Independence Day Lessons on Adaptability and Survival from the Ancestral Puebloans


Aroma Pueblo, by Betsy Genta-Montgomery Copyright 2016

Aroma Pueblo by Betsy Genta-Montgomery Copyright 2016

July 4th, 2016

The photo above represents a learning opportunity especially relating to survival and adaptation. Recently completed by my wife Betsy[i], the artwork was inspired by our visit to the Acoma Pueblo a few months ago, which is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. Ancestors of current residents have lived on top of a 360-foot tall rock tower since 1150 A.D.

Their previous home was located on an even more formidable tower across the valley similar to the rock mesa in the center of Betsy’s art piece. Legend has it that a bolt of lightening shattered the steep rock steps leading to their old village so the Acoma people moved to the current location.

Other than the occasional battles with other Native American tribes, the Acoma people lived for generations at a time in relative peace until interrupted by major events that would change the course of history. The first major event occurred in the form of a 50-year drought that forced the Ancestral Pueblo peoples from the Chaco Canyon to other locations throughout the Southwestern U.S.

A second history-changing event for the Pueblos began with the arrival of the Spanish around 1540. The relationship between these two very different cultures was peaceful for several decades until a series of mishaps led to the horrific Battle of Acoma Pueblo. After two days of traditional warfare, modern technology in the form of cannon proved decisive for the Spanish in winning the battle. Tragically, the Spanish officer in charge ordered savage retribution followed by many years of slavery, ultimately leading to the bloody Pueblo Revolt eight decades later when tribes joined together and drove the Spanish out of the region.

Taken together, the Acoma Massacre and Pueblo Revolt represent an extreme case of leadership failure that decision makers from all walks of life can learn from. A single horrific decision by one military leader on a single day nearly two centuries before the American Revolution still brings pain and influences decisions throughout the region over four centuries later, and no doubt influenced many a negotiation.

The centuries that followed offered more turmoil for the region under the control of Spain, Mexico, and then finally the United States in 1848, but today the Acoma people are applying modern business methods in making the best of a challenging situation, seizing opportunities, and improving their future while preserving their cultural roots and traditions. The Acoma Pueblo own and operate cultural facilities at ‘old Acoma’ as well as the Sky City Casino Hotel and travel center, which is a significant employer and economic engine on I-40 between Albuquerque and Grants, New Mexico.

In addition to visiting with the friendly people at the old pueblo, who graciously welcomed a diverse mix of international tourists during our Easter weekend tour, we also enjoyed visiting the San Esteban del Rey Mission. A Catholic mission founded in 1629 that required 12 years to complete, the church is 150 feet long with vigas spanning the entire 40-foot width. The timber used for the vigas were harvested in the San Mateo Mountains 30 miles to the north and were transported by the Acoma people by foot. The adobe walls of the church are seven foot thick at the base on one side and five on the other. Adjacent to the church is their historic cemetery made of soil carried manually up steep steps carved out of the sandstone cliffs.

My takeaway

The Acoma people and their story represent a fine lesson for business and community leaders in adapting to radical changes beyond their control, despite extreme culture clashes and harsh environments. Lessons learned from the Acoma Pueblo can no doubt be applied to many around the world (see UNM business case summary).

Among the most important responsibilities each of us face during our brief life is taking charge of our own learning. Only then can we begin to make decisions as independent thinkers free from indoctrination, conflicting interests or agendas of others, which is prerequisite to becoming mature adults and valuable citizens prepared to contribute, particularly in a democracy in the vital role of informed citizens and consumers. This responsibility to others and ourselves never ends in our conscious lives, so we should grasp opportunities to learn and grow at every reasonable opportunity.

Leaders have a greater responsibility to practice continuous learning in order to maintain a high state of awareness in relevant matters; particularly in the type of highly complex, tumultuous and hypercompetitive environments we face today. Those few I consider great leaders then apply wisdom gained from experiential learning to rise above short-termism to contribute more to our world than they extract.

Although much easier to claim sustainability than to achieve, important lessons on stewardship can be learned from other cultures and eras. Our Founding Fathers of the United States for example studied many cultures and governance models before collectively deciding on a specific type of democracy in our constitutional republic.

Visiting the Acoma Pueblo

The old Acoma Pueblo is located about 60 miles west of Albuquerque a few miles south of I-40 on a good paved road. We spent the night at one of several motels in Grants, NM on our visit, which is a pleasant 40-minute drive by car. Visitors must park at the Sky City Cultural Center located at the base of the rock tower, which houses the Haak’u museum, Y’aak’a Café, gift shop and conference rooms, providing an experience similar to a national park. Walking tours are regularly scheduled with a short mini bus ride from the cultural center up to the village, which consists of over 250 family-owned dwellings still without water or electricity, some portion of which are still full-time residents with the remainder used by families during cultural and religious ceremonies.

About the author:

Mark Montgomery is the founder and CEO of Kyield, which has been a pioneer at the confluence of human and machine intelligence for two decades.

[i] Though quite similar to ‘Old’ Acoma Pueblo, it is not a replica. Betsy has a unique style of mortar sculpture over wood with different thicknesses for depth perception and shapes, natural woods, and oil paint.

Revolution in IT-Enabled Competitiveness


Four Stages of Enterprise Network Competence

Most current industry leaders owe their existence beyond basic competencies and resources to a strong competitive advantage from early adoption of systems engineering and statistical methods for industrial production that powered much of the post WW2 economy. These manual systems and methods accelerated global trade, extraction, logistics, manufacturing and scaling efficiencies, becoming computerized over the last half-century.

