And On That Day…

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, All Will Know G-d


In the true story that I recount, a little Ethiopian girl tells me:

There is no reason to fight because we all believe in G-d and that He created us.


Similar to what Zechariah prophesized (14:9)

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

 


I hope you enjoy this piece on faith, unity, and hope for the future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

100% Burglar Proof–Tell Me Another One

Burgler_proof

So I saw this advertisement for a “100% burglar proof” system and I was just bewildered.

Does anyone really think we can be 100% sure of anything–let alone security?

Everyday thieves rob the safest banks, cyber criminals hack the most secure systems, and crooks break into the most secure sites.

Everything we do comes down to risk management–assessing and classifying risk, selecting controls to mitigate risk, and monitoring those for effectiveness and necessary modifications.

For children, maybe things are basic black and white–it’s simpler that way “good guys” and “bad guys” and so on, but for adults we know there are at least “50 shades of grey” and that means that there are no certainties in life–whether security, sure financial bets, or perfect opportunities–everything is a gamble in some respects.

I remember someone once joked about even marriage being somewhat chancy, since “you never really know the person until you wake up with them in the morning every day.”

With 20-20 hindsight, all the pundits seem brilliant, but only the prophets can predict the future with accuracy.

As to any product or vendor that markets itself as having a 100% success rate, you better get yourself a money back guarantee on it, because you will definitely need it! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Warnings: When It’s Not Just “Crying Wolf”

Warnings

There is a famous saying that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

An editorial appeared in the Wall Street Journal (10 April 2012) by French philosopher Pascal Bruckner called The Ideology of Catastrophe” that accuses those who warn others of danger as having “tiny minds who wish us suffering.”

This “philosopher” maligns both Jewish prophets and Christian “millenarian movements” for having “no function other than indignation…and [the Prophet] becomes intoxicated with his own words and claims a legitimacy with no basis.”

Mr. Bruckner must be completely clueless of those throughout history that have sought to warn us of dangers that if the world would but have listened, untold numbers of millions could have been saved.

From the earliest of times, there have been warnings about pending catastrophes and those that paid attention were able to make a difference.

In the Torah (Bible), G-d warned Noah of the impending flood, and Noah was able to save humankind and animals–2 by 2 they went unto the ark for 40 days and nights of pouring rain that vanquished the earth.

In the Prophets, G-d has Yonah (after being swallowed by the whale) warn the the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent and prevents them and their city from destruction.

In the 20th century, if only the world had paid attention to the genocidal desires of maniacs like Adolph Hitler (may his name be cursed) in books like Mein Kampf, how many tens of millions may have been spared.

In terms of the advent of nukes and other weapons of mass destructions, to at least some extent people and governments have listened to warning and retreated from a philosophy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) to instead move toward anti-proliferation, arms reduction treaties, and other safeguards, and we have thank G-d been able to avoid major catastrophes from these dangers.

Thankfully, with dire medical issuances about various diseases, pandemics, and even warning about the dangers of obesity, smoking, and drinking, we have been able to curb harmful behaviors, promote healthier living, and lengthen life spans.

Similarly, with environmental warnings, we have been able to create awareness and educate people on more sustainable living–through conservation, recycling, reuse, as well as renewable energy sources, and more.

Moreover, warnings about runaway spending and the national deficit have been heard for decades, but having ignored these for the most part, we now face a $16,000,000,000,000 bill and growing rapidly–soon coming due to future generations of Americans.  And we are already witnessing the effects–inflation, unemployment, default, and perhaps succession from the Euro and the EU itself–of countries on the other side of the Atlantic that have made the similar errors in their wild spending ways.

While some corporate, religious, and political leaders do use fear tactics to gain power or whatever they are personally-seeking that does not make every warning false and malevolent.

Certainly, at the other end of the spectrum, some people would rather live in denial of any issues and pretend that everything is just hunky-dory all the time.

Bruckner does makes some superficial and one-sided arguments–denouncing warnings and claiming that:

– Warnings cause fear, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

– Warnings “though they try to awaken us…eventually deadens us.”

– People who warn “do not [really] intend to warn us as much as to condem us.”

– Leaders issue warnings “to dazzle us in order to make us docile.”

Unfortunately, Bruckner has failed to distinguish between fear-mongering and fact.

Bruckner missed the point of how real warnings can help people–which is through changing hearts, minds, and behaviors.

1) Fear is not a self-fulfilling prophecy unless people do not act in time to change dangerous and irresponsible behaviors.

2) Genuine warnings do not deaden those who seek truth and a way forward–it only deadens those who are unwilling or unable to adapt.

3) People who warn based on facts and with sincerity to help others do not wish to condem us–rather they wish to alleviate unnecessary suffering.

