faster, easier
and more harmful on the Information Highway that compounds complexity,
unless complementary technology is adopted to leverage human intelligence
in the New World Order of faster information.
As time and distance are compressed by technology, geography no
longer contains the impact of error. A mis-machined part in
Hamburg causes disaster in Tuscaloosa. A $4 billion error in Hong
Kong harms investors around the world. When harm can strike
quickly and widely, the value of being correct, of avoiding
error, of making the right connections, quickly, skyrockets.
Clearly, more information reduces productivity unless a faster
way is found to convert information into knowledge. This requires
nothing less than a new technology to lift human capacity to
think, remember and communicate. Instead of simply absorbing
information going from one meeting to the next, and hoping our
mind will convert it into knowledge, we need a technology and
proactive efforts to make sure that the "bottom line" and the
"big picture" are linked back to the correct details. POIMS
technology enables an intelligence process of connecting cause
and effect from daily management under a concept of
investing intellectual capital by capturing a greater share
of organizational memory day-to-day, and organizing it within the
context of objectives, requirements and commitments. These connections
support the mental process of analysis, alignment, summary and feedback
that converts information into knowledge. Thus, POIMS technology that aids
knowledge is essential to make information
technology (IT) a useful asset, rather than a harmful liability.
The value of mental "connections" can be seen from an
of human thinking in the table below.
Intelligence resolves the dilemma of inherent
that dominates existence, also, shown below.
complexity is ultimately managed in the microcosm of the mind
with simple patterns of cause and effect
that make sense of the world, relative to human needs and experience
at the conscious level of awareness where action occurs. Organizing the
complexity of needs and relevant experience
by growing simple binary elements into powerful indexing
structures, like DNA grows life itself,
enables locating relevant experience quickly that guides
action moment to moment for sustaining and enjoying life.
The ability to maintain connections
of organic structure ensures that follow up
action to accomplish the "big picture" at a future time will be
guided by accurate understanding of relevant history, and aligns with
objectives, requirements and commitments. The same connections
that strengthen understanding, and extend organizational memory, also,
enable communication that creates shared meaning for collaboration in
taking complementary rather than conflicting action.
Leveraging the power of people to cooperate in getting things done is
the engine of enterprise that drives productivity and earnings.
Mental maps connect momentary
impressions, at the conscious level of attention, to the vast array of details
derived from total life experience, which are, in turn, connected into
chunks of chronologies organized by context in the subconscious
mind. Organized chronologies of cause and effect that can be
drawn from the subconscious into the conscious span of attention
comprise "knowledge" that is held as belief.
Belief, that is not sufficiently grounded in experience, is exposed as
when reality eventually intrudes to produce conflict.
Belief born out by consistent experience is
Those with knowledge of cause and effect to accurately foresee future
are called wise. Technology that leverages intelligence enables
capture, manage, and accurately remember a broader spectrum of history and
experience for "connecting the dots" to understand
subtle and complex forces of cause and effect. Augmenting intelligence to
organize, analyse, align, summarize and manage feedback for accuracy
significantly advances the information paradigm to a
culture of knowledge,
where wisdom and vision can play a more dominate role
performing daily tasks and planning the future.
Leveraging the power of human cognition with instant
to relevant experience is therefore the
lever that lifts civilization to a higher plane. The invention of
alphabet technology to grow, maintain,
and manage information transformed people into
superhumans (see Douglas Lenant). For hundreds of thousands
of years people foraged for food, huddled in caves for shelter, and wielded
rocks and sticks for protection. Today, after 2,000 years using
information technology, the same people press buttons that leverage physical
strength for transportation, lights, water, and other necessities. So,
too, moving up the scale of cognition
to tools that leverage mental strength necessarily transforms civilization
into a super culture of knowledge.
Common mental maps that construct shared meaning from the constant
stream of details day-to-day are the foundation that enable diverse people
to cooperate in building an effective community. This makes creating the
link between communication, cooperation and community a key
task of leadership. Communication Metrics empowers leadership
to create and maintain alignment of mental maps in the conscious span of
attention at much lower levels of organic structure than has previously been
possible. New information can be integrated into
individual memories, which necessarily have unique and conflicting
history, usually not consciously recognized, and yet still maintain
shared meaning, so that collaboration is strengthened.
This is accomplished with an innovation described as "organic subject
structure." Computers provide power and speed of associating, organizing,
remembering and retrieving related information, though without exotic,
complicated programming. Work in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and in Knowledge
Management (KM) are making important advances; however, Communication Metrics
does not propose "automating" intelligence that "thinks" for people. Rather the
magic is providing technology that enables people to think for themselves by
consistently using good management practice cited by Drucker, Covey and others
for capturing organizational memory, and structuring it for retrieval and
pattern recognition that improve understanding cause and effect for making
decisions and taking action.
Automated connections based on time and context (i.e., subjects)
magnify the value of information by creating external mental maps
that explain the history of daily work through
diaries and journals, which can be readily managed using technology
to understand context at much lower levels of detail. This solves
the problem of time degrading human memory until only the gist
of critical experience can be remembered. It, also, avoids error from
commingling and distorting memories, so that people do not get mixed up
by new waves of information that flood the mind. Fast, accurate
memory is strengthened by connections of cause and effect using
DNA-like organic subject structures
that relate the continuous flow
of information, encountered day-to-day, to human needs and aspirations,
which vary in size, importance, frequency and visibility on a vast scale.
The combination of better memory and better
leverages the gift of time and the power of knowledge among
people, teams, projects and enterprise to lift civilization.
As seen from DNA in biology,
nuclear energy, and computer chip design, controlling
lower levels of organic structure yields significant power,
cited by George Gilder in his book Microcosm (Simon and Shuster, 1989 p.
345). Gilder calls this the "Law of the Microcosm." Under the
reasoning of this "law," Aristotle's
point that time multiplies the impact
of small errors, implies significant improvement in productivity and
earnings occurs by adding "metrics" to communications. Improvement
occurs because communication is a predicate to action. For example,
on a construction project,
there are a lot of meetings, calls and documents, then we dig
the ditch. Checking alignment of communications with objectives,
requirements and commitments using organic structure to track small,
but critical, details, significantly increases the chance
that the ditch will be properly aligned, as well, days, weeks, even
years later, when actual digging is performed.
that harnesses the power of the microcosm to ensure a ditch is
properly aligned, also, gives people much greater
control of details on everything from which meaning and action are determined
that impact productivity, earnings and stock prices,
minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, over weeks, months and years.
Managing the organic structure of context is much like tending a
Garden of Knowledge,
which occurs constantly in the subconscious mind, as people perform
daily tasks. In the same way that
alphabet technology externalizes
construction of information using pen and paper, wordprocessing, etc.,
externalizing the common mental process of growing organic structures to manage
knowledge (e.g., ontology, epistomlogy, taxonomy, subjects, categories,
classifications, topics, etc.) makes
Context Management a powerful new way of
working that complements traditional literacy. Augmenting natural intelligence
further lifts the capacity to think, remember and communicate by enabling
people to shape, craft, modify, preserve and convey personal and organizational
memory across a wide range of
work roles (see examples in
education, government, health care, technology, etc., listed on July 8, 2002)
The Information Highway that accelerates the pace of daily life compounds
complexity that obscures, hides, indeed, buries critical details in the
microcosm of the mind, and so adds urgency for a solution. It, therefore,
magnifies gains from Communication Metrics.
Realizing this gain, requires a new kind
of technology to capture a greater share of organizational memory, and, also,
leverage the subtle relationship between time and context. People
can navigate in Knowledge Space through a sea of details to create
connections that form understanding, knowledge,
wisdom, and ultimately a shared vision that strengthens collaboration. Better
teamwork improves productivity by people
taking complementary action, rather than being busy doing rework to correct
problems caused by conflicting actions
(see discussion above). Getting things done quickly and accurately flows from
synergy between granular subject indexing, granular addressability, and the
granularity of time in the flexible structure of Knowledge Space
that together enable dynamic linking. Creating
connections within a few seconds that show causation and verify accuracy,
based on situational awareness, make
precision access fast and easy,
and are therefore essential to reduce mistakes and discover opportunity
in time to be effective in a faster paced new world order.
The process of connecting binary structures from
bits and pieces of meaning
(i.e., details) into larger mental constructs for managing a
complex world occurs along a continuum of cognition,
Seeing the future from knowledge, history, experience|
Uncommon sense, transcends span of attention
Connects patterns of cause and effect on all subjects
Writing stories that connect experience into patterns
Accumulates stories of understandings into paradigms
Connects cause and effect into a coherent story
Cause and effect applied in the moment within span of attention
Summarize information makes sense by associating cause and effect
Language consciously connects sensory perception into information
Technology manages bits, bytes, words, and numbers as data
Sensory perception subconsciously connects bytes and bits into data
Subconscious construction of bits into sensory perception
Begin processing organic structure of cognition
On off, yes no, right wrong, male, female... life death
Binary structures define existence with difficult dilemmas at the lowest level
of sentience in the microcosm of the mind...
profits and credits
k n o w l e d g e
losses and debits|
i g n o r a n c e
Information technology (IT) is excellent constructing cognition by connecting
the simplest forms of binary structure using "0" or "1" to register
"on or off" - "yes or no" - "life or death," etc.
More complex structures for resolving common dilemmas of cause and
effect, choosing immediacy or
accuracy, thinking or doing, speaking or writing, contesting or agreeing,
all move up quickly on the scale of cognition to the realm of
knowledge that overwhelms information technology (IT). Better
technology for creating more information, in-turn, overwhelms
human mental biology, because innate intelligence cannot accurately convert
faster information streams into knowledge. Hence the complaint: nobody
listens -- it's too noisy! (see "new realities")
IT has progressed over the past 50
years to provide a faster means of converting "data" into "information,"
yielding the Information Age, Information Technology and an Information
Highway. This has produced
data pollution and
information overload that together reduce productivity and earnings
because "truth" is a target that moves too quickly for human span of attention
to track with innate biological intelligence processes.
Clearly, success creating technology that now overwhelms human thinking
demands a new class of tools and support for transformation
from information to a
culture of knowledge.
This new technology supports the
intelligence process of creating and
retrieving connections of cause
and effect, and maintains connections over long time spans between
summary and the
details that convert information into
knowledge faster and more accurately. Since knowledge is a more powerful
resource than information, then, just as the
was an explosive technology 2,000 years ago for
leveraging mental biology to create information at low levels of organic
structure, the same power using new tools that augment intelligence to
leverage knowledge promises another big leap in civilization.
This forms a powerful new nexus between religion and technology.
Back to the Future: "Religion" as Management Science
Hansel & Gretel Connect the Dots to Find the Path of Enlightenment
Religion? Today, this means going to church, prayer, faith in a transcendent
existence? But it is also the world's first management science: a system of
quality control that
links information to show alignment with original sources. The word
"religion" derives from "religare" meaning "to bind back," also "to tie fast;"
in other words, to connect or link back. The ancients found that, while the
human mind is well suited to deal with the vagaries of nature, people need
help to accurately remember complexities of civilization.
They discovered that once truth was revealed through hard-won experience,
it was necessary to "connect the dots" so that, like
Hansel and Gretel,
people can find their way back to critical knowledge, ensuring that, at a
future time, passions of the day do not lead everyone down the
wrong path following the sweet sounding music of the
(see also reminding)
Creating and preserving the right "path" is the process of converting
information into knowledge, which empowers communities to build and maintain
shared meaning, essential for working together by taking complementary, rather
than conflicting action.
then is correct. Communication requires more than information. Our forebears
recognized communication requires connections to context for understanding
cause and effect. Only the power of knowledge
can keep the team on course.
Without connections and the ability to retrieve them quickly when needed, in
time we fall prey to Murphy's Law under Aristotle's rule.
This was the seminal recognition of the interplay between time
and information, where a correct decision may be hidden in faded
memories; or is remembered, but seems incorrect in the moment, because
interceding events have created new paradigms of cause and effect
from which the mind's inherent need to summarize and paraphrase (i.e.
recode) produces false knowledge, due to
The original meaning of "religion," to link back to original sources,
reflects the idea of knowledge as information linked to align with
objectives and experience, i.e., relevant history, for sustaining
human life based on an essentially fixed biology. In other words, since
civilization increases complexity, and human mental
biology remains fixed, the mind devises tools that augment and leverage
intelligence in order to cope. Alphabet technology
(literacy) and religion evolved into a foundation that enables
progress in science, agriculture, governement, education, health care,
and everything else that makes life today heavan on earth compared
to life 2,000 years ago.
The practice of religion tells poignant stories that communicate
wise counsel across generations over centuries
and millennia. (see wisdom)
Weekly mass review of shared values in church along with confession
of error, and prayor for strength to improve yield
that lifts quality of life for individuals through the harmony of
"community." Religious dicta optimizes productivity with
positive synergy between (1) resisting disruptive behavior,
e.g., "thou shalt not steal"; and (2) encouraging cooperation with
mutual aid and comfort, e.g., "love thy neighbor." An established
body of written stories reinforced with weekly review in church
guides conduct toward common ways despite
lapses of biological memory inflammed by passions of the moment.
Thus, reliance on the "word of God" in the Bible leverages community life
with the power of knowledge inherent in the tools of literacy (see
in POIMS). Writing the stories of religion, and attending
church once a week interlinks God with the "word," i.e., they are essentially
the same power that enables people to flourish. Indeed, regular reinforcement
magically enables consistent performance that advances community life,
because objective standards tested by time and devoid of personal agendas
engender belief and faith.
Religiously linking chapter and verse back to original sources further prevents
meaning drift (see also POIMS) that otherwise routinely
occurs, when retelling stories from memory. When the Bible began to
evolve more than 2,000 years ago, people were painfully aware
from sole reliance on oral communication that, without written history
to authenticate conversation, small deviations in memory and paraphrasing
compound over long time spans
into wholesale cultural drift, and that devestating consequences
flow from gradually turning away from lessons learned long ago.
(see again Aristotle) They discovered that,
as original participants pass from the scene, without a religious tradition
to strengthen commitment, new generations have no personal
experience that warns to avoid conduct, which appears benign, and often
attractive, absent knowledge of relevant history. Religion therefore
assiduously links back to reveal consequences, which flow
from patterns of cause and effect that are drawn out over time,
sometimes years, decades, even centuries, and so are too complex and remote
for the mind to perceive danger in the moment, when decisions are
made that launch irreversible events.
As a result, religion became the
science of life
that preserves and drives civilization.
patterns of causation for navigating the complexity of daily life
is not always easy. The ancient fable of The fox, the cat, and the hen
illustrates the challenge of complexity. How to transport all three (3) across
the river in a boat that can carry only two (2) at a time, because unattended
the fox will eat the cat and the hen, and the cat will eat the hen. Devising a
plan to avoid risk of loss represents a class of
subtle, counterintuitive solutions, which do not spring immediately to mind
from merely observing momentary conditions. The ability to see beyond the
moment by looking more deeply than the mind perceives from observing and
hearing daily events is a powerful form of meditation that may lead to a
common in the practice of religion.
2-tier model of cognition
(see POIMS) normally processes a constant stream of new information in the
conscious span of attention from ordinary sensory perception. Conscious
perceptions are instantly and continuously compared with memory of relevant
history stored in the subconscious to construct meaning for taking
action in the moment based on human needs and desires. This model provides
another powerful form of discovery when
sequential conscious processing and subconscious parallel processing
briefly combine to concentrate mental strength into a single cognitive
process through the practice of
While the subconscious mind stores knowledge of experience and constructs
connections in the background that support conscious reasoning to understand
sensory perception of evolving events in the moment, this takes time that
necessarily limits mental processing to only immediate perceptions within span
of attention. Closing the eyes and eliminating sound, however, presents a
decidedly different mental state of rest, or at least semi-rest, where the
conscious mind is not receiving an otherwise continuous stream of data for
interpretation, which, if sustained, normally leads to sleep and
sometimes to dreaming. While the role of the conscious mind during sleep and
dreaming is not fully understood, everyone shares the common experience of
thinking, pondering, and worrying for the few minutes between laying down and
closing our eyes, and when actual sleep occurs. Meditation, particularly in
the Buddhist religion, has formulated practices that prolong this state for the
purpose of focusing on particular subjects. The Judeo Christian tradition
uses prayer in a similar way with the eyes closed and sound restrained for
quiet reflection and communion with God. In both cases, prayer and meditation
yield strength, solace, and confidence for facing the work-a-day world.
These common practices of meditation and prayer seem to meld conscious and
subconscious dynamics for dealing with an evolving environment into a single
step of processing only internal thoughts and memories. Experience has shown
that creativity in the form of personal relations, designing health care
systems and individual treatment, writing, and software development, to name a
few examples, often encounter very difficult, wicked
problems that prevent progress. We cannot see a solution. Authors
complain about "writer's block," engineers object to conflicting data, and
despair of endless "debugging,"
doctors and patients struggle with the dilemma of investing time in a project
that ultimately fails, and we all decry human frailities in a complex world
with the common refrain: Why doesn't the government do something?
Spirituality in the form of religious prayer and meditation provides solace,
and, in many cases, lights the path to solutions based on the 2-tier model of
cognition, leading to a powerful form of enlightenment.
How does enlightenment help solve wicked problems like transporting the
fox, the cat, and the hen safely across the river?
Meditation that invests 5 minutes to an hour or so for introspection
necessarily concentrates internal thinking. Without the burden of processing
external stimuli from sight and sound, the conscious mind can focus the
subconscious on a single subject, rather than the vast diversity of continuous
sensory perception. This helps solve the common problem that attention to work
in progress blocks further progress. For example, when a writer cannot
construct a textual solution, often what has already been written becomes a
dead end that requires significant change, or abandonment and starting over.
Similarly, complex software may be a dead end, sometimes requiring the merest
of changes, but visually observing the existing code prevents discovering a
successful path, because the mind is striving to extend the current path.
Closing the eyes and avoiding sensory perception retains what has been
done as a possibility in the mind, because the mind created it, but when the
eyes no longer see it, the initial idea is no longer the sole gateway to the
subconscous that poses an insurmountable bias toward what has already been
conceived. As a result, mental processing time is freed up for other
possibilities to compete. In many cases, concentrated attention miraculously
imagines many paths for solving complex problems that are otherwise blocked by
the overhead of consciously processing new information. (see also
The fact that the
brain is totally enclosed and is getting no external data invites the model of
heightened synergy between conscious and subconscuous processing. Melding the
power of creative
by the subconscious with the power of
sequential (logical) conscious analysis
can often test out alternatives to lighten the most promising path.
Enlightenment through concentrated internal attention (meditation, thinking,
pondering, prayer) on a particular subject that occurs without
sensory stimulous can
often yield fresh ideas, hints, hunches and possbilities which can then be
formalized, tested and refined to achieve breakthroughs for solving wicked
problems, under the common rule that knowledge is ultimately derived from
experience. In other words, mere possibilities are not solutions, but are
essential to start the process of discovery. Eventually, sufficient experience
is gained through trial and error for comprehensible writing, study, and
scholarship to formalize craftsmanship into established knowledge for general
use. Religious writings, like the Bible, illustrate the power of spirituality
derived from faith and meditation applied across the ages.
Research on April 5, 2005 shows physiological grounding for the model of
increased attention from focusing brain power during meditation and prayer
by reducing sensory perception of external stimuli.
An article Pure Consciousness in Meditation and the
John G Taylor ,
who is associated with the Department of
Mathematics, King's College, Strand, London WC2R2LS, UK, reports on MRI and PET
scan studies of mental states during meditation (i.e., pure conscous
experience - PCE)
These physiological study support the claim that PCE is a distinct
state of consciousness, corresponding to one in which attention is attending to
A.T.Arenander offers a cognitive science rationale citing
physiological changes during meditation and prayer in an article --
Global neural ground state: coherent brain mechanisms associated with
transcendental consciousness -- that discusses in part transcendental
During the TM technique, the mind
effortlessly attends to a specific object and automatically transcends the
normal boundaries of conscious perception: experiencing a shift from active,
waking consciousness to one without boundaries, pure consciousness. Past
research suggests that the TM technique produces a state of profound rest and
relaxation in subjects. Objectively, measurements of blood chemistry, skin
galvanic response, and EEG recordings while subjects are practising the
technique indicate profound changes occur in the physiology.
says in part...
What is meditation?
The basic idea generally associated with why people meditate is
that during our day we are constantly subjected to sensory
input and our minds are always active in the process of
We read the newspaper, study books, write reports, engage in
conversation, solve problems, so on and so forth. typically, as
we do these normal activities we engage in a constant mental
commentary, sort of an inner 'the drama of me'. usually people
aren't fully aware of all the mental thought activity that we
are constantly engaged in.
Meditation has been and still is a central practice in eastern religions, for
contacting 'god' or one's higher self.
Christianity also has semblances of meditation, such as the
biblical statement - "the kingdom of heaven is within you."
churches have a meditative atmosphere.
Meditation deals with contacting something within us that is peaceful, calm,
rejuvenating, and meaningful. whether one calls this something 'god' or 'soul'
or 'the inner child' or 'theta-wave activity' or 'peace' or 'silence' is not
important. it is there and anyone can benefit from it regardless of what they
in his series the ABCs for Christian Growth -- Laying the
Foundation, writes in Appendix 8: Soul Nourishment First...
It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I
have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more
clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to
attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be
concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify
the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man
might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted,
I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I
might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this
world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and
strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a
right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years
previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having
dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had
to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation
on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved,
instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it,
my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord.
Religious practice builds strong commitment to spirituality with majestry,
ritual, and the power of writing to both spread the word and
preserve enlightenment through hypermortal stories in the Bible. The power of
the mind to envision new possibilities by hearing the
"inner voice of God" justifiably builds faith in the power of prayer.
In many respects, meditation, collaboration, and mechanisms for
documentation give leadership a broader vision for daily
work that reflects the model of spirituality where
religous practices of prayer, communion, and the word of
God are guided by authority and continuity of church
hierarchy. In both realms (on the job, and in religion), reliance on
traditional practices for deep understanding and problem solving
are strengthened by new practices in a
new world order that today increases complexity
by compressing time and distance far beyond innate capacities to accurately
remember, distinguish, and associate. Without new tools to augment human
thinking for understanding correlations, implications and nuance, growing
complexity necessarily escalates error and hides opportunity.
Religion lights the way for expanding span of attention to discover
Transcending the dilemma of sclerotic dogma paralyzing progress with immutable
doctrine only occurs when enabling forces align. Time to study, faith to take
the first step experimenting to gain experience, vision to see truth, and
courage to release the power of knowledge comprise a rare constellation of luck
and leadership with a broader vision. Today, the
historical equation for enlightenment is strengthened by technology that
leverages time and truth.
Thinking through writing applies POIMS requirements for integrating
time and context that reveal deeper understanding of causal connection. Adding
chronology, context, and connection significantly expand traditional alphabet
technology by augmenting natural intelligence through a new practice of
enhanced literacy. Enlightening correlations, implications and nuance, which
otherwise remain hidden in plain sight by ignorance, fear, and denial reveals
the power of knowledge through routinely connecting the stories of daily life.
Cognitive overhead for writing, reading,
listening, study, analysis, deliberation, and meditation are all aided by
capturing events, and adding organic structure that "connects the dots" with
objectives, requirements, and commitments. Integrated tools for precision
access yield a Knowledge Space that solves the
problem of expanding complexity in a new world order by expanding span of
attention with continual reminders that enlighten
conduct. Constructing connections on a foundation of accurate understanding
provides crucial lessons learned from experience seasoned by the wisdom of
Discovering and implementing enlightenment revealed from historical experience
seems evident in religious tradition that guides daily conduct with a strong
stories and connecting lessons in the Bible provides
a simple, direct way to overcome the weakness of human memory in order to
consistently apply perceived truths that enable humanity to endure within the
framework of an essentially fixed biology operating in an environment of
complex, evolving threats and opportunities. Perceived truths that endure are
the compass for "good" conduct that avoids calamity over generations and
centuries. The revered
word of God
provides wisdom that maintains a steady course through the storms of daily
life. Enlightenment ensures perceptions of truth align conduct with revealed
experience of history, rather than impulsive urges of the moment.
Consistent use of good conduct builds successful communities
which offer the best chance for individuals to realize most of
their personal aspirations, despite limitations to avoid "bad" conduct,
that often appears attractive in the moment.
Getting a lot of people to act consistently
in a few common ways, rather than pursue transitory biological
urges, builds "community" through the power of cooperation,
which is the basic purpose of communication. Large communities make
The Bible is therefore a powerful path to advance civilization.
If we look closely at the related practices of religion and
law, we see
the continuing power of this idea that strengthens our culture, exemplified
by the story of Hansel and Gretel.
Aligning communications using
traceability to original sources builds a connected body
of case studies that enable a process of
continual learning, which only recently has been recognized in
published management standards like the PMBOK and ISO 10006. The power of
these new standards can be seen from their roots.
Attending church and reading religious text reveal generous use
of references to other sources that support assertions of
meaning. The clear message from this tradition is that to grasp
the meaning of what is before us today we must consider its
genesis -- its cause, its source, its support. People voraciously
seek, indeed cry out for
yet, few are aware that it is a continuous process of identifying
connections that support, i.e., stand under, an
inference of cause and effect, derived from the tradition of religion.
The mind by itself suffers
ambiguity which causes incorrect connections between cause and effect.
Writing out understandings is a window into the mind's connections.
Comparing current understanding with past perspectives,
i.e. analysis and alignment, provides a metric that reveals
deviations which cause harm. Such discovery enables adjustment in advance of
taking incorrect action, thus avoiding harm, loss, stress and conflict.
The tradition of writing things down in order to avoid ambiguity
from reliance solely on mental processing is applied in the law,
which emanates from religious tenets, for example the Ten
Commandments. Legal decisions are assiduously
linked back to related cases, called
to ensure consistent application of sound
reasoning. Legal precedents recycle human experience in a more
careful way than managers apply
to reach daily
decisions. A similar process is used in publications, where a
links text to original sources that demonstrate
Linking to original sources gives credence to new information
through corroboration. What is less apparent to the reader is the
benefit to the writer of creating the links (citations). The
process forces greater consideration of critical points than
occur in the absence of linking back. In other words, the
exercise of linking itself lifts understanding, which is another
form of the idea that "religion" brings "enlightenment."
Not being writers nor scholars, most of us miss out on the
experience of being enlightened by looking up related sources. It
takes time to check sources. It is easier to passively accept
what is printed, to swallow information whole without checking
sources. Integrating and connecting a constant flow of new
information with experience and original sources to produce
knowledge takes time and directed thought. In addition,
traceability in the modern era is impaired because visual and
auditory perception from dialog and pictures occur instantly
without intervening analysis of competing information and values,
as occurs in constructing meaning from symbols through reading and
writing that implement
This creates a bias for more meetings and pictures that together
summarize complexity in simplistic impressions that stifle
understanding, but are comforting to a busy mind, particularly
when delivered by highly skilled speakers. Sight and sound from
short-term communication seem to impart instant knowledge, but
instead impart emotional impressions that lead to precipitous
actions, because there is no fast and easy means to apply the
metric of aligning new information with original sources that
brings understanding and enables follow up to correct deviations
from the truth that worried Aristotle.
The traditional practice of relying on innate mental capacity to
convert information into knowledge worked well when the flow of
information and the rate of decision making was low, so that the
preponderance of time was devoted to implementing decisions,
i.e., applying knowledge. Applying the same knowledge over and
over develops skill, as in hunting, shaping a spear, throwing a
rock or doing an interview on television. The mind has time to
settle on the right connections and to give an alert when links
seem to fail. So, if we do not understand, our mind can report
being "confused." That environment existed for millions of
years and so shaped the evolution of the human mind.
Confusion is the best state for managers and executives. Facts
and implications are fighting for space in our span of attention.
Managers are alerted by this "battle" to obtain more information
and analysis to make the connections needed to remove confusion.
Savvy managers realize that when frustrated it is essential to
think more carefully, to check sources and premises. They know it
is critical to slow down in order to succeed faster.
Some, however, lash out in frustration with the demand:
Tell me what I need to know in 25 words or 30 seconds!
Show me the big picture
and the bottom line!
This extreme demand for
evolved from historical notions
of leadership when it was critical to convey orders quickly
that expedite response. Direct input from sight and sound
worked well when survival depended primarily on sensory
perceptions of immediate physical conditions that fit within the
mind's limited span of attention and required relatively little
"intelligence" for making management decisions that impact future
Today things are different. Physical labor has been automated to
the point that management makes up a much greater share of labor
cost. This means managers, i.e., decision-makers, are the
"workers." Raw materials are detailed information and the product
is knowledge comprised of the connections from endless meetings,
calls, documents, and email that impact future events.
Historical leadership methods of relying on pictures and sound,
barking out orders, do not work well for figuring out what to do,
when, methods, materials, coordination, safety, fairness and the
thousands of regulations impacting the modern workday. Plus,
today's democratic mores encourage us to persuade, rather than to
direct. However, the impulse from millions of years relying on
sight and sound, and tradition from thousands of years for
managers to summarize, create a powerful genetic and cultural
bias against reading and writing for organization, alignment and
analysis, i.e., intelligence.
The natural drive to react to sight and sound encourages spontaneous
response to seeing and talking, even when there is plenty of time
to organize, analyse, align and plan so that critical action is both
timely and effective. Management is designed to be proactive by
looking ahead, rather than impulsively reacting only in the moment.
However, this design is frustrated by the Information Highway in a
New World Order.
People like to work by conversation because biology makes understanding seem
fast and easy by relying on sight and sound. Standards, regulations and laws
that require investing time for proactive management get ignored, because a
constant stream of meetings, calls, and documents present an illusion of being
informed in the moment. When one moment passes to the next, attention quickly
moves to the next crisis, before there is time to discover conflict and error
in the prior moment. Additionally, executives like to work by conversation
because it does not leave a paper trail for lawyers to
discover. Fear of accountability combined with biological drives for
fast and easy communication leads to the dilemma of feel
good management that omits due diligence with the excuse of good
intentions to save time. Without diligence to work
intelligently, management degrades to
entropy. Time and cost accelerate on the slippery slope of
guess and gossip, where truth is hidden in plain sight under the guise
of Murphy's Law.
Henry Kissinger describes in his book, Diplomacy, the
core knowledge management dilemma leaders face of
choosing between speed and accuracy, which too often devolves into
and entropy. (Simon & Shuster, 1994 - see p. 834).
Technology encourages reliance on pictures and conversation, which quickly
impart strong beliefs. However, convenience and expediency are merely
delusional because people cannot trace the source of
their beliefs to understand why
(see example from medical management);
and, worse, we are unaware of ignorance due to
limited span of attention (see POIMS). The mind
is numbed and overwhelmed by a steady diet of information from
meetings, calls, email, pictures, graphs, radio, and television intended to
However, when understanding fails, only miscommunication occurs.
Information without "intelligence" is an Alice in Wonderland world,
where people are constantly late, have no time to say hello, nor time to
understand and follow up on the
moving target of truth,
which worried Aristotle even before
an Information Highway existed.
The elusive goal to improve management productivity can only be
realized by recognizing that management's primary task is
communication, and better communication requires understanding
and follow up, which are impeded by too much information. Since
information is not slowing down, indeed is speeding up on the
Information Highway in the age of technology, the only viable
solution is to invest in tools and people. who can speed up the
process of adding intelligence to convert information (talking
and listening) into knowledge. It seems axiomatic that this New
World Order portends a new vision of intelligence work, and a
new work practice to support understanding and follow-up in order
to make leadership effective in the 21st century. Communication
Metrics summarizes this new vision because communication is the
main process of management, and business metrics are a
traditional way of improving work processes.
But managers worry that
isn't enough time to think, much less
do research to convert information into knowledge. Historically,
managers have been paid to get things done, to expedite the work,
not to look up dusty recollections of yesteryear and create CYA
memos showing the whys and wherefores.
Communication Metrics argues that "management" is mainly what
Peter Drucker calls "knowledge work" that is a constant process
of creating and applying intelligence, i.e., investing
intellectual capital. What should be done, by whom, when; who is
paying for it; how will it be done; what laws, policies
contracts, commitments, guide performance; has the proposed
action been tried, when, in whole or in part, with what results?
This is the daily diet of management that requires correct
connections to original sources, alignment with controlling
forces, and analysis of implications. New realities of
technology that create information overload, now require a
combination of better technology and work practices to convert
information into knowledge faster and more accurately, i.e.,
better management requires
New standards like PMBOK and ISO 10006 spread awareness through
Risk Management criteria that processes for
which lead to knowledge growth, are critical
in a faster paced world. However, tools to accomplish these tasks
quickly are also critical to ensure consistent use of these new management
standards. What seems startling is the prospect that such tools
have the effect of leveraging the capacity to
think, remember and communicate.
Automated Thinking: Leveraging the Capacity of the Mind
Since it occurs innately, "thinking" is considered an immutable
trait that cannot be improved. Managers therefore strive to
improve the externals of information creation and transfer by,
for example, using fax, email cellular phones.
How can "thinking" be improved?
We have to consider time and information as an integrated process
in the human mind. The mind remembers by drawing on similar parts
of disparate events, rather than assembling all elements of each
event. Its only rule is to assemble a consistent "story." Thus,
we feel confused when the mental story we conjure up seems
inconsistent with our experience of how the world usually works
according to rules of cause and effect, also, paradigms. For example,
if a dish slips from our hand, we apply a paradigm, or rule,
that this event will cause an immediate effect of the dish falling
to the floor. If the floor looks like concrete, we expect the dish
to break. If the dish doesn't break, then the conflict with our
paradigm about the way the world usually works causes "confusion."
Mental processing pauses to formulate a theory, or explanation, that
aligns with our understanding (i.e., knowledge from prior experience)
of the way the world works, because,
if we do not understand how the world works, we are at constant
peril of failure to be effective meeting threats and
opportunities, and this knowledge
induces fear of failure that paralyzes taking action to get things done.
For example, in the case of a dish falling to the floor and not breaking,
various theories might be that the floor may look like concrete,
but is actually something else, or the dish may look and feel like glass
but is actually plastic.
The common practice of relieving confusion by resolving
conflicts between actual experience and our sense of
paradigms about the how the world works is often called
"common sense." When common sense fails, however, people pause to
"Confusion" then is a powerful mental safety valve that forces the mind to
pause for reflection, investigation and analysis when gaps
in the story conflict with our experience, so that action can
procede cautiously to avoid harm from taking the wrong action due to
erroneous understanding. An obvious example
would be if the dish in our analogy did not fall to the floor, after
slipping from our grasp; but, instead rose in the air.
Such an event would cause virtually everyone to pause, because it
represents a huge gap in understanding of the way the world
works, such that any further action would be at immediate risk until
the conflict is satisfactorily resovled.
The critical point for augmenting intelligence is that
the human mind is equipped to function without complete
accuracy by summarizing complexity through paradigms,
based upon situational awareness of threats and opportunities. When
time is short, the human mind forces a best-fit understanding, by
turning a blind eye that ignores and denies some facts, in
order to react immediately to subjects that fit within span
Although crucial at times of personal peril to enable short-term
action, cursory understanding, due to
limited span of attention,
causes management to fail, because "managing" is a process to guide
long-term consequences. The disconnect in time between failure
and its cause, poor decisions
based on cursory understanding,
makes the cause of failure difficult to recognize. It seems like
a mystery, and so is simply called
The seeds of
Murphy are sown when there is a lot going on. The mind
overlooks mistakes, rather than recognize confusion. Like an actor
on stage, we feel a rush of adrenaline charged by accolades from
colleagues for handling a lot of difficulties with confidence and
dispatch. This nurtures the seeds that grow false knowledge into belief and
faith, thereby preventing inquiry and foregoing feedback to verify alignment
with objectives, requirements, commitments and history.
When we make the wrong connections, speedy, confident
implementation conceals the error, and sets the clock ticking on
the time bomb of
The New World Order of more meetings, calls, email,
documents, budgets and schedules means there is greater chance
for error and less time to feel confused in order to recognize
and correct deviations that lead to costly rework,
delay, loss, conflict, crisis and calamity.
Cultural hierarchy impedes discovery of false knowledge. If we feel we
should understand, then social pressure urges overlooking slight
deviations. "Just do [this]," is the precursor of "Just do
[that]" in an endless cycle of "correcting corrections" spawned
by the need to summarize and supported by fear of authority.
Organization and technology are evolving to impair the key
component of success: creating and retrieving knowledge!
Plan, Organize, Integrate, Measure
Because communication - telephones, mail, reports, meetings,
discussions, fax and email - takes up most of a manager's time, it
offers a major opportunity to improve productivity. If we can
automate and integrate key aspects of how a manager spends his or
her time, then productivity should improve.
How to do it?
In Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (Harper Business,
Peter Drucker says that productivity of knowledge work, like
executives, doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers, writers, etc., is
mainly a question of
quality in analysis for making decisions. (see review on
November 30, 1993) The idea that accuracy is the critical metric of knowledge
work, combined with the ISO 10006 quality standard (discussed
above), points to another powerful
but seldom-considered purpose of communications: continually
"connecting the dots," or tracing back, information to original sources that
measure accuracy from the weight of evidence, determine context from
related history, and learn implications for future consequences from
predictability in the chain of causation.
Thus, another purpose of communications is discovering
connections that ensure the correctness of understanding before
telling others what we "know." If Drucker is correct, it seems to
follow that a bigger investment in discovering connections to
avoid miscommunication will produce better results than waiting
until the end of the month to discover the results of schedule
and cost metrics. In other words, communication control (i.e.,
"metrics"), which is proactive, may be more valuable than cost
and schedule control, which are reactive, measuring
after-the-fact results of failed communications.
This leads to the idea of...
Rather than waiting for a lawyer to discover the critical mass of
miscommunication that caused the team to drift off course,
use automation to make the connections that link current
understandings to original requirements so that alignment is
maintained. Use integration to accomplish related tasks
with a single step, so that planning supports action, action
helps reporting, and reporting enhances planning. Automated
integration of the
Management Cycle links
time and information to maintain the alignment that avoids
miscommunication, and endless hours and expense of litigation.
Automation means speed and accuracy. Speed provides more time to
do things for which previously there wasn't enough time. Accuracy
means fewer mistakes despite increased speed. Doing things faster and
more accurately means better productivity.
Instead of using automation solely to
generate information, use it to create the connections between
cause and effect so that people can discover those little
found are multiplied by time. This
accomplishes Drucker's idea of management productivity related to
quality of decisions. Better decisions mean less time fixing
mistakes, less rework,
fewer lawsuits and losses.
Intelligence New Way of Working Integrate Locality and Complementarity
Civilization Advancing to a Culture of Knowledge
Aristotle's caution in the 4th century BC that
time compounds small errors
into complexity and chaos is feared in the modern era as
Murphy's Law. Mysterious, inexplicable
mistakes arise from the immutable force of nature formalized by the
second law of thermodynamics. (reviewed March 12, 2004)
People, however, can choose to intervene and expose secrets of nature by
discovering enlightenment that makes sense of complexity to avoid
mistakes and discover opportunity.
Intelligence support aids discovery with a new way of working
using the power of knowledge based on the locality principle (see below). Equally, the holism model in quantum mechanics
recognizes randomness compounds complexity. Daily affairs confront
uncertainty that overwhelms span of attention, causing error,
conflict, and chaos. Predictability to increase control
emerges from synergy integrating locality and
complementarity. (see again review on March 12, 2004)
The irreversibility of time pushes all processes toward entropy, causing
complexity, confusion, and chaos to rise, unless
energy is added to maintain order. In evolutionary theory, order, structure,
and pattern applied through organization and communication make
expanding complexity a powerful asset by focusing and
leveraging energy, skills, and diversity to increase productivity.
(see Schombert's lectures on 21st Century Science
at Oregon State Univesity reviewed on March 12, 2004)
Complexity increases productivity through knowledge of
predictability that flows from order connecting cause and effect. Conveying
"order" in organizations occurs through communications. Synergy leverages
the power of knowledge when communication applies
between chronology, context, and connections derived from daily meetings,
calls and documents. Integrating locality with complementarity
enables predictability from discovering the correct order of cause and effect
that makes sense of expanding
complexity. As a result, productivity rises from expending energy to create,
share, collaborate, and distribute knowledge for command and control of
daily work. This requires people to "connect the dots" from constant
communications day-to-day, moment-to-moment with objectives, requirements,
and commitments for
to get things done correctly in
time to be effective. However, when new realities of
technology compress time and distance, information density
rises above the capacity of human mental biology. Without tools and practices
to leverage intelligence, a hectic schedule with constant information
overwhelms span of attention. Meaning drifts furtively toward rising disorder
that weakens the power of knowledge to control the future, because
mental connections of cause and effect are erroneous, overlooked, forgotten,
even reversed by confusion in the fog of war.
When people do not have time to think, mental connections are largely tacit,
implicit, and assumed, without express inquiry, analysis, and verification.
Nobody is aware that causation is missing, ambiguous, or erroneous. Truth
becomes a secret hidden in plain sight by an official view of reality
reinforced by the weight of collective peer-pressure. Desire for safety
(i.e., avoiding punishment, keeping a job, getting a raise, promotion,
assignment, recognition) encourages being a "team player." Go along to get
along reduces incentive to care about accuracy enough for people to
ask questions that lift the veil of secrecy to expose the fallacy of
false knowledge in POIMS)
Complexity from large organizations can have positive or negative effects on
productivity. As noted, positive synergy
leverages productivity from energy that maintains order of complex
strategic assets, e.g., people, buildings, information.
Disorder has negative consequences.
People get sick, and eventually die, buildings decay, eventually into rubble,
and information degrades toward error and chaos. Like people, office buildings
and factories are very complex systems. Highly intricate structures
significantly leverage productivity through efficient collaboration and
movement that focuses human effort. They are easy to maintain, because
disorder is evident from direct sensory perception. Wastebaskets overflow,
floors and windows get dirty, light bulbs burn out. People are self-maintained
for large parts of a normal life-span. Maladies are treated, when pain signals
disorder. Cancer, however, often sends no signal until disorder has reached
critical mass that makes treatment and recovery problematic. Similarly,
information management constantly degrades toward chaos and confusion.
Disorder prevents finding
information piling up in filing cabinets and computers in time for effective
use to guide daily work.
Since we cannot see disorder in the record, useless information
grows like cancer. Confusion mutates into
meaning drift for a long time, seemingly without cost or
harm. Constant information from meetings, calls, and documents accelerates
confusion, when chronology, context, and connections are not maintained in a
well ordered record. Since disorder prevents predicting the future,
positive synergy from planning for efficiency in big, complex organizations
mutates into "time bombs" furtively waiting for enabling forces to
align. Complexity then accelerates negative
synergy. The power of organization
explodes confusion from disconnected information
into mistakes, bumbling, and conflict. When too many people are having
too many problems, rising entropy from
false knowledge understanding cause and effect degrades
productivity toward zero. Individuals, teams, companies, communities, entire
economies fall into chaos and calamity (see also "... hope
that bad management saves time and money is a mirage).
Disorder from implicit confusion makes complex organization a crushing
liability, because random error compounds through efficient communication in
many directions under Aristotle's rule. When work is not aligned with
objectives, requirements, and commitments, disorder dissipates
energy randomly, noted by Kissinger. The
second law of thermodynamics paralyzes productivity in a frenzy of meetings,
calls, and documents, because, without predictability from "connecting the
dots" of cause
and effect, communication, command, and control collapse organization into the
black hole of bureaucracy and paperwork none of which reflects
the actual work. People are simply overwhelmed. (see again US Air Force
Institute of Technology
study on rising entropy driving big projects toward failure,
reported July 7, 1997)
locality principle recognizes that energy transfered from
"connecting the dots" of cause and effect yields the
power of knowledge
for predicting the
future across the linear dimension of time, i.e., past is prologue. While
debate continues from the 1930s among Einstein, von Neumann, Hermann,
Bohm, Bell, et al, about the microscopic world of quantum mechanics,
scientific interlocutors seem to agree that locality provides a
practical principle in the macro world of daily life
experienced by mechanics, executives, ball players, lawyers, engineers,
pastors, doctors, bus drivers, scientists, clerks, judges, students...
Defining "knowledge" as understanding connections of cause and effect closely
connectionist theory in Cognitive Science (see POIMS),
suggesting the biology of human reasoning
innately relies on locality. In other words, the brain
evolved to apply powerful forces that shape the universe.
The universal reach of the locality principle combined with complementarity
solves Aristotle's dilemma,
and Murphy's Law for every person on
the planet. Drucker's call to execute the power of knowledge with
anlaysis of sequence applies locality to discover order that
makes sense of complexity. Obviously, accurate understanding avoids
confusion, ambiguity, and error.
Accordingly, command and control of the record to
find the correct order connecting cause and effect
in complex history drives productivity in management, science, education,
health care, agriculature, military, law, construction, etc.....
Locality is intrinsic to statutes and regulations governing accounting
practices for an "audit trail," and in the law of notice using
citations. Scientific research, and management standards require
traceability to original sources (e.g.,
ISO, PMBOK, reviewed July 31, 1995), which is implemented
with traditional "documentation" (e.g.,
Federal Acquisition Regulations - FAR, reviewed May 4, 2002).
