The US Air Hudson River landing & what I love about America

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Common sacrifice. Not bailout; not forgiveness for foolishness and especially not for greed. No need to save us from ourselves. Tell us what is needed and why. Persuade us that we are in this together. Maybe inspire us that we can now be part of something larger than ourselves (after all, is this not the genuine promise of America and being Americans?!). Most importantly, ensure that everyone is expected to contribute and to sacrifice and to benefit in the same way. Most important.

As we are a country of pioneers and willing to do things that no one else has tried, we don’t really like group-think and the comfort of crowds. We will calmly land a plane in a river and rapidly organize a successful rescue (I still feel that Flight 93 on 9/11 tells you all that you want to need to know about America where civilians provided the only timely and significant coordinated response on that dreadful day). There will be no survivors of US Air flight 1549 conventions; these people will just go about their businesses of being Americans.

Let’s get a head-start on the promise and expectations of Mr. Obama’s inauguration by reminding ourselves and insisting of our leadership that we are in this together.

Bravo to the United States Air Force Academy and its graduate, the captain of flight 1549, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III. His history of contingency planning, calmness under duress, insurance of the safety of his passengers and crew and the last one to exit the aircraft (naturally) offers example and sets a tone for us all in this prevailing crash-landing of a financial crisis.

Paintball and Bail-out Economics

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Yesterday was the annual birthday paintball outing. 9th year in row as each son preferred this kind of celebration. Lovely weather after several days of rain resulting in more guests than planned. Rented 15 guns with 500 paintballs each – 7,500 paintballs. Was certain that this number of shots would last us 2 hours. And I instructed each player that

‘this is your bag of 500 paintballs. Please make them last as when you are out of ammo, there will be no resupply.’

In the past, each player received 200 paintballs and I purchased an extra case of 2,000 that I would dispense throughout the play, a maximum of 5,000 paintballs. We never used more than this number.

As you might imagine from this saga, we went through the 7,500 in less than 2 hours, maybe 90 minutes. How?! I wondered aloud. Because players did not manage their own allotments, but rather chose to use a bag of 500 to fill as many guns as possible, then open another. On the surface, seems like a generous way of allocating materials. No so fast. If we all have all of the ammunition, why the need for conservation of resources. In the spirit of community ownership, we used 50% more resources in less time than in the previous 8 years.

I wonder how the unintentional consequence of wasting by sharing might characterize the bailout and financial stimulus plans approved by banks and soon, when Obama assumes office, for the economy as a whole.

‘This is yours for you to manage’

seems to be the more efficient and conservative (of resources) method more than the perspective of:

‘this is ours and we are responsible for replenishment.’

Destroyers, Financial Storms, Obama: a Web 2.0 Beacon

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

My latest customer e-gram. About to complete my second year of such musings. Would like to move to blog solely; not sure my adult, executive, corporate audience is in the habit to follow such a means of dialogue.

While serving in the US Navy, our destroyer miscalculated the severity, course & speed of a typhoon. Compounding our misery was the decision to seek safety in port moored outboard a cruiser. For three days the winds pounded us into that cruiser puncturing her hull at the water line. Incredible was it to witness a warship at general quarters while sinking at her own pier.

The mood, behavior and weather of the prevailing financial crisis recalls that
weekend in Subic Bay.

Here’s what we could do to take advantage of the indecision and relative inaction of others: head for open water- meaning the environment where we are constructed to perform our best. Let’s ensure that everyone across the extended organization, inside and outside of the firewall, understands what are our near-term intentions. This is not a recommendation for heroics or reckless behavior, but an opportunity for leadership and the beginning of the campaign to reinforce trustworthy relationships across our value chain of employees, shareholders, partners and customers.

While others are standing still or meandering waiting for the unpredictable market storms to pass, a 10% improvement in our performances could result in a 30% increase in relative advantage (distance from the pack).

Where’s the web 2.0 component? Although I am eager to talk about the continuing progress in the mobile space with Microsoft’s bid to be the search engine of choice in the Verizon mobile network (search, as Google knows, = advertising $$); the introduction of Blackberry (Storm); and the launch of the Google phone; let’s benefit from the victor’s example in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Senator O’Bama
maneuvered from not-yet-ready to the presidency, amassing an historic war chest in the process, by inspiring participation to build his financial network. His opponents throughout the extended contest waged a campaign of message control, the Web 1.0 publishing model.

There is a wide-range of Web 2.0 tools & principles to get us started and the first audience to engage may be within our own firewalls. Moving from Publication to Participation will help to build an extended culture of innovative and necessary change.

P.S. the USS Fox did not sink at that pier in Subic. And for the remainder of our deployment in the South China Sea, whenever there was more than the threat of a rainstorm, the USS Joseph Strauss lit-off her 4 boilers and got underway.