Analyzing The Law

Analyzing The Law

So I am back in school AGAIN (I’m a life-long learner), augmenting my not so slow-paced job.

Let’s just say that at this point, I recognize that the more I know, the more I don’t know anything.

The class that I am taking now is Cyberlaw, and while I did take law in business school–many moons ago–that was more focused on contracts and business organizations.

This class looks interesting from the perspective of the legal and regulatory structure to deal with and fight cybercrime, -terrorism, and -war.

One interesting thing that I already learned was a technique for evaluating legal cases called IRAC, which stands for:

– Issues–the underlying legal matters that the case is addressing.

– Rules–what legal precedents can be applied.

– Analysis–whether those rules apply or not, in this case.

– Conclusion–rendering an opinion on the case.

This is a structured way to analyze any legal case.

Of course, before you do these, you have to look at the facts–so that is the very first section.

The problem with that is then you have F-IRAC and that can definitely be taken the wrong way. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dealing With Change Resistance

In leadership class, I learned that in performance management, there are two major types of issues–conduct and performance.

In conduct issues–people willfully do not follow the rules of the workplace. Conduct issues are those of “won’t.”

However, with performance problems–people cannot meet the expectations for quantity and/or quality. Performance problems are issues of “can’t.”

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I wonder whether these same types of performance management issues apply to our lives as human beings and as children of G-d.

– Some people just won’t do the right thing, instead willfully choosing to lie, cheat, steal, and mistreat others. They prefer the monetary or egotistical rewards of doing the wrong thing over the spiritual and relationship hardships and challenges to do the right thing.

– Other people can’t do the right thing–they are too scarred by hurt, abandonment, loneliness, being told they are not good enough and can’t compete, and so on. For these people, sometimes, no matter how hard they try, they feel that they cannot meet expectations.

Of course, willfully doing something wrong is worse than not being able to do something right.

That is why for the first type of people–those with conduct problems–there is disciplinary action.

For the second type of people–those who have performance issues–we recognize their commitment and try to help them through things like coaching, mentoring, training, and counseling.

Performance issues may be linked to change resistance to change–and there are 3 dimensions of this:

1) Cognitive–“I don’t get it”–the person doesn’t fully understand and therefore agree with the rules.

2) Emotional–“I don’t like it”–a person emotionally rejects the rules of change, because they are afraid of the loss it will cause to them, personally and/or professionally.

3) Interpersonal–“I don’t like you”–when people are not resisting an idea, but rather they are resisting you, personally.

Great leadership is the ability to sense when any of these dimensions are off and help to course-correct them:

– When people don’t get it–we can inform, create awareness, and educate.

– When they don’t like it–we can listen to them and show empathy, get them involved in the process, and maybe show them the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM).

– And when they don’t like you (the most difficult one)–we can try to win people over by taking responsibility for the things we have done wrong, demonstrating over time that we are trustworthy, spending time together to better get to know each other and build the relationship, and maybe even give in on some issues, where appropriate.

Like on Rosh Hashanah, where we seek G-d’s mercy on us and ask that he work with us, so too, we can learn to work with others to try and help them, where possible.

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

The Winning Move

Think_outside_the_box

My daughter sent me this amazing picture portraying how we can “think outside the box.”

How many of us would ever have envisioned this as a possible solution to this age-old children’s game?

Important lesson learned–it’s okay to think differently, be creative, even change the rules when you can get a better result.

Groupthink drives so much–toomuch–of what we do at work, politically, and more.

Often, we can do better when we question the status quo and give things a fresh look–without the colored lens on of how things should be, have always been, or need to be done.

With the huge challenges we face as a nation and globally, we need to open ourselves to new solutions to old and emerging problems.

Like a simple tick-tac-toe game, the winning move may simply be right outside the box. 😉

(Source Photo: LOL Pics)

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Tractors_on_the_train

This is a photo I took at Harpers Ferry.

There was a train coming by pretty fast, and on the flatbeds were what seemed like a endless line of Tractors.

