Legacy of the Tōhoku Earthquake: Moral Imperative to Prevent a Future Fukushima Crisis


An article in the New York Times reminds us once again that without a carefully crafted and highly disciplined governance architecture in place, perceived misalignment of personal interests between individuals and organizations across cultural ecosystems can lead to catastrophic decisions and outcomes. The article was written by Martin Fackler and is titled: Nuclear Disaster in Japan Was Avoidable, Critics Contend.

While not unexpected by those who study crises, rather yet another case where brave individuals raised red flags only to be shouted down by the crowd, the article does provide instructive granularity that should guide senior executives, directors, and policy makers in planning organizational models and enterprise systems. In a rare statement by a leading publication, Martin Fackler reports that insiders within “Japan’s tightly knit nuclear industry” attributed the Fukushima plant meltdown to a “culture of collusion in which powerful regulators and compliant academic experts”.  This is a very similar dynamic found in other preventable crises, from the broad systemic financial crisis to narrow product defect cases.

One of the individuals who warned regulators of just such an event was professor Kunihiko Shimizaki, a seismologist on the committee created specifically to manage risk associated with Japan’s off shore earthquakes. Shimizaki’s conservative warnings were not only ignored, but his comments were removed from the final report “pending further research”. Shimizaki is reported to believe that “fault lay not in outright corruption, but rather complicity among like-minded insiders who prospered for decades by scratching one another’s backs.”  This is almost verbatim to events in the U.S. where multi-organizational cultures evolved slowly over time to become among the highest systemic risks to life, property, and economy.

In another commonly found result, the plant operator Tepco failed to act on multiple internal warnings from their own engineers who calculated that a tsunami could reach up to 50 feet in height. This critical information was not revealed to regulators for three years, finally reported just four days before the 9.0 quake occurred causing a 45 foot tsunami, resulting in the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima.

Three questions for consideration

1) Given that the root cause of the Fukushima meltdown was not the accurately predicted earthquake or tsunami, but rather dysfunctional organizational governance, are leaders not then compelled by moral imperative to seek out and implement organizational systems specifically designed to prevent crises in the future?

2) Given that peer pressure and social dynamics within the academic culture and relationship with regulators and industry are cited as the cause by the most credible witness—from their own community who predicted the event, would not prudence demand that responsible decision makers consider solutions external of the inflicted cultures?

3) With the not-invented-here-syndrome near the core of every major crises in recent history, which have seriously degraded economic capacity, can anyone afford not to?

Steps that must be taken to prevent the next Fukushima

1) Do not return to the same poisoned well for solutions that caused or enabled the crisis

  • The not-invented-here-syndrome combined with bias for institutional solutions perpetuates the myth that humans are incapable of anything but repeating the same errors over again.

  • This phenomenon is evident in the ongoing financial crisis which suffers from similar cultural dynamics between academics, regulators and industry.

  • Researchers have only recently begun to understand the problems associated with deep expertise in isolated disciplines and cultural dynamics. ‘Expertisis’ is a serious problem within disciplines that tend to blind researchers from transdisciplinary patterns and discovery, severely limiting consideration of possible solutions.

  • Systemic crises overlaps too many disciplines for the academic model to execute functional solutions, evidenced by the committee in this case that sidelined their own seismologist’s warnings for further study, which represents a classic enabler of systemic crises.

2) Understand that in the current digital era through the foreseeable future, organizational governance challenges are also data governance challenges, which requires the execution of data governance solutions

    • Traditional organizational governance is rapidly breaking down with the rise of the neural network economy, yet governance solutions are comparably slow to be adopted.

    • Many organizational leaders, policy makers, risk managers, and public safety engineers are not functionally literate with state-of-the-art technology, such as semantic, predictive, and human alignment methodologies.

    • Functional enterprise architecture that has the capacity to prevent the next Fukushima-like event, regardless of location, industry, or sector, will require a holistic design encapsulating a philosophy that proactively considers all variables that have enabled previous events.