Accountants and lawyers use links in citations to connect
audits, case law, and legal briefs. Professional writers use footnotes and
Why, then, are traditional connectionist practices
applying the locality principle to improve accuracy and productivity
absent from routine daily work, even for accountants, lawyers, and authors.
Due diligence to work intelligently constructing a
well ordered record
of cause and effect that saves lives, time, and money is
not fast and easy; but, rather, takes a lot of time.
Cognitive overhead studying causation with
conventional documentation requires hard work to search, find,
discover, and enter alignment in the record. This is expensive.
Since reliance on
assumption is fast and easy and cheap,
requirements in law, regulations,
professional standards, contracts, and policies for implementing the
locality principle with trails of associations connecting cause and
effect are pervasively
ignored, as unnecessary overkill (see again the study on
May 4, 2002). Taking short cuts
by relying on assumptions rather than check the record
is excused with good intentions to save time, and avoid accountability.
However, hope that bad management saves time and money is a mirage.
Ignorance of causation stifles innovation, and causes continual error
that compounds delay and accountability. The price people
pay for the cost of rework soon explodes into
conflict, chaos, and calamity (see examples)
Rather than enlightenment from continual
learning "connecting the dots" to work intelligently,
ignorance breeds continual bumbling, and
colossal failure. Earnings, equity, and pensions evaporate when
disorder accelerates under the
second law of thermodynamics (see review on March 12, 2004; and see
further Reuters reporting that the
economy falls into recession from ripple effects, when
too many people are having too many problems,
December 7, 2000).
Why do executives fail to execute due diligence
performing the central task of management?
Fortune magazine attributed refusal to use
good management to psychological reasons, i.e.,
attitude - people just don't feel like it. (reviewed June 25, 1999)
Research on March 7, 2000 found that, without the right tools, the
linear mechanics of knowledge management take a
lot of hard work to connect cause and effect for learning
predictability. People work hard for immediate rewards, but hate investing
time and energy for
from study, analysis, and planning (see
cognitive overhead). Intelligence support
"connecting the dots" to understand order, and managing
context for command and control of the
work are stressful. People don't like stress. Bright people
learn to be creative expediting and saving time by telling stories that
interpret requirements as mere suggestions to use good management,
which can be ignored. (see NASA Chief Administrator Sean O'Keefe's testimony
before Congress on August 26, 2003) Unlike laws of man, the locality
principle is an inexorable law of nature with devestating consequences when
ignored again and again and again and..., as noted by
Aristotle 2,000 years ago.
Intelligence is the process of making connections that
transform information into the power of knowledge. The
locality principle defines
from connecting cause and effect. Discovering and maintaining the correct
order of cause and effect takes time to make sense of complexity because
sensory perceptions seeing and hearing information create confusion
and ambiguity from conflicting impressions as events unfold in daily
life. The second law of thermodynamics offers a powerful rationale for
"management" to save lives, time, and money by investing time to make sense
of complexity. People have long relied on "records management" for storing
documents in folders, and filing cabinets that organize the record
chronologically according to context. Records are searched with
for example 3x5 cards, card catelogs, Dewey Decimal, etc.,
to find history on specific subjects. Trails of connections show causation
from documents ordered chronologically in file folders.
reveal long term trends assembled from filing cabinets.
and checking the record for accurate experience avoids confusion and
ambiguity from hasty first impressions that devolve into mistakes, loss,
conflict, and calamity. However busy people rely on
assumptions that increase mistakes understanding
the order of cause and effect. When there is not enough time to create
an accurate record, nor to be prepared by checking the record
for relevant documenation (i.e.,
organizational memory), and, even when there is
plenty of time to check the record, but nobody can find relevant
history because the record was never created, or is incomplete and
out of order, i.e., incomprehensible, then
people pay a price for misunderstanding context
that controls success. Increasing productivity and earnings by
avoiding mistakes is commonly called "risk management"; equally, discovering
opportunity in time to take effective action so that small deviations do not
escalate over time into major problems (see
Aristotle) is called "proactive management."
These concepts from science and management can be integrated through
computer technology that vastly increases ability to create, organize, and find
trails of associations for the correct order of cause and effect that controls
the future. Better speed and accuracy that reduces time and diligence makes
intelligence work fast and easy and fun solving the mystery of meaning.
Accordingly, technology that leverages personal and organizational
experience with efficient usability
optimizes human potential
for making sense in a new world order of rising
complexity. This yields a rigorous, principled theory of
Practical processes for managing
chronology, context, and connection are complementary elements of
intelligence support for routinely converting information into knowledge
that controls the future. Technology aids constructing work product and
transmitting deliverables. Networking computers with the Internet and
secure intranets provide economies of scale that leverage individual
knowledge by empowering many people to work quickly and accurately.
Positive synergy from spreading accuracy rather than error exponentially
increases productivity, under the law for conservation of
knowledge. (see POIMS for
eight (8) steps of Communication Metrics)
Basing knowledge on experience fits the common place notion that belief from
direct experience is a valued asset of personal and organizational
memory, and further supports
Peirce's observation that
of knowledge is continually refined by experience, noted as well by
intelligence continually constructs an audit trail of mental
links "connecting the dots" between cause and effect. Navigating through
Knowledge Space is a journey of discovery. The
mind constructs and finds correlations, implications, and nuance to make
clear, compelling and accurate on threats and
opportunities in relation to objectives, requirements, and commitments.
The scope of support for human intelligence can be
derived from the military, where well established objectives, methods, and
roles are aided by technology. Integrating computer science, management
science, and cognitive science strengthens and expands intelligence support
for general application. This new way of thinking, learning and
working gives truth an ally
meeting the challenge of new realities
in a new world order.
POIMS is markedly different from artificial intelligence that strives to
replicate, replace, and/or obviate human cognition by improving accuracy of
automatic processing performed by machines being run by people.
POIMS technology lifts the capacity to
think, remember and communicate by expanding
span of attention to strengthen the weak link
in cognition that makes truth a moving target.
Leveraging mental strength for
conscious processing to verify understanding based on
situational awareness is
similar to an automobile augmenting physical
strength for carrying heavier loads farther and faster.
Artificial intelligence strives to actually "think," popularized by
IBM's computer that plays chess. An example might be to determine what is
needed at the store by inventorying the refrigerator and cupboards,
purchases, then drive the car to the store, make selections, choose alternates
when items are out of stock, drive home and store eveything in the right place,
all without human intervention. Rule-based processing correlates with innate
subconscious thinking based on paradigms. Limited success has
occurred in specialized fields, like playing chess,
and robotics for manufacturing assembly, where rigid boundaries limit
freedom of action. Practical use of artificial intelligence has not been
achieved for dynamic, complex environments, like daily
management, because rule-based processing is
error prone. (see POIMS)
Since the future will have both people and machines, POIMS and artificial
intellingence are working a common problem from opposite perspectives in the
2-tier model of cognition. (see POIMS)
Military intelligence (discussed previously)
commonly entails gathering data, analysis to fuse
disparate information into actionable intelligence for command and control,
based on situational awareness,
distribution for taking coordinated action,
and feedback to refine accurcy and adjust course. The military has excellent
programs studying artificial intelligence; yet, in the main, relies on human
analysis for decision support. Human analysis linking information to discover
trends, intentions, capabilities, and targeting has been the
weak link in
intelligence: costly, untimely, inaccurate, and inept. (see reports on
September 11, 2001) "Connecting the dots" can be strengthened with technology
and expanded tasks in the military, and to meet growing demands for
intelligence support that solves information overload in the broader
community, yielding better education through continual learning, and better
productivity to save lives, time and money on the job.
Military Intelligence Process and Work Product...
- Gathering data.
- Direct sensory input from participants and friendly observers,
including debriefing actual participants.
- Direct sensory input from non-friendly observers, i.e. spies,
including debriefing actual participants.
- Documents created and obtained by authorized and friendly
participants and by unauthorized, unfriendly participants who are
- Sound and video from recording equipment, from sensors, and
from strategic systems like satellites and drones (UMV).
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
can perform some processing of
data to provide useful input, which requires human analysis to
produce actionable intelligence.
- Analyse data and information to produce knowledge that yields
- "Connect the dots" from multiple sources into a comprehensible
story that makes sense of complexity in relation to threats and
opportunities for advancing objectives, requirements and
- Organize to focus on priorities for objectives, requirements
- Compare by "connecting the dots" (blend, combine, fusion)
from multiple events to evaluate...
1) Continuity that imparts accuracy (believable) to support
2) Completeness to account for, and make sense of, all the
data; and, to invest time for
gathering more data
when needed to avoid false knowledge from
unsupported assumptions filling in the gaps of an incomplete
3) Trends that impart intentions and opportunity
for setting strategy.
4) Weight of evidence (repeatable information scenarios)
that supports decision to take action.
5) Assemble relevant details from complex data for planning
to take effective action based on the organic structure of
context (i.e., specific targets of opportunity).
- Summarize analysis with links to relevant details
that facilitate decisions.
- Distribute "intelligence" for...
- Decision support for strategy, planning and immediate action based
on situational awareness.
- Collaboration for teamwork on developing "intelligence" and
implementing decisions requires timely, uniform distribution to
- Coordination to obtain comprehensive story and take
complementary action requires timely, uniform distrubution so
everyone "gets the word" and is working on the "same page."
- Confidentiality to protect vital interests.
- Feedback to refine accuracy of analysis based on results of
taking action to adjust strategy, planning and action to meet evolving
Intelligence Support Roles and Responsibilities
New Tools and Roles for New Realities in a New World Order
Intelligence support for a practice of
strengthens leadership, management, and innovation.
New tools and practices based on the
locality principle connect cause and effect
that yields the power of knowledge to control the future. This solves
the dilemma of new realities in a new world order where faster technology
increases complexity and compounds
risk by compressing time and distance beyond
the capacity of human cognition to cope. Intelligence makes sense of
expanding information from meetings, calls, and documents by leveraging
situational awareness with tools that
integrate personal and organizational memory. These new tools support
eight (8) steps of Communication Metrics
to manage chronology, context, and connections.
Organizational memory enables timely analysis to
"connect the dots" that yield actionable intelligence for
saving lives, time and money.
Fusing multiple information streams with a strategy of common storage, and
adding granular addressability for precision access
saves time and increases accuracy. Uniform, timely distribution through
networks, e.g., the Internet, empowers people to routinely
discover secrets that are otherwise hidden in plain sight by
the fog of war on the job each day.
Timely distribution, and feedback further transform traditional practices
for documentation into a new way of
working intelligently that strengthens proactive management.
The scope of military intelligence
sets a baseline for expanding support with technology and practices
that enable a general and broadly based advance for civilization by
lifting (i.e., augmenting) innate capacity to
think, remember, communicate, comparable to introduction of
alphabet. (see review on November 11, 1999)
Intelligence support defined by POIMS
Transformation to Culture of Knolwedge a 3-layer Architecture
predict the future
in a world of rising complexity.
- 3-layer architecture for technology, practice, and transformation
a culture of knowledge solves
enigmatic new realities that compress time and distance...
People, Process, Time - integrating tools and practices of
cognitive science and computer science leverages intelligence
for a new way of working.
Increasing speed and accuracy of human thought with
precision access to understand
cause and effect increases the power of knowledge
1) People need support for
accurate communication, and for
constructing common storage in
to "connect the dots" in
organizational memory that
grow knowledge and ideas defined by the organic structure of
integrates the plan, perform, report
intelligence cycle for "connecting the dots" of cause
and effect that yield the power of knowledge for predicting
the future under the locality principle.
Time management integrates mental metrics that
coordinate past, present, and future for understanding
causation in order to get things done.
Clear, concise, complete communication
implements technology that augments intelligence using
judicious review practices.
1) Read documents without opening links.
2) Open links to research points of disagreement for
sources and authority.
3) Take action and provide feedback notifying what was
done, and advise on points of concurrence, or
disagreement, with links to relevant information for clear,
concise, complete communication that continually
Transformation to a culture of knowledge requires a better
partnership between leadership and technology that adds value
to increase productivity without everyone investing
time and expense to learn a new way of working. (see POIMS)
1) People use existing tools and skills to create information in
meetings, calls, and documents, redeeming investment in
training and infrastructure.
2) Granular addressability
and explicit links enable
everyone to strengthen accuracy by adding connections that
verify alignment in organizational memory; people can work
intelligently based on
everyone benefits from reducing mistakes, without
investing additional time.
3) Analysts add intelligence to
"connect the dots" -- organize, analyze, align, summarize, and
provide feedback that refines accuracy -- using precision
access into Knowledge Space that leverages
investment in training and infrastructure by making access
fast and easy for everyone to work accurately and
collaborate on saving lives, time and money.
Communication Metrics for intelligence support.
Eight (8) steps (see POIMS)
1) Report - write story to understand daily work history
2) Organize - create assign subjects
3) Analyse - make sense with correlations to related events
4) Align - connect the dots adding links between cause effect
5) Summary - headlines encapsle complexity
6) Action Items - identify follow up issues
7) Schedule - implement results of analysis
8) Feedback - refine accuracy understanding
Accuracy and access
are common "metrics" of
communication using chronology, context, and connection.
- Information units for
Communication Metrics are easy to calculate for
assessing accuracy and value at risk.
- Summary connected to details
constructs operational understanding on objectives and grows
awareness of history that drive productivity through continual
learning with links that verify accuracy
and expand span of attention on context with precision access to
background and sources.
verifies accuracy under the rule: look before you
- Linking connects cause and
effect, and aligns work with requirements using
traceability to original sources. Precision access saves time
performing due diligence to verify accuracy with
granular addressability and
explicit links in
relevant sources to verify accuracy and create
connections with links.
- Context Management
improves accuracy with precision access using
granular division of organic structure
that expands innate biological limits on
span of attention to quickly discover and accurately comprehend
the meaning of events relative to
subjects, classes, categories, and topics, i.e., context.
- Clear, concise, complete
communication enabled by links and the organic structure of
context improve accuracy with precision access.
- Judicious Review practices expand
the power of knowledge by opening connections that make due
diligence fast and easy for taking action.
in Knowledge Space strengthens accuracy.
continually refines accuracy.
- Collaboration contributes to organizational memory with
is aided by accuracy and access to
shared meaning for taking complementary action.
professional role for intelligence support captures contemporaneous
record; research relevant
history, and prepare analysis with alternative arguments.
- Applies model of pilots,
leadership, and accounting
making everyone more productive (see Drucker
on the power of management), by using computers to make the power
of knowledge a highly leveraged asset under Moore's Law.
- Constructs Knowledge Space for
- Facilitates getting things done by writing things down,
like the ancient
- Adds links to connect things up
using Communication Metrics and
to grow and tend the Garden of Knowledge;
enable good management by
strengthening diligence and analysis
to overcome strong biological drives to feel good that encourage
- Command and control
saves lives, time, and money.
Knowledge Space performs records management with
a flexible platform to construct and navigate common storage
of information based on time and context, e.g., books,
meetings, movies, laws, calls, contracts, reports, correspondence --
the whole of personal and organizational memory. Computers greatly
reduce time and cost to organize work history
into a well ordered record
for command and control of the work. Printing, filing,
removing, and replacing papers from file folders are eliminated
by storing information once with precision access using granular
identities to manage the vast microcosm of expanding history.
Everything in the right place at the right time helps people find and
"connect the dots" to understand cause and effect across time and
distance -- 10 days, weeks, months, years ago are all equally
accessible. The paperless office
paradigm of Knowledge Space replaces traditional
documentation. Efficiencies of electronic records
leverage structure, order, and pattern that yield
predictability. Converting information from daily experience into
a spreadsheet for knowledge increases command and control
of the work getting things done
with better speed and accuracy.
moves instantly to information with precise relevance to
Instant access solves the problem of
cognitive overhead with flexible
structure that provides extensive granularity for
addressability, subject indexing, and record
segments to identify unique units of information.
Complementarity between efficient
usability, granular addressability,
and granular indexing
for quickly finding the "dots" to link enables precision access.
Positive synergy from dynamic linking
makes constructing an audit trail fast and easy. Trails of
associations througout Knowledge Space provide traceability to
original sources for understanding cause and effect. Accurate
understanding of complex experience increases innovation.
Productivity rises by reducing mistakes. Under the
connecting cause and effect enables predictability
from the power of knowledge that controls the future. Granular
identification for precision access enable a new way of working
intelligently by expanding
linear model of thinking based on alphabet technology for
converting information into stories,
Operating System for People and Organizations
routinely grows knowledge with the
plan, perform, report
intelligence process using specialized functionality
with efficient usability
that optimizes human potential
to "connect the dots" from daily experience into patterns
showing cause and effect for taking action based on
in the moment, and
deliberative analysis of
relevant history within the time available.
When time is short, spontaneous reaction to take immediate
action is better informed from experience constructing
When more time is available, strategy and planning for being
prepared to make action effective, can rely on lessons learned
by quickly asembling relevant experience in Knowledge Space into
Multi-dimensional axes define a
well ordered record
to work intelligently making sense of complexity
(see adjudication). The
following extended grammar constructs a
spreadsheet for knowledge to accurately understand
cause and effect in time to save lives, time, and money.
1) Time imparts cause and effect based on the
inherent sequence of chronology.
2) References manage documents, files and citations with a
consistent flexible structure.
3) Context Management
based on organic structure.
provide an overarching shallow outline of
linear nodes that complement links, subjects, and headlines
for precision access to navigate in
similar to pleading paper in legal briefs. Like
the law that relies on a
well ordered record,
line numbers expand traditional
punctuation for granular control of
narrative text. Flexible structure of line numbers enables
efficient communication about records with
thousands of lines.
Shallow outline can time stamp parts of a record to show the
flow of work; single line headings complement Control Fields,
headlines, and formal outlining to increase command and
control of the record expressed as written narrative.
5) Segments associate information with flexible structure
to make sense of complex details by constructing multiple views
to understand meaning based on context.
6) Headlines summarize details into multiple views that
enable people to quicky understand dynamic complexity by
in relation to objectives, requirements, and
7) Summary connected to detail expands span of attention
for navigating through complex Knowledge Space.
information in the chronology of history that imparts
causation, and further empowers people to instantly verify
accuracy of momentary first impressions, i.e., summary,
and further to learn
more from a continually expanding
of personal and organizational memory by finding critical
information in time to impact performance.
Expanding the power of knowledge through continual learning
by connecting summary to relevant details significantly
augments intelligence for planning and getting things done
correctly under the common rule: past is prologue.
8) Control Fields manage record segments; enable single
source data entry for accounting, payroll, cost and schedule
control linked to history for traceability to original
sources; and, manage context by assigning multiple subjects to
fit a flexible body of narrative into the flexible structure
of knowledge that can be assembled into multiple views for
perception, organization and interpretation to understand
Information Units identify control criteria in the flexible
structure of Knowledge Space that calculate a range of
3) Line numbers
5) Documents - books, letters, reports, plans, movies
7) Paragraphs = anchors = granular addressability
8) Links = connect cause effect yield power of knowledge
10) Segments = control fields
11) Subjects = organic granular indexing structure of context
12) Action Items
Flexible structure combines traditional
line numbering with common
outlining, granular addressability, subject
indexing, and record segments to uniquely identify information
units at the paragraph level, and
construct relationships that support analysis, knowledge, and
intelligence for daily management tasks....
1) Schedule for planning and time management.
2) Diary for organizational memory
grows knowledge by
"connecting the dots" that add intelligence to information.
3) Contacts for tracking people and organizations.
4) Documents for formal and official representations.
5) Context Management using organic
Triangulation supports accuracy for navigating
through Knowledge Space with...
1) Context Management
sets boundaries for organic structure
at any level of detail, and expands span of attention
to understand complex meaning;
compares and evaluates new information with
prior understandings and original sources; and
refines correlations, implications, and nuance
for understanding evolving conditions that require adjusting
Interoperability stengthens integration for "connecting the
dots" in work product created with a variety of software programs.
(see Evaluation on October 20, 2003) Integration with other
technologies leverages investment in training and prior work, and
applies a common
command center for explaining relationships between
files created with multiple tools, as set out in POIMS.
Organizational Memory is the work product in Knowledge
for continual learning with precision access to relevant history.
Analysis explains who, what, when, where, why, and how
experience in meetings, calls, and documents impacts objectives,
requirements, and commitments. Linking,
and, feedback performed in the organic
structure of Knowledge Space
are critical aspects of deliberative analysis for discovering
and studying correlations, implications and nuance that are
overwise overlooked in the
fog of war. Analysis
leverages the power of knowledge for getting things done by
expanding creativity, revealing opportunity, and avoiding
mistakes to save lives, time, and money.
- A greater share of experience from daily working information in
meetings, calls and documents can be captured and connected using
functionality in the flexible structure of Knowledge Space,
summarized by the concept of
investing intellectual capital.
Eight (8) steps
integrate personal and organizational memory, so that each supports
the other, to obtain an accurate, complete story by
remembering only the gist
(i.e., fragments) of events, based
on situational awareness.
- Cognitive overhead
describes traditional efforts investing time performing
part of the eight (8) steps for organization and alignment that
enable clear, concise, complete communication;
"overhead" conveys a negative attitude of liability for intelligence
assets because good management is
a lot of hard work using information technologies (IT) for study
linked to history and analysis where formal
correspondence is tracked through a log to maintain progress on
legal commitments and entitlements.
Analysis captures the sequence of events based on
chronology. Rather than rely on impulse and impression from
personal memory in-the-moment, thinking through writing applies
deliberation to construct
a narrative "report" or diary (see POIMS). Writing a continuous,
comprehensible story to make sense of daily working
information in relation to prior work yields
occurs through analysis, reporting, linking
and context management to identify emerging risks and opportunities
in time to take effective action that avoids disputes, conflicts,
loss, and tragedy by increasing
Organization applies context management
with Control Files to segment the record for
comprehension and meaningful construction of cause and effect
in relation to the organic structure for objectives,
requirements, and commitments.
Command and control
of the record ensures content is useful,
accurate and accessible.
Summary for perspective linked to detail for accuracy
and timely access.
continually refines accuracy in constructing an
encyclopedia that integrates personal and organizational
memory and management (POIMS).
Common terms for organizational memory.
3) Organizational Memory
4) Records Management
5) Evidence-based Management
7) Common Storage
9) Intellectual capital
13) Root cause analysis
16) Cause and effect
17) if then
20) Case studies
21) Lessons learned
22) Continual learning
Context Management using subjects, topics, categories,
classification, ontology, and the like,
adds meaning to daily events by "connecting
the dots" to understand complex sequence (chronology),
correlations, implications and nuance in relation to objectives,
requirements and commitments (see
Managing the organic structure of
context is like tending a
Garden of Knowledge,
where everything is in the right place at the right time for
discovering, saving, finding, and understanding critical details.
enables precision access by quickly assembling
multiple views that find the
proverbial needle in a haystack using multiple
paths and connections based on situational awareness.
- Organize the record in Knowledge
Space with nested granular indexing common to
practices for outlining, accounting, planning (e.g., WBS),
Dewey Decimal Library systems, biological classification of
division of subjects that classify details of daily experience
within common and evident contextual boundaries for objectives,
requirements, and commitments, including people, organizations,
and research enable precision access that strengthens accuracy.
The power of the microcosm
using DNA-like organic structure grows to meet expanding
needs with multiple views that leverage remembering the
gist of a few fragments into finding the full story.
Managing context to quickly find details supports linking, and
deliberative analysis. "Connecting the dots" with links aids
understand cause and effect, based on memory of chronology from
assembling case studies
in seconds on any level of granularity for appropriate
perspective on objectives, requirements and commitments.
- Communication Metrics require
timely, accurate comprehension of evolving complexity. Navigating
the organic structure of context
expands span of attention to recognize
correlations, implications, and nuance for reporting performance
with comprehensive and consistent understanding.
- Organic structure of context applies traditional methods for
Management by Objectives (MBO),
records management, filing, accounting,
planning and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) practices, similar to
library work for managing taxonomy, and ontology that define the
whole of existence, where there is a place for everthing, and
everything is in the right place using
for Knowledge Space.
segment the record of organizational memory
with accounts from the organic subject structure,
similar to traditional 3x5 cards and library management; multiple
subjects can be assigned to a record segment for expanding span of
attention with alternate meanings based on
applies expanding subject accounts
to assemble record segments for specified subjects into
chronology showing causation, case
studies, root cause analysis and lessons learned. Synergy between
constructing organic structure, and
thinking through writing
in the context of knowledge enables clear, concise,
connects the dots
that construct alignment showing traceability to
original sources that reveal and enlighten with the
power of knowledge
for predicting the future...
apply synergy between time and context based
on situational awareness.
Precision access to relevant background
and authority can be
constructed at will within
a few seconds to expand and refine accuracy of automatic
links, similar to the way the
conscious mind refines accuracy of
subconscious mental processing. (see POIMS)
- Links are transparently
automatically) created to construct alignment based on a
simple rule-based process of chronology and context. (see POIMS)
Accurate understanding is preserved with an
audit trail of permenant links that
"connect the dots" in a reliable record of
enabling timely, reliable memory of relevant
knowledge, as called out by industry standards and government
regulations for traceability to original sources, often called
tasks, correlations, implications and nuance occurs naturally
with increased frequency from
creating and accessing links that connect seemingly
useless information into an expanding mosaic of Knowledge Space
for understanding cause and effect.
Finding relevant information and knowledge is fast
and easy, essentially instantaneous based on
Access to verify accuracy is fast
and easy, essentially instantaneous based on
Discover correlations, implications and nuance to
comprehensively understand cause and effect that is otherwise
overlooked, in the absence of linking, due to information overload
that obscures the context of objectives, requirements and
commitments in the
fog of war.
to specific locations with granular
addressability and explicit links that identify information units
at every paragraph complements granular indexing
for Context Management
to make finding critical details fast and
easy in the flexibel structure of Knowledge Space.
is automated and integrated
with SDS flexible structure and Knowledge Space to
make linking fast and easy based on
Reducing the time to verify accuracy and expand span of attention
to near zero, makes
clear, concise, complete communication
a powerful and practical 3-layer architecture.
Explicit links at every paragraph
integrated with automated FTP support
construct a paperless office (also virtual office)
environment on the Internet, and
on secure company intranets; productivity improves by providing
anytime, anywhere intelligence, where a few people using SDS
constructs organizational memory that helps
everybody using familiar tools in familiar ways without
learning anything new.
Reporting invests intellectual capital by capturing a greater
share of daily experience in a written narrative of
where understanding and accuracy
are continually refined for decision support using
for root cause analysis
that yields lessons learned.
Writing in the context
of knowledge with tools for outlining, flexible
structure, and links to original sources strengthens the quality of
analysis, and reduces the time to construct a comprehensive
story that makes sense of complexity. Daily experience
grows into knowledge of history that
can be accessed quickly when needed.
- SDS finds and assembles information into chronologies that
construct patterns of cause and effect to drive command and
control of the work, based on the organic structure of
context for objectives,
requirements and commitments. Reports over days, weeks, months,
years and decades are assembled in seconds. Simple changes to
organic structure specifying reports immediately yield alternate
patterns of correlations, implications and nuance. Positioning the
same information in multiple views discovers risks and
opportunities that are otherwise hidden, i.e., a
secret to participants of events. (see POIMS)
- Decision support flows from understanding causation by
integrating time and information to produce chronologies
original sources; additionally, "reporting"
constructs case studies
for root cause analysis
that yields lessons learned.
$40M savings root cause analysis finds inaccurate plans
caused by owner's failure to perform plan check, meeting
December 1, 1989.
2) Root cause analysis to understand complexity often seems
like unnecessary overkill!
Feel good management excuses losing time and
money on grounds of having good intentions to reduce
"paperwork," and expedite by being reactive (i.e., penny
wise and pound foolish) that causes endless mistakes (see
Kissinger on continual bumbling
when analysis is omitted), instead of being
proactive to discover correlations, implications and
nunace in time to save time, money, November 23, 1991.
$500M loss root cause analysis shows ship sank because
attention was diverted to "wrong" problem, so work was not
aligned with requirements, case study June 11, 1994.
Knowledge Management case study shows failure to
advance beyond information technology, September 24, 2001.
$10M loss Broadwater Dam
planning decision support to recover based on
root cause analysis showing misunderstanding from communication
not aligned with requirements causes hydro-electric plant to
fail, January 20, 1992.
$30M loss case study command and control failed, not
enough diligence to find savings using conventional
technologies, October 27, 1998.
Cancer recovery case studies show symptoms and
test results require changes in treatment that are
missed by busy doctors; concurrent discovery using
root cause analysis is
critical for effective health care, May 17, 2004.
$300M Challenger Space Shuttle lost due to O-ring
failure, because communication not aligned with requirements,
case study reported on October 21, 1991.
sore subject at NASA/JPL.
Cal Tech reported case study for root cause analysis
traced links in thousands of communications over many
years in documents, phone logs, RFIs, and email to discover
cause for failure of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1996,
May 24, 1997.
$125M loss Mars Space Probe crashed
due to little deviation that was multiplied over millions
of miles -- root cause analysis
traces problem to email, October 1, 1999.
NASA morphed "requirements" into goals, guidelines, and
suggestions that are "nice" to meet, when there is
enough time and money using existing skills and approved
tools, rather than insist on performance for payment, and for
"go" or "no go" flight status; NASA Administrator, Sean
O'Keefe, reported to Congress that the root cause for loss
of the Columbia Space Shuttle is a culture of denial that
morphs good people into proponents of bad management, which
eviscerates diligence for doing
accurate work, August 22, 1993.
Bureaucracy makes analysis look like
unnecessary overkill; demonstrates need for
technology that enables diligence for performing root
cause analysis within time available, February 3, 2004.
Root Contradition Analysis reviewed on September 5,
2004, along with another list of 10 or so case studies solving
difficult problems related to
- Case studies for root cause analysis and
continual learning required by industry standards flow
naturally from reporting on
assembled into chronologies based on context, and can be
continually expanded and refined by managing the
Garden of Knowledge
in the organic structure of subjects.
under Decision Support)
- Root cause analysis, study, review, brainstroming all
flow from intelligence support
(see examples under Decision Support)
under this scope in several ways...
Traceability to original sources using automatic and
custom links in organizational memory
that "connect the dots" into an audit trail required by
industry standards to identify both correlations and
contradictions from comparing language that explains daily
experience, and language that describes the
context of objectives, requirements, commitments.
2) Granular reporting on
organizational memory enabled by
Context Management using
organic structure to assemble case studies showing chronologies
that provide multiple views of causation based on the
sequence of events.
3) Constructing organic structure with tools that quickly
create multiple views of context imparts deeper understanding
from parsing explanations of experience into smaller
components. Alternate work breakdown structures point to
causes that are otherwise hidden by complexity, and also to
solutions from vigorous analysis of problems.
- Lessons learned are continually derived from organizational
memory assembled into case studies for root cause analysis,
based on chronology and context
and can be easily distributed
for comment and refinement to affected parties.
(see also examples
under Decision Support)
prompting are powerful derivatives of precision access in
Knowledge Space that
expand span of attention to discover and
remember correlations, implications and
nuance, i.e., critical details.
- Knowledge Space integrates a critical mass of capabilities
using multi-dimensional axes
for chronology and context that inherently expands span
of attention by providing instant access to collateral and relevant
- Links inherently
position the mind, when both created and accessed,
in a broader context beyond initial
focus and concerns of the moment.
Since linking is fast and easy, taking a few
seconds to create connections for finding the path back to
original sources encourages people, like the story of
Hansel and Gretel, to gravitate
toward a practice of increasing the number of links that
save time and money by verifying accuracy to avoid mistakes. This
change in conduct, being more diligent without expending more time,
increases visibility by an order of magnitude. Seeing
more details relevant to current context, in turn,
generates a powerful synergy that augments innate
intelligence for "connecting the dots," and remembering critical
details by drawing attention to a wider range of issues, which are
otherwise beyond biological limits for human
span of attention. (see POIMS)
- Reporting based on the organic structure of context has an
even greater effect for expanding span of attention. (see
the prior section)
- Action items are fast and easy to create, as a matter of
volition, based on situational awareness; and, can be assembled in
seconds, ad hoc, at any time, and for any level of detail. Tasks
pending to be performed are presented in the context of who, what,
when, where, why, problems and solutions. This intelligence
enables people to get things done correctly, on time and within
- Organic structure of context constructing and using subject
accounts to manage Control Fields
and call reports, inherrently
brings into span of attention closely related subjects that may
require investigation, but which are otherwise overlooked.
Feedback is emotionally difficult, but
critical for Communication Metrics
in two (2) ways....
1) Distribution through the
Internet makes feedback fast and easy to continually
refine accuracy and avoid mistakes (see POIMS)
by conveying how
communication in meetings, calls and documents is
interpretted based plans for follow up, i.e.,
disclosing how what was presented will be applied in taking
action. Timely notice of planned action empowers people
to correct misimpressions and align understanding with actual
intentions so that complementary actions are taken in
time to be effective and conflicts are avoided.
2) Feedback from people correcting the record refines
accuracy of organizational memory, and reminds of alternate
interpretations that permit early investigation for taking
User interface optimizes human potential for
transforms the drudge of
diligence performing hard work into a
paradigm of discovery, having fun like playing a piano.
Switching from negative feelings about diligence, to
positive synergy of play with rythm and harmony
that people enjoy doing drives
productivity by orders of magnitude.
- Ergonomic configuration of keyboard, function keys, and mouse
enable complementary execution of commands with both hands;
synergy using a greater share of right and left brain power to
efficiently apply computer power
makes the structure of knowledge faster and easier
to create, analyse,
and apply based on situational
Command and Control of the work empowers people to discover
correlations, implications, and nuance for working
intelligently, and in time to be effective saving lives, time, and
money, as explained in POIMS, and entails the following scope...
.. quick and the
dead. (reviewed November 18, 2002)
- Command of the work from the power to find relevant
information for taking effective action based on
1) Chronology provides a first order direct access
for people who use SDS and others who receive
SDS work product.
2) Links between records and to documents provide
direct access to correlations, implications and
nuance for understanding cause and effect from
history, knowledge and experience in relation
to specific content from correspondence,
reports, contracts, invoices, specifications,
laws, regulations, books, articles, etc., that
is relevant to develop strategy and planning,
and for taking immediate action.
3) SDS positions information in Knowledge Space
using flexible structures that enable users to
segment information into multiple views managed
by Control Fields that associate cost and
schedule control with narrative to understand
the meaning and implications of traditional
business reporting, i.e., what caused a
financial budget or schedule milestone to be
4) Organic structures empower SDS users
to assemble reports in seconds covering events
over days, weeks, months and decades that show
the chronology of events based on objectives,
requirements and commitments, and information
segments can occur in different associations
based on the context of particular subjects,
augmenting human memory and intelligence.
- Control achieves results aligned with objectives,
requirements and commitments.
1) Clear, Concise, Complete Communication
understanding, and access to expand span of attention for
timely follow up.
controls content of the record.
3) Distribution leverages the power of knowledge to enable
anytime, anywhere intelligence.
a) SDS makes uniform distribution fast, easy and cheap
to all affected parties by managing
on the Internet, and on secure networks using
intranets, so that people can control what to
share in the same way that people decide what to
speak and write. Explicit links
empower everyone to quickly
expand distribution of critical details and analysis to
leverage organizational memory for collaboration.
b) Decision support
requires timely and consistent
distribution of intelligence showing reliable evidence of
cause and effect.
c) Collaboration requires timely, accurate, uniform
distribution so that people can be effective working
together on common tasks.
d) Coordination requires timely, accurate, uniform
distribution of intelligence that positions everyone on the
"same page" performing complementary tasks to reduce
conflicts, mistakes, rework, and thereby save lives, time
e) Confidentiality requires a range of controls to
tailor distribution that protects vital interests.
4) Judicious Review
enables clear, concise, complete
communication by opening only links that are relevant to
current requirements, and opening other links that are relevant
on other occassions with different circumstances.
5) Feedback continually refines accuracy of the
record and informs participants of meaning for
timely clarification that avoids mistakes and
imparts correlations, implications and nuance
in time to take effective action, and which is
6) Control Fields enable SDS users to
manage a continuous information stream with
segments that the human mind can readily
understand and apply for constructing larger
meanings through association with other
information when assembled with SDS command
mechanisms for reporting.
7) Headlines give SDS users the power to define
multiple views for understanding the meaning of
complex details in relation to objectives,
requirements and commitments.
8) Headlines can be instantly captured, and then
quickly applied at will for defining multiple views with
organic subject structures that manage the context of daily
experience; this makes growing knowledge fast and easy,
similar to the way that DNA grows inert molecular
structures into the miracle of life.
9) Situational awareness (SA) is the perception of
information within a contextual frame bounded by space and
time, using intelligence
for comprehension of meaning, and knowledge of consequences
to choose a course of action in time to be effective.
a) Sensory perception of context from sight and sound,
and remembering paradigms
(i.e., rules, lessons)
connecting cause and effect from relevant
experience is limited by
span of attention
that is overwhelmed when information comes too fast.
Awareness of a dominate context
often crowds out construction of mental pointers to
alternate, subsidiary contexts in the same situational
frame. Comprehension falls with the rise of complexity
compounded by limited time (see example
"Big Picture" on May 23, 1989).
People frame and remember contextual boundaries based on
emotional charge of reward and danger (applause brings
joy, delight, daring; opprobrium brings pain, anger,
fear, doubt, delay).
People remember only the general gist of situations
for subsidairy contexts (see
hidden context ) to make sense of
the "Big Picture" also on May 23, 1989). Without
to an accurate record of organizational memory,
people cannot point to relevant context, and so are
forced to rely on assumption,
which often works. Otherwise,
people point their finger in accusuation and
blame by molding the gist of the story into
that fits the situation in
the moment. When time is available for sober assessment,
traditional study, analysis, and deliberation expand
beyond the moment to perceive multiple views of context;
e.g., driving home, we recall a lot of details
that were not remembered during the meeting.
improve literacy to further
leverage innate mental capacity for study, analysis, and
deliberation, even when time is short. A wide variety of
paths and natural
reminders enable people to
perceive, manage, and remember multiple views
for situational awareness, rather than the one (1)
view that seems "important" at the time.
b) Comprehension of meaning applies ordinary
to calculate alignment with
objectives, requirements, and commitments, which
continually drifts with the natural tides of
constant information, but is held on
course with triangulation.
c) Knowledge of consequences is leveraged by
using SDS to draw timely, relevant experience
from an accurate history of situations with
comparable context in organizational memory
that reveal patterns of cause and effect to
guide taking action under the common rule:
past is prologue.
Reality monitoring is a mental exercise of cogntive
overhead that applies due diligence
cross-checking accuracy of
multiple sensory perceptions against experience for taking
timely action responding to situational awareness under the
common rule that separates the
Intelligence support technology reduces the time for reality
monitoring under the locality
principle that save lives, time, and money by
increasing productivity with fewer mistakes and more
innovation. Technology reduces the burden
of cognitive overhead
to permit greater diligence for reality monitoring
within the time available.
presented in this outline clearly
provides an effective model for both process and work product.
Comparing traditional military practice with POIMS support
for a new way of working, shows commonality...
5. Assess and Adjust
6. Visualize feedback and redirect
While technology for military intelligence has focused on big ticket items
like satellites, sensors, and drones (UMVs)
largely for gathering data,
and to some extent artificial intelligence for analysis,
POIMS defines technology to leverage innate biological mental strength
for memory, understanding, and analysis by an order of magnitude. POIMS
summarizes five (5) elements of knowledge into an "intelligence" cycle
of "plan, perform, report" that converts
information from daily events into the power of
knowledge to get things done by "connecting the dots" to discover
cause and effect under the locality principle.
In both the military model and POIMS, work product is
routinely called "intelligence." Generating work product with POIMS
technology enables a new way of working accomplished with a practice using
eight (8) steps. The combination of new tools and practices forms the science
of Communication Metrics.
Changing 5,000 Years of Management Practice Takes Leadership
Better results require new tools, skills and roles for
but fundamental advance is resisted by the viscosity of
culture. Resistance of culture is useful to avoid precipitous change,
so that tools and methods can be applied productively. Without
the stabilizing influence of culture, nothing would ever get
implemented to produce actual improvement, because once a good idea
is discovered, it takes time to figure out effective deployment that
lifts civilization. The challenge is balancing the need for
stability to get things done with proven tools and methods, like
while being alert to the prospects of improvement, and open to continual
learning. Since improvement can be disruptive and learning sometimes difficult,
resulting in people losing jobs, position and stature, i.e., image,
resistance to change may not reflect lack of merit, but rather fear of
learning, of exposing lack of personal competence, and desire to
maintain status, without the effort to improve. The biological drive for
self-preservation raises the bar very high. There must be a big need
for change; the opportunity for improvement must be real; and a path
must be available for making a transition, in this case from information
to a culture of knowledge.
Therefore, the threshold ingredient for improvement is the
courage of leadership with a broader vision
to launch the effort
that empowers people to discover a
new way of working
in a new world order.
Culture, social pressure and paradigms foster ignorance,
fear and denial that improvement is necessary, particularly in the
case of communication methods and management practice, which
have evolved together over 5,000
years. Such deeply ingrained notions are not easily changed. The
momentary impulse to speak and take immediate action,
based on cursory understanding, overwhelms the need
to invest intellectual capital that produces organizational memory, which
is essential for making action effective in a more complex world that
exceeds the limits of traditional practices for communication,
management and learning. As a result, the only way for
improvement to occur is for leadership to launch the ship of discovery,
just at Queen Isabella launched Columbus on a voyage in 1492
to the West in order
to find riches of the East. Recall the Queen did not send the entire
fleet, but rather commissioned a pilot test of only three ships
to discover a new world beyond the horizon. Initial results were modest;
but, leadership persisted, and in a few hundred years a whole new way
doing things exploded on the scene in constitutional government that secures
the blessings of liberty and enterprise.
Three (3) things are needed to fulfill the
vision of better knowledge work today....
- Management science
As just noted, while change, for good or ill, is inevitable, proactive
change for improvement, rather than change driven by the mere chance of
whatever washes ashore with the tides, can only occur with
Accordingly, leadership is the top priority in the transformation from
informationn to a culture of knowledge, and so is discussed last in line,
as the most challenging ingredient of
Management science in this context can be defined as a set of
practices and responsibilities
designed to accomplish a
specific business purpose; in this case, converting information
into knowledge by adding business metrics to communication. The
foremost requirement for a new management science, is a new...
...to forge a stronger partnership between leadership and technology,
discussed in detail below.
Information technology (IT) encompasses computer hardware and
software that creates, stores, processes and retrieves
information. CPM, spreadsheets, word processing, contact
managers, calendars, notebooks, all are examples of IT. Some
of these tools are classified as Personal Information Managers, or PIMs.
Groupware is a class of software that enables a group of people to
work on software programs and/or contribute to preparing a document, like a
contract, or product specification,
using version control and tracking change history.
Those, who have worked with IT, know well, however, that software
programs for particular tasks
do not improve the practice of management. The missing
ingredient is integration that emulates the mental faculty of
synthesizing separate tasks into a fluid stream of information
connected into chronologies of cause and effect based on human needs,
also, called objectives, subjects, categories, etc, which in total
comprises the knowledge needed to function productively.
Therefore intelligence support requires a new science of
Communication Metrics and a new technology standard...
P O I M S
Personal and Organizational Integrated
POIMS technology aids the common management tasks of planning,
feedback, organization, analysis, alignment, integration and
measurement. It was introduced in the Proceedings (p. 493)
Annual Seminar/Symposium held in 1994 by the
Project Management Institute (PMI).
POIMS pays homage to the original use of poetry
historic events and complex ideas through rhyme and meter.
Technological advances like written language and the printing
press displaced this function, yet, still today the power of
poems is evident in our respect for those gifted few who
inspire us with songs of love and hope. POIMS fulfills our hopes
for a better future by using
to leverage the capacity to think, remember and communicate.
Only within the past several years has it become possible to
automate this linking process. Now software that implements POIMS
is emerging in the marketplace, and experience shows it is even
more helpful than expected. The
Schedule Diary System
example, has been used at
Gas & Electric Company,
and by the
Army Corps of Engineers
to integrate time, information,
people, documents and objectives.
Using SDS corrects meaning drift that
otherwise causes failed communications.
Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook and other Personal Information
Manager (PIMs) tools are beginning to implement
POIMS to some degree.
The critical factor is "human-centered"
design (also usability engineering,
user centered design)
that makes computers useful to the management
process of continually converting information into knowledge.
As a result, one test of useful technology for managers
is how many hours a day the technology is used to
improve the work? Minimal use reflects minimal value. A technology
that can be used every day, all day long,
to improve thinking, remembering
and communicating adds considerable value.
