Transforming the Enterprise
Unleash the Innovation Within™
July, 2010 - Vol 1, Issue 6
In This Issue
Structurally Engineered Enterprise
Clear Choice: Semantic Structure or Systemic Crises
Recruiting SVP Business Development
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Mark and Betsy Montgomery at Camp Muir -- 2002
My wife Betsy and I recently hiked up to the top of New Mexico (slide show), which provided a good opportunity to reflect on the similarities between mountain climbing and tech entrepreneurship. The last time we stood together at the summit of NM was in October of 1993, which was just before I launched our lab and incubator that would eventually lead to Kyield.

The picture shown here is from a trip in 2002 when we hiked to Camp Muir at Mt. Rainier National Park, which is where we met 30 years ago.

The activities of tech entrepreneur and mountain climber have a great deal in common. Both are risky, face massive immovable obstacles in constantly changing environmental conditions, require excellent technology, good conditioning, specific skill sets, acclimatization, endurance, and trusted partners. Both also normally involve motivation, inspiration, team-work, planning, adventure, and in some cases achieve specific objectives. Luck is of course welcome, but is unreliable.

One of several young climbing guides during our time at the 'mountain' who has since become legendary is Ed Viestures. In his book No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks, Ed discusses his philosophy of risk management, which is well suited to the world of technology commercialization. Jon Krakauer describes Viestures as "not only one of our strongest mountaineers, but one of the most remarkable. He's demonstrated that it's possible to climb the world's highest peaks without taking reckless chances, and without sacrificing one's honor or integrity."

I highly recommend this book for any decision maker--particularly in business and finance where we need new leaders who share similar qualities.

Mark Montgomery
 Structurally Engineered Enterprise
One of the consistent messages we have raised with decision makers in large organizations over the past decade is the ever-increasing need to view the digital workplace environment through the eyes of an organizational engineer. For example, 'structural integrity' has been an essential component missing in enterprise software and communications at the core of every major catastrophe we've studied.

We are always attempting to communicate more effectively what is admittedly a complex topic, even if our system is in part designed to reduce complexity; "any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent..." In written text we find the comparison to the human brain and neurological system to be the most valid, but for visual demonstration we've yet to make that case. I question how well such an image would be understood, unless of course we were presenting to a conference of neurologists. I thought Greek architecture would be easier to understand since the style is iconic in our culture, including in
D.C. and on Wall Street.

Santa Fe Sunset by Mark A. Montgomery

We should disclose however that the style selected was not without protest internally as it admittedly capitulates to the rather primitive state of affairs within enterprise software, as evidenced in part by the recent accounting errors revealed in government accounting systems in Greece. Increased innovation and productivity are important, but seem tiny in comparison to the largest financial losses in human history over the past decade, until one realizes that to achieve one the other must be functional, thus requiring a holistic architecture. I am confident that human caused systemic crises can be prevented in any organization that fully adopts Kyield. -- MM

Clear Choice: Semantic Structure or Systemic Crises

I was recently approached by a consultant who came out of "big oil". This person was writing a book on credibility and making the ancient pitch that perception is reality; all that mattered was the perception of the oil industry.

We exchanged about a dozen emails on the Gulf disaster, innovation, and crisis prevention, until I honestly admitted that it was a distraction to my work, that these were archaic arguments, that denial and arrogance were yet again proven resilient, and that the oil industry culture and by extension government regulators were very poorly informed (actually to the point of being self destructive).

Among other serious problems, the institutional cultures in government and industry are suffering a delusion that experts in specific disciplines hold the keys to the innovation door. From a business perspective, I see this crisis as a major opportunity for alternative energy and smaller oil companies that are more innovative. From a macro global economics perspective, I see the argument for more engineers and entrepreneurs at decision levels like in China instead of lawyers in the U.S. (one of few lessons from China the U.S. would be well served to follow).

Of course the individual didn't take it well: "for someone who claims they know a lot about innovation-you sure have a closed mind".  I do have a closed mind on some issues, or actually no time, for conflicted debates attempting to persuade me that the sun didn't rise this morning given that I witnessed same with my own eyes. The live cam of the oil spill would seem to negate attempts at denial, but no; we've just seen the blame game move from oil partners to industry/government partners.