      • Any functional architecture for this task cannot be constrained by the not-invented-here-syndrome, defense of guilds, proprietary standards, protection of business models, national pride, institutional pride, branding, culture, or any other factor.

3) Adopt a Finely Woven Decision Tapestry with Carefully Crafted Strands of Human, Sensory, and Business Intelligence

Data provenance is foundational to any functioning critical system in the modern organization, providing:

      • Increased accountability

      • Increased security

      • Carefully managed transparency

      • Far more functional automation

      • The possibility of accurate real-time auditing

4) Extend advanced analytics to the entire human workforce

      • incentives for pre-emptive problem solving and innovation

      • Automate information delivery:

        • Record notification

        • Track and verify resolution

        • Extend network to unbiased regulators of regulators

      • Plug-in multiple predictive models:

        • -establish resolution of conflicts with unbiased review.

        • Automatically include results in reporting to prevent obstacles to essential targeted transparency as occurred in the Fukushima incident

5) Include sensory, financial, and supply chain data in real-time enterprise architecture and reporting

      • Until this year, extending advanced analytics to the entire human workforce was considered futuristic (see 1/10/2012 Forrester Research report Future of BI), in part due to scaling limitations in high performance computing. While always evolving, the design has existed for a decade

      • Automated data generated by sensors should be carefully crafted and combined in modeling with human and financial data for predictive applications for use in risk management, planning, regulatory oversight and operations.

        • Near real-time reporting is now possible, so governance structures and enterprise architectural design should reflect that functionality.

 

Conclusion

While obviously not informed by a first-person audit and review, if reports and quotes from witnesses surrounding the Fukushima crisis are accurate, which are generally consistent from dozens of other human caused crises, we can conclude the following:

The dysfunctional socio-economic relationships in this case resulted in an extremely toxic cultural dynamic across academia, regulators and industry that shared tacit intent to protect the nuclear industry. Their collective actions, however, resulted in an outcome that idled the entire industry in Japan with potentially very serious long-term implications for their national economy.

Whether psychological, social, technical, economic, or some combination thereof, it would seem that no justification for not deploying the most advanced crisis prevention systems can be left standing. Indeed, we all have a moral imperative that demands of us to rise above our bias, personal and institutional conflicts, and defensive nature, to explore and embrace the most appropriate solutions, regardless of origin, institutional labeling, media branding, or any other factor. Some crises are indeed too severe not to prevent.

Mark Montgomery
Founder & CEO
Kyield
http://www.kyield.com

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Best of Kyield Blog Index


I created an index page containing links to the best articles in our blog with personal ratings:

Best of Kyield Blog Index.

Kyield is seeking select organizations to partner on enterprise prototype


Greetings,

We are now seeking clients to work in a collaborative manner to develop and test a fully functional prototype of our patented enterprise platform during 2012.

For a small group of well-matched organizations, we are prepared to offer exceptional benefits:

  • Very attractive license terms of extended duration
  • Extraordinary consulting in tailoring and optimizing the system
  • Priority terms for future innovation, providing on-going competitive advantage

General target criteria for prototype / client partnership

Must be interested in improving:

  • Crisis prevention
  • Innovation
  • Productivity
  • Decision making

Preffered entity of 500 to 10,000 knowledge workers

  • Flexible depending on work type & intensity
  • Can go much higher but not much lower
  • No direct competitors
  • Strategic partner organizations possible

Above average technical environment

  • Create original digital work products
  • Distributed, remote workers
  • Place high value on invention & innovation
  • High value on prevention of crises & litigation
  • High priority on competitive advantage & differentiation
  • Thought leader more important than market leader

English language work environment

    • To interact efficiently with Kyield, not for internal files

The project will require CEO/COO buy-in for unit or organization

    • The nature of the organization platform will likely require CEO leadership prior to engagement

If your organization or a client matches these general criteria for this opportunity, or you are aware of one that might, please contact Kyield’s CEO Mark Montgomery ( markm@kyield.com ) to explore in more detail. 

Kyield will not disclose identities of either the individuals or organizations until both parties agree.

Thank you!