Improvements in Web browser technology show growing
support of POIMS requirements for integrated
tools that augment intelligence. In particular, the
Internet and secure intranets comprise a powerful structural platform
for Knowledge Space
that makes improves efficiency and accuracy by advancing toward a
model. Timely, precision access on demand makes
intelligence support a powerful
new reality for saving lives, time, and money throughout industry and
government. Many who
this "dream" in the early 90s,
later gave up because
getting technology to improve "management," which is mainly a
"thinking" process, is hard to accomplish. It takes more than
throwing a lot of money at the problem. Only the right design,
that balances technology, management science and strong
leadership can produce cost savings from productivity gains that
are inherently the promise of a paperless office.
Of course, introducing change into a mature culture is a major
effort. Many, who have been disappointed by earlier efforts to
automate management, are now wary of the idea that automation can
help managers think, remember and communicate. They properly ask,
"How can we use a computer to manage? Management is talking and
dealing with people, setting objectives, scheduling our time. I don't
to sit behind a computer all day!"
These views make clear that computers, alone, cannot get the job
done. Only an integrated strategy of management science,
technology and a professional role
can do the job.
During the early stages, when the culture is discovering
that faster information destroys productivity and earnings,
strong leadership is critical to help people overcome fear of change
so that people can further discover that using intelligence for
proactive alignment of communication adds value that
compliments alignment of
finances that uses accountants to assess results of communication.
Some resist the idea that communication "skills" can be
aided by technology, and further recoil at the prospect of leveraging
There is a
natural desire to rely on natural talent
for thinking, hearing, seeing and speaking.
This overlooks the distinction between "leadership," which
persuades (sells, wins people over), and "understanding"
(recognition of alignment with original sources) which needs
connections and follow up to ensure shared meaning is maintained
over time. Without understanding and follow-up, leadership soon
finds the team is drifting off course.
Communication Metrics can
be seen as an "automated experience machine" to create and
smoothly integrate new knowledge and ideas into the daily
work flow, so that leadership is effective.
This definition leads to idea that
has three parts...
Traditional management training and education in communication
focuses solely on the
component of leadership. How can we talk people into things, get them to
listen, get them to buy our product, motivate them to follow our
lead, and do what we want. Consultants who teach better listening
are helping the leader get the team to pay attention to what is
Experts teach feedback
and note taking improve listening to refine accuracy of
knowledge and understanding so that opportunities are discovered and
mistakes are avoided. This objective is
incorporated into legal standards for notice, commonly applied through
contract notice provisions, discussed above.
This "teaching," however, overlooks powerful social dynamics....
Do anything even if its wrong!
- Fear and ignorance make feedback a psychologically demanding task
that is often strongly resisted.
People fear asking questions and are
reluctant to offer a record that refreshes recollections. We fear
angry reprisals from people who strike out at
questioners. People fear offering a record that may err, or otherwise
differ from how others remember events, and so
get mad, rather than engage the
process of refining accuracy. Anger and fear
flow because stopping to
investigate feedback is traumatic to a mind biologially wired to act in
time to avoid harm and loss of opportunity. As well, feedback that
conflicts with personal memory creates self-doubt about personal
competence, and may cause embarrassment and loss of face. We often
prefer to avoid immediate pain from hurt feelings more than future harm
to others from taking the wrong action, under the common rule...
Often there isn't enough time to ask all of the relevant
All of the relevant questions are often not evident at the time
a meeting, call, or discussion occurs.
Speech goes too quickly to recognize gaps in reasoning and
alignment, and participate in discussion while jotting down cursory
notes. Talking is discursive so
handwritten notes are initially a jumble of
half-sentences, keywords, arrows and doodle diagrams going in all
directions, that have some meaning at the time, but soon appear
Delphic like the Dead Sea Scrolls, even to those who
The record of related information is too big to align in a way
that allows people to discover deviations from the truth, which
found cause difficulties in human affairs.
Management training does not teach how to avoid getting tired,
and how to expand span of attention in a climate of expanding
complexity, longer hours and constant information flow.
More time devoted to attending conferences, meetings, calls and
reviewing information means less time is available to prepare a record
for obtaining feedback, and less time for others to review, recognize
possible deviations, and formulate feedback response.
Thus, social dynamics and the biology of human speech, hearing,
cognition, and emotions constrain feedback metrics for accurate alignment.
Without alignment, verbal communication becomes a constant stream of
"guess and gossip." Sole reliance on talking in hopes of
expediting the work most often causes misunderstanding (i.e.,
delay and extra cost.
What to do?
Anytime, Anywhere Intelligence Makes the Internet an Asset
One more piece of technology is helpful for business
intelligence. The Internet has been designed and sold as
"anytime, anywhere information." As seen, this reduces
productivity, because people are overwhelmed by too much
information. The Internet can, however, in conjunction with
POIMS technology, efficiently
deliver useful business intelligence created by integrating
time and information using Communication Metrics,
as discussed above.
Rudimentary Web Browser skills enable a wide spectrum of people
to get timely, accurate
in a form that can be
absorbed quickly. Managers can use traditional cursory methods
of summarizing complex fact patterns to prepare for meetings,
calls and documents in daily decision making; yet, when needed,
they can obtain underlying details and connections for
understanding relevant history and controlling policy,
regulations, requirements plans and specifications. Second,
can be linked to original sources, so that
alignment is maintained between daily events and objectives.
The Internet can be converted into an asset for managers, adding
critical value to business
by delivering the
connections that bring understanding and timely follow-up so that
communication can leverage knowledge, wisdom and vision anytime,
anywhere in the world.
We have some tools and methods to create and deliver business
intelligence, but not enough time to use the tools.
Intelligence Brings Creativity and Skill
The science of Communication Metrics provides new skills for
working intelligently in a
New World Order that demands
leadership with a broader vision.
In the same way that the power and mission of an airplane
needs a pilot,
someone must use SDS tools to grow and maintain the
garden of knowledge
for delivering intelligence as an
integrated process of proactive management. Civilization has
evolved a new world order that now needs a new work role
for a new way of working using a new kind of technology
to align daily communication, and, thereby,
complement the traditional role of accounting that aligns daily finances.
New technology and work practices yield innovation for a
new science of Communication Metrics from
integrating management science, computer science and cognitive science.
Just as a few specialists in accounting use spreadsheets for double-entry
verification of finance that enables the team to focus on getting
things done, so too, we need a new form of scribe to leverage
communication for discovering correlations, implications, and nuance essential
for execution of strategy, planning, and meeting
commitments. A few specialists
using SDS for triangulation can quickly
double check accuracy and track follow up.
Routinely "connecting the dots" of cause and effect between daily
action, and objectives, requirements and, commitments makes organizational
memory a highly leveraged asset that strengthens
diligence for better
listening by everyone. Rather than pulling in
different directions that eviscerates collaboration,
intelligence support makes communication effective for
getting things done correctly, on time and within budget (see below on
calculating cost savings from working
The military uses intelligence officers, analysts and
specialists. Stockbrokers use analysts to study and report on
company prospects for financial growth. In religion, disciples
wrote the story to maintain alignment of principles. In law a
combination of court reporters capture the record and lawyers
provide extensive analysis that aligns the story with controlling
authority. However, the legal arena
is reactive intelligence for business. Proactive
management must generate
intelligence before mistakes are made, before conflict
arises due to misalignment with requirements and commitments,
before money is lost that causes legal action.
Traditional business culture does not have an
department or role. Analysis is part of Strategic Planning; but,
proactive intelligence to obtain feedback, and
organize, analyse, align information, and link
summary to details is a new role, and a new, proactive, method
to avoid mistakes and seize opportunity in time to be effective.
Johanna Neuman observes in her book Lights, Camera, War a dilemma of
leadership throughout history seeking advantages of technology for power and
wealth; yet, also, requiring continual change to improve work habits so that
decision making is not overcome by information overload from faster and faster
Leaders from past eras used specialists to write things down. For centuries,
only scribes used the alphabet to write, perserve and convey
communciation. The English historian
Havlock (reviewed on November 8, 1999)
notes that in the beginning, from about 700 BC, alphabet technology was
only used for accurate memory of speech by leadership, e.g., pharohs,
emporers, and kings. Sacred texts revered the word for preserving and
expanding religious power in the Ten Commandments, the
Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Bible.
About 300 years later, beginning in 400 BC literacy skills
expanded to organize, analyse, align, and summarize writing to
construct and expand understanding of complex events. People discovered
that written analysis to intrepret cause and effect from history provides
stronger guidance for planning the future than reliance on fragile
memory of personal experience. In the modern era, writing has evolved into
specialized practices of "history" in
education, "reporting" in journalism, and "planning" in
governement and business. (see
bureaucracy analyzed on February 3, 2004)
The practice of writing things down to record important experience
and work out understanding of deeper meaning was formalized into mathematics
and applied in accounting for financial metrics to aid leadership in managing
costs and rewards. More recently cost and schedule engineers were introduced
to supplement accounting. Intelligence support and
Communication Metrics continue the progress of
civilization introducing a new class of work to bridge the widening gap between
existing methods and the realities of a faster, more complex
New World Order.
Today, everybody can write things down, which is a big advance in literacy;
but, nobody has time to think, to orgainze the record, analyse, align,
summarize, and obtain feedback that refines accuracy. There are many highly
skilled professionals who can organize and analyse, but the volume of
information on the job overwhelms the capacity to make information useful
by constructing an effective record of organizational memory for
getting things done, because nobody can find critical details when needed.
This makes decision support a house of cards based on spontaneous
guesses and assumptions. (see
on May 4, 2002 citing Henry Kissinger's worry reported on June 6, 1994
that daily management is becoming an
Alice in Wonderland
of continual bumbling)
fills this gap with
intelligence support that provides a
simple, direct means to reengineer knowledge work by adding a professional
work role that helps solve the weak link in management -
limited span of attention. (see POIMS)
This new role ensures that, even though executives, managers,
engineers, and other professionals do not have time to think, critical
"thinking" gets done, and is distributed
in time to be effective using the Internet, and secure company intranets for...
Anytime, anywhere intelligence
Intelligence support applies a model of...
Clear, Concise, Complete Communication
A common recommendation for business writing says...
Clear and concise. The less you write, the less chance for misunderstanding or
misinterpretation. The clearer you are, the more likely the message will be
understood and acted upon. Don't offer an opinion if it isn't essential. Stick
to the facts.
PMI seminar, Asilomar, CA July 15, 1996)
A dilemma of leadership is being clear to avoid confusion on action to be
taken; and, also, complete on context that makes action effective. As seen,
concise communication for clarity on responsibilities, liabilities
and entitlements. Added length for complete context on authority, background,
commitments, and rationale help induce and guide successful action, but
reduces clarity that can lead to failure of notice, because there is
not enough time on the job to read everything. Clear and concise
communication seems like the remedy for
information overload. "Complete" communication,
however, seems inherently conflicting with being "concise." How can this
conflict be resolved to improve the quality of communications with limited
2-tier architecture of cognition reconciles the conflict.
Subconscious processing (1st tier) automatically
links sensory perception from
conscious awareness of evolving situations
(2nd tier) to relevant experience. In other words, when clear and concise
communciation is received, the mind automatically makes a lot of connections
for understanding and follow up. Most of these mental links are filtered out of
conscious awareness to yield summary interpretations, feelings, impressions,
impulse, and "gut reactions." Accuracy therefore varies because the
subconscious mind creates links based on near-term events. Emotions, in
combination with limited time and limited access to accurate, relevant
contextual experience, cause the mind to forget, overlook, and commingle
chronology of unrelated events in constructing links to understand cause
and effect. Recent experience is given priority, rather than invest time
to find original sources. Therefore, first impressions from
subconscious links between
clear and concise communication, and memory of experience is often
incorrect. (see POIMS)
The design of innate human mental biology makes writing a coherent
with links to relevant details a powerful aid for clear, concise,
Limited time attending meetings, making calls, and handling documents
often prevents checking accuracy
in the moment. Since consequences of
error are deferred for days, months, even years, failure to
check the record becomes a slippery slope that grows into habit,
rather than rare exception. Speed and ease of
feel-good management succumbs entirely to
rule-based subconscious processing (i.e.,paradigms) that avoids the
trauma of expending cognitive overhead
to resolve conflicting impressions from
Initial fragments of memory instantly construct
by remembering the
gist of the story and constructing association with
Assumptions avoid investing
time for reflection to discover
knowledge (i.e., justified true belief based on evidence, see
again POIMS) that predicts the future by "connecting the dots" of
cause and effect to make sense of dynamic, complex information flowing
constantly day-to-day. Limited time in league with culture and peer pressure
generate assumptions that instantly resolve ignorance, doubt, and fear with
confidence from warm fuzzy feelings about prospects for
taking immediate action.
satisfies powerful biological
drives to feel good (safe, secure, certain) in the moment. However, like
following the Pied Piper, reaction on impulse to the
fools gold of assumption
leads people down the wrong path to
false knowledge, prejudice, discrimination, and the official view of
reality. Enabling forces eventually align assumptions on
small, innocuous issues
into critical mass that suddenly explodes into conflict, crisis,
and calamity, as Aristotle predicts. (see
case study reported June 11, 1994)
The practice of
evolved for quality control that checks assumptions
using alphabet technology to
debug human thought by "checking the record."
(see POIMS) Cognitive science recognizes
an innate subconscious process automatically performs
reality monitoring to cross-check accuracy of
perceptions from multiple sensory paths (e.g., sight, sound, order, touch).
Intelligence checks connections of cause and effect from
situational awarness against memory of experience
in order to take action that can succeed. Order and structure from
adding energy for accurate mental connections yields the power of knowledge
that controls the future, under the
locality principle of predictability.
Due diligence augments innate intelligence by consciously capturing the
record of personal experience, rather than rely solely on mental biology.
Writing things down in letters, books, reports, specifications,
and contemporaneous notes provides a source of personal and
organizational memory for due diligence to verify accuracy with reality
metrics. People check the record of documentation to investigate subconscious
processing by investing time to consciously find sources that verify accuracy
of first impressions. Diligence recognizes that first impressions are often
misleading, and so accurate comprehension requires reality monitoring with
comprehensive review of correlations, implications and nuance. As explained
above discussing religion,
common practices for diligence are bibliographies in professional writing,
and citations in legal work. Saying that
so-and-so ...religiously provides original sources, means someone is
very diligent ensuring accuracy, based on the close cultural association
between religion and commitment to practice. However, when complexity exceeds
span of attention,
diligence wains. Good management suddenly looks like "wasting time" on
a lot of hard work. Denial resists the burden of hard work for
cognitive overhead simply by assuming
that accuracy is
unnecessary overkill. When people "...do not have time to think,"
feel confused, and overwhelmed by demands of communication metrics for
understanding complexity, human biology relieves the burden with the common
practice of "expediting." Mental metrics easily jump to unsupported
conclusions and assumptions that inherently
feel good by avoiding diligence to deliberate, i.e., think about
correlations, implications and nuance. When expediting becomes an excuse to
avoid diligence for checking accuracy, then errors compound and grow to
critical mass, causing loss of lives, time
and money. Without due diligence for working intelligently,
productivity is paralyzed.
People are rewarded with the exact opposite from goals for expediting, under
the second law of thermodynamics
that does not forgive ignoring reality.
everyone calls for due diligence to check the record; yet, the ability
to use organizational memory is weak. (see
article reviewed on April 20, 2001) A year later on November 8, 2002, Bill
Gates at Microsoft reported information is piling up in computers that nobody
nobody can find anything.
Clearly, useless information piles up from documents, meetings and
calls, when there is not enough diligence to find useful connections
with objectives, requirements and commitments in time to be effective, using
existing tools and skills.
CBS News reported on their 60 Minutes television broadcast that
useless information is a growing pandemic
paralyzing productivity, because when finding relevant history, experience,
and knowledge is not fast and easy, people are forced to
rely on guess and gossip, hunch and hope, which quickly breaks down
into continual bumbling,
rather than continual learning.
Error and loss make conflict and crisis a daily staple of constant meetings
that reduce management to entropy.
A study found that 70% of the day is wasted in
where people point fingers in anger and
accusation, because they cannot point to relevant contextual experience in the
record of organizational memory.
Popular, common sense solutions urge more diligence, i.e., work harder; others
simply suggest ignoring and
to fit the time available for
due diligence using information technology. People soon discover, however, that
finding information to delete is a lot of hard work that takes extra time.
Deleting is also risky. Information that seems useless at the moment, may yield
essential knowledge when connected with information from another context either
forgotten from yesterday, last month, a year ago, or equally from new
circumstances that arise tomorrow, next week, a month later, etc. Converting
information into knowledge requires tools and roles that leverage diligence
with precsion access
to organizational memory based on
POIMS describes a 3-layer architecture that
integrates people, process, and time to leverage diligence by working smarter
supported by an environment of Knowledge Space, rather than trying to work
harder with conventional information tools. The design of Knowledge Space
synthesizes chronology, context, and connections to triangulate accuracy and
reduce diligence to mere volition. Constructing
links is fast and easy with flexible organic work breakdown structures
to find sources by remembering only the gist of story. Research instantly
assembles case studies to consider multiple views that expand span of attention
beyond impulsive first impressions. Granular organic structures for context
management combined with chronology showing sequence of events complement granular addressability and explicit
links that enable instant access to precise work history using common
web browser tools. Using familiar tools in familiar ways makes good management
a practical reality to reduce mistakes and discover opportunity in time to take
Routinely verifying accuracy by adding connections for alignment enable
clear, concise, complete communication.
Adding energy to maintain a well ordered record based on chronology and
context converts negative synergy from wasting time destroying
mountains of "useless information" piling up on computers, into positive
synergy from "connecting the dots" to understand cause and effect. Making
sense of complexity with timely, accurate understanding of
causation yields a sea change in performance
by converting otherwise "useless information" into the
power of knowledge that controls the future.
Transforming information from a liability that degrades
productivity, into knowledge makes
a highly leveraged strategic asset. Timely access to knowledge empowers
diligence without taking more time to work harder.
Productivity to save lives, time, and money comes from working smarter.
The power of
to quickly navigate through Knowledge Space,
exposes a larger share of links than people have previously encountered.
This occurs because connections in organizational memory are an analog of
human thought that significantly expands the power of
alphabet technology (see POIMS)
by replicating the mental faculty of dense association
that extends forever. Jeremy Campbell, for example, explains that
the mind automatically
connects one thing it knows to another, thereby constructing an
expanding reservoir of links for understanding how the world works. The power
of the mind to understand connections of cause and effect based on linking
experience is popularly expressed by the cliche:
Been there done that!
Most of these mental links are hidden from the minds eye by the power of
conscious thought to filter out all but a small fraction of the connections
needed to understand current context, i.e., what is going on right now.
People primarily focus situational awareness
on the field of vision, commonly called
span of attention. (see POIMS)
Expanding span of attention beyond biological limits increases visibility
of connections that impact objectives, requirements and commitments
in order to avoid overlooking critical details. As a result,
transformation from current practice to benefit from better span of attention
initially seems shocking when people begin encountering records with
that greatly increase the speed of accessing original sources. The change from
almost never opening sources to being empowered with instant access, at first,
seems overhelming, particularly, when people try to open every link they
encounter, since as noted, organizational memory is an analog of human thought
that extends forever. Therefore, trying to open every link quickly
boggles the mind,
shown by research on February 8, 2000.
Introducing a new professional role
to construct and deliver connections of cause and effect
strengthens diligence for command and control
of critical details by using technology to link current and prior events
with relevant sources in a way that makes sense of complexity. Intelligence
"connects the dots" for comprehensive understanding of all events by
increasing the speed and precision of traveling through Knowledge Space.
However, at first, the gift of greater diligence boggles the mind by
opening a Pandora's box
that brings responsibility for exercising the power of knowledge
to get things done. People at first fear connections to relevant
history and sources, because the power of knowledge reduces
denial that otherwise excuses
accountability for negligence, failure, and refusal to perform.
Fear of accountability from loss of denial by the
charge You knew or reasonably should have known! is a powerful
cultural artifact that boggles the mind.
describes investing time for study, investigation,
research, searching, finding,
analysis, and deliberation associated with
thinking, learning, diligence,
intelligence, and knowledge. In recent years,
adding links to documents on the Internet increases speed and therefore
reduces time for study, research, searching, and finding documents
by orders of magnitude. Paradoxically less time finding documents has
increased resistance to cognitive overhead, despite relative
ease clicking links, because constructing links, and finding
relevant context within documents
after links are opened, both take a lot of hard work without
Busy people pressed for time get frustrated, mad, and emotional from stress
and anxiety when work is delayed by changing routine tasks. Change disrupts
mental biology that relies on assumptions from experience for working
efficiently. Reducing efficiency from adding complexity that changes
familiar work creates anger and fear of disruption
investing time for cognitive overhead to find contexutally relevant
information, when precision access is not supported. Fear of emotional
reprisals that channels energy toward "kill the messenger" makes people
reluctant to present problems that require adjustments, because management
focused on the "big picture" does not want to
know complex details that paint a different story, i.e., the "truth."
(see example on April 26, 1995)
Cognitive overhead is resisted reading the record to
prepare for doing work, for example, to write a report, an accurate letter, or
conduct a productive meeting.
Besides delay finding the record, people are frustrated
by delay reading the record even when provided proactively as feedback.
Emotioal trauma compounds
for some seeing a record that conflicts with personal memory, because delay
increases spending time to check personal memory, then investing more
time and emotional capital arguing about changing the record. People mostly
hate to encounter invective and opprobrium (compare
report March 26, 1996 and earlier
report on January 28, 1992).
Aversion to being prepared
was cited in the study reviewed on February 4, 1996
showing people waste 70% of the day in unproductive meetings.
For most daily activity, people avoid cognitive overhead by relying on
from personal memory. The practice of relying on assumption
is often effective working on familiar things in familiar ways (see
Andy Grove reviewed on March 7, 1998), so people naturally prefer
work that enables immediate action, rather than deliberation, study, and
analysis. Life experience gradually grows familiarity and
confidence understanding frequent patterns of causation. Memory of seemingly
relevant experience enables taking immediate action applying familiar
skills to situational awareness of evolving context determined by sensory
perception, i.e., common sense. People feel good working on familiar
things like driving a car, flying a plane, writing a letter, reading a book,
without investing time to think, study, deliberate, and verify accuracy
by stopping to check sources discussed in meetings, listed in a bibliography,
checking citations in a legal brief, or clicking links on the Internet.
A frustrating knowledge management dilemma occurs because not every fact, t,
and i needs to be checked, crossed, and dotted in every conversation, and
in every document, but some do, or else time, money and lives are lost.
This risk compounds when people feel very certain remembering events that
never occurred. (see
false knowledge in POIMS) Diligence improves accuracy, but
takes time. Linking resolves the dilemma of limited time that drives
continual mistakes by reducing the time for cognitive overhead to verify
accuracy and maintain alignment with original sources. Why then do people
empowered with precision access so rarely make it to the
museum (applying the foundational
theme of the New World Order...), especially today, when clicking a link
brings the museum to the people, as the
farmer did for
the folks in Utah a century ago?
Grasping the import of this sea-change in opportunity to improve accuracy, yet
still shrouded with the dilemma of resistance, comes from the design of mental
biology. Going to the library, opening a magazine, or a book, checking the
files, even clicking a link on the Internet and searching for relevant details
to verify accuracy and context, all take from several hours to several minutes
that necessarily delays action, and further bear a risk of compounding delay,
when a source does not actually yield verfication. People are wired to avoid,
and so viscerally "hate," delay under the harsh rule that separates: The
quick and the dead! Weighing the cost of delay and mental anxiety of
investing time for due diligence against pausing for minutes, hours, and days
of mental gymnastics required to check the record drive most toward the
palliative allure of "assumption." The mind numbing simplicity of reasoning
based on assumption of accuracy remembering chronology to understand causation
makes clear why the three most popular words in every language are: Then what happened? People value knowledge of
history for learning causation and context, but people depend on memory of
personal history, because experience grows certainty in knowledge of cause and
effect that enables confident action based on
that avoids delay for due diligence to verifiy accuracy.
People understand investing time for farming and gardening that yield a harvest
months later. People readily invest money in a bank that yields interest years
later. But people resist investing intellectual capital by investing time for
proactive management that saves lives, time, and money. Eric Freeman notes in
his 1997 PhD thesis at Yale (see
Lifestreams reviewed on December 15, 2003) that people
resist diligence investing time to
tend the garden of knowledge.
Assigning subjects in the organic structure of
context in order to be prepared to find critical details in time to be
effective is strongly resisted,
because, like farming and banking, rewards are delayed, i.e., there
is no immediate payback. Failure to organize the work causes clutter and
confusion to rise, overwhelming span of attention. However, this occurs
gradually over months and years. People learn to cope by throwing
away documents or simply become numb by ignoring
clutter and confusion in a buble of isolation.
In either case mangement is forced to rely on assumption rather than the
record. Lack of accuracy produces negative feedback loops that spiral
productivity toward entropy, noted as well in the
USAFIT study reviewed on July 7, 1997.
Civilization is an innovation (i.e., technology) that increases prospects for
survival and happiness by integrating personal and organizational memory
through the power of community. Civilization has flourished with the rise of
management that applies communication to leverage the power of knowledge for
taking immediate action with a complementary and forward looking power to pause
and think, study, analyse, and deliberate in constructing plans for taking
coordinated action in the future. Cognitive overhead explains agony, anguish,
and anger, i.e., pain, from the conflict between personal
and organizational memory and management.
Tension between innate biological drives for people to take immediate action,
and organizational requirements to delay action in order to invest time
for working intelligently, i.e., verify, plan, and communicate, that makes
coordinated action effective presents a Knowledge Management dilemma described
as a "2-worlds" problem. POIMS technology
reduces this tension by reducing the time for intelligence support that
bridges the gap between personal and organizational memory and management.
Expanding knowledge through continual learning from
experiencing cause and
effect occurs naturally in daily life. Human biology relies on
prior knowledge to react on assumptions from
first impression without investing time to be prepared by checking
the record of organizational memory to verify accuracy of personal memory.
Reacting on impulse by relying on experience works well in a
primative world of spontaneous threats where survival depends on sensory
perception from situational awareness using sight,
sound, and smell. Taking immediate action to avoid immediate danger brings
deep emotional satisfaction, and obvious reward for avoiding delay to study and
analyse. Moreover, when all of the variables are self-evident, as occurs in
primative settings, verifying accuracy is irrelevant. Mental biology that
rewards immediate action with feelings of satisfaction presents a continuing
bias against investing time to research, study, analyse, verify, and plan in
the modern world. Even when the greater danger is ignorance, people prefer
action to investing time for learning about variables that are not evident in
the moment through sensory perception. In particular,
when complexity exceeds
span of attention,
people tend to avoid the burden of cognitive overhead for performing due
diligence, and instead rely on assumption to resolve the dilemma of desire
for action. (see review of Professor George Miller on March 3, 1999).
For example, investing time on due diligence to study work history
and sources for learning accurate understandings of requirements
and commitments seems enormously frustrating to prepare for meetings,
calls, and documents, because study delays action, and because danger from
error is deferred for days, weeks, months and years, beyond
perception through sight and sound in the moment.
The simple relief for frustration, when danger is "out of sight" and so
"out of mind," is to
avoid investing time to be prepared, shown by common practice of
people wasting 70% of the day in unproductive meetings,
reported in a study reviewed on February 5, 1996.
In the same way,
cognitive overhead to study, analyse, and deliberate for learning to program
a television remote control can be enormously frustrating, because
action to watch television is delayed. Equally, direct progress on
desires and goals, like clicking a button to power up the television,
select a channel, set the volume, all bring satisfaction, because there
is an immediate result relative to a desire. Video games have a
similar appeal, as does driving a car, attending a meeting, making a call,
sending an email, which all entail spontaneous, stream-of-conscious conduct.
Taking action with immediate results, like conversation,
imparts powerful feelings of gratification and
effectance that avoid cognitive overhead.
(see Landauer reviewed on July 10, 1995)
The focus of commercial work is production that applies knowledge, rather than
study to grow knowledge. A carpenter
earns a living by applying a lot of knowledge to perform complex,
difficult tasks. Skills of literacy with letters and numbers are
learned in school, and applied through apprenticeship learning
to hammer, saw, and align, as well as the fundamental
rule of accuracy to measure twice and cut once. Carpentry skills grow
over time, but stopping production to study, analyse, and deliberate
about how to perform the work is discouraged as "overhead" that
delays the work. When we hire a carpenter to hang a door, add a room, or
build the Empire State Building we expect the carpenter's hard work
and craftsmanship to get things done. Time for "overhead" to study,
analyse, and deliberate is minimized, because payment is based on
production not thinking. The same is true for doctors, engineers,
lawyers, accountants, teachers, and other professionals. When people
have to stop and think, study, and learn
about how to do work they are committed to produce,
this delay for cognitive overhead is enormously frustrating,
leading to the popular expression...
I don't have time to think!
What people really mean is...
I don't have time to study, analyse, and deliberate for learning to think
differently than I do at this moment! I want to act right now based on
what I rememeber, rather than delay to verify accuracy and learn
People willingly sharpen skills through the accretion of
experience; but, study, analysis, and deliberation in order to earn a living is
resisted as burdensome, frustrating, and unacceptable overhead that
delays getting the job done.
Of course foundational learning in school must be distinguished from
continual learning throughout a career. Seeking treatment, we are
alarmed to see the doctor thumbing through a school book studying to acquire
entry level skills. Patients want treatment by experienced practitioners, not
people learning their craft, because experience teaches cause and effect, and we want assurance of getting a
particular effect. Reliance on experience occurs when the surgeon says: "Only
one patient died." We feel more comfortable selecting the surgeon who lost one
patient in ten heart transplants, rather than the doctor who lost one patient
in only two transplants, under the common rule: experience improves skill and
refines knowledge. The same holds for mowing the lawn, constructing a bridge,
designing a computer chip, etc.
Conversation is a critical part of communication that complements experience to
reduce cognitive overhead. People (CEOs, clerks, lawyers, engineers,
doctors...) use communication skills to reduce paperwork, aiming to save time,
expedite, and reduce costs with conversation that makes people feel good.
For example, a doctor arrives 45 minutes late, plops down a thick file with
years of patient tests and examinations, and says... Sorry! Sorry!
I'm running a little behind today, and so don't have much time. But, we really
need to talk!
There wasn't enough time to study the record and "connect the dots" showing
patterns of causation that diagnose your problem. However, I have some
treatment ideas to discuss...
Let's see, eh... Thumbing through your medical chart, and
searching the hospital Knowledge Base on the computer I cannot find the
for discontinuing a prior treatment. I may have been running
behind at the time, and so did not have time to write it down a few years ago;
or, I just missed seeing it today rushing to search through the records.
Do you remember why we changed treatments? It's kind of important because
I want to prescribe the prior discontinued treatment in order to qualify
you for a new chemotherapy trial. This new treatment may cure your disease,
and will save the hospital money, because the manufacturer pays for trial
drugs. Of course, if the previous treatment was ineffective
or, God forbid, made things worse, then I can't prescribe it again just to
qualify you for a trial that may, or may not, be helpful. My best
is we're probably okay, because, since I evidently didn't take time to write
anything down, then the reason we changed treatments must not have been
important. Does that assumption
sound okay, so we can
getting you into treatment? What do you remember?
People solve the problem of cognitive overhead with conversation
that ignores complementarity for accuracy required by training,
published guidance, policies, professional standards, laws, and
regulations for good management to write things down, organize
the record for context, summarize meaning, link back to original sources
for alignment, and get feedback to triangulate accuracy. (see for example the
et al). Later, when accuracy is critical, after a few seconds
thumbing through the file, checking the computer, screaming at assisants,
rifling through papers on
the desk, under the desk, behind the file cabinet, in the trunk of the car,
a simple shrug of the shoulders brings relief with a
Reliance on conversation and assumption remembering the gist of the story
example on April 15, 2005; an earlier
example on December 18, 1996)
avoids frustration searching for details nobody remembers nor finds in the
record, because the record was not created; or, because
there is no organizing mechanism of common storage,
and no technology for precision access that
enables working intelligently.
At least from the time of Aristotle, simple scenarios of denial
and guessing are repeated millions of times a day all around the world.
Bright, hard working people direct expensive capital investments with
the sole aim to avoid frustrations of cognitive overhead by taking
sounds productive, but often masks desire to avoid the pain of delay for
continual learning through research to
find critical details, alignment to verify accuracy, study, analysis,
and deliberation to expand span of attention beyond momentary impressions that
otherwise drive impulsive reaction; thus, the popularism...
Do something, even if it's wrong!
This prescription sounds the alarm to get things done based on the
best evidence currently available, rather than delay for further study, often
summarized by the equally pithy homily that cautions...
Don't sacrifice the good to the perfect.
Doubtless, situations of immenant danger require doing something without
assurance of accuracy, because doing nothing brings certain loss. This
core equation of biology drives reliance on momentary memory of
causation from personal experience to make a
best guess for survival. The same biology explains the
study on May 4, 2002 showing regulations and professional
standards for documenting alignment of communication with original sources
are routinely ignored because good management is a lot of hard work that
takes time, and so defers satisfaction of taking immediate action. When
compliance within the mental frame of "immediate action"
is beyond reach using popular methods and technologies, then requirements
for good management to align and
verify accuracy are ignored as suggestions. (see report on
testimony by NASA's Chief Administrator,
before Congress on August 26, 2004)
A house-of-cards constructed with reasoning based on guess and
assumption avoids time for cognitive overhead with the sensible
excuse: "I don't have time to think." This drives a self-fulfilling
prophecy of continual bumbling. Fear of accountability
reduces reliance on writing. Error compounds in a frenzy
of meetings, calls, and email leading to
Aristotle's rule that degrades
management to entropy.
Continual learning, essential for quality practice,
presents a knowledge management dilemma for everyone. Deciding
whether to react on impulse to situational awareness in the moment,
or invest time for study, analysis, and deliberation that saves
lives, time, and money presents a slippery slope greased by limited time,
sloth, and indifference. Mental biology does not distinguish one form of
cognitive overhead from another, because, most often, the core bias to do
something and move on, i.e., "expedite" by taking immediate action,
overwhelms the need for study, analysis, and deliberation that makes
The term "cognitive overhead" has been most prominently applied to using
software tools for creating and opening links, and to manage context
with "metadata" for precision access
to organizational memory. People
writing a letter, report, book, specification, etc., feel that
the work to be performed is crafting language. Stopping production
to study, analyse, and deliberate on meaning and implications for
subjects to organize the work for future research, e.g., assign
and further to study, analyse, and
deliberate on what sources to cite that support future research,
where to find sources, how to construct links, and where to store
the sources so that links will remain accessible, all delay, often
by several orders of magnitude, production
getting the job done of crafting language in the letter,
report, specification, legal brief, medical chart, etc. When the writer
considers investing an unknown amount of
time to construct a link, which may or may not
be used by anyone, the burden of cognitive overhead weighs toward
avoiding construction, and applying the time on something with a
higher chance of being used.
Similarly, when people are reading, and decide to open a citation
linked to an original source in order to check accuracy and coherence
of context, then without precision access,
considerable deliberation time is consumed well beyond the few
seconds to click a link and display the source. Enormous mental
exercise is consumed trying to find something somewhere in the
source that seems related to situational awareness of the initial
text. This takes time to study and decide which of various
possible associations has actual relevance to the context of
the citation, and whether more time should be invested looking
further in the source for a better match. Such daunting prospects
of open ended time and uncertainty guessing about relevance of source
material present an enormous burden of cognitive overhead that delays
getting the job done understanding the initial material
beyond any imaginable benefits from clicking a link.
The same calculus weighs toward ignoring links, and applying the
time required to find and discern relevant material, to something
else with a higher chance of being useful, e.g., read the next sentence,
paragraph, attend a meeting, make a call, watch a movie.
These hard realities of delay and frustration creating and opening links
with conventional technology sustain the negative perspective on cognitive
overhead. Ignorance using technology that takes a few seconds to create
links with precision access, and fear of learning new methods
foster attitudes of
denial that reducing
front-end investment to mere seconds prevents mistakes, and so
saves lives, time, and money with technology built to
requirements. Negative attitudes from disappointing experience
wasting time naturally resist transformation to a knowledge
paradigm enabled by intelligence
support for clear, concise, complete communication,
discussed above. Drucker notes that "overhead"
reeks of disapproval;
yet, in fact, management is the core asset that drives productivity
(see Drucker reviewed on November 30, 1993), by investing time for
due diligence. Clearly, delimmas abound for
transformation from information to a culture of knowledge.
offers a positive prespective on
front-end investment for being prepared. Look before you
leap strives first to understand (called out by
Covey, reviewed on December 5, 1992). Effective listening through
accurate understanding and timely follow up makes action effective by
investing time for study, analysis, and deliberation, commonly applied through
research, planning, accounting, command and control, all
that adds organization, analysis, alignment, summary
and feedback to daily working information in meetings, calls, and documents.
POIMS implements Drucker's vision of lifting productivity
by transforming negative attitudes of "overhead" as a liability
into a positive asset that augments and leverages human cognition for
working intelligently. The power of
precision access accomplishes this vision by
reducing the time for creating connections to mere seconds, and
further by opening links to the precise point of relevance. Reducing
proactive management to mere volition based based on
situational awareness presents a new world order
for practicing good management.
The difference between instant performance as a matter of volition, and
endless delay and frustration illustrate the bridge to cross between
two (2) worlds. The old world order of information technology has the right
attitude to resist wasting time for
cogintive overhead. The new world order of knowledge tools,
enabled by POIMS, changes this attitude to, also, resist wasting time, but
by working intelligently. It is a thorny
dilemma for transformation to a culture of knowledge
that both perspectives are correct, yet worlds apart.
research on May 27, 1994 found that, without POIMS technology,
practitioners and experts on
cognitive overhead focus on the burden of extra time required for
good management. This ethos generally discourages investing time for
ordinary introspection to solve difficult, complex
problems with written analysis, because such "overhead"
reduces time for production. (see meditation)
Meetings are the primary unit of management production where
planning and problem solving occur under the rubric of collaboration.
Organizing information using IBIS methodologies, often applied to
facilitate meetings with information technologies (IT) like Microsoft
Powerpoint, video conferencing, dialog and topic mapping, takes a lot
time to set up. In this light, cognitive overhead reflects a justifiable
concern that busy people do not have time to think, because the
new world order of rising information density
overwhelms limited span of attention. These conflicting imperatives to limit
cognitive overhead in order hold more meetings present a
powerful knowledge dilemma. Without front-end investment to be prepared
meetings degrade to anger and
finger pointing (reported on February 17, 2002),
and management degrades to
entropy in a frenzy of constant meetings with near
zero productivity (see USAFIT reviewed on July 7, 1997). Any thinking
and planning that might occur, will be found to conflict
with objectives, requirements, and
prior commitments due to the compounding effect of meaning drift,
when future mistakes lead to more meetings and finger
pointing. Murphy's Law
then relieves the pressure to work
quickly and accurately by avoiding accountability.
The POIMS design for intelligence support redresses this dilemma
by enabling more and better
thinking within the time available. Linking improves
accuracy by several orders of magnitude
through the magic of instant, precision access
to original sources, and further
expands span of attention
to strengthen creativity by "connecting the dots" with links to correlations,
implications and nuance for understanding cause and effect. Conventional
technology that does not support POIMS requirements for precision access
accelerate "cognitive overhead" that
crushes incentive to check orginal sources under the weight
of excessive time wading through mountains of information to find
a few lines that relate to a citation (link). Links
that take a lot of time to find relevant details drive negative attitudes to
minimize "overhead." However, precision access that instantly
verifies accuracy changes attitudes about "overhead" into demand for
The difference between "overhead" and "intelligence" is literally
the difference between night and day, between darkness and light, between
ignorance and knowledge.
Self-evident benefits using the power of knowledge
for saving lives, time, and money by working quickly and
accurately, and for discovering
opportunity in time to be effective are sometimes overlooked by concerns
about boggling the mind from creating and opening links,
evident from popular literature -- see Jeff Conklin explaining
...is the additional mental overhead on authors
to create name, and keep track of nodes and links.
For readers, it is the overhead due to making decisions
as to which links to follow and which to abandon, given a large
number of choices. The process of pausing (either to jot down
required information or to decide which way to go) can be very
distracting. It can become a serious problem if there are a
large number of nodes and links. (reviewed on April 20, 2001)
Organizing work with IBIS methods, and
creating and opening links are important parts of good management embodied by
cognitive overhead, but are only a small part of intelligence support.
Negative attitudes performing these few steps therefore
presents a bleak picture for transformation from information technology (IT)
to a culture of knowledge.
POIMS technology enables eight (8) steps of
Communication Metrics for robust
intelligence support that converts information into knowledge. The following
six (6) measurements for cognitive overhead provide Communication Metics that
make good management routine...
- Report organizational memory capturing the record
- Organize the record into organic structures to manage context
- Alignment using links for instant, precision access to original sources
- Summary headlines for precision access and organic structure
- People and organizations
- Actions and feedback for follow up
The US Army Corps of Engineers reported on October 7, 1997 that Communication
Metrics yield significant
cost savings in the range of 10:1 by converting bumbling
into discovery for continual learning that reduces rework.
Why is augmenting cognition a powerful "intelligence" asset rather than a
crushing "overhead" liability that causes people to
on good management, noted by
Drucker, and posed in the popular literature?
POIMS technology reduces cognitive overhead to mostly a matter of
volition by enabling
command and control of the work. A high degree of synergy
between organizing information, and using organizational memory, including
previously constructed links, to find relevant sources enables constructing
new links in seconds
based on situational awareness. This makes
work product (see
listed on July 8, 2002) seem like a
sureal utopia, because organizational memory with everything in the
right place at the right time is
using popular tools and methods, reported on July 20, 2002.
Difficulty organizing and linking necessarily leads to the label of
"overhead" that everyone strives to minimize, because dreams of efficiencies
using a highly conntected record for precision access in a
paperless office model have not been realized by
popular technology, cited at Intel on June 27, 1996.
Describing the power of
knowledge as an "overhead" liability, because people are empowered
to open links that instantly
verify accuracy and expand span of attention
to discover crucial context, overlooks the fact, noted above,
that the human mind automatically connects
one thing it encounters with
everything else it knows, i.e., personal experience. The
2-tier model of cognition makes
connections involuntarily based on remembering the gist of the story, many of
which are erroneous. If links are not available in written text,
people face the far more daunting choice of performing a lot of hard work
for due diligence finding sources that verify accuracy, or alternatively
ignoring diligence and accept the consequences
of error and missed opportunity endemic to ignorance, sloth, and
indifference compounded by limited time.
Research reported on March 7, 2000 found that
good management, which is another expression for
cognitive overhead and Knowledge Management
(see below), is a lot of hard work using conventional technologies.
Worry, fear, frustration, and anger that
cognitive overhead boggles the mind with too many links and too much
organizing structure drive negative attitudes that good management takes too
much time and effort.
Experience shows, however, that people quickly adapt to a new paradigm,
when hard work is reduced to near volition under
Moore's Law (reported on March 3, 2005). Technology that makes good
management fast and easy changes attitudes of deep denial. Organizing the
work to be prepared for taking effective action, and opening links to
verify accuracy, which seem like overkill,
gold platted, and unnecessary overhead (reported on March 24, 1989)
are transformed into essential
intelligence for saving
lives, time, and money, reported on September 11, 2001.
Researching her book,
Lights, Camera, War,
Ms. Neuman found that throughout history people have learned to
accomodate collateral pressures in order to benefit when
technology increases the speed of life. Alphabet technology, later the printing
press, the telegraph, trains and planes were all initially resisted, as highly
disruptive technologies that "boggled" the mind.
As with past technologies, initial culture shock, when people first encounter
records that "connect the dots" of cause and effect, soon gives way when
demand grows for more intelligence
to save lives, time and money.
How then to make the transition for faster access to connections
that strengthen diligence
verifying accuracy, and discovering
correlations, implications and nuance in time to be effective?
on April 19, 1999 leads to the self-evident rule...
Don't open every link!
Use Judicious Review
to open links that are important today, and open other links that are
important for a different context on another day. For example, lawyers do not
open every citation in a brief or case law. They make judgements about which
part of an opinion relates to an issue in their case, and open the citations
to understand the context of a ruling in relation to the context of their
case. Similar practice is applied by scholars reviewing references in a
biblography. The fact that far more citations and references are available
than could ever be examined by a lawyer or researcher does not deter people
from checking sources that seem relevant to current needs within the time
Intelligence support is a new way of working. The
following steps enable smooth transformation to a culture of knowledge with
clear, concise, complete communication
for comprehensive understanding, and without
the mind opening every link encountered, and only opening links when
additional access is actually required...
Clear, Concise, Complete Communication
- Read the entire communication for objectives that set priority
for opening links based on need for background, context, and
verification, similar to common practice following footnotes and
references in a biblography.
- If you concur and take requested action, don't open any
links, because the transaction is complete.
- notify of action taken.
- If you disagree with proposed action, open a link to obtain authority,
background, context, and commitments. Links in formal correspondence
use granular addressability
to pinpoint precise locations for investigation
in SDS records and documents.
- If you concur, follow the steps undar para 1a; if you disagree,
explaining what was examined and grounds
that justify not taking action.