The computer systems were initially highly complex and very expensive, though resulted in historic business success such as American Airlines’ SABRE in 1959 [1] and Walmart’s logistics system staring in 1975 [2], which helped Walmart reach a billion USD in sales in a shorter period than any other company in 1980.

As those functions previously available to only a few became productized and widely adopted globally, the competitive advantage began to decline. The adoption argument then changed from a competitive advantage to an essential high cost of entry.[3]   When functionality in databases, logistics and desktops became ubiquitous globally the competitive advantage was substantially lost, yet costs continued to rise in software while falling dramatically in hardware, causing problems for customers as well as national and macro global economics. In order to achieve a competitive advantage in IT, it became necessary for companies to invest heavily in commoditized computing as a high cost of initial entry, and then invest significantly more in customization on top of the digital replicas most competitors enjoyed.

The network era began in the 1990s with the commercialization of the Internet and Web, which are based on universal standards, introduced a very different dynamic to the IT industry that has now impacted most sectors and the global economy. Initially under-engineered and overhyped for short-term gains during the inflation of the dotcom bubble, long-term impacts were underestimated as evidenced by ongoing disruption today causing displacement in many industries. We are now entering a new phase Michael Porter refers to as ‘the third wave of IT-driven competition’, which he claims “has the potential to be the biggest yet, triggering even more innovation, productivity gains, and economic growth than the previous two.” [4]

While I see the potential of smart devices similar to Porter, the potential for AI-enhanced human work for increased productivity, accelerated discovery, automation, prevention and economic growth is enormous and, similar to the 1990s, while machine intelligence is overhyped in the short-term, the longer term impact could indeed be “the biggest yet” of the three waves. This phase of IT-enabled competitiveness is the logical extension of the network economy benefiting from thousands of interoperable components long under development from vast numbers of sources to execute the ‘plug and play’ architecture many of us envisioned in the 1990s. This still emerging Internet of Entities when combined with advanced algorithmics brings massive opportunity and risk for all organizations in all sectors, requiring operational systems and governance specifically designed for this rapidly changing environment.

This is a clip from an E-book nearing completion titled: The Kyield OS: A Unified AI System; Rapid Ascension to a Higher Level of Performance. Existing or prospective customers are invited to send me an email for a copy upon completion within the next month – markm at kyield dot com.

[1] https://www.aa.com/i18n/amrcorp/corporateInformation/facts/history.jsp

[2] http://www.scdigest.com/ASSETS/FIRSTTHOUGHTS/12-07-26.php?cid=6047

[3] Lunch discussion on topic with Les Vadasz in 2009 in Silicon Valley.

[4] https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-smart-connected-products-are-transforming-competition

How small states like New Mexico can compete in business


Mark on Wheeler summit - Oct 1993

Betsy-Wheeler Summit-Oct 1993

Mark and Betsy Montgomery on top of NM – October of 1993


I first studied the New Mexico (NM) economy about twenty-two years ago as an independent consultant through formal business and market audits, which was followed by covering the region in our incubator and venture capital firm a decade later. Six years ago my wife and I chose to move to NM from the Bay area, bringing Kyield with us.

So I thought it might be useful to contribute my perspective to the recent efforts to transform the NM economy into a more dynamic entrepreneurial economy. Hopefully this format is an appropriate method, offered in good faith with no conflict or investment other than as a local entrepreneur and citizen shared in much the same way I would have presented to a client in a verbal counseling session following a formal process, though hopefully also reflective of a great deal of expensive lessons since.

One commonality found in many flyover states and countries is a culture suffering from low self-esteem, which is often well earned by toxic macro economic policies or other factors. My sense of this since living in NM is that victimization is deeply rooted, and was quite strong during and after the peak of the global financial crisis. In a state that has never experienced a significant business success, especially in an era of historic financial consolidation, it’s understandable that NM would be a bit cynical.

However, although NM’s history is peppered over the centuries with strategic blunders in far-off capitols, it’s important to avoid allowing moral hazard to further harm NM in the future, as the state needs to reduce dependencies and create an economically diverse economy. Private sector growth and diversification are particularly important at this point in NM’s history given the fiscal projections of the federal government, which could threaten a significant portion of the NM economy in the near future. In addition, disruptive technical threats to oil and gas are maturing rapidly.

It is therefore not only important for NM to understand that it has the capacity to compete with anyone, but it may be imperative to do so, which should translate to a very high priority for accelerating private sector diversification.

During my earlier years assisting other entrepreneurs and communities we developed a comprehensive list of fourteen ingredients regional economies needed to be successful, eight of which we considered essential, though weak areas can be shored up in a variety of ways to meet minimal viability—short of luck of course.

The most important lesson every state can learn is that each has more than sufficient capacity to achieve a robust economy, provided the community is willing to do just a few things well. The following are a few essentials from that list that clearly need work in NM.

  1. Work as a team.

As difficult as it may seem in our polarized society, ideological and partisan disagreements must be substantially removed from the process of competing in business. A personal case for me was as a young entrepreneur and member of ‘Team Washington’ in the 1980s, which produced an environment where several global business leaders emerged as well as many smaller companies. Of course Washington is only one of dozens globally that should be considered, and every region should perform their own tailored SWOT analysis to guide adaptive action plans, but a few similarities exist that NM and other regions should consider.

The Puget Sound economy had become far too dependent upon the federal government and the Boeing company in the post WW2 era, both of which experienced devastating cut backs in the 1960s and early 1970s reflected by the famous billboard in 1971 sponsored by local real estate brokers: “”Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — Turn out the lights”.