Interview with Jenny Zaino at Semanticweb.com


Just wanted to share this interview and article with Jenny Zaino over at Semanticweb.com on my recent patent and related IP.

Manage Structured Data and Reap the Benefits

A detailed paper on this topic is nearing completion and will post a brief and description in the next few days.

From the trenches: on tech analysts and software patents


On analyzing technology

One of the most destructive messages our culture broadcasts is that proposed solutions that cannot be reduced to 140 characters shouldn’t move forward. If that policy were enforced in decades past, most of the important technology companies wouldn’t exist today. Concepts can be compressed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be understood. Most of the simple problems were solved long ago. Unfortunately, very few are capable of understanding complex solutions prior to a polished end product, including the world’s leading analysts who passed on most of the big wins early on. So if we intend to move forward as a species, we better craft a new policy and improve methods for developing solutions to the actual complex problems we face. My advice to other founders has long-been to ignore the noise, focus, and do your best to attract employees, partners, customers, and investors who have done their homework and have the capacity; much easier said than done with next gen tech across the ever expanding valley of death.

Most analysts who have studied Kyield, reported on it, and/or attempted to label our work were not prepared for the task and could therefore not be in a position to grasp it. This was not entirely unintentional on my part as I learned the hard way long ago to withhold enough information to make reverse engineering difficult. While many are familiar with the potential benefits of exposing and promoting trade craft and IP, few are aware of the risks involved, and those tend to be the ones we need to be concerned with as they are often employed by giant competitors in one form or another. The world has changed; the biggest threat to incumbents are start-ups with ground breaking technology and/or strong innovation, and as we’ve seen in many cases– almost any tactic is employed when enough power or money is at stake. This is obviously a serious problem for anyone who must divulge sufficient information in order to build products, and by extension everyone who depends on a dynamic and diversified economy.

Software patents

I’ve been waiting on standards to mature since the mid 1990s and on the patent application process since April of 2006. Both systems are dysfunctional as they are manipulated (largely by exploiting weaknesses) by mature incumbents who are threatened by invention and innovation. That doesn’t mean, however, that we need less protection for original creative work, rather that we need more protection, of a different type, and much improved.

IP theft and copying of original work products is an enormous problem that is doing massive damage to our economy today, which is unfortunately largely invisible to the super majority of citizens. The IT industry has frankly been an enabler both in choices on architecture and in attempting to manipulate the legal and political system (often with great success). The IP challenge is symptomatic of structural challenges in the U.S., and increasingly related to economic deficits, education, and healthcare. The incumbents and gatekeepers who have de facto veto power through the political process, legal system, and technology are often threatened by any actual improvement to the system, so they tend to be extremely proactive in their defensive tactics, representing a classic negative spiral to broader society. IT has been commoditized across the world in systems we all use and innovation has been severely curtailed, with very little ability for most to establish differentiation, which is essential for survival in a market economy. This situation directly impacts every major challenge facing our world today.

Some software companies, software developers, venture capitalists, and academics have publicly denounced intellectual property rights for software and processes. While each of the common arguments have valid points, we don’t see many independent inventors claiming they need zero protection, and they are the stakeholders who matter in this debate–for the future of everyone else. I suspect that large numbers of authentic creators have simply opted out due to the lack of protection and justice–I have heard from many creative inventors and engineers through the years who are otherwise employed.

I agree that we need foundational reform in IP, part of which is reflected in Kyield, but I see a much higher probability of technical innovation providing solutions to these challenges than our current political system. Indeed, with the current state of our political system, the primary risk is that legislation surviving the dysfunctional process tends to compound challenges for small, independent inventors, as small and micro entities have lost power in our political system. Those arguing against patents seem to be missing two crucial points:

  • No other viable option currently exists to protect original work beyond encryption with specific apps, while most of our challenges are systemic

 

  • Software is increasingly the primary medium to affect and deliver improvements in our society and global economy

 

I too almost gave up on the patent system–it has been among the most frustrating experiences of my life, both in dealing with the system itself and the byproducts created by a failing IP/legal/political system. Any system that averages many millions of dollars to defend a patent no longer serves individual inventors, obviously. However, I came to the conclusion that as dysfunctional as our patent, legal, and political systems are, the probabilities of real reforms surviving are substantially enhanced with patent protection as it is unlikely that any of the other models for reform will work, quite a few of which have now been tested. We obviously need a new IP system that is based on sound technical infrastructure with properly aligned incentives and protection for the individual inventor. Our Kyield system represents a substantial leap forward in the right direction, but it’s only a cornerstone in the foundation (for IP in society-it is a holistic knowledge system).