Current practice provides communication support for large
organizations through a Communications or Public Relations
office. This group essentially provides the "spin" to avoid
intrusive public scrutiny. There are no cost/benefit studies
showing the value added of public relations, but the activity is
seen as essential. This capability could be enhanced by adding
Communication Metrics to provide the business intelligence needed
for effective management, so that there is less need for a
"spin." The automated chronology generated by the SDS program
would reduce the cost of conventional fact gathering needed by
decision makers, public relations people and the legal team.
Since an executive's primary task is communicating, why is
another role needed?
To get results. Although leadership sets
objectives, gains acceptance, and directs the work by getting
people to perform, which remains
unchanged in the New World Order, understanding and follow-up
need a boost to accommodate the new environment of chronic information
overload. Under these conditions, it wastes too much time,
causes too many mistakes, hurt feelings, conflicts and disputes;
it is too expensive to continue relying on personal recall, to
ignore problems, and hope for the best.
An airplane pilot is a good analogy. Pilots are skilled to use
specialized technology for ensuring people reach their
destination. The passengers set the destination, but the pilot
is assigned to apply special tools and obtain feedback that avoids
drifting off course. Without a pilot an airplane is not
effective. Similarly, an analyst uses SDS
technology for keeping the team on course.
The exigencies of the Information Highway and human nature
require someone to bring the museum
to the people, and to apply
a metric to ensure correct understanding and timely follow-up.
The innate drive to talk and listen for momentary results cannot be
overcome by most people. This is similar to hiring an
accountant to ensure short-term perspective on expenditures does
not bankrupt the company. Someone needs to be assigned to
perform the long-term components of communication by adding
The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a new role that has emerged to divide up
the growing work load of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position, generally
between strategic and operations functions. The lead article in Fortune
magazine (June 1, 1999; p. 69) reports the primary cause of CEO failure is
difficulty with "execution." The authors cite successful CEOs who recommend
grabbing a pen and
writing down understandings
before meetings conclude, sending follow up on commitments, tracking
action items, and obtaining feedback. Failure to perform these simple
intelligence tasks bring
down talented executives, and mighty corporations under
The COO role helps solve this problem, and so may be a good place to
use Communication Metrics. Executive aides are common in politics, in the
military, and in legal practice (para legal). Similar roles are emerging in
other fields. Health care has a new role of Physician Assistant (PA). On
large projects, there is an Assistant Project Manager. All of these roles aim
to leverage the time and talent of skilled and experienced authority for
getting things done correctly, on time, and within budget, i.e., they fill the
gap cited in the Fortune article of poor execution caused by the continual
fog of war
in the expanding complexity of the 21st century.
These evolving roles require new skills
for narrowing the gap between speed and accuracy to meet new
realities of a new world order.
Intelligence support meets this requirement.
Adding intelligence to management is psychologically demanding
because it reveals a constant stream of errors that require
adjustments in order to maintain alignment with objectives and
commitments. Not everyone is emotionally equipped to perform this
work. Most people can handle obvious problems that require immediate
action. But, many people
cannot muster the wisdom, courage and sustained energy required
to put out continual small fires in order to avoid future crisis.
Some prefer to ignore Aristotle's rule about
small mistakes, and simply hope that misunderstandings and
missed commitments will not impact the "bottom line" and the "big picture."
Some fear accountability; some are overcome by
the challenge of obtaining feedback,
essential for useful
Scribe, poet, Communication Manager, Chief Operating Officer (COO), analyst,
assistant, aide, by whatever name -- day-by-day organizations need to construct
correct connections of cause and effect (i.e., accomplish traceability to
original sources) that enable proactive discovery and accurate
understanding of problems and opportunities
in time to take effective action; and, organizations, further, need to maintain
shared meaning, which requires timely distribution of intelligence
and initiative to brief and de-brief key people. Proactive management
and common understanding enable effective follow up so that things get done on
time and correctly. A future increasingly less forgiving of error will not
wait. Each day it rushes toward us with greater speed and
increased risk that cries out for
leadership with a broader vision to build a
stronger partnership with technology.
Better Communication Saves Time and Money
People object to Intelligence support
because it seems to threaten
self-esteem. Managers and executives feel they are intelligent, competent, and
are good communicators, otherwise they would not have been
promoted into positions of authority. As a result, they want communication to
be aligned without investing time and expense to check things out, simply by
using superior intellect and diligence. In other
words, people want listening to understand and follow up
to occur through biological sensory perception from seeing, talking and
hearing, rather than paying the price for proactive
to verify communication is aligned with objectives, requirements and
Successful people believe that investing time and money to
convert information into useful knowledge is an unnecessary extra expense
because it conflicts with prior experience that
brought success without paying for help on accurate
communications. (see Com Metrics in the scope of
Intelligence support) The objection is
voiced as a desire to save money by avoiding extra paperwork because doing the
work shows everybody understood correctly.
Peter Drucker and
Andy Grove .
point out that this reasoning
overlooks new realities
that are changing the business environment where natural
intellect and sensory perception are overwhelmed by chronic
Executives worry about being "second-guessed," and
recoil at writing everything down because it takes time and is a
target for legal discovery. Most managers rise through the ranks based on
demonstrated skill in a particular discipline like, sales, accounting,
engineerng, law, medicine, manufacturing, etc. Management skills are viewed
as the ability to talk people into saying "yes." This skill is
acquired through experience in meetings, phone calls and formal presentations
where people demonstrate speaking skills. At some point, managers acquire
additional formal education by obtaining an MBA degree that focuses on how to
arrange the organization chart, some accounting, some human behaviorial science
and a good deal of marketing. Mostly, however, people move up in management
based on results of their unit. For example, Lee Iaccoca was thought to be a
good manager because where ever he was assigned at Ford and later at Chrysler
his unit sold more cars than other units.
Thus, proven results in a discipline, personality and to a lessor extent
education, are the elements that place people in management roles, and the role
itself redounds in the work place to allocating resources and organizing the
work carried out primarily through talking people into saying "yes,"
with the aim of expediting that avoids paperwork.
Since communication is the primary task of management, adding a role to aid
communication seems redundant and threatening. There is no budget for adding
busniess metrics to communication as there is for adding metrics to finance,
because managers want others to manage details about numbers, so they can
focus on the bottom line and talk about the big picture. Details of
communication seem unimportant, so long as the bottom line and the big picture
As a result, since organizations do not have a budget for an analyst to
manage communication, adding a work role to create intelligence that
strengthens management to save time and money necessarily exceeds the budget.
This provides a convenient excuse to avoid Communication Metrics, so that
people can continue to get by with bad management.
The attitude (paradigm) of getting by without intelligence overlooks the
devestating price people pay for using bad management, noted by Drucker and
Grove, because limited time and complex information forces people to absorb
the cost of....
...which cause productivity, earnings and stock prices to collapse,
as reported by
Reuters on December 7, 2000.
problem handling to fix mistakes, (also called rework)
- missed opportunities, and
Thus, budgets and cost savings have short and long-term components,
similar to our model of communication.
The biggest threat to self-esteem is failure, and the biggest cause
of failure is lack of execution due to failed intelligence, reported by
magazine in an article published June 1999.
For example, the President of
the United States has intelligence support that gathers
information each day and prepares summaries with analysis. The
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created following World War
II because the amount of information was too great for the
President to understand and follow-up. The attack on
Pearl Harbor was an intelligence failure that indicated a dedicated
effort is needed to process information. The Vietnam war has
dimensions of intelligence failure. Those in charge report there
wasn't enough time to understand
all the information available. These great political questions have staunch
proponents on cause and effect, but there is no doubt that
communication failed and it was costly in dollars and lives.
new reality of the new world order
at the beginning of the 21st century is that
technological evolution now burdens executives with chronic information
overload, which half a century ago required the President of the
United States to adopt a dedicated agency for adding
to information. This new reality reflects the design of human intelligence
that is fast and flexible, but highly prone to error remembering the gist of
information, and then using
rules from experience, called
to expand fragments of memory into
about the full story. People try to be diligent
investing time for
analysis and alignment with objectives, requirements and commitments, but
sometimes there isn't enough time to check the record
using popular tools that augment personal memory. e.g., filing cabinets, email,
computer search tools, etc.
Steven Pinker points out in his book,
How the Mind Works, that making mistakes using common sense
is a feature, not a bug of human cognition. Jeromy Campbell notes in his book,
The Improbable Machine,
that "people pay a price" for relying on assumption from
remembering only the gist of the story, rather than using
proactive management to augment intelligence, because the modern environment
of chronic information overload compounds meaning drift.
Therefore, under Aristotle's rule,
we should expect to pay an increasingly heavy price as the gap of
meaning drift widens over time, leading to worry about small deviations
(reported on November 27, 1992).
What then is the
price people pay
for failing to pay the cost of good management using
that generates an accurate record of
Challenger Space Shuttle crash
in 1986 cost lives and billions of dollars due to bad management that enabled,
overlooked and ultimately encouraged
miscommunication. A review commission found that communication in meetings,
calls and documents fell prey to simple
misunderstandings due to relaxed work practices, e.g., failed listening.
Social restraints from fear of
accountability stifled feedback loops to verify accuracy.
When indications began to surface of possible problems,
reports that communication was not aligned with objectives,
requirements and commitments were at
first ignored, then covered up due to pressures of tight budgets,
schedules and perceived impacts on career advancement for not
being a "team player." Top executives, sufficiently experienced
to recognize impending problems, were too busy with marketing and
organizational issues to deal with "miscommunication"
matters, so ignoring deviations, as "small, inconsequential details,"
seemed like a fast, easy way to avoid accountability at the time.
However, error eventually reached critical mass and blew up.
As a result, new procedures were adopted that
empower executives to overcome fear of accountability for using
People were hired to implement procedures for
maintaining alignment of communication
with requirements and commitments. This greatly reduced the chances
of small, inconsequential details exploding
into calamity, as occurred with the Challenger.
New communication controls added considerably
to the cost of daily operations for NASA, but greatly reduced program costs,
because there have been no major failures since 1986, until....
In October 1999, $125M was lost when a NASA space probe crashed
on Mars rather than orbit around the planet. The wrong units of
measure were used for the flight path, which over a nine month period
compounded a very small initial error that was not noticeable, during the 9
month flight, to cause a crash, rather than achieve the objective of going into
orbit around Mars, exemplifying Aristotle's rule
about the multiplying effect that compounds small mistakes into disaster.
Analysis on October 1, 1999 indicates the initial error was likely due to
reliance on email and oral communication that was not aligned with
requirements. Following the crash, Lockheed checked the contract to discover
what units the space agency had specified. Checking the record after a failure
is helpful for lessons learned; however, often those who learn such lessons are
not assigned to the next project when the lessons are needed, which
is why NASA called for new procedures after the Challenger failure in 1986.
However, by 1999 budget cuts and relaxation due to success, led to disregard of
procedures that enable success.
The NASA story illustrates difficulty sustaining payment for the cost of
good management in order to avoid the price people pay for bad management.
Over time, perceptions evolve from success avoiding problems that gradually
makes good management seem like unnecessary overkill. Thereafter, the desire
to cut costs and assign talented people to other duties errodes commitment
to pay for proactive management. Checking the record begins to seem unnecessary
because success causes memory of the price people for bad management to
fade. Soon, experience, history, and hard won knowledge of scenarious that
lead to tragedy are forgotten, and seem to
present an inviting target for cost savings?
Often the people who formulated and carried out good management practices have
left the field, replaced by people who lack exerience to recognize evolving
conditions that pose rising risks of losing lives, time and money. Eventually,
reliance on assumption grows, and people begin destroying the record, because
covering up mistakes seems faster and easier and cheaper than the cost of good
management to check the record. People begin to fear the light of knowledge
and embrace the bliss of ignorance, because doing nothing is always faster and
easier than doing anything for proactive management to avoid mistakes,
especially when nobody can remember the last time anyone made a mistake. As a
result, organizations and the wider economy suffer continual cycles of boom and
bust as people regularly relearn lessons of the past, only to be forgotten as
good management is relaxed in the glow of current success. Over many
millennia, national security has evolved an ethic to meet this challenge under
the rule that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Clearly,
however, outside the military, time breeds a culture of denial that intelligence is the cost of good managment for
avoiding the price people pay for bad management.
Communication Metrics therefore uses technology for a system
of concurrent discovery to align performance with requirements
that reduces failure, conflict, crisis and calamity. Using technology that
reduces time and cost for good management, reduces the tendency to
relax vigilence that leads to
loss of life and treasure, as occurred with the Challenger and the Mars
project. This advance in the use of alphabet
technology augments human memory, which is a core dimension of human
has widespread application (see POIMS). For example...
In September 1999 the
high cost of medical mistakes in hospitals
was reported to be 300% greater than
the rate of death and injury caused by automobile and
airplane accidents combined. In other words, going to the hospital to get
fixed up after an accident has become more risky than racing
around on the highway. While billions are spent each year to police the
nation's highways to ensure good driving practices, nothing is invested to
help professionals use good management so that the work is aligned with
objectives, requirements and commitments.
Testimony during a 1997 congressional hearing estimated that hospital
mistakes cost the nation $51 billion a year. Mistakes are primarily
caused by communication (see above)
in combination with a culture of denial that
fears accountability more than people want to prevent mistakes,
because the cost of prevention must be paid today, by taking time to
do things correctly, while
the cost of mistakes is paid later
by patients, customers, investors and insurance companies,
especially if there is no record that enables discovery of what
went wrong. Without records, accountability seems easier to avoid, and so
the dominate drive of practitioners becomes
to avoid and destroy records,
rather than to work intelligently using lessons learned that avoid
mistakes, especially repeating past mistakes. Without effective
support, we are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over under the
common rule: past is prologue.
While the nation endures by paying the price of peace for a strong
military that maintains readiness through sustained investment in intelligence,
cultural reticence to sustain payment for good management explains continual
cycles of boom-and-bust in the larger economy.
Just as NASA learned hard won
lessons in 1986 that led to paying the cost of good management, then, over
ensuing years, success using good practices lost support through budget cuts
leading to failure of the Mars mission in 1999, so, too, the economy
crashes when too many people are having too many problems. When a
critical mass of bumbling is reached, companies downsize to a point they
can manage without intelligence; many bear down for a time by improving the
quality of management that enables recovery. But, as surely as the
sun comes up in the morning, soon good practices look like
because good management leads to an expanding economy, and
the inertia of expansion makes it seem in-the-moment
that anything anybody does yields a higher stock price. People gradually
begin to feel insulated from the laws of economics that require good
management to get good results. Metamorphosis occurs across the cultural
scale from individuals to
organizations and in the overall economy, with regularity, like the
hands of a clock spinning round and round. However, the duration of these
cycles that cover about
10 years or more, shown by the NASA example, mask the
underlying cause of failure, and so fosters
a culture of denial
cited during the Congressional hearings in 1999
on the high cost of medical mistakes.
Examples abound showing the huge cost of failed
communication, although the cost is rarely tallied up because it
is too embarrassing. It is easier to blame Murphy's Law,
and nebulous, benign forces like a "lack of
teamwork." R.J. Reynolds invested $350M to produce a new
cigarette. Management was told research was on track over years
of development, but not until the $350 million dollars was spent
did it discover that the taste and odor of the product rendered
it unsalable. ITT discovered that land purchased to harvest
trees for a paper manufacturing project did not have any trees.
failed to approve design drawings
for expansion of Broadwater
Dam in 1988, leaving the work without engineering support that resulted in
major and minor failures over the next 10 years, similar to management
failures that caused the explosion of the Columbia Space Shuttle in 1986,
though fortunately without loss of life in the case of Broadwater. When
Tudor attempted to recover by providing repair alternatives, the owner rejected
the effort on the grounds that Tudor's solutions were not supported by
engineering analysis. After Tudor was fired under an official view of reality
that it had failed to perform, it was discovered that Tudor had provided sound
analysis, but it was never reviewed because of a simple
and, by the
time this discovery occurred, the opportunity to implement a solution had
expired. The same
official view of reality
prevented plant inspection to
discover the scope of failed engineering, the value at risk and the
level of effort required to recover.
failed to establish a power line was active despite five (5) field trips.
lost the same letter on three (3) occassions. The
lost track of examinations.
cannot read its own records.
cannot schedule a meeting.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
cannot find critical correspondence, and invested endlessly to
for avoiding accountability, rather than invest in intelligence to avoid
These errors seem silly and obvious, but reflect the insight of
Aristotle about the multiplying effect
of time on small mistakes in the beginning, and further
help us calculate the
price people pay
for failing to pay the cost of good management that
augments human intelligence in the same way that we pay to augment other human
capacities, e.g., we use a car to run to the store, a backhoe to dig a
ditch, and airplane to jump from one place to another. But, we pay a huge
price for failing to augment intelligence in the same way?
For example, a popular management
illustrates typical problem handling
scenarios that occur in daily management.
In the film, the boss requests a report. A few days later the boss
wants the report to take on a trip for a marketing presentation.
However, the report was not ready; so, there is heated exchange about what was
originally said and intended in making the assignment, as occurs in
typical problem handling.
The person in charge of preparing the report said that overtime
would be used to finish it, and committed to personally deliver
the report by taking a later flight so that the boss would have it in
time for the presentation.
The boss doubted this would succeed, and asked...
"Why is this always happening to me?"
The film shows a flashback of the boss requesting the report days
earlier. The meeting was focused on content. A voice over
indicated the boss was thinking the report could be used for the
pending event, but did not convey this in making the assignment.
The person given the assignment did not ask when the report was
This microcosm of misunderstanding -- AKA problem handling --
seems silly and obvious, yet holds the seeds that cascade into
The film has a post-scenario review by a Management Consultant
who explains to a mock-training class how to shape communication
that avoids causing hurt feelings. There is no discussion in the
review of why miscommunication occurs, and no calculation is
offered of cost/benefits for taking proactive action to improve
understanding and follow-up. The Management Consultant claimed
to have a lot of news clippings at home on the cost of
miscommunication, but this information was not presented. The
consultant conducted a test using the "Telephone Game." A
statement was whispered to one member of the mock-training class,
and each person whispered it to their neighbor. The last person
said out loud to the class their understanding of what was
whispered which, of course, was much different from the initial
The consultant explained that the "Telephone Game" phenomena
illustrates the danger of office "gossip" when official announcements
are incorrectly repeated by word-of-mouth. The Consultant said
that rampant rumor can greatly harm morale, and so
recommended obtaining the actual notice rather than succumbing to
impulse by taking precipitous action, including passing along
Unfortunately, "office gossip" is the least harmful effect of
spreading erroneous information by conversation. Far more costly
and damaging is "feel good" management
using "guess and gossip" that produces a constant stream of errors
spread by executives and managers everyday, all day long, under color of
"expediting," "getting things done," being a "big picture," and
"bottom line" strategic thinker, and so on. People go from
meeting to meeting, call to call and from email to email,
spreading misunderstanding throughout an organization. Like a
contagion infecting an organism, miscommunication multiplies the
impact of error over time, as Aristotle
warned long ago. Reliance on verbal communication is the foundation of
management that is inherently prone to error due to the
vagaries of meaning
which attach to language, that is compounded by limited time,
limited span of attention
and organizational culture that
metrics to verify understandings.
The training film teaches traditional management methods based on
the belief that effective communication is cheap. It feeds hope
that communication can be improved by using common sense, by
being more careful from being aware that miscommunication causes
hurt feelings. This is a false promise, since communication
practice flows from human biology. Limited span of attention
cannot comprehend all of the subjects impacted by information,
and the desire to avoid controversy inhibits feedback to verify
accuracy and clarify nuance. As the amount of communication
increases, natural human limits result in more mistakes, extra
cost and missed opportunities.
While there is common awareness that an accountant is needed to
align actual expenditures with original objectives (budgets),
there is no similar awareness of the vastly greater potential to
improve earnings by aligning communication with original sources.
Accountants measure finances down to the penny under Aristotle's
rule to avoid even the slightest deviations, but no one is
measuring communications to identify and adjust course until a
small deviation grows into a lawsuit.
What is missing is a theory for calculating the cost of
miscommunication in order to decide when to invest resources to
proactively ensure alignment of information with original sources
and controlling forces.
A theory or method to calculate the cost of miscommunication can
be seen from the training film scenario.
The film indicated overtime was needed to complete the report on
time. We can assume a team worked on the report and so several
people incurred overtime. Additionally, the film showed several
people incurred at least two lost days of work and the cost of
flying the report to the event:
3 people 8H overtime, say... $2,000
2 people 2 days at $1K/Day 4,000
Air fare and per diem 4,000
When the boss asks in the film...
The cost of extra time may seem to be an absorbed cost
since often people who prepare reports, as involved here,
are on a salary and do not receive extra compensation.
Even in that case, however, the firm incurs a cost of the
lost income from expending the same amount of time on a
revenue generating activity, rather than performing
rework to recover from mistakes.
- The extra cost is estimated here as a cross-country
flight which typically would take two days and entail
over-night accommodations, ground transportation and
"Why is this always happening to me?"
...it reflects common frustrations of miscommunication that are
integral to office life. It, also, provides a basis to calculate
that similar miscommunication occurs in this person's work
practice often, as in fact occurs regularly in the daily lives of
If it occurs just once a month, then the extra cost might be:
12 x $10K = $120,000
If other managers are 10 times more conscientious in using common
courtesy and common sense, then they cause extra cost of only...
$12,000 per year per manager
If there are 10 other managers in this firm, then their total annual
cost for miscommunication is...
10 x $12K = $120,000
So the total annual cost of miscommunication on this narrow
matter of not clarifying assignment requirements is...
Of course every communication does not entail hand delivering a
report across country. To some, this prospect supports
that miscommunication is costly and so there is no need to
spend money to fix it. Several factors show denial is not
Neither the training film scenario nor the post-film review
covered other types of miscommunication which occur more often,
are more costly, and cannot be avoided by trying to be more
There was only a single meeting that launched this report
project. There was no evidence that the report was reviewed by
the boss prior to it being delivered. The training film did not
show content requirements for the report, but there is no reason
to believe that content was aligned any more
successfully than was the completion date. The boss was told the
film "is good," but relative to what? It depends on the
requirements. The training film correctly indicates how easy it
is for misunderstanding to occur on one type of requirement.
There are a lot of other project requirements that could have been
incorrectly explained and/or incorrectly understood.
Suppose that when the report is presented at the event it conveys
the wrong message. That could cost $Millions of dollars, it
could lose a major account, etc.
Suppose the report is reviewed the night before it is shown to
the customer, and found to be inadequate. In that case, costly
rework would be required, and possibly a sale would be lost, or
the cost of securing the sale would greatly increase due to
Proactive Management Saves Time and Money
The price people pay for bad management is hidden by feeling good from
reliance on assumption that seems fast, easy, and cheap. The deferred cost of
rework to fix mistakes from continual bumbling
when communication is not aligned
with objectives, requirements and commitments (see again
can double or triple the direct cost of getting things done, because
communication is the common denominator that impacts everything.
It is a universal predicate unique in the universe to human affairs -
the force that optimizes human potential with complementary
action, when accurate; but, miscommunication quickly
escalates cost and delay when people act on assumption without checking the
record. Another name for rework is
problem handling that is now the
primary activity of management. The age of information that accelerates
meaning drift changes and subverts
humanities strongest asset into a liability, because
information overload makes communiation the biggest risk in enterprise, where
meetings, calls, and email cause error, conflict, crisis and calamity.
As a result, the potential is huge for improving
productivity and earnings by a system of Communication Metrics for
discovering and correcting
meaning drift by adding alignment before action is taken
that would otherwise create problems that require extra time and expense
of rework to fix, as
noted by Aristotle over two centuries ago.
Clearly, risk management theory has long established that
the cost of adding alignment to ensure accurate understanding that makes
is dwarfed by the cost of recovering from incorrect action under the
Look before you leap
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Losses from rework are not identified by the accounting
system because they are caused by salaried personnel who do not
account for their time nor their work product. The impact is
invidious because communication mistakes are
spread like a virus in an organization, deferred in time and transferred
unwittingly to other locations and people.
Costs of error that are
disconnected in time, location and people
from original events where alignment began to drift off course,
make it impractical for a CEO, executive or manager
to track their work product in order to measure cost
effectiveness of their time. Executives do not enter on their
time card the amount of information they omit or communicate
incorrectly, nor do they write down how many times information is
provided to correct prior misunderstandings. Trying to create
such a record would itself greatly increase the cost of the work
because the volume of communication is large and the process is
That is why studies are rare in the literature showing the cost of
Work at Stanford University by
Dr. Ray Levitt shows that "flattening"
organizational structure to save money by reducing management levels, often
has the unintended consequence of reducing management effectiveness by
causing increased mistakes and cost. Increased communication
that overburdens people with more information than they can manage, due to
limited span of attention, is commonly called
Dr. Levitt and his colleagues at Stanford have developed
software, the Virtual Design Team (VDT) program, to calculate
staffing changes needed to keep up with increased communication
as a result of compressed work schedules. Graphical analysis of
communication flows have been presented at Cal Tech management
seminars using data from the
Columbia Space Shuttle explosion that
occurred in 1986. A case study that traced thousands of
communications over 10 years revealed root causes of the
explosion shortly after
take-off where the entire crew of
astronauts died and billions of dollars in machinery and
preparation were lost. Simple, innocuous communication that was not
aligned with requirements were found to have been compounded over
time, as Aristotle
forecast over 2 millennia ago,
and then became too large to be addressed politically by those
who knew the truth, and so
were ignored, then covered up until the explosion in mid-air for
the whole world to see.
Anecdotal evidence abounds that at the dawn of the 21st century
people are drowning in a sea of details due to information
overload. A study reported on February 2, 1996 by the Associated
Press found that
managers waste 70% of the day
meetings. Waste is attributed to...
These difficulties are like a dog chasing its tail. People try
to expedite by relying on conversation, but there is not enough
time to prepare, to attend, to consider relevant subjects, to
write down what is said, to look up what was said and what is
required. Since there is not enough time to follow up, mistakes
occur which require more meetings to fix. Misunderstandings
calcify into an official view of reality that feeds a frenzy of
frustration, anger, disappointment and loss, as management
becomes a daily game of guess and gossip.
- Failure to prepare
- Failure of key people to attend
- People arrive late, miss important information/context
- Discussion veers off course
- People argue about what was said previously
- People argue about requirements and commitments
A study by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)
explains how management communication practices cause information
entropy that leads to cost and schedule growth. The AFIT study
is merely observational, i.e., empirical. It shows that costs of
major weapons systems exceeded their budgets and that management
systems failed due to information overload that devolves into the
entropy of guess and gossip. AFIT, however, does not offer a
solution nor a coherent theory for calculating cost of failed
A recent report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
theory of rework
caused by miscommunication due to
limited span of attention under conventional management practice
using guess and gossip. The report calculates that
miscommunication increases annual management costs in the range
of 10% while the indirect cost of collateral damage is far
greater. For a large firm this is $Billions of dollars
The report found that adding a system of metrics to daily
communications produces useful
that expands span
of attention in handling the constant flow of information.
Attendance at meetings was reduced by 30%. This increased
team effectiveness because a Communication Manager performs the
preparation and follow-up to develop and maintain shared
meaning over time that is otherwise missing from meetings due to
lack of time by participants. USACE reported that savings accrue
because mistakes and rework are reduced by Communication
"Rework" arises from inability to attain closure
on issues due to
conflicts between decisions and reality that leak out through
trial and error over weeks and months. Decisions are made that
seem correct at the moment; but require continual corrections
over time due to lack of alignment with controlling factors,
e.g., history of performance, commitments, contract provisions,
policies, procedures, guidelines, regulations and laws. Meetings,
calls and email increase, but understanding and progress decline.
Communication worsens as new players come on the scene and
original objectives are forgotten leading to information entropy
reported by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology study
because people are forced by limited time to try to expedite by
relying on conversation under management practices of guess and
gossip (trial and error).
The USACE report calculated that typical business meetings entail
agenda items. Communication Metrics tracked 40 subjects and
50 linkages to provide alignment with original sources. This
nine (9) fold increase in span of attention made possible by
technology reflects a reduction in redundant work or "rework" due
to trial and error that otherwise occurs using conventional
USACE concluded that better communication from adding intelligence
to daily working information can save 10% of project
costs and that return on investment (ROI) for a system of
Communication Metrics is in the range of 10:1.
What then is the path for transformation to intelligence
that converts information into the power of knowledge to
control the future?
Culture of Knowledge Takes Time and Commitment
Standing on the Shoulders of
New world Order... proposes advance to a culture of knowledge, because
the information paradigm using technology to
compresse time and distance increasingly overwhelms people's lives. Mental
biology cannot cope with constant information, leading to errors, conflict,
loss, and tragedy. New tools, practices, and roles are therefore essential to
leverage innate intelligence
that converts information into the
power of knowledge.
Fortunately, the 21st century shows signs of enabling forces
coming into alignment that will lift civilization from
traditional literacy to a much stronger foundation
for managing chronology, context, and connection.
Communication Metrics transforms
negative energy that degrades productivity from the growing glut of
information with expanding complexity, confusion, and calamity,
into positive synergy from command and control of a
well ordered record.
Advancing from information to a
culture of knowledge
reflects prior foundational advances from growling to talking (i.e., conveying
gutteral displeasure or delight to conveying specific ideas, instruction, and
nuance), from foraging to farming (investing for deferred rewards), from
plunder to production (though shalt not steal), from walking to riding (wheel
and domesticated animals), from swimming to sailing, from orality to literacy,
from handwriting to publishing, from monarchy to democracy, from education for
elites to education for all, from covered wagons, and ploughs powered by the
brawn of people, oxen, and horses, to trains, cars, trucks, tractors, planes,
telephones, computers, and on and on and on, empowered by the brain of man.
Today, we flip a switch for light, turn a faucet for water, click the Internet
for news and worldwide communication. The slightest pressure of our foot
directs hundreds of horsepower to instantly obey our every command. Sir Isaac
Newton summed up these common place miracles by attributing his own miraculous
achievements with the observation in a letter on February 5, 1676...
If I have seen
further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
Drucker has noted (reviewed on November 30, 1994) that the miracle of
civilization comes not from working harder, but from building on the
achievements of grandfather,
and countless other grandfathers extending into
antiquity in order to work smarter. How can we advance prior experience with
connections that advance the context of present and future generations?
Giants like Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, and Copernicus come to mind from
grade school history recounting Newton's work and discoveries in physics,
astronomy, and mathematics. Newton himself, however, might well have had in
mind countless thousands, who are lost in history, yet contributed
understanding essential to the eventual unfolding of nature's secrets. On
whose shoulders then, do these giants stand, along with Newton, that today
extend our reach beyond the information age to foster a culture of knowledge?
An achievement perhaps not firmly in mind during Newton's time, and seemingly
less so today, is development of
that enables the human mind to construct objective, external renderings of
internal thoughts that can be manipulated and
preserved for continual improvement. (see POIMS) Like the nameless thousands
who contributed over the millenia to Newton's work, history does not record a
single person, nor even luminaries, who developed a coherent theory of literacy
for augmenting human intelligence that drives civilization with a stable
foundation, sometimes described as the
traced roughly from 700 BC (see for example, review of
Havelock on November 8, 1999).
For the next 300 years, people struggled to develop implementation modalities
using rudimentary instruments and evolving practices of literacy for recording
only what people said, to adding analysis for understanding everything that was
done. Eventually the discipline of written history emerged, shown by
Thucydides and the Writing of History
(see again Havelock on November 8, 1999) Obviously, for three (3) centuries
only very few learned literacy because the effort seemed far greater than
the benefits. Resistance to literacy
nearly 2,000 years, because advantages of leveraging intelligence are
difficult to grasp day-to-day. Reading and writing, on whose shoulders
we all stand today, exists only because fitfully few defied disdain and
clamor to conform. Faith to persevere against hardship and all the
pressures of culture could only have been sustained by intangible rewards of
personal satisfaction derived from the power of knowledge.
The alphabet was an explosive technology that dramatically leverages human
mental biology. People readily grasp that a screwdriver, automobile,
lawnmower, airplane - all leverage human physical strength. The foundation for
lifting civilization with tools that leverage physical strength is the alphabet
that lifts mental strength by many orders of magnitude. Previously human life
was mostly squalor at constant risk of extinction by competitors, starvation,
injury, and disease. Humans, like other creatures, were only equipped with
intuition, hunch, hope, and constant fear of mysterious holistic forces beyond
reach of understanding and control. In the pre-literate world, people used
land marks (e.g., a tree, rock, or stream), finger painting, dance, and emotion
to aid communication. Douglas Lenat notes that the mechanics of alphabet
technology make people superhuman, especially after enabling forces
came into alignment with Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1455.
Writing represents linear connections of human thought in a reductionist model
of information using letters, words, sentences, paragragraphs, and documents.
This scheme turns ephemeral, incomplete, and often erroneous hunches and
intuition in the subconscious mind into conscious analysis for comprehensive
solutions. Constructing external physical renderings with the alphabet and
rules of grammar captures and improves fleeting internal thoughts, hunches and
intuitions by empowering people to perform creative manipulations that refine
connections for accurate understanding of cause and effect. The mechanical
process of writing, review and integration of experience yields a permenant
record of emperical evidence on testing, experiment, trial and error, sometimes
called the scientific method. The mechanics of literacy improve memory,
analysis, and comparison of alternatives in grappling with complex problems.
Construction of decisions can apply all relevant history, rather than mere
memory bound by span of attention. Alphabet technology lifts human mental
capacity beyond limitations of innate biology in the same way that cranes,
trains, and cars leverage physical strength. Accuracy improved by
1000% reflects Lenat's observation of marked contrast between human life before
and after emergence of the alphabetic mind that makes connectionist practices
While Newton acknowledges standing on the shoulders of others, in the modern
era, the mechanics of linear connections are often attributed to Newtonian
reductionist thinking. Doubtless Newton significantly advanced mathematical
models of fundamental forces for analysing matter, time, and distance. His
understanding of cause and effect in the universe has stood the test of time
for accurately predicting movement of the planetary system that impacts life
each day when the sun, the moon, and the tides rise and fall according to his
calculations. The fragility of human biology makes urgent the necessity for
linear thinking about chronology in the many contexts that maximize opportunity
for each life, which of course ultimately ends.
Rather we are left to
ponder the Legend of Prometheus from Greek mythology for an altogether
different perspective on advancing civilization. As reward for stealing
light (fire) from the gods to empower humanity with the gift of knowledge,
Prometheus was sentenced
to eternal banishment and agonizing punishment. This is not
entirely myth. History clearly records that
Galileo faced great peril for daring to publicly report on experience
using his telescope, and thereon proclaimed support for the Copernician view
that the universe centers around the sun, rather than the earth. (see research
on May 5, 2004) As reward for stunning discovery, an Inquisition in Rome
into house arrest. He could pursue his work, so long as he did not speak
heresy by spreading the word that improved understandings
on the planetary system, as presented in the Bible.
At this remove, we chuckle and preen with pride of superior knowledge, because
clerics of the day questioned Galileo's analysis on dogmatic,
religious grounds during
the renaissance period of the 1600s. What then sustained Galileo through his
trials, and why, by the way, was Newton hailed as a hero and genius, while
Galileo was put on trial for advancing knowledge essential
to Newton's work? These questions are deeply rooted in cultural dynamics that
flow naturally from human biology, which grows knowledge from accumlating
experience, as noted by Newton.
Embarking on transformation to a culture of knowledge extends a long
history of hard won battles, which took decades and in some cases centuries to
deploy powerful technology that saves lives, time, and money. Knowledge tools
to strengthen the role of human experience are distinguished from information
technology for the alphabetic mind to construct documentation in books,
reports, and correspondence. "Knowledge" integrates traditional literacy with
time to manage sequence of cause and effect by maintaining chronology,
and further integrates accounting that uses spreadsheets to organize
contextual boundaries of mathematical analysis and manage connections that
maintain accuracy of alignment with original sources.
Adding chronology, context, and connection to literacy can be summarized
as... Knowledge Management
Spreadsheet for Knowledge
Augmenting Intelligence These new tools and
practices for intelligence support help people en
masse stand on the shoulders of giants to see farther in the new world
order than those who came before. Since it took several millenia for literacy
to become a settled cultural artifact of the old world order, transformation to
a new way of thinking that extends the Alphabetic Mind paradigm takes
time and commitment. Faith transcends the knowledge management dilemma of
biological drives for immediate satisfaction so that people can reap deferred
rewards from investing personal and organizational memory. Faith in the
magnifying effect of investing intellectual capital takes time to take root in
order for a culture of knowledge to grow. History demonstrates the role of
faith that sustains commitment keeping the flame alive through darkness and
Stealing and hoarding are complementary strategies to satisfy
immediate needs with immediate action. Civilization is an innovation that
avoids competing for scraps to merely subsist, by deferring rewards to invest
in corporate production that yields vastly larger rewards. Cultural artifacts
(e.g., law, policy, tradition, stories, movies) that channel competition toward
improvement increase production with economies of scale that justifies the
strategy of investing, i.e., the multiplying effect of deferred rewards.
Changing cultural dynamics to limit personal behavior, however, requires faith
that better results from deference to organizational perogatives will occur in
time to justify supressing impulse. Deferred satisfaction of every whim by
taking what we want, i.e., stealing, is traded for assurance of consistant
rewards for priority needs in much greater measure. Balancing personal and
organizational behavior is the core Knowledge Management dilemma of
Farming illustrates the model of investing. Agriculture presents a
counterintuitive innovation to invest rather than consume (eat) everything in
order to satisfy immediate needs. Investing time to plant seeds in the ground
requires faith that a bountiful harvest will occur months later. At first,
people busy foraging, grazing, hunting and gathering feared there wasn't enough
time to invest in planting, and further believed strongly that planting was
unnecessary overkill whenever food was already in hand. Eventually, faith to
invest transformed desparate nomads stealing to survive, into civilization,
where people miraculously have plenty of time to collaborate in meetings,
calls, and correspondence. Today, our faith in the farmer is transcendent, yet
transformation to agriculture took many millenia to form, because obtaining
food is such an elemental foundation of life. Changing foundational strategies
of life therefore takes a long time for evidence to accumulate that builds
proof to the level of faith. Since faith in existing methods makes people
reluctant to try, the failure to try, i.e., to go first, necessarily prevents
gaining experience that builds faith in a new path.
Transformation from orality, that served humanity well for many millenia of
foraging, hunting, and gathering, to the abstract symbolism of alphabet
technology further illustrates the power of faith to improve quality of life by
deferring immediate rewards. Front-end investment for learning literacy
skills, and taking time to write defers rewards of accuracy understanding
history, correlations, implications, and nuance, also, called "analysis,"
"learning," "knowledge," "intelligence," and "enlightenment." Delay for cognitive overhead is, therefore, resisted,
because talking and listening enable immediate
action that brings immediate sensory satisfaction. This quality of immediacy
makes writing seem irrelevant, and so is resisted as unnecessary overkill.
Biological drives to rely on immediacy of innate intellect that resists
delay for writing
was most famously set out by Plato in the Phaedrus...
Socrates. At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god,
whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and
he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and
geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters.
...This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better
memories; it is a specific both for the
and for the
Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an
art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own
inventions to the users of them.
And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love
of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they
Now, 2,400 years later, Plato appears to have Socrates cautioning against the
credibility of inventor for spreading the news of invention. Without credibile
explanation, improvement is slowed by fear of change, because someone else must
release the power of truth. Finding the courage to go first experiencing
invention can prolong releasing the Genie in the
Bottle, sometimes for centuries, often with adverse effect on the
Genie's disposition. (see Edward
Deming, reported April 26, 1995, and Mauchly)
In this particular, Socrates presents the role of
alphabet technology, i.e.,
"letters," for accurate memory,
and analysis to augment natural intelligence,
With subsequent ascendancy of literacy, sometimes called
"documentation," the judgement of history bears out early views at a time when
writing was grossly limited by time, skills, and tools to a mere handful of
elites. Such judgement, while fully established today with universal
education, and a constant flow of documentation at the cultural and
organizational level, remains, as in the beginning, in constant conflict with
the burden of cognitive overhead at the
Plato continues the Socrates dialog...
The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to
reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of
truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they
will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will
be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
Few today would complain with such flourish; yet, at the personal level
many recognize that mere documentation does not establish the
larger truth, since human intelligence must still marshal
chronology, context, and connection for
Hazarding to expand Socrates' point, traditional documentation is frozen in
time, and may attach wide varriance in meaning according to context, which
requires connection to history, i.e., experience,
for relevance. While the mind remembers
chronology, constructs context, and follows millions of connections instantly,
converting information into knowledge by drawing on the vastness of
life experience has eluded the practice of documentation. In other words,
documents lack intelligence, and most of the knowledge needed for
interpretation is outside the document.
Instead, institutional solutions evolved with the rise of bureaucracy to apply
literacy for working intelligently. Today, departments for scheduling manage
time, institutions like libraries, and instruments like file folders and
cabinets, and computers preserve records for context, and reporters, analysts,
and accountants "connect the dots" that make sense of piling up mere words
into endless information.
Throughout the long path to literacy that lifted civilization beyond
imagination of Plato's time, there has remained deep and abiding Socratic skepticism about alphabet technology that
externalizes human thought to augment intelligence in search of truth, which
worried Aristotle, as well, in 400 BC. The fact
that documents do not manage chronology, context, and connection with the
facile agility of human thought, did not prevent the ascendency of literacy, as
the benefits of accuracy became self-evident. Growing population, prosperity,
invention, and productivity bring wider opportunity to exploit resources across
greater distance, which necessarily increases complexity with more meetings and
discussion. The compounding complexity of communication exposes limitations of
mental biology that is fast and facile, but prone to error. "Documentation"
practices for books, articles, reports, correspondence, legal briefs,
specifications, etc., therefore, simply brush aside concerns about the role of
intelligence, in order to reap the rewards of accuracy. Civilization has
evolved specialists for this work performed by legions of professional writers,
reporters, accountants, lawyers, and engineers to manage chronology, context,
and connection in the real world.
Today, two mellinia after Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle began the debate over
personal and organizational memory and management (POIMS), the role of alphabet
technology for intelligence support remains
largely mired in ignorance, fear and denial through isolation of professional
disciplines that resist integration. Trascending resistance to enable a
culture of knowledge can be instructed by the history of prior transformations.
For most of this time, the tracks of history were marked by
practical concerns that restrained rapid embrace of
literacy. As with transformation from hunting and gathering to farming,
investing time going to school for education was long
resisted. With crops to harvest, wood to chop, and water to fetch on the farm,
there wasn't enough time for "book learning." Not until the 1850s did
universal education become widespread, and thus begin to transform civilization
from mere industrialization
into modernity that replaces brawn with brain power applied through information
reviewed on November 30, 1993) Today, we chuckle and preen with pride, because
faith investing time for education yields plenty of time for fetching
water, chopping wood, and harvesting crops with technology, and there is even
time to spare for movies, parties, travel, seminars,
athletics, and almost daily celebrations of something.
Religion Keeper of the Flame for a 1000 Years
Literacy Preserved Accuracy and Authority Spreading the Word
An early benefit of literacy was faith in religion, symbolized by writing down
rules to live by in Ten Commandments, including "Thou shalt not steal."
Success using commandments over centuries grows faith in the power of religion
to guide personal and community life. Transformation in Rome to faith in a
single transcendant diety took many centuries. Advance of ideas in the face of
widespread persecution, torture, and crucifixion demonstrates commitment to
religious practice sustained only by deep, unwaivering faith. The fall of Rome
ushered in centuries of Dark Ages. Through this long period, monastic scribes
maintained literacy skills, because spreading the word
required consistent teaching, linked back to
original sources, discussed above.
Doctor Dianne Tilloston presents this
history with great clarity citing the alluring power of accuracy in written
text, which builds faith among practitioners. (see research on April 5, 2005)
This background helps explain why the Church was "keeper of the flame"
for a thousand years ensuring accuracy in presenting orthodoxy, and therefore
objected to Galileo publicly
proclaiming, after a few experiments, an alternate theory of the universe.
People imbued with faith using technology for linking back to original
sources collided with a disruptive technology, which today we call
the scientific method of
plan, perform, report (see POIMS).
Both religion and science aim to discover
truth; one using old world methods of enlightenment
based on alignment with original sources, and the other using additional and
"new world" capabilities for empirical testing
that refines accuracy of original sources. It turns out that the
scientific method, which disrupted the status quo in Galileo's time,
benefits greatly from the religious process that "connects the dots"
to maintain accuracy, while, also, discovering conflicts to refine
understanding. The Church equally benefits from an
intelligence process to continually refine
the science of life, essential
for faith in reliance on truth,
which Aristotle noted long ago. Literacy then
forms the foundation of civilization that bridges the
two worlds of religion and science.