A decade later the informal team effort I played a small role in included members from all sectors of the regional economy led by a few of the more experienced in business ranging from the largest to the smallest in close collaboration with local and state governments, universities, and non-profits. Although the Puget Sound economy enjoyed considerably more strength than NM, it was a small community compared to leading capital centers with a relatively small group of dedicated leaders providing much of the heavy lifting.

While Seattle and the U.S. have changed greatly since the 1980s, we didn’t discuss politics much in the civic minded business building endeavors. With few exceptions I wasn’t even aware of party affiliation of the other members I met. The focus was economy, business building, community building, winning, and having some fun along the way.

Among the most important takeaways from Washington and many other engagements since is that individual and team efforts may or may not be personally rewarded. While communities should work diligently to support those who support them, the nature of modern economic growth is like life itself—quite dynamic and not always just. The broad impacts from a few may not necessarily be appreciated.

  1. Keep it clean

Given the recent history of D.C., Wall St. and the famously incestual nature of Silicon Valley, this may be shocking or even unwelcome, but the governance breakdown in power centers is precisely why it’s so important for regional centers to rebuild on strong foundations. Trust and integrity are critical to entrepreneurial cultures. The corrosive cost of corruption is well understood by those who study global economics and markets.

In my first several meetings in NM with officials and professionals I was warned of this systemic unmentionable problem, some of which I had observed in earlier audits, but it was still shocking to see so many felony cases involving public entities in NM. Of course different types of corrupted systems and processes exist, not all of which are illegal—abuse in government contracting is a good example, but are still toxic to the type of entrepreneurs smaller markets need in order to become more dynamic and diversified.

States like NM that have a poor track record with investors need to make an especially robust effort in improving governance, transparency, and honest trade. While progress has been made in NM in recent years, it takes time and effort to improve reputations.

  1. Enhance strengths, mitigate weaknesses

If NM hasn’t performed a SWOT analysis led by a seasoned business consultant with relevant skills and knowledge it should do so, as should each state and local community that desires to improve competitive outcomes. The process itself has considerable value. Among the most important aspects of becoming a competitive business or regional economy is in raising the bar to the competitive level. While this includes continuous learning by and for business leaders and entrepreneurs, it’s just as important for local institutions, employees, and communities. Almost everyone in a community has numerous untapped opportunities to improve the regional economy.

A common misunderstanding today across the U.S. and EU—including NM, is that success is born only from direct strategic interests. In fact diversified economies require just the opposite. If the team effort is restricted even primarily to personal or institutional strategic interests, most competitions will be lost. For example, while benefiting a great deal from behind the scene support by many and direct efforts by a few, Microsoft, Costco, and Starbucks were not products of local institutions, though benefited from community support. The same is true for most successful businesses I’ve been close to in my career.

The critical part of modern economic success through business building is the ability to identify and match opportunities and talent with appropriate resources, which is a continual never-ending process in conjunction with the constantly changing economy. While every business has unique qualities, each has essential needs that simply must be met. NM is unusually challenged with lack of customers and corporate headquarters, which simply means significant focus must be placed on overcoming those weaknesses. It’s rather obvious, but if few local customers exist and many of those that do are government, a competitive private sector marketing effort becomes essential.

Although NM has strength in corporate relocation, tourism, film, art, and agriculture, which could no doubt be further leveraged across sectors, a certain degree of conflict exists between states and federal institutions, which is reflected in organizational and regulatory structures and extended to tech transfer and spin outs. While governance challenges, institutional conflicts, strategic venturing and dependency on fossil fuels and government are not unusual, the impacts in NM are more significant than most.

Though more critical in NM due to a few large institutions, competitive regional markets must learn how to play together well on the same team even if primarily extra curricular, civic minded and informal, though still high priority. Informal civic-minded team efforts should be supported by institutional sponsors with appropriate pressure applied if necessary, but should not be considered alternatives for highly sophisticated business intelligence methods found at any competitive organization today.

  1. Support local ventures

Economists have labeled this phenomenon ‘regional bias’. It became somewhat out of vogue in the U.S. during the rapid expansion of globalization in part apparently due to a combination of the growth needs of leading corporations and consolidated wealth in the hands of a few who had both financial and ideological interest in moving industry abroad. While global trade is mutually beneficial, scholars generally agree that the trend was overdone. Although we’ve experienced some recent improvement in regional efforts in the U.S., my personal experience suggests functionality has not returned to levels enjoyed during peak performance or to the degree found in other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia and in U.S. capital centers, which have very large, highly sophisticated strategic ecosystems.

The lack of sufficient capacity for proactive regional growth represents what I believe to be the single most important reason why NM has had little success. Smaller regional economies must become much more proactive and sophisticated in competing in the new normal that is the global economy, even if within a single company. This is particularly true with deep tech ventures that represent one of NM’s biggest strengths, which requires highest-level b2b marketing and sales sophistication, consultative sales and relationship management. While it’s true that young inexperienced entrepreneurs need boot camps, mentors and training, seasoned professionals of the type required for competitive businesses at growth stage need competent partners and strong allies.

Businesses across much of the U.S. have also experienced a significant spike in regulation and ‘NIMBY’ (Not In My Back Yard), the combination of which has resulted in a great many business ventures becoming economically infeasible, including in NM. In personal communications some people in NM seem more concerned with avoiding the impact of a Microsoft on the regional environment and quality of life—including a few who are charged with the responsibility of economic growth. Predictions early in the life of companies on future economic impact are rarely accurate, including those by Microsoft. Attempting to project such divinity in venturing by communities has proven unwise, though quite common in underperforming markets.

