Ride the Wave ** Note from Lloyd

Don’t try and ride every wave you can. You will become very tired and not enjoy the wave that will give you the best ride all the way in. Paddle out and look for that great wave that is going to provide the best ride. You might ride a few that are not what you thought they were going to be. Just keep trying for that wave you have in your mind. What does this have to do with life? Nobody will listen to my ideas. They are sound ideas that should save time and money and I will feel good at the end of the day that I did something to help others. I am not saying I have all the answers; I just want to have a discussion about them so I can have validated input. — If you work in a place where everyone knows everything – like the guy, I am not a computer engineer but I own a computer therefore, I know everything about computers. I am not a systems engineer but I have hooked up a printer to my computer so I know how systems work. I am not and engineer at all but I served with your boss in the big one so I deserved the lead engineer now let me get back to playing solitaire – while you are here, how do I get this screen saver thingy to go away? These are the people you unfortunately have to tolerate – until your wave comes. Wait for the opportunity to show itself and go for it quietly. Find something that you can leverage that your boss wants. Leverage that item in order to build on it and ride the wave all the way in.

Honesty and Competitive Advantage


Competitive advantage seeks to address some of the criticisms of comparative advantageMichael Porter proposed the theory in 1985. Porter emphasizes productivity growth as the focus of national strategies. Competitive advantage rests on the notion that cheap labor is ubiquitous and natural resources are not necessary for a good economy. The other theory, comparative advantage, can lead countries to specialize in exporting primary goods and raw materials that trap countries in low-wage economies due to terms of trade. Competitive advantage attempts to correct for this issue by stressing maximizing scale economies in goods and services that garner premium prices (Stutz and Warf 2009).[1]

Competitive advantage occurs when an organization acquires or develops an attribute or combination of attributes that allows it to outperform its competitors. These attributes can include access to natural resources, such as high grade ores or inexpensive power, or access to highly trained and skilled personnel human resources. New technologies such as robotics and information technology can provide competitive advantage, whether as a part of the product itself, as an advantage to the making of the product, or as a competitive aid in the business process (for example, better identification and understanding of customers).

And in the war of business in our world.. we will beat our competition until we monopolize the market and control the market.  We will be powerful and wealthy and we will rule the industry.  We will be famous and we will be ruthless and our success will convey to our stakeholders and shareholders.  Our purpose will be to control, manipulate and grow our footprint throughout the global economy.  Our names and alias will be in every man, woman and child’s mind.

The problem is that no matter what industry we look at this is the case.

It isn’t that anyone has hidden the truth, it is simply that they are less than open about it.

 I could find this for almost any industry.   The brand persists but under “new management” and that we are blind to this because we simply don’t know.

These organizations compete with themselves to drive internal battles in order to create and generate more revenue.    I am fine with competition and I am fine with market differentiation in an organization but I don’t think that branding and brand consumption in this way makes sense.

Not for profit organizations are the same..  So.. how do I get to competitive advantage?

If 5 companies come to bid on a contract and 4 of the 5 are owned by the same parent company then how many companies are actually competing for the contract?

This isn’t new business … this is old business http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil

As we continue down the road with Google and Amazon and other companies that are consuming smaller brands for lunch, we need to think about the impact to our true landscape and real competitive positioning.   We need to consider the implications on cloud computing and knowledge / information sharing and we need to consider the implications of our global commerce.   The legal factors and the gouging.     I am always amazed when I see who owns what.. maybe you will find interest as well!


Why I Think Business is Personal **Remembering Arden**

2013-08-11 13.48.47I met Arden (aka Spook) in the late 1990’s after I was lucky enough to get a job at a little internet startup company called ExisNet.    I was troubled by some of life’s lessons and I was looking for myself.   Spook was one of the supervisors at ExisNet, he was a Marine (retired) but still a Marine.   I was in my late 20’s and still very young minded.    I think in his years as a leader and warfighter, he has seen plenty of young men like me.    He was an expert photographer and private investigator, he chose to work in order to have purpose but also to fund his outside activities.


At work he was a tough and stubborn guy and he would be quick to tell me that he would shoot me if I messed up.   The not so funny part was that he did carry a gun all the time and I knew that he had experience in the matter of killing.   More than fear, our team respected him.   It was Thanksgiving time and I didn’t have family in the area, he invited me to come to his family’s house for the holiday.   I didn’t know any of his family and they welcomed me in with open arms.   This was the beginning of our family connection.    As this is a simple blog and I could write many Spook stories on here, I want to point out that our relationship developed at work.  I wouldn’t have met Spook or known him otherwise.  He was my supervisor and a mentor, later he became a father figure and a friend of the highest order.   I am reminded at times that at work (it is business).   I have thought about this over and again and I disagree.  We are people and we build, maintain and grow relationships.   There are times when work relationships become something else and it could be inappropriate but more often working relationships are some of the best and deepest relationships we can in our lives.   To forcibly seek to separate these or to state that “business is not personal” is to ignore our humanity.   My best friends have come from my working relationships.   I still love and care for my relationships built while on active duty (at work).   My active friendships came from my work relationships and my family was built from my friendship with Geoff O’Brien (who reluctantly introduced me to his awesome sister).