Democracy Rests on Foundation of Literacy
for Responsible Self-rule
Transformation from imperial rule to democracy for self-government tracked the
rise of literacy in Greece, then Rome. These early experiments failed in part
because very few could read and write, thus preventing broad
participation in the affairs of state. As noted,
literacy and democracy remained a "Genie in the bottle" for a thousand years,
because the power of knowledge and the power of government were held by very
few. (see also Tesla)
In 1455, Gutenberg invented the printing press. Enabling forces at last
slipped into alignment for literacy to accelerate. Over the next 500 years,
the age of information technology evolved to lift the viel of ignorance that
shrouded the Dark Ages. For the rest of the second millenium AD, the power of
knowledge lifted civilization to a new plateau. Cheaper ink, and better paper
were invented about the same time as the printing press. Availability of an
established Biblical text, maintained by monastic scribes, and spread
religiously by the Church to the population at large fostered a profitable
publishing market. Customers were eager to read scripture directly from the
Bible, which had previously been the exclusive role of the clergy reciting and
interpreting passages during services. Converging technolgies greatly reduced
the cost of producing books, and the ready market for religious texts unleased
latent demand for freedom to learn, to think, and to decide, which necessarily
pressaged the freedom of self-government.
Information technology let the "Genie out of the bottle." Releasing the awsome
power of literacy that leverages intelligence for constructing ideas and
increases accuracy remembering history by 1000% thereby fueled an intellectual
explosion in Europe. Better ideas and better accuracy (or as Socrates would say, better wit and memory)
during the Renaissance brought advances in mathematics, science, and literature
that broadened the base for self-government, most notably a vibrant free press
emerged reporting news and opinion on political issues.
American colonists, mostly from Europe, were ready to declare independence in
1776, as a result of powerful enabling forces gathering strength through the
Renaissance period. Armed with writings of Locke, Hobbs, and Hume faith in
independence from a century of experience with limited self-governance
sustained the colonists in defeating England through a long, difficult war that
won the right to once again experiment in self-rule. Avoiding failed efforts
of ancient Greece and Rome, Americans followed their religious tradition of
faith in the power of written rules for objective and consistent standards of
governance (see Ten Commandments). A Constitution
was written to balance freedom and order with a system of structure, checks
and balances that prevent passing popularity from retaining the reins of power
won through regular and open competition for electoral mandate. The
Constitution fosters economic prosperity by encouraging commerce and enterprise
based on written contracts governing freedom of association for individuals and
businesses to earn mutual rewards. Initially, only limited direct election of
officials was provided, and not everyone could vote. Today, we chuckle and
preen with pride of superior knowledge from ensuing experience that shows
freedom for all is the best assurance for preserving the blessings of liberty.
Experience from the American experiment has yielded faith for democracy
We have seen that literacy, religion, and democracy evolved together to advance
civilization. Each presented disruptive technology that persisted through
centuries of resistance to become staples of modern culture. Neither
ignorance, fear, and denial, nor persecution, torture, and death could stifle
the flame of faith that eventually drives transformation. Today, we tend to
feel that modern education, and experience in a modern world filled with new
inventions innoculates against ignorance, fear, and denial of fundamental
advance. Several examples from the modern era illustrate opportunities and
challenges for advancing basic literacy to a culture of knowledge.
Air Force Resisted Because No Requirements
Until Experience of WWII Grew Faith to Critical Mass
From the beginning of time man has sought faster, better, cheaper transport
using animals, boats, trains, cars. The ability to fly, however, remained only
a dream until the Wright Brothers succeeded in 1903. The history of
warfare chronicles advance in weaponry and tactics, often spawning great leaps
of innovation to sway the balance between life and death. During World War I,
airplanes were used minimally by the army, because the technology was new and
the industry immature. Today, a century later, air travel is ubiquitous,
answering the ancient call for flight, and effectiveness of air power in the
military was overwhelming during World War II, just 20 years after inauspicious
trial in the first World War.
This history brings to mind World War I -- the War to End All Wars. When
conflict ended with mutual exhaustion in 1918, military planners recognized
obvious strategic advantage of airplanes
delivering ordinance without hinderence of terrain,
nor revetments. Surely the military-industrial complex jumped to lubricate the
veins of innovation with proactive investment,
leading to the powerful air force of today. For example, the movie
Command Decision made in 1948 with the late Clark Gable heading
a brilliant cast (reviewed on August 13, 2004) clearly displays advantages of
air power that enabled allied success
during World War II. However, the movie presents a development path
for the air force that was resisted by ignorance, fear, and denial endemic to
bureaucracy down through the ages.
Military planners properly pointed out after World War I that there were no
requirements for an air force, and that airplanes were hard to learn to use.
It cost a lot of money to hire and train specialists to fly and maintain
airplanes, to build airports and facilities. There wasn't enough time to
investigate costs and benefits, because everybody was busy working on
requirements already approved. Only the faith and courage of General Billy
Mitchell eventually demonstrated in 1921 that even poorly designed, first
generation war planes could sink battleships. Surely, this widely publicized
test justified investing for a robust air force to protect the nation?
Testing air power was strongly resisted, as unnecessary expenditure to evaluate
unattainable expectations. Senior command objected that testing every
hair-brained idea, like airplanes, would not leave enough time and money to run
the military. Testing was finally approved only with conditions set to ensure
failure. When Mitchell succeeded despite onerous conditions, news of dramatic
demonstration of air power was flashed around the world. However, the brass
dismissed successful testing, as not reflecting real world battlefield
dynamics, despite having set stringent conditions to ensure failure. Since
test results conflicted with the prevailing paradigm of military doctrine,
Mitchell's reward for demonstrating a powerful new defense asset was court
martial and discharge from the military. General Mitchell was dismissed from
service for not being a "team player" by proposing that the team improve,
rather than succumb to cultural inertia. Move over Galielo and Prometheus! The
fuddy duddy old clerics in 1633, who were blinded by religious dogma in jailing
Galielo, were mere precursors to zelots of 1925, who religiously followed
modern dogma opposing transformation by banishing the messenger, just as
befell Tesla 50 years earlier for inventing the
operating system of the 20th century)
Lesson learned: religion without
enlightenment devolves to dogma.
How then, did we get such a wonderous air force to win World War II? General
Mitchell's courage making a public stand encouraged others to carry on the
fight for an air force despite official rejection. A few planes were used
off-the-books, from the small fleet for delivering the mail. A courageous few
experimented with tactics. Training manuals were begun. Pilot training
developed skills, and assessed performance to refine the quality of aircraft.
In addition, Germany and Japan began large scale demonstrations of air power in
Europe and Asia. Defeat of Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, England, and in
Korea, China, Hong Kong, the Philipines, Hawaii, etc., etc., changed attitudes
among the brass. Everyone watching newsreals at local theaters throughout
America could plainly see strategic advantage of an air force, as World War II
exploded on the scene in 1939. Even two years earlier, with war clouds
forming, defense planners found time to add requirements for an air force.
Grudgingly, following Mitchell's lead, strategy to let others "go first" began
to change. Officials decided that letting others "go first" and achieve air
superiority posed risks for survival. Those few, who had followed Mitchell's
lead and persisted with planning and procurement "below the radar," of official
sanction, and who had not been killed testing prototype aircraft, were quickly
promoted to command the Army Air Corps. With funding and faith in commitment,
America rushed to catch up, and did catch up and surpass friend and foe alike.
Today, the United States fields the most advanced air force on the planet. Who
though is listening to requirements for the next change in strategic balance?
Is there another General Mitchell; will we get another sneak preview in time to
overcome, ignorance, fear and denial?
Personal Computers Augment Intelligence with
Economies of Scale in the Vastness of the Microcosm
America benefits still from lessons learned in the old world order, and today
stands for business, enterprise, ingenuity and persistance overcoming
resistance to change. In the past half-century rocket science and computer
technology have achieved breakthroughs conquering the vastness of space to land
on the moon, and discovering vastness of the microcosm to empower personal
computers. Surely, recent history hails the triumph of reason over religious
adherence to dogma that plagued earlier transformations. Modern engineers and
enlightened, visionary executives have shed the shackles of antiquated
orthodoxy, which previously required courage and faith to overcome centuries of
delay, persecution, torture, and death, as the price to advance civilization.
The history of personal computers credits Intel coporation in Santa Clara,
California for developing the microprocessor, also called a "central
processing unit" (CPU), or more simply, a computer "chip."
Equally, if not more, importantly, Intel developed
manufacturing methods that provided a path for
accelerated performance improvement,
while paradoxically reducing the cost of production. Unlike, for example,
automobiles, the price of personal computers falls every year, while the
cost of everything else rises with inflation. Citing this counterintuitive
phenomenon, Forbes ASAP observed that The
may well be the single most important invention of the late 20th century.
(see research on June 4, 1996) Others go further and rank the microprocessor
with farming, the alphabet, religion, and democracy as turning
points in civilization. Gordon Moore, who, along with Robert Noyce, founded
Intel in 1968 wrote an article in 1965, while still at Fairchild
Semiconductor. Moore projected that performance of
microprocessors would continue to
double every 18 months. Over the past 50 years, Moore's projection has proven
accurate, lending mythical proportions to Moore, but as well spawining
a cottage industry of hyperbolic forecasters in the popular media,
books, television appearances and professional events. Much of this, too, has
proven prophetic. Microprocessors today improve performance
of automobiles, toasters, refrigerators, airplanes; satallites. Anything
that requires controlled processes from sensing evolving
conditions works better and cheaper with this wonderous technology.
Historians note that earlier technologies brought accelerated improvements, but
eventually matured and settled into slower growth, described as an "S" curve.
example is farming, where, for most of history, most people worked the land,
yet today, only a tiny fraction of the population in the Western world
does this work.
Peter Drucker writing in Atlantic Monthly cites a long list of
similar to Moore's Law for computer chips today, that have been previously
achieved during the industrial revolution, beginning in the 1700s. (see
review on October 25, 1999)
Some theorists speculate, however,
that Moore's Law can continue forever uninterupted. If true, this presents a
powerful turn in civilization. What then supports such speculation?
As Newton notes, invention is a continuum built on prior
work, even more so for personal computers, which comprise a great many
carefully assembled components; including software. Two (2) discoveries
standout inventing the personal computer. Most accounts list transistors and
integrated circuits (ICs). Some experts also list lithography, as essential to
minaturization, which compounds processing speed while using less actual power.
Since smaller components can be positioned more densley, shorter distances
between components reduce the time for electrical current to travel, thereby
increasing the speed of the work. This simple correlation explains the
counterintuitive solution presented by the microprocessor that bridges the gap
between the old and the new world order. Pioneering a path for discovering
deployment of wonderous technology in the 21st century requires illuminating
transformations in the 20th century.
Edison Launched the Utility Industry
The vacuum tube is progeny of Edison's light bulb, first demonstrated on
October 21, 1879. Edison parlayed a long-sought technology breakthrough into a
foundation for today's public utilities that turn darkness into light all over
the world. Starting with his Pearl Street Power Station in New York City,
Edison invented, designed, manufactured, and constructed the rudiments of
electrical generation and distribution. In 1896 Edison held a national meeting
of employees, and was introduced to Henry Ford, who at that time was Chief
Engineer for the Edison power plant in Detroit, Michagan. Ford explained ideas
for an automobile, which he planned to pursue after leaving the company.
Edison was supportive, and encouraged the young entreprenuer to develop low
cost technology for the mass market.
Ford listened to his boss and idol, and became an icon of enterprise by
developing assembly line methods with economies of scale that continually
reduced the cost of production, making transportation affordable for everyone.
Edison, however, failed to follow his own advice and eventually lost out in the
electrical utility business by insisting on delivering direct current, which
required constructing power plants within a mile or two of customers.
Municipalities opted for a more efficient system using economies of scale by
constructing large plants located away from population centers and delivering
alternating current with generators, transformers, and transmission wiring to
run electric motors and lights, all developed by another Edison employee, who,
unlike Ford, Edison discouraged and discredited, but fortunately to no avail.
Nikola Tesla Heard the Music and Rewrote the Score
Operating System for the 20th Century - Alternating Current
Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in 1856 (dates are approximated in this
summary, based on conflicting accounts). He studied mathematics and physics at
the technical institute in Gratz, Austria, and continued at the university of
Prague in 1880. Tesla excelled in academics, and was fascinated by the new
field of electrical engineering. Coincidentally, in 1856, William Thompson
(later knighted as Lord Kelvin) published a paper on the rotary effects of
magneticism and electricity, along with a theory of condenser discharge.
Kelvin's writings encouraged young Tesla to study electrical
engineering, and would eventually influence Tesla's breakthrough work on vacuum
tubes. Kelvin was to further play a pivitol role in
acceptance of Tesla's controversial work. Fate pioneered a path for future
events when Tesla learned that alternating current (AC) was theoretically very
efficient, but the technology was universally dismissed as impossible. All of
the experts said that direct current (DC) was the only solution.
With invention of the light bulb in 1879, Thomas Edison became the preeminant
expert on electricity. He created a wave of cultural inertia for investment to
build direct current (DC) utility systems in America and Europe. Tesla,
however, became obsessed with designing technology for advantages of
alternating current (AC), despite his professor's admonition against futile
pursuit of a "perpetual motion machine." After leaving school, in 1881 he
worked in Budapest, Hungary as a draftsman for the Central Telegraph Office,
and was quickly promoted to design and manage new installations. Starting his
career with great promise, Tesla had a nervous breakdown, which he attributed
to a practice of deep concentration, introspection, and meditation. Developing a viable system of alternating
current, which everyone said was a "fool's errand" and an impossible dream,
beyond reach of science and industry likely short-circuited young Tesla's
mental fuse, as he struggeled without resources nor collaborators at that time.
He sank into deep depression, suffered hallucination and did not expect to
recover. Earlier, a professor had written to Tesla's parents with a most
unique warning of a student studying too hard to excell. Rather than the usual
complaint about ignoring school lessons, the teacher worried for Tesla's health
from studying over 18 hour days, pressaging mental depression that was to come.
Tesla eventually recovered, and he never again experienced another complete
breakdown. Still, his life was marked with eccentricities that sometimes
accompany genius, including compulsive habits of hard work to satisfy excessive
curiosity. Genius, hard work, and curiosoty were to
yield a lifetime of critical
inventions - alternating current, vacuum tube, radio, radar.
In a brief autobiography (unpublished, undated and typed manuscript provided
courtesy of John RH Penner), Tesla described his powers of concentration and
immagination that yielded a new world order, and possibly the spark that shook
him from depression, while still in Prague. Walking with a friend and reciting
poetry in the park, he suddenly envisioned a solution for the impossible dream
of universal energy. Tesla recalled the moment... ...the idea came
like a flash of lightening and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew
with a stick on the sand, the diagram shown six years later in my address
before the American Institute of Electrical
Engineers, and my companion understood them perfectly. The images I
saw were wonderfully sharp and clear and had the solidity of metal and stone,
so much so that I told him, "See my motor here; watch me reverse it." I cannot
begin to describe my emotions. Pygmalion seeing his statue come to life could
not have been more deeply moved. A thousand secrets of nature which I might
have stumbled upon accidentally, I would have given for that one which I had
wrested from her against all odds and at the peril of my existence...
For a while I gave myself up entirely to the intense enjoyment of picturing
machines and devising new forms. It was a mental state of happiness about as
complete as I have ever known in life. Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream
and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast."
Cannot Give Away Solution Without Faith
Genie Powerless to Release Power in the Bottle
Armed with knowledge of the "operating system" for the 20th century, Tesla
encountered real world dymanics. A powerful
plagued his career. There were no
requirements for his solution to provide cheap, reliable, abundant electricity,
so there was no one to whom Tesla could spread the "good news." Like the
fabled Genie in the
Bottle, Tesla was
powerless to release the awesome power of his own truth. Anything he said was
dismissed as churlish self-promotion, bragging, and "chest thumping," devoid of
credibility, as people rushed to hear experts present the
After all, everybody knows that a Genie will say anything to get
out of a bottle. Socrates taught over 2,000 years
ago that, as long as the power of knowledge remains sealed in a bottle, people
feel secure refusing to spend time understanding a truth that seems irrelevant
to the world of daily meetings, calls, documents, and events passing by. Since
the Genie cannot penetrate the bliss of ignorance, fear, and denial, for this
one task, someone else must have faith,
without benefit of experience, to open the bottle; but very few have the
courage to go first
-- thus, a paradox.
What if the Genie is not powerful?
Embarrassment, loss of face, and cost of effort will be devestating to anyone
so foolish as to volunteer to open the bottle. What if the Genie is evil and
harmful, rather than good and helpful, like a beneficent God? These risks of
unknown perils make faith and courage very rare in the absence of experience.
Forty years later, Billy Mitchell knew Tesla's
dilemma from resistance to adding an air force for national defense; 20 years
or so later Howard Aiken, followed by John Mauchly, and especially John
Atanasoff epitomized this challenge at the dawn of the computer age,
and still, today, beginning the 21st century we wrestle with Tesla's dilemma of
Professors objected that investing time to study Tesla's solution was
unnecessary overkill, because alternating current was already disproven and
pronounced "unworkable" in engineering text books; there wasn't enough time to
consider Tesla's solution for making alternating current "workable," because
they were busy teaching text book requirements for jobs in the burgeoning
utilities industry for direct current technology. Department deans were tied
up in meetings bringing curriculum in line with the latest fashion set by
experts in seminars and publications. Since there was no money in the budget
to teach alternating current, they asked not to be bothered about modifying the
budget to prepare students for new realities in the 20th century. Experts who
wrote text books didn't have faith in alternating current. They were busy
learning communication skills and presenting entertaining seminars on direct
current, so there wasn't enough time to learn a better method. Besides,
consultants risk losing credibility, income, and livelihood by opposing
fashionable ideas. Investors were busy at seminars where the gospel was
preached on pouring money into big projects for direct current. This
circularity of conflicting interests constructed a fiction that reinforced
faith in direct current systems, based on Edison's great
triumph. Against the crushing weight of public pressure favoring
direct current, Tesla's boss did not have time to learn a new way of working.
He was too busy working hard fixing problems, and answering complaints about
direct current systems already approved, to notice the fiction that Tesla's
Since there were no requirements for alternating current technology, Tesla
could not even give away his secret. There was not the slightest
interest in saving time and money by advancing from direct to an alternating
current scheme. (see again Howard Aiken) Over and
over he presented the solution without risk that even experts, who claimed to
care about improving productivity to save lives, time, and money, would steal
his intellectual property. Like the Emporer who wore no clothes, faith
in direct current technology rendered the entire culture willfully blind. Incestuous reinforcement inoculated academy, industry,
commercial, government, and finance "experts" with faith in a fiction that was
impenetrable by truth.
A few, who from time to time showed a spark of understanding, said there was
nothing they could do, because they had to go along in order to make a living.
So, too, a few offered salvation for a Diamond in the Rough, urging Tesla to become a "team player" by giving
up "misplaced priorities" pursuing unpopular ideas. But Tesla's "diamond"
wasn't in the rough. His truth was hidden in plain sight. People fear making time to think about paradigms that paralize
action with false faith and confidence in widely accepted fiction. Lifting the
viel of falsity risks, in addition to loss of income and standing, discovery of
floundering in ignorance and denial. Faith, whether justified or not, is the
solid footing essential for confident action. Since people must act to live,
there is always strong biological aversion to technology that disrupts deeply
After the assignments in Budapest, Tesla was invited to join the Continental
Edison company in Paris. His ideas for transformation to alternating current
were rejected, but with demonstration of proficiency improving designs and
fixing power plants in France and Germany, in 1883 Tesla was offered a bonus
for traveling to Strasbourg, Alsace and undertaking a high-profile, project
fixing the electrical system for a new railroad station. While performing the
project, in his spare time Tesla used a nearby machine shop to construct an
alternating current motor and was delighted to find that his design from a year
earlier worked exactly as expected.
Tesla was successful with the Strasbourg assignment, and learned an early
lesson of bureacracy. For final approval, the inspector required that Tesla
move a hallway light several inches, despite the fact that light was positioned
according to approved plans. The inspector had warned earlier in the project
that it was unusual for someone so young to be in charge of such an important
project, and this caused hurt feelings grounded in envy. Now it seemed these
feelings had found expression. So, rather than object to higher authority
citing dimensions in the plans, Tesla moved the light as requested. Subsequent
reviews changed the location of this one light three (3) more times, each
ordered by a higher ranking inspector, and ultimately resulting in the position
Tesla had originally chosen. Eighty (80) years later, a boy helping his father
build a home in Woodside, California would see the wife of the ownership family
ask to change the "opening" side for a dual-swing door from the dining room
into the kitchen.
Hinges and other hardward had to be removed and installed on the opposite side
from approved plans. The wife remembered requesting the original design; but,
seeing the work after construction, she changed her mind. To maintain good
will, the contractor gladly did the extra work, spending 2 - 3 hours removing
the door, changing the hinges to the other side, routing, filling, sanding,
alignment, and painting to accomplish a request that took ten (10) seconds.
The wife accepted the finished change with great delight, and then left for
lunch at the club.
Later, the husband stopped at the project site. He asked why the door did not
conform with the plans? The contractor proudly explained the accomodation at
no charge. Instead of appreciation, the husband insisted that the door be
changed back to conform with the original plans. He chastised the contractor
not to make changes except upon written change order, citing vague references
to management standards, industry practice, and legal remedies. The husband
recalled visiting several homes referred by the contractor, and that he and his
wife used that experience to approve the design of their new home. The
husband's frenzied complaint that spontaneous changes eviscerate planning and
quality control, dashed all hopes for good will. The contractor had to buy a
new door, and remove and construct new casing and trim. This took the rest of
the day plus overtime, working well into the night, with additional painting
pending the next day. After the contractor finally got home, the husband
called. He told of anguished arguement with his wife, and pleaded that, to
save his marriage, the door had to be changed back to his wife's request. The
boy never knew, if his father was paid for the extra work, but it seemed plain
enough why people suffer depression and succumb to many and varied diversions
for safe harbor from insoluable knowledge management dilemmas. Wicked problems
of communication endemic to community life drive people to simply give up on good management, a lesson which Tesla learned in Strasbourg.
In the spring of 1884, Tesla returned to Paris with great appreciation for his
work in Strasbourg. The firm had avoided a major loss, and created good will
for future work. Good feelings, however, turned quickly into disappointment.
Edison's Paris office refused again to consider transformation from DC to
alternating current, despite good news that Tesla had built a breakthrough
prototype for a polyphase induction motor without sliding contacts or
commutator. Unnerved by willfully blind refusal to see
achievement of what was considered
beyond reach, Tesla learned another lesson when the promised bonus was not paid
for solving the problems in Strasbourg. Instead, they asked Tesla to fix other
DC power plants. Tesla must have felt like a man driving up in a new Ford car,
and saying to the crew... Hey guys,
jump in! I've solved the transportation
problem. Forget the stagecoach. With this car, we can get to the shop in 10
minutes, so you can pay my bonus."
Without looking up, the crew chief says... Can't you see we're
busy! We don't have time to check out your car. We spent your bonus money
fixing the stagecoach. Right now, we need to expedite. So, get out of the car
and help fix this axel. We're running out of time. We only have 10 hours to
get to the office. There's going to be a seminar on stagecoach repair, and the
boss has hired an expert to present some futuristic theory of transportation,
called a "car." There'll be hell to pay if we're late, so roll up your sleeves
and let's get busy! Say, can you use your car to round up
the horses, so we can get hitched up and get going!
Tesla quit Edison, but disappointment grew with failure to raise
capital for developing alternating current. Financial managers were so busy
making deals for DC development, there was no time to grow faith in AC methods
which everybody, who was "somebody" said was impossible. Without faith Tesla's
solution remained hidden in plain sight.
Despite rejection, everyone in Edison's Paris office recognized Tesla's talent.
Charles Batchelor, Edison's top man in Paris, pressed the young engineer to go
to America and improve Edison's designs for direct current power plants, as he
had done for the European subsidiary. Batchelor's letter of introduction to
Edison said... "I know two great men and you are one of them; the
other is this young man."
In New York, Tesla was awestruck meeting the great man, and applied
himself with purpose and distinction. Tesla recalls in his autobiography that
after working for a year, Edison said to him... "I have had many hard
working assistants, but you take the cake." Tesla further
recalled... During this period I designed twenty-four different types
of standard machines with short cores and uniform pattern, which replaced the
old ones. The manager had promised me fifty thousand dollars on the completion
of this task, but it turned out to be a practical joke. This gave me a painful
shock and I resigned my position.
Accounts vary on Tesla's life after quiting Edison for the second time.
He evidently could not find engineering work, and so spent a year or two
digging ditches for a living. Eventually a friend found him and arranged
financing for a new company to manufacture arc-lighting, which Tesla had
invented (US patents 335786 and 335787 February 9, 1886), and which fifty (50)
years later led to florescent lighting introduced by Westinghouse Electric at
the 1939 World's Fair. Tesla expected this venture, which bore his name, to
underwrite development of his dreams for alternating current. But, investors
balked. They wanted the company narrowly focused on arc lamps that sold
well to factories and municipalities. The investors did not have faith
competing against Edison, who was backed by financial wizard JP Morgan. Tesla
seems to have been released from his own company, or perhaps he quit, over the
AC flap, and so again was without funding for his "project."
Like Prometheus, and the
Billy Mitchell story, Tesla was banashied again for
bringing knowledge to people, who feared the truth. He may have been forced
back into digging ditches for survival; however, his luck suddenly changed,
when enabling forces came into aligment.
Earlier, in 1884, Edison helped organize a new profession of electrical
engineering. Tesla was respected within this new association, where engineers
heard through word-of-mouth about his record improving Edison's plants in
Europe and America. Some accounts say that Tesla was hired in 1886 by the
newly formed Westinghouse Electric Company, in Pittsburg. Others say that
Tesla, while working as a laborer, managed to finance another laboratory in New
York, where he finalized designs for his system. Somehow, he filed
applications for seven (7) patents during November and December of 1887. The
filing provided a complete system of generators, transfomers, transmission
lines, motors and lighting based on alternating current. On May 1, 1888,
patents were awarded on all seven (7) requests, US 381968-381970 and US
382279-382282. Tesla was thereby granted protection for a solution, which had
previously been beyond reach, and which, until that moment, nobody cared about.
With this background, Tesla was asked to speak before the newly formed
professional association of electrical engineers, meeting regularly in New
York. On May 15, 1888 Tesla presented his original
vision for alternating current, formed six (6) years earlier, to the
American Institute of Electrical Engineers (today IEEE).
Westinghouse Releases the Genie in the Bottle
A few months later, in July, 1888, Tesla came to the attention of George
Westinghouse, who had prospered from inventing the railroad air brake.
Westinghouse wanted to compete for the growing electric utilities market
dominated by Edison and JP Morgan. Westinghouse, like Edison, possessed an
inventive mind. Since both men were ignorant about the secret of alternating
current, they faced a mutual burden of cognitive
overhead, which could only be relieved by investing time to study. For
Edison, alternating current seemed threatening. He erroneously believed that
his incandescent light bulb would not work with alternating current. Without
study to engage Tesla's ideas, i.e., listening, Edison's ignorance cascaded
into fear of losing business, reputation, and his legacy as the father of
electricity. From historical hindsight, if Edison had invested a little time
to think about Tesla's design, he could have sold savy investors on doubling or
tripling their capital at risk in order to underwrite Edison's transformation
to alternating current, and thereby multiply returns a thousand fold. Of
course, nobody has the benefit of hindsight, and faith in foresight competes
with a thousand details starting a business, and, in Edison's case, launching a
new industry and new profession.
In the vernacular, Edison was "tapped out." His famous creed to fail a
thousand times in order to succeed, exhausted all physicial and
intellectual energy in a concept that yielded initial progress, investment, and
world acclaim, but had limited prospects for economies of scale. Since Edison
had no time to think, his success blinded him from learning Tesla's solution.
The burden of cognitive overhead presented a
complete barrier to faith in transformation to a new way of working.
Without faith, ignorance and fear drive denial. Edison heartily and warmly
welcomed Tesla to America for his talent fixing flaws in direct current
apparatus, but blindly denied, i.e., without investigation, Tesla's knowledge
of alternating current... "Hold up! Spare me that nonsense. It's
dangerous. We're set up for direct current in America. People like it, and
it's all I'll ever fool with."
Five or six years into the fledgling electrical utility business, Edison
was at the pinnacle of success, where no alternative seems viable. Denial
expiedently avoided the pain of changing his attitude, the expense of retooling
his factories, the ignominy of sharing his reputation. Edison, therefore, had
no requirements for Tesla's ideas to save time and money in the utility
business. For Edison, Tesla's truth remained hidden in plain sight.
Westinghouse had dabbled in the field of electricity enough to hold
several patents for railroad safety, for example, "Exit" lights. He did not
consider himself an expert electrical engineer. He therefore invested time to
study that turned ignorance and fear into faith that Tesla presented
opportunity to leapfrog Edison with a better "mouse trap." One can imagine an
altogether different conversation between Westinghouse and Tesla... Oh,
your design uses polyphase rotating magnetic fields that avoid contact
commutators. Without those lousy brushes, the motor can be completely
enclosed, increasing reliability and reducing maintenance that kills profits.
You say the same design generates electricity at the plant that is, also, the
motor customers use? I don't get it; but, if you're right, that will save a
lot of money constructing power plants. You're kidding! Your system will
transmit high voltage power hundreds of miles with low-cost, light-guage
transmission lines, and then transformers you invented reduce voltage to suit
customers along the route? Are you sure? I don't think you can do that? I
had experts in here last week from Harvard and Yale asking me to support
something called a "roadmap." They showed me an article in "Engineering
Monthly" reporting on a big conference in London. Edison presented his vision
of a "roadmap" to wire the world for energy, but the article said the industry
isn't there yet! People are repackaging failed initiatives with new names.
Calling direct current a "roadmap" is "grist for the mill" of experts,
seminars, publications, and educators backing a "horse" that can't finish!
Okay, okay! I get it! Alternating current is the "Genie in the bottle" that everyone ignores because a
small voice cannot be heard above the noise of the stampede falling off
the cliff. If
the genie gets out of the bottle, how will your scheme make money? You say
that generating power away from population centers opens an endless path to
economies of scale for bigger plants, which reduce cost and expand customers?
Long distance transmission of low cost power for factories, farms, homes,
schools, and hospitals will empower a rising tide of faith in electrical energy
to lift productivity and quality of life. And you figured this all out reciting poetry in the park?
Have you explained any of this to Tom? Oh, I see, he was too busy selling the
"roadmap." Well, I'm the same way. I hate people telling me about air brakes,
because I'm an expert. The prospect of changing what took a lot of money,
worry, blood, sweat and tears to figure out drives denial to even think about
transformation. Maybe that's how Tom feels.
However, I'm ignorant about electrical utilities. I haven't built a thing, and
have no financial, intellectual, nor emotional capital at risk. So, in my
case, fear of losing my money forces me to study where to invest. Can you
prove your ideas? How much would it cost to develop prototypes - $1,000,000,
$500,000? You're kidding, you can do it for $50,000? Say, what's in that
paper sack? Tell you what. Let's split the sandwich and use the sack to jot
down an agreement right now while everything is fresh in our mind.
By investing time to think, Westinghouse grew faith in alternating
current, and so partnered with Tesla to market a better "mouse trap." Some
accounts say Westinghouse bought Tesla's patents for $1,000,000; others say it
was $216,000, while still others report Tesla's patents were purchased for
$60,000, and paid with $5,000 in cash and the rest in stock. All accounts
agree that Tesla was to receive additional royalty payment. Most stories say
Tesla was to be paid $2.50 for each horsepower of electrical equipment sold, or
for each horsepower of generation sold. While specifics are murky, by any
measure, at age 32, Tesla was wealthy. Rather than bask in glory, Tesla worked
even harder to satisfy requirements at Westinghouse for alternating current
technology. He formed Tesla Electric Company in New York city, and split time
in Pittsburg guiding and training the Westinghouse people to design and
manufacture electrical systems, though not without opposition from his former
Edison did not have time (20 minutes, an hour, a day or two) to study Tesla's
ideas in 1884, but, in 1888, suddenly, like a sinking ship clutching at every
straw, a lot of his time was applied to discredit Tesla during the titanic
Current Wars of the 1890s. Edison sponsored public demonstrations
electrocuting cats, dogs and horses, hoping to scare customers away from
alternating current, as dangerous to people. However, Edison's control of the
electrical utility business could not be saved. Once the genie of alternating
current was released, opposition was overwhelmed by a more powerful paradigm.
Chicago World's Fair Open World's Eyes to City of Light
Westinghouse countered scare tactics by winning a contract for the first
world's fair powered by electricity, appropriately honoring Thomas Edison for
discovering the secret of electric lighting, and then launching the rapidly
rising utilities industry. The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 took the name
Columbian Exposition to, also, honor the 400th anniversary of Columbus
discovering America. By this time, JP Morgan had formed the Edison companies
into General Electric, with Edison no longer in charge. Westinghouse beat
General Electric's bid of $1,000,000 by 50%, mostly due to less copper wiring
needed for AC, as Tesla had anticiapted five (5) years earlier. Despite public
acclaim for Edison, savings of this magnitude could not be ignored.
Westinghouse had kept his promise. He opened the bottle to release the Genie
of Tesla's discovery.
On May 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland pressed a button in Chicago
and instantly turned darkness into a "City of Light." Millions of people from
around the world attended the Columbian Exposition and witnessed the
spectacle of huge generating machinery running flawslessly and quietly with
Tesla's designs and bearing the name "Westinghouse." At that moment,
transformation to alternating current was firmly launched, marking an epoch in
human history. Tesla's vision of an operating system
for the 20th century was about to be unleashed. Cheap, reliable, and
abundant power would soon increase human potential several orders of magnitude
by substituting brains for brawn far beyond anything the world had previously
experienced, ushering in 24-hour work, communication, and entertainment.
The great "Current Wars" of the 1890s ended at Niagra Falls. People had long
dreamed of harnessing the awesome, elemental force of the falls. In 1889 and
1890, through a series of complicated transactions a financial consortium,
headed by JP Morgan, and including John Astor, William Vanderbilt, and Edward
Dean Adams formed the Niagara Falls Power Company (NFPC), and the Cataract
Construction Company, which held all of the NFPC stock and so had effective
control of the project. Both Adams and Morgan had financial interests in the
Edison companies. Adams was named president of the Cataract Construction
Company. He first investigated the viability of investment to build generating
facilities at Niagara Falls, and concluded this would only be feasible, if most
of the power could be distributed long distances to customers who needed large
amounts of electricity for industrial operations. The city of Buffalo, about
30 miles from Niagara Falls, was identified as the initial target for meeting
this requirement. Finding a way to deliver useable power to Bufallo, would
justify putting up the money to construct power generation at Niagara Falls.
However, this objective far exceeded the 1 - 2 mile distance that had been
previously achieved. Many experts consulted by the consortium advised that the
project could not succeed.
Construction of the discharge tunnel was begun in 1891, and completed in
December 1892. This was a major part of the work that was extremely
difficult and dangerous.
During this construction phase, Adams travelled to inspect hydroelectric
projects in Europe, where he consulted on ideas and risks of the work at
Niagara Falls. Two ideas were advanced. Since the project would only be
feasible by developing technology for long distance transmission of
electricity, this greatly reduced the scope of facilities initially planned.
For example, the discharge tunnel could be shorted by about two thirds from 2.5
miles to less than one mile. This significant savings on construction cost
made the project appear more viable to investors. The second idea was to form
a prestigeous commission of engineering and scientific experts to conduct an
international competition for ways to transmit power in useable amounts to
Buffalo. Everything hinged on a system of generating, transmitting, and using
electricity far away in Buffalo.
In 1893 the consortium formed the International Niagara Commission (INC). The
prestigeous Lord Kelvin agreed to serve as chairman. For ten years, Kelvin, a
world renowned Scottish physicist, inventor, and businessman, had publicly
called for producing electricity at Niagara Falls. Suddenly, he held the reins
of authority. Like Edison, Lord Kelvin had strongly and publicly opposed
alternating current. Before being appointed chairman, he had written to the
consortium strongly recommending against the illusion of alternating current.
The commissiion received proposals from around the world. With the "deck"
seemingly stacked against alternating current, Westinghouse did not bother to
bid. Still, the public was skeptical, and investors were nervous, including JP
Morgan. Was a project that so significantly extended proven technology really
viable? Were they reaching too far? Had Edison oversold the "Roadmap"? Had
the "great" JP Morgan shot himself in the foot by "stacking the deck" in favor
of technology that could not succeed? Once again, very smart people were
about to outsmart themselves.
With tensions running high on a high stakes gamble, Lord Kelvin took a break.
He visited the Columbian Exposition in
Chicago, and bore witness, like millions of others, to a "City of Light"
powered by Tesla's system. Following this visit, the Niagara Falls commission
rejected all of the bids, and awarded Westinghouse a contract to implement
Tesla's alternating current design. Success or failure of the world's largest
endeavor to produce electric power rested on the truth of Tesla's vision.
This change in attitude was a cultural tsunami. An abrupt paradigm shift
signaled that faith had shifted, and, like a tectonic plate, formed a new
foundation that lifted the world beyond the bounds of terrestrial light.
However, doubts remained. During years of construction at Niagara Falls,
continual crises fueled debate in the press, and among engineers, and
scientists. Could a power plant be constructed to harness Niagara Falls?
Workmen were killed, cave-ins, and trecherous conditions extended time and cost
far beyond schedule and budget. Even if it could be built, would it work? Can
power travel 30 miles over transmission lines, and still run factories?
Wouldn't it be better to quit, to cut and run? Resisting calls to give up,
courage prevailed, when the finacial consortium dug beyond prudence for the
money to continue work. Finally, fortune smiled. As the world held its
breath, on November 16,1896, with the effort of child, a simple switch was
closed at the plant in Niagara Falls, and Tesla's truth was suddenly known by
all. Power surged over the mountains to light up the night in Buffalo, and the
big motors purred with power.
The system was flawless. News accounts said that Tesla had made the mighty
Niagara Falls flow up hill. Such exaggeration was testament to the tension of
the times from fear of failure when taking the first step. Westinghouse,
investors, Lord Kelvin, and city fathers were at last relieved. Soon, General
Electric transformed to alternating current, and the entire world followed,
because Tesla's secret was no longer hidden in plain
In the next decades, New York became the city that never sleeps. Vast
numbers of generating plants and thousands of miles of transmission lines were
brought online. With Tesla receiving $2.50 for each horsepower of electricity
flowing to customers hungry for power, why did Tesla die penniless, and
unknown in a rundown New York hotel on January 7, 1943, and attended only by a
few pigeons? What happened to his endless riches
and to his fame for empowering the 20th century?
Ten (10) years of "Current Wars" exhausted all sides in treasure and
time. Westinghouse may have become overextended hastily buying businesses to
expand electrical utilities. As a result, acquisition costs grew faster
than revenues from sales. Westinghouse was forced to reduce costs and
consolidate in order to raise capital. Bankers refused to approve new loans,
however, unless the open ended contractual
commitment to Tesla was terminated. Like Edison, George Westinghouse ultimately lost control of his
empire, but not before asking Tesla for relief from royalty payments. The
timing is hazy, but evidently in the 1890s, and perhaps as early as 1891,
Westinghouse met with Tesla and pleaded that payments in the amount originally
agreed threatened collapse of his business.
John O'Neil's powerful biography published in 1944 reports that Tesla
responded by saying ... "Mr. Westinghouse, you have been my friend,
you believed in me when others had no faith; you were brave enough to go
ahead... when others lacked courage; you supported me when even your own
engineers lacked vision... you have stood by me as a friend...
"Here is your contract, and here is my contract. I will tear both
of them to pieces, and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties.
Is that sufficient?"
The rationale for giving up the "keys to
the kingdom" is hard to grasp. Tesla could have offered reduced and deferred
payment to help his friend and benefactor, rather than forfiet everything. He
could have simply refused, and worked with whomever took over the Westinghouse
assets. He could have negotiated with others for a fair price in return for
his patent rights, e.g., General Electric. By this time, Tesla had been
awarded 75 patents (over 700 at the time of his death in 1943). He was not
naieve, nor without access to counsel for advice. Additionally, he was
constantly short of money; projects were halted because he could not meet the
payroll; he was evicted numerous times from offices, and from his personal
living quarters (mostly hotels in New York), and was forced into bankruptcy
with loss of income on his European patents, after World War I broke out in
1914. Of course, most of the bad times were in the future. In the 1890s Tesla
had money, fame, and new ideas to pursue. He believed his ideas for wireless
transmission of power and communication using the Tesla coil would surpass the
value of his discoveries and patents in alternating current. He was largely
correct, but was always ahead of his time. Unlike polyphase rotating magnetic
fields, which he could calibrate to time alignment for maxiumum performance,
Tesla could not calibrate alighment of enabling cultural forces, essential for
invention to drive a business model.
Besides being out of phase with a culture not ready for his next 600
patents, Tesla had bad luck. His laboratory burned down. He filed for a radio
patent in 1899, and the patent office issued US 545576 on March 20, 1900. But,
in 1904 Marconi was awarded a radio patent, and later won a Nobel prize in 1909
for inventing the radio. Tesla contested Marconi's patent, and was
disappointed by not getting a Nobel prize. Twenty years later, in the 1930s,
Scientific American and Time magazine credited Tesla's
accomplishments, but not until five (5) months after his death, did the US
Supreme Court rule in June 1943 that Marconi's patent for radio infringed on
Tesla's prior art. Tesla ran out of time before the world could catch up.
To paraphrase Newton, we stand on the shoulders of
Nikola Tesla, unknown though he may be, for providing the "operating system" of
the 20th century. Press a button, flip a switch, turn a key all instantly
increase productivity far beyond the limits of human physical capacity, in the
same way that alphabet technology leverages intellectual capacity for the operating system of civilization. Tesla's 10 year
struggle to release the secret of cheap, plentiful, reliable energy indicates
the far greater trials of those nameless giants, who saw the light 2,000 years
ago, and fought through ignorance, fear, and denial for transformation to
literacy, as observed by Plato. Comparing 10 years
to 2 millenia offers clues about the effort for advancing to a culture of
knowledge. More than mere technology, Tesla reminds that the critical
ingredient of transformation is faith.
Tesla Configured Light Bulbs to Turn Switches On and Off
Faith in electricity grew rapidly as people gained experience with lights,
equipment, and appliances powered by vast networks of transmission lines and
substations. A method was needed to convert alternating current back to direct
current for controlling power to communicate with telephones, radios, and
eventually television and computers. Edison taught the world to flip a switch
to turn the lights on and off. In the 1890s Tesla invested earnings from his
Westinghouse contract into research that discovered
how Edison's light bulb could flip the switch on and off. This stunning
counterintuitive discovery of the single node vacua tube planted the
seeds harvested decades later for logic gates
to control electrical circuits.
Precise control of power at low levels of detail was to become Archimedes'
classic "lever" to move the world from analog to digital electronics.
The path began with award of patents for the Tesla coil, US 577670, and, for
electrical condensers, US patent 577671, both issued Feb 23, 1897. Tesla was
next awarded US patent 613809 for wireless transmission of power via
electromagnetic waves, and rendering logic gate circuits on or off to control
the flow of current. Tesla's radio patent was granted on March 20, 1900, for a
system of wireless telegraphy transmitting electric power through natural
media, US 645576. Tesla's apparatus for generating and receiving electrical
signals; and tuned resonant circuits layed the foundation for radio technology
described in US Patent 787412 issued May 16, 1900, complimented quickly with a
system of signalling impulses, and transmission of intelligent messages using
elevated transmitters described in US Patent 725605, issued July 16, 1900.
Four (4) years later in 1904, Fleming advanced vacuum tube technology to dual
node devices (diode), applied in Marconi's famous radio patent, and in 1906 Lee
De Forest added a third node to produce triodes that increase control of
electrical current. Amplifying weak current can then be interpreted for
turning a switch on and off to represent the numbers 0 and 1.
Eccles Jordon Digital Circuits
In 1919 British physicist William H. Eccles in collaboration with FW Jordon
published a design for an electrical circuit using vacuum tubes to control a
series of switches (logic gates), as earlier demonstrated by Tesla. The Eccles-Jordon circuit retained the status of
each switch in the series until changed (i.e., flipped to the other position
corresponding to on or off, 0 or 1) by an electrical pulse. e.g., today, in
2005, pressing a key on a keyboard sends a brief current - a pulse. Switches
configured into patterns of binary pairs, e.g., 2, 4, 8, 16..., could be
incremented with pulsed current. This ability to remember patterns by
controlling logic gates based on prior status enables electrical circuits to
count. The implications of the Eccles-Jodan logic gate design, traditionally
called a "flip-flop," opened a path for electronic memory and binary
mathematics. However, the stunning discovery of precision memory and high
speed calculation would continue to lie dormant and ignored for the next 25
years, and then, when enabling forces came into
alignment, would begin a path that surpasses the wildest dreams for computing
Counting and Calculation Core Requirements of Civilization
Necessities of survival drive demand for counting. Rudimentary food storage,
transport, managing time, farming, and trading (commerce) all give rise, along
with proscriptions against stealing, to requirements for accountability, which,
in turn, leads to the notion of "quantity." Experiencing conquest and
protection with superior force teaches that bigger is better. People invented
numbers in order to know what "big" means. Counting technology progressed from
fingers, tabulating with a "base 10" system, to mechanical methods (e.g.,
abacus, Leonardo da Vinci's design for a calculating machine in 1492).