The best that can be done is to identify rare talent and ventures with significant potential and get behind them and then work very closely through every stage of planning to mitigate negative impact in an attempt to achieve a balance that can best serve the interests of citizens. A good example is Intel, which has a small headquarter footprint in CA with operations dispersed globally, including of course NM. Another example is Nestle in Switzerland, though a great many emerging small to mid-sized companies are distributed today. The talent, experience and wealth corporate headquarters bring to communities should not be underestimated, particularly for tax base, economic security and nonprofits of every type, including charities that struggle for funding in NM.

A widespread trend across the U.S. in recent years is to rally primarily around incubators. While community incubators and accelerators are wise for many, the quality of entrepreneurs and management teams combined with community functionality and the quality of their networks all contributes to success. My definition of a functional regional community is one that can identify and support in a relevant manner mutually beneficial entrepreneurs and ventures, regardless of whether spun out of an institutional lab, dorm room or garage. The priority should not be about proving the success of a public program or to expand institutions—which tends to consolidate power rather than diversify, but rather should only be focused on the actual needs of the business and their customers with the understanding that it is a dynamic process that can be nurtured, influenced and even guided at times, but not controlled. Early flames are easy to smother or blow away into the welcome arms of competitors with ample fuel.

Several people involved in the NM entrepreneurial economy have requested that I share actual cases to compare and learn from. The following cases represent failures I have experienced first-hand over the past six years. Names and affiliations have been withheld in an attempt to provide anonymity—the goal is to share and inform, not to blame or prosecute. In some cases it may have been just a bad day, though others were tested multiple times, representing a clear and consistent pattern.

  • Federal institutions that hide behind regulation and blame the community for their lack of ability to play a decisive role in growing regional business for the long-term. A common problem recently highlighted in D.C. by visiting Google engineers, using regulation as an excuse to fail has much greater impact in NM due to the lack of other powerful entities. To their credit, many individuals working for federal institutions go above and beyond in an attempt to assist, but obviously lack relevant tools or skills to do so—otherwise NM would have had a much more diverse economy long ago. It is a very frustrating situation for many. NM needs new and better models for deep tech manifesting into a few regional headquarters. At a macro level, U.S. R&D badly needs to be brought into this millennium through structural reforms, appropriate governance and modern systems.

  • Public employees at all levels charged with various elements of the economy who are either unqualified and/or lack the passion to achieve success. In one meeting I was given a clear message that economic success wasn’t welcome in NM unless it was in the form of government growth. In another the individuals didn’t seem to have any understanding that economic development isn’t a jobs program, but rather the outcome of growing successful businesses.

“If government didn’t fund it”, one key person said they had “no idea what to do”. Well, their roles were funded—that’s why their jobs exist! Most functional business development efforts are not just funded programs, but rather results of many actions taken by a community in deploying every type of resource they have for the benefit of their own community. Such a culture is found almost anywhere that has a thriving entrepreneurial economy. The most important role a community can provide for emerging companies is assistance in attracting customers at the critical early stages.

Public employees should be a catalyst to regional business success, not a barrier. Leaders should help communities understand that each and every effort may be leading to new customers, tax payers, future employers for their children or neighbors, or a future funder of much needed local services.

  • Senior managers in regionally headquartered organizations that demonstrate little to no interest in the success of others, even if to materially impact their own success. This shocked me more than any other type of negative experience.

1) CEO of a regional private company which has a mandate to engage with business as one of their primarily responsibilities. When I sent an invite to connect in a social network we belonged to, the individual responded ‘not interested’. The irony in this case is mutual invitations were sent and accepted by more than a dozen of their competitors in other states and countries, including companies 100x their size.

2) Senior management in a large business unit of a state funded entity with important synergies failed to respond to multiple attempts to connect in various ways while their peers and competitors not only accept, some assist and others have reached out to us in several states and countries.

3) Multiple non-profits with stated missions that include some element of community economic empowerment including in two cases specific missions to collaborate with private sector businesses, yet seem primarily engaged in fund raising, projecting personal ideology and sustaining their own lifestyles with other people’s money.

4) Almost every large organization in NM I’ve encountered including public, private and non-profit, most that would benefit directly and significantly from the success of my or a similar company here behave in a manner that serves primarily the interests of competitors to NM.

This list goes on, representing a systemic if fragmented problem in NM, which is a small economy that simply can’t afford not to have every leader and organization fully engaged at this point in history. These experiences clearly speak to the need for leadership training, education of board members and proactive peer pressure regarding personal and organizational responsibility for the economic health of their communities.

Of course we could have done a better job of working with NM, though NM entrepreneurs are so busy overcoming these kinds of regional obstacles in addition to what is an increasingly challenging task with no additional obstacles, so the administrative class needs to step up, roll up their sleeves, get to work and help win some battles. Bottom line is many entrepreneurs in NM have relocated with significant success while none in NM have achieved even a modest success by universally comparable standards. Of the few successes that exist, multiple have no customers in NM or have ever received the kind of growth support competitors enjoy in their regions.

Those who think they are too busy to engage in the extra curricular work required in building and sustaining healthy economies should try personally paying for the pleasure of being a soldier in the economic war on behalf of a community that doesn’t support them in a meaningful way. I’ve met quite a few such entrepreneurs in NM. Leadership priorities need to be recalculated to the new normal economy that will likely include far fewer subsidies and more performance based compensation. Get onboard.

