440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111-2496
415 781 5700

[Submitted via Internet]

July 15, 1997                                          03 00050 97071301

Mr. R. Max Wideman
Wideman, R. Max
2216 West 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6L 1J5

Subject:  Calculate Cost/Benefit Communication Metrics

Ref:   a. Wideman letter Jul 12, 1997
          b. Welch letter Jul 9, 1997
          c. Communication Metrics report Mar 28, 1997
              U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Dear Max,
Thanks for your email. I am in Helen, MT this weekend supporting a customer. When I return, I will mail a copy of the Corps of Engineers' report on Communication Metrics, ref c.
>Rod, I was interested to read the material you sent me, particularly that
>you had applied your 'art' to a construction project.  Generally, that's
>where the big money is!  I suspect, however, the real need is in the IT
>world (as your earlier correspondence showed.)

There is ample money in IT. Intel and Microsoft among many have good earnings, while IBM, DEC and others need innovation and better management to catch up. My sense is that any large organization, large project environment needs a way to leverage its knowledge work by using my technology in the manner I propose. What is missing is knowledge of the solution and faith to try it so they can discover the power of the "microcosm." It is well recognized in atomic energy and in computer chip design that gaining control over lower levels of organic structure yields significant power. I believe the same power is available to executives and managers when they gain control over similar structures in management details. Of course people are initially afraid of power, and so shy from letting the genie out of the bottle. But, for now, as the information revolution explodes, people remain igonrant that over time information becomes

Mr. R. Max Wideman                                  Page 2 of 5
2216 West 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6L 1J5
Subject:  Calculate Cost/Benefit Communication Metrics

just so much "straw in the wind," as explained in the paper prepared by the Air Force Institute of Technology showing management is overwhelmed by information entropy, resulting in cost growth. Using technology to integrate time and information under an "organic subject structure" seems to convert otherwise inert information into productive knowledge, echoing the fable of turning straw into gold. Such is the power of investing intellectual capital on a daily basis, by adding intelligence to information, which is not possible under present management practice.

People know how to do it but cannot do it consistently. They are drawn instead to short cuts by the siren song of "expediting." They use conversation because it seems fast and easy, probably they saw a movie that showed a great leader solved everything in 90 minutes by talking people into doing what is "right." They do not realize that the movie took a lot of time to prepare by writing a carefully crafted script and rehersal so everything would come our right. Only consistent use of good communication builds successful communities and organizations. This takes more than talking and listening. It takes a script to build understanding and it takes follow up linked back to original sources. These steps take special technology (SDS) and someone who has the faith and skill to use it every day even when we don't see a specific problem. We have to make the investment in order to be prepared to understand problems and opportunities when are seen.

So this is a basic advance in knowledge tools that should benefit everyone, in the same way that the alphabet and numerals help people everyday. I don't think it is industry specific. It evolved from experience in the construction industry and the law, because these fields inherently apply organic structure to information, although asking a contractor or lawyer about these ideas does not yield recognition. But the whole of civilization is built on the premiss that people can succeed without understanding the underlying principles of their craft, just as a nation can succeed by following its constitution, even though people do not understand it. This, of course is the essence of religion that sustains a culture, and projects it forward. Those people who castigate religion as non-scientific are blind to the science of humanity that cannot be absorbed in a lifetime. It takes many lifetimes to grasp the sweeping hand of biology that limits our field of operation, even though such limits seem counter to near term experience. It takes enormous faith to opt for win-win, instead of win-lose, as promulgated in the idea "thou shalt not steal." What is the source of that faith?

Anyway, you can see I think there is an interesting nexus between religion and technology, as set out in my paper "New World Order Needs Old Time Religion." When these worlds collide, enlightenment will follow.

Mr. R. Max Wideman                                  Page 3 of 5
2216 West 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6L 1J5
Subject:  Calculate Cost/Benefit Communication Metrics

>So, I'd like to raise a separate issue (if you don't mind  me asking.)
>What is the real goal of your mission?
>Is it to probe the depths of the (let's call it) 'PM communiation
>function', or is it to create an environment for promoting the Welch
>Company?  I realize that both are important but it is a question of
My goal is first to make a living for myself and my family, and if I can move the world forward, so much the better. Since I have these tools, methods and skills, and since I know they can help others accomplish their objectives better than any other thing they are presently doing, under the reasoning above about the value of the alphabet, and the consequent value of an order of magnitde advance in the application of that tool, it seems like the goals are in sync: accomplishing the first goal will lead toward the second. It was a very lucky hunch for me to have discovered this path in applying technology some 12 years ago. I had assumed others would discover it. But, having explored it with very capable technologists and others, I find there is a counter-intuitive dimension to what is really a very simple process, that prevents others from taking the path I did in 1985. Even if you discover it, you have to have faith in its efficacy to use it enough for the power of the microcosm to become manifest. Investing intellectual capital takes time to pay off. When rewards are deferred, people abandon the effort.

