Monday, June 16, 2008

Sabotaged Minds

If you took your Father's Day to go trout fishing in the Chattahoochee River, and if you caught anything that you considered worth keeping and that won't make your toenails fall out once you have eaten it, you may have acquired a copy of the Sunday, June 15, 2008 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution to prepare your catch for the freezer. And if you paused long enough in the @issue section of the paper, you may have seen these two articles...

“Higher ed, lower bar”
(This article was reprinted from the June 2008 edition of The Atlantic under the title "In the Basement of the Ivory Tower".)

“You say sabotage, I say checklist for my job”

The first article seems to square with my experience of being a student in some post-baccalaureate classes I took from Georgia State University. I was taking a secondary education classes to obtain my professional educator's certification to teach in the state of Georgia (which I no longer do, by the way). One of my professors actually confided in me how depressed he was over the lack of ability of his students to engage in well structured thought. His complaints echoed in my mind as I read the editorial by Professor X. These students were heading out the door eventually to teach the students of the state of Georgia.

As I read the second article, I couldn’t help but think to myself that our culture has actually internalized these sabotage techniques as the way to business of any kind. And I finally realized the problem. It’s not that people don’t want to think, it’s that they CAN’T think. And we have taught them to be this way.

Dudes, we are toast.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Did they learn anything?

I noticed something funny in one of the latest issues (May 26, 2008) of Fortune magazine. It's an ad placed by the Air Force. I haven't seen it in other periodicals yet, but maybe I haven't been attentive enough. The ad begins on page 39. It shows a picture of some unseemly third world dictator waving his gun along with his entourage of other gun toters (by the way, I'm a gun toter, too, so my point is not to disparage the gun toting crowd). The caption on the picture says; "How do you discourage a rogue leader who wants to flex his muscles?" On the following page is a picture of a B-2 bomber with the caption: "Flex back."

The graphic answer provided by the Air Force to force initiated by rogue leaders is to respond with technological brute force. I wondered how John Boyd would respond to this. I can't speak for the Air Force as to what the organization's actual approach is to rogue leaders, but given Boyd's insistence on the priority of people over technology to solve the kind of complex problems posed by rogue leaders, I'd be inclined to think he would be disappointed with the ad. The reason rogue leaders are considered rogues is that they are, well, roguish, unpredictable, novelty generating agents. Those kinds of people eventually figure out how to subvert the best technology.

Don't misunderstand me...I'm not suggesting that Boyd was opposed to the use of technology nor am I suggesting that the Air Force should abandon its technology. But I think the ad might have reassured me more of the Air Force's capabilities if the ad featured people and intelligence over technology. But I guess the ad was designed to attract recruits, not reassure the citizenry.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We don't need no stinking spreadsheets

My review of the modeling application Analytica 4.1 was published in INFORMS's periodical, "ORMS Today", today.

I don't think it will get the Pulitzer, but it might cure insomnia.

I think that should be Strategic PlanTing Tool

Click on the image and see the lower left corner if you don't get what I mean in the title.