The chief obstacle to real improvement is that technical gatekeepers are also patent trolls who are threatened by improvements to the system. All decision makers need to think long and hard about this situation, not least of whom are those focused on internal defense instead of solving the problems of others. Eventually this deteriorating situation will have negative consequences for everyone. The most obvious immediate threat is a stagnating global economy. With global market power comes global responsibility. The IT industry has a lot of maturing to do before it can live up to its responsibility in the global economy, as do both developed and developing governments.

I have studied the topic of IP systems in detail with the various hats of a citizen, entrepreneur, consultant, incubator operator, venture capitalist and inventor. I see no viable, sustainable alternative to a functional personal property rights governance structure.

–MM

Background of patent #8005778


I am working on multiple articles relating to the patent I was issued last week, at least one of which will be posted here in the next few days, but in the interim I thought some might be interested in the common English portion of the patent. I hadn’t visited this section in some time–from early 2006.

Patent #8005778

Title: Modular System for Optimizing Knowledge Yield In the Digital Workplace (USPTO link to patent)

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the management of human intellectual capital within computer networked organizations, and more particularly to managing the quantity and quality of digital work flow of individual knowledge workers and work groups for the purpose of increasing knowledge yield, or output.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The volume of data transfer and related human consumption of information is growing exponentially in the network era, resulting in a condition commonly referred to as information overload. The result for the modern organization is an ever increasing challenge to manage the quantity and quality of information being transferred, consumed, and stored within computer networks.

Enormous amounts of structured and unstructured information is being consumed by knowledge workers that is redundant or irrelevant to the knowledge worker’s job, or the mission of the organization, creating serious challenges for organizations while reducing the return on investment for information technologies and knowledge workers.

Systems deployed previously attempting to reduce information overload and increase knowledge worker productivity have been designed primarily to address either the symptoms of the problem, or a specific portion thereof; including desktop productivity suites, higher performance search engines, and reducing unsolicited e-mail.

In recent years, computer standards bodies have been approaching the challenge by improving machine to machine automation and structure to documents with XML, RDF, SOAP, and OWL, commonly referred to as the Semantic Web.

Emerging positions within networked organizations attempting to optimize the digital workplace include the Chief Knowledge Officer (hereinafter “CKO”) who is responsible for improving the value of human and intellectual capital to better achieve the organization’s mission.

Despite these individual and collective efforts, the problems associated with information overload continue to grow exponentially. According to research firms IDC and Delphi Group, the average knowledge worker spends about a quarter of his or her day looking for information.

A related serious problem for knowledge workers affecting productivity and innovation is that intellectual property converted to digital form is simple to copy and distribute, providing disincentives for creative problem solving, the sharing of knowledge and intellectual property, and therefore improving work quality.

Given the complexities of the digital workplace environment, it would be beneficial for organizations to employ a holistic metadata system including modules to manage the knowledge yield for the entire organization, for each work group within the organization, and each individual member of the organization so they can continually optimize his/her knowledge yield for the continuously changing work environment.

Key patent issued


My key patent for Kyield was issued today by the USPTO as scheduled earlier this month.

Title: Modular system for optimizing knowledge yield in the digital workplace

Abstract: A networked computer system, architecture, and method are provided for optimizing human and intellectual capital in the digital workplace environment.

To view our press release go here

To view the actual patent  go here

I will post an article when time allows on the importance of this technology and IP, and perhaps one on the experience with the patent system. Thanks, MM