Necessity for speed and accuracy drove invention to compute quantities faster
and more precisely. Arithmetic, Arabic numerals, bookkeeping, geometry,
algebra, logarithms, the slide rule, and calculus emerged for faster more
precise memory of increasingly complex calculations in the vanguard of
Leibniz Plants Seeds of Binary Mathematics Tilled by Boolean Logic
Gotfried Leibniz is less well known than his English contemporary, Sir Issac
Newton, for inventing calculus, however, in about 1666, Leibniz, also developed
a system of binary mathematics that complemented the traditional base 10 system
of counting fingers. Leibniz proposed a simplified 0/1, yes/no, on/off,
life/death formula of logic that fits the low level analog of
Like Tesla's theory of alternating current, binary mathematics was largely
ignored until enabling forces came into alighment, some 300 years later. One
such force along the way was George Boole, who published "Mathematical Analysis
of Logic" in 1847. Boole formalized operations for symbolic reasoning, which
he extended to operating on defined classifications. Binary mathematics could
then calculate true or false using algebraic equations to solve logical
propositions. Boole refined his ideas in 1854 with publication of "An
Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on which are founded the Mathematical
Theories of Logic and Probabilities." This work was noticed and extended by a
small band of philosophers, including Charles Peirce, but, like binary
mathematics, remained dormant, without practical application, for 80 years.
Von Neumann Brought to America by Veblen to Advance Mathematics
John von Neumann was born in 1903 in Budapest, Hungary. Undergraduate work in
chemestry, pressaged a PhD. in mathematics. Breakthroughs applying mathematics
in chemestry and physics gained von Neumann world acclaim. Following
publication of a long-sought mathematical theory for quantum mechanics, in 1929
Oswald Veblen invited von-Neumann to be a visiting professor at Princeton
University in the United States. After getting married in 1930, for the next
three years, von Neumann split time lecturing semesters in Berlin, and at
Princeton. But, in 1933, the rise of the Nazis in Germany led von Neumann to
remain in the United States, along with other notable emigres of
Veblen arranged for Von Neumann to become the youngest member of a small,
founding faculty for the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at Princeton.
Albert Einstien, Kurt Godel, James Alexander, and Herman Weyl, along with
Oswald Veblen (J Robert Oppenheimer, would lead AIS beginning in 1947)
established AIS from the start as a world academic leader for postdoctoral
research in mathematics and physics. Von Neumann's position as professor of
mathematics along side the world's top minds provided a footing that wound
propell him into critical roles over the next 20 years in powerful new fields
of economics, computer technology, and atomic energy, until his untimely death
at age 54, in 1957.
Apart from a brilliant intellect, von Neumann could present complicated ideas,
which only a few in the entire world could understand mathematically, and yet
explain obtuse theory in common terms using scenarios and examples that the
uninitiated could grasp, and especially people with authority and leadership
positions, for deciding a course of action. This gift of explanation that
complimented powerful insight was pivitol in advancing technology through the
synergy of military necessity and academic research.
Turing Planted the Seeds of Software Programming
In England, Alan Turing, whose 1936 paper, On Computable Numbers with an
application to the Entscheidungs problem, postulated mathematical models he
dubbed "Turning machines" that helped lay the foundations for Computer Science
and software engineering, including Artificial Intelligence. Turning
demonstrated that common manual procedures and processes, i.e., the recipies of
life, can be simulated with mathematical precision using the logic of
algorithms. Universal Turing machines present a theory of manipulating symbols
that represent algorithmic instructions, leading to the concept of storing
programs on computers to operate consistently on data flow input by people,
i.e., users, thus complimenting Shannon's theories developed a few years later
for designing computer hardware that executes
software programs at the speed of electricity.
In 1936, Turing came to the United States and studied under John von Neumann at
Princeton for his doctorate in mathematics. Turing's PhD work was directly
supervised by Alonso Charge, who had published similar, though less sweeping,
theories just prior to Turing's famous 1936 paper, and, as a result, was cited
by Turing. There is no record of collaboration between Turing and von Neumann,
though doubtless they met, and von Neumann must have been familiar with
Turing's 1936 paper that led to Turing being at Princeton. There remains
speculation about how much von Neumann would draw on Turing's ideas 10 years
later for computer design, commonly called the Von Neumann architecture
promulgated about 1946, and which remains dominate to the present day.
Shannon Connects Electrical Circuits to Boolean Logic Design
Binary Mathematics Empowered by Speed and Precision of Electricity
Claude E. Shannon earned degrees in Electrical Engineering, and in Mathematics
at the University of Michigan. One of his courses exposed the arcane and
seemingly obtuse binary structure of Boolean Logic. In 1936 Shannon entered
the graduate Engineering program at MIT, where he worked with a machine for
solving differential equations, called a Differential Analyzer, built by
Shannon's professor, and the Dean of Engineering at MIT, Vannevar Bush. This
was a big mechanical calculator with elaborate gears and wheels mounted on
heavy duty axels, and turned by electric motors. Set up took several days
changing a great many connections between electrical cables to define a single
problem and direct operation of the computer. Once launched, getting an answer
could, also, take days. Shannon earned money by working part time as a
mechanic to run and maintain the big computer, which was constantly breaking
down. The tool kit included a crane, wrenches, plyers, and ball peen hammers.
This experience over a period of an entire year yielded intricate knowledge of
complex details about calculating technology, and exposed inefficient
electrical circuits, leading to theories and ideas for his masters thesis.
In 1937, Shannon's thesis, "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching
Circuits," proposed that, long ignored and hitherto impractical, Boolean logic
could replace random methods for designing electrical circuits that implement
binary mathematics. Shannon further presented
mathematical proofs that relatively small vacuum tubes with logic gate circuits
could replace big, slow, and cumbersome mechanical gears and wheels to perform
binary mathematics at the speed of electricity. The following year, in 1938, a
paper based on Shannon's thesis was published in a professional journal.
Shannon earned awards and accolades, as engineers realized that Boolean logic
could be implemented with the Eccles-Jordan logic
gate circuit for binary mathematics. Simplified and standardized electrical
circuit design, together with proof that logical operations could be carried
out with electrical power set computing on a path to increase the speed and
precision of calculation by many orders of magnitude simply by reducing the
time to switch electrical circuits on and off.
By 1938, knowledge and technology emerged to improve the age old requirement
for faster, accurate counting, and by many orders of magnitude. However, like
Tesla's proposal for alternating current in 1880,
and Mitchel's proposal 40 years later in the 1920s for an air force, there were no "requirements" for integrating
Libniz's discovery of binary mathematics, refined by Boole's methods of logic,
and powered by Tesla's cheap, abundant, reliable electricity, and directed by
Edison's light bulb modified by Tesla to create vacuum tubes that turn switches
on and off, and arranged by the Eccles-Jordon flip-flop design for digital
World War II Accelerates Evolution of Calculating to Computers
In 1939, rapid build up arming for World War II escalated demand for
calculating power to design weapons, compute ballistics, and to manage large scale logistics. These
stark necessities of war moved the final cog of enabling forces into alignment
for the first generation of electronic computers to emerge. The first step in
computing was for special purpose applications (e.g., science, engineering,
military), like the Differential Analyzer, credited
to Vannevar Bush at MIT. Though unknown to the rest of the world until war
ended after 1945, Konrad Zuse in Germany constructed a mechanical binary and
programmable computer, paralleling and pressaging work in England and America.
Atanasoff Builds First Electronic Digital Computer
That same year, 1939, John V. Atanasoff, a professor at Iowa State College,
and assisted by a graduate student, Clifford Berry, tried to implement
Shannon's call for electronic calculation with binary mathematics. In
September, they received a small grant of $650. By November they had assembled
a prototype analog device to solve simultaneous linear equations. The
Atanasoff Berry Computer, dubbed the "ABC," used vacuum
tubes and electronic circuits for calculation without mechanical means
common for the period, and is thus credited as the first electronic digital
computer, though evidently without ever becoming operational to solve actual
A year later, in December, 1940, Atanasoff attended a professional event in
Philadelphia, where John Mauchly demonstrated a special purpose calculator he had invented for weather analysis. After
Mauchly's presentation, Atanasoff introduced himself, and described his work on
the ABC analog calculator using vacuum tubes for binary mathematics. Mauchly
learned that substituting electricity for mechanical calculation would increase
performance by orders of magnitude. If successful, the ABC calculator would
significantly advance his scientific research in weather analysis. The
following year in June 1941, Mauchly visited Atanasof at Iowa State College in
Ames. He examined the ABC computer and documentation. Mauchly stayed at
Atanasoff's home during the four (4) day visit to thoroughly discuss the ABC
design. After this visit, in September, 1941, Mauchly wrote to Atanasof
thanking him for being a gracious host, and proposing collaboration on
developing an electronic digital calculator. There is no record of Atanasof's
response. Both men were soon caught up in mobilizing for World War II.
Like everyone, personal plans were overtaken by sweeping events of national
Doctor Atanasoff did, however, submit his ideas to
IBM for improving calculation with electronic digital computer
technology. He offered to help IBM bring this breakthrough to market at a time
when military necessity
cried out for faster calculating. IBM's leadership in
business technology, notably punch card collating machines, offered an ideal
path for turning the ABC prototype into capability urgently needed to fight the
war, and would be in great demand for scientific and business applications
after the war. IBM told Atanasof that his design was impossible, a fool's errand that would never work, similar to Tesla, and
that IBM would lose credibility with customers, and jepardize military contracts by proposing to improve
calculating speed by 1000% building an electronic digital calculator using
vacuum tubes for binary mathematics. They assurred Atanasof that IBM's
scientists and engineers were already at work developing the most advanced
calculators for the war, and so IBM did not need his assistance.
Atanasoff was called for war duty in September 1942. He was forced to abandon
work on the ABC computer. The management at Iowa State College planned to file
a patent application on behalf of Atanasoff, while he was off fighting the war,
but they forgot about it after getting IBM's report. So, a patent was never
Atanasoff was assigned to the Naval Ordnance Office in Washington, DC and
put in charge of testing mines, depth charges, and similar projects to relieve
heavy losses occurring from German U-boats sinking American ship convoys trying
to re-supply England, which by then had become Fortress Europe.
Atanasoff played a significant role solving this problem, and had an extremely
productive and distiguished career in the military, ending in 1945. He was
awarded over 30 patents for a diverse range of military technologies, including
a unit computing and recording projectile trajectory errors in artillery
shelling. He developed and patented postal sorting systems; automated systems
for parcel post handling; quick search systems for classified information
items; and an electronic quartz clock. He further contributed to naval
armament systems, including guided missiles. After the war, Atanasoff started
two successful companies and served as CEO for both at the same time.
In the fog of war, perhaps on the floor above
or below, or even a few doors down the hall from Atanasoff in the Ordnance
Office, the Navy let a contract to IBM for constructing an
advanced computer for its time, but only one tenth as fast as
Atanasoff's design, which IBM had turned down.
Through an Inspector Clouseau-like series of bumbling accidents, IBM
eventually obtained the Atanasoff design. Like General
Electric ultimately adopting Tesla's alternating current design in
1896, IBM got the Atanasoff design about 5 years after the war ended in 1945,
and parlayed this into a god-like dominance of computer technology for 30
It seems likely, that Atanasoff made inquiries in the Navy to build his ABC
computer. His work included calculating artillary trajectories, and this was
the precise requirement that led the Army to
implement the Atanasoff design under the leadership of John
Mauchly. The Navy did not follow the Army path to electronic digital
computers, because enabling forces did not line up.
The brass told Atanasoff "not to worry" about calculating technology, because
the Navy had contracted with the world's greatest technology firm and the
greatest university to take care of all this.
Atanasoff was ordered to stick to his job of clearing mines and improving depth
charges that make the sea safe for Navy ships, and leave the design of
calculating technology to the "experts." The Army's secret for passing up the
Navy's computer program by 1000% was starting the journey with people, who
needed to solve a problem, rather than with
"experts," who were inoculated against the truth by faith in a widely accepted
paradigm that proved to be a self-perpetuating
fiction. (see Tesla) Like Galielo, the Navy placed Atanasoff's ideas in
house arrest. He could walk around; he could
do his work, so long as he did not spread the word on new ideas to
improve Navy doctrine that analog computers were the best solution.
Military Builds Big Computers for Intelligence and Ballistics
By 1943 military funding on several big computer projects accelerated
transformation from mechanical wheels and gears to apply the speed and
precision of electricity for complex calculations. After obtaining a PhD at
Princeton, Alan Turing returned to England and was a
critical part of the team, leading work at Bletchley Park where computers were
successful in breaking German encryption codes. Notably, the Colossus special
purpose computer greatly aided the allied cause to hasten the end of the war,
some estimate by up to two (2) years, and thereby saved tens of thousands of
lives, including jewish holocost victims wasting in concentration camps.
Aikin and IBM Build Harvard Mark 1 for US Navy
In the United States, Navy requirements for ballistic calculations
enabled Howard Aiken to at last breakthrough previously impervious resistance
and setbacks, encountered before the war, to develop the Mark 1 computer at
Harvard university. Aiken summarized his Tesla-like struggle to spread the news of great
leaps forward that take cognitive overhead for study in order to save time and
money by changing tools and practices, with his famous quip... Don't
worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll
have to ram them down people's throats.
With assurance (or at least strong expectation) of a Navy contract, IBM
ventured into computers by providing finance, engineering, parts, and assembly
for Aiken's project, which they called the Automatic Sequence Controlled
Calculator (ASCC). Grace Hopper collaborated with Aiken to design the Mark
1, and launch the beginnings of computer programming. Aiken's computer weighed
about five (5) tons and used electromechanical relays for calculations. It
was, therefore, slow; for example, multiplication took over three seconds. On
the plus side, the Mark 1 was fully automatic, and very reliable. It has been
described as the first "program controlled" calculator.
Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)
Enabling Forces of Collaboration and Centrifugal Forces of Collapse
The biggest World War II project was, also, the first user of the world's
biggest computer. Paralleling the Navy, in 1943 the US Army commissioned
construction of ENIAC to perform ballistic calculations. It was the size of
several large rooms, weighed over 30 tons and used over 18,000 vacuum tubes
connected with miles of wiring, and around 5,000,000 hand-soldered joints. The
first operational assignment was to solve a complex problem for the Manhattan
project in developing the atomic bomb. The story of how enabling forces
aligned diverse, competing, and normally conflicting interests into a
harmonious, cooperative team to collaborate on ENIAC, and then was overcome by
centrifugal forces of success and self-interest that eviscerated collegiality,
harmony, and productivity offers lessons for transformation that mirrors Tesla's struggle, rise and fall from grace.
War is a blunt instrument that concentrates narrowly on survival, and
suppresses personal agendas for the duration of danger. World War II allocated
resources on an unprecedented scale into technologies for combat and logistics.
Conscription immediately transferred talent into the military. Prewar strength
in 1939, of approximately 120,000 troops, was ramped up rapidly after December
7, 1941, to a wartime level of some 9,000,000 troops. Of necessity, wartime
planning and operations take little account of individual concern and
preference in order to meet massive production requirements in time to survive.
The core strategy was to prevail with brute force of overwhelming numbers that
absorbed devestating losses from huge blunders, as the price of freedom.
General Eisenhower famously noted that "plans are nothing, planning is
everything." Planning develops alternatives for nimbly adjusting to dynamic
conditions, which no single "plan" can anticipate, especially where the
adversary is making plans, as well. Therefore, action is not a slave to a
particular "plan," but the "planning process" to "be prepared" guides every
action with intelligence, i.e., capture the facts, organize to understand
correlations, implications, and nuance, align to verify accuracy, analyse
alternatives, summarize into action, and feedback to refine and adjust
Concentration of military might in so short a period to make up for lack of
preparedness forces exigent communications. Fear makes collaboration effective
by suppressing momentary expression of hurt feelings in the interest of
survival. An unlimited budget, and rapid promotions further help reduce
negative spirals of anger and envy that devolve communication, management, and
productivity toward entropy in the absence of common danger.
During times of fear from mutual peril, war suppresses personal competition,
and forces cooperation in order to maximize survival prospects by maximizing
organizational competitiveness on the battlefield. People pull together rather
than compete for rewards and recognition. Ben Franklin succintly framed the
hobson's choice 150 years earlier during the Revolutionary war. Americans
could "hang together or hang separately." Years after conflict subsides,
victors remember with fondness and nostalgia great sacrafice, honor, and
exciting times, with comity, courtesy, energy, and cooperation dominating human
relations. War mostly ignores specialized talent in the rush to marshal forces
in time to be effective with mass assignments to fighting roles for solders,
seamen and airmen. Some specialty talent, however, is focused to accelerate
production, improvement, innovation, and invention of anything and everything
that supports combat and logistical operations. An example, was Lieutenant Herman H. Goldstine assigned to the Aberdeen
Proving Ground (APG), near Baltimore, Maryland, and posted to command the BRL
Annex at the Moore College of Engineering, 75 miles away in Philadelphia.
Experience during World War I led the Army to form a Ballistics Branch within
the Office of the Chief of Ordnance. Artillary, mortars, tanks, machine guns,
each with varying sizes and capacities presented significant calculation
problems for aiming weapons accurately on target. Despite limited funds after
the war ended in 1918, the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) was expanded and
permanently staffed to provide scientific research for the US Army. The first
commander of the Research Division was Major Oswald Veblen, on leave from
teaching mathematics at Princeton university. At that time, "computers" was
the term for civilian employees hired to calculate firing range tables, and
comprised a small group of women performing a repetitive, tedius, and therefore
considered to be a "clerical" task. Calculations took days, weeks,and months
with manual methods aided by mechanical hand-crank calculating machines.
While there was no money to strengthen national defense, especially with the
onset of Depression in 1929, funding was approved in 1935 for a top-of-the-line
Differential Analyzer. By this time, Veblin had
returned to Princeton, as a mathematics professor and leading voice for the
Institute of Advanced Studies (AIS). Major James
Guion, in charge of ballistics computations, found a way to bootstrap the work
through a Depression-relief project. As with the Army
Aircorps, three years later, ominous signs in 1938 spurred preparations
for war. The Research Division at APG was renamed the Ballistics Research
Laboratory (BRL), and the lab began research on electrical technology to
increase speed and accuracy of mechanical calculators. (see Turing, and Shannon)
America's entry into the war after December, 1941, led to a flood of new
weapons in a race for advantage on the battlefield. This increased
requirements to calculate ballistics tables, including aircorps bombing and
anti-aircraft guns, as air power for the first time
became a critical dimension of combat.
At this time, Lieutenant Paul N. Gillon took command of ballistic computations
at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. By June 1942, there was already a backlog
creating Firing Tables for new weapons. To solve the problem, the Army
contracted to use a larger Differential Analyser,
along with space for support staff at the Moore School of Engineering within
the University of Pennsylvania, located about 75 miles away in Philadelphia.
Common travel for this trip in those days was by train. At the start of the
war, various difficulties made the trip an uncertain adventure by automobile.
Lieutenant Gillon regularly took the train to Philadelphia in order to work
with Dean Harold Pender, and Professor John G. Brainerd, in setting up a BRL
Annex command at the Moore School.
A constant objective was improving the speed and accuracy of ballistics
calculations. The magnitude of World War II drove ingenuity guided by
universal education within an expanding industrial capacity enabled by cheap,
reliable, abundant electricity. These dynamics
produced a continual stream of new weapons for gaining battlefield advantage.
Effectiveness obviously depended on accurate aiming. A precise angle of
trajectory was determined by setting numerous dials on a gun to values
pre-determined by testing and calculation. This data was compiled and
published in Firing Tables for shell, target, and environment parameters,
including weight, dimensions, wind speed and direction, humidity, temperature,
distance, elevation, and even the temeprature of gunpower. Each weapon needed
hundreds of calculations for different sets of conditions to quickly and
accurately direct fire against the target. It took more than a month for a
team of women computers to perform these
calculations using methods developed during World War I, and with the aid of
the Differential Analyzer. In other words, the Army
quickly learned that sophisticated calculating technology developed in 1933,
was insufficient to meet demand driven by newer and more sophisticated weapons
technology coming on line every day in 1942. This spotlight on calculating as
a critical strategic asset for survival, i.e., winning the war, changed
attitudes. Willingness, therefore, spiked to critical mass for building better
calculating technology, shown by the Harvard Mark 1
project undertaken by the Navy.
In the Army, powerful new artillary was being delivered to troops on the
battlefield that could not be accurately aimed, because Firing Tables could not
be produced in time to ship with the weapons. Of course, this did not prevent
their use. Soldiers simply "guessed" to set a series of dials directing fire
on the enemy. Reduced effectiveness of "guessing" was offset in part by the
massive American buildup. Even missing most of the time, firing a lot of
weapons eventually hits a target by mistake. However, months and years over
which massive logistics arrived, with consequent and seemingly unnecessary loss
of life, from failure of the Army to do what seemed like "simple arithmetic"
to set all those dials under duress of combat, contributed to the common
refrain -- "goddam Army!"
Frustrations compounded when Firing Tables had to be modified by experience in
the field. Large artillary pieces sent to support America's first major combat
against Germany in North Africa were firing off-target, despite setting dials
to requirements in Firing Tables. Investigation found that the ground in
Africa was more resiliant than at Aberdeen Proving Ground where testing was
performed. A study to account for this new factor required calculating all of
the parameters again to publish amended Firing Tables. These scenarios were
repeated often with massive buildup of US forces
over a short time period.
Another problem was continual failure of the Differential
Analyzer, which could take days to repair, and required starting
calculations over from the beginning. Lieutenant Gillon readily approved the
proposal from Moore College to make modifications that increased reliabilty and
boosted performance. Assistant Professor Weygand developed an electronic
torque amplifier that reduced failures. Weygand was aided by a graduate
student in the Electrical Engineering program, J. Presper Eckert, who had helped
assemble the Differential Analyzer, and was then hired part-time for
maintenance. Like Shannon at MIT in 1936, Eckert's
experience fixing constant problems, yielded numerous ideas for enhancements.
Lieutenant Gillon approved payment immediately, so that Weygand and Eckert
implemented all possible improvements to increase calculation speed and
accuracy. These improvements, together with adding civilian and military staff
increased production by an order of magnitude. However, as conflict spread
around the world, requirements for ballistic tables and research related
computations for war time production greatly exceeded the speed of calculating
with women "computers" and the Differential Analyzer. Without knowing when the
war would end, requirements became urgent for faster and accurate calculation
Herman H. Goldstine, borne September 13, 1913, graduated in 1936 with a PhD in
mathematics from the University of Chicago. Goldstine's thesis on the
Calculus of Variations in Abstract Spaces caught the attention of Doctor
Gilbert Bliss, Chairman of the Mathematics Department. Bliss asked Goldstine
to stay on at the University, as assistant professor, helping Bliss with
research on the mathematics of ballistics. Bliss, had lectured on navigation
during World War I, and in 1919 published several papers in the Journal of
US Artillery, based on experience at the Aberdeen Proving Ground near
Baltimore, Maryland, where Bliss worked from 1917 to 1918 designing artillary
With this background, when Bliss suffered a heart attack, and could not teach
for a time, he asked Goldstine to teach a course in Exterior Ballistics,
which Bliss had designed to present theories on the calculus of variations,
developed with the group at Aberdeen during the World War I, and described
"...as a problem in particle dynamics, [where] rotational effects are ignored
and resistance is assumed to act along the tangent to the trajectory." In 1941
Professor Bliss retired from the University of Chicago to write a book,
Mathematics for Exterior Ballistics, published in 1944 that aided the
war effort, and a second book, Lectures on the Calculus of Variations,
was published in 1946. This strong interest in the "calculus of variations"
applied in ballistics calculations helps explain why Professor Bliss asked
Goldstine to stay on at the University of Chicago in 1936 to assist with
research that eventually found its way into the Bliss book projects. The
expert from World War I, was grooming a protege for the "second act."
Before retring in 1941, Bliss recommended Doctor Goldstine, who by then had
moved to the University of Michigan (1939), for appointment to the Mathematics
Department of the prestigeous Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at
Princeton, led by his old friend Oswald Veblen.
Around the turn of the century (1898 - 1903) Bliss and Veblen had studied
mathematics at the University of Chicago. Later, they taught mathematics and
were colleagues for four years at Princeton from 1905 to 1908. Bliss was
therefore proud to recommend his understudy and bright star for a top
position in the field of mathematics, starting as an Assistant Professor at
With his career moving into high gear, Goldstine married Adele Katz in 1941.
She had transferred that year to the University of Michigan for graduate work
in mathematics, where Goldstine was teaching. Adele completed her masters
degree in the Spring of 1942. However, before the Goldstine's could move to
Princeton for the new assignment starting the Fall Semester at IAS, Doctor
Goldstine was called to service in August, 1942, and commissioned a first
lieutenant in the Army. Saying "good bys" to family and friends, Goldstine
told Professor Bliss there would be a delay joining the IAS faculty at
Princeton, as he was off to fight the war. While in transit, new orders
reached Goldstine in California on the day he was preparing to board ship bound
for action in the Pacific. Professor Bliss had made another call to Professor
Veblen at Princeton.
In 1942, Doctor Oswald Veblen was appointed Chief of the Science Advisory Board
for the Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.
This was not a casual, symbolic position; but, rather was, as were many
elements of World War II, a "second act" for World War I. In 1917, then Major Veblen had helped launch and, also, commanded, the
Range Firing Section, where he recruited his friend, and colleague, Doctor
Gilbert Bliss, and other talented scientists to develop new theories and
practices of ballistics. Twenty years later, World War II presented a path for
Veblen's vision, seasoned by experience, to build a strong base of scientific
research for the war and beyond. As a result, the new orders that reached
Goldstine in California assigned him to the Ballistics Research Laboratory
(BRL) at Aberdeen. Veblin had arranged through the Adjutant General of the
Army for history to repeat. Having been trained with knowledge of ballistics
that Veblin and Bliss pioneered 20 years earlier,
Goldstine was given a rare opportunity to implement and expand a unique body of
knowledge that would immediately impact world events, but more importantly help
launch a new world order of electronic digital computers for decades, and
perhaps centuries to come. Of course this was all in the future that would
unfold through a series of unlikely events in the next few years, and so was
completely unexpected and unplanned at the time. Goldstien only knew that
instead of sailing West across the Pacific to fight the Japanease, he was going
East by train to do something else. As a result, powerful
slowly coming into alignment for advancing civilization without anybody
intending to do so.
At Aberdeen, Captain Gillon, recently promoted, and in charge of
ballistics calculations, tapped Lieutenant Goldstine for on-site liason and
supervison of the contract with the Moore School of
Engineering. which included hiring and training a staff to perform
ballistic calculations. In those days this class of work was performed by
women, who were called "computers." Supervising BRL operations at Moore
College placed Goldstine in regular contact with scientists and engineers, who
shared skills and interests in mathematical theory, and further required
Goldstine to take the train to the Aberdeen Proving Ground for regular meetings
with Captain Gillon and others. His hectic schedule was a constant stream of
research, meetings, calls, and documents to increase production of Firing
Tables that was none-the-less falling further behind every day requirements
to produce Firing Tables urgently needed on battlefields around the
Goldstine's communications and quality of work developed rapport, trust,
and confidence at the BRL. Goldstine relates in his memoir... ...I was
very fortunate in that Colonel Gillon and I somehow just clicked together.
There was an empathy that developed which persisted through the remainder of
Lieutenant Goldstine was also fortunate to develop effective communications
and strong rapport with Professor John G.
Brainerd, assigned as the daily contact between the Moore College of
Engineering and BRL. Goldstine's memoirs say... Brainerd... combined
a considerable interest in computation with substantial ability as a leader of
men and a manager of affairs. He did an excellent job of handling this
assignment, which was soon to occupy him full time. At all times it was a
distinct pleasure for me to deal with this honest, kindly, and well-meaning
gentleman. He undoubtedly deserves the credit for being the university's key
man in the manifold relationships [with] Aberdeen.
The Lieutenant brought military order and discipline to the BRL Annex at
Moore College. Following the practice at Aberdeen, Goldstine hired a staff of
women "computers" to use the differential analyzer for calculating Firing
Tables. Goldstine's wife, Adele, with a masters
degree in mathematics, was hired in September 1942 to organize, train, and
supervise the work. Initially, Adele traveled the country visiting
universities to hire women with degrees in mathematics. She formed a cadre of
six women to train the staff and manage the work, including John Mauchly's
wife, Mary. When not enough women could be found with mathematics degrees,
requirements were changed to a high school degree and aptitude for mathematics.
As demand continued to rise, arrangements were made with the Women's Army
Auxillary Corps (WAACS) to recruit candidates with mathematical aptitude,
dropping requirements for a high school degree. Eventually, the BRL Annex
staff at Moore College numbered over 100 women "computers."
Years later, Adele Goldstine, who died young at age 44, in 1964, was remembered
generously for wartime service in a rhetrospective on pioneers in computer
technology, sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of American
History... ...I came in the class and Adele Goldstine walked in... with
her hair in an upsweep, she walked over, and threw her leg over the table edge
and began to lecture. Adele Goldstine, from the first, struck me as a very
sharp, exotic, exciting kind of a woman.
Jean J. Bartik, interview
April 27, 1973
Still, despite people pulling double, and sometimes triple-shifts,
production of Firing Tables fell further behind and simply could not keep up
with the rapid buildup of the American arsenal. Prodigious efforts
to perform an impossible though essential mission
caused fatigue, conflict, and anger that stressed communications.
One day in the October 1942 time frame, a graduate student asked the Lieutenant
if he had seen a memo prepared the previous year in which Professor Mauchly
outlined an electronic digital computer? The student felt that faster, more
reliable calculation could reduce the backlog discussed so heatedly among BRL
Extensive literature on ENIAC during this period, including memoirs of the
principals, does not identify this "graduate student," nor otherwise explain
how Goldstine learned of the Mauchly memo with ideas
for high speed calculation technology. When interviewed half-a-century later,
in 1988, Eckert did not recall telling Goldstine about the memo. He vaguely
recalled hearing that Doctor Carl Chambers, another professor on staff at Moore
College, might have told Goldstine about it; however, Doctor Goldstine does not
attribute discovery of Mauchly's memo to Chambers, nor to anyone else. None of
many histories on ENIAC list Chambers, and he does not fit the profile of a
"graduate student." Since the record is unclear, for purposes of working
through a plausible understanding of hazy enabling
forces, specifically finding someone with opportunity and motive or
purpose for disclosure, despite lack of memory, this account concludes that
Eckert seems the most likely source of notice to Goldstine.
Eckert was called on to fix the Differential Analyzer, when it frequently broke down. This regularly placed him in
position to observe stressed communications caused by failure to meet demands
for calculating Firing Tables. Eckert was one of very few people, who knew
about a memo on increasing the speed of calculation, since he had discussed it with Mauchly the year before, and the College
had decided not to circulate the memo, but rather to studiously silence it. Eckert was therefore one of very
few people with motive and opportunity to tell Goldstine about the memo, and he
was a "graduate student," which fits historical reporting.
Mauchly's wife, Mary, was held in high regard at the
BRL Annex, as one of six (6) trainers, and leaders for the staff of women
"computers" in 1942. She was, later selected in 1945, to learn and program the
ENIAC, making her a pioneer in the modern discipline of Computer Science.
Since she worked closely with Adele Goldstine setting up the initial training
program, she certainly knew the magnitude of the problem the Army faced to
increase the speed calculating Firing Tables. Mary undoubtedly knew her
husband had built a calculator, demonstrated it at a professional event, that
he had gone to Iowa in June 1941 to research building better calculators. She
likely knew that John had prepared a memo in August 1941, though possibly not.
There surely would have been discussion at home about the crying need at the BRL Annex to calculate Firing Tables
faster and more accurately.
Since Mary Mauchly was working for BRL in October - November 1942, she could
have mentioned that her husband had prepared a memo
some 18 months earlier in August 1941, on increasing the speed of calculation.
There is no report of this in the extensive record on ENIAC history, including
many interviews with Goldstine, who also wrote a book, and magazine articles on
ENIAC project launch. None cite Mary Mauchly as the source of Goldstine
learning about the memo. The date of Mary starting work with BRL is not clear
in the record. If she came on board after these events, obviously, she could
not have said anything to Goldstine. However, even if she was already
employed, then despite being intimately aware of the urgency for improving
calculation of Firing Tables, and while most likely discussing this problem
with her husband at home, organizational protocol could well have prevented
Mary from mentioning her husband's memo either to the Lieutenant, or to his
wife, Adel, who was Mary's direct supervisor.
At that time, nobody knew, including Mauchly, that his ideas would really work.
For anyone, including a spouse, to proactively volunteer that a superior
several levels higher should investigate a mere memo describing non-existent
technology that might someday improve work on the job, would have taken
extraordinary audacity, no matter how many American GIs were dying because of
the need for the capability ultimately derived from the memo. Accordingly, the
prospect that Mary Mauchly was the source of Goldstein's awareness and inquiry
about the Mauchly memo that launched the first digital computer, and which came
to revolutionize civilization, seems very remote based on the date of
employment and the dates of relevant events in October and November 1942, and
further based on common practice that limits communication in the chain of
command for big organizations.
Even slight personal risk of losing credibility,
standing, promotion, or income overwhelms speaking up in a constructive manner,
or lifting a finger in any manner perceived controversial to help people solve
even very large problems. Proportionality of personal costs weighed against
organizational benefits seems irrelevant under the rule of bureaucracy that
silence is golden. Courage for standing up to be counted is the surest
way to be counted amoung the missing, because without enlightenment leadership reverts to dogma. Resolving the
tension between personal and organizational interests is a Knowledge Management
dilemma of insoluble proportion for leadership without a broader vision.
Professor Brainerd offers instructive case study.
Mauchly submitted his memo to Brainerd; but, he took no action, and
subsequently lost the document. Most histories of these events maintain that
when Goldstine learned of a memo proposing high speed electronic calculations,
he took immediate action, making a thorough review, that he had extensive
meetings with Mauchly, and discussed everything with Doctor Brainerd. At best,
taking "immediate action" on comment by a low-level subordinate
stretches credulity, given the common practice and necessity
to ignore unsolicited
advice from outside the chain of command (see likely scenario
below), because people are already overwhelmed by daily information, advice,
and direction coming through the chain of command.
Computer research was not Goldstine's primary job. He was new to the field,
and so reliant on experts. Goldstine was busy "putting out fires" of daily operations. He had many meetings with the College
and at Aberdeen, and the Differential Analyser took a lot of time setting up calculations and making repairs. Since he was
meeting regularly with Professor Brainerd, and had strong confidence in Brainerd's stewardship of Moore College
support for BRL operations, and since Brainerd had not mentioned a memo with a
fabulous solution to Captain Gillon on a matter that
was the central task of the BRL mission upon entering the contract with the
Army months earlier in June, and further since Brainerd did not feel the memo
was sufficiently important and credible to mention during the many meetings
with the Lieutenant on ways and means to improve calculating speed, then most
likely, Goldstine would have ignored the mere mention of a memo, just as
Brainerd had ignored the actual memo. The overwhelming inertia of bureaucracy
to ignore initiatives outside the chain of command and for which there are no
requirements, illustrated by the court martial of General
Billy Mitchell for recommending an air force, suggests the Lieutenant
most likely told Eckert, or who ever mentioned the memo, that improving
ballistics calculations was being researched at Aberdeen, or somewhere up the
chain of command, and that his job was to fix the Differential Analyzer so they
could get back to work, in line with the Tesla
Though not officially assigned to research technology, there would have
come moments between crises, when Lieutenant Goldstine could have bucked the
system and requested the memo, even though it was outside the official
communication channel. Goldstine and Captain Gillon were
meeting with "experts" about procurement and developing better
calculating capabilities. Something in those
discussions could have aligned with Eckert's brief explanation of
Mauchly's memo on a design for digital computers, causing further inquiry
rather than follow standard practice to ignore unsolicited communications, in
this case from a source that was not credible, as occurred the year before in
1941. How then to follow up and get the memo?
Since Professor Brainerd was Lieutenant Goldstine's primary point of contact
with the College, and since the Lieutenant had good communications with
Brainerd, and further since Brainerd was the only recipient of memo, he seems
the only possible path to follow up. Nobody else, except possibly Dean Penard, knew about it.
Goldstine in fact says he talkd to Brainerd, but not for about 6 months
in March 1943, when he asked to see the memo, and relates that Brainerd
"...made available Mauchly's ideas and his own judgement that they were
This was obviously an important endorsement, given the high
confidence Goldstine had in Brainerd. At this point, accounts move on
to explain that the army contracted with the College to build ENIAC. The
project building the first digital computer
was a great success. After the war ended in 1945,
the Army built an improved model. IBM, who rejected this design as
unworkable in the 1940s, got the contract in the 1950s that led
to mainframe technology with keyboards, monitors, and
software programming. Eventually,
miniaturization that began with invention of transistors in 1945 - 1948, and
microprocessors developed at Intel in the early 1970s
made possible personal computers, which leverage human
intelligence that lifts civilization.
Advancing civilization requires reasoned speculation about management,
communications, leadership, and transformation based on the available record,
and knowledge of
that drive human affairs. Such analysis
supports designing technology that improves management, leadership, and
communications by augmenting intelligence with a
system of Communication Metrics. More importantly,
learning how people overcame ignorance, fear, and denial for transformation in
1942, from slow, ponderous analog electro-mechanical calculators to build high
speed electronic digital computers sheds light on how to overcome the same
resistance against another critical transformation from using computers solely
for information, to instead drive
a culture of knowledge.
How then was ignorance, fear and
denial overcome in the middle of the 20th century, 1942, that can help travel
the same path to advance civilization in the 21st century?
What, for example, changed "unreasonable" ideas in August of 1941 into "not
unreasonable" ideas in March 1943, or, more likely the Fall of 1942? If the
ideas were not unreasonable, why wasn't the Mauchly memo distributed? Why
didn't Brainerd ask Mauchly in for a chat to discuss how a 1000% improvement in
calculating speed could be accomplished? Why wasn't Mauchly penciled into the
schedule to lecture the Engineering Department on moving civilization forward
with new ideas that were "not unreasonable," but instead the Department
increased lectures by experts on ideas that were proven not to work? Why was
the memo lost and ignored, rather than hailed and distributed? If the onset of
war after December 7th, 1941, increased urgency for investigating speculative
methods of improvement, then why wasn't Captain Gillon told about the memo,
when the BRL contracted to use the Differential Analyzer in June, 1942, or when
the Lieutenant was sent to work on-site in August in order improve production
of calculating Firing Tables? If the College had ideas for accomplishing this
mission that were "not unreasonable," why was the memo witheld from the Army?
What went wrong with communication channels designed at great cost and
implemented with thick volumes of operations procedures to filter out the
"noise" of glitter, in order that busy people can identify the "signal" of
merit that people care about for accomplishing important missions? In other
words, how can people be saved from the knowledge management dilema of chasing
good appearance, and ignoring merit? How then to avoid the folly of fool's
gold for the next memo with a good idea. Does ENIAC present a case study for
helping the next Goldstine to read the memo, and follow up?
Goldstine states in his memoir... Mauchly and I had fairly frequent and
mutually interesting conversations about computational matters during the Fall
of 1942. These talks served to emphasize to me Mauchly's point about the
"great gain in the speed of the calculation...if the devices which are used
employ electronic means for the performance of the calculation, because the
speed of such devices can be made very much higher than that of any mechanical
How, though, did Mauchly and Goldstine meet? BRL was meeting with IBM, Bell
Labs, Remington, and other experts from MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia,
Stanford, etc., on ways to increase the speed of calculating? There were
seminars, pilot programs, white papers, articles and advertising in journals
and magazines feverishly promoting the latest technology for high speed
calculation. Goldstine was probably delivering papers at professional events,
and submitting exciting articles on "The Army's vision for the future of
technology." "Calculating the Army Way," and "Betting Your Life on
Artillary Tables." Where would there be time to fit Mauchly into the schedule?
Was it serendipity?
Did Goldstine bump into Mauchly's car in the fog on the way to work?
Exchanging insurance information they discovered that they worked at the same
place, and so said something like... "Well, isn't it wonderful how
Moore College is helping the war effort. Incidently, I have a solution in a
memo that increases calculating speed by 1000%, better than IBM, Harvard, MIT,
and everybody. Really? That's just what we need. Do you have the memo with
you? I'd like to read it right now because this is very important. No! You
sent it to your boss, Doctor Brainerd, a year ago? Good. I work closely with
Professor Brainerd. Funny he hasn't mentioned it. You're sure about improving
calculation by 1000%? It says that clearly in the memo? I'll talk to the
professor on his assessment; but, why don't you call my secretary to schedule a
meeting, so we can follow up.
Did Mauchly study marketing along with electrical engineering at Moore
College? Did he take a sales course from Dale Carnegie, who was popular at the
time with his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, published
in 1936? Carnegie recommends... Become genuinely interested in other
Remember that a person's name is the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to
talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
Did these methods "sell" the secretary on scheduling a meeting? Did Goldstine
forget to tell his secretary that he wanted to meet with Mauchly, or did he
tell the secretary he did not want a meeting? Would the secretary have then
politely told Mauchly that "The Lieutenant is at Aberdeen meeting with Captain
Gillon; then the two of them are going to New York to meet with IBM, then the
Lieutenant continues on to Boston for meetings at MIT. So, I'm afraid he is
far too busy to meet you!" Or, might she have said... "Oh, are you the
gentleman that Dean Pender sent over from Bell Labs?" Did Mauchly smile and
say "Well, no, but I am genuinely interested in the Army's calculating problem,
and once wrote a memo on improving the work by 1000%." Did the secretary say,
"Fine, why don't you give me the memo, and I'll see that the Lieutenant gets
it, though I am not sure when he will be able to read it, because, with all of
his meetings, correspondence has gotten pretty backed up." Did Mauchly smile
again and say, "Well, the memo is lost, but I can explain everything, and I am
a really good listener." Did the secretary reply "Gosh, Doctor Mauchly you
have a great smile. The Lieutenant has people lined up a mile long to see him,
who are really good at smiling and listening and who offer to improve the work
Since Mauchly's boss, Professor Brainerd, refused to meet
and discuss a memo submitted within the ordinary stream of professional
work, how could a meeting be arranged between Mauchly and the Lieutenant, who
had no relationship of any kind? The answer seems lost to history. The
participants merely say that through some miracle the Lieutenant had extensive
discussions with a professor, who had no work related basis for routine
Goldstine, however, did meet regularly with Professor
Brainerd . It would have been easy to satisfy curiosity by asking
about the memo, following disclosure by Eckert.
Expecting to confirm his first impression that there
was no memo, or, if there was, that it was unreasonable, and not worth
investigation, Goldstine may have said something like... Say, Uh, you
know Pres Eckert, the grad student, who fixes the
Differential Analyzer? Yeah, well, Pres was in our shop the other day working
his magic on the "beast" for the umpteenth time. God, that thing is a
Anyway, I guess the pressure is getting to me, because suddenly I lost control
yelling at two of our computer gals about falling behind. I said they couldn't
go home an hour, early to see their husbands off to the war. We needed
calculations for a Firing Table that was due weeks ago, and nobody could leave
until the work was done, period! Later, when things calmed down I appoligized,
and approved the time off. Adele and I pitched in,
along with the trainers to take up the slack. We got the Firing Table done and
the girls did the right thing by their husbands, so on, so forth. It all
worked out okay.
Anyway, young Eckert overheard this unfortuante tirade, which sort of
overwhelmed everybody. The girls started crying, and then Eckert just blurted
out that you, Professor Brainerd, have a memo on how
to solve all these problems, and that I should be yelling at you, instead of at
the girls, who were really doing the best that anyone could with the tools they
had. So, you can imagine this was a bit of a mess.
I told Eckert straight out that this was none of his business, and that this
"memo" of his sounded wildly unreasonable. I said that if there was anything
to it, the College would have told us, or IBM or somebody would have done
something, and that I was in no mood to listen to fairy tales about
1000% improvement with electronic calculation;
and, that, just like Tesla, way
back when, his job was to fix the Differential Analyzer, not to involve
himself in the management of the US Army. I made sure he understood in no
uncertain terms and that, if he had any credible ideas, the proper channel of
communication was through you, Professor Brainerd. I must have been pretty
impressive, because Pres buckled down and got the Differential Analyzer going
again, so we're back in business. Thank God, because we
keep falling further behind!
So, naturally I didn't place any credence in it, and don't for a minute believe
that the College would be sitting on a solution, but does any of this ring a
bell? Do you have a memo on solving our calculating problem? It was
supposedly prepared by a Doctor Munchly, Professor Muchsomething-or-other?
Oh, Doctor Mauchly? Yes, that sounds right. So, you really have a memo? You
got it over a year ago in August, 1941. I see. You
say the memo outlines technology to improve calculating speed by 1000%, and you
feel that Mauchly's ideas are not unreasonable.