4) Leaders who issue warnings to alert people to very real dangers out there in order to seek safety or change course are not trying to dazzle and make docile, but rather they seek to save lives by creating awareness, educating, and empowering people to change before it is too late.

Some people understand well from history as well as from common sense that our behaviors have consequences–other do not.

For me, when we stray into dangerous waters, I am glad for the true heros out there looking out for us and helping guide us live better and longer lives.

While it is good to be critical of unfounded warnings and charlatans, it is necessary to have warnings that are grounded in fact, given sincerely, not forced on others, and help people stay successfully on the road to health, prosperity, and human rights.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alex Peruso)

>Master of Paradox and the Enterprise Architect

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As enterprise architects, we need to have clarity of vision to see what is and to chart a way ahead for the organization. Yet, we live amidst polarities and paradoxes, which are challenges for every enterprise architect to see through.

In the book The Empty Raincoat, by Charles Handy, the author identifies nine paradoxes that we need not only be aware of, but also be focused on, so that we can find a better way forward for ourselves, our enterprises, and society.

Here are the top six paradoxes (of nine) of our time:

  1. Intelligence—“brains are replacing brawn…knowledge and know-how is the new source of wealth, [yet] it is impossible to give people intelligence by decree, to redistribute it. It is not even possible to leave it to your children when you die…It is not possible to take this new form of intelligence away from anyone. Intelligence is sticky…nor is it possible to own someone else’s intelligence…It is hard to prevent the brains walking out the door if they want to…intelligence is a leaky form of property. [Finally,] intelligence tends to go where intelligence is. Well educated people give their families good education.”
  2. Work—“some have work and money, but too little time, while others have all he time, but no work and no money…we also use money as the measure of efficiency. Our organizations, therefore want the most work for the least money while individuals typically want the most money for the least work.”
  3. Productivity—“productivity means ever more and ever better work from ever fewer people…as more and more people get pushed out or leave organizations…[they] do for themselves, what they used to pay others to do for them.” In a sense the newly unemployed stifle market demand and further growth.
  4. Time—“we never seem to have enough time, yet there has never been so much time available to us. We live longer and we use less time to make and do things as we get more efficient…[yet] we have created an insidious cycle of work and spend, as people increasing look to consumption to give satisfaction and even meaning to their lives.”
  5. Riches—“economic growth depends, ultimately, on more and more people wanting more and more and more things…If , however, we look only at the rich societies, we see them producing fewer babies every year and living longer. Fewer babies mean fewer customers, eventually, while living longer lives mean, usually poorer and more choosy customers.”
  6. Organizations—“more than ever, they need to be global and local at the same time, to be small in some ways but big in others, to be centralized some of the time and decentralized most of it. They expect their workers to be more autonomous and more of a team, their managers to be more delegating and more controlling…they have to be planned yet flexible, be differentiated and integrated at the same time, be mass-marketers while catering for many niches, they must introduce new technology, but allow workers to be masters of their own destiny; they must find ways to get variety and quality and fashion, and all at low-cost.”

Can we as enterprise architects ever resolve these paradoxes?

While, we cannot resolve the polarities of society, we can find ways to balance them, move between the extremes “intelligently,” as appropriate for the situation, and search for better way to adapt. We do this not only to survive, but to help our organizations and society thrive in spite of the paradoxes. “Life will never be easy, nor perfectible, nor completely predictable. It will be best understood backwards [20-20 hindsight], but we have to live it forwards. To make it livable, at all levels, we have to learn to use paradoxes, to balance the contradictions and the inconsistencies and to use them as an invitation to find a better way.”

So as architects what specifically can we do?

As architects, we are advisors to the Chief Information Officer (from a technology-business alignment perspective), Chief Financial Officer (from an IT investment perspective), and to the Chief Procurement Officer and Line of Business Program Managers (from an IT execution standpoint) and other organizational decision-makers. In this advisory role, we can help point out the polarities and paradoxes that may be driving the organization one way or the other, or actually in a conflicting, bi-directional manner. As advisors, we can highlight gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities and suggest ways to improve or capitalize on this. But most importantly of all, by having a structured way of thinking about IT planning and governance, we can provide a perspective to the organization that may otherwise be neglected or trashed (in favor of operations), and we can provide clarity to the organization in terms of planning and governance processes, when the organization may otherwise just be blowing around in the wind of universal contention.

“There are kings [executives] and there are prophets [architects]…the kings have the power and the prophets have the principles…but every king needs his prophet, to help him, and increasingly her, keep a clear head amidst all the confusions…prophets in spite of their name, do not foretell the future. No one can do that…What prophets can do is tell the truth as they see it.”