  1. Become early adopters, disrupters and defenders

I never confirmed whether the story was true, but one of my first meetings in NM was with a nice couple in their home in downtown Santa Fe. Both were academics, one a native NM professor at a local university, the other a researcher in a different discipline. The professor told me that he once asked his university to acquire an innovative software system only to be told by his administration that state law required public entities to use a certain ubiquitous product we are all very familiar with.

Organizations are only as innovative as the systems employed allow them to be and ubiquitous systems provide no competitive advantage, but then that’s obvious right? I have confirmed that professional IT lobbyists for incumbents are located in tiny NM, which may be instructive on why the regional economy exports hundreds of millions of dollars annually for technology. While exceptions exist, most tech companies gain initial customers regionally and then expand globally, including those locations where NM sends its budgets. If members of the regional economy are not encouraged to support each other, as incumbents obviously intend—they are likely not to make the attempt.

In a perfect world companies in far off places that benefit from regional purchases would find more ways to reciprocate, but in practice mature companies are under severe pressure to improve quarterly profit growth. Entrepreneurs are often left little choice—if to succeed many are forced to take a disruptive path, which requires special talent, guidance and assistance.

While it may be difficult for NM institutions to think and act in a manner that may seemingly misalign with corporate relationships, we only need look at the results for guidance. NM and other flyover states need to learn the art and science of disruptive innovation, which also means exploring unobvious alliances with customers, other industries, and distributors—perhaps in other nations. The bar for deep tech is especially high as are the stakes for all concerned and should be treated accordingly.

  1. Allow experience to act as a guide

A common problem across the world in underperforming markets, which has increased in much of the U.S. and EU in recent years is also found in NM—allowing ideology, popularity and/or unhealthy business relationships trump experience in leading strategy and execution that impact business and economic competitiveness.

While most environments suffer from this problem to some degree and networks are very important, the reason why those networks exist is the relevant factor. A million followers in consumer social media can be of no value in b2b, while one trusted relationship can be invaluable. The core of functional global business is experiential knowledge that has been demonstrated over time in multiple environments. Those in government and academic cultures rarely understand that the entrepreneurial process is the most expensive education in the world, and top-tier performers are the most valuable. Regions that fail to understand this and listen to experience do so at their peril.

I will offer two recent cases of tragic failure in NM as examples of what to avoid.

1) During my first year living in NM I attended several local networking functions, primarily for social value and to explore methods to assist, including angels, innovation, associations, etc. During one such event I met a recently retired senior tech executive who shared multiple professional relationships in an industry that is very important to NM. As the event intended, our private discussion soon turned to NM, including our experiences, so after answering a few of his questions about my activities I listened to his.

In a very mature, respectful manner this still vigorous exec shared how he had intended to find a way to assist NM when retiring here, as his knowledge and network were still obviously strong and fresh, but after two years of frustrated efforts he gave up. I think he has since relocated out of state. He painted a picture of a culture that believed in a hypothetical economy rather than navigate successfully in the real-world economy and markets. He was visibly disappointed, representing one of few failures in his career. Over the next two years his experience would become my experience in an almost identical confirmation, so I retreated and focused primarily on my own company, which requires even more energy and sacrifice because of this situation.

2) A very successful retired entrepreneur and executive and I have long shared an interest and relationships in a NM non-profit. He and his wife retired in NM part-time due primarily to this commonality, and much like the case above he attempted to boost the entrepreneurial economy with expertise, investment capital and his extensive network. In fact he and his wife invested a significant amount of money, time and credibility in support of non-profits and venturing, but within a few years became frustrated by what he considered to be a failed effort. They sold their home and relocated out of state.

The tragedy these two experiences represent is that each is highly respected across large global networks, which no doubt gleaned similar stories. And both were from industries NM has long sought to grow with considerable investment and energy to attract the attention of precisely these same individuals and their networks. These were two of the most experienced tech execs I’ve met in NM, were badly needed in every sense I understand about the regional economy, but were chased away. As a business and economic consultant during my first visits to NM I would have diagnosed this behavior as self-destructive, requiring intervention by professional specialists and credible, trusted leaders.

Mark and Betsy Montgomery with Austin on top of NM - Oct 2014

Mark and Betsy Montgomery with Austin on top of NM – Oct 2014

Closing thoughts

In the many conversations with business leaders I’ve had over the course of the last 22 years about NM, it may be surprising for some to learn that in every case I recall we all wanted to see NM become more competitive, dynamic and diverse, and in so doing provide more opportunity and economic security for its citizens. Most share NM’s view on the environment, science, art and culture—indeed in many cases this brought them to NM.

However, none of us are magicians—we can only help those who are driven to help themselves and learn from their own mistakes as well as others. While failure is common in business building—even celebrated in pop culture today however inappropriately, repeated failure to act on lessons learned is rarely tolerated in business, whether by investors, lenders, partners, customers, or employees.

Speaking for myself as well as perhaps many of my fellow entrepreneurs, I sincerely hope NM grasps its future firmly in its hands and sculpts it into a more vibrant, diversified, dynamic and sustainable future.

Mark Montgomery is founder and CEO of http://www.kyield.com, which offers an advanced distributed operating system and related services based on his patented AI system.

Five Essential Steps For Strategic (adaptive) Enterprise Computing


Given the spin surrounding big data, duopoly deflection campaigns by incumbents, and a culture of entitlement across the enterprise software ecosystem, the following 5 briefs are offered to provide clarity for improving strategic computing outcomes.

1)  Close the Data Competency Gap

Much has been written in recent months about the expanding need for data scientists, which is true at this early stage of automation, yet very little is whispered in public on the prerequisite learning curve for senior executives, boards, and policy makers.