Sammy is named for Spook (Sam Arden) Cohen

Next time someone says “business isn’t personal” think about your experiences and ask yourself about your life.   Isn’t business personal?

Spook passed away Jan 2010, his love and kindness are missed by many.    His impact on my life forever changed my path and I am reminded of him everyday.

Words for Spook

For those of us that are parents we love our children unconditionally.
In a way we are programmed to potentially have maybe a little more
patience with our children because they are after all a part of who we
are. Most of us never turn our back on our children and further we
protect them as much as we can even as they become more responsible
for themselves. We have a responsibility to care for them, after all
they are our children. We love our children unconditionally, even if
they make mistakes that are hurtful and harmful. In a way we have
limited choices when it comes to our children because they are always
ours. Spook chose to extend this same kind of love to me. He always
believed in me and pushed me to do better.984 Boys

He would tell me of the things that I can do and the success that I will
have. I didn’t have family in the area and I hardly had enough money
to make ends meet. Often Jane would pack an extra sandwich and send
it with Spook. He would tell me that he wasn’t hungry and that he
didn’t want to waste food so I should eat the sandwich.
During the holidays he would take me with him to visit with family who
would graciously accept me into their homes.
Spook was probably the most religious man I have ever known. He
didn’t practice by going to church but instead he acted on the most
fundamental principles of religion. Spook put others before himself.
Often he would enroll me in his campaign to help someone. His efforts
never ended even towards his final days.
We are all here today to celebrate Spooks life. I thought it might be
interesting for me to tell you a little about how he has impacted
potentially millions of people. Spook often told me about how he was an
orphan as a child and how he believed that family was more than just
blood relations. When I first met spook he had already retired from
the military and effectively had dealt with hundreds if not thousands
of young knuckleheads like me. He had taken many people under what
I would call Spook and Jane foster care. Spook and Jane fed and
cared for countless Marines and many friends outside of the Corp.
Spook gave to everyone, I am willing to bet that almost everyone here
today has something from him. I would even venture to say that some
of us may even have something from him with us today.
Spooks nature-wildlife website was an example of him sharing his love
of animals and nature with the world. His website still to this day gets
hundreds of thousands of hits a month. He has electronically touched
Spook loved gadgets, flashlights, tools and he loved to share them.
Often he would buy something for someone and then buy one for
himself, he couldn’t resist. He would call me to talk about new things
and new technology. He would call me almost every day. If he had
nothing to talk about we at least had an opportunity to say hello.
People.. he loved people, as I am sure most of you know.
Sorry to jump around but there is more to say than I have time. He
was a patriot, he believed that he fought as a marine for our freedom.
He believed in our country, our way of life and he believed we should
be responsible for ourselves and each other. Each of us has a personal
responsibility to do the best we can to do the right thing. Each of us
should have the courage and the integrity to stand up for what we
believe in.
Yeah.. so Spook was different. He bought what he wanted, he did
what he wanted, he did things his way. He didn’t regret. He didn’t lie.
He did what he always said he would do. He played hard and he loved
people in a way that was generally unconditional.
Our world was changed by his presence, his life, his values and his love.
I can tell you that I would not be here today and I would not have my
life if it were not for him. I would like to leave you with this one short
recent story. I was traveling to Europe not long ago and Spook gave me
some things to take with me that I was meant to return. He also
asked me to do some things which wasn’t unusual for him. When I got
back I did the things he asked and he told me to keep the things he
gave me. I started to question him as to why he was giving me this
stuff and he replied “Howie.. I am not dying, when I am dying I will tell
you I am dying and then I will tell you what you need to worry about
then.” The past two weeks have been crazy and Spook has been under
special care, pain medicine, and really a lot of pain. The day he realized
that he was dying he looked at me and said “Ok.. now I am dying and I
am telling you the things I want you to know.” He faced death as he
faced life. I hope to be more like him in my days and I hope my
children will love me as much as I love him. On behalf of myself, Erin,
William, Bryce, and Drew on behalf of my extended family and friends,
on behalf of the children reading about Lions on his website, thank you
Spook.. Thank you!

The RIGHT Data Could Be More Valuable

The power of purpose

Good data does not mean good analytics.  Larry Lorenzoni – “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.”    Without purpose data is useless.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt.  Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003, according to Schmidt. That’s something like five exabytes of data.

Let me repeat that: we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.

“The real issue is user-generated content,” Schmidt said. He noted that pictures, instant messages, and tweets all add to this.

