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

Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 17:49:09 -0800

03 00050 61 99120801

Mr. Morris E. Jones
Business Unit Manager
Cable Network Operation
Intel Corporation
350 East Plumeria; Mail Stop CHP3-105
San Jose, CA 95124
Subject:   Plato, Aristotle and the Bottom Line
Reducing Mistakes is No Accident -- Be Prepared

Dear Morris,

I agree that
luck, cited in your letter today, is the target of any effort to reduce mistakes and improve earnings. Bad luck is commonly attributed to Murphy's Law in order to avoid responsibility for assessing procedures and instituting change to reduce mistakes. Experts say bad luck occurs more often due to lack of preparation; and, good luck increases when people are prepared. These long established benefits of being prepared reflect your work with the Boy Scouts to instill diligence, rather than rely on luck. Intel's chairman, Andy Grove, makes the same point in his book Only the Paranoid Survive. Thus, merely, saying there are "problems in the world," and then going home, is not a constructive effort.
Yesterday the nation's leadership decided to stop blaming Murphy, and make an initial proactive effort to reduce mistakes in medical practice. As set out in the letter on September 24, mistakes are growing everywhere, due to information overload.
In communication, luck reflects the random chance of getting a positive or negative connection in the human mind, and second, whether a wrong, connection is recognized in time to avoid infecting others and causing a deferred mistake, explained in the letter on September 24.

Accordingly, reducing mistakes in medical practice, engineering and all forms of enterprise requires reducing the influence of luck, which is the essence of proactive risk management, as opposed to reactive risk management that says get more insurance, destroy the documents and circle the wagons.
Culture from training and focused daily experience help make the right connections, and to correct the wrong connections in time to avoid mistakes. But, today, chronic information overload diminishes the influence of these factors. Indeed the growing crush of information overwhelms most people, greatly increasing the risk of random mis-connections that are hidden from the conscious mind, leading to meaning drift.
The weakness of oral communication is not a new problem. The New World Order... paper cites Aristotle's admonition in 400 BC that small mistakes in understanding grow when they go unattended. His teacher, Plato, urged greater reliance on literacy, explained in my letter yesterday. Since, as you have often pointed out, key fundamentals are timeless. Plato's teachings can help today in growing the bottom line, i.e., to increase earnings, reduce stress and conflict by reducing mistakes caused by meaning drift.
This doesn't mean we give up talking, but rather that we increase literacy to generate useful history in time to discover that the team is drifting off course, as you illustrated with the bow and arrow diagram in the meeting on March 3, 1995. SDS enhances conventional history, which originally meant adding "analysis" to the record. SDS also helps organization, alignment, feedback and summary connected to detail. These added features enhance human intelligence, and so reduce the influence of luck in the daily ferment of management, which in turn reduces the risk of error, so that leadership is effective. The article in the June issue of Fortune noted that leaders, who grab a pen and start writing at the end of meetings, have good luck in greater measure than those who aver this practice. Andy Grove, Intel's chairman, gives good luck a boost by exercising diligence to prepare copious notes that avoid mistakes caused by the ambiguity of mental maps, underscoring the wisdom of the Boy Scout motto...

be prepared
While Grove notes that it is not fun nor easy to be prepared, using conventional methods available at Intel, your letter on August 17 noted that diligence and remembering are helped by SDS technology. On November 17 1995 Doctor Maynard Brusman, a clinical psychologist, concurred that SDS helps people remember better than other methods. As noted in my letter yesterday, for thousands of years, at least since the time of Plato in 400 BC, people have recognized that diligence and memory are big factors in reducing mistakes. Poetry evolved to reduce mistakes in human memory. The alphabet was invented about 700 BC to improve poetry as a memory aid; and, SDS improves alphabet technology, as set out in the NSF proposal, which Intel reviewed on July 13. Insurance people who work with risk are fond of saying...
Reducing mistakes is no accident!

Investment in people, tools and process reduces the risk in all forms of enterprise, so there is a better chance to experience good luck. This requires leadership with a broader vision.
Thanks for continuing to consider this important point.



Rod Welch