Data increasingly represents all of the assets of the organization, including intellectual capital, intellectual property, physical property, financials, supply chain, inventory, distribution network, customers, communications, legal, creative, and all relationships between entities. It is therefore imperative to understand how data is structured, created, consumed, analyzed, interpreted, stored, and secured. Data management will substantially impact the organization’s ability to achieve and manage the strategic mission.

Fortunately, many options exist for rapid advancement in understanding data management ranging from off-the-shelf published reports to tailored consulting and strategic advisory from individuals, regional firms, and global institutions. A word of caution, however—technology in this area is changing rapidly, and very few analysts have proven able to predict what to expect within 24-48 months.

Understanding Data Competency

    • Data scientists are just as human as computer or any other type of scientist
    • A need exists to avoid exchanging software-enabled silos for ontology-enabled silos
    • Data structure requires linguistics, analytics requires mathematics, human performance requires psychology, predictive requires modeling—success requires a mega-disciplinary perspective

2)  Adopt Adaptive Enterprise Computing

A networked computing workplace environment that continually adapts to changing conditions based on the specific needs of each entity – MM 6.7.12

While computing has achieved a great deal for the world during the previous half-century, the short-term gain became a long-term challenge as ubiquitous computing was largely a one-time, must-have competitive advantage that everyone needed to adopt or be left behind.  It turns out that creating and maintaining a competitive advantage through ubiquitous computing within a global network economy is a much greater challenge than initial adoption.

A deep misalignment of interests now exists between customer entities that need differentiation in the marketplace to survive and much of the IT industry, which needs to maintain scale by replicating the precise same hardware and software at massive scale worldwide.

When competitors all over the world are using the same computing tools for communications, operations, transactions, and learning, yet have a dramatically different cost basis for everything else, the region or organization with a higher cost basis will indeed be flattened with economic consequences that can be catastrophic.

This places an especially high burden on companies located in developed countries like the U.S. that are engaged in hyper-competitive industries globally while paying the highest prices for talent, education and healthcare—highlighting the critical need to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

Understanding adaptive enterprise computing:

    • Adaptive computing for strategic advantage must encompass the entire enterprise architecture, which requires a holistic perspective
    • Adaptive computing is strategic; commoditized computing isn’t—rather should be viewed as entry-level infrastructure
    • The goal should be to optimize intellectual and creative capital while tailoring product differentiation for a durable and sustainable competitive advantage
    • Agile computing is largely a software development methodology while adaptive computing is largely a business strategy that employs technology for managing the entire digital work environment
    • The transition to adaptive enterprise computing must be step-by-step to avoid operational disruption, yet bold to escape incumbent lock-in

3)  Extend Analytics to Entire Workforce

Humans represent the largest expense and risk to most organizations, so technologists have had a mandate for decades to automate processes and systems that either reduce or replace humans. This is a greatly misunderstood economics theory, however. The idea is to free up resources for re-investment in more important endeavors, which has historically employed the majority of people, but in practice the theory is dependent upon long-term, disciplined, monetary and fiscal policy that favors investment in new technologies, products, companies and industries. When global automation is combined with an environment that doesn’t favor re-investment in new areas, as we’ve seen in recent decades, capital will sit on the sidelines or be employed in speculation that creates destructive bubbles, the combination of which results in uncertainty with high levels of chronic unemployment.

However, while strategic computing must consider all areas of cost competitiveness, it’s also true that most organizations have become more skilled at cost containment than human systems and innovation. As we’ve observed consistently in recent years, the result has been that many organizations have failed to prevent serious or fatal crises, failed to seize missed opportunities, and failed to remain innovative at competitive levels.

While hopefully the macro economic conditions will broadly improve with time, the important message for decision makers is that untapped potential in human performance analytics that can be captured with state-of-the-art systems today is several orders of magnitude higher than through traditional supply chain analytics or marketing analytics alone.

Understanding Human Performance Systems:

    • Improved human performance systems improves everything else
    • The highest potential ROI to organizations today hasn’t changed in a millennium: engaging humans in a more competitive manner than the competition
    • The most valuable humans tend to be fiercely protective of their most valuable intellectual capital, which is precisely what organizations need, requiring deep knowledge and experience for system design
    • Loyalty and morale are low in many organizations due to poor compensation incentives, frequent job change, and misaligned motivation with employer products, cultures and business models
    • Motivation can be fickle and fluid, varying a great deal between individuals, groups, places, and times
    • For those who may have been otherwise engaged—the world went mobile

4)  Employ Predictive Analytics

An organization need not grow much beyond the founders in the current environment for our increasingly data rich world to require effective data management designed to achieve a strategic advantage with enterprise computing. Indeed, often has been the case where success or failure depended upon converting an early agile advantage into a more mature adaptive environment and culture. Within those organizations that survive beyond the average life expectancy, many cultures finally change only after a near-death experience triggered by becoming complacent, rigid, or simply entitled to that which the customer was in disagreement—reasons enough for adoption of analytics for almost any company.

While the need for more accurate predictive abilities is obvious for marketers, it is no less important for risk management, investment, science, medicine, government, and most other areas of society.

Key elements that impact predictive outcomes:

    • Quality of data, including integrity, scale, timeliness, access, and interoperability
    • Quality of algorithms, including design, efficiency, and execution
    • Ease of use and interpretation, including visuals, delivery, and devices
    • How predictions are managed, including verification, feed-back loops, accountability, and the decision chain

5)  Embrace Independent Standards

Among the most important decisions impacting the future ability of organizations to adapt their enterprise computing to fast changing external environmental forces, which increasingly influences the ability of the organization to succeed or fail, is whether to embrace independent standards for software development, communications, and data structure.