I see. You performed due diligence checking
the record of
professional magazines and journals. You were able to find some of your notes
from seminars and conferences. Oh! Really? Nobody is discussing Mauchly's
ideas? The prevailing paradigm is electro-mechanical analog calculation to
improve the Differential Analyzer design. You called the Navy and their experts said to go with IBM and Harvard.
You called friends at IBM, Remington Rand, Bell Labs, MIT, Harvard, and they
all said that Mauchly's approach is beyond reach,
that it will never work, that it would be unnecessary overkill for the Army to
spend time and money on it, because these "experts" already have technology
that is better than what Mauchly lays out. So, as a result, you didn't
distribute the memo, nor call Mauchly in to present your findings? Sure, I
understand. Everybody was busy. There wasn't enough time, so why investigate
a breakthrough to advance civilization with disruptive technology? Understand
Gosh, a year ago, before the war, I would have done the same thing. No, I
don't think Captain Gillon will worry too much
about the College not bringing up last June such a speculative matter as
improving calculating speed by 1000%, simply because we contracted with Moore
to improve our speed making calculations . You
exercised your professional judgement, and that's all the Army asks.
Did you send the memo to these experts? No? They said they didn't have time?
Did you read the memo to them, so they had a rational basis to comment? Oh,
they said it wasn't necessary to read the memo, because, as soon as you
mentioned electronic calculation, that's when the experts said they didn't know
how to make it work, and they sold you on the idea that since they couldn't do
it, then a rejected physics professor teaching beginning engineering couldn't
either. Boy! That's good salesmanship.
Really! IBM invited you and the whole Department to a professional conference
at their resort in Cuba? Golphing, women, liquor, sunshine, and the top
experts on calculating. Well, IBM has a great marketing team. They really
know how to put on a professional conference. Oh, Moore College wouldn't
approve. That's too bad. Sounds like you would have really learned something.
So, as a result of checking with experts, who said they didn't know how to use
electricity to calculate 1000% faster, you were satisfied
that you were originally mistaken finding that Mauchly's memo was "not
unreasonable." Oh, you didn't change your mind, but couldn't do anything
because you were just one small voice. Sure, I understand. Going first, sticking your neck out is tough. Understand
Oh. You talked it over with Dean Pender? Good. Aberdeen has the highest
regard for Dean Pender. You say that the Dean was
afraid that the executive committee would rebell, if the College got
behind unpopular ideas that were rejected by everybody, and so he told you to
just drop it, because there was no money in the budget for Computer Science,
and the College wasn't ready to support such a big improvement in performance,
no matter how reasonable the technology, and urgent the need? Yes, of course I
understand 1000%. Mauchly's memo disrupted what the College was already doing.
So, the Dean had to protect the College from disruptive technology at all
Very reasonable! The Dean pointed out to you that Mauchly was unpublished in
the field of electrical engineering, and that good scholarship required
extending accepted professional literature with extensive biblography and
footnotes to demonstrate alignment with top minds in the field, who publish
to strictist standards in the professional literature. Since Mauchly's memo
had no footnotes, and the ideas for achieving 1000% improvement conflicted with
popular views, and so could not rely on existing scholarship that was headed in
the wrong direction, Mauchly's reasonable ideas for advancing critical work by
1000% had to be ignored and isolated in order to protect the purity of academic
practice, and preserve the reputation of the Moore College of Engineering for
the highest standards of scholarship.
You did? After calling Dean Pender, you made another review of Mauchly's memo?
Did you then change your mind?
You called the Dean back and said that further review found that Mauchly's
ideas are not unreasonable, and recommended that the Dean see for himself.
The Dean told you that he needs more proof than the voice of one professor, and
that he did not have time to review memos, because he was busy meeting with the
president of the university planning curriculum to aid the war effort that
needs faster ways to calculate artillary firing tables. He pointed out that
the College was hoping to get a contract from the Army to use the Differential
Analyzer for high speed calculations, so he did not want to confuse the Army,
because nobody cares about outrageous fairy tales of non-existent and
impossible technology doing calculations 1000% faster, and besides he was just
one small Dean in one small college. The Dean told you not call him about this
again, not to distribute the memo, nor to bring it up with others, and offered
helpful career advice on being a team player.
Well, that makes a lot of sense. Very understandable. The college had to
avoid scandal and confusion of new ideas at all costs. Perfectly reasonable.
You say that the Dean was worried that Mauchly's pioneering technology would
disrupt orthordoxy. Academic text books, class lecture, seminars, magazines
and periodicals, manufacturing, marketing, and sales would all have to be done
over at great expense, inconvenience, and embarrassment to powerful people. He
felt the best strategy was to isolate Mauchly with complete silence. The Dean
cited historical examples. Galileo was isolated by
the Inquisition for proposing ideas disruptive to religious doctrine. Tesla was isolated for ideas disruptive to academic and
industry doctrine. Ignorance, fear and denial thwarted
General Billy Mitchell's ideas on adding an air force that disrupted
military doctrine. The Dean felt these precedents strongly suggest that
isolation can prevent Mauchly from spreading new ideas here at Moore College.
Is that about it?
Oh. You say it was further decided to ignore the Moore College of Engineering
mission statement to produce "cutting edge" science and engineering that aids
the nation and advances civilization, because nobody cares about the merits of
improving the work by 1000%, if there is risk of disrupting the status quo in
which people had strong faith.
So, obviously your hands were tied. There was no faith in the
Mauchly memo, because it broke faith with popular methods? It simply wasn't
ready for prime time, as the saying goes, because a condominium of
acedemic and commercial infrastructure cannot make time to investigate ideas,
tools, and methods that disrupt established practice and interests. Urgency to
sustain the status quo necessarily makes "prime time" willfully blind to
Obviously, there was nothing you could do with Mauchly's memo presenting
disruptive technology. You couldn't mention it to us, when we came here in
June, for fear of disrupting your career. You were told not to follow up
because nobody cared about improving calculating by 1000% with an eminantly
reasonable idea, as much as they cared about the safety of the status quo, and
so you followed orders. Perfectly reasonable. Sure. I ran into the same
thing at the University of Chicago, and at Michigan State before I was called
into military service this past August.
The Army understands 1000%.
Dedicated professionals cannot separate signal from
noise, when they are ordered to follow the clamour
and glitter of the heard, and to ignore the signal that lights the path of
Things just fall through the cracks, when all the experts, who are trying to
make a sale themselves, say an idea is unreasonable, without ever seeing the
memo. Clearly, the inertia of denial takes very strong courage to lift
the weight of culture bound by ignorance and fear.
You don't say? The same attitude occurs in
government agencies assigned to discover "cutting edge" ideas and promote new
technology? I see. You visit these agencies with proposals for grants to do
"cutting edge" research called out in the College's mission
statement. Review professionals at the agencies
didn't care about improving calculating by 1000%, because Mauchly's
ideas are not on the list of "cutting edge" technologies approved by their
experts. They suggested that proposing to make popular ideas work 10% or even
20% better is good salesmanship by showing empathy for the agencies point of
view. Offering 1000% improvement is dismissed, as "too ambitious," by
officials embarassed about having already approved projects touted as
"ambitious" that cost a lot more money to achieve 10% or 20% improvement in
methods everybody is already sure will work. Showing that care about
agency "requirements" gets approval for all the money you can spend, especially
by putting forward a principal investigator who has previously done research on
acceptable ideas under a government grant. To extend funding, a project need
merely submit a scholarly report for Phase I with lots of footnotes, and
concludes that breakthroughs will be achieved with another grant for Phase II
of "cutting edge" research on the list of approved ideas.
Ummmm! You feel that my assignment here at the College, being away from the
bureaucracy at Aberdeen, provides independence to evaluate
the merits of ideas, regardless of whether they fit the template of
popular and approved solutions. Maybe you're right. Maybe that's why I was
sent here, I don't know, but our discussion today has certainly been eye
So, Mauchly, like Tesla, really had no one with whom he
could collaborate to refine and advance the acedemic underpinnings of
his memo here at the College. Yes. Of course, I agree. The power of
Mauchly's faith from having invested a lifetime to discover a powerful solution
has been turned against him. Since, the inventor cannot speak for the
invention, noted by Socrates, denial completely
isolates the inventor. Soon, isolation of the "Genie in a
Bottle." turns colleagues, friends, even family against what seems a hopeless
journey. Give up, quit, fall in line is the common prayer of a "team
player" which only the perseverence of Prometheus can overcome
driven by faith in the power of
truth. Such a formula for madness, where
irresistable truth collides with immovable bureaucracy, yields only silence in
a "bottle" of ignorance, fear, and denial. Eventually, even the most
friendly, warm hearted, and kindly "Genie" is transformed into an angry, cold
hearted, and disrespectful disposition? (see
Deming reported April 26, 1995)
If reasonable ideas are not considered in good faith, what sustains the long,
weary march of transformation? How is faith in methods and tools that are
outdated and don't work very well, put aside long enough for people to gain
experience that grows faith in a new way of working? When experts, educators,
regulators, and manufacturers are getting by expending endless effort writing
books, articles, attending seminars, collaborating and investing money on dead
ends, what force of nature yields good faith review of seminal ideas that are
not unreasonable? Since people like to work on familiar
things in familiar ways (see again Andy Grove), is it only a
mistake that opens the "bottle" to release the power of truth? Fortunately,
Mauchly was being paid for teaching, but the strategy of isolation prevented
discussing his ideas, so they were effectively hidden in
plain sight simply by ignoring the memo.
Incidentally, did you get the memo from Captain Gillon on our recent field
trip? We visited IBM, Harvard, and a bunch of places to see their technology
and hear their ideas on what they have on the drawing boards? You did? Good!
So, you know that we struck out. They have interesting technology, but are
talking about 10%, 20%, 50%, in one case 100% improvement in various analog
technologies. But, there are no guarentees any of it will work. When we met
with Mr. Watson, the Chairman of IBM, he told us about a teacher from out in
Iowa, a Professor Atanasoff, I think. Atanasoff
offered to teach IBM his technology using electronics somehow or another to
improve the speed of calculating by 1000%. But nobody cared. IBM said they
didn't need help from anybody in Iowa, and they didn't have any requirements
for calculating with electronics, because it would never work, they didn't have
enough time, didn't want to learn, so on, so forth, just as the university
told you about Mauchly's memo.
Captain Gillon is following up to contact Atanasoff, but the bottom line
is that Watson told us the Army would have to pay for a big project like the
Navy has at Harvard, just to find out if we can get marginal improvement.
Well, the Army always feels it can beat the Navy. If the Navy can spend a lot
of money to build a computer, we can build a better one. However, the
demonstrations we saw from the leading experts were unremarkable. Nobody can
come close to 1000% improvement.
Anyway, that's why I'm here today. The 1000% improvement that Watson mentioned
in the technology proposal they turned down at IBM, that got me to thinking
about what Eckert said was in the memo to you. It could just be conicidence,
but I wonder if its the same technology? You know -- simple switches and
circuitry to calculate at the speed of electricity, instead of the slow poke
gears, axels, and wheels we have on the Differential Analyzer, and what we saw
the Navy and IBM are doing with the Harvard Mark 1.
So, I just wanted to see if there is a memo, and if there is a
reasonable basis to ignore it, or to look into it. As you know, I rely heavily
on your judgement. So, since you feel that Mauchly's memo is not unreasonable, if it's not too much
trouble, can I see it? The memo I mean. Can I please see Mauchly's memo?
Oh, you lost the memo? Can't find it anywhere? I see; you say that "filing"
is a sore subject around here! Well, that certainly solves the problem that
Dean Pender wanted to avoid at all costs. Guess you
can't distribute a memo, if you can't find it.
Some form of discussion occurred for Lieutenant Goldstine to request Mauchly's
memo. Another scenario that fits the record is that Brainerd called Eckert
into this office, and asked him to mention the memo to Goldstine, in order to
launch an inquiry into a set of ideas that the College could not officially
support, but that were not unreasonable, and so
should be considered. Equally, Dean Pender might have chatted with Doctor
Brainerd along the same lines. Even Doctor Veblen, who had gone to the trouble
of pulling Goldstine off of a troop ship, and placing him in the line of fire
calculating Firing Tables, might well have placed calls to either, or both,
Pender and Brainerd, so that the prospects of inventing the most profound technology in human history did not rest
entirely on the shoulders of a student's chance remarks about
When Goldstine learned the memo was lost, ordinarily the matter would
have ended. The Lieutenant and Professor Mauchly worked in separate worlds.
There was not enough time to meet expanding requirements of war, much less
think about far fetched ideas in a lost memo. Goldstine, and his chain of
command, certainly knew that technology merely at the memo stage would not be
available to solve immediate and urgent problems, nor any problems, at least
for a year or more. This fact lends further credence to the chances that
larger forces were at work. Army Ordnance wanted to build a computer, i.e.,
meaning Veblen, and it was just a question of how to
move the machinery of military bureaucracy. As with
Tesla and Westinghouse
half-a-century earlier, fortune smiled again with the
confluence of Mauchly, Eckert, and Goldstine.
Since Goldstine's memoirs relate extensive discussions with Doctor Mauchly, he
obviously took the next step and had a meeting. Perhaps Mauchly's PhD in
physics helped forge an academic bond by discussing mathematics at Goldstine's
doctorate level. Mauchly may have made a good impression with stronger command
of the subject than Goldstine encountered at IBM, Harvard,
MIT, etc., in searching for technology to calculate Firing Tables. He
may, also, have been impressed by Mauchly's commitment to a novel solution by
interrupting his career in mid-stream to take a course in electronics, and most
importantly by the fact that Mauchly's memo was based on a prototype that had
been built at Iowa State College.
As a result, he asked Mauchly to take another look for his copy of the memo.
Mauchly's secretary found her shorthand notes from the original dictation, and
was able to reconstruct most of the memo originally
prepared on August 15, 1941.
Lieutenant Goldstine then read the memo. He expended cognitive overhead to invest intellectual capital learning
about a new field of computer technology that he, and Mauchly, and Eckert were
about to invent.
Mauchly proposed an electronic digital computer with thousands of vacuum tubes
that could perform calculations at the speed of electricity using logic gate
circuits configured with Eccles-Jordon design that,
unlike the Differential Analyzer, could be programmed to perform a variety of
tasks. Goldstine recognized that this was a general solution not only for
ballistics calculations, but for scientific research.
But, was it wildly beyond reach, a mere theoretical pondering? Since there was
no technology to implement the ideas, Mauchly's objectives would have to be
designed de novo, and constructed entirely on speculation without any assurance
of success. He and Captain Gillon had found the same state
of affairs at IBM, Harvard, and so on, as he had related to Doctor
Brainerd, but Goldstine appreciated the difference between paying a lot of
money for 10% or even 100% improvement, and reaching for 1000% improvement.
Was this a gamble worth taking? Should he invest more time, or drop it, as
Moore College had done the year before, in 1941?
Such a decision likely required support from BRL in Aberdeen for Goldstine to
clear his schedule and allocate time for "extensive" meetings with Mauchly in
order to learn enough about the design of an electronic digital computer
that justified spending a lot of money. At least Captain Gillon, and likely,
Doctor Veblen, therefore, knew fairly early and supported this investment of
time for cognitive overhead in the late Fall of 1942. Goldstine further hints
at this arrangement from interviews relating that, when a formal proposal was
finally submitted the following May, 1943, the deal was
Goldstine knew that televisions coming into production at that time used about
30 tubes, and failed regularly. His mathematical skills calculated that the
risks (18,000 tubes meant 1.8 billion chances to fail) seemed hopeless, so he
had no faith in such a project, without investing time for cognitive overhead to study. Would ignorance, fear and
denial foreclose investigation, or would the Westinghouse solution prevail by adding knowledge that
turns ignorance and fear into faith?
It all depended on Mauchly! Who was he? Why did he think this would work?
Was Professor Brainerd correct that the Mauchly design had a reasonable chance to succeed; or, were the experts correct
that it would never work? Was this a repeat of alphabet technology, and
democracy? Would it take 1,000 years to discover the truth. Or was the Tesla
model at hand? Was it in their power to discover Mauchly's truth within a year
or so, as Tesla's truth was discovered at Niagara
Falls? With the brashness of youth, Goldstine pressed the inquiry,
perhaps with the silent urging of his mentor, Oswald
Veblen, wispering in his ear... "Don't give up! Bliss found you, and trained you up, and I brought you
here to engage ideas that advance civilization! Such, a rare, precious thing
giving life to new knowedge. This is your chance. Sieze this moment! Ask a
question. Ask Mauchly how to accomplish results that everybody says are
impossible. Just ask!"
As a result, Mauchly became an increasing part of the Lieutenant's schedule for
the next six months. In long, deep discussions, the Lieutenant learned...
John W. Mauchly was born on August 30, 1907. He earned a PhD in physics
at Johns Hopkins University, and then taught physics at Ursinus College near
Philadelphia from 1933 to 1941. Ambition to work hard and excell was inspired
at home by Mauchly's father, who had taught high school science to pay for an
education, receiving a PhD in physics. The senior Mauchly made several
inventions that brought professional recognition, career advancement, and an
upper middle class life for his family. Sudden death of his father in 1928,
encouraged Mauchly to change course, switching from undergraduate studies in
electrical engineering, to pursue instead a career in basic science.
Making good on a pledge to his dying father, Mauchly obtained a doctorate in
physics. However, he was stung by rejection of employment at the Carnegie
Institute, where his father had come to prominence with many years of service.
The man who had been the senior Mauchly's boss at the time of his death, wrote
to young Mauchly and his wife, Mary, at Johns Hopkins University on April 16,
1932 saying there were no vacancies, and "With kind regards to you and Mrs.
Mauchly, in which your friends here cordially join, I am... Very truly
yours... John A. Fleming, Acting Director." If you cannot get hired during a
depression at a place where you have "friends," and where your father had been
a "star," then prospects were indeed grim. One can only speculate on whether
Fleming had issues with Mauchly's father, perhaps eminating from an
overshadowing prominence. Why not invite Mauchly for an interview, forward his
resume with recommendation to another department at the Carnegie Institute, and
to contacts at the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Harvard, MIT,
et al. Grim prospects and economic realities eventually forced Mauchly to take
a position at a small liberal arts school, where he was a one man department,
teaching introductory physics. While this assignment provided for his family,
Mauchly was completely without resources for research to advance in his field
and live up to his father's legacy of invention and prominence.
After three years of unsuccessful struggle to grow the budget for the Physics
Department at Ursinus College, Mauchly realized he needed to work with
professionals in a purely research setting. To remedy this problem, in 1936
Mauchly swallowed his pride and took a summer-time assignment as "temporary
assistant physicst and computer" at the Carnegie Institute in the Department of
Terristrial Magnetism (DTM). This was a clerical position crunching numbers
with a hand-crank calculator. Mauchly worked for his father's former
supervisor, Doctor John A. Fleming, who had turned down Mauchly's application
for full-time employment in 1932, and had previously supervised the senior
Mauchly, prior to untimely death in 1928. This history presents a curiosity
about working relations and agendas, given Mauchly's soaring credentials with a
PhD in physics hired for clerical assistance.
Mauchly reportedly took liberties by working outside his official assignment,
making good on his objective to work in a professional research setting. He
made friends, and eventually began to unofficially collaborate with other
physicists on extending his father's original work -- examining dirunal
variations in the earth's magnetic field. After three (3) summers of this
"computer" regimen working for Fleming, and, also, doing research "below the
radar," in 1939 Mauchly submitted a paper for publication in the Journal of
Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, which was published by
DTM and edited by his boss, Doctor Fleming.
Mauchly's paper was rejected. Fleming's review questioned Mauchley's
credentials, and criticized insufficient data for reaching broad conclusions
about the ionosphere.
To pursue publication of his work, Mauchly turned to meterology, where there is
ample data published in the public domain by the US Weather Bureau, and which
could be routinely accessed from his full-time position teaching physics at
Ursinus College. He, also, studied statistics and collaborated with prominent
academics at Princeton and Columbia, leading to recognition that his work at
DTM on multivariate statistics was original. As a result, in about 1940 he was
able to get an article published in the Journal of Terrestrial Magnetism and
Atmospheric Electricity, and a related piece was published in the Annals
of Mathematical Statistics.
Concurrent with gaining professional recognition, Mauchly invested time for
invention and innovation. He developed a household thermostat, leading to an
idea for improving precision of industrial controls. Mauchly invented an
electronic harmonic analyzer to study irregularities in weather, and
demonstrated his technology at the December 1940 annual meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Earlier that year, Mauchly
had attended the Fall conference of the American Mathematical Society held at
Dartmouth College. He saw a demonstration of an electromagnetic relay
calculator invented by George Stibitz at Bell Labs. This machine calculated
complex numbers for controlling telephone switching equipment. Mauchly saw
that similar principles could be applied to calculate sums of squares and
cross-products for statistical analysis. He formed ideas for technology to
perform these advanced calculations needed to advance his research in
Mauchly was therefore ready to discuss the new and, as yet, arcane field of
electronic digital computers when John V. Atanasoff
introduced himself following Mauchly's lecture at the AAAS event, and told him
about the ABC calculator he was assembling at Iowa State College. which used a
unique electronic digital design for performing linear equations.
Mauchly listened intently to Atanasoff's explanation of calculation with binary
mathematics using electrical circuits controlled by vacuum tubes. The ABC
device was much faster than existing electro-mechanical devices, just as Shannon had proposed in 1937 for improving the
Differential Analyzer. Mauchly may have begun to sense at that moment that
high speed calculation would significantly advance his work in meterology, and
would be valuable across a broad range of scientific and engineering research.
Following the chance meeting at the AAAS conference, Mauchly corresponded with
Atanasoff to encourage completion of the ABC aparatus. Atanasoff's reply led
to a continuing exchange of letters that increased Mauchly's understanding of
digital calculation with electricity.
This experience prepared Mauchly to make a major change in his life. He
was obviously thinking seriously about electrical engineering, when a letter
dated May 14, 1941 arrived for the Chairman of the Physics Department at
Ursinus College. Knox Mcllwain, Director of Defense Training at the Moore
College of Engineering within the University of Pennsylvania, said...
We are planning to run a special Summer School at the Moore School of
Electrical Engineering this year in connection with the Defense Program.
Surveys have shown there is a serious, if not critical, lack of trained
engineers available to industry to effectuate the industrial mobilization
required in the time available. Some surveys put this lack as high as 40,000
men. In any case there is a terrible demand for engineers and the pressure on
this group is very serious. All of our men this June have had a plurality of
On the other hand, we hear reports that the mathematics and physics graduates
are not finding as great a demand for their services. One object of this
letter is to verify this rumor. Our thought was that by taking trained
mathematicians and physicists and giving them a ten week's dose of concentrated
electrical engineering we could put them in position to enter engineering
departments in factories as assistants. Their broad prospective and thorough
training should enable them to win a full time engineering job within a very
Any student who has a Bachelor's degree or a higher degree in Mathematics or
Physics will be admitted to this course. The course will also be open to a
senior student in Mathematics or Physics upon recommendation of the Head of his
Department. It will be expected that this latter group of students will return
to their respective departments in the fall and complete their work for the
degree in that Department.
The course would consist of four classes each day. Electric Circuit Theory,
Electrical Measurements, Electronics, and an option between Electrical
Machinery and Electrical Communication. Since these men would not be as
familiar with machinery as the usual engineering graduate, it would be planned
to have them in laboratory every afternoon. The courses would be taught in the
main by our regular faculty and would in general cover the electrical subjects
given to our regular four year course insofar as would be possible in the time
Though the letter was aimed at Mauchly's students, at age 34, he decided to
enroll in the course himself. Going to Summer School, with a PhD in physics
already in hand, to take a beginning course in electrical engineering offered a
chance to learn more about fundamentals for electronic calculating, and to
search for collaborators who shared this interest. Mauchly's application was a
surprise to Mcllwain, but he accepted Mauchly into the program
underwritten by the government, and which some accounts describe as
Engineering, Science, and Management War Training (ESMWT).
One of Mauchly's instructors at Moore College was J. Presper Eckert, a
graduate student working on his masters degree. Eckert taught the lab work described in Mcllwain's letter. Mauchly was not
the only student in the course with a PhD degree. Mcllwain's sales pitch had
been effective. Of the 30 students, over half had doctorates. Eckert, as a
masters student, at first, felt misplaced and awkward teaching students with
PhD degrees. Ordinarily both teacher and students would have protested. In
the spirit of war parparations, everyone ignored
differences in academic standing and age, which in peace time present emotional
and often fatal social barriars of protocol.
Eckert proved to be a good teacher, as well as a top student in the
electrical engineering graduate program. He was further pleased to find that
Mauchly shared an interest in electronic calculators, which Eckert had studied
as an emerging field, and was excited about from having been hired part-time to
help assemble and work on the Differential Analyzer
at the College. It turned out that much of the material covered in the Lab
class, was already familiar to Mauchly from teaching Physics at Ursirus
College. He therefore had time during class to chat with Eckert about
calculators. Though 12 years older, Mauchly drew on Eckert's engineering
training through extended discussion of principles for an electronic
calculator. Eckert discovered that Mauchly, though as yet untrained in
electrical engineering, had formed insights about designing technology that
seemed far more powerful than anything being discussed in the popular
literature and professional conferences.
Progress on his goals led Mauchly to stay on at Moore College to teach the same
course to a rapidly growing wartime enrollment. He moved to full professorship
filling in to teach basic electrical engineering when permenant faculty were reassigned to war research, as noted in
Mcllwain's letter. The decision to abandon his position teaching physics at
Ursinus College placed Mauchly in an environment at the Moore College of
Engineering where there was academic potential for improving
calculators, and where students coming through the program, like Eckert,
provided energy and interest in advancing this new field.
Correspondence with Professor Atanasoff at Iowa
State College, also, continued, leading to an invitation for Mauchly to visit
the College and see the ABC computer. On June 13, 1941 Mauchly drove to Ames,
Iowa. He stayed at Atanosoff's home for four days, returning on June 18th.
Atanasoff took Mauchly to the College and introduced his partner, Clifford
Berry. Mauchly examined the ABC computer over several days, observing
operations, and discussing the design with Atanasoff's small staff. Mauchly,
also, read through at least parts of a 35 page document on the design and use
of the ABC computer.
Upon his return to Moore College, Mauchly prepared a memo on August 15, 1941 to
capture what had been learned from his trip, and synthesize, organize, and
expand prior and subsequent research on constructing an electronic digital
computer. The memo was titled The Use of High-Speed Vacuum Tube Devices for
Calculation. Mauchly described increasing the speed of calculation more
than 1000 times by using electricity to replace electro-mechanical methods.
Not only was electrical calculation faster, vaccumb tubes and connection wires
would be much cheaper to buy and easier to assemble than heavy gears, wheels,
and axles in the Differential Analyzer. Mauchly outlined differences between
analog and digital design that introduced benefits of a general purpose
computer programmed with instruction sets for a variety of calculating tasks.
Analog computers used vacuum tubes to amplify current that coincides with,
i.e., is an analog of, the speed of specific functions, for example elements of
artillary trajectory calculated with the
Digital design uses vacuum tubes simply to set logic gate
switches on or off (see Tesla); numbers are constructed with the Eccles-Jordon circuit in binary or decimal base, and
manipulated with instructions to perform mathematics of any kind. The ability
to program a digital computer with instructions to carry out a broad range of
functions is a significant advantage that was not then fully in view, but would
revolutionize technology with the advent of personal computers beginning about
40 years later.
Mauchly discussed the memo with the engineering contact he had made, while
taking the course on Electrical Engineering. Eckert
indicated that using thousands of vacuum tubes presented significant
reliability risks, but that he could solve the problem with quality control
using good engineering. He proposed specifying high quality tubes, and
reducing the voltage to well below product design limits would meet
requirements for extended operational use.
A secretary typed the memo from shorthand notes dictated by Mauchly, who,
without realizing, nor intending, presented a biographical
instrument that had accumulated and synthesized the precise knowledge
for constructing an electronic digital computer that would make calculating
faster by continuing orders of magnitude, and, as a result, one day
revolutionize writing, drawing, design, communications, and the whole of
knowledge construction, due to the speed and flexibility of programmable
Professor Mauchly submitted the memo to his boss for distribution and comment,
perhaps aimed toward publication. But, Doctor
Brainerd took no action. The memo was not distributed inside nor
outside of Moore College and the wider University of Pennsylvania community of
scholars. The memo was not returned with rejection due to some alleged defect,
as Mauchly's prior boss, Doctor Fleming, had done
two years earlier in 1939 at the Carnegie Institute. There was no request for
additions and corrections, for example, adding footnotes. There was no meeting
to explore opportunities; not even a courtesy call from Brainerd saying he had
the memo and would make a review in due time. There was only deafening silence, as if the memo never existed, or was so
unreasonable and lacking in merit as to be beneath notice. This was precisely
the opposite of what was true, and what Brainerd believed to
be true. Like Tesla, Mauchly's truth was hidden in plain sight by the
silence of a Genie in a Bottle.
There is no record of Mauchly following up either. Silence dissipates the
strongest will, even as truth gains power that cannot be contained. Perhaps
communication was handled through third parties. Under the circumstances,
Brainderd might have been embarrassed to contact Mauchly directly. An
intermediary professor may have passed the word that the College did not have
time for futile pursuit of impossible dreams, as
Tesla's professor told him in 1880. Mauchly may been alerted to Dean Pender's views on career advantages of a team player.
Getting "on board" is the path to getting ahead.
At that time, in 1941 government experts, and
leading scientists and engineers at IBM, Harvard, MIT, Bell
Labs, and everybody, who was somebody in calculator technology,
endorsed analog, electro-mechanical devices. The Differential Analyzer was the
dominate design developed at MIT in 1933 by Vannevar
Bush. In August 1941, Doctor Bush had very high credibility as the
Dean of Engineering at MIT, and inventor of the most advanced calculator
technology. The year before, on June 27, 1940 President Roosevelt appointed
Bush chairman of new National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) for
identifying technologies to prepare for America's entry into World War II,
already raging in Europe and Asia.
Budget committees readily approved acquisition of technology developed by the
president's appointee to the hightest technology position in the land. How can
anything be better than that? A technology 1000% better just seemed beyond
reach, an impossible dream, which conveniently justified ignoring outrageous
claims without the bother to investigate. Any excuse to avoid the burden of
cognitive overhead is always a welcome
relief. On the other hand, if a technology was really 1000% better, then
people might complain that prior approvals had been rash and irresponsible. A
threat to personal credibility threatens job security. Protecting credibility of professional standing required
educators, professors, and College management to ignore professional standards
by ignoring the merits of Mauchly's memo. They simply said that the
credibility of a professor of first year electrical engineering proposing 1000%
improvement was rash and irresponsible compared to credentials of the chairman
of the National Defense Research Committee and Dean of Engineering at
MIT. Case closed. Laziness and insecurity are a powerful one-two punch.
Everybody understood 1000%.
Like Tesla, Mauchly could not even give away his secret. The Emporer who wore no clothes was again leading the
parade. "Electro-mechanical and analog paradigms for calculating technology
dominated academic, industrial, and governmental minds in the 1930s, just as
direct current dominated electrical utilities in the 1880s. There was no distribution channel for the Mauchly memo, because Moore
College did not have requirements for computer design. Nobody did. The entire
culture was willfully blind, inoculated by incestuous
reinforcement of faith in a fiction that was impenetrable by truth.
In August 1941, there was no faith in digital design. Without faith, progress
could not even begin on 1000% improvement for calculating technology, just as
Mitchell encountered in 1921 for improving military
fire power with an air force, Aiken in 1939, and
Atanasoff in 1940, along with countless others down
through the ages. Everyone is afraid to go first. Like Tesla in 1883, Mauchly
discovered that few have the courage to let the Genie Out of
the Bottle, for a great many reasons unrelated to merit, as noted by
Dean Pender. Investing a little time for cognitive
overhead overcomes ignorance, fear, and denial, but nobody has time to
investigate faith in the dominant paradigm. It presents an insoluable
Knowledge Management dilemma. (see Prometheus and
Galileo, Westinghouse, Edison and Tesla)
Having crystalized in his memo
understandings drawn from the visit to Iowa, on
September 30, 1941, Mauchly wrote a cordial letter of appreciation to
Atanasoff, which said: "A number of different ideas have come to me
recently about computing circuits--some of which are more or less hybrids,
combining your methods with other things, and some of which are nothing like
your machine. The question in my mind is this: Is there any objection, from
your point of view, to my building some sort of computer which incorporates
some of the features of your machine?"
Mauchly did not attach a copy of his memo outlining an electronic digital
computer for comment by his collaborator, and gracious host at Iowa State
College. Nor did he mention having prepared a memo toward building the
machine, for which he asks permission to use features from the ABC computer.
Clearly, though in September, 1941, Doctor John Mauchly believed he was ready
to build an electronic digital computer.
War soon intruded on December 7, 1941, washing away all peripheral
considerations. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor launched a frenzy of mass
mobilization for the largest military buildup in history. Mauchly, like
Atanasoff, was forced to set aside personal
ambitions to create an electronic calculator. Daily news of Germany
and Japan advancing throughout the world made people forget everything else.
Reports of Japan shelling the West coast, and German U-boats mining East coast
harbors, and sinking American ships created a totally focused wartime
mentality. There was little emotional capital and no time to fiddle with mere
musings, for which there was no technology, no requirements, and no funding.
Since Mauchly was already working on priorty wartime activity to teach
electrical engineering, he remained at Moore College ramping up production for
Mauchly's memo prepared in August, 1941, with great enthusiasm and care to
outline what was to become one of the most significant
technological advances in history, got lost in the fog of war. Doctor Brainerd lost his copy, and
Mauchly lost the only other copy, underscoring that in August 1941, nobody cared about faster calculations enough to file the
documents. The dream therefore survived only through word-of-mouth pollenation by students, at least by one graduate student.
This thinnest of threads would weave the frabric of
change in October 1942, when enabling forces at last slipped into alignment for
technology to rise above the horizon of settled knowledge.
The last cog of alignment was Lieutenant Goldstine posted to the BRL Annex in
September 1942. Located 75 miles away from the spotlight of command Goldstine
was largely an independent operator. He was without the usual protections of
organizational procedures designed, at great expense, and through centuries of
trial and error, to prevent communications from penetrating the daily work
stream from outside proper channels, from incredible sources, and for
incredible solutions. In this case, a memo to improve the work by 1000% fit
all the criteria for ignoring unwelcome, intrusions
which clerical staff and the full panalopy of hierarchial commanders typically
filter out so that daily work focuses like a laser on acceptable ideas and
Alone and adrift from cultural moorings for safe harbor, when desperate people
took desperate measures, the Lieutenant could not escape notice of Mauchly's
memo blurted out by accident. Only a mistake could
slip through robust protections against new ideas. One, of only two people,
who had worked on the memo a year earlier, also, happened to be working with
the Lieutenant for reasons unrelated to the memo, and under circumstances
which, through further coincidence unrelated to finding better calculating
technology, routinely presented opportunity for disclosure, despite lack of
standing and solicitation. Since Eckert was not in the military and had not
been indoctrinated in proper protocol, truth transcended the usual defenses in
government, education, law, health care, industry, the whole of existence.
With protections breeched by mistake, notice was still
without standing and credibility. Ordinarily unsolicited communication
with dubious credentials is dismissed and forgotten. Why did Goldstine bother
to follow up in this case, given his busy schedule?
Since Goldstine met with Brainerd regularly, perhaps several times a week, if
not daily, and since the main topic was increasing production calculating
Firing Tables, and since Brainderd was the only recipient of the memo, and
since Goldstine controlled the agenda, it took almost no effort and no time to
simply ask about a memo issued a year earlier. Goldstine required no
permission, and, unlike Brainerd, had no interests
at stake. There was no risk of reprimand, rebuke, nor reprisal for asking a
simple question directly related to the BRL mission. Since Goldstine and his
boss, Captain Gillon, had made field trips to inquire about calculating
technology, and learned that a year or so earlier IBM had
rejected a proposal that sounded similar to the Mauchly memo, this
coincidental alignment increased curiosity enough to ask
Brainerd about Mauchly's memo.
Goldstine might have talked this over by telephone with his boss, Captain
Gillon. If the Captain had said don't bother Professor Brainerd about a
phantom memo, then ENIAC might have ended before it began. Gillon could have
said that he attended a class a week earlier sponsored by Army HQ and their
experts said that vacuum tube calculation will never work, so don't bother the
College about it. He could have said that he has a lot of confidence in
Professor Brainerd. If there was anything to it, then Brainerd and Dean Pender
would surely have mentioned the memo when the Army hired the College in June.
Alternatively, Gillon might have missed the class by the calculation exerts,
while he and Goldstine were visiting Watson at IBM in New York. He could have
said... You know its quite a coincidence talking about the same type of
technology approach, and presented about the same time last year. So, when you
see Brainerd, go ahead and ask to see the memo. It can't hurt to read through
it. It'll make Veblen
happy. He likes that kind of thing.
Whether or not such discussion occurred between Goldstine and Gillon, with zero
effort and zero risk, Goldstine was empowered to learn that Brainerd received a
memo from Doctor Mauchly in August 1941, and that Mauchly's proposal for high
speed calculation was not unreasonable. Having
discovered a memo existed, Goldstine's high confidence in Doctor Brainered then
justified asking to see the memo. When it turned
out that the memo was lost, desperation to solve a growing problem combined
with confidence in Professor Brainerd, and further combined with results of the
trip to IBM, led the Lieutenant to request that the memo be
reconstructed from shorthand notes of the original dictation, i.e.,
in for a penny, in for a pound!
When the Lieutenant learned the student had been
correct saying the proposal was to increase calculating speed by 1000%,
his expertise in mathematics quickly calculated this met Army requirements for
preparing Firing Tables in time to win the war. The memo further presented
methods that were flatly opposed by every academic, industry, and government
expert. But, Goldstine did not know that!
Goldstine had not been inoculated by the prevailing paradigm against new ideas
in calculation technology. Brainderd had said that Mauchly's design was not unreasonable, and that experts
did not have time to read the memo nor the expertise
to implement it. Goldstine had not received indoctrination from years of
seminars and conferences nor from reading journals and articles with learned opinion that Mauchly's ideas on calculation
technology should not be considered. He was not an expert in electrical
engineering. Unlike Professor Brainerd, Lieutenant Goldstine's boss had not
told him to avoid Mauchly's memo. The Army may have had classes at Aberdeen,
where "experts" warned commanders to ignore, fear, and deny viability of
electronic digital design for calculation, as Atanasoff
encountered in the Navy. Goldstine co-located at Moore College, 75
miles away, missed the usual classes on Army doctrine to follow the prevailing
Relative independence and isolation from Army
bureaucracy, in addition to very short time in service of only three months to
that point, denied Goldstine a financial, emotional, academic, institutional,
or career stake in rejecting Mauchly's memo out of hand. His focus was solely
to improve calculating speed for accomplishing the BRL mission to help win the
Goldstine's confidence in Professor Brainerd, who violated
direct orders in speaking truth to power, was momentous. Brainerd
saying the memo was not unreasonable. despite
non-compliance with accepted scholarship practices and doctrine, broke
through barriars that filter out communications on technologies which are
disruptive and inconvenient to established interests. Brainerd gave Goldstine
rationale, courage and curiosity to read the memo under exigent circumstances
of paramount need for the solution in the memo. The fact that Brainerd was the
Lieutenant's routine and primary contact with the College, with whom he
regularly met, and whose opinion he respected, and happened, also, to have been
the one person, who a year earlier had been the sole recipient of the only copy
of the memo to be distributed, and that he possessed the courage to act at the
crucial moment, seems to have been simply a lucky circumstance for the nation
and future generations.
Under these circumstances, Goldstine could not have "known" that he was
supposed to reject Mauchly's memo without good faith review, so he found a way
to insert time into his crowded schedule to read it.
Goldstine read the memo with an open mind. He had not been inoculated against
Mauchly's ideas because, like Westinghouse considering
Tesla's ideas in 1887, he was totally ignorant of expertise that
self-perpetuated widely held paradigms sustained only by incestuous fiction that religiously maintained the status
quo for income, standing, and doctrine. Also, like Westinghouse, Goldstine was
not ignorant about evaluating ideas. He had a PhD in that field. He was
expert in rigorous "analysis" for determining the truth or falsity of
mathematical propositions. Professor Bliss had
taught Goldstine at the University of Chicago to review the record, read the
memo, study, then calculate conclusions, rather than conform to fashion
These conditions forged powerful positive synergy of enabling forces.
Unlike Brainerd, who had many good reasons not to meet with
Mauchly a year earlier, that aligned perfectly with IBM and the Navy
refusing to meet with Atanasoff , Goldstine had
many good reasons to meet with Mauchly. Goldstine's expertise identified
opportunity in the memo for performing mathematics that solved special problems
of ballistics, which he had a duty to solve. He knew present capabilities were
inadequate. His training in mathematics complemented Mauchly's research in electronic digital computers. He
could collaborate to improve Mauchly's ideas for mathematical calculation,
rather than compete with attitude over who knew the most about building a
Ignorance that led to reading Mauchly's memo, thereby allowed
expertise to break through barriars simply by calling Mauchly in for a meeting
to discuss improvement and deployment, rather than tossing the memo in the
"circular file" of silence, as occurred a year earlier, and everywhere else
that truth came knocking. Since he was not being ordered to attend endless
meetings on extraneous matters that fill up time in organizational culture,
making everybody too busy to investigate improvement, Lieutenant Goldstine
was able to make time to seek out and meet with Mauchly
and Eckert on numerous occassions separately and together over a span of weeks
and months. Mauchly explained the mathematics of a digital computer and that
this could be achieved by improving and scaling up the prototype he had seen in
Iowa. Goldstine began to contribute on refining Mauchly's initial outline into
a feasibility design supported with mathematics. The synergy of collaboration
placed Goldstine in the role of applying his training and expertise to solve an
important problem, rather than a defensive posture of denial to avoid having to
make a decision and suffer criticism from superiors for wasting time and
spending money. As if Professor Veblen was whispering in his ear, "I brought you here to solve this problem," Goldstine took
up the challenge to change the meaning of "computer".
Collaboration combined expertise in mathematics and physics, with knowledge of
design drawn from the Atanasoff computer, and extended by Mauchly's independent
research, analysis, and imagination, and further supported by Eckert's
engineering training, albeit largely unproven at that time. Goldstine became
satisfied that Eckert's plan to reduce the failure of vacuum tubes seemed
sufficiently plausable to justify attempting the project in order to meet
requirements for better accuracy and speed calculating ballistic firing tables.
This was supported by the absence of other alternatives. There is nothing in
the record indicating broader or general use for a computer, beyond performing
complex calculations. The Army needed better calculation, and Mauchly's
outline showed that the Moore College of Engineering at the University of
Pennsylvania might be able to meet that need by building a digital computer.
All that remained was for Goldstine to gain faith in the prospects of pulling
off a "billion to one" shot. Were Mauchly and
Eckert reaching too far? Why, for example, hadn't Howard Aiken, Harvard, IBM,
MIT, Bell Labs, or the Navy produced an electronic digital computer? Why was
everybody else ignoring digital and instead working on analog computers? On
the other hand, could the Army leapfrog the Navy's efforts to accomplish
breakthrough technology to solve an immediate problem for the Ballistics
Research Laboratory (BRL), and, also, open the door for future scientific
Faith was severely tested, when Lieutenant Goldstine and his boss, Captain
Gillon, asked government "experts" about Mauchly's memo proposing an electronic
digital calculator using vacuum tubes for logic gates to perform mathematics.
They met with agencies assigned to seek out, find, and evaluate new
technologies for the war effort.... At the beginning, Paul Gillon and I
decided we would try to get opinions from the [National Defense Research
Committee (NDRC), and the Office of Scientific Research and Development
(OSRD)]. In the first place, they thought analog computing was the way to go.
They said digital computing is "for the birds, everything is analog, and 18,000
vacuum tubes is preposterous. There ain't such an animal ever been built and
it will never work." So that was the learned opinion of those people. ( Herman
Goldstine, interview November 13, 1996, for 50th anniversary of ENIAC )
Ordinarily, due diligence ends at the beginning, when busy people encounter
rejection from experts. However, despite official rejection in
October - November 1942 aligning with Professor Brainerd's
research in August of 1941, the Lieutenant made independent assessment
by investing time for cognitive overhead. There is
nothing in the record on Goldstine's calculas that cleared his schedule from
the crushing burden of calls, meetings, travel, documents, and discussion that
otherwise eliminate time to think about ideas and solutions totally
discredited by learned opinions of experts and officials. How did the
Lieutenant avoid becoming lost in irrelevancies of "noise" in the mainstream
and instead follow the clarion call of the "signal" from Mauchly, as occurs
everyday on the job (see Kissinger, and Brainerd
In the early part of 1943, Goldstine discussed the prospect of the Army
building a computer with his boss. Captain Gillon realized there would be
resistance to such a speculative project, but, like
Goldstine, he saw benefits of high speed calculations for tasks in scientific
research, which the BRL was being asked to prform at the Aberdeen Proving
Ground. He therefore told Goldstine to discuss the Mauchly outline with
management at the College, and in the meantime, he would sound out people up
the chain of command to build interest in the project.