— Red, red, red, red, blue, and then red again.

I hurried to get my iPhone out and capture this photo while the train was rushing by at full speed.

I love this shot, because it teaches an important lesson about diversity.

Firstly, it reminds me of the children’s song, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

From early in life, we are taught to conform a certain way–based on norms, culture, values, policies, rules, regulations, laws, religion, and so on.

There always seems to be a reason that we have to talk, dress, think, and conduct ourselves–properly, politically-correct, and just like everyone else.

And we are warned that “the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down”–so don’t do it–it’s too risky–you’ll be labeled bad or worse yet, crazy.

So while creativity and innovation is valued if it can bring someone a nice profit, we are still cautioned not to go out too far on a limb or else you risk getting ridiculed and rejected–hey “you may never work again in this town.”

But in this picture, the tractors tell a different story–that it’s okay to be a blue tractor in a long parade of red ones.

No, the blue tractor wasn’t a mistake, it isn’t abnormal or alien or evil, it’s just different and it’s cool.

The blue tractor stands out, but it isn’t a bad thing to stand out–and the blue tractor won’t get hammered down.

It’s okay to be a blue tractor in a long procession of red tractors–and it’s great to just be who you are–blue, red, yellow, green, or whatever.

Conformity is not normalcy–it’s just look-alike, copycat, and probably even boring.

Being different can be novel, inventive, out-of-the-box and exciting–and more important it can usher in needed change.

I think we need more blue tractors in a red tractor world.

Will you take a chance and be a blue tractor too?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Federal Register On Steroids

Now, here is a new way of looking at the information from GovPulse, a site developed to “make such documents as the Federal Register searchable, more accessible and easier to digest…to encourage every citizen to become more involved in the workings of their government and make their voice heard.”  The site is built from open source.
You’ll see that there is a lot more information readily available, organized in multiple ways, and really quite user-centric; some examples:
1) Number of Entries for the Day: The number of entries for the day are listed right at the top.
2) Calendar for Selecting Day of Interest:  Next to the number of entries for the day, you can click on the calendar icon and get an instant 3 months of dates to choose from or enter another date of interest and be instantly take to there.
3) Statistics for the Day: The right sidebar displays the locations mentioned on a map and the types of entries and reporting agencies in pie charts.
4) Department Entries are Prominently Displayed: Both the number of entries for each department are identified as well as identifying their type and length along with an abstract for the entry. Each Department’s entries can easily be expanded or collapses by clicking on the arrow next to the department’s name.
5) Entries are Enabled for Action: By clicking on an entry, there are options to share it via social media to Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and Reddit to let others know about it and there is also a listing of your senators and representatives and their contact information to speak up on the issues.
Additional helpful features on the homepage–immediate access to areas that are last chance to act or what’s new, such as:
1) Comments closing in the next 7 days
2) Comments opened in the last 7 days
3) Rules taking effect in the next 7 days 
4) Rules proposed in the last 7 days 
Moreover,  you have another map with bubbles showing mentioned locations or you can enter your own location and get all the entries subdivided by 10, 15, 20 miles and so on up to 50 miles away.
Another feature called Departmental Pulse, show a trend line of number of entries per department over the last year or 5 years.
At the top of the page, you can quickly navigate to entries in the Federal Register by agency, topic, location, date published, or do a general search. 
There are other cool features such as when you look at entries by department, you can see number of entries, places mentioned, and a bubble map that tells you popular topics for this department.
Overall, I think GovPulse deserves a big thumbs up in terms of functionality and usability and helping people get involved in government by being able to access information in easier and simpler ways.
The obvious question is why does it take 3 outsiders “with a passion for building web applications” to do this?
While I can’t definitively answer that, certainly there are benefits to coming in with fresh eyes, being true subject matter experts, and not bound by the “bureaucracy” that is endemic in so many large institutions.
This is not say that there are not many talented people in government–because there certainly are–but sometimes it just takes a few guys in a garage to change the world as we know it.

Federal_register Govpulse