Key issues to understand about independent standards:

    • Organizational sovereignty—it has proven extremely difficult and often impossible to maintain control of one’s destiny in an economically sustainable manner over the long-term with proprietary computing standards dominating enterprise architecture
    • Trade secrets, IP, IC, and differentiation are very difficult to secure when relying on consultants who represent competitors in large proprietary ecosystems
    • Lock-in and high maintenance fees are enabled primarily by proprietary standards and lack of interoperability
    • Open source is not at all the same as independent standards, nor necessarily improve adaptive computing or TCO
    • Independent standards bodies are voluntary in most of the world, slow to mature, and influenced by ideology and interests within governments, academia, industry, and IT incumbents
    • The commoditization challenge and need for adaptive computing is similar with ubiquitous computing regardless of standards type

On Her 235th Birthday, America Desperately Needs Lean, Open, and Secure Governance


Baby boomers like myself clearly recall the tumultuous years leading up to the Bicentennial of the United States.  The world we grew up in was near the peak of the industrial revolution, dominated by the aftermath of the Great Depression, WW2, and the Cold War.  We were raised in a culture that had witnessed first-hand the power of a unified government, which led to the victory of fascism in our parent’s generation, followed by a round trip to the moon in our own. In the childhood of my generation, nothing was impossible with sufficient government power.

By 1976, however,  America had endured the 1960s cultural revolution, the Vietnam War,  a serious energy crisis, stagflation, and Watergate.  We were experiencing the shocking end to the post war boom, with new revelations that success had a price, military power had limits, government was not always trustworthy, and our industrial economy had a soft underbelly leaking oil.

By the late 1970s, interest rates were skyrocketing, inflation seemed out of control, the Cold War was threatening to become white hot, and U.S. public debt had risen to the shocking level of $900 billion, representing one third of U.S. GDP.  During the next decade of economic expansion led largely by financial engineering and services, the U.S. debt more than tripled in dollar terms, rising to nearly 60% of GDP.

During the 1990s, with the commercialization of the Internet and exponential adoption of computer networking worldwide, the global economy began to shift, but the information revolution did not result in taming the industrial revolution—at least in the short-term, but rather acted as a catalyst in shifting heavy industry from West to East in our never ending quest for growth and scale. The dot-com bubble provided a very brief respite from accumulating debt in the form of capital gains, but it was a one-time gain.

By the late 1990s it became apparent that the unfettered Internet, in ironic contrast to the core message in The Wealth of Nations, offered such disruptive efficiency that many industries would be radically transformed, including the service economy that had become dominant in the U.S.

Meanwhile, global companies became too big to fail, increasingly divorcing themselves from U.S.interests in what became the primary global strategy for risk reduction and growth, which only compounded the challenges facing the U.S. economy.  By extension, regional and national economies dependent on the industrial revolution or services would also need to adopt the efficiencies offered by the new medium in order to avoid eventual bankruptcy.  In modern parlance, the trajectory of our national budget was increasingly in misalignment with the needs of our economy, the super majority of our citizens, and our collective future.

Rather than downsize to meet the new reality and future obligations, the post 9/11 economy witnessed increased liquidity that  “saved the economy” (Alan Greenspan), combined with post war guarantees in banking, systemic corruption, and ideological activism to enable the mega housing bubble, followed by the inevitable correction and almost certain economic depression if not for historic levels of Keynesian intervention. Rather than invest massive stimulus in converting to a sustainable trajectory, however, most of the spending was targeted at populist programs that continued to expand government overhead, thus increasing long-term liabilities, primarily in very temporary form that now leaves regional economies facing an even more challenging future, and citizens faced with much greater national debt; short, mid, and long-term.  The promises made by government during and after the Great Depression were obviously not only unfunded, but increasingly unfundable.

The most recent example of kicking the can down the road has been unprecedented life support from the FRB in financing 70% of the U.S. debt in QE2, while once again warning Congress and the White House to get its long-term fiscal house in order.  The result, once again, was to witness excess liquidity flow to the most speculative markets, not the fundamental investments required to transition to a sustainable economy, confirming that we have yet to address the underlying structural problems.  The cost of avoiding another Great Depression by stimulus and liquidity has been to advance U.S. insolvency by more than a decade; and quite probably more than two.

Port of Call in the Voyage of Fiscal Denial

Regardless of how one interprets the voyage, the destination that our culture is finally beginning to awaken to is tragic. Under what most believe to be an optimistic forecast, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns us that public debt will rise from around 70% of GDP currently to 84% by 2035, with interest payments rising to 4% of GDP from 1% at current levels. This “extended-baseline” scenario is dependent upon a great many things that have not occurred in the past, however, nor are expected by most, including low inflation and a relatively disciplined Congress. The more consensus forecast, or “alternative fiscal scenario”, projects public debt to rise to 100% of GDP by 2021 and 190% by 2035. However, anyone observing financial crises can attest that these events do not occur on an even gradual basis, but rather reach a tipping point.

The warning I offer today is that economists have based their forecasting on comparable situations in very small economies relative to the U.S., not the world’s largest that also manages the global currency, not to mention the only global military power.  Every forecast, scenario, and metric I have observed in economics is based on a very different history than the situation we face today, all of which assumes the post war experience of a stable U.S. economy.

To capture the situation, consider that while each have proposed different remedies, the best economic forecasters of our time, to include investors, Nobel Laureates, current and past FRB chairs, and regardless of party or ideology, all essentially agree that this unsustainable trajectory has nearly reached its pinnacle.  All are raising red flags, and none can (or have to my knowledge) deny that when the herd finally changes course in bond markets, as we’ve seen most recently in Greece, the stampede is swift and brutal.