Anyway, I am probably torn about priorities. It seems so good that it should work, as described in the Corps of Engineers report. I just don't know if I can sustain the effort for the period required to build the recognition needed to reach a critical mass in the market place.

>For example, Decision Sciences put out a regular newsletter extoling the
>virtues of their software for Risk Analysis.  I am sure their work is very
>good, but I am not convinced that they have contributed a lot to the theory
>of risk management.
>In your case, I think you have identified a whole new environment to
>explore, i.e. 'Project Management Communications Management' and the
>reduction of rework and conflict arising from inadequate communication.  I
>am not sure I understand why you have tied it to PM Risk Management though.
>Is that a marketing ploy?

Mr. R. Max Wideman Page 4 of 5 2216 West 21st Avenue Vancouver, BC V6L 1J5 Canada Subject: Calculate Cost/Benefit Communication Metrics
I am exploring "communicaiton" as the foundation of community, and "Projects" happen to be one form of community. There is more re-work in projects because of their one-time nature, so the premium on providing better communicaiton is higher in this arena. This weekend, I have finally begun a calculation of error exposure as a function of communications based on risk management research over the past several weeks. This is a marketing ploy in the sense that as communication goes up, so does the rate of error. It is a curious finding, since most people feel their problems arise from a lack of communication. They propose the remedy of more dialog and pictures, but as Henry Kissinger and Drucker have noted, this does not result in better "communication." My marketing pitch is that every "community" e.g., project, business, government agency, is at risk under current trends toward more information, because they fall prey to information entropy, a morass of errors that eventually implodes. I say, I can avoid this risk by providing business intelligence to convert information into knowledge. So I am looking for ways to illustrate risks people can readily recognize and a way to help them easily see the correlation with an expanding information base.
>It seems that management are suckers for complexity.  If it is complex (and
>especially if they don't understand it) then it *must* be worth buying.
>Yet it take a real genius to simplify the complex to something
>understandable.  And then that's not saleable because "anyone can do it."
My experience has been different from yours. The people to whom I present my tools and methods, e.g., IBM, MK, Intel, feel they are too complicated and that they can solve their communication problems with more and smarter people, and getting on the internet. A major hurdle for me is credibility. It is similar to Bill Gates when he approached AT&T in the late 70s with the idea of providing a single protocol for Unix operating systems. AT&T did not want a solution from a small start-up for so important a matter. Bill has since been fortunate to associate with IBM for a period to generate the revenue needed to produce the operating system he had in mind sharing with AT&T. He calls it Windows NT and Windows 95 (see Fortune Jun 1997). His cause was aided by the credibility formulated from earlier success as a result of the IBM association, which according to the liturature was a lucky break. So we need good ideas, persistence and luck to find effective associations and paths.

Possibly I have been unable to talk to the right people. Do you have any ideas?

Mr. R. Max Wideman                                  Page 5 of 5
2216 West 21st Avenue
Vancouver, BC  V6L 1J5
Subject:  Calculate Cost/Benefit Communication Metrics
As I say, I have produced a preliminary spreadsheet, equating errors and cost with the volume of communication. The idea is to help people see how projects that seem to be going so well in the beginning, later turn out so problematic. People chalk it up to bad luck, underlings who did not tell the truth, and so on lumped into "Murphy's Law." My sense is that poor results reflect inevitable information entropy caused by the way business is conducted and that it can be significantly reduced by adding "metrics" to communications.

The basic idea is to generate each month the number of undiscovered and not- corrected miss-communications. This number actually grows exponentially because of the human mind's ability to buffer out problems. That is how a fixed number of people on a project continues to perform an expanding workload. They just stop reading email and answering documents because their whole day is consumed by meetings and dialog, all with the best of intentions to "expedite."

I am thinking of simply distributing the unrecognized errors randomly among a list of recognized risk factors, and showing month after month how potential for each risk grows. Risks with the highest industry history for occurring will then be reported as occurring in the model, with consequent increase in time and cost to complete the project.

An "error" is simply a difference between participants in communications about the meaning and intent of information conveyed. Only a portion will be material, and many of them will be counter-balancing, but the potential is so large that even assuming a small proportion of material errors are undetected, becomes a huge potential for major impact as the project proceeds month to month and the number of people and issues grow along the traditional bell curve of project activity.

Not really sure this will be the answer. Thanks for your input.



Rod Welch