An IBM report on big data states, “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

What about RIGHT DATA for the RIGHT purpose?   The hype on “BIG DATA” and concepts


We also have a lot of discussion this year about “Smart Data”  http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682757/turning-big-data-into-smart-data-5-lessons-for-marketers-from-the-obama-campaign

Joe Rospars, co-founder and CEO of Blue State Digital, the agency behind both of Obama’s campaigns, says harnessing the power of big data is not about simply analyzing antiseptic information, it’s about using whatever information is at your disposal to understand the people behind it all. “Big data is about having an understanding of what your relationship is with the people who are most important to you and an awareness of the potential in that relationship,” says Rospars.

Open Knowledge Foundation says-

What do we mean by “small data”? Let’s define it crudely as:

“Small data is the amount of data you can conveniently store and process on a single machine, and in particular, a high-end laptop or server”

– See more at: http://blog.okfn.org/2013/04/26/what-do-we-mean-by-small-data/#sthash.dVM0dqPF.dpuf


Small data are derived from our individual digital traces. We generate these data because most of us mediate or at least accompany our lives with mobile technologies. As a result, we all leave a “trail of breadcrumbs” behind us with our digital service providers, which together create our digital traces. The social networks, search engines, mobile operators, online games, and e-commerce sites that we access every day use these digital traces that we leave behind extensively. They aggregate and analyze our digital traces to target marketing and tailor service offerings and advertisements and to improve system performance…

…but none of these services currently consider the value of providing these personal traces back to the person who generated them. Consequently, they do not yet have a ready made vehicle to repackage their data about me, in a useful format for me, and make it available to me!  http://smalldata.tech.cornell.edu


Mining for gold in the ocean — http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/gold.html

Ocean waters do hold gold – nearly 20 million tons of it. However, if you were hoping make your fortune mining the sea, consider this: Gold in the ocean is so dilute that its concentration is on the order of parts per trillion. Each liter of seawater contains, on average, about 13 billionths of a gram of gold.

There is also (undissolved) gold in/on the seafloor. The ocean, however, is deep, meaning that gold deposits are a mile or two under water. And once you reach the ocean floor, you’ll find that gold deposits are also encased in rock that must be mined through. Not easy.

Currently, there really isn’t a cost-effective way to mine or extract gold from the ocean to make a profit. But, if we could extract all of that gold, there’s enough of it that each person on Earth could have nine pounds of the precious metal. Eureka!

If we invest the time and the money we could all have our nine pounds of gold. Better yet, we could come up with a technology to mine the gold from the ocean from the business perspective. It is possible that technologically we could mine the ocean for gold. Why don’t we do it?

I have to start asking the same questions about data. Why are we looking to focus on big data and ignoring or leaning away from the discussions on “the right” data? I think small data is akin to strategically looking for gold already in a cluster. It is easier to access (even though it still may be difficult). In the short term it is more valuable and generally the cycles in labor put against gaining this precious metal pay dividends immediately. Same could be said for small data. We have access to small data, we can easily identify what this data is contextually related to and this data has more immediate value.


The focus on data for purpose is starting to get lost on organizations that don’t pay attention to personal knowledge management or enterprise knowledge management.

Seeking data + 

Personal and Enterprise Knowledge is the key to Knowledge Transfer which enables Organization Resiliency, Sustainability and Growth.

In a recent meeting with a high level executive,  I discussed collaboration, knowledge management, knowledge transfer and the power of facilitation.   After an intense exchange of ideas the exec asked “what is the deliverable”?  That my friends is the problem here.    Big data, small data, smart data, some data, something has to be delivered in an explicit package to be of value.    The problem with that is not everything is tangible and not everything can convert to explicit data.

You go on a trip to a beautiful island resort and you have a wonderful time.   The clear blue waters were warm and inviting, at night you sank into a comfortable chair and watched the stars dance for hours.  The trip not only rejuvenated you but it also forever changed your perspective of the world and life as you know it.    At the end of the trip, there was a survey;  you were asked to rate different areas of your trip from 1-5.     At no time did a person interview you and there wasn’t a diary or historical writing of your experience, just the numeric reference for feedback.     It is possible that through the lens of numbers the resort could gain valuable insight on what they are doing right and wrong or where they could adjust BUT I suspect that the story of your experience would be of much greater value.  That story would be told from person to person and not through analytics.   It is not a “deliverable” that is accounted for.   This is what we miss all the time.     Everyone knows about it, everyone seems to “get it” and tell me that they understand the value in the stories or the value in the human element.   If that is the case and people “get it” how come so many organizations ignore it?   Why are we ignoring the emotional and more tacit considerations?

I can understand why big data is a big deal.   What about the best thing you never knew YOU had?

What about the information that you knew you had but now have lost track of?

Data has no value if it is “just data”, you could have ownership of all the gold in the ocean and never make one bar.

Maybe we overlooked the value of the ocean within itself and should never have been concerned with the gold.   The reality is that we continue to devalue people, relationships and context or work and we seek tools, technologies and STUFF.    There is nothing wrong with the usage of tools but the idea that everything is tangible, explicit and readily available is bologna.