Lean, Open, and Secure Governance = The Semantic Enterprise

The Levin–Coburn Report found that the financial crisis was the “result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.”

The U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry concluded that the crisis was caused by:

  • “Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the FRB’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages”

  • “Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance”

  • Key policy makers “ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw”

  • “Systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels”

In early January of 2008, former GAO Director David Walker suggested that four types of deficits caused the underlying fiscal problem: budget, trade, savings, and leadership. While these four causal factors are without question, I suggest that all of our deficits depend upon the integrity of governance structure, including our increasing deficits in knowledge, competitiveness, security, and happiness.

The only reliable method to achieve a sustainable governance infrastructure in the network economy is with semantic enterprise architecture, which is based on many years of research and testing. For a brief video description of the semantic enterprise, see my elevator pitch, and for a more in-depth discussion, view this keynote at the recent SemTech conference by Dennis Wisnosky on the transformation of the DoD.

Designing a prosperous cluster of synergy between tech, business


An article on our tech cluster project was published in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper Saturday, June 18th, written by Nico Roesler. This is a complex topic that is challenging to communicate for veterans, particularly in a simple format for the general public, so we appreciate this effort by Nico, Jane and the Santa Fe New Mexican. In the photo next to me is Pat Medvick, who is a long-term resident of the region, working as a computer scientist and software development leader at LANL for many years, then working at PNNL before returning to N NM where she was recently involved with a large data project based in the region, and teaching advanced programming at a local college.  Pat and I met a few months ago at a local software developer’s meet-up, along with many others, thanks to the efforts of Eric Renz-Whitmore at the NM Tech Council. – MM

Data Integrity: The Cornerstone for BI in the Decision Process


When studying methods of decision making in organizations, mature professionals with an objective posture often walk away wondering how individuals, organizations, and even our species have survived this long. When studying large systemic crises, it can truly be a game changer in the sport of life, providing motivation that extends well beyond immediate personal gratification.

Structural integrity in organizations, increasingly reflected by data in computer networking, has never been more important. The decision dimension is expanding exponentially due to data volume, global interconnectedness, and increased complexity, thus requiring much richer context, well-engineered structure, far more automation, and increasingly sophisticated techniques.

At the intersection of the consumer realm, powerful new social tools are available worldwide that have proven valuable in affecting change, but blind passion is ever-present, as is self-serving activism from all manner of guild. Ideology surrounding the medium plays a disproportionate role in phase 3 of the Internet era, to include crowdsourcing, social networking, and mainstream journalism. Sentiment can be measured more precisely today, but alignment is allusive, durability questionable, and integrity rare.

Within the enterprise, managers are dealing with unprecedented change, stealthy risk, and compounding complexity driven in no small part by technology. Multi-billion dollar lapses sourced from multiple directions have become common, including a combination of dysfunctional decision processes, group/herding error, self-destructive compensation models, conflicting interests, and poorly designed enterprise architecture relative to actual need.

Specifically to enterprise software, lack of flexibility, commoditization, high maintenance costs, and difficulty in tailoring has created serious challenges for crisis prevention, innovation, differentiation, and global competitiveness. It is not surprising then, given exponential growth of data, which often manifests in poor decisions in complex environments, Business Intelligence (BI) is a top priority in organizations of all types. BI is still very much in its infancy, however, often locked in the nursery, subjecting business analysts to dependency on varying degrees of IT functionality to unlock the gate to the data store.

Given the importance of meaningful, accurate data to the mission of the analyst and future of the organization, recent track records in decision making, and challenges within the organization and IT industry, it is not surprising that analysts would turn to consultants and cloud applications seeking alternative methods, even when aware of extending the vicious cycle of data silos.

Unfortunately, while treating the fragmented symptoms of chronic enterprise maladies may provide brief episodic relief, only a holistic approach specifically designed to address the underlying root causes is capable of satisfying the future needs of high performance organizations.

The dirty dozen fault lines to look for in structural integrity of data

  1. Does your EA automatically validate the identity of the source in a credible manner? (Y/N)

  2. Is your IT security redundant, encrypted, bio protected, networked, and physical?  (Y/N)

  3. Are your data languages interoperable internally and externally? (Y/N)

  4. Is the enterprise fully integrated with customers, partners, social networking, and communications? (Y/N)

  5. Do you have a clear path for preventing future lock-in from causing unnecessary cost, complexity, and risk?  (Y/N)

  6. Are data rating systems tailored to specific needs of the individual, business unit, and organization? (Y/N)

  7. Are original work products of k-workers protected with pragmatic, automated permission settings? (Y/N)

  8. Does each knowledge worker have access to organizational data essential to their mission? (Y/N)

  9. Are compensation models driving mid to long-term goals, and well aligned with lowering systemic risk? (Y/N)

  10. Is counter party risk integrated with internal systems as well as best available external data sources? (Y/N)

  11. Does your organization have enterprise-wide, business unit, and individual data optimization tools? (Y/N)

  12. Are advanced analytics and predictive technologies plug and play? (Y/N)

If you answered yes (Y) to all of these questions, then your organization is well ahead of the pack; even if perhaps a bit lonely. If you answered no (N) to any of these questions, then your organization likely has existing fault lines in structural integrity that will need to be addressed in the near future.  The fault lines may or may not be visible even to the trained professional, until the next crisis of course, at which time it becomes challenging for management to focus on anything else.