Lieutenant Goldstine met with Professor Brainerd, who would be responsible for
supervising the College's contribution, if the project was approved. Brainerd
supported Eckert's assessment that reliability issues could be solved, and
offered ideas for preparing a proposal. Brainerd then took Goldstine to meet
with Dean Harold Pender to present considerations for the College to construct
a computer for the Army. Brainerd sketched his ideas for a proposal to the
BRL, and Goldstine gave assurances that he would sponsor the proposal through
the procurement process, and in fact had begun discussions with Captain Gillon,
who was receptive. Dean Pender gave a "thumbs up."
Brainerd, Goldstine, Mauchly, and Eckert then formed a project committee to
prepare a proposal. Lieutenant Goldstine's memories set out their thinking at
that time... I think it was Eckert and Mauchly with help from Brainerd,
who put the proposal together. What I did was to get the idea across to them
that if they could make a proposal, I felt confident I could sell it to Paul
Gillon. And with Paul's help, Oswald Veblen was going to be a cinch. Veblen
believed in people rather than in projects, and he had a lot of confidence that
we would do it.
[In the early part of 1943] I think it was Pres Eckert's [24th] birthday. We
were driving down from Philadelphia with a proposal, with Pres and John
Mauchly in the back seat, writing away to get this thing put together. We got
there, and I felt confident that it was to be a fait accompli, no matter what
the University personnel were going to do. One had to go through these
formalities, though, and there were Leslis Simon and Oswald Veblen representing
BRL, and there was Brainerd with his two young men. The presentations went on
and finally Veblen, who was sitting with his feet up on the table leaning back,
bounced forward, stood up, and said, "Simon, give Goldstine the money."
Yes, I think it was kind of a letdown to Brainerd, who expected that it
would be a big hard proposition. It took just a matter of a few weeks for Paul
Gillon somehow to get the Philadelphia Ordnance District involved, and they
wrote the contract. Away it went.
Such is the power of faith. Veblen had snatched Goldstine from an unknown, but
perilous fate heading for combat, and brought him 3,000 miles precisely for the
chance to change history, and when the crucial moment arrived, Veblen was the instrument of his own design. The gods of
mythology would turn green with envy.
It all seemed so simple and obvious, once enabling forces lined up in the
person of Doctor Herman H. Goldstine, Lieutenant United States Army, Aberdeen
Proving Ground, posted to the BRL Annex at Moore College of Engineering,
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
What were these "enabling forces"?
- In June 1942, Moore Engineering College at the University of
Pennsylvania received a contract for use of
the Differential Analyzer to help calculate Firing Tables under
supervision of the Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL) at the
Aberdeen Proving Ground. This contract allocated resources for
mathematical specialists conscripted into the Army to collaborate with
technology specialists (engineers) on staff and being trained at Moore
- Electrical power was by then universal, and the knowledge of
science and engineering for electrical circuits had evolved together
with manufacture of vacuum tube technology and related components to
permit construction of an electronic digital computer, as proposed by
Shannon's 1937 paper. While very few had
tried, and nobody had succeeded, Atanasoff's work on the ABC computer,
indicated that the means were available to produce a general purpose,
programmable computer using an electronic digital design.
- Lieutenant Goldstine was co-located
to supervise BRL work at Moore College. Professional training in
mathematics and experience managing the work of human "computers"
provided impressions and hunches on requirements for performing this
work faster and with greater accuracy to meet requirements that were
not being met with existing methods. The Lieutenant wanted to improve
this work in order to help fight the war. Co-location gave the
Lieutenant a measure of independence and
access to scientists and engineers for consultation with reduced
burdens of military rank and bureaucratic structure. Independence and
access bore fruit in notice of the Mauchly memo. Co-location freed
Goldstine from organizational procedures designed to prevent
communications coming from outside proper channels, from an incredible
source, and for an incredible solution to improve his work by 1000%.
Delivery of notice appears to have occurred entirely through chance
and luck from the fact that one of only two people who had worked on
the memo a year earlier and also happened to be working with the
Lieutenant under circumstances that through mere coincidence provided
opportunity for disclosure, despite lack of standing and solicitation.
Goldstine's confidence in Professor Brainerd, who violated direct
orders, and spoke truth to power, saying the memo was not
unreasonable, broke through conventional barriars that filter out
communications on disruptive, inconvenient ideas. Brainerd gave
Goldstine the rationale, courage and curiosity to read the memo under
exigent circumstances. The fact that Brainerd was the Lieutenant's
routine and primary contact with the College, whom he regularly met,
and whose opinion he respected, and happened, also, to have been the
one person, who a year earlier had been the sole recipient of the only
copy of the memo to be distributed, seems to have been simply a lucky
circumstance. The fact that the professor told Goldstine that the
memo was not "unreasonable" despite non-compliance with accepted
practice, and presented ideas unacceptable to the college, to
Brainerd's boss, and to all the "experts" of that time
leaves an impression that notice to
Goldstine, which resulted in requesting the memo, and then requesting
that it be reconstructed from shorthand notes, when it was discovered
that all of the copies had been lost, was a mere
lucky coincidence combined with unusual
courage that was lucky to be encountered. Goldstine becoming
aware, requesting, obtaining, and actually reading Mauchly's memo on
non-existing technology, which all learned sources said was "for the
birds," were enabling forces that aligned through pure chance,
accident, a "miracle" bereft of any recipe or lesson for helping
another Goldstine in another setting at another time travel the
path for advancing civilization.
- The US government committed to expend
whatever resources were required to win the war, and there was
national concensus in support of this commitment. A "blank check"
mentality encouraged cooperation by reducing the level of conflict
that typically diverts time and effort inherent to typical contract
transactions. This commitment, though abused and misapplied,
resulting in great waste and fraud, still held the best potential to
fund unproven efforts in order to find, test, and develop more
effective means of winning the war, because losing is not an
- There was awareness of need in the line of approving authority
for better calculating capabilities. Goldstine enjoyed the confidence of the Ballistics Research Laboratory,
and, also, the team at Moore College; his boss was
deeply familiar with requirements for faster calculating
capabilities, and the Chief of the Scientific
Advisory Board, also, knew of these requirements, and
respected Goldstine's credentials, based his record discussed with his
old friend and teaching colleage at Princeton, and from working
together at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds during World War I.
- Since the Navy Ordnance Department
had supported Howard Aiken and IBM to build the Mark 1 at Harvard
University, Army Ordnance was undoubtedly ready to sponsor a similar
project, and departmental competitive incentives may have encouraged
the Army to approve speculative ventures with the aim of topping
- Mauchly's biography
had drawn him through a path of discovery; his education, struggle,
failure, and temperment fostered ambition and unique insight for
integrating sufficient knowledge on a sufficiently wide range of
fields and technologies to produce a first generation electronic
digital computer with available tools and components.
- Eckert's engineering skills, youth,
enthusiasm, energy, and talent guided by Mauchly's vision for computer
architecture stood ready to overcome all obstacles with the aid of
engineering talent from the Moore College, and resources of the United
- Goldstine had not been inoculated against ideas in
electrical engineering at the time he read Mauchly's memo, because he
was ignorant of establishment doctrine. He had a duty to perform work
that was addressed by the memo, and he possessed complementary
mathematical expertise. These forces drew Goldstine into discussions
with Mauchly and Eckert on improving the Mauchly proposal, rather
than ignore the memo,
as expert opinion dictated the year before in 1941.
Investing time for cognitive overhead injected study and analysis for
learning that created knowledge of how to use electricity to calculate
ballistic Firing Tables 1000% faster than accepted dogma using
mechanical gears. By the time Goldstine encountered expert opinion,
he was inoculated against established doctrine by faith in Mauchly's
truth. He recognized that vehement objections had no rational basis
of error in the Mauchly design, but merely increased cultural "noise"
that drowned out the "signal" showing the way to a better future.
The contract between the United States governement and the University of
Pennsylvania was executed on June 5, 1943. The University was to be paid
$61,700 for delivery in six months of a report on research and development of
an electronic numberical integrator and computer (ENIAC). This arrangement
gave Goldstine, Mauchly, and Eckert time to investigate feasibility, identify
problems and opportunities, consult experts, and prepare analysis to formalize
Mauchly's first port of call was Washington DC to consult with the only person
to have implemented the Atanasoff design, as set out in Mauchly's letter on September 30, 1941. In 1943 Mauchly made
several trips to Washington DC to meet with Atanasoff in his office at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, where they again
discussed Atanasoff's theories and ideas
for digital electronic design, based on
experience building the ABC computer. For security reasons, Mauchly could not
disclose during these meetings that he was working on a big project to
construct an electronic computer for the military along the lines of the ABC
The project was designed and built at
the Moore School of Electrical Engineering within the University of
Pennsylvania. J. Presper Eckert and his colleague, physics professor John
Mauchly, drew on Mauchly's knowledge of the ABC computer
project at Iowa State college. Their design for ENIAC significantly
extended Atanasoff's prior work by constructing a fully operational electronic
digital computer to perform mathematics with the Eccles-Jordan design for flip-flop logic gates that apply
Tesla's counterintuitive concept for vacuum tubes to
control the status of switches as on or off.
This breakthrough all-electronic design enabled ENIAC to perform 357
multiplications in one second, about 1,000 times faster than the Harvard Mark 1 using electromechanical methods. Such
dramatic improvement spawned greater faith in electronic computing, and
presaged a famous observation 20 years later by Grodon Moore.
In August of 1944, Captain Goldstine was alone, lost in thought pacing the
platform. He was waiting for a train in Aberdeen, Maryland, in transit back to
Philadelphia after attending meetings at the Proving Ground. He saw another
man waiting for a train, whom, he did not know, but had seen on occassion with
senior officers and civilian officials at the offices of the Ballistics
Research Laboratory (BRL). John Von Neumann's world reputation for
mathematics, along with being a founding faculty member of the prestigeous
Institute for Advanced Studies (AIS) at Princeton, led to a great many
consulting relationships. He often traveled during the war to visit the
Manhattan project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, which was led by his colleage on
the faculty at AIS, J. Robert Oppenheimer. At the time of this chance
meeting, von Neumann was supporting work on numerical modeling of a triggering
device for the atomic bomb, which required high-speed calculations. As a
member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the BRL, he could enquire about
technology for high-speed calculations, and offer suggestions for development
of technology, though without disclosing requirements to support the Manhattan
project. None of this was known to Goldstine that night on the railway
platform in Aberdeen; and, von Neumann was not aware of ENIAC.
Officials and commanders at BRL lacked sufficient faith in the advanced design
of ENIAC to overcome fear that a man of von Neumann's world acclaim would
dismiss the effort as beyond reach, and was therefore an erroneous, waste of
taxpayer dollars; and secondly, they feared that, if the project gained
visibility through von Neumann, and then failed to meet expectations, they
would suffer for having approved a project that failed by using unproven
technology that was beyond reach. Since BRL was not aware of the Manhattan
project, they were prevented by secrecy from making a judgement that von
Neumann's assignment to seek out and assess technology for high speed
calculations, including contribute, as necessary, to accomplish elevated
requirements at Los Alamos, trumped lack of full faith and confidence in
success of ENIAC. Instead, reason and judgement had so far been trumped by
fear of embarrassment, loss of face and career advancement that might result
from removing von Neumann's ignorance about ENIAC. Only serendipity ovecame
the inertia of ignorance and fear to prevent these two ships passing in the
With time to kill, Captain Goldstine introduced himself, and greatly enjoyed
von Neumann's well known gregarious personality and skills for innocent small
talk. But, when Goldstine turned the discussion to ENIAC, unaware this was
unknown to von Neumann, Goldstine recalls in his memoirs... The whole
atmosphere of our conversation changed from one of relaxed good humour to one
more like the oral examination for the doctor's degree in
From this chance encounter of two people waiting for trains going in different
directions, von Neumann joined the EINAC project, adding another assignment to
his wartime contributions. He immediately changed his travel plans, and within
a few days visited the machine under construction at the Moore School of
Engineering. Goldstine introduced von Neumann to the project team, and
thereafter, von Neumann was regularly engaged in meetings and decisions on
design. This primarily related to the follow on machine.
After the war ended in 1945, having glimpsed the future by attaining a 1000%
improvement with transformation to electronic calculation proposed by Shannon in 1937, scientists, engineers, business, and the
military were anxious to explore new frontiers of first generation computers.
ENIAC was the template for bigger computers to dramatically improve speed and
accuracy of calculation. However, ENIAC had 6,000 manual switches for
programmers to set, and maintenance was significant because vacuum tubes burned
out frequently, i.e., several every day. Improvement presented three (3)
challenges. Under the traditional paradigm that "big is better," increasing
computational power by adding more vacuum tubes and wiring directly increased
the cost of labor, materials, space, power and especially maintenance; and,
further, more wiring slowed performance because current had to travel longer
distances. Engineers first realized that better performance and lower cost
required better technology for flip-flop logic gate switches to replace vacuum
tubes; and, second, over a matter of years engineers discovered that better
cost/performance could be achieved by reducing the size of computers with
smaller components that required less wiring, less space, less power, less
labor, etc. Over time, computer technology would entirely reverse the big is better paradigm that was successful for
Tesla in electrical utilities and for Ford in
automobile assembly, yet miraculously achieve economies of scale that dwarf all
precedents. Transformation began with inventing the transistor.
People are familiar with elements and composits that conduct electricity well,
e.g., copper, aluminum, water, gold. Similarly, other elements and composits
are insulators because they do not conduct electricity, but rather resist and
impede the flow of current, e.g., the common "extension cord" with
rubberized-type coatings and sheathing that protect the electrical conductor.
Scientists and engineers had long been aware that another class of substances
are semiconductors, in that normally they resist the flow current, but under
certain conditions, current flows through the material. Obviously, stopping
and starting the flow of current is the essence of a logic gate switch. If a
delicately constructed, high cost, and fragile vacuum tube, could be replaced
so that flip-flop logic gate switching could be performed with solid state
(i.e., solid chunk of metal that could be manufactured in bulk, handled
roughly, and never wear out) semiconductors, this alone would solve major
problems to advance computer architecture and other applications for radios,
and telephone switching relays. During the 1930s research by Eugene Wigner and
Frederick Seitz developed theories of quantum mechanics that indicated a
promising path for development of solid state semiconductors. The solution
required discovering and inventing ways to control electrical current flowing
through a semiconductor medium, just as Tesla, Flemming, Lee De Forest, and
others had developed over the past 50 years for vacuum tubes.
After the war ended in 1945 a great many top scientists and engineers were
suddenly available from winding down defense projects. Bell Labs, then part of
AT&T in New York, tapped this pool of talent to become a premier research
institution, essential for expanding telephone service to the nation. They
hired William Shockely to lead a project team researching transistor
William Shockley was a brilliant engineer, who won the Nobel prize in 1956 for
helping invent, along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, the transistor at
Bell Laboratories in December, 1947. Breakthrough occurred through trial and
error, including a series of mistakes, e.g., Brattain dumped one experiment
into a thermos of water. Each mistake fortuitously yielded better results,
eventually leading to the first point-contact transistor. However, conflict
followed over credit for the invention that would later earn all three a share
of the nobel prize.
Piecing the story together from many accounts, in 1945 Shockley directed
Bardeen and Brattain to implement his design for a field effect transistor.
This effort was eventually abandoned as unsuccessful (though ironically
Shockley's original work would be re-examined in the 1960s and lead to the
industry standard for transistors, and continuing to the present day). By
December of 1947 the team's research was focused on a point-connection
transistor. Most accounts seem to agree that Shockley provided occassional
input to Bardeen and Brattain on this new direction, and that it was Brattain's
trial and error experiments, which yielded a solution in keeping with Edison's creed of hard work driving the invention process.
Against this background, rancor ensued, when Bell Labs gave Shockley prominence
in news releases, despite a limited role. A photograph showed Shockley seated
in the laboratory working with transistor equipment, while his two colleagues
were standing behind to observe, as evident assistants. This overstated
Shockley's contribution, and understated Brattain's work performing actual
experiments, and that Bordeen did most of the theoretical physics to
understand, explain and direct the work.
In February 1948, just a few months after Bardeen's and Brattain's success in
December, Shockely independently produced an alternate design for a junction
transistor, which solved serious manufacturing problems with the initial point
connection component, similar to Tesla's discovery
of alternating current that greatly improved Edison's direct current system in
1893. The Shockley design was, therefore, chosen by AT&T for production and
survives for some applications still today.
From this experience vehement and enigmatic disputation persists to the present
day over attribution of credit for a truly momentous success. Some accounts
charge that Shockley wanted sole credit for developing the transistor, and that
he lobbied company lawyers to file for a patent under his name only. This
charge is not supported by the public record. Through the years, when news
stories were published giving Shockley sole credit, he personally wrote to
correct the record, fully and lavishly crediting Bardeen and Brattain. Perhaps
then ill feelings flowed serendipitiously from clumsy public relations. If
Bell Lab had issued the famous picture with a caption that read something like
"Bill Shockely inspects world's first transistor thanks to the work of John
Bardeen, and Walter Brattain," emotions may not have seared so quickly into
irreparable dispute lasting half-a-century.
Shockely may have stirred the fires
by 1) failing to disclose his
improved design to his two colleagues in February 1948, and instead had another
group perform implementation secretly, while Bardeen and Brattain worked
furiously and unsuccessfully to solve manufacturing issues in their initial
design for a point-contact transistor; and, 2) by privately assigning Brattain
and Bardeen to less challenging projects, thwarting their careers at Bell Labs.
Some might observe that pursuing two tracks for the best solution is good
management. Perhaps, too, there were compelling reasons for research
assignments that do not justify charges of mendacious ill will. John Bardeen
soon left Bell Labs, commenting that Shockley had fostered an excellent
research environment, but difficulties stemmed from invention of the
Walter Brattain's account of Shockley's management style following assignment
at Bell Labs in 1945 supports his colleagues assessment, saying... "I
cannot overemphasize the rapport of this group. We would meet together to
discuss important steps almost on the spur of the moment of an afternoon. We
would discuss things freely. I think many of us had ideas in these discussion
groups, one person's remarks suggesting an idea to another. We went to the
heart of many things during the existence of this group, and always when we go
to the place where something needed to be done, experimental or theoretical,
there was never any question as to who was the appropriate man in the group to
Bell Labs success achieving breakthrough technology demonstrated
Shockley's managerial skills for research and development.
Momentous discovery through coordinated efforts of great minds
fits the model of leadership and collaboration presented in text
books and taught in classrooms for MBA degrees. However, soon after
breakthrough was achieved, success drove team members toward secretive
hoarding of information and squabbling over credit, fame, and fortune.
Collaboration on the transistor project eviscerated, casting
a pall of anger, fear, and fragmentation
that resisted sharing information at Bell Labs.
Harvard Business Review
reported in an article reviewed on May 10, 1994 that innate biological
drives to compete for survival are always present below the thin veneer of
that promotes cooperation. Tension between cooperation and
competition presents a powerful knowledge management dilemma.
Concurrent with work at Bell Labs on the transistor, after the war ended, over
the next 10 years, Aiken, Mauchley, and Eckert had the opportunity to refine
their computers with follow on projects for the defense department.
IBM's lineage traces to Herman Hollerith, who quit the US census department to
invent and market a counting machine.
That same year in 1956 Shockley launched his own
company. Shockley Semiconductor in Mountain View, California hired a team
to develop advanced technology, building on Shockley's earlier work. Shockley
was, however, secretive and distrusftul, perhaps shaped by prior experience
that demanded confidentiality to protect intellectual property rights on new
breakthroughs. Management that elevates protecting rights to property above
producing property that is worth protecting frustrates and alienates engineers
charged with getting things done. After a failed corporate coup, eight (8) of
Shockley's top engineers resigned, later called the "Traitorous Eight," left
Shockley to escape overbearing management. Led by Robert Noyce and Gordon
Moore, in 1957 the group started Fairchild Semiconductor with a modest
investment of $3,500 from the parent company, Fairchild Camera and Instrument.
Seeking to break with past restrictions that stifled productivity, Noyce
encouraged hard work through collegial collaboration, but without traditional
trappings of hierarchial and authoritarian management experienced at Shockley.
At Fairchild, Robert Noyce was credited for creating integrated circuit (IC)
technology. Previously, electrical tools used conductor wires and cables to
connect transisters, resistors, diods, capacitors, and other components into
a working system, e.g., lawnmower, refrigerator, stop lights, radio,
television. Complex products required a maze of wires that were expensive to
manufacture, transport, and assemble owing to limitations of human hands
handling and connecting parts. These constraints severely limited constructing
high performance technology. For example, early computers required entire
rooms full of components that took months, even years to assemble and test, and
were called "mainframe computers." IBM dominated the computer business in the
1950s selling mainframes to customers who could afford the space, expense,
maintenance and application costs. Hospitals, banks, insurance companies, big
universities, the military and big business found these big expensive systems
cost effective for processing high volumes of data. The most visible
application of computer technology occurred in the Space Program managed by
NASA. Billions of people watched on television as NASA engineers used
computers from control centers in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Houston,
Texas to direct landings and then humans walking on the moon. Integrated
circuits replaced these physical components with microscopic elements and
connections etched onto the surface of a very thin silicon wafer. IC
technology, that applied Fairchild's expertise in cameras, eventually made it
possible to compress rooms full of computer hardware weighing several tons into
a small box weighing about 20 pounds, and called the "personal computer."
circuit, a thin slice of silicon that has been specially processed so that a
tiny electric circuit is etched on its surface. The circuit can have many
millions of microscopic individual elements, including transistors, resistors,
and capacitors, all electrically connected in a particular way to perform some
launched Intel. Both had
started their careers at Shockely Semiconductor in Palo Alto, California;
however, they, along with six others, became dissatisfied with William
Shockley's difficult management style
Intel was a new company formed to manufacture memory chips
for computers. The founders, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, came from
Fairchild Semiconductor, which they had started in 1957 as a subsidiary of
Fairchild Camera and Instrument, after getting started in the transister
business at Shockly Semiconductor in the 1950s, and then leaving along with
eight others in a rift with Shockley himself, leading to the opprobrium of the
A Japanese company, Busicom, contacted Intel to design and
manufacturing 15-set semiconductor chips with specialized functions for a new
line of calculators. Since this request was outside Intel's line of business,
management hesitate. An engineer, Ted Hoff, was sent to meet with Busicom. He
developed a proposal to reduce the original 15-set of chips down to only a
Intel was paid $60K for computer chips. They paid the $60K back to recover for
late delivery of the product, and in exchange got rights to the design in hopes
this might lead to more orders for the memory business. For the next 15 years,
Intel's main source of revenue was selling computer memory. Development and
sales of microprocessors was a "sideshow." Intel became uncompetitive in the
memory business, but n 1981 they won the award to supply IBM with the
microprocessor for a new line of personal computers. Over the preceeding five
(5) years, Apple computer in Cupertino, California had demonstrated that
personal computers could be come a major new market. IBM's entery into the new
market gave both Intel and Microsoft a powerful position in an emerging
disruptive technology. This expanding and secure market gave Intel a revenue
base for improving performance of microprocessors.
This is under construction, transferring KM analysis from POIMS into
Knowledge Management (KM)
has the right literation for tools that make
a routine practice of daily management for saving lives, time, and money,
as called out by
Drucker, who has long championed a concept of "knowledge work."
(see review on October 25, 1999) This potential has proven elusive. While
"knowledge" is a common term, building tools that are usefully distinguished
from information technology (IT) requires an "out of the box" conceptual leap
that integrates computer science, management science, and cognitive science.
Equally, routine exposure to knowledge of causation with better accuracy from
precision access using links and feedback encounters
resistance to transformation because the inertia of
culture resists change,
discussed above. A Knowledge Management dilemma presents an
innovation loop where inexperience with benefits of intelligence support
engenders greater fear of accountability for mistakes than for
damages caused by mistakes under the common rule from the
Legend of Prometheus
that ignorance is bliss. (see review on November 8, 1999)
In the face of engineering and cultural obstacles driven by
ignorance, fear, and denial, market forces have driven
the banner of Knowledge Management (KM) in many disparate directions, largely
for selling past initiatives that failed to improve communication through
executive training on conversation, and technology that focuses
on information (IT), discussed above. Review of
IBM's announcement on February 26, 1998 to market services for
found little relation to either intelligence, knowledge,
nor management, and found strong
correlation with past initiatives to market IT under new names.
IBM's experience with Lotus Notes in the 1990s, IBM's
Lotus Notes into Raven
for Knowledge Management reported on November 30,
2000, and the subsequent report on August 22, 2002 that
feeling some pain
using Lotus Notes aligns with analysis of
Peter Drucker's work in the early 90s, noting that people have given up,
because the complex architecture of human thought makes
communication vastly different from information, and therefore difficult
to improve. Research sponsored by SRI
found in a report on March 7, 2000 that Knowledge Management is a lot of
using popular information technologies (IT). This suggests that a
different kind of technology is needed for KM. However, IBM later reported on
June 6, 2000 that Knowledge Management
failed to meet expectations, and
another name for information technology with no substantive
improvement, which aligned with prior
analysis in 1998, and with concerns cited by the team meeting at SRI who
concluded on June 15, 2000 that
there isn't enough knowledge to
develop tools for Knowledge Management.
The cultural leap from information to knowledge tools has seemingly imbued
Knowledge Management in all of the following...
Information Technology (IT)
Artifcial Intelligence (AI)
Project Management (PM)
Integrated Cost and Schedule Control (CSCS/C)
Command and Control
Management by Objectives (MBO)
Transformation from 20 - 30 traditional disciplines into a unified theory of
Knowledge Management necessarily takes time. Presently,
two (2) distinct camps have emerged,
representing the binary structure of existence. Both groups
aim to advance civilization by improving communication in daily
meetings, calls, memos, reports, correspondence, books, etc. The
popular term for this effort is "collaboration." Each group
strives to improve different parts of collaboration, roughly divided between
speaking and writing. Historically the division between
orality and literacy can be
summarized as a dichotomy between talent and tools. Other binary forms are
instructive on foundational divisions in management under
Theory X and Theory Y. (see again Drucker)
For example, notify or consult, command and control or creativity and empower,
proactive study to deliberate, plan, and prepare or react spontaneously
on impulse, accountablity or license
all reflect competing benefits of expediency and accuracy.
Best practices of
leadership teach executives skills for relying
on natural talent (i.e., intelligence) for speaking, hearing, and observing
extemporaneously in continual discussions, and email, while tools strive
to augment intelligence with alphabet technology, wordprocessing, and now
POIMS technology for authentic conversation verified with alighment to
original sources, as called out in management standards. (see review of
PMBOK, and ISO on July 21, 1995)
The traditionalist, orality, natural intelligence
group "collaborates" and exercises "leadership"
to make things happen in the moment with
fantastic social networking. These social skills rely on
talent for talking people into saying
"yes," with convincing and entertaining speech, dialog, conversation,
and discussion that demonstrate exceptional
memory, wit, rhetoric, and charm. In classical times people were called
orators who rose to prominence
with strong communication skills for collaboration.
Orality relied on poetry and pictures
to aid human memory in delivering an
entertaining story to hold audience attention. (see
history of writing reviewed on November 11, 1999) Today, roles for
people skills closely align with "salesmanship" and
by executive training, and formal education that sharpens
talent for speaking, debating and people skills to communicate with minimal
use of tools. Powerpoint programs, for example,
are used to prepare pictures that make speech convincing, and cell
phones are embraced for extending the reach of natural talent for talking,
both without pause about compounding the risk of error, loss, crisis and
calamity due to meaning drift.
The second group promotes KM for collaboration using tools that
augment intelligence and strengthen cooperation, beginning with
alphabet technology to produce documents. Information technology (IT)
evolved over centuries to improve publishing documents with ink, paper,
the printing press, typewriters and, today, wordprocessing, email, and
the Internet. These powerful tools lift civilization by empowering
collaboration. People can act in concert over time by preserving
original understanding through literacy in documents that extend human memory
beyond the moment.
Time is the bridge between talent and tools in knowledge work. Talent
using tools over time in particular ways augments natural intelligence
(talent) for understanding causation that drives future consequences.
At least from the time of Plato and Aristotle in 400 BC, advocates of
orality, i.e., reliance on natural talent (i.e., intelligence) for speaking,
and those working on tools for literacy,
each distrusts the other, as evidenced by Plato's
Phaedrus. This distrust presents another knowledge management
that balances binary structure, since,
talent for people skills, and tools for memory are both
essential to civilization. As stated above discussing
thinking and doing,
requires taking action,
in the moment,
based on accurate understanding of cause and effect derived from
experience that is aligned over time,
beyond the moment.
However, still today, suspicion and fear manifest the ancient divide
between talent and tools.
One group advocates knowledge management to develop
fantastic social networking
that build good "relationships." This important effort promotes
traditional behavioral methods for improving verbal communications within the
framework of collaborating, expediting,
reengineering and TQM. The other branch of KM comes from
artificial intelligence (AI) and project management efforts that offer
software tools for "thinking," and for planning, like flow charts showing
organization structure and work flow, e.g., CPM, WBS.
This second group is
developing powerful information technology for using the Internet to
collaborate on preparing documents, which are "tools" that aid human memory,
like contracts, product specifications, books, letters, and so on. These tools
enable people to prepare professionally formatted and linked documents
that include pictures and spreadsheets. Version control, the Internet, and
wireless technologies, enable a lot of people around the world,
across the street, and down the hall, to contribute on preparing documents.
Email (along with instant messaging and Live Chat)
is an information technology that merges perspectives of Knowledge
Management as both conversation and as technology, by making it fast and
easy to prepare documents using spontaneous, stream-of-conscious information,
similar to speaking. This forms an impression that email merges strengths
of orality and literacy, making an inviting target, like fools gold,
for KM advocates to rally hopes of improving communication and collaboration.
Moreover, email makes direct contact with people, who are otherwise
difficult to contact, and email seems to provide an effective
alert format that triggers action for people to
respond, as an ad hoc Action Item list. AI and web page engineers
are working to add classification and structure for documents through ontology,
XML, SMGL, computational linguistics and other means, to improve
This perspective has four (4) defects....
- There is no record that AI and web page engineers can support an
effective architecture for human
- Email does not merge strengths, but rather compounds weaknesses
of orality and literacy. It is far more
error prone than conversation, because, like speech, email is
spontaneous, cursory, lacks organization, and it lacks alignment with
objectives, requirements, commitments and history. Email, therefore,
necessarily escalates information density; and, it increases
accountability, as seen from the
Microsoft case reported on November 11, 1999.
Clearly, there is no incentive to maintain a
lot of documents riddled with errors. In fact, email encourages people
to destroy, rather than invest, intellectual
capital. This environment, therefore, builds demand to
strengthen "intelligence" that avoids errors, and discovers opportunity
by converting the growing mountain of information from meetings, calls
and email, into useful knowledge for people and organizations.
- Documents are a good medium for information, but a poor medium
for knowledge; and, collaboration is a small, albeit, important
derivative of Knowledge Management; however,
the primary benefit of KM is
for taking timely, effective action. Structure is important for
organization and context, but flexibility is, also, essential to enable
- Action Items are more effective based on "intelligence" using the
context of objectives, requirements, and history for setting priority
of all pending issues, rather than being driven by momentary demands of
others received through email that crowd out time for accurate
understanding. (see example of
Action Items on September 22, 2000)
Some authorities search for a solution that advances beyond information
technology by proposing a process of creating documents through
collaboration on the Internet as a form of collective intelligence.
Documents are a cultural modality for using alphabet technology that evolved in
a manual world 2,000 years ago, and are only a small part of the factors that
influence daily action. A more robust solution empowers people with technology
that moves up the scale of cognition from information to knowledge.
Knowledge Management (KM) captures the right
improving the information technology (IT) paradigm, but has been implemented
with familiar methods (e.g., email, wordprocessing, dialog skills) that are
already comfortable to everyone. (see collaboration,
People have therefore lost confidence in this phrase (KM) for
identifying meaningful advance. (see review of
IBM's research on June 8, 2002)
Knowledge tools (by any name) should significantly broaden the range of intelligence factors aided by technology for making
action effective, i.e., on time, within budget and accurate. Centuries ago,
Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and the lessor known Nikola Tesla pointed the
way with prodigeous notebooks capturning contemporaneous records of daily work.
Tesla's remarks on discovering the operating system for the 20th century
succinctly presented one of many requirements for a system of knowledge management... For a while I gave myself
up entirely to the intense enjoyment of picturing machines and devising new
forms. It was a mental state of happiness about as complete as I have ever
known in life. Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream and the only difficulty I
had was to hold them fast.
Precision access to accurate memory is the dominate requirement in every aspect
of science, education, business, and government. Since accuracy, time and
money are always in conflict, the only solution is to develop technology that
strengthens the weakest link in the productivity chain. POIMS calls for
expanding span of attention to continually align
conduct along a broader range of objectives, requirements and commitments than
the human mind can maintain on its own, so that people are better able to take
complementary action, rather than cause conflict. (see meaning drift and secrecy).
Enabling complementary action and reducing mistakes by using technology to
work intelligently brings a sea change in
productivity and earnings, similar to driving a car, rather than walking. (see
discussion above) Today, we have an electronic world
that permits, indeed now requires, moving beyond Information Technology (IT)
that produces documents (e.g., books, memos, email, etc.), to a culture of knowledge
intelligence in the microcosm of the mind to enable a new way of
thinking, learning and working. (see New World Order...) Connectionist
theory in cognitive science (see, for example, Jeremy Campbell's book, The
Improbable Machine) opens the door to a new kind of technology that
lifts civilization with a powerful modality of Knowledge
Space that strengthens daily action by adding an intelligence process to integrate information in
documents with experience, i.e., time. Knowledge
technology must aim higher than mere collaboration and documents, by
integrating cognitive science, management science and computer science.
Intelligence support for knowledge is a significant step to lift civilization
by lifting the capacity to think, remember, and communicate.
Retooling basic literacy skills to
read and write
requires a more robust
paradigm than traditional documents based on alphabet technology.
Documents contain information at the time of publication, while
occurs in the human mind from the intelligence process of organizing and
integrating a continuous information stream received
through sensory perception by the
conscious mind, as an evolving context, that forms connections of cause and
effect in relation to human needs and experience. Most of this continuous
information is processed primarily
in the subconscious mind. Since the
process that converts information into knowledge occurs
innately, people feel that documents contain the
actual knowledge that guides daily conduct,
because documents are external objects available to the conscious mind,
while the millions of connections for managing context that comprise
knowledge are hidden in the subconscious.
As a result, people tend to describe creating documents on the Internet
as "Knowledge Management," and assume, without any experiential evidence, that
this combination somehow aids productivity through better collaboration, all
without hesitation about the distinction between
information and knowledge. This omission, that overlooks the binary structure
of cognition based on conscious (information) and subconscious (knowledge)
processing, conceals the larger opportunity
to lift the capacity to
think, remember and communicate
by transitioning from information to a culture of knowledge.
POIMS argues that an effective practice of
Knowledge Management (KM) requires technology, skills,
and a professional role that enhance human life and enterprise by
strengthening alphabet technology
to support "knowledge," rather than its
traditional function of creating and preserving information in documents. Using
"intelligence" as a continuous information stream, integrated with experience,
steps beyond traditional practice of isolated "documents" to provide
an effective Knowledge Space
that improves personal and organizational management,
Until now, enterprise outside the military has avoided intelligence
New World Order...). and has relied, instead, on an
amalgamation of ad hoc information systems, commonly called
which, as reported by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, necessarily
degrades over time into useless
entropy, that escalates cost and delay. In the vernacular: the
never catches up with the real work! As a result, decisions are based
on the stream-of-conscious component of "collaboration," i.e., conversation
and email, guided solely by human memory, in the moment, which
devolves into mere "guess and gossip" under
Feel Good Management practice that aims more to avoid
accountability than to meet objectives and align the work with
requirements and commitments. Since stream-of-conscious
communication lacks the metric of intelligence, errors mount
causing escalating delay, loss, crisis and calamity, because
people are working more on problem handling, i.e., expediting, than on moving
ahead. Information gridlock turns energy and talent
into a frenzy of self-protection, rather than an engine of progress.
Productivity, earnings and stock prices
because too many people are having too many problems (see the report by
on December 7, 2000).
Improvement comes, not by reducing conversation and documents,
but by adding intelligence
that integrates time and information,
as elements of Knowledge Space connected to human experience.
This requires tools, practices and roles to speed up the
process of investing intellectual capital
so that the human mind can keep up
with the pace of expanding information from collaboration through documents
Taking the Quantum Leap into the 21st Century Takes Courage
Tapestries, legends and writing documents with alphabet technology
(e.g., books, correspondence, email, pictures) used
for knowledge work in the Old World Order need a boost to meet new realities of
a new millennium.
fosters a culture of knowledge with new science, tools
and skills in a faster paced world that compresses time and distance.
Since speed and accuracy are the primary metrics of communication,
integrated computer tools to think, remember and communicate significantly
leverage traditional literacy for investing intellectual capital in
a well ordered record that yields the power of knowledge to control
the future. Combining new tools with new skills for intelligence support
synthesizes managing time and context into a process of routinely
"connecting the dots" for understanding cause and effect. This new
Knowledge Management discipline leverages individual and group efforts
through coordination and collaboration
beyond the power of the alphabet, which has been the core
engine of civilization for the past 2,000 years.
Knowledge Management for intelligence support that converts
information into knowledge provides a quantum leap in the capacity to get the
right things done correctly the first time. Like a gifted poet summoning
the right connections for rhyme and meter,
tools for Communication Metrics penetrate like a laser to
find only relevant connections from the mountain of information
that piles up over days, weeks and years, so that people can discover critical
correlations and implications of cause and effect that show the best course of
action in time to be effective. Thus, speed and accuracy are the essential
metrics of communication for improving productivity in the new world order.
Today, SDS technology supports the
process for transitioning from information to a culture of knowledge. While
many in education, government, and business seek a solution to expand
human potential, powerful tools are only part of the equation;
leadership is essential to help people through the fog of war that
accompanies the advance of civilization.
Leadership with a broader vision
can bring a quantum leap in
productivity using the science of Communication Metrics.
The power and elegance of this idea can be seen from a conceptual
lineage going back thousands of years to the original meaning of
religion. "Old Time Religion" melded with New World technology
can lift the capacity to think, remember and communicate, yielding
the lever that Archimedes sought to lift the world. He might
have called it "Automated Religion." Aristotle might have
marveled at the prospect that time can at last expand wisdom and
vision, rather than error. He might have called it a "truth machine."
Common refrain that problems arise because others do not tell the truth,
echoing Aristotle's admonition, suggests the power
of Communication Metrics to discover truth might be welcomed to avoid error, so
that people have a happier truth to tell. Indeed, reducing mistakes that cost
lives, time and money, would seem welcome relief from pain and agony driven by
worry and doubt about the future. How then to secure the future with accurate
understanding of cause and effect, and further prevent annoyance of constant
corrections that people hate and so avoid in normal conversation?
Beginning approximately 5,000 years ago, and especially from about 700 BC with
refinement of the Greek alphabet, people developed a technique for arranging
graphical images to symbolize the rich array of sounds that form recognizable
patterns used for human speech, which, in turn, signify human thought and
understanding. This explosive technology renders fleeting internal thoughts
into external objects that can be shaped, crafted, refined, preserved for
future information, and, also, conveyed to others, especially future
generations to accelerate the growth of ideas, and to secure the blessings of
hard won experience by avoiding mistakes through the miracle of a recorded
history. Thus began the long march of civilization driven by the power of
knowledge constructed carefully from sifting and analysing daily working
alphabet technology empowers people to discover, present,
and preserve truth by assembling pictures, called "letters," into words,
sentences, paragraphs, poems, memos, articles, books, and, today, movies
and email. This ancient technique to augment intelligence with precision
and accuracy makes people superhuman,
and so provides a powerful foundation of progress by relying on the
alphabet for an "operating system" of civilization.
Communication, then, is the engine of community that empowers civilization,
and it falls to us the beneficiaries of this great legacy to take, at last, the
next step by moving from information technology to a higher level of
cognition, which for convenience we call Knowledge Management.
The journey can begin only by grasping the architecture
of human thought as an
process driven by the irreversability of time. see POIMS
Talking and listening are here-and-now communication
that bring immediate action. Since action takes place in
the present, talking and listening are necessarily the dominate
mode of communication. This need plays tricks on the human mind.
It fools people into feeling that understanding
by talking things out. Nothing can change these emotional drives
wired into human mental genetics. Emotion, however, is in
conflict with accuracy, giving rise to the rule that
Talk is cheap.
Writing is accurate, but slow and expensive. It is a
communication technology for understanding to survive
and grow despite frailties of memory
so that community advances over the long-term. Some 2,000
years ago a unique class of people assiduously linked their
writings in order to build and maintain shared meaning of a story
that brings enlightenment and confidence to face perils of
daily life. Belief in the
value of truth to enable a community to be "good," or like "god,"
justified investing time to ensure accuracy by binding back to
This faith resulted in a tradition of "religion" that spoke of
the power to "turn water into wine." However, the time and cost
of conventional writing technology resulted in the power of
linking or binding back being applied only in the practice of law
to align communication in order to discover and maintain truth.
People fear the law because it reveals that limited span of
attention in human acuity is costly, as judgements are rendered
to adjust huge misunderstandings. These costs do not undermine
faith in short-term communication for accomplishing understanding
because they are removed by many years from original events.
Therefore, the genetic drive and need for daily communication
leads people to view the law with suspicion and regard opposing
views of truth as lies and "second-guessing" in order to
maintain faith in talking and listening because these faculties
seem like a fast and easy way to get things done and acquire
understanding. This form of faith is often called denial.
Overcoming ignorance, fear and denial requires
Writing made possible the first "science of life," as religious
practitioners found the means to accurately maintain shared meaning
essential for successful community. Through succeeding
centuries newer technologies have made possible highly
focused study of the many
subjects discussed in the Bible. New sciences in mathematics,
physics, astronomy, biology, anthropology, archeology and so on,
spawned and nurtured by the strength of community supported by
religious prescriptions, have seemingly stripped away pieces of
biblical rationale. New terminology makes the Bible appear
outdated by the enlightenment it brings in unraveling the
mysteries of life.
A core mystery that modern science has not unraveled is the
workings of the human mind. The Bible speaks of the soul as
central to the question of life and death. Only within the past
few decades has a new field of Cognitive Science emerged to
attempt a deeper understanding of the process by which the mind
accomplishes its wonders. An article in Time Magazine (Mar 25,
1996 p. 50 by Robert Wright) reviewed the correlation between the
Biblical soul that steers the body through life, and modern
terminology of cognition, awareness and intelligence that
comprise human consciousness. This faculty of soul, or
consciousness, enables the mind to make the connections that
convert information into knowledge. Exactly how this is done in
the brain remains a mystery, similar to the Biblical rendering of
"turning water into wine." Mysteries can only be accepted by
faith until enough experience is accumulated for people to
believe in new science. In order for experience to accumulate,
faith is needed to overcome ignorance and fear so that some may
venture forth into uncharted waters to discover the secret of
human intelligence aided by technology.
Communication Metrics is on the frontier of new management science to
exploit the original idea of religion,
which, today, is supported by study in cognitive science, in combination with
advances in computers and the Internet.
Integrating management science, cognitive science and computer science
with the right design advances the 3,000 year old technology of
using the alphabet for creating information, to a new era
of creating and managing knowledge. Transition from information to
a culture of knowledge makes the
Information Highway an "intelligence" asset, rather than a
liability, by adding the ingredient of time to support human
cognitive processes for creating, crafting and maintaining connections
of chronology in daily experience. Since sequence from chronology
imparts knowledge of cause and effect, human reasoning
and understanding are strengthened.
Expanding span of attention empowers people
to maintain alignment of understanding with original
sources and track follow up so that things get done correctly, on time, and
with less rework,
thus reducing cost
and increasing creativity, simply by augmenting human intelligence.
Leveraging innate mental capacity to think,
remember and communicate
by integrating time and information, enhances traditional
to create the connections of cause and effect
that yield knowledge, wisdom and vision, is the modern
equivalent of "turning water into wine." Since knowledge is the
engine of civilization, industry may be on the verge of
discovering how to "turn straw into gold." People are not going
to talk less. Therefore, adding a new
player to use new science and new technology
will ensure that the "straw" of constant
information is not lost in the wind of guess and gossip, but
rather each day is converted into the gold of knowledge and
ideas. Like the transition from orality to literacy reported by
Plato in his famous dialogues on
profound transformation of a culture from information that provides
immediate emotional rewards, to a culture of knowledge that yields
much greater, but deferred, cognitive and material rewards,
will occur over many years, decades, and centuries through sustained
courage and leadership of pioneers in research, education, government,
and business who take the first steps.
While terminology has changed from Aristotle's day, after 5,000
years, it's time for a change, if only there is time to listen
courage to act.