Oil tanker on a wave

My view is that all of the actors involved lost credibility based on the evidence, not perception, and should no longer enjoy the privilege to be in the decision chain. Credible leaders would step aside and seek wisdom outside of their failed system. I suspect that the attempt at persuading me was part of a large damage control effort from other giants in the oil industry who will no doubt be harmed from the reaction to this crisis; part of the macro problem today in not knowing who is working for whom, particularly in consulting and increasingly academia.

Enter the polymath

Whether dealing with systemic risk on Wall Street, the FRB, MMS, or an oil rig, one of my favorite quotes is often ignored, but should be kept front and center:

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
  - Attributed to Albert Einstein

Not normally thought of as a polymath, rather a genius physicist, Einstein's actual writings demonstrating the ability to apply lessons in one discipline to another suggests to me otherwise. While we hear a great deal of talk and hype about interdisciplinary approaches today, we do not see much evidence of the polymath philosophy in our institutions, including at the highest levels of government and industry. That is a very serious problem (for more on polymaths, I recommend reading Abbie Lundberg's review of the book 'The New Polymath').

When working to solve the vast majority of difficult problems today, the complexity requires a broad perspective that is sufficiently deep in multiple disciplines to be able to combine the fragments in a coherent, functional system of solutions. Most of the decision makers in large organizations like BP and the U.S. Government, even those in engineering, have long been bureaucrats by necessity-otherwise they wouldn't have survived.

"Look at the oil spill problem. Everyone thinks it's a technological problem. It's not. It's a management problem." - UC Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea.

I first came across Robert Bea's work about a decade ago when I dove deep into the study of systemic crisis and prevention. His summary report on the Deepwater Horizon disaster can be viewed here.

While Professor Bea is an engineer with significant experience in the oil industry, his breadth of knowledge becomes obvious when reading his reports, to include Katrina, which was an event I studied closely.

"It's an attitude of independence, an attitude of being willing to be very, very deeply immersed in data, an attitude of healthy skepticism, an attitude of being able to question other people's findings," -Kathleen Tierney, Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"He's a giant in our industry," said J. David Rogers, Missouri University of Science and Technology. "Bob has the big-picture view that you just don't see much anymore. We've become a culture of specialists. And those aren't the kind of people who can figure out failures." (Quotes from a profile on Bea at SFGate)

He may not represent a classic polymath, but Bea does provide the breadth of experience and knowledge rarely found. Unfortunately, like every other well conceived report on crises, his reports have been largely ignored within the same type of phenomenon that enabled the crises to occur, representing an ever larger negative spiral of systemic crises, which taken together appear more like a series, or even perhaps a single event in hindsight.

The collapse of the Deepwater Horizon and continuing oil gusher from the Gulf seafloor is the latest preventable disaster calling for structured multi-organizational systems. Until we hardwire structured data in a logical, adaptive organizational architecture, accountability is not possible in large organizations; and without accountability all manner of human manipulation and error can and will occur. - MM

This article is posted on our blog here.

Recruiting SVP of Business Development

Kyield is seeking an experienced professional to lead international business development efforts for our state-of-the-art semantic enterprise software and communications system. This is a contract position for an emerging leader that requires extensive experience in sourcing and negotiating deals with software integrators, management consultants, and decision makers in large organizations; including the CIO, CFO, CTO, and CEO.
We recently unveiled our health care Platform as a Service, which is a priority for Kyield and a very large market, so individuals with extensive experience in health care are encouraged to apply. The individual we seek must not only have a strong understanding of the previous generation of enterprise software and communication products and services (market), but must also quickly understand next generation systems, and Kyield value in particular. This individual must be highly motivated, exceptionally intelligent, and driven to succeed in developing sound partnerships in licensing and M&A with very little oversight.
Most of the compensation will be in equity and bonuses for the first six months, which could be significant. Kyield is based in Santa Fe, NM. While it is preferred that the candidate be located in a leading related market, the business development position can be based anywhere, depending on the strength of the candidate and proven functionality in similar tasks from that location.
Please respond to the LinkedIn job posting with cover letter, resume, references, and examples of sales/BD